Picture any networking event you’ve attended. There are crudités, complimentary beverages, and business cards being politely swapped like trading cards.
There to network, you scour the room for someone giving off that strategic business partner vibe—someone who could change the trajectory of your business, and help you take your personal brand to the next level. You spot a potential candidate, and after making a few minutes of polite small talk about the weather and the delightful array of hors d’oeuvres, he asks you the one question you were waiting to hear:
“So, what do you do?”
Here you go—your chance to pitch your services.
You give it your best, well-rehearsed speech with enthusiasm. It sounds something like this:
“I’m a consultant. I build websites. I provide marketing services. I advise on advertising and promotions, and I create and manage social media campaigns.”
Potential strategic business partner’s eyebrows come together, and he politely tilts his head before attempting to clarify.
“Uh huh… so what exactly do you…do?
If at this moment, you hit a wall and attempt to regurgitate what you just explained, possibly listing your skills in a different order, or launching into an example about a current project, you’re missing a critical networking opportunity, because what potential strategic business partner really wants to know, is what is your personal brand value proposition? Or, put into networking terms…
What can you do for me?
If you don’t have a personal brand value proposition (or aren’t sure what differentiates your personal brand value proposition from your personal brand statement), then read on. This article will outline the key differences and provide actionable exercises so you can craft your personal brand value proposition, which means you’ll be prepared to network like a pro at the next swanky networking shindig.
What is a Personal Brand Value Proposition?
A personal brand value proposition is a concise statement that demonstrates how your services solve a potential customer’s problem, fulfills a need, or improves his life. It tells a prospect why he should work with you and enlist your services, and what makes you different from your competition.
Going back to the networking event example, telling someone you build websites, doesn’t tell him why he should work with you (especially if he already has a website, thank you very much). Telling him that you help small to mid-size businesses increase online sales using a search engine optimized online presence, however, may intrigue him (especially if he’s been seeking a strategy to boost online purchases).
Personal Brand Value Proposition vs. Personal Brand Statement.
Personal brand statements focus on who you are and what you do. Personal brand value propositions focus on what you can do for your customers. Put differently; personal brand statements include the phrase, “I am.” Value propositions include with the phrase, “I can help you.” It’s a nuance, but it could make a big difference in those moments when you have an opportunity to pitch your brand to a potential customer. It’s also critical to how you frame your services in your marketing and communication materials—and can help you to grow your six-figure personal brand into a seven-figure personal brand.
We did a deep dive in personal brand statements in this blog post, but think of it as a catchphrase about your expertise, while your personal brand value proposition focuses on the problems you solve for your customers. For even more insights, read seven personal brand statement examples in our previous blog here.
Put simply, a personal brand statement is typically a component of your personal brand value proposition.
Value Proposition Examples
Are you still feeling like the lines between a personal brand statement and a personal brand value proposition are blurry?
We get it.
Here are two value proposition examples from established brands to help you better grasp the value prop concept:
- Tortuga Backpacks: Bring Everything You Need Without Checking a Bag.
- Dollar Shave Club: A great shave for a few dollars a month.
Now, translate the value proposition model of a corporate brand into the value proposition of a personal brand, and you get a statement such as:
- “I help previously unpublished authors to earn a spot on the New York Times® Best Sellers List.”
- “I help restaurants sustain positive ROI in their first year of operations.”
- “I help non-profits leverage technology to automate workflows and streamline administrations.”
What do these statements not include?
The I am part. There is no, “I am a publisher… a consultant, or a project manager.”
What do you think will make a more significant impact on potential strategic business partner while he’s munching on cheese and crackers at that networking event we discussed earlier?
Saying what you do, or saying how you can help him solve a business need?
More Reasons Why You Need a Personal Brand Value Proposition
As we alluded to earlier, understanding your personal brand value proposition is not only vital for helping you sell your services in a one-on-one sales capacity, it is essential for helping you articulate the benefits of your services in every single piece of marketing material that you develop.
