Peter Watson explores what personal branding could do for you

I’d like to start with a very old fashioned saying.


It’s one that has been around forever, and while it’s important to be an innovator, it is often the oldest statements that ring true. The difference is to adapt them to today’s challenges within business.


The phrase is simply ‘people buy from people’.


Trust is the key issue here, if you don’t trust, know or like the person or brand selling to you or have your suspicions that they aren’t quite what they seem, then you are not likely to enlist their services, buy a product from them or become a regular customer.


Personal branding then, is key. Considering that the above statement is true, how can brands make an impact in this way? There’s plenty, but you might not have thought about them yet.


Talking direct to your customers


It’s becoming a cliche to say that brands have been afforded the opportunity to speak directly to their customers via social media. This has now been the case for around a decade. Some have excelled in speaking and interacting with audiences. For example, see the quirky, recognisable tone of innocent, the drinks brand. This has been copied across the rest of social media, disrupting the idea that social media has to be a stiff, robotic customer service platform.


This has worked incredibly well so far but it is clear that another generation of social media and digital marketing has made it easier to put a face to a brand, rather than simply offering a voice hidden behind a logo. Video, audio and ways to interact on a much more personal level has seen many businesses also excel. Talking face to face can be replicated so easily with video, we now see more of the people in business than we ever did before.


Be your brand


Rather than hiding behind that brand or logo, why not become it? There’s a lot to be said for putting yourself out there. Our strategy from day one with our agency has been to place the faces behind the actions in front of the customer. It’s worked so well for us that clients are approaching us to see if we can replicate it for them.


So how to do it? There are several ways, but often the most effective is talking about what you know, but try and apply this to current topics. For example, are you a recruitment expert?




Outside of recruitment as a subject, how else can you inform people of issues regarding this? Whether you express it through a podcast, a to-camera video, a speaking slot or via video content on social media, give people either a takeaway they can use right away or something that makes them want to hear more from you.


Say that there is some universal legislation that affects companies of all sizes on every level, how would you apply that to a specific industry? If you can dream up a way of talking about recruitment when it comes to other industries or current affairs, then make yourself the expert.


A great example is Brexit. The ‘B’ word has reared its head so many times over the last few years in every industry imaginable that it is no longer an issue to be avoided. We have found that if you are willing to share with other industries what Brexit means for them, you can become somewhat of an oracle for such information very quickly indeed.


Going back to the example given before, being a recruitment expert is fantastic, but being able to tell the manufacturing industry about how recruitment will be affected is even better. If you can address issues that an industry is totally unaware of at present and provide examples of how they can prepare, then you are providing knowledge that might be worth more than you know.


Delivery methods?


This is all great, but really, the question must be how to deliver this kind of information to become a trusted, respected thought leader? There are plenty of ways and there is no one method that works across the board for all industries, but consider these to begin with:


  • Video: This is still the key way to influence an audience, but make sure what you record is valuable, interesting and concise. Labour the point too much and you may end up turning people off
  • Digital PR: Find out what makes your opinion or knowledge unique and offer up your time to key titles in the industry. At every level, local, regional and national, there are a host of titles all still hungry for content. If you can be tenacious, quick to supply information or copy and be reliable, you may find yourself being regularly called upon to comment on certain issues.
  • Social media ads: There is so much value in placing investment behind social ads, but do your research. What’s performing best for your industry at the moment? Should you concentrate your funding on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or in other areas? Getting your message right is one thing, getting it to the right people is another.
  • Podcasts: 2018 was seen as the year of the podcast. A boom of sorts happened last year, so why not join in too? Come up with short-form versions of a long-form podcast format and you can also push this to your social channels too, effectively creating several marketing strands from one piece of content.



   Peter Watson      


About the author


Peter Watson is co-founder and Managing Director of Distract, an award-winning advertising agency based in the East Midlands.

Founded three years ago, Distract has grown from a social media marketing agency to offering a portfolio of services including paid social advertising, paid search, SEO, PPC, web and Digital PR.

Peter is well-known in the East Midlands as a keynote speaker and innovator and is an advocate for personal branding. During 2018, Peter hired a full-time videographer to document his business day, with his YouTube series ‘Inside The Journey’ showing this process in detail.

Peter also supports other young entrepreneurs with Featured, a business incubator company that invests in developