That’s the number of copywriters on LinkedIn.
And there are 62,901 freelance copywriters on Guru.com, a popular project bidding platform.
Whoever you are… whatever you do, there are hundreds if not thousands of people in this country who do the same thing. And even more in the world.
Developing a personal brand is important because today’s audience tends to trust people more than corporations.
Identify and Clearly Communicate Your Unique Value
One of the toughest things for many people is to describe their strengths. For some, this is very difficult if they were raised to “not toot their own horn.” It would seem like you’re bragging.
Yet people won’t remember you if you’re trying to be all things to all people.
I remember attending a networking event and meeting a marketer. When I asked who she was trying to reach with her services, she replied, “Anyone with a checkbook!”
Such an answer places the service provider in a weak position. Instead of understanding what her particular strengths were—and the specific niche that would appreciate them—she chose to present herself as a generalist.
You can’t be all things to all businesses. It makes it more difficult to market yourself not to mention develop customized solutions for a vertical market. If you specialize in helping credit unions integrate an interactive digital teller platform, then you’re able to create specific products and training for that need.
The first thing I ask when I write copy for my clients is this: Who is your target audience?
The reason why this is so important is because once you know exactly who you’re trying to reach, it makes marketing SO much easier.
When you know who you’re trying to reach, it naturally leads to:
- What is their problem or what is the opportunity they seek?
- Why do they need it?
- Why now?
- Why aren’t they getting it yet?
- Who else is trying to deliver this?
- How can I do it better?
As an example, this was my branding statement for offering my copywriting and digital marketing services to cybersecurity companies when they were my niche:
- Target Audience: For the Marketing Director or Creative Services Director at cybersecurity companies
- Problem Statement: Who needs or wants a copywriter who knows the industry, can match tone of voice for their marketing collateral, who can deliver copy quickly, and who is easy to work with.
- Category: I am an independent copywriter and digital marketing specialist
- Value Proposition: Who decreases time to market for products and services and creates copy that converts prospects and starts a conversation
- Competitive Differentiation: Unlike other copywriters, I have cybersecurity sales training that allows me to clearly communicate a message of problem/solution and position the client’s offering as one providing the best value for the prospect’s need.
When I wrote B2B copy, this was my “Elevator Speech”:
What I do: I’m a copywriter and digital marketing consultant.
Context and Value: Getting attention in the sales process is more challenging than ever. Using strong copy in your marketing collateral makes a difference and can move a potential buyer from apathy to strong interest and eventually, investment.
Evidence: I recently completed a large website re-design project that took 77 web pages that each had a different tone of voice and message to a site that now flows with a common voice and consistent brand message. Now website visitors know exactly what the business does and how it can help them with their business initiatives.
Use Your Brand With Content Marketing
Let’s say that my core values are trust, passion, and honesty. And let’s say my strengths are strategic planning, communication (writing), and a results-driven approach.
I have a positive, creative, and confident personality. And my image leans toward “geek chic,” creative, and entrepreneurial.
I wouldn’t want to create content for myself that was overly formal and understated. (I’m definitely not understated!)
Instead, I’d want to create content that reflected my brand, which would be trustworthy, engaging and creating excitement about what my message.
As an example, I’d want to write blog posts that emphasize my strategic planning skills, my communication skills and how I am results-oriented. I’d focus on proving that I could be trusted, and I gave honest insights and feedback.
Another way to use your brand is in how you deliver what you do.
If I’m going to claim a brand that says I’m honest, then that means when a project was over-estimated in fees, I admit it and refund the extra amount to the client. Or if one of my brand’s core values is trust, then it would serve me well if I made good on my promises.
If my newsletter goes out on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month and I fall into the habit of sending it on different days of the week or maybe once a month instead of twice a month – I’m showing my clients and prospects that I’m undependable, which wouldn’t build trust.
Whatever content your create, make sure it reflects your brand and is consistently supporting your claims.
Leverage Influencers to Establish Your Brand
As an example, I’ll use myself as a copywriter and digital marketing consultant.
