To start building a personal brand from the very beginning, Chris recommends defining who you really are and what you want to be known for. His book has an exercise called “The Self-Awareness Test” that can help.
Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. In the first column, list the things you do well, ways you stand out, how you’re known, and ways you over-provide. In the second column, list all the stuff you struggle to do. Chris says entrepreneurs often have trouble with the second column, which he calls “the get real column,” because they like to think they’re brilliant at everything.
After you complete both lists, make a plan to eradicate or delegate the items that you struggle to do in your business. Instead, focus on what you do well because it’s what you’ll be known for.
For example, as a speaker, Chris loves to get off the stage, walk around the crowd, and workshop with people. He can and has performed keynotes, but he knows it’s not his strong point. He’d rather roll up his sleeves and get involved in a workshop-style session. He’ll leave the keynotes to people who do them well, like our mutual friend Pat Flynn.
When you’re aware of what you do and don’t do well, you’ll flow into figuring out whom you want to work with and serve, what types of things to do, what kinds of content to create, and what kinds of problems you can and will solve. As these points become clear to you, you can start developing a niche or focus for your personal brand.
Pick a Niche
When I ask what he’d say to those who want to serve everyone, Chris says you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Commit to serving a niche.Instead, find your niche. Just as professional sports teams have several types of coaches and homebuilders contract with all sorts of specialists, from the architect to the plumber, entrepreneurs need a specialized focus, too.
Your niche not only helps you stand out, it also helps you get your messaging right. You create a lot more work for yourself if you try to go too broad because your messaging won’t be clear enough to attract the audience you want.
Chris feels frustrated when he knows an entrepreneur can do extremely well in one particular sector or sub-sector of a larger industry, but they try to go broad. Then they complain they’re not growing fast enough, or not making enough money or impact. If they would slow down and look at what they’re doing, they’d see they can affect more change, make more money, and help more people by going after a slightly smaller market.
Another example is LEGO, which was on the brink of bankruptcy 10 or 12 years ago, because the company was trying to do too many different things. In 2005 or 2006, LEGO hired a new CEO who said, “Let’s just bring it back down to the brick.” Now LEGO is doing much better.
People say, “I want to be a Facebook expert, but there’s already one. Her name is Mari Smith,” or “I want to be an entrepreneurial podcaster, but Pat Flynn already has that niche.” Chris emphasizes that people will fall in love with you for who you are.
The goal of content creators, influencers, and thought leaders is ultimately to become somebody’s favorite business podcaster, Facebook expert, or whatever. They want to be so loved that everybody downloads all of their content, retweets it, shares it on Facebook, opens all of their emails, clicks all of their links, buys all of their stuff, comes to their events, and so on.
Mari and Pat are amazing, but neither of them can serve the entire world. Believe it or not, some people won’t like them. Other people may want something different. Sally Hogshead said in one of her recent books, “Being different is actually better than being better.” Be different, stand out, be as unique as you possibly can be, and the right people will come your way. Experience 3 days with the best social marketers. Discover the latest tactics and improve your marketing know-how! Sale Ends January 1st! CLICK TO SAVE!
When you can be yourself, Chris says you’re “marketing like a magnet.” In other words, you attract the people who will get you, love your vibe, and want to be part of your tribe. At the same time, you’ll repel the people who won’t be great clients anyway. You don’t need those clients. Instead, focus on “attracting the best and repelling the rest.”
Listen to hear what Chris thought about my personal brand the first time we met for lunch.
Face Your Fear
Face your fears to work through marketing yourself.Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to market yourself, but people still struggle. First, they procrastinate. They think their YouTube videos have to be perfect. They think they can’t or shouldn’t be sharing personal things on social media because it’s public. Second, they’re afraid. They fear rejection. They fear online trolls.
