The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Find Someone You Trust to Represent Your Company Publicly
You can, and not all business owners become the face of their businesses. But you still need someone representing your company publicly, so you’ll want to delegate the work to someone you trust to deliver the right message. It’s also good to remember that the focus of your visibility should not be you but your target customer. That should be the driver of public awareness.
2. Use Social Media to Engage Without Being in the Spotlight
While I do like meeting people face-to-face, the idea of social media provides me the same ability to dialogue with customers and prospects but without them knowing who it is in the company talking with them. Doing this gives me a better perspective than if I was talking to them in person. They may not be as forthright in their opinions as they are on social media.
— Andrew O’Connor, RankLab
3. Develop Other Internal Spokespeople
You’re not the only one who can speak on behalf of your business with flying colors. Identify individuals on your team who represent your brand well either because they’re great at talking about it or know a lot of examples of how you were able to solve your customers’ problems. This is a great opportunity for them to build their PR chops and gain credibility in their fields.
4. Hire a Writer You Trust and Learn More About Expanding Your Reach
At times, you may have no choice but to speak publicly in order to build your brand. People want to hear from the person behind the product. Equip yourself with the right tools to succeed. Hire a greater writer or media professional/trainer to help you architect your story and talking points. I suggest reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. It’s designed to help introverts unlock their power.
5. Promote Your Brand, Not Yourself
Aside from Steve Jobs and Apple, there aren’t too many companies where you think of the founder at the same time you think of the brand. Why? Usually the world cares more about your company’s mission, products and solutions than the people inside your company. Focus your efforts on explaining how your company is changing the world, not on yourself. Everything else will take care of itself.
6. Put Your Team in the Spotlight
Your team may actually enjoy the spotlight and it provides them with a sense of ownership. Plus, your audience will see a more diverse picture of your company. Even better is that there will be multiple voices and access points for your stakeholders.
7. Get Your A-Players Involved
We are regularly in the press and also do online “ask me anything” interviews with our private investigators and clients. When I am too busy or unable to be the point of contact, I have other members of my leadership team step up. Giving them the opportunity to be part of the marketing and brand formation gives them a greater sense of ownership in what we do as a company.
8. Focus on Your Brand’s Value With Visual Communication
Any visibility campaign should be about what you can offer customers. What data proves the value of your product/service?
What’s your customer satisfaction rating? Effective data visualization demonstrates your value in seconds, while engaging design makes your audiences want to learn more. Quality visual communication says more in one second about the quality of your brand than any article can.
9. Find Marketing Methods That Work for You
Unfortunately, you can’t create a thriving personal brand and stay behind the scenes too. You have to find marketing methods that make you feel comfortable while still getting your message out there. This might mean you only use videos, but don’t do any live events, etc. Think about what types of marketing you’re OK with and, if you need to, hire coaches to help you become an expert in them.
10. Pay for a Ghostwriter
No, we don’t do this (I’m a history major and love to write), but plenty of great companies hire ghostwriters to tell the brand story. A CEO should guide the message, but then feel comfortable removing herself from the process. The press will happen (it’s critical for building your brand) and you can stay focused on the internal needs of your business.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.