Personal Branding

Personal Brand

Franchise owners who actively use personal branding strategies to become the faces of their businesses will create more avenues for success.

By Bill Corbett Jr.

We live in competitive times, and even with the latest marketing tools and support from franchisors some franchisees struggle to succeed and grow. This is particularly true for new franchisees; however, established owners face challenges as well. It is not surprising that many franchisees are challenged when it comes to marketing.

Like most business owners, they have little or no training or background in marketing.

Many franchisors also have difficulties ensuring owners succeed and understand the important role that they personally play in marketing. Introductory marketing training offered during the onboarding process is helpful, as is ongoing support. These programs establish a much-needed foundation and provide a turnkey marketing solution. Beyond this foundation, franchise owners need to recognize the value of being personally involved and leveraging their own personal brands to support business growth.

What is a personal brand? Personal branding has been a hot topic for many years, especially with the growth in the use of social media. Although it may be a relatively new term, personal branding is not a new concept. An individual’s brand is created by the people they interact with in the real world as well as online. These regular exchanges lead to perceptions about an individual’s skills, knowledge, leadership and likability. 

Forward-thinking owners recognize that they are the personification of their businesses. Their actions or inactions reflect upon their reputation and that of their businesses. For example, take the franchise restaurant owner who is regularly quoted in the local newspaper, greets guests several days a week, supports local charities and attends chamber of commerce meetings. These personal marketing efforts have allowed this individual to become the “face” of the business. More customers will frequent this establishment because of the personal connections that have been developed.

 At a minimum, owners must do the following to build their brands:

* Secure monthly media coverage relating to their industry expertise and news about their business;

* Actively and publically support local causes and charities;

* Actively participate in local, industry or business groups;

* Have an active online presence, which should include social media posts, blogs and videos.; and  

* Demonstrate leadership, knowledge and expertise through speaking in public.

Personal social media posting should be done several times a week on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Video is critical for personal branding and owners themselves need to be on camera directly presenting to audiences. All owners must have a quality LinkedIn profile with a professional headshot.

Marketing actions must be deliberate and planned with identified goals. The simple fact is people – prospective customers and referral sources alike – want to do business with those they know, like and trust. Owners who sit on the sidelines and expect passive marketing and advertising alone to work will miss countless opportunities.

How do owners “get in the game?” The first step is to make the commitment. “Not having enough time” is not an acceptable excuse. Owners would logically make time if they knew their personal marketing activities would translate into 5, 10 or 25 percent growth. With a personal marketing plan, focused time and a consistent effort, growth is achievable. In addition, owners who are known as leaders and experts attract and retain employees while creating positive, more efficient work environments, and build customer loyalty.

The bottom line: Owners’ personal relationships are key for driving business and spreading awareness. Personal marketing activities create high-value word-of-mouth marketing, social media interactions, referrals and direct business. Word-of-mouth reputation is a valuable business asset that must be developed and earned. Customers will reward owners who take the time to build trust in this way.

Leadership and expertise attract attention: Members of the media are always looking for experts and news. No matter what your business sector or geographic market, customers need and want what you have to offer. Customers also have choices and need a reason to select you versus a competitor.

Gaining attention and recognition as an expert through media coverage is a key differentiator. Media interviews, along with blogs, social media posts, online videos and even speaking presentations are proven, successful strategies for building a personal brand. Staying top-of-mind is critical and failure to be in front of customers regularly opens doors for competitors.

Talent acquisition and staffing: Restaurant, real estate, child care, education, painting, maintenance and other franchises compete for staff every day. Whether it is skilled or unskilled labor, attracting the right people can make or break a business. Today we are in a more competitive employment market than we have been for a number of years. Owners who use personal branding to become known in their communities as leaders, experts and mentors will attract and keep talent.

Franchise owners who choose to take an active role and use personal branding strategies to become the face of their businesses create more avenues for success. The investment of time and effort in personal branding creates a competitive advantage that will pay dividends for years to come.

Bill Corbett Jr. is president of Corbett Public Relations and creator of Grow Your Personal Brand. Corbett works with leading national franchise brands, local franchisees and business owners. His clients regularly appear in the media including The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC, Inc., Entrepreneur and Fast Company. For more information, visit www.corbettpr.com, email wjcorbett@corbettpr.com or follow on Twitter at @liprguy.

 

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