“People trust brands that have people they can trust.”
Not only will a poor personal brand damage your agency’s brand, I believe a non-existent personal brand does so as well.
Steve Farnsworth writes and speaks about how smart companies can effectively integrate social media, PR and content marketing into their marketing mix. He is also the Chief Digital Strategist at Jolt Digital Marketing.
Steve raised this question in a recent article, “Can you damage your company’s brand by ignoring yours?”
“I’ve had a surprising number of executives from the C-suite tell me that they don’t want to actively manage their personal brand. Why? Because it’s, “all about the company’s brand.” And they are so very wrong. People do business with people. Employees are the ones who make up a brand. Period.”
Owners of agencies should focus on their personal brand. The brick and mortar isn’t as important as the person who owns the agency. This is especially true of small to midsize firms.
Agency Owners Are Critical to New Business
There are many situations where your personal brand is as essential, or even more so, than your agency’s brand.
Take a look at personal branding from a prospective client’s perspective:
- We’re a highly relational industry and the face behind the agency helps to create a more personal brand impression.
- Staff relationships are usually deeply rooted in the person behind the brand.
- For smaller agencies like BOHAN Ideas, Park and CO, the Buntin Group or even global agencies such as Ogilvy and Leo Burnett, the name/person behind their agency is part of their value proposition.
- A prospect is buying into the expertise of the agency owner as well as the owners values, vision and promise.
Bottom line, if you develop your personal brand, then you can help your agency acquire more new business.
Agency owners often struggle with developing their agency’s brand let alone a personal brand that they can live with and flourish under.
Here’s an example and helps for creating a strong personal brand:
1. Identify with a specific audience
As I was writing this article I received a follow-up call from Chris Ray, CEO of the Ramey agency. I had assisted Chris in developing his personal brand aimed specifically at the CEOs and CMOs of high-end home brands. Chris was excited to report that he had just received an invitation to consultant and provide training for a major worldwide manufacturer of window coverings and architectural products.
This was welcome news. Chris’ agency had recently lost a major client after a 25 year relationship. The client was Viking, the first professional-grade range for residential kitchens. Ramey helped turn this high-end appliance company based in Mississippi, into an iconic American brand that is now known worldwide. Losing this account left a huge hole to fill.
2. Once you’ve identified your audience, you need to decide what you can offer them.
When Viking was a client, Chris’ agency wasn’t able to work with other appliance brands because of a conflict of interest. In addition, given the scope of Viking’s business, they were also prohibited from working with a host of within the home category such as cookware, cutlery, small electrics, grills and even cabinetry.
Chris was now able to get back out there and talk to some of the brands he had admired as competitors, but what could he give in exchange for their valuable time and attention?
Chris created a personal platform, a strategic online resource blog for marketers of high-end and high-performance brands. The blog is called, Upward Home: Marketing for High-End Home Brands. It has allowed Chris to be positioned as a marketing expert for luxury home brands.
With rarely a word about Viking, Chris writes from his unique perspectives, shares his ideas and insights about the home. His writing is often drawn from the countless hours he had previously spent with luxury home owners conducting ethnography research, leading focus groups, qualitative surveys and plenty of quantitative studies. He has studied their psychographics and buying behaviors and mapped the high-end consumer’s path-to-purchase.
Chris has established a clear value proposition, exchanging his knowledge for the attention of his target audience which results in opportunities for new business within a very specific niche.
3. Every point of contact becomes an opportunity to create a positive brand impression.
As social media continues to evolve towards direct engagement, as spokesperson-in-chief, the agency CEOs skills and experience in social media becomes even more important. Prospective clients expect to have direct connections to the agency’s brand leader. Agency CEOs, like Chris, can communicate through social media to help their agency appear more human and accessible.
Your personal brand provides a multiplicity of benefits beyond finding and attracting new clients, such as:
- Humanizing the agency
- Improving employee communications
- Building media relations
- Sharing agency news and information
- Improving your agency’s reputation
- Demonstrating your agency’s innovation
- Enhancing credibility
- Attracting top talent
- Sharing social responsibilities and causes
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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