The most effective marketing communications are not chest thumping self-promotions. They are customer/client-focused, and pain-point/solution-centric.
When a prospective customer who is looking for someone to help solve a problem arrives at your website, they don’t want to spend time on a homepage that lists your accolades, skills, and proficiencies. They want to know that you understand their needs and have proven experience solving problems similar to theirs.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example:
Carol is struggling to achieve upward mobility in her role as a mid-level manager at a manufacturing company and is looking for a career coach. Which marketing message is more likely to resonate with Carol?
One that reads: “I am a career coach with over ten years of experience,” or, “I help seasoned managers who feel stuck in their job to put a 90-day plan together to earn their dream promotion.”
As someone who relates to feeling stuck and wants an actionable and short-term solution to achieving her goals, the answer for Carol is obvious: She is more likely to be motivated by the messaging that reinforces a value proposition.
How to Write Your Personal Brand Value Proposition in Five Steps
If you’re ready to craft your personal brand statement—a statement you can proudly stand behind and market, follow the five steps below.
1) Identify your target audience—and be specific.
To define your value proposition is to know your target audience. Being specific is key. If you are a business consultant, what business types, verticals, and entity sizes are you best capable of servicing? Large, global public relations firms with 1,000+ employees, or regional manufacturing distributors with 200 to 500 employees? Sure, you want to grow your business too, so while it may be tempting to say you are a business consultant for businesses of all sizes and industries, unless it’s true (read: proven), then don’t shoot the moon.
Being specific will help you to target your messaging for your ideal customers.
2) Understand your target’s needs and pain points.
Every professional service exists because it solves a problem (or at least it should). It’s one thing to know that your target audience includes CEOs in need of coaching, but dig deeper into the reasons for that need, the barriers they face, and the perceptions that surround your services. You will be more successful if you understand that many CEOs never took leadership classes, but instead rose through the ranks in their company because they understood the product and the process and now, and for the first time, they are running into barriers to success because of people management skills they never knew they were lacking. That type of insight is valuable and can help you craft your value prop messaging.
3) Ask yourself: What direct value do I provide and what is unique about the way I offer it?
If you already have a personal brand statement, then you likely already completed this step. Either way, it’s an essential component of growing your personal brand. You may believe that you help people to obtain their dream home, but couldn’t any real estate agent, architect, or interior designer all make the same claim? Be specific. If what you do is help families reduce their geo-footprint and reduce their homeownership costs without sacrificing on comfort and style, then say that. (Point of clarification: If you were to say, “I am an architect, designer, and builder of affordable, configurable, stylish, and sustainable tiny homes,” then that would be your personal brand statement—see the difference?)
4) Connect your value to your target audience’s pain points.
Every business has a connection between their target audience’s needs and the value they provide; otherwise, they wouldn’t be in business. That being said, very few companies are able to articulate that connection powerfully. It’s important to articulate the pain-value connection when drafting your personal brand value proposition.
Going back to the example of motivational coaching for CEOs, if your unique value is that you have a past career as a CEO, then your value proposition should focus on how you draw on your experiences as a corporate leader to help CEOs refine their people management skills, build relationships, and achieve business goals. BOOM.
5) Ask your current customers why they chose you, or why they continue utilizing your services.
In this step, you may likely debunk your personal brand perceptions in favor of reality, because the answers to why your customers choose you may be a surprise. You may think your customers partner with you because of your twenty years of experience, but it may be because of your prompt responses and easy-to-work-with and uplifting demeanor.
Understanding the differences between a personal brand statement and a value proposition may seem like a nuance, but it’s part of the comprehensive strategic assessment and value articulation process that the most successful brands (including personal brands) must do to be successful in a highly competitive, oversaturated marketplace.
So, grab a paper and pen, and if you already have a brand statement, write it down. Now ask yourself, “what makes me unique, who do I help, and how do I help them?” From there, let the brainstorming begin until you have a value proposition you can confidently stand behind.
Then, register for another networking event in your area, and practice making your pitch.
We’re confident that this time, you’re going to nail it.
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