Today’s PR Media Blog guest post by New York-based Bridgett Gayle, freelance writer and editor, tackles the very personal topic of personal branding:
When Google announced that it wanted to hire 6,000 candidates during 2011, in one week more than 75,000 people all over the world sent in their résumés. Is it possible for any one job applicant to stand out from the rest? Yes, says personal branding and pitching expert Laura Allen, cofounder of 15SecondPitchTM and founder of ThePitchGirl.com. She develops attention-grabbing personal brands and pitches. Allen knows how to make a great first impression in 15 seconds or less without gimmicks or tricks.
Allen, seeing so many of her friends losing their jobs due to the 2001 US recession and the dot-com bust, started 15SecondPitchTM in 2002. She learned from her 10-year long marketing career sales pitching strategies and decided to share those strategies with jobseekers and entrepreneurs wanting to survive the sluggish economy and job market. She helped them create their own compelling personal brand and then structured their brand into a concise, compelling, conversational 15-second pitch.
Now, nearly nine years later, Allen is once again experiencing another recession. This time, however, the recession is global, the unemployment rate much higher. Allen is busier than ever. I interviewed her to discuss personal branding. She also revealed the secret to her pitching formula.
Question: Let’s start with the obvious question. What is a personal brand?
Allen: Your personal brand is a combination of what you believe in and what you do for a living. Start by picking the one thing you want to be known for. For example, I have a client, Lisa, who is a high-end professional organizer to celebrities. While working with her it became clear that her only goal was to satisfy her clients. Satisfying her clients is what she believes in. Now she’s known as the “No Ego Organizer.” That’s her personal brand.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to come up with their personal brand on their own?
Allen: They try to tell you absolutely everything they’ve done in their entire career. That’s just too much information for an initial meeting or phone call. For a personal brand to work it has to promote the one thing you want to be known for. Branding yourself as a multi-tasker is ineffective. It’s hard to become an expert in 20 different things. It’s even harder for people to believe that you truly are an expert in 20 different things. It’s much easier to become known for one thing. It’s easier for people to remember that one thing you do really well.
Q: But what if you’re really a Renaissance type of person?
Allen: For my clients who do two or three things exceptionally well, I tell them to have a pitch for every niche. People hire experts, not generalists.
Q: After you come up with that one thing you want to be known for, you then have to know how to pitch it to those important people. You give people only 15 seconds to make their pitch. Why?
Allen: If you can’t sell your brand in 15 seconds, I’m going to wonder if you’re really serious about what you’re doing. I tell my clients that a compelling 15 second pitch will get them 15 minutes because people will automatically want to know more.
Q: You use a formula to create that personal brand that can be pitched in 15 seconds. The formula requires mastering four key elements. Would you be willing to share one of those elements?
Allen: I’ll share all four. It’s a difficult time for a lot of people and I want anyone to benefit, not just my clients. The four elements are
1. Who you are.
2. What you do for a living.
3. Why you are The Best at what you do.
4. Your call to action.
People are the most resistant to the third element. They don’t want to brag. I understand that. But subtlety and poverty go hand in hand. And I don’t believe in “faking it until you make it.” People see right through someone who is phony. Find one thing that you’re truly passionate about and learn to talk about it with confidence and spunk. Stand out and make a name for yourself. But you need to start branding and pitching yourself today, before your competition does.
Allen’s website 15SecondPitch.com has grown to nearly 18,000 members. She recently developed ThePitchGirl.com website to provide exclusive services to jobseekers and entrepreneurs.
Bridgett Gayle is a writer and content marketer bringing common sense solutions to improve the business-customer relationship.