How to Boost Your Personal Business BrandDeveloping what’s called a “personal brand” is a great way for professionals and many other types of local businesses to achieve a competitive edge.

Let’s say your business offers excellent products and services. You spend money on advertising and marketing, you pay attention to customer service and you use the latest social media platforms. Yet, you aren’t the “go-to” person or business in your field.

The problem could be that you haven’t effectively branded yourself. The idea is to formulate an effective and magnetic personal brand. There is good reason to do so. For professionals and many other types of small business ventures, YOU are the product, like it or not. People will buy you before they buy your products or services.

How you market yourself can actually be more important than your products, your prices or even how smart you are. Here are four expert tips for building a strong personal brand:

Target your message more precisely.  Trying to be everything to everybody – especially in the service professions – is a recipe for mediocrity. Try focusing your message to hit a select target audience like a battering ram, while competitors spray their marketing message lightly everywhere. Then, once you start achieving success, go “deeper” with your brand marketing, not “wider.” Don’t water down your successful brand by trying to reach into other product or service lines, or markets. Work on becoming a totally dominant force in your niche.

Create your differentiator. This is what sets you apart as a personal brand; what makes you different; better; more capable or competent. Not in your eyes, but in the eyes of your potential customers. This is not easy for some people to do. You’ll have to banish any bashfulness you might have. Your target audience wants to do business with the company or person they believe to be the best, and what you portray is what you become. An attorney specializing in business litigation, for example, won’t likely build an affable, easy-going brand because the customer is probably looking for characteristics more tenacious and forceful.

Build your brand around benefits. Your brand will appeal to prospective customers only if it offers them the benefits they are looking for. In other words, they’ll buy into your brand if there’s something in it for them. So don’t build your brand in a vacuum. Put the message in terms that translate to what your target audiences wants and needs. Here again, don’t spray your message. Stick to one key benefit if you can and build around that. Pick the one thing that is most relevant in your industry or profession. And make sure it is something that resonates with you personally. Trying to be too much will dilute your personal brand in the eyes of your audience. Say, for example, you are a real estate agent and are perceived as being friendly, patient and relentless. Which of those qualities would likely benefit clients in a financial sense? The answer is probably “relentless” because the agent could be known as not stopping until a sale meets a client’s total satisfaction.

Develop your personal branding “catch phrase.” This won’t be appropriate for all professions, but for many local businesses a well-crafted slogan can convey a great deal of information about your personal brand. It makes you memorable, so including your name in the slogan will help ensure that customers remember you and not just your slogan.