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Brand Yourself: How to Use Your Personality to Your Advantage in Marketing

brand yourselfIf you ask your customers why they chose to buy from you, your personality is likely to come up in the answers.

Maybe you seemed trustworthy. Or your sense of humor made people want your products and services.

Whatever the personality trait, your marketing made people notice it – whether or not you intended it to happen.

When you know what aspects of you people find most positive, you can brand yourself by emphasizing them in your marketing, and making lots more sales.

And if you know what aspects people aren’t as drawn to, you can avoid bringing them forward.

How you present your personality has a huge impact on your results. Yet, few people use their personalities well in their marketing.

Personality as a Deal Breaker

If you notice that a marketer is a liar, how likely are you to buy something from him or her?

Dishonesty is a typical deal breaker. So is blatant egoism.

Still – many less-than-honest, egoistic people build successful businesses.

That’s possible because their target audience isn’t sensitive to “small” lies and egoistic behavior. The self-confidence that is sometimes apparent in egoistic people might even be the reason their audience is drawn to them.

Similarly, if you’re very sarcastic, you repel people who don’t like sarcasm. But at the same time you attract people who share your sense of humor.

Showing your personality is always a risk. But you can’t avoid it.

If you don’t choose what people think about you, they’ll draw their own conclusions, which might be less than favorable for you.

So, you need to consider which of your personality traits are positive in your target customers’ eyes and make those traits clear as you develop your brand.

Your “Simplified Personality”

Humans are complicated.

There’s no way you can make people get a *full* picture of what you’re like as a person without spending a lot of time with them.

Still, you need people to have a sense of who you are. In other words, you need to brand yourself.

Since you’re not going to move in with everyone in your audience, you have to create a simplified persona – an image of you that’s accurate but incomplete.

A simplified persona allows you to create a relatable picture of you without making people read your memoir.

Simply put, you need to pick a handful of aspects of you that you want people to know and believe. If you try to convey an elaborate image of you, people will struggle to get any sense of who you are.

For example, maybe you’re very easygoing, funny, and non-threatening. You could focus on making people notice those aspects of you.

You might also be unusually honest, articulate, and energetic. But if you don’t think those are as important for your potential customers as the first three, you shouldn’t put too much effort into showing them in your marketing.

So, how do you pick and choose which personality traits deserve the center stage in your marketing?

Pick The Right Personality Traits to Emphasize

Don’t pick traits that are “normal” or not especially prominent in you.

If you emphasize personality traits that are clearly present in pretty much every one of your competitors, you don’t stand out. For example, if most of your competitors are very strict and “professional,” maybe you should be easy-going and funny instead.

Out-doing your competitors at something they’re good at is difficult.

And if you try to emphasize traits that aren’t prominent in you, you just make things unnecessarily challenging for yourself. For example, if you’re not a born comedian, trying to brand yourself as the comic of your industry won’t be easy.

So, consider what positive personality traits are prominent in you. Cross off the ones that are very common in your field, and you’re left with pretty good options.

But now you still need to narrow down your list to just a handful of traits. More than three to five traits will be very difficult to communicate clearly.

Consider which of your personality traits are most likely to compel your target customers to pay attention to you and buy your products.  That should sound very familiar if you’ve read about how I define what your value proposition is. Some of your personality traits are likely to be among the key reasons people choose you, so they’re a part of your value proposition. You should consider them the same way as other aspects of your business.

For example, if your astuteness is a key reason people hire you as a coach, that personality trait should get a place in your value proposition (and a big place in your marketing).

But just because some traits don’t make it to your value proposition, you shouldn’t forget them altogether.

How to Get Your Personality Across

Before you consider how to get a specific personality trait across in your marketing, you have to figure out two things about it:

  1. Is it a key reason people choose you—a part of your value proposition?
  2. Is it something you can demonstrate clearly without saying it point blank?

These two questions lead to four considerations:

  1. If a trait is a part of your value proposition, it should be one of the first things people notice about you.
  2. If a trait is NOT a part of your value proposition, you should make people notice other things first (that is, you should make people first notice your value proposition—the best reasons for them to pay attention to you and buy from you).
  3. If a trait is something you can clearly demonstrate without simply telling people about it, you don’t have to call it out literally – but you still can.
  4. If a trait is NOT something you can clearly and quickly demonstrate, you have to point it out literally (at least if it’s a part of your value proposition).

