But let’s not get confused by the semantics:
Your personal brand is your reputation. And your reputation in perpetuity is the foundation of your career.
People don’t understand this. Playing the long game and building your reputation always plays out.
But the issue is, people see others getting ahead in the short term at the expense of their long term personal brand. And so, they get tricked.
Instead of being patient, they go for the quick sales. They keep trying to convert customers on the first interaction. They try to extract money, instead of creating an experience.
Brand is about how someone feels in the moment when they interact with you or your business.
You all have emotions you feel in reaction to names like “Coca-cola”, “IBM”, or “McDonald’s.” Whether good or bad, you have a reaction. When you hear my name, you probably get a feeling too (which I hope is positive).
For example, if you had to put into words — I hope you’d say “Gary Vaynerchuk, the guy who gave more than asked”, or something along those lines. I want you to think of me as someone who gave massive amounts of value.
The best companies in the world don’t sell. They brand. For example, Apple never tries to “convert” you into buying an iPhone. Instead they paint a picture of the “iPhone experience.” They focus on branding.
I do the same.
Not saying you should never sell. But personal branding is a disproportionately valuable factor that most people just don’t focus on.
In this article, I’ve put together a mashup of strategies, tips, and advice on building a personal brand I’ve talked about over the years.
Hope you get a lot of value from it
1. Good intent wins in a transparent world
In a world with all these social networks, everything is transparent. Everything you do is captured — with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. Every part of your movement is on record. Anything you do will be known.
You can’t have “multiple personalities” anymore for business, family, and everything else.
You are who you are now, in this world.
I talked about this first back in 2008, and it’s even more true today.
In an environment like this, people who have good intent are going to win. And people who come from a bad place are going to lose.
The internet is going to expose all of us, so think long and hard about what your intentions are.
2. Have a media company mentality
There is no reason to do anything other than act like a media company in today’s digital age.
People haven’t fully grasped the “attention shift” we’re living through.
Over the past seventy years, we’ve seen businesses “sell” to us constantly. There wasn’t much “free content.”
And it makes sense. They just didn’t have the kind of opportunities we have. It was expensive to create a commercial. It was expensive to put up a billboard. It was expensive to run ads on radio. And it still is.
But now, you can produce as much content as you want across social platforms.
This has paved the way for a new type of marketing. Instead of selling constantly like businesses used to, you can create helpful, educational, entertaining content and use it to get sales long term.
And the amazing thing is, the content you create doesn’t even have to be related to what you’re selling.
For example… In this interview I did with Keith Ferrazzi, an audience member asked me how to create content for a legal business:
The answer I gave her was a bit rogue.
I pitched her on starting a website about golf. Totally unrelated to legal services.
But I knew it’d change her business if, say, in every 7th post, she promoted her actual business while using golf as the “gateway drug” to attract an audience.
3. Hack culture and buy ads to distribute content
When people ask me about my mistakes and regrets, I struggle to come up with good answers. It’s not that I don’t make mistakes, I’m just incapable of remembering and dwelling on them.
But there is one thing I regret:
Not spending enough money on Google AdWords.
I built my dad’s liquor business from three to $60 million on the back of Google AdWords. I bought keywords like “wine” for pennies on the dollar when they were underpriced.
But if I spent more, I would’ve grown it to hundreds of millions.
Right now, Facebook and Instagram are the underpriced platforms. And it’s amazing to me how many people aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity.
Find a way to promote your content through ads. If you don’t have any money to invest, flip something on eBay, take that money, and run ads with it.
The second way to get attention is hacking culture.
If you can understand what’s truly relevant in culture, you can create unbelievable opportunity for yourself. Culture hacking deserves its own blog post, but the best advice I can give here is to take advantage of influencers.
Message anyone who’s got 500-1000+ followers. See how you can add value. Hit them up on Instagram DM.
Like if you’ve got a restaurant, you can offer them a personalized coupon for free food. If you’ve got a plumbing service, give them a free evaluation.
Message them, connect, add value, and in return, they might give some awareness to your brand.
4. Know what you’re talking about
Being a personal brand for the sake of being a personal brand is usually the quickest way to not be a personal brand.
The first step to building brand is to be self aware about what you have to add to the conversation. You have to understand what you do and the things you want to talk about,.
I’ve talked a LOT for the past decade. But within a very narrow area.
I haven’t talked about healthcare or geopolitical issues. I haven’t added my two cents to every pop culture situation.
I talk about the things I know — communication in a modern world.
If you’re not an expert yet, you can talk about your process of becoming an expert. Document the journey.
5. Document over create
If you want to be heard on social media, you have to put out a LOT of content.
You should be doing a long form vlog or podcast at least once a week. You should be posting on Instagram and Snapchat at least 6-7 times a day.
Now, that sounds like a lot. And it is.
But here’s one great piece of advice that’ll help: Document. Don’t create.
Think of it like Keeping up with the Kardashians vs Star Wars and Friends. One is more practical to create, while the other takes some creativity in coming up with stories. The first is simple for most people (including myself). The second is harder.
You can go through the process of fabricating your life on the internet to make yourself seem like an “expert.” Or you could just be yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when building their personal brand is trying to “oversell” themselves. They front. They try to act bigger than they actually are.
The reality is, it’s much more valuable to talk about the process than the advice you think you should be giving them.
Ultimately, the game is simple, my friends. Know what you’re talking about, put out content around it, and run ads.
Watch what happens to your personal brand / business.