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The pandemic has created the most competitive digital landscape the world has ever seen. Whether for your company or for yourself, it’s never been more crucial to build your personal brand. To sell yourself to a world of customers reluctant to spend, one thing is for certain: Your branding must be relentless, authentic, and powerful.
“It’s the only thing you’re going to have,” explains Gary Vaynerchuk, or Gary Vee for short. “Your reputation online, and in the new business world, is pretty much the game. You have to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and you’ve got to be out there at some level.”
Vee has an impressive resume of branding experience, and we’d do well to take his advice. He started his entrepreneurial journey as a wine critic before establishing Resy, an American technology and media company. He moved onward and upward to Empathy Wines, a premium wine brand, before marking his legacy in the digital marketing industry. Vee is best known as the founder and chairman of VaynerX and its subsidiary, VaynerMedia.
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Part of Vee’s success as a leader in his industry comes from putting his name on every venture he leads. He doesn’t dwell in the shadows; he revels in the light of each and every one of his entrepreneurial endeavors. Between his Q&A show, #AskGaryVee, the DailyVee blog, and his similarly titled podcast, “The GaryVee Audio Experience,” his unique branding angle allows him many public speaking opportunities. Helped by that exposure, Vee enjoys an incredible social media following of over 8 million followers on Instagram alone.
The result? The world knows his name.
“Your legacy is being written by yourself,” shares Vee. “Make the right decisions.”
Vee’s clear message to grab life by the horns is no doubt inspiring but leaves the reader wanting more. How do we demand attention in a world with a near-zero attention span? We asked these entrepreneurs how they managed to create powerful brands that captivate their audiences.
1. Hold Nothing Back.
The first tip comes from Rasmus and Christian Mikkelsen, also known as the “Mikkelsen Twins.” They are the co-founders of PublishingLife, and their number-one tip is to hold nothing back.
“When building your own personal brand, the beginning is by far the most challenging time you will face,” notes Rasmus. “We have a YouTube channel where we teach people how to build an online book publishing business. When we first got started, there were over a dozen other YouTube channels talking about the same thing. None of them were very popular because they withheld the good stuff for whatever digital product they were selling.”
As for the factors behind their own brand’s success: “The reason we got so much attention is that we shared everything we knew for free. We had nothing to sell. Our focus was on creating the most helpful videos we could. We made 90 videos before we made a penny from our personal brand. We didn’t even create our online course until our subscribers were begging us to. Even with just 1,200 subscribers, there was so much hype and excitement when we first launched. Priced at $497, 96 people joined in the first 24 hours.”
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At just shy of $48,000, the Mikkelsens were thoroughly compensated for how much they gave to the community. Seemingly overnight, they woke up to the knowledge that they tapped into something huge for their personal brand. The Mikkelsens share, “We later did a survey and asked why our subscribers picked us over the competition. More than 50% of respondents said that they learned so much from our free YouTube videos that they felt like they owed it to us. After seeing how good our free content was, they already knew how incredible the program would be.” The simple message from the Mikkelsens here is to give the people what they want. Be relentless about it, and don’t hold back with the important details. When you continue to give without expecting a return, your audience will notice, and they won’t go elsewhere with their money. This is how you build momentum, and this is how to project your personal brand toward success.
2. Turn Struggles Into Strengths.
Our next branding tip comes from David Sharpe, CEO of Legendary Marketer. Sharpe is considered an icon in the internet marketing industry, but didn’t start with a stellar reputation.
“Before my business success, I was homeless. A high-school dropout with a crippling drug addiction,” Sharpe shares. “Yet, instead of letting those struggles define me, I turned them into my strengths.” Sharpe got clean from his addiction in 2008 and worked in construction with his dad for 18 months. He was sleeping on a couch, and Sharpe resigned himself to the fact that this was his life. But suddenly, his life took on new meaning. He discovered digital marketing and his life changed for good.
“By weaving my authentic past into my marketing, I showed people what I had overcome. I humanized myself through vulnerability. Hands down, it has been the most powerful branding tool I’ve ever discovered,” Sharpe says. “I now teach business owners how to blend education-based marketing with story selling, which makes for a powerful and profitable combination.” His biggest lesson is to be authentic with your history, not hide it. In the past eight years, he’s trained over 300,000 online marketing students worldwide.
3. Start With Trust.
Junior Anthony, CEO and Founder of LiveSotori, has this to say about building a strong brand.
“TRUST…. Every big brand has secured some type of trust from their customers. You can’t expect to expand or win hearts if your brand doesn’t thrive on trust,” Anthony remarks. “Everyone wants loyal customers, the type of customers who would decline a competitor’s product in an instant, even if it were 99% cheaper. But to get these loyal customers, you need to start by building a brand that your customers know, like, and trust,” he reveals. “At LiveSotori, we attract raving fans by building the relationship first. It’s easy to do if you consistently under-promise and overdeliver. Build trust first!”
Anthony practices what he preaches. He came from a background of poverty and found himself homeless. But he took charge of his life and built a personal brand that founded a revolution. Now, he’s responsible for ushering in the new wave of six-figure entrepreneurs and teaching them the lessons that got him where he is today.
Anthony’s biggest lesson is to follow through with your promises and be reliable throughout the entire experience. This is foundational for any working relationship, and it’s enough to make customers think twice before working with an unfamiliar competitor. One great service leads to another when you do your job right. Before long, customers feel compelled to recommend your brand to others. Word-of-mouth is a truly powerful marketing tool, and by following this advice, you can take advantage of it. Start with trust and accelerate your brand’s development and reach.
4. Harness the Power of Social Media.
John Lee, co-founder of Membby and CEO of Wealth Dragons Group PLC, has been ruthless in his pursuit of powerful social media branding. After growing a base of over 5 million followers, he built and developed an international reputation. Now, he sits at the helm of a truly unignorable brand. John believes that to truly build a mountain-moving brand, you need to harness the power of social media. His first step? Creating viral content. “One of my videos was shared 44,000 times. It led to an increase of over 1 million followers and increased the sales of my business,” John shares. As for how he got people clicking: “If you want your content to go viral, make sure you have a catchy title. It hooks people’s attention so they watch and share.” The world is competing for your viewers’ attention, so use catchy titles to stay memorable and stay ahead.
John also asserts that you need to give before you get. “In today’s society, you must first provide massive value and expect nothing in return. By doing this, people are more likely to share your content. Here’s another simple yet effective tip for making people share: Just ask them to. Have a clear call to action.” John believes that if your content offers value, then sharing is often second nature. That said, he also claims that content can go viral without getting shared. “Have you ever played a video on YouTube that was immediately preceded by a similar video in the same niche? That’s called video placement targeting,” explains John. “Search for videos in your niche, and place your video in front of theirs as an ad. You’ll get thousands of views before they do.” John asserts that virality isn’t simply an internet phenomenon, but something that can be consciously created. To produce content that spreads across the globe, you need to actively put it in front of the people who may find value in it.
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To do so, John sees value in co-branding with others. “Find people who have the same audience as you, and get promoted to their following,” he says. “An endorsement from them will offer massive brand leverage and many more sales.” You might be noticing a theme. Social media is more than just sending content into the void and praying for a pay-off. John is incredibly active in making sure his voice is heard. By actively pursuing virality, he is truly harnessing the power of social media. He plays a vital role in the success of his content and by extension, the success of his brand. By following John’s advice and taking full advantage of social media, you’ll be able to cultivate an influential brand of your own.