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From Underdog to Industry Leader: 5 Ways Coaches and Consultants Are Flipping the Script on Personal Branding🚀

branding linkedin tips personal branding Jun 08, 2023

The more crowded your industry, the tougher it is to build a personal brand, right? 

Not necessarily… Consider the fact that some of the most crowded markets— technology and startups, fitness and wellness, and coaching and consulting — have seen a meteoric rise in influencers (profitable influencers at that) in the last two years.

This explosion of content and thought leaders can be attributed to a variety of circumstances:

  1. The pandemic, which provided time and space for us to reconsider our relationship to work/life, the ways we make money, and creative endeavors.
  2. Economic instability— with layoffs and a topsy-turvy market, many folks are looking for ways to diversify income streams.
  3. The evolution of social media and e-commerce tools— the cost of entry to become a creator or business owner has never been lower. Before, one would have to set up a website, perhaps a series of funnels, and an e-commerce store. Now, platforms like Instagram let you charge for subscriptions directly from your profile.

So, it’s my professional opinion as a personal brand strategist that it’s never been a better time to build your brand online, even — perhaps especially— if you’re in a “competitive field.” It’s just about knowing how to take the momentum of your popular industry, and tilt it in your favor.

Here are a few stealth tactics you can use to “flip the script” on building a personal brand and create a lane all of your own as a coach and consultant.

1. Emphasize Vulnerability

While personal branding often focuses on projecting strength and expertise, embracing vulnerability can be powerful. Share your personal struggles, failures, and lessons learned to connect with your audience on a deeper level. It humanizes your brand and builds trust. This is especially important when you’re in the consulting field. Many consultants bred from a corporate background are so used to being a rigid professional robot, that their content reads more like a dossier and less like the entertaining, educational, inspirational, connective piece it should be to audience build.

2. Share Behind-the-Scenes Processes

Instead of only showcasing polished end results, reveal the behind-the-scenes aspects of your work. Share your methodologies, decision-making processes, and even mistakes. Transparency demonstrates authenticity and builds credibility with your audience.

Here are some practical ideas as it relates to consulting and coaching:

  • Instead of having a fancy explainer video that has the tone of an airline introduction video (snooze) record yourself breaking down concepts and reframes on a white board.
  • Instead of sharing about how wonderful you are at hiring and showing others how to hire, explain how you had some missteps in knowledge transference to your new EA and what you learned. (Read this one from our client Ann Hiatt that is masterclass behind-the-scenes sharing)

3. Challenge the Status Quo

Challenging common industry beliefs will help position you as a critical thinker and a catalyst for change. But how do you do this without being “phony contrarian” (That awkward, performative content that is “out there” for the sake of being out there and not necessarily substantive)? One way is to do what I call “experience” or industry mash-ups. This is when you take a concept from your field and apply it to a new industry or vertical in an unexpected way.

Some great examples of this:

  1. Codie Sanchez, is a self-proclaimed “investor in boring businesses.” Groomed in private equity, she transferred her savvy investing skills to show people how to buy “boring” but lucrative businesses like car washes, storage facilities, and laundromats. Private Equity mashed up with Mom & Pop shops is a great contrarian take. (Her community is actually named Contrarian)
  2. Donald Miller, founder of StoryBrand, took a similar path. As a seasoned screenwriter, Donald translated the principles of great storytelling into effective brand building to create a new branding framework all his own. It helped him and his company stand out in a sea of marketers.

4. Focus on Specializing in a Narrow Niche

Niche, niche, niche, then niche some more. I’d rather own 95% of a small market than .02% of an endless well. It’s just less work. Referrals and brand awareness become compounding when you own a space. So, instead of sharing your work on leadership development with fast-growth C-suite occupants, narrow your focus to working with “New American CEOs tasked with growing a foreign company.” (For example, many Israeli companies go after the US market given the comparative size, sometimes, this calls for an American CEO, and managing the culture gap is an extremely lucrative, focused field.)

5. Prioritize Collaboration over Competition

Stop fighting the “crowd” in your space and start linking arms with other occupants. Some of my best, most lucrative partnerships are with people who are my “competition.” They often have a different customer focus or different packages than I do. So when one of us meets with a prospect that isn’t a full-fit, we enjoy kicking them over to each other. It also allows us to “skim” each other’s networks. I get a ton of engaged followers from commenting on my “competition’s” posts.

You want to start looking at the crowded coaching and consulting industry from the perspective of "a rising tide raises all ships". Supporting and pushing forward the efficacy of your field is a good thing.

The Recap:

  1. The first best time to start building your personal brand was yesterday. The second best time is now.
  2. Start viewing your “crowded” coaching/consulting industry as the launchpad that it is.
  3. Use vulnerability to build genuine relationships with your audience.
  4. Share behind-the-scenes processes.
  5. Look at “industry mash-ups” to create an alternative perspective.
  6. Niche until it hurts. Because it won’t hurt. It will only help.
  7. Collaborate and celebrate your peers, stop “competing” with them.

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