The Big Payoff: The ROI of Personal Branding

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Personal branding is no longer a by-product of being rich and famous - for some, personal branding is a way to become rich and famous. The easy accessibility of website templates, stock photos, digital book publishing sites, and other marketing tools (not to mention social media) today has made personal branding ubiquitous. While the tools to create a personal brand are readily available, it takes a huge investment. It's truly a “long game” and takes patience, time, and focus to create a killer brand. In fact, there is so much work involved in creating and elevating a personal brand presence it could leave you wondering, “Why even bother creating and maintaining a personal brand?” Or even, “Is it worth it?”

Creating a personal brand is worth it, but it’s not always very clear exactly how it pays off. The ROI of personal branding can be tricky to quantify.

“Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual reinvention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.”

– Sir Richard Branson

Most people think about ROI in terms of what they will get back on what they spend. ROI can be any result; sales, exposure, follows and likes, conversions, clicks to name just a few. Thinking about personal branding ROI in these terms is short-sighted. You can buy exposure through advertising, but the return on investment of personal branding is different because it's not based on promotion. Personal branding ROI is based on attraction. And the force of attraction depends on the strength of the brand.

Create a strong personal brand by consistently sharing what you know and how you learned it. It's as simple as that.

There's a Chinese proverb that says, "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." It comes down to providing value by teaching others to succeed. Zig Ziglar had a famous quote, "You get everything you want out of life by helping others get everything they want out of life." Consistently share your expertise, experiences and knowledge, and provide value for others. Do this, and you are positioning yourself as someone worth knowing. You are building brand equity - in yourself.

When you build a personal brand, you spend time, money and effort to gain credibility, authenticity, and authority. The bonus is that you own your own destiny. Your future is not controlled by any other person, entity or company. That alone is a pretty spectacular payoff by anyone’s standards.

Personal branding is about magnetism.

As your personal brand grows, the force of attraction becomes more noticeable. Your brand begins to pull people in and become a powerful force that is almost magnetic. People will take notice and want to know more about you and experience your brand more often.

New business will seek you out as a result of this power of attraction. Instead of you having to go out and find new deals, new clients and new partners, opportunities will come to you. People will contact you because you are adding value to their lives. Showing that kind of generosity and heart will make people want to work with you, or for you. Brands and product companies will contact you to review their products or represent their brands. People will ask you to join them in professional communities and mastermind groups, in meet-ups. Your network will grow. People will seek you out on LinkedIn. They will start to see you as a thought leader. A strong personal brand can be the catalyst for these types of opportunities and more.

Positioning yourself as a thought leader also creates real leadership opportunities, such as serving on advisory boards or boards of directors. Because you are consistently putting your “answers” out there, people begin to see that you have something to valuable say and are exercising your authority to say it. Publications, blogs, podcasts, will start to reach out to you for contributions or appearances. At events and conferences, people will start to know who you are before you are even introduced.

You may be thinking, “I don’t need a personal brand. I have a secure job with a great company.” Don’t fool yourself, everyone needs a personal brand, even if you work for someone else. Why? Because now, companies are beginning to realize the value of employing people who have personal brands.

A personal brand is career insurance.

A company's message comes across as more human, more relatable, and more real when it's coming from someone people recognize, someone they feel is authentic or that they trust. A personal brand has a halo effect on your company. People with personal brands are more highly valued, which leads to less chance of layoffs and also the prospect of being more highly compensated. Always remember the extra bonus, which is that you own your own brand. So if a layoff or restructuring does come, you take it with you when you go. You aren’t left out in the cold without the professional identity that was tied to your employer.

A key part of a successful, powerful brand is the Personal Brand Magic Equation, which makes your brand even more compelling. The equation starts with the needs your target audience has and the questions they ask you. Combine that with your personal experience, and your knowledge that reveals those answers. That equals an authentic, unique brand that sustains the power of attraction over time.

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”

– Malcolm Forbes

Always remember the “personal” part of personal branding. Be the human being that you are. Share your experiences and be authentic. Share meaningful content that makes a difference in people's lives and solves people's problems.

If you do that, everyone succeeds.