Personal Branding vs. Personal Marketing

Write Every Day Project: Day #16

The real estate industry understands ‘personal marketing.’

All of the rest of us who aren’t in real estate fall back to the term ‘personal branding.’ But there’s a difference.

I’ve been using the term personal branding up to this point because, frankly, that is the term that’s en vogue. It’s the one everyone uses. People don’t use the term personal marketing…yet. Let alone ‘personal marketing platform.’

Real estate agents are very familiar with the term though. Workshops and seminars—even entire companies—are dedicated to this concept of personal marketing for that industry.

But why is that?

Don’t most real estate agents work for massive firms like Century 21 or Coldwell Banker, who do all of their marketing for them?

Why does personal marketing matter to real estate agents more than you and me?

I’ll tell you why. The problem is, the rest of us are more caught up in our ‘brand’ or persona than putting thought into and following through on a personal marketing strategy.

Real estate agents realize that no matter what their firm may do to lend credibility and financial trust to their efforts, their real success is about the rapport they establish with buyers and sellers and what they personally do to find the right home.

Real estate agents realize that if they’ve built relationships of trust, it doesn’t matter whether they work at this firm or that firm. They’ll be able to generate clients, and clients will follow them wherever they go.

The state of North Carolina has a super motto: Esse quam videri. It means to be, rather than to seem. You tell me, is there a greater motto across the U.S. than this? I’m not even sure most North Carolinans are aware of this.

Personal branding implies just in those two words together that the endeavor is about what you appear to be to others. Personal branding has an air of insincerity to it. It’s about what you seem to be. Personal branding sounds like a class the next generation of Kim Kardashians and Paris Hiltons take, that the rest of us aren’t eligible for.

Personal branding is about appearances

Yes, every book, including the ones I’ve mentioned over the last two days on this subject, talk about the things you do to establish and maintain your personal brand. But the emphasis is, again, on the perception that people then have of you.

Personal branding is almost entirely about the character people see you playing in the marketplace. There’s a certain sense of superficiality about the entire concept, no matter how authentic you want things to be.

It’s way too rigid a term, and way too formulaic a notion, as though you’re never allowed to go off-script or do anything that’s not in keeping with your ‘brand.’

(I feel like I should take a timeout for a moment here. I wrote yesterday about how Phil Gerbyshak is the perfect embodiment of a personal brand. I want to clarify again that up to this point I’ve been using the term personal brand because it’s the most commonly used term. While Phil does have a noble and honorable personal brand, what he does is ethically market himself like a genius. As you read on, you’ll come to appreciate the difference.)

Personal marketing is about action

The reason I like the term ‘personal marketing’ and developing a ‘personal marketing platform’ much more is it’s about what you do personally to develop relationships with others in your community or target audience and, if and when it’s appropriate, turn those relationships into transactional ones as well.

It’s how you leverage your talents, skills, knowledge, and experience to educate, and maybe even entertain, others on your own—external to the company you work for, even if you own that company. As you do that, your community comes to look forward to, and hopefully even rely on, you to improve their standing at work or in their personal lives.

That’s personal marketing.

The key phrase in that first paragraph though is “if and when it’s appropriate.” It’s not noble, or honorable, and often not ethical to hard sell your community to do business with you, no matter how much value you’ve given.

The giving comes first.

See the difference? Tell me in the comments, if not.

Personal branding is about “what I want you to think of me.” Personal marketing is about “what value do I want you to count on from me.” Personal branding is about “How do others perceive me?” Personal marketing is about “What good have I done anyone lately?”

Personal branding is about “If I do this, will others think I’m being inconsistent?” Personal marketing is about “If I do this, will it be a new way I can serve others?”

Having a personal marketing platform, then, is putting all of these personal marketing principles and practices into a cohesive strategy in order to cause a specific outcome: business growth after providing personal value.

I want to tell the stories of personal marketers

For you small business owners and executives who have done this—marketing yourself as a separate entity from your business, I want to put a spotlight on you and your work, highlighting how you’ve arrived where you are. I’ve already tracked a number of you and will be doing unsolicited summaries like I did of Phil Gerbyshak yesterday. It helps that I know Phil. I don’t know some of the others I’ve watched doing similar things.

I want to tell your stories. Contact me. And if you know someone who does this well, introduce me via email or shoot me their name?

For those who haven’t yet done this, I want to help lead you to that place. It doesn’t matter if you a run plumbing business; if you’re an attorney; if you’re in pest control; if you own a web design agency. Maybe you run an IT consultancy. Or a bakery. You could be the least techie of all your friends. Doesn’t matter.

If you have the will, you can do this.

Final note: This is another entry that makes up my ‘Write Every Day’ project. In previous posts I’ve led with that note and included a link to my Write Every Day entries. Starting today I’m dropping that notice to the end. You can catch them all here or by visiting the main blog page.

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