Let me tell you a quick story.
Dave grew up in a small town, but for as long as he could remember he had dreamed of breaking free; of escaping his hometown and seeing the world. But for a while, it just seemed like a dream. His family didn’t have much money, so travel just rarely happened. But he always listened intently to stories from his grandmother and his great uncle about their travels as he was growing up.
College seemed like a sure-fire way to achieve that dream. He had the grades to choose almost any school he wished. Dreams of college in Florida, California, or Hawaii frequented his mind. He’d never made it out West, but that one family vacation to Florida convinced him that the beach life was for him! He could still imagine the smell of the ocean as he envisioned his college years!
But then reality struck. Even if Dave could get the scholarships to go to the school of his dreams, he would never be able to afford the travel to get there! That trip to Florida was about the only family vacation they ever took – and quite frankly they were still paying it off years later.
So he ended up going to school within an hour of home. In some ways, he felt like a failure.
But then, something amazing happened. After he got his first “real job”, he learned this incredible secret…
What happens next?
Be honest- don’t you want to know what happens to Dave? What the secret was that he learned?
This is why your brand needs a hero: because you want people to connect to your brand like you would the hero of a story.
I believe that hero should be you. And the superpowers you need to focus on sharing with the world are the ones that create the transformation your target market desires.
Heroes can’t remain invisible
Even the invisible woman needs to show her face of she wants people to know who she is and begin to earn their trust. That’s one of the key points of having a face for the hero of your brand: trust.
Take a look at these two Instagram feeds below. Which one do you think will more likely create a connection between the account owner and the people viewing it? They both are following a similar approach, other than one is truly mono-chromatic.
Trust is essential to the purchasing decision. The only time it is not is if what you’re selling is low enough cost that the buyer is asking to take the risk of it doesn’t work out. The account on the right is Haley Hoffman Smith. She is absolutely blowing up. I’m honored to say I’ve done some photos for her.
Recently I ordered a bike from a sketchy website. The deal seemed too good to be true. But the price was low enough that I was willing to take the risk. And it was actually a pretty well executed scam. What I received was a pair of (fake) Ray Ban sunglasses. So they have a tracking number to fight any claims. If you paid by PayPal, you’d have a tough time getting your money back.
The only reason I ordered was the price. You don’t want to compete on price. You want to attract clients and customers that wasn’t to work with you . People who would gladly pay more to cost you instead of someone else. That’s why you need to become the hero of your brand and your business.
Why would people care about your personal brand?
I used to think that there was no good reason for me to be posting online. I just wasn’t that interesting.
Now this feels a little weird to write, but do you want to know what some people call me these days? I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this….
I get called two things: “Dos Equis” and “The Most Interesting Man in the Network”.
Apparently, some people really enjoy learning about the things that aren’t just photography. They find my travels, interest in records, love of good food and drink enjoyable. They appreciate the stories from my past.
These people will support just about anything I do. Some of them are recurring, high-value clients.
There are people who need the special things you bring into the world. They need them so their lives will be better, more fulfilling, and enjoyable. You need to share your heroic superpowers, even if they seem mundane and ordinary to you.
Remember, your branding is not really about you
This idea of you becoming a Brand Hero is 100% not about being self-centered or only caring about yourself. Actually, it’s quite the opposite! Why are heroes loved to begin with? It’s because of what they do for the people they serve and how they make those people feel.
The goal of making you a point of focus in your brand is to give people a person to connect with that helps them achieve their dreams. It can be aspirational in some ways, but it is mostly about sharing the positive and likeable parts of your personality so others can create that emotional connection with you and your business.
Because of this, I believe there are absolutely things you don’t share. There needs to be some mystery to a true hero as well.
I’m not recommending trying to be infallible; in fact sharing your failures and shortcomings are important. But there are always of your life that don’t support your brand OR your clients’ journeys to where they are trying to end up as part of their transformation working with you.
For example, certain inefficiencies in the world drive me crazy. So me sharing my frustrations over the poor design of Jeep’s oil filter and air filters for maintenance really don’t have anything to do with your personal brand journey. So I don’t share that sort of post – except for perhaps in Instagram stories that disappear in 24 hours.