Once you know where a specific personality trait falls, you might already have a pretty good idea about how to get it across in your marketing.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Let’s say your sense of humor is such an important decision-making factor for your target audience that it’s a part of your value proposition (the few most important reasons for people to choose you).

You should be able to get your sense of humor across without telling people, “I have a great sense of humor” or “My sense of humor is quite sarcastic.” In other words, you can simply demonstrate it.

However, if sarcasm is an especially important part of everything that you do, you may want state that explicitly. For example, if your sarcastic sense of humor is what makes you stand out from the competition, maybe your business tagline could be “Health advice with a sarcastic twist.”

Or, let’s say your friendly demeanor earns a place in your “simplified persona,” but not in your value proposition. That’s ok, because you’re going to demonstrate your friendliness every time you interact with your target audience. If you use videos in which you talk with someone, viewers will then notice that you’re really friendly (or at least they should).

When people can easily understand the few things you “stand for” and what makes you stand out from the competition, you’ll get more customers.

This applies to your personality, but also other factors about your business; if you don’t know exactly what makes people most likely to pay attention to you and buy from you, you can’t produce effective marketing.

So, figure out what makes you stand out. 🙂

And if you have a question about how to make the most of your personality, leave a comment below.

About Peter Sandeen

Peter Sandeen dreams of sailing with his wife and dogs on the Finnish coast-unless he's helping someone build a clear marketing message and strategy that creates sales consistently. Download the quick 5-step exercise that shows what ideas are most likely to make people want to buy your products and services.

23 comments

  1. Chris Ortez says:

    I work with kids, preschool age up to 5th grade. I’ve been told by a number of clients and peers that my customers (especially repeat customers) are coming to me for who I am, moreso than the services I may provide (I feel I definitely provide good service, too, though). I’m definitely, easy-going, friendly, and funny, but I’m having a heck of a time trying to encapsulate that within my website for folks who may have never seen or heard of me before.

    Thanks for this great blog post!! I really appreciate it, as this is one of the trickiest aspects of expanding my local business to markets outside where I currently serve.

    1. Hey Chris,

      Can’t say I’m surprised, I’d be really interested in the personality of someone who’s looking after my kids 🙂

      I think when you know what specific qualities people are drawn to, you can get those across in all sorts of ways. Basically, you just create an idea of what kind of marketing materials you should create and then consider how you can get those personality traits across within the messages.

      Let me know if you have any questions I can help with.

      Cheers,
      Peter

  2. kristian says:

    Thanks for the post, Peter. It has given me tons of food for thought since it makes me realize how I have always “hidden” behind my brand.

    As a life and parenting coach working with parents of boys, I interact directly with clients during one-on-one coaching sessions as well as the parenting classes I teach in person or online. And yet, I always put the brand and the championing of boys front and center.

    Although this is desirable since people know what I stand for and have come to know me for it, only a small part of my personality peaks through. It’s great that clients say I’m smart, wise, insightful, intuitive and can thus quickly see the root of an issue. But this stays as part of a conversation or email exchange. (I have also been told the same things by family and friends.)

    How does one go about conveying such qualities in marketing? Stumped.

    1. Hey Kristian,

      It’s a pretty complicated question, yes. But when you just always consider, “How can I get my personality traits across in this marketing piece?” you should come up with some ideas. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes 🙂

      Let me know if you have any questions.

      Cheers,
      Peter

  3. adele.yuboco says:

    Great insights you’ve written here, Peter! I totally agree with you that getting your personality out there with what we write about makes us “more human” to our readers, and makes them more likely to connect with us even more. It’s been quite a challenge for me because even though I can be caring, lots of people have told me that I got quite a strong personality and can be quite straight to the point and opinionated For a very long time, I tried to conform myself to mask this personality of mine. Your post has given me a bit more courage to try to step out and just be me. 🙂

    1. Hi Adele,

      Thanks 🙂

      Yep, I think it’s better to be you. Even an exaggerated version of you, so you stand out from the crowd. People who just don’t like your personality are going to go away. But that would happen anyway unless you did an exceptional job hiding your personality. And that’s just not fun 🙂

      Cheers,
      Peter

  4. Vicky says:

    Simplified tips and very informative I guess.

