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How to Turn a Person into a Brand

How to Turn a Person into a Brand

By Aaron Broverman

Cher, Oprah, Liza, Madonna and Celine are all extremely famous celebrities, but they also have one thing in common that is much harder to cultivate – millions know them simply by their first names.

It’s a great indication that these women aren’t just celebrities, they’re brands. But how can one go from being just a normal human-being to being a brand unto themselves?

It’s a question Steve Holt, founder of Steve Holt Consulting, gets all the time:

“It’s something I speak on often and especially at conferences for entrepreneurs. They all want to know, ‘how can I increase awareness of myself and what I’m doing?’ and it’s always a challenge because there are a lot of little things you have to do before you get to that name recognition.”

Holt would know. The Tennessee-based speaker, author and teacher works with companies and entrepreneurs to improve their business development, leadership skills and social media presence. He says that the number-one key to going from just a person to a brand is constant social interaction.

Cut through the clutter and noise

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound? Not on Facebook.

Social media companies are constantly customizing their users experience to make them happy. On Facebook that means only the status updates and posts of those friends that you’ve interacted with recently (liked their post, shared their post, commented on their post or page) will appear in your news feed.

This means if you’re my Facebook friend who’s trying to build a personal brand, but you haven’t done anything to engage with me in the past few days, I will not see anything you post in my newsfeed and will have little-to-no incentive to remember your name.

“Social media is like a river, it’s constantly moving and flowing,” says Holt. “What you see now is going to be different in a few minutes and if you pull out of that stream, everything that happened while you were gone will have disappeared and you can’t get it back. The only way people will see you is if they pass you in the stream and they interact with you.”

This means you’ll need to be constantly vigilant, constantly interacting and being engaging. But, if you’re a one-man show, this can wear you down, so Holt recommends using tools like HootSuite to help automate the process and post during off-hours.

“However, if you do too much automation, you’re no longer present in that interaction; it’s just the computer doing it for you, and that’s not good either,” he says.

Make yourself indispensable

If you’re communicating with your friends list as often as you have to, what will keep them coming back is quality information.

“You have to make yourself an expert in something,” says Holt. “You have to make yourself where people go to get the answer to something that’s really the key to building your brand.”

Do things for other people and do some of it for free

Anyone can name their favourite sports team or beverage and no matter what it is, it’s the first thing that pops into their mind. Holt says that in order to achieve that kind of top-of-mind recognition, you have to be willing to do things for people and you need to be just as willing to do some of those things for free.

“Everybody likes free, right? And in the age of social media everyone expects things to be free, so if you’re a writer, you need to offer some books that are free,” says Holt. “You need to seek out other people and help solve their problems for free, so that people look at you like, ‘Wow, that was pretty awesome! Why did that guy do that? I mean, who am I?’”

If you do this, Holt assures that people will start talking about it. They’ll start helping promote you in their channel and you’ll get more exposure that way. Of course, you don’t want to give away the farm, so like many companies already do, Holt recommends offering a level of quality services for free, but then charging for that little something extra – a premium level of service.

“For every single person you interact or do business with, you’ve got to offer value and not just any kind of value, you’ve got to offer them a value that makes them remember you and makes them want to do business with you again,” says Holt. “Building your brand is all about you being the value.”

Expand across platforms at the right time

All the best-branded individuals seem to be everywhere. They’re writing books, they’re on the radio, they’re on television and they’re endorsing products. But before you expand into other platforms or areas of expertise, Holt recommends getting really good at just one and then build it from there.

Holt himself started with speaking and then started blogging to promote his speaking. Then he started selling e-books when those who attended his speaking gigs wanted to take something home. After that he started selling the e-books and now he gives those away and is hired to do business consulting.

Everything had its natural next step because Holt found that if you make enough people happy, they will promote you without even knowing it and that will build your audience. And as your audience grows, and you in turn grow in popularity, the needs of your audience will change and that’s when it’s time to expand.

“You have to listen to your customers,” says Holt. “Find needs that are not being met and if you’re an active participant in whatever arena you’re trying to make it in, then you’ll see those needs very quickly and start filling them.”

Talk about other people more than you talk about yourself

Of course if you’re in so many arenas, people may resent the fact that you’re everywhere rather than appreciate it. So, to avoid the danger of over-saturation, Holt recommends a simple fix:

“You need to talk about other people ten times more than you talk about yourself,” he says. “If you do that, people will see value in what you’re giving them and they won’t look at you like you’re a narcissist who’s scamming them somehow.”

In the end, what authenticity is all about is just being yourself and letting people in to your life, so they can make a connection and feel like they know you.

“You’ve got to be you,” says Holt. “You’ve got to be who you are. You’ve got to show your customers and audience a personal side of you. You’ve got to let them see who you really are and talk about thoughts and feelings that are real for you.”

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