The most common question I get from people who want to build a personal brand is, “What’s the ROI?”
They think about personal branding like they do programmatic advertising.
People want to know that if they put some amount of effort in, they’re going to get something more valuable in return.
If they spend X, they want X+Y back.
If a client spends $3,500 per month, how long until that starts to earn them $7,000 per month?
This is the worst way to think about the ROI of personal branding.
It’s short sighted.
It assumes that the value can be measured the same way a Facebook ad tracks conversion costs — and it can’t.
When someone emails me about consulting, or being a Digital Press client, they always ask, “So what’s the ROI? What can I expect in return?”
Do you know what my answer is?
“You called me. That’s the ROI.”
People don’t follow ads. People don’t follow press releases or features. People don’t follow agendas.
Most of all, people don’t follow people who don’t give them something valuable.
What creates a personal brand, and what ultimately positions you as an authority in your space, is the consistent act of sharing what you know.
When you share what you know on the Internet, when you share your expertise and focus on providing value, you position yourself as someone worth knowing.
When you become someone worth knowing, here’s the sort of ROI you can expect to see in return:
- People seek you out, instead of you having to go find deals, clients, and partners.
- Talented individuals reach out because what you share speaks to them, and they want to work with you and for you.
- You are invited and given the opportunity to speak and share what you know at events, conferences, masterminds, and meetups — because your content online represents what you would bring to those sorts of experiences.
- Investors see you (the founder) as forward thinking, as someone confident about the knowledge you possess in your space.
- If you’re an investor, entrepreneurs already extract so much value from what you share, they reach out to you to be an investor (and advisor) in their project.
- Your company’s message comes across as human, relatable, and real, because it is coming from the founder, the CEO, the leadership team.
- Publications, blogs, and columnists reach out wanting to hear your perspective on what’s happening in your industry.
- People know who you are, without you having to say it.
These are all things founders, CEOs, executives, investors, venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, speakers, and authors want.
Unfortunately, people spend their money trying to shortcut the process.
They pay a PR firm to get them a logo that says, “I’ve been featured in a major publication!”
They pay a digital marketing agency to run Facebook ads plastering their CEOs face (and subsequent sales page) all over your feed.
They pay for short-sighted solutions: “If I spend X, I’ll get X+Y back.”
The problem is, a press feature doesn’t give you an audience. And ads don’t build trust.
In order to reap the benefits of a personal brand, or building your company’s leadership team into thought leaders, you cannot shortcut the process.
You can’t buy your way to the top. And you can’t expect short-sighted solutions to yield you long-term results.
Do you want to know how much money I’ve spent on ads for my own personal brand?
No paid press. No Facebook ads. No Instagram ads. No influencer marketing campaigns. Nothing.
And I’ve had tens of millions of views on my content.
The only thing I’ve done is take what I know and share it via written content online.
I’ll even give you the magic formula:
What Question Am I Trying To Answer?
What Personal Story Can I Share That Reveals How I Learned That Answer For Myself?
This is the golden intersection.
What Question is your target audience wrestling with? And how can you answer their Question in a way that reveals your own personal story, and how you discovered that Answer for yourself?
The reason this is the golden intersection is because you’re doing two very important things, simultaneously:
- You’re providing value, first. You’re answering the target reader’s Question, which helps them — instead of pushing your agenda on them, which wastes their time.
- You’re revealing a true story, which means sharing something emotional about yourself — and since every reader is a human, it’s that emotional story that resonates with them and helps them trust you.
When I say “emotional,” I don’t mean you have to share something gut-wrenching. It can be as simple as explaining to someone how they can become a better leader — and in doing so, sharing a story about a time when you weren’t the best leader, and what tough lesson that taught you.
That emotional component is what draws the reader in, and ultimately makes them feel as if they know you. (And according to Dale Carnegie, this is the essence of How To Win Friends & Influence People.)
So, what’s the real ROI of building a personal brand?