Are you one of those? Are you just like all the other marketing companies? Engineering firms? Technology companies? CEOs or business owners? To the untrained, public eye, all businesses are clumped together in categories without differentiators – there is a magical ripple effect of sameness from one marketing company to the next, one tech company to the next, and so on.So, how do you alter the perception that your company is the same as your competition? How do you stand out and capture those elusive leads?
The answer isn’t more marketing or changing your marketing message – it’s promoting who is at the head of your company. Yes, your executives need a personal brand too!
Revenue Operations optimization requires a complex mix of people, process, and measurable data, all aligned to facilitate end-to-end revenue production. Your executives are part of that mix.
Why Would Our Target Audience Care About Our Executives?
As a brand strategist, I am introduced to companies who have spent small fortunes on brand development, marketing, sales training, social media campaigns, and every other type of advertising and sales development known to man yet can’t figure out why they’re having lackluster revenue results.
When I ask if they’re promoting the uniqueness of their people, especially their executives, I get blank stares. Why would anyone care about our executives? What do they have to do with it?
People relate to and buy from people, not brands, not companies. This is pretty widely known; you have probably ramped up your sales strategies and social media interaction by now to fulfill this part of the selling cycle. So, why executives?
They are the wheels that move your company forward, give it the edge that sets you apart, and make your business profitable. Unfortunately, C-Suite execs are kept behind a wall because “nobody needs to know them; they’re not central to our brand or our clients” ideation. Or even worse, “this is the way it’s always been done.”
In today’s digital world (more so than ever!), this perception couldn’t be farther from the truth. By promoting your executive team individually, you take away the unapproachable nature of executives in general and, depending on the business – technology, finance, engineering – remove the unapproachable and intimidating nature of your company too.
Executive branding goes beyond selling. Your customers and target audience already know your salespeople and perhaps your customer teams, but they are not the visionaries or integrators of the company’s mission and vision. Executives can be the friendly faces that create the “know, like, and trust” factors without the salesy pitch.
The Benefits of Creating Executive Brands
When your executives become part of your overall brand, your target audience sees that your company is more than a faceless brand – humans are at the helm. They can make a connection on a personal level (even though there’s typically not any personal contact) and feel something, which leads to interaction and eventually sales.
For example, when you create a brand and promote yourself, your CEO, or your CFO, each of you becomes approachable and real. You add humanness to the core of your company that your targets, customers, and business partners will remember and feel connected to.
- Removes the stigma of intimidating, super-human, high-powered executives; establishes authenticity.
- Eliminates a barrier to entry for potentials that has nothing to do with cost – level of comfort and transparency.
- Changes the perception of an intimidating, complicated business to an understandable, relatable one.
- Highlights and harvests the goodness in your team that’s often not noticed because it’s innate.
- Creates a ripple effect when you connect/interact with the first and second tiers of your target audience that also carries over to partner affiliations and vendors.
Your executives are your brand and, believe it or not, they often nurture relationships through the qualified lead, sales conversion, and customer advocacy pipeline without even knowing it.
How to Create an Executive Personal Brand
As a successful brand development trainer for 80,000+ women nationwide, I developed a branding program that has proven to help anyone in any industry become a brand and stay top of mind. The following three steps from my program will help you create a personal brand for yourself and/or your executives.
- Remember this acronym for brand-building basics – H.E.A.R. Humanize yourself and/or your executives. Engage with community. Advance your story. Review what works and do more of that and less of what doesn’t.
- To successfully implement H.E.A.R., start by identifying motivators. Let’s say you are a busy CEO who also happens to own the company, have two kids and a spouse, and carve out time for your love of taekwondo. What is your time-bound motivator? Legacy motivator? Financial motivator? How does the financial motivator align with time and legacy motivators? And how will these motivators resonate with your audience once you strategically choose to broadcast them as relatable characteristics?
- Now craft an identity that speaks about you to your audience. Because no two snowflakes are alike, I call this celebrating your snowflake. When you share your individuality and uniqueness, your honesty and vulnerability move people to interact, i.e., do business with you and your company. Can people see themselves having a beer or a coffee with you? If the answer is yes, then retention and referrals go up.
Things to talk about, celebrate, be honest about. These may seem frivolous, but they are the ties that bind us as people.
- Food – what do you like? Eating out? Cooking? Favorite dishes, restaurants?
- Sports and recreation – participating or watching? Team sports or on your own? Favorite teams...
- Professional skill sets – certifications, degrees, experiences.
- Current business climate/events.
- Daily life – married, children, divorced, engaged, no kids, pets, hobbies…
- Values – what do you value? Community, volunteerism, education, family-life…
- Experiences – travel, things that happen, lessons learned, coffee shop banter.
Depending on your personality, sharing yourself will be a challenge. For most C-suite individuals, the response is (eye roll) “who cares about this stuff?”
Your target audience and your current customers/clients do. They care and they want to know you care. With the lack of face-to-face interaction that has now become our norm, your company must develop quality relationships and add value rather than sell, sell, sell.
Where to Feature Your New Executive Brands
As you design a branding strategy, also think about where and how this will work best. Where is your audience? LinkedIn? Facebook? Website? YouTube? Do your potentials and customers like blogs or videos or both? The only way to hone this is to look at current data that shows where leads and customers are interacting and start there. Then use data to tweak the plan going forward.
Share Your Executives with Your Audience
As we shift toward an automated, digital life with more and more AI, there will be few other means of communicating and connecting with people outside of the sales arena than by sharing your company’s people and executives with your audience.
If executive branding seems too challenging to implement on your own, Atomic Revenue experts are here for you. We not only help build executive brands, but we also measure what’s working and what’s not, and provide data that shows the results of your efforts on your revenue stream. Contact us today and ignite your executive branding!
About the Author
Lauren Fast is the Brand & Reputation Manager for Atomic Revenue and co-owner of Fast Bryant Consulting. Her specialty is managing and implementing content development while creating clients’ brand strategies. Lauren has a proven history of developing successful public-facing content and brand-building that fosters lead generation, sales conversion, and customer advocacy. She also has comprehensive social media, website, public speaking, coaching, and content marketing experience and a proven record as a top-performing Senior Sales Director and trainer.