Being a Business and Personal Branding coach, I have come across many different posts, articles, books on the indispensable need to have a personal brand and how important it has become to support our career or business.
Personal branding simply put is the process of creating your own story that shows off your expertise and helps you build the right connections, building trust which can help you make more sales and create more opportunities for growth.
In my journey of being a corporate executive to a stay-at-home mother to a blogger, an educator, an entrepreneur, I realise that my own personal brand has undergone many changes, partly organic and partly by design. Now as a Business & Personal Branding coach, I support and mentor peer coaches and small business owners on different aspects of this vast subject, learning from my own experiences, as I have stumbled a few times along the way, and working along with new challenges that come up with ever changing consumer needs and technology.
Here is a list of 6 biggest mistakes that one could make in this personal branding journey –
- Generic branding – Too often coaches who have just finished their coach training dive straight into the practice using their brand new coaching tools, building on the skills that they have mastered. And they are excellent coaches in their own right who can create amazing transformations. Transform ‘Who?’ I ask. “Everybody” they would say, however two years into this journey or even less, they start burning-out as they realise that it’s not easy finding clients who are ready to pay for their service, despite their best efforts at being there and giving it their all. What they don’t realise is that they are sending you a generic message which makes it very difficult for a potential customer to ‘see’ them, know what they ‘actually do’ and come to them when they feel that need. Coaches need to be pro-active in make it known what exact problem are they solving for their customers?
- Building a Niche based on popularity – We all know that Executive Coaching is the most lucrative, both in terms of demand and revenue. However a coach who has no understanding, interest or experience in the corporate world takes up this niche and puts in all their effort and money into building it, will only make limited progress. When creating your niche it is very important to understand your own strengths and experiences and also the way you are perceived by others. Building a niche based on demand or popularity, pretending who you are not, can only lead to failure in the long run.
- Lack of consistency – Once you identify your niche, make sure that you stick to it for at least 2-3 years to help build it in the minds of your audience. Some coaches are not too sure about what might work and hence they might use different voices in different communication media. For eg. become a Life Coach in their newsletter and an Executive coach on LinkedIn. Too many different voices or messages lead to confusion in the customer’s mind and may also be seen as less trustworthy at times.
- Not revealing the person behind the brand – Sometimes it feels safer and easier to market a brand, a product rather than the person behind it. It could be due to lack of confidence, need for privacy or certain other beliefs. However coaching is about building trust. Customers who buying your coaching package want to know you, your experiences, your story, your strengths and when you share that with people you build a lasting relationship that is sustainable in building your brand.
- Overselling yourself – In the process of building your brand and image continuously over a period of time, there may be a possibility that your personal brand may exceed your qualifications or experience. It could start as you build your story on and on, watching what competition is doing, feeling anxious or left-out when you get no responses and you try to catch-up by overselling yourself before you know it. Ultimately this catches up with you when your delivery does not match with the ‘promise’ leading into negative feedback and downward spiral.
- Leaving it too late – Some coaches feel that they need to focus on the actual coaching rather than worrying about how to build their personal brand. What they don’t realise is that while they are putting in all their hard work, money and effort into build their coaching practice, someone or something else is building their brand in any case. Many coaches only realise how important their personal branding is once they face a problem. Whether its negative comments or incorrect information that builds up online, branding yourself right at the start instead of doing it as a remedy is always safer and easier.
Besides the above there are many other mistakes that coaches and small businesses make in personal branding, like building their niche superficially, underestimating the time that is needed to grow a brand or not generating original content or ignoring networking.
Time has come to realise that personal branding is not just a competitive advantage to have, it is an absolute necessity if you wish to grow your business and the sooner you get started the better.
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