Because it not about how I feel; and it’s not about you with your brand. It’s about how the content you share improve your customer’s journey.
Educate and entertain
For about a decade, people have consistently asked me how I was able to switch industries throughout my corporate career, and essentially continue to build my career with each move. There was never a thought of starting over during the last 20 years.
As I then started into my photography career, it was a similar discussion with a lot of my closest connections. And it occurred to me that the common thread is personal branding.
But within that branding, there has always been a huge component of educating the people I work with as to why my skills transfer, and how what I did in electronics would work for medical devices. Or how trains are like hip implants.
And these days, in spend my efforts educating people about how personal branding can changed their life and their business. It is critical that you put the effort into educating your potential clients.
Whether you’re a business owner or an employee, that educational aspect will lead you to success. Teach people what you know. All the time. And then repeat yourself often.
Are you thinking “If I’m always teaching, won’t they just do it themselves?” Some people might. But they aren’t your target client. Most people want to know that you know your stuff; that they can and should trust you to get them the results they desire.
I once heard someone say they’ll give away all their secrets because 95% of people won’t do anything to apply what they’re given. But, they will probably remember who they got the knowledge from, and then go back when they make a buying decision. So always be sharing.
Now, as far as entertaining, I’m not a comedian – so making people laugh with funny videos and jokes isn’t how I entertain. But I try to tell stories and try to entertain through my actions and results.
Otherwise what I share would be 100% checklists and bulleted list. Not very interesting!
This part of my advice might be controversial, but I’m sharing it anyway. I’m much happier with a slow $20 than a quick buck. So my advice on selling is usually more long-term focused.
I’m more focused on building relationships that create amazing results over a period of years than what results I can get this month. It’s how I helped one of my organizations in my corporate career realize and extra 100 million Euros of profit in a three year span. And it’s also how I experienced an 800% increase in salary over a 12 year period in my career.
If you need a quick buck, watch Gary Vee’s Garage Sale’n and Business. Go find the fast money you need that way. And by the way, I did something similar in 2012-2015 so I could get out of debt and start building my photography business. I made $48k in 2015 while travelling for a global international company. Working on average 15 hours per week on my side hustle.
Once you’ve done the hustle to take money and the desperation to make it of the table, then focus on building quality relationships. Serve others, help them reach their goals. Become the “Dos Equis Guy” of your network.
Then, when you have an awesome offer, let them know. You’ll be amazed at how many referrals and opportunities that may come your way. I’ve shared it before that I call most of my marketing the “I know a guy” marketing plan. And it has been a steady way to first build a career, and now to build my business.
I periodically make offers for a season as well. When I hosted the Brand Hero Summit I ran ads and posted multiple times per day about it. And I don’t recall losing followers or email subscribers. But if I did, they weren’t the right people to be in my audience.
And likewise, at the end of the year I talk about my subscription offer, because that’s the main way to hire me to do your branding photos for the following year. But once the shoots are filled it will only come up in the context of education and examples.
Don’t get me wrong, be ready to sell whenever someone needs you. But don’t always be pitching.
Could you grow faster or bigger if you sell more? Probably. Will you love the business you’ve created, and all the clients you serve? Will it lead you to the life you want not only for yourself, but for your friends and family too? That’s just as important to me.
You have hero superpowers; share them with the world
There are talents and skills you have which may come easy to you, but other people desperately need in their lives. You need to share those superpowers with the world.
It becomes so much easier to create the connections and relationships needed to allow people to work with you when you put yourself out there as the face of your brand.
Your ideal clients want to work with someone who gets them; with someone they trust. Personal branding is a key component to letting them know you are that person! It’s like shining your own Bat-Signal into the world.
You’ll attract the right people and repel the rest. And for those people you attract, you’ll not only change their lives, but you’ll become their hero as well. But only if you’re willing to step up and become the hero of your brand.
P.S. – ‘Dave” was me – my first name is David….