The Ultimate Brand Strategy Guide For Small Business Owners

Personal branding is the difference between winning a few clients here and there, and cruising to the top of your industry. But you won’t build a strong brand by accident. You need to have a clear brand strategy to stand out from the noise.

It’s intimidating, the idea of building your brand. When you read about the subject, it’s easy to get spun around talking about your brand story, visual identity, or brand positioning.

It’s easy to lose sight of what actually matters – making sure the right people understand what you do, can find you, and are compelled to reach out.

There are four basic tasks to complete:

  1. Defining the “right people” (or, put another way, dream clients).
  2. Figuring out what you want to be known for – your unique selling proposition.
  3. Making an irresistible offer backed up by the right messaging.
  4. Boosting your visibility.

I’ll talk about how you can complete these tasks in this guide. But first, I want to clarify what personal branding means, why it matters, and what goes into it. 

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is how you establish your reputation on the internet. When you work on your personal branding, what you’re doing is marketing yourself and your career. The idea being that people will notice what you do and reach out to you to work with you.

If you interview for a traditional 9-to-5, the interviewers are hoping the following statements are true:

  • You have the right skills.
  • You’re enjoyable to work with.
  • You’ll fit in with the company.

Personal branding is how you make your skills, personality, and values known to the world. You provide the answers to those unspoken questions in advance so that people reach out to you all on their own.

Why does personal branding matter?

To understand why personal branding matters, let’s imagine you do no personal branding work.

Let’s say you put in no effort to define your audience or figure out what makes you unique. Let’s say you don’t put any time into designing the right offer or getting your name seen by as many people as possible.

You can already imagine this won’t end well.

If you don’t put any effort into personal branding, you can’t establish a memorable identity. You get lost in an ocean of similar looking LinkedIn profiles and websites. Passers-by have no reason to trust you or find you more credible than anyone else. And that’s assuming they see you – which they probably won’t!

Personal branding helps you establish a memorable identity, build trust, build credibility, and ultimately, get seen and get paid.

Ignore it at your peril.

The Ultimate Brand Strategy Guide For Coaches Consultants1

What are the core elements of a personal brand?

Up to this point, I’ve explained that personal branding is how you demonstrate your skills, personality, and values at scale. This makes you memorable, trustworthy, credible, and easy to find.

But what levers do you have to control how people perceive you?

I can think of three core elements of a personal brand:

  • Visual identity – logo, color scheme, typography.
  • Voice and tone – reflecting your personality and approach.
  • Offers and processes – what you’re selling and how you complete the work.

All of these are tools that you use to communicate your core values. These are the principles that guide your business practices and interactions. 

Visual identity, voice and tone, offers and processes are all important – but if you spend time doing one thing and one thing only, spend time clarifying your values first. That will make the rest come easier.

At this point, we’ve covered all the core concepts of personal branding. Now I’ll give you a 7-part guide complete with specific easy first steps to help you build momentum.

Step-by-Step Guide To Build a Personal Brand

1. Figure out what you hope to accomplish with your branding.

You’re reading this, so you definitely want to build a personal brand as a small business owner. But that’s a lot of work, so before you build a brand strategy, you need to consider why you’re doing this beyond simply “I want to get seen and paid.” (Noble as that goal is!)

Here’s what you need to do:

Identify measurable branding objectives. Do you want to double your organic search traffic? Increase your social media followers by 30%? Or would you like to land five new clients through content marketing? Get specific. 

Make your brand goals align with desired business outcomes. Think about how each branding goal can directly contribute to broader business achievements such as improved customer service or enhanced market positioning.

Set a timeline for achieving these objectives. Assign realistic deadlines for each goal. Make sure you have enough time to implement your plans and measure progress effectively.

Taking these steps will help you guide your overall marketing strategy, making it feel as if certain things are “clicking into place.”

Easy Step 1: Write down three specific goals you want your personal branding efforts to achieve.

Recommended Tools: Notion for general notetaking.

2. Define your dream client.

Every small business owner has different ideas on what dream clients look like. You need to know what your vision of a dream client looks like. The clearer, the better.

In my prior post on the subject, I said that an ideal client has four qualities:

  1. Wants what you’re offering
  2. Is able to pay for it
  3. Is ready to hire you and willing to do any necessary work
  4. And who is teachable or otherwise flexible enough to change

What you want to do is think about what your dream client’s life is like. What kind of jobs do they hold and what kind of industries do they work in? Do they have decision-making power in their companies or not? Are they generally happy or not?

You want to be able to answer those questions in a way that’s both detailed and intuitive. If you can describe what their day-to-day life looks like, it’s not a big leap to describe what their challenges and needs are. And once you can define challenges and needs, you’re only an inch away from defining your unique selling proposition, and thus, standing out from the crowd!

Easy Step 1: Create a simple client persona sheet detailing demographic information and key challenges.

Recommended Tools: HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool.

3. Craft a unique selling proposition (USP).

Once you know who your dream clients are, you need to be able to say the right things to them. You need to be able to say something they haven’t heard a million times before. 

Your unique selling proposition needs to be something that you do well and that your dream client wants. Ideally, it needs to be something your competitors do not do very well.

