Are you struggling with your focus to send out clear messages so that you could get that amazing job you want, fulfill your potential, find great clients and life the dream lifestyle you want? There is a simple solution to fix it, but it will include some time for preparation and then the focus to stick to it at least a year. To help you with this, I want to give you four simple steps to create a personal branding plan for this year specifically but keeping in mind a bigger picture.
When you start with the given steps, you will notice that they do need some thinking. If you haven’t done your “soul searching” yet, then take this time to do it now. A good marketing plan and a strong brand relies on clear message. Trust me, you will save a lot of time, energy and money when you do that!
Any kind of strategy and planning gives you an important structure that is vital in a busy and fast changing business world. Strategy is especially important in branding and marketing.
But less talk! Open your “ME Inc” folder and create a document “Bränding and mareting strategy 2017” and let’s start!
You can check out a video I made focusing mentioning all the four steps or you can read the full steps with descriptions below. Don’t forget to comment below and if you have any questions or want to move quicker in your business, write firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEP #1: WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF YOUR BRANDING AND MARKETING (this year)?
This is the most important question to answer and decide upon from the start. That answer will determine everything in your strategy and marketing plan.
Do you sometimes feel you have to work on multiple goals at the same time? Doing everything at once? From working with your company’s products, juggling as a freelancer or offering your time as a volunteer and at the same time working in developing your expert field. Or you have tons of skills and services that you want to promote all at the same time – one because it brings in well, other because you love doing it and third because everybody keeps asking it? If you focus on everything at the same time and thinking of everything as a “priority” then your message and brand gets diluted. The aim of creating a personal brand is to implant an idea of you to your target group as an authority in your chosen field, a person with your chosen skills, personality or style. So, what is the ONE question that people should turn to you? Remember, that if you offer everything to everyone then at some point people will not know what you actually do or ask things that are not so attractive for you.
For example, I decided to focus on writing. Mainly in the field of self accomplishment, entrepreneurship and reputation management and personal branding. The topic can change just as longes I use writing skills. Having that focus means that I will look for opportunities to write, publish and take on clients who either work in the writing field (bloggers, journalists, writers, artists) or for whom I need to do writing (motivational letters, about-me pages, ads, flyers).
For me this is so specific skill-set that also offers so many opportunities, the focus helps me make decisions on a daily bases on where to spend my time. And it is easy to evaluate whether and how much and how well I have done it.
Answer the following questions to set your focus:
- Which skill/knowledge do you wish to use the most during this year? Something that you are amazing at, something you are intrigued about, something that your clients/employer needs and is unique combination of your interests and experiences? It can be a skill you want to develop. A skill that you want that by the end of the year, you will be known for.
- If you are offering a service, what will be in the center of your marketing? To which service you want most new clients?
- Who could be the most important target group you want to service?
I advise you to choose only up to 3 items to focus on. If you choose more, have them prioritized from 1 to … . And whenever you make a decision, keep the ranking in mind.
As said, this ranking is so important when you have to make a decision what to take and what to leave, when you look at your calendar and choose where to spend your time and effort. This is the most effective way to save your time throughout the year and to be clear in your messages and communication. And to top it all, it will make it easy to evaluate your growth and success realistically at the end of the year. Did you keep the focus? With what results? How did you grow compared to the beginning?
STEP #2: CHOOSE THE MOST IMPORTANT MARKETING CHANNELS
The amount of marketing channels grows every single day. Mostly on account for online and social media channels. I often have to help my clients who come for consultations on marketing and ask: “Do I really have to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn?” There are also those who say they don’t have to do any marketing “My work promotes itself.” My answer for the first question: “No, you don’t have to use all channels,” and to second: “True, work is the most important “marketing material”, but most likely you do have to or already are using other marketing channels – you might have a footprint in a website, a business card, participation in networking events, etc.” The question is whether you use your channels properly and to their full extent.
To focus and maximize each marketing activity I suggest you choose five most important marketing channels that would help you promote your set focus most. In this way you save your most important resources: time and money and will get the best results.
Your choice of marketing channels should depend on:
a) Your skill in using that channel (do you know how to blog? Are you more convincing in person and should do demo shows?) or having the resource to hire a professional marketer to do it for you (see my services).
b) The service, product and sill you have and from which marketing channel its characteristics come out the best.
c) Your clients and what they need to choose you, where they search for information about you.
Marketing channels that you as a brand can use (most important ones):
- Blogging (video, audio, pictures, text).
- Website (static, business-card like one-page or active).
- Other social media channels (Twitter Pinterest, Slideshare).
- About me page / elevator pitch
- Writing articles for journals, newspapers and online outlets in your field.
- Storytelling to channels that your target group is following.
- Networking, refreshing your rolodex.
- Recommendations, collecting feedback and presenting it.
- Public speaking, gigs on training courses, conferences, holding seminars and workshops.
- Strategic co-operations with partners.
- Creating a portfolio.
- Flyers, advertising materials for services, different how-to materials (digital, on paper).
- Sponsorship, volunteering.
I, for example use blogging and article writing as a main channel for marketing (having done that from 2008). Second channel is my clients recommending me to their communities. This year I will test Instagram (have a look at my Instagrami account liisi_toom) and videos, because explaining the results I provide and creating trust is the most important in my field.
STEP #3: SET YOUR PRIORITIES AND MARKETING PLAN ON A MONTHLY BASIS
To keep the big picture that will help you also work on a daily basis with focus in mind, I recommend taking a monthly calendar and set up to 3-5 focus points, priorities and goals for each month. They can be separate goals or goals that are small steps to the next goal (of the next month). You can also pre-set deadlines in your digital calendars, be it Google or Outlook or anything else. Then you keep reminding yourself of what you wanted to do and get to.
