By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Podcast.
Creating a personal brand is a subject close to Michelle Griffin’s heart. However, even though marketing and branding are a part of her skill set, it was a challenge for her to help other people get noticed. This is why she put together five easy steps that her clients can follow.
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The 5C’s of Personal Branding
In one episode of The UnNoticed Podcast, Michelle broke down the 5C’s of personal branding.
Confidence. Many people are afraid to step out because of uncertainty: They are uncertain if they’re experienced enough or if there will people who will listen. However, if you won’t step out to help others through your service or product, no one will ever know about you. This change in mindset to be more confident is almost a daily battle. And Michelle helps her clients out by diving deep into what can make them more confident about themselves — from message and mission to skills and expertise.
Clarity. If you’re not clear about your identity, values, missions, perspectives, and the services you’re going to provide — it is a huge issue. It’s going to be a struggle to make sense of things and help others make sense of you. This is why you have to get clarity on your purpose internally first. After doing that, you can do external clarification: Who is your audience? What are their demographics? What are the challenges and desires? Part of this step is also identifying which platform should you use in getting yourself known. Michelle always tells that you don’t need to do all things in all places to get traction. It’s better to start small and build things up from there.
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- Content. The fastest way to attract more people and let them know who you are is with content. Content is at the heart of every branding endeavour. And when making content and conversation with your audience, you have to determine your strength. Do you like to do podcasts? Do you like blogging and writing? There are different ways to make your thought leadership and your brand get noticed. And all these can act as fuel for your brand; as a way of creating an online identity. To help you produce effective content, Michelle notes that choosing topics and themes and aligning your content to them is important. This will help you be clearer and more competent as a brand.
- Consistency. Many people fail because they give up too soon: They’re not consistent. However, Michelle emphasises that consistency wins the game. It wins the game for content, for personal brand building, for business. Keep in mind that you are doing things for a long haul. Look at it as a marathon and not a one-and-done thing. One thing that really propels people forward is consistently taking action. For instance, earlier this year, Michelle took on the 365-day challenge on LinkedIn wherein she had to post daily on the platform. This helps her ensure that she can consistently show up on her LinkedIn account.
- Community. For Michelle, the most important thing is community. Start looking at your audience, clients, collaborators, friends, and partners as one big community — a community that’s built to support one another. If you will use this approach, you will experience a ripple and snowball effect. The more you connect and help people, the more that your brand will grow.
Michelle considers these 5C’s like a big circle — it all works around and it never ends. It’s an endless cycle of constantly evolving, and growing a bigger circle.
To address issues on confidence, Michelle asks her clients: Why are you putting yourself out there? Why would people listen to you? What do you have to say? After these are answered, she helps in spinning things around. Brand-building is not really about you; it’s about how you can help others. It’s about your audience. When you have this mindset, you’ll be taking a huge burden off your shoulder and realise that you can do this. You can help others and even make a profit in the process.
In Donald Miller’s “Building a StoryBrand,” clarity is emphasised. If you’re confused, you will lose a sense of things. And clarity is not just for personal brands, it’s for everyone, from entrepreneurs to big businesses.
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One mistake that people make today is jumping straight into creating content for their social media platforms and websites without being clear of what their brands are. When you know who you are and what your strengths are, you can make your strategy aligned to it. And people will be able to sense that. As stated, it’s vital to be internally clear first before extending the clarity externally. Based on her experience, seeing clients transform into a more clarified brand is the best part of her job. She also says that it is clarity that can further boost confidence.
Being clear — especially when it comes to knowing what your platform/s should be — further helps in saving time and money. If your audience is on LinkedIn, you don’t necessarily have to be on Instagram, and vice versa.
Clarity also helps in being strategic about content. If you’re internally and externally clear about your brand, you won’t just be piece-mealing your content. This is why Michelle makes sure that she helps her client create a content strategy that’s based on their goals and on their audience’s problems that they want to address. From there, she assists in choosing about three to five pillar topics. Making content based on these topics will help things keep fresh and professional. If you are a personal brand, you have to create content that will attract your ideal customers in an organised manner.
However, content creation is not just about posting something on a certain platform like LinkedIn. You also have to comment and engage with your audience. You have to get a pulse of what your audience likes and what are the things that they resonate with. Track things and assess if your content is still relevant to your audience.
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When producing content, Michelle advises having a mixture of video, live video, and graphic content. There are different tools such as Canva that can help you create these materials. In terms of copy creation, tools like Grammarly, Repurpose.io, and the Hemmingway App can help. You don’t have to be afraid because there are technologies you can leverage to help you grow your brand.
When asked about how to be consistent, Michelle points out that you should not be enamoured by “likes.” While there are people who get an amazing number of likes, followers, and comments on social media, they’re not getting any clients. This is why she always asks her clients: Do you want likes or do you want leads?
Consistency and content creation are not about posting something that will appeal to a lot of people — it’s about targeting the right people. Michelle knows of brands that don’t have a lot of social media following but are thriving in terms of clients and revenue. This goes to show that you don’t have to give up if you’re not getting huge social media statistics. If you’re talking to your audience, they’re going to see your value.
One reason to be consistent is to think of personal branding as a long-term thing. Success doesn’t usually happen overnight. For instance, if you’re on LinkedIn and you feel that no one is seeing your content, you have to know that about 97% to 99% of people there are mere lurkers. Even though they don’t comment, you shouldn’t give up because it doesn’t mean that they’re not seeing your content.
With regards to building a community, you can start small by simply participating first: Show up and show other people that you care. If you’re on LinkedIn, bear in mind that you give what you get. Comment on other posts and be a helpful person, and you’ll see that people will start to recognise you very fast. It’s a way of expediting growing your community.
When building your community, it’s also essential to start collaborating. As mentioned, by connecting to and working with other people, you will experience a ripple effect. This is based on what Michelle has personally experienced. When she got consistent on LinkedIn and she started getting connected and collaborative with other people, she started getting traction. Other opportunities like getting invited to Clubhouse, Zoom, and live events followed.
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However, when reaching out to other people, she says that it’s important to be genuine. You shouldn’t talk in a hard-sell manner or appear salesy. For you to make a huge difference, you have to treat others as humans. Take note that networking and building relationships are about authentically connecting with like-minded people.
You can learn more about the 5C’s of personal branding through Michelle Griffin on her LinkedIn account and her website, https://michellebgriffin.com. This June, she is also set to launch a podcast called “Business of You.”
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.