Unique Selling Proposition Diagram

This takes a while to figure out. You’ll probably need to research your competition with an open mind and really pay attention to what they do and don’t do. You will need to be honest with yourself and take an accurate inventory of your strengths and weaknesses.

Basically, you’ll need to do some soul-searching.

But once you go through this process, you can create a USP that is clear, concise, and memorable. And it’s exactly these qualities – clarity, concision, and memorability – that will help you break through all the roaring noise of social media and endless Google results. This is what will turn your ads from white noise to bonafide calls to action.

Please note – you don’t have to nail this on your first try. If you’re like most people, you will probably start building your personal brand, get your USP about half-right, and then need to pivot along the way. That’s fine and is a normal part of personal and professional development!

Easy Step 1: List down your key strengths and how they meet your dream client’s needs.

Recommended Tools: MindMeister for brainstorming and organizing USP ideas, Notion for note-taking and organization.

4. Define your offers and processes around your USP.

Your product or service is a huge part of your brand. You can pull people in all day with the perfectly crafted pitches and words, but if you can’t deliver in terms of customer experience, your brand won’t last.

Once you figure out what your dream clients need and what you can offer them – your USP – you will need to create offers that are easy to understand. For example, it’s tricky to sell “digital marketing services” in general, but it’s not as hard to sell “websites for coaches and consultants” because it’s more specific.

Specific offers make effective brands. You will want to create service packages that are tailor-made to address your clients’ unique needs.

Once you have offers in mind, before you make them public, think about the processes you will use to complete the services provided. Some documentation and forethought at this stage goes a long way. Specifically, you will want to:

  1. Be certain the services provided will address the clients’ needs.
  2. Make sure you can complete the work as efficiently as possible.
  3. Communicate value at every step of the way. You want the client to think, “oh, I see, that’s why they do it that way.”

Do this, and the sales process will be considerably easier, allowing you to spend more time working on your business rather than in your business.

Easy Step 1: Write a brief description for each service offering that links directly to your USP.

Recommended Tools: MindMeister for mapping out service processes, Trello for managing service development projects.

5. Craft a clear brand identity to communicate your USP.

Much of the content we consume these days online is visual by nature. That means that creating a visual identity that mirrors your unique selling proposition (USP) is crucial.

In practice, this will include choosing color schemes and fonts that resonate with what you stand for, and maybe creating a logo as well. This is partly about looking good, which is always important. But the bigger objective here is to make sure your design choices make a clear statement about who you are and what you offer.

All your communications, whether they’re emails, social media posts, or your website content, need to consistently reflect your brand values and your USP. Consistency helps reinforce your identity across all channels, making your brand easy to recognize and remember.

Consistent messaging ensures that no matter where your clients find you, they receive the same core message. And that repetition and consistency makes all the difference when it comes to being remembered and trusted.

Easy Step 1: Choose a color scheme and font style that reflect your brand personality.

Recommended Tools: Canva for creating branded graphics.

6. Develop a plan to become a thought leader.

When people stumble across you online, you need them to think of you as a credible professional. If you are targeting the right people and have a compelling offer based on a solid USP, you are highly likely to at least get attention.

But if you want them to take action by booking calls or making orders, you need them to trust you. Becoming a thought leader is how you can do that if you are a small business owner, particularly of the coaching or consulting variety, in the professional world. You want to give people reason to think of you as “the smart person who can solve my problems.”

Good Thought Leadership Diagram
Good Thought Leadership Diagram

I have a longer guide on that here. But to condense it greatly, the two most important things you want to do is:

  1. Figure out your area of expertise and stay on message.
  2. Create content that allows you to share knowledge generously without consuming all your time.

At this stage, you will have already defined your USP. You just want to make sure that you make it clear that people know that you are the kind of person who can deliver on that USP. As for the content creation part, I’ll cover that in the next section.

Easy Step 1: Write a list of topics you are knowledgeable about and can regularly create content on.

Recommended Tools: WordPress for blogging, LinkedIn for professional networking, Buffer for managing social media engagement.

7. Decide on methods to build your online presence.

Once you have a dream client, USP, offers, brand identity, and a plan to become a thought leader, you’ve done most of the strategic planning. The main thing that remains is actually doing the work to get seen.

And I won’t sugarcoat it – it’s time-consuming and requires good habits and considerable patience.

One of the keys to success here is to find ways to self-promote that feel right to you. Something you can do day in, day out.

To help you with that, I’ve put together a list of ways to build your online presence. Pick 3-5 that you like and stick with them.

Easy Step 1: Select two primary places or platforms to focus your branding efforts.

Recommended Tools: Buffer for scheduling social media posts, Google Keyword Planner for SEO research.

Final Thoughts

Personal branding sounds complex, but at its heart, it’s simple. You want to make sure the right people understand what you do, can find you, and are compelled to reach out.

To do this, you need to figure out what kind of clients you want to attract. Then you need to find a unique selling proposition and make the perfect offers. Then it’s just a matter of getting seen!

Don’t let the jargon intimidate you. Building a personal brand is a modern version of building a reputation. The biggest difference is that personal brands are built in a way where they work without additional context. That way, any potential client, no matter where they are in the world, can find you and know enough to want to reach out to you. 

It takes time to master this skill. But once you do, you won’t have to be pushy to promote yourself – instead, you’ll pull people to you.

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