In today's business community there's a relatively new term for entrepreneurs who are sole practitioners, it's "solepreneur". There seems to be a struggle for many solopreneurs around whether or not to brand themselves, their businesses or both. If you are in business and you are a solo practitioner meaning it's just you managing your enterprise and providing a product or service to your clientele single-handedly, then you will want to read on to find solutions about how you can brand yourself and your business at the same time.
My perspective on branding as it relates to sole entrepreneurship is this: first and foremost what you are marketing above all is you. You are the brand. Whether it is a product that you have personally created or service that you personally offer, your clients are buying you first. When you offer a consultation, you are the facilitator. When you offer a product you are the creator. It all starts with you. Therefore, you have to get very comfortable with putting yourself out there in a bigger way. Check out my list of 5 easy steps to brand both you and your business in a very effective magnetic way.
1. Sell Yourself. I know, you're thinking, "I don't want to sell myself... that's sleazy!" Allow me to put your mind at ease. You can sell yourself and your company by selling your brand story. How did your company get started? People want to know your personal story as well. What have you accomplished? Quite simply, what's your story? Your target market or unique niche, must feel the power of the know-like-trust factor before they buy from you. People want to do business with someone they feel genuinely cares about them and their situation. Most importantly, people have to be convinced that they will be better off after hiring you or buying whatever it is you are selling. So the most important way that you can sell yourself is to position yourself as the solution to the problem or challenge that your ideal prospects or clients are facing. If you educate the people in your target market about a subject that matters to them, you have instantly created value. This value will place you above others in your industry as long as you are consistent.
2. Create a Niche. Identifying a specific segment of your target market is going to help you brand yourself and your business. This segment will become your niche and your focus. Figure out who your unique audience is... these are the people in your tribe who you are best suited to help. What are their characteristics? What do they want or need more than anything? In order to attract your target market or niche, you have to be able to relate to them - to their needs, concerns, challenges, goals and frustrations. Make certain that you communicate using key words of the language that they understand. Quite simply, talk their talk. Draw them to you by using compelling marketing messages that engage them and intrigue them. You must connect on du0 dimensional basis both intellectually and emotionally. Remember people buy based on their emotions and then justify the expense with their intellect.
3. Solve Problems. The people in your unique tribe have problems and challenges. These are the people in your target market that you are the most gifted to serve. They are looking for answers. They are looking for you. Once you have identified a central problem or area of concern held by most people in your niche or tribe, it's up to you to come up with a solution for them. You must brand yourself as the expert or problem solver for a specific area of need. Branding yourself and your business as the champion of this particular area of concern will set you above the pack and help you to stand out. Not only will you stand out, but your audience will have no choice but to sit up and take notice.
4. Provide value. After you have identified your unique tribe or niche within your target market, you must consistently offer them value that they are not getting anywhere else. In marketing to your unique tribe you must provide loads of content. You must teach them what they don't know, that they don't know. You will need to constantly provide a lot of content and information relevant to that niche. Can you imagine spending a lot of time marketing something you're not passionate about? How authentic do you think you will be if you can't relate to your niche and don't have real knowledge of that niche? To brand yourself authentically, you have to be able to genuinely connect with your unique tribe and have something valuable to contribute to them.
5. Promote a Polished Image. An important part of building your brand is your image. Your brand image is comprised of several different components including your business, your logo, your business cards and your tag-line, etc. It's important to use the same message across all platforms to communicate to your unique niche. It's important to keep in mind that each platform piece has a slightly different design element that needs to be addressed in order to maximize the professional brand image you're creating. Make sure that your image is consistent in design, color and overall appearance.
Finally, if you will address all five simple steps outlined above, you will have completed the most critical components of how to successfully brand yourself and your business at the same time. Remember the most effective branding should resonate with your unique niche as authentic, brilliant and memorable.