A strong personal brand is the ultimate business card.

Once established, it expresses who you are, what you do and why you're the expert without technically having to open your mouth.  

Companies across every single industry are constantly looking for ways to stand out from the competition. They deploy new ideas, crafty content, even outside-the-box campaigns as a means to capture new eyeballs, solve their consumers' problems and increase their perception of value. Thought leadership development for executives, also known as personal branding, has the ability to set these organizations apart unlike any other form of traditional marketing has been able to in the past.  After all, people don't do business with products, logos and letterheads.

People do business with people.

Unfortunately, thought leadership marketing is one of the most misunderstood and under-resourced marketing strategies companies face, and yet has the opportunity to breed the highest return. In a recent study done by Forbes, B2B organizations who sold the exact same product for the exact same price point were more successful than their competitors based on the thought leadership surrounding their respective companies.

This poses a problem for many organizations, as most don't have the internal resources to invest in original premium content development, content documentation and research. On the flip side, most outsourced agencies hired to support the brand and marketing efforts of their clients lack the depth of insight, ability to extract human expertise to transform into educational tools, or the sales strategies necessary for personal brands to become successful.

Lest we not forget social media.

Social media is no longer simply social media. It's the Internet. Every product, business, place and person exists online in some shape or form. If you don't manage your digital footprint, someone else will. Anyone in a leadership position does not have the option nor the luxury to ignore the current state of affairs. Creating a proactively, laser-focused and well-supported personal brand strategy not only provides a leading edge, but a gaping opportunity for more effective PR, audience and therefore attention, speaking and public appearance opportunities (and increased avenues for revenue).

As one prospective client who recently cold-emailed asked: “What’s the ROI on my personal brand investment?” My response: “The fact that you’re reaching out to me asking me this question proves the ROI.”

Don’t you want to become the expert?

The SimplyBe Agency specializes in supporting expert executives and entrepreneurs in becoming the thought leaders in the future. Through a three-step process of Personal Brand Identity Development, Strategy Definition and Personal Brand Building, the agency is the only of its kind in the Midwest leading its client in this high-tough, expert capacity.

Below are 5 signature tips we use to approach the strategy and development of our clients:

SimplyBe. Valuable

Recognize that people care less about you (or how famous, rich, skinny or successful you are) and more about how you can help them. Personal branding, when done right, is an act of service and always has your audience's needs in mind.

SimplyBe. Focused

You can't be everything to everyone, or you'll be nothing to no one. Determine what your unique, intrinsic value is. Ask yourself: “What do I offer/have/do that no one else does?” Tout that message consistently and constantly. Building a personal brand is not a touch-and-go process. Your audience, opportunities and revenue compound over time, and you must stay focused on your message and focused on the process to get there.

SimplyBe. Generous

The personal branding "economy" is founded on the premise of give-to-get. Sharing highly valuable, free content by way of blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, newsletters, even speeches and panels are critical tactics to build trust and loyalty among potential customers, followers or fans. By the time you have something to sell or something to ask of them, you can easily inspire your audience to take action, since they now know, like and trust you. Many people feel that they have to keep their premium knowledge behind closed doors for fear of "giving away the house." The opposite is true. The more generous you are, the more you receive.

SimplyBe. Signature

Mark Zuckerberg's hoodies redefined the entire Silicon Valley culture, making it not only acceptable but desired for CEOs to dress casually as they run billion dollar companies. Hillary Clinton's pantsuit created a movement of millions, representing women in a man's world everywhere. Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck demonstrated a discipline in consistent, linear, meticulous action that gave a nation of admirers something to aspire toward. This is the power of having a "signature" aesthetic. Think about yours: it's probably something you already wear on a daily basis. Your funky socks. A bright lipstick. Your statement earrings. Your paisley ties. Whatever it might be, know that it tells a story and can become your defining factor. Own it.

SimplyBe. Human

Stop thinking you are in a B2B or B2C industry. You are in the P2P industry—people to people. So often we forget that, and we aim to become perfect, two-dimensional versions of ourselves. That's just not real life. Remember that we are all emotional, deeply flawed, complex human beings comprised of moments of grandeur, failure, joys, pains, confidence and vulnerabilities. As a personal brand, the more willing you are to expose your "real" self, the more you will endear, empower and inspire your audience (AKA: your currency). This is the secret sauce.

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