    Branding yourself is essential part for business to gain more exposure to the products.

  5. Kurt Haug says:

    Just found your blogs through a link from Guy and am very impressed. Good, clean advice without a lot of psychobabble and “mushy” thinking.

    Will be following more closely.

  6. Carolynn says:

    I think people trust people who are authentic. Authenticity is showing the world who we really are. There’s something about authenticity that is attractive because nothing is hidden or misrepresented. I’m a funny, empathetic person who believes part of my role with others is to “listen” and think before I respond. I’ve always thought my interactions with my followers is always more about them than it is about me, that’s my empathy. However after reading your post I realize it IS about me, my personality showing the reader who I really am. I notice the blogs I enjoy the most are written by people who show themselves. They aren’t invisible and I can connect with some part of who they are which makes their content more attractive and inviting. Thank you so much for reminding me of this.

    1. Hey Carolynn,

      That’s a great observation. Most people are similar in the sense that they want to “see” something of the person behind the words. If they can’t, they rather read someone else’s writing.

      Cheers,
      Peter

  7. Jessica says:

    Peter, you have totally nailed what I’m going through right now – how to bring more of my authentic self into my business, both to set myself apart from competitors and also ensure I am doing my most passionate work with the best types of clients. I’m just starting a rebrand and this is a fantastic place to begin thinking about how to connect my personality to my brand. How did you know??? 🙂

    1. Hey Jessica,

      Thank you, that’s really nice to hear 🙂

      And how did I know? Well, a lot of people ask about it 😀 And if they don’t ask directly, they say something like, “My clients just tell me that they like my personality, so what am I supposed to market?”

      Let me know if you have any questions I can help with.

      Cheers,
      Peter

  8. Carolynne says:

    Thanks Peter, I always enjoy your posts.
    I never thought of my personality as part of value proposition. They way you present it make perfect sense. I have never been able to fake what I am not and the few times I did people saw right through me. I am very caring, intuitive, and tend to call it like it is. This works for some people but not others. Since starting the ABM course I had to tone down the *call it like it is* trait, for sometimes my teacher voice comes through which something NO one likes.

    1. Hey Carolynne,

      You’re right, some people don’t like people who “call things like they are.” But unless you go overboard with it, you can attract a big audience with the straightforward style because so many people avoid doing it.

      I’m very openly straightforward and it’s a clear part of my personality (and I use it in my marketing a lot). And it has worked well for me 🙂

      Cheers,
      Peter

      1. Carolynne says:

        Thanks Peter, I will work on this. This is all part of finding my voice in my writing. In person it is easier.

  9. Marcy McKayf says:

    Peter – I light up when I see your name on Firepole’s guest post. I always learn so much from you. I’m told often that I have a “great personality” and am so good with people. I didn’t really ever understand that…until I read your post. I’m going to put some serious thought into I help/hurt my marketing efforts, then change accordingly. TY!

    1. Hey Marcy,

      Thank you, that’s really nice to hear 🙂

      And great that the article helped. It’s a topic lots of people think about, but few people really get it “right” in their marketing.

      Let me know if you have any questions I can help with 😉

      Cheers,
      Peter

  10. Sharon Mavis says:

    I don’t know if it is technically part of a person’s personality, but through the ABM course I have identified my position in the marketplace as writing from a standpoint of vulnerability. I write about marriage and tell our struggles and how we worked through them. I do tend to be an open book anyway, so maybe it is part of my personality! I’m certainly getting a good response. Thank y0u for the post.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Yep, that’s a part of your online personality then 🙂 I think you could consider that a way to make it clear you’re honest and open (not just vulnerable).

      Great to hear it’s working 🙂

      All the best,
      Peter

      1. aaron says:

        Hi Peter,

        I really enjoy your articles.

        We know that it is important to speak in a language that resonates with the target audience. So much of marketing must be audience focused.

        You are presenting the other side of the coin here, which seems to be much less explored, how your brand is about YOU.

        I had a bit of trouble conceptualizing the idea you presented above since it is so focused on YOU rather than the target audience. But after some thought I understand what you have presented in a different way.

        The YOU that you present to the target audience is not really the complete YOU personality, life, viewpoints etc. (although it should be genuine) the YOU that you emphasise is that particular aspect of you that is most engaging to the target audience.

        True or False?

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