In continuation of my interview with renowned Personal Branding expert, Jay Palter (for more information on Jay, visit JayPalter.ca), we’ll dive into some grassroots tips for building an audience as well as budget-friendly tools to help measure your success. To briefly recap the first part of our discussion, we focused on The Why of Personal Branding, Blogging versus Non-Blogging, and Finding Your Voice. For a full recap of our discussion, read part one.
Now that we’ve established why more small business owners should focus on personal branding, the value of blogging or content marketing, and how to find their voice, let’s dive into some ways to build an audience for those starting from scratch.
“Grassroots Tips for Building an Audience”
When asked the question of how to build an audience from scratch, Jay quickly responded by stating “You have to give a lot before you can get anything in return.” Having followed Jay’s work for several years now, I can attest that this mindset in practice has the potential to take your business to levels you couldn’t have imagined. I understand that running a profitable business is essential and your time is valuable, but if you aren’t willing to give up your time to help your community, there is little reason to believe they will give their time or money to help grow your business.
During our conversation, Jay also mentioned, “Commit to your community and they will commit to you in return” which has been a strategy that has been at the core of his success (and may be the root of your future success as well). In my opinion, this is the definition of being a leader in your field. I believe Zig Ziglar said it best:
“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it.
You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Selflessly giving to your community will not only show your dedication, but also demonstrate that you are a person of good character. People do business with those they like and trust. Part of a grassroots strategy involves building relationships first and transacting business second. Build the relationship and you will earn the business. As I mentioned in part one of this series, only 2 out of 10 businesses survive the first 18 months. Believe in giving yourself to your community and you will be in good company, but also one of the few; making it easier to differentiate yourself from your competition. Find things that you are passionate about that both you and your business may support. People will follow your passion!
There are a plethora of tools available today. The key is finding the tools that work best for you. However, if you are new to building an online community, here are some tools that both Jay and I are fond of using.
Content Marketing Tools
WordPress is one of the most widely used blogging tools on the web and is Jay’s preferred platform for content generation. It is the hub of his online activity and the source of much of his work. Of course there are other platforms out there, but the versatility of WordPress sets it apart from the competition.
Aside from leveraging various platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, one of the primary tools that both Jay and I use is Buffer. Over the years I have found this to be the primary aggregation and distribution tool as it provides me with one dashboard for tracking and scheduling some of my posts as well as some basic analytics. It integrates well with other platforms (i.e. Bit.ly and Social Bro).
Tracking your efforts should be part of your overall plan. The key is to develop your branding and content marketing strategy, then track your performance and make adjustments as necessary. Jay recommends, “Start with Google Analytics to track traffic to your blog posts and determine the most popular topics and sources of visitors. Buffer and Twitter also offer some good basic statistics on who is sharing what, so get to know your audience and the key influencers among them. Klout can be a starting place for measuring influence, but much more sophisticated tools are emerging such as Peek Analyics and Little Bird.” For those that are already using Hootsuite (instead of Buffer), building reports inside Hootsuite may also serve as a viable source of measurement as well.
In the end, you have to develop a strategy that works for you. Personal Branding is something that requires consistent effort and a lot of self-study. Understand your strengths and personal value-proposition that you are willing to offer your audience. Building long-lasting relationships take time, so plan on regularly adjusting your timeline for how quickly you plan to build an audience and a personal brand.
To build a Personal Brand online, choose your social media platforms wisely. You don’t have to be everywhere. You just have to be where your desired audience can be found. Lastly, don’t think of social media as merely a marketing and networking tool. It is a tool for communication and building relationships., both of which are a two-way street. Give more than you get and you’re on your way to success!