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How Branding Through Published Content Can Rapidly Grow Your Small Business

Jeff Shuford is the president of the award-winning veteran owned technology company Tech From Vets and co-founder of the Vets 22 and Tackling Food Safety Apps.

Personal branding is a great way to increase your digital footprint and extend the limits of your business in the marketplace. Branding is not limited to your businesses identity and services but should be viewed as an interactional strategy to start and establish a long-term relationship with the public. Personal branding is a deliberate process of presenting yourself positively in front of your potential clients by creating a solution-oriented picture of yourself and your organization.

I view effective personal branding as simply non-egotistical self-promotion. The following strategies help construct my approach.

See yourself and your brand as a complete package.

I discovered that my brand accelerated faster when I made myself the focal point and started viewing branding as my signature, rather than a lead generation strategy. In today’s competitive digital landscape, it’s much harder to differentiate ourselves from others in our industry. What’s usually unique and exclusive about you and your company is a similar selling point for thousands of other competitors that are also attempting to reach your same target market. Package yourself and your brand together, and continually ask yourself if that package is marketable. Question whether the brand is presentable and attractive to your target audience.

Here are some ways you can tell if your brand has become a complete package:

• The media positions you as a subject matter expert in your industry.

• You are asked to speak at events that have major sponsors.

• Your brand acquires customers who are well-qualified and educated about your products.

• Influencers gravitate to your brand and connect you with their colleagues.

• You are presented with business opportunities that don’t require capital. In other words, your brand name is your capital.

Refine your brand’s image.

Refine your brand with a professional website along with a far-reaching social media presence and an effective PR campaign. The more professional and informative your website becomes, the more trust and credibility you develop with the public. Make use of market research and analyze popular search engines to check your current ranking against your competitors.

Some further steps for refining your image include:

• Evaluate your brand’s website and create balance. Focus less on the features and more on the value added to the customer.

• Integrate case studies on your website and ditch the testimonial page. Customers know that a testimonial page only features the most pleasant views of your brand.

• Type your name and your company’s name into top search engines. See where you show up — are you on the first page? If you appear after the first page, consider establishing or revamping your SEO strategy.

Be confident in your credibility.

I discovered in the infancy of our startup that confidence and credibility were necessary to acquiring customers. Because we had a limited client base and a non-existent portfolio, we had to consistently prove that we could get the job done for our potential customers. We had the education and experience behind our company but, because we didn’t have an established digital footprint yet, we struggled to acquire customers.

While new to the market, a perfect way to demonstrate your expertise and gain credibility is to publish content in publications that pertain to your industry. You can start first by writing on your website’s blog and then venture out to the media outlets that have authority in your industry. Your customers trust industry experts — become one and you will demonstrate confidence and credibility, even if you are new to your market.

Establish your industry expertise.

I decided that to run a successful business, I had to focus on establishing myself as an expert in my industry. You might start as we did, by doing select projects pro bono, in order to build your portfolio and gain the public’s trust with reviews and testimonials from clients.

One important strategy that can give you a competitive advantage is learning how to pitch publications to become a contributor. When publications started accepting me as a contributor, my author pages with company information indexed in search engines, increasing my web presence. Simply put, producing visible, high-quality content can help accelerate your digital footprint rapidly.

If you’re a plumber, aim to publish content about different ways families can save money when they have plumbing issues. If you’re a tax professional, offer tips on how to find the proper tax preparer and little-known tax preparation tips.

Follow this strategy to not only expand your digital footprint but also to gain trust and credibility in your industry.

Build your portfolio.

With a portfolio of work along with a collection of expert articles, your potential customers will start to view you as an expert in your industry. Many entrepreneurs ask me how I get leads online so efficiently and how people find and contact me in regards to speaking engagements. My answer is simply that I’ve established a large digital presence by attaching my name to content in prominent publications.

Integrate your company’s portfolio on your website and post your recent projects on social media accounts and professional networking platforms. Now, your portfolio will not only educate potential clients about your company’s services, but it will also lead more qualified customers to you.

Never forget that content is a great branding tool, and publications need your voice. Identify the most respected media outlets in your industry, target them and showcase your talent through those platforms. Combine these branding strategies to accelerate the growth of your digital footprint and watch your business flourish.

Originally published at www.forbes.com

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