Wear different hats in different places
When engaging in online branding activity, it helps to remember that sometimes you’re promoting your business, sometimes yourself, and sometimes your products or services. It all depends on what you’re offering, and who to. The core is still authentic; it’s just that the leading offer differs.
For instance, I use LinkedIn as an avenue to pick up consulting, coaching and speaking work, so there I primarily promote myself. I might occasionally mention my book but I don’t actively promote it; its role there is to support the credibility of my services. I focus on answering questions to display expertise (and in all honesty should be doing much more of that).
On a retail book site, however, the book’s the heroine, and I’m her servant. She strides out in front and my services are there to add to her credibility.
Authenticity is everything
You never know who will find you, or where, so it’s imperative to remain authentic, and always be conscious of how you’re portraying yourself online – and off.
From a buying point of view, your customers are qualifying you online before they call you. They come to you after they’ve Googled you to compare your services, check your expertise and see who you associate with. Your website, your blog, your membership of reputable associations, organisations and online communities are all opportunities for premium positioning.
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Tools for building your online branding
I find a newsletter helps build your brand immensely. Always ask permission before sending it so that you’re not deleted or perceived as a spammer, and always add value.
Other ways to showcase your expertise include posting e-books, special reports, articles, free resources, a regular blog and podcasts on your site. If they’re well labelled and leveraged with social media, they won’t hurt your SEO either.
Take your offline contacts online
With those resources in place, you’ll be well placed to take your offline contacts online. For example, in sales calls I’ll often recommend someone go to my site and check out an article or e-book, and, if they like, sign up to the newsletter for more e-books.
I don’t want to give away all my expertise, but in order to earn a prospect’s trust, I like to offer them something for free, and since I’ve already created the e-book, report or podcast, then hey, let ‘em have it.
It’s not all about you
Make sure your newsletter, blog or podcast isn’t all about you. Promote others with complementary services or products and get a guest blogger on board from time to time. Interview a client on a podcast or introduce clients who could benefit from each other’s services at a networking event.
By being the connector with good online and offline connections and quality information you position yourself as a trusted source and open up countless possibilities.
Do you have any extra tips for developing your online brand? Please share your online branding tips with us below.