The goals and priorities will be easy to set once you have answered the previous questions and broke down big (yearly, lifetime-) goals to smaller steps.
The magic of planning is that after great planning you can forget them (of sorts) and get to work without ever thinking why and what you should do – that you have already done and it is only about getting down to business. The best part!
Be sure to put only the most important things to your priority calendar. If you put too many things, it will be overwhelming and nothing will get done. For each goal, you can make an action plan or just use your regular calendar but always keeping in mind your priorities! For marketing, I use an Excel sheet that I also introduce to my coaching and strategy clients (want to consult on making your business marketing plan?).
What can you put to your priority sheet or as goals on your yearly calendar? Here’s my example:
- Monthly marketing activities:
-For me, that is one longer know-how blogpost + emotional blogpost + client feedback.
-Sharing blogposts in social media and finding partnership to spread my word and mission via blogging.
-Making videos, practicing and publishing. At least one proper video a month published and shared in Instagram, Facebook.
- More specific marketing activities for fixed dates (one-time-work):
– February: prepare personal branding mindset guidelines; service advertising material.
– March: mini-training from guidelines.
– April: video-presentation about myself and the company.
– October: “Personal branding for an entrepreneur” and #Personal branding for ekspert” guidelines ready. Preparations for a book (2018)
You can add:
– Campaigns and special events. Write down specific campaigns you want to hold throughout the year, either for gaining new Likes, to promote your personal blog or for certain service.
– Getting a job, getting into school, or getting certain amount of clients each month or by some very fixed time.Fixed time is important to keep track of results and to plan (marketing) steps on the months before.
– Conferences, training courses, events where all in your field are present etc, where you want to participate. These are most likely places where you can network for a new job or offer your service so you need to be ready with your elevator pitch and portfolio.
One-time marketing activities such as
-leaflets with your services,
-CV and motivation letter,
– youtube video with your self presentation,
Be aware that you don’t write down too many goals. You can always do more then you have written down, but having written down too many thing and not being able to reach them, you’ll be left feeling bad. And You do not need that!
Constant self-development: are there any training courses you plan to take to develop your skills or to add new ones? Books you should read? Write down the goals and timeline. I for example study psychology in Tartu University, 64% passed already.
Analysis. Plan some time to revise your activities. I suggest either on a weekly basis or on a monthly basis. If you do on a yearly basis – you might have wasted too much time on not reaching your goals and it is more difficult to take back a year instead of just constantly knowing where you are and whether you are on the right course. Plan to check up on your finances, analyzing your priorities: is everything going according to plan? Should you spend more time on marketing? On educating yourself? On work?
Most important: don’t plan too much! Choose maximum of five marketing activities for one week. Leave space and time for focusing and make a choice based on what is really important! Don’t forget to include time for yourself, to relax and for hobbies, to enjoy and laugh.
STEP #4: TIE YOUR MARKETING ACTIVITIES WITH YOUR VISION AND/OR FINANCIAL (LIFETIME) GOALS
What is more important for you at this very current time: financial security or fulfilling your potential and implementing your grand vision? To focus on your family or developing your business? To sell a lot and quickly or create a stable and respectable reputation? Answering these questions will help you focus on what you need to do to reach your immediate goals and also your lifetime goals. Analyzing each step will help you get clarity on whether you are successful (in your own eyes and terms – success is about how you perceive it, don’t forget that!). For me, the main focus is to write so I can produce information and knowledge to all the people who really want to make their mark in their life and feel happy and satisfied with their lifestyle. Writing is the best way for me and I will analyze all my days accordingly:
– How many pages did I write? Posts, articles or even videos. How many did I publish?
– WIth what results? Did I make an impact.
This number and impact will be the most important feedback for me. If I succeed, I will fulfill my vision to share my perception on how a work / life should look like in today’s world, it will help me give entrepreneurs, freelancers and experts from different fields confidence and a feeling that they can create their own lifestyle with the skills they have.
Your ultimate goals can be related (but not limited to):
- Finances – is it a fixed amount of money you want to earn in a month?
- Lifestyle – to be able to design your daily activities your own way.
- Using your skills and potential – do you wish to use certain skills more than others so it would satisfy you and great a business around it?
- Clicks, likes, shares – maybe it is more important at this stage to get new likes and following on social media or your newsletter, website which in a long run will help you spread your word and gain publicity?
- Reputation management – difficult to measure in short term, but you can take specific steps to consistently be visible and known in your field.
- Amount of queries from clients/ number of clients – another measure of success can be whether you are being asked to do a job, a new project or provide a service. At the end of the day – this is what we really want – to be able to do our work.
If you have set the criteria for measuring success, go back to your marketing plan – do your focus and marketing channels and activities help you get the overall goals? If not, what should you change?
Two last questions to ask yourself:
- Which marketing activity will bring you the client or job you want?
- Will your set focus and plan help you get to enjoyable lifestyle that you dream of? Does it help you help you effortlessly create a personal brand that you can use to lead a life on your own terms? The last one is the most important message from me to you. Be authentic, do what comes natural and create a life for yourself that is enjoyable. Everything else should support that goal.
Personal branding plan that takes you to your goal
I have used personal branding goal to design my life and helped hundreds and thousands to create theirs. It is not easy and it requires work but at the end of the day you will at least do work that you want and love and can happily take responsibility of. The questions I have given you will help you set your focus and save so much time from constantly deciding and hesitating. Once you have made the decision and set the plan it is all about really working towards it.
Keep in mind: Less is more, quality trumps quantity. Consistency will express itself in your own well-being and also on your finances.
That’s all from me. Let me know in the comments how you did your plan, what is your focus this year and how are you getting on.
If you need help in making the decision or choosing the right marketing and branding activities, contact me email@example.com!
Photo: Arp Karm