As you become more influential, you’ll publish more content, and more people will see that content. Along with all of the amazing people out there, your content will always attract the odd idiot on YouTube who makes a stupid comment. Just block and delete people, and move on. Don’t procrastinate; don’t be fearful. Put yourself out there. You have to learn to have a thick skin, particularly if you’re building a personal brand and a business around that brand.
Appear on Others’ Platforms
To spread your message, you can use social media, blogs, and podcasts. In his book, Chris explains in detail how to get on other people’s podcasts in a classy, non-sleazy, non-salesy way. The key is to provide value and be a great guest.
To illustrate, Chris’s value includes his experience and personality. When his new book came out, he approached friends who host podcasts (like me) and said, “I’ve got this value that I want to share with your audience. What do you think? Is it a good episode?” The podcast host might respond by asking to tweak the idea and cut some of the content for the show. After agreeing on an approach that works for both parties, they go live with it.
Chris believes that when someone of influence puts you in front of their audience, it’s like a stamp of approval. That support for your ideas is incredibly powerful for a personal brand entrepreneur.
I note that approval is part of the power of appearing on a show, but the increased visibility you get is also important. You get a chance to share your message with an audience that doesn’t know who you are. If the audience likes the value you provide, they may recommend you to someone else and subscribe to your blog, podcast, or other content.
Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker.Chris adds that for someone whose business is built on a personal brand, growing your circle, getting on people’s shows, getting on people’s stages with events, being invited as a special guest on webinars, and so on is at the very core of what you do. You’re only as good as the company you keep.
Chris also likes podcasts because he can appear on a podcast from his home. With his first book, Virtual Freedom, Chris went on a traditional book signing and keynoting tour. After being on the road on and off for about 8 months, he was totally worn out. He never wanted to do that kind of promotion again.
He launched his new book from his home in the Philippines, where he can spend time with his family every day. He focused on getting on as many great podcasts as he could and providing great online content that can be shared and marketed.
When you’re asking to appear on other people’s platforms, you need to make sure you’ve established a relationship with the show or host first, and focus on the value you can offer the audience. Relationships should be treasured, not used. He sees way too much “using” in the online business world.
Every week, Chris receives at least one or two blanket request emails, asking people to be a guest at a virtual summit. The senders say they’re a fan and proceed to set out their guest criteria, such as having an email list of at least 10,000 people and sending emails at least three times per week.
However, these requests might be the first time the sender has ever contacted Chris. How can he know if someone is a fan if they’ve never tweeted to say, “Hey, great book post,” or shared one of his podcast episodes? Chris blocks the senders of these blanket emails and marks their messages as spam.
Share Behind-the-Scenes Posts
One of Chris’s favorite ways to market is through social and video. He shows behind-the-scenes details as he grows his business, meets clients, hires and trains staff, writes his book, and puts together a live event. He shares this content via Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, Twitter, or other channels.
Chris mentions our show, The Journey, as an example of great behind-the-scenes content. He likes this kind of content because it shows how you get things done.
Write Notes by Hand
Chris has been hand-writing notes for years. Whether you’re running a business or working for another company, this tactic can build your personal brand. Plus, handwritten notes have a big impact because few people do it.
Chris sends hand-written notes to his customers.
Chris writes notes a couple of times each month to thank customers, suppliers, Twitter followers, Instagram commenters, and others. On a postcard with his logo at the top, Chris can write as much as he wants on one side and put the address on the other side.
These notes always make someone’s day. People who receive these cards tweet Chris pictures or email him all the time.
Chris also writes notes at live events. As an example, at Social Media Marketing World, if he meets somebody over coffee at Starbucks at the convention center, on the boat, or in a session, and they strike up a conversation, he’ll ask at which hotel they’re staying. Then later he can ask the concierge to deliver his note.
Although he could send an email, Chris likes this old-school tactic. It’s a huge lesson for people when it comes to personal branding overall. Sometimes the old ways are better.
Listen to the show to hear more of Chris’s thoughts about The Journey and the prediction he makes.