First, I need to identify my influencers. They could be:
- Potential clients
- Social media influencers
- Professional organizations
- Complimentary service firms
- Key clients
You need to think wide instead of deep. You most likely have a larger network of influencers than you think.
The goal is relationship-building. You want to invest time in connecting with people. This also includes sharing their content and commenting on their social media updates.
A BIG part of this is what Tim Sanders calls The Likeability Factor. Another excellent and classic book to read is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
As the saying goes, people buy from those they like, know and trust.
It’s up to you to promote your brand and you do that by reaching out to those around you. Instead of asking someone to share something, ask them their opinion of it and be open to helpful feedback.
An influencer may surprise you by sharing your branded content with their circle, but they may not. Show appreciation for whatever they do to support you.
Four Keys to Stronger Relationships
Relationships are everything. If you can build a relationship with your prospects that makes them feel understood and respected, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to convert them into a client or customer. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Common bond and likeability – My late father was a highly successful manufacturer’s sales rep. One of his tips to engage his prospect was finding common ground quickly.
I used that tip when years ago, I was selling newspaper ads to local businesses in Northern Kentucky. I called upon a tractor supply store and talked to the manager. This job demanded a lot of “cold calls” where I’d walk into the business and take my chances at speaking to someone in charge.
On that day, it was my first meeting with the manager. He had bought some ads before but I was new to him, so I wanted to make a good first impression. I was dressed in my professional dark gray skirt, a white blouse, and a dark gray jacket. He invited me into his office as we chatted about his business.
I glanced at the walls to see if there was anything I could find as common ground.
He had a framed certificate that identified him as a horse inspector. And I loved horses. I asked him some questions about being a horse inspector and just like that, we were off and running, talking about horse breeds and their particular distinctions.
This goes back to what Dale Carnegie said. Find what interests the other person and they’ll likely be more receptive to you.
2. Reciprocal value – no one will be interested in helping you if you don’t help them. And if someone helps you, please… for the love of all that is good and holy, thank them. Showing appreciation goes a long way in our culture.
I’ve had times when I’ve helped someone, but they never sent me an email saying “thank you.” And this was after sharing with them valuable information that helped them advance in their professional goals. Do you think I’d refer business to them? There may be a small chance, but it would be small.
I have received client work and developed fruitful relationships just by sending a thank-you card or a small gift. Both go a long way in letting the person know you appreciate their help.
3. Consistent communication – Keep in touch with your influencers. If you only touch base with them a few times a year, it’s highly doubtful they’ll remember you when a great opportunity comes by that would be perfect for you. Remember to ask how things are going for them and learn about what they need and how you can help them reach their own goals. It’s good karma.
This also is the basis for keeping an active email list. Your prospects, clients, and customers may not need your products or services today. But if you continue to send them emails that are entertaining and educational, when the need arises, you’ll be at the top of their mind.
4. Relationship maintenance – there are a lot of tools to help you manage your professional relationships. You can use an online database like Zoho or Salesforce to track your activity with your contacts.
You can also create goals such as having lunch once a week or sending an email to someone once a month.
Again, the key to success is to take action consistently.
A Brand Builder Plan for Online and Offline Success
If you’ve developed a solid brand, you’ll now want to bring it into the world.
Use social media to build your brand. There are plenty of platforms to help you schedule social media updates such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Create blog posts that emphasize your expertise. Maybe launch a special video or podcast. And don’t forget to use the testimonials you got from your influencers on your website, your blog, and LinkedIn.
It’s important to consistently reinforce your leadership position and your brand. This is done by seizing any opportunities to share value by doing what you do best. You need to keep providing proof that you are who you say you are and can do what you say you can do.
The key word is consistent. Radio, magazine, and newspaper ad representatives tell their clients the same thing. A business cannot run one ad in the newspaper and expect to get a bunch of new sales. Readers are overwhelmed and often distracted when reading a newspaper.
Instead, ad reps tell their clients they need to run their ads for weeks to get a response. It’s the consistent action of running an ad that will eventually get noticed and a response.
Start small and then go big. Building a brand takes time. Promoting that brand takes a strategy. If done well, you’ll develop your own set of rabid fans. And that is one of the best marketing tools you could have.