By Victor Snyder.
If I had to choose one marketing trend that seems to define our age of self-made influence, it would be the importance of developing your personal brand. More and more of my coaching clients are asking not about how to market their companies or products but how to market themselves. The people I work with want to share their passions, their values and are eager to talk about their ideas.
With that comes the realization that it’s not just about leveraging your brand for its own sake — it’s about building a brand whose influence will benefit any project, any company or an endeavor you put your attention to — now and in the future.
Future-Proofing Your Branded Self
I think of Roger Federer, for example. An outstanding athlete, he has leveraged his success on the court to a fast growing business empire. I can’t think of many other professional athletes who have such a recognizable logo (I saw those stylized RF monograms everywhere during the recent tennis season), but it’s more than just that — he’s grown a brand that people truly care about
At this point, it’s pretty clear what Federer will do after he’s done winning tennis matches — basically anything he wants. Because of his solid personal brand, whatever he turns to next will benefit from that strength.
Yet building a personal brand comes with a specific challenge: how to measure your success. Should you be concerned with the size of your following? The number of clickthroughs from your marketing content to your core business resources? The number of business leads captured via personal brand appearances
What are the KPIs that really help us understand how well our personal brands are growing?
In search of answers, I’ve been studying some interesting takes on the topic from a variety of branding pros. One somewhat unusual idea comes from growth marketer and entrepreneur Sujan Patel. A self-described risk taker and limit-pusher, Patel makes a simple and highly compelling case for the one KPI he truly cares about.
Patel is convinced that the only metric he really needs to monitor is personal brand mentions. That’s it. The idea seems counterintuitive — traditional advice would have us looking at business-oriented KPIs like, conversions or revenue. A contact of mine who works with Patel told me about his take, and I was shocked, so I asked if I could learn more.
“I’ve been tracking the number of mentions for my personal brand for the last four years,” Patel explained to me. Of course he realizes the importance of more traditional metrics, but, he said, “They can’t provide much of an indication of how effective your marketing efforts really are today. They just tell you how effective everything you’ve done until today has been, cumulatively.”
That’s why he’s more interested in what’s going on in real time: the social mentions, what his customers and audience are saying, the customer support and advocacy that is influencing new customers.
A New Set Of KPIs For New Types Of Brands
Product branding may well be overrated. At Mailshake, Patel’s email outreach SaaS tool, he’s found the best way to grow exposure is simply to get more customers. “Even when we do absolutely nothing on the marketing side, just by having more customers, we get more mentions per month,” he told me. “The fact is that people love our product. That is why we get mentions.”
This idea of customer as influencer resonates with the ideas of online branding guru Jeff Bullas. “Influencers are the modern digital version of the mass media celebrity, movie and sports stars,” he recently wrote. “Before the social web, the only way to measure influence was fluffy television data, newspaper column inches and box office revenue.”
Today, robots collect reams of usable data and can easily tell us about the ripples taking place in our little corners of the universe. And those ripples — those brand mentions — serve to activate and warm up your outbound marketing efforts.
Of course, not everyone agrees with Patel’s brand mention approach. Personal branding expert and founder of Delightful Communications Mel Carson takes a more traditional approach to personal branding KPIs.
“There are all sorts of KPIs, such as whether they open the email and respond, or whether the initial contact is favorable,” Carson said in an interview I read recently. Instead of simply brand mentions, Carson recommends following the trail of influence. “How often do they engage with the client and the content? What kind of reach and engagement do they get when they share content?”
How Mentions Impact The Bottom Line
That traditional approach may work for a data-focused company, especially when the focus is on ROI in all areas. Yet Patel believes that true company growth is unlocked when you can create some traction with your personal brand.
“I talked to a public company the other day, and this was going to be a six-figure a month deal,” he explains, noting that he was being considered along with four or five other top names in branding. “They did a Google search, and they saw that I was mentioned in a couple of articles on growth hacking,” he explains.
“They did more research, and I was mentioned multiple times, by other people.”
It wasn’t one specific piece of content that landed him the contract, he notes. “It’s four, five, six different things where I’m listed as a top growth expert.”
This personal brand exposure directly correlates to his personal brand and his competitive positioning. Traditional marketing practices — and the KPIs that go with them — might look less viable when we think about marketing ourselves as thought leaders and industry experts.
Building your personal brand in a consistent, thoughtful way with a focus on exposure, not a slavish devotion to the bottom line, might be the path for your own brand success.
Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock
By Victor Snyder
Turning C-level executives and entrepreneurs into unstoppable business leaders who crush adversity. CEO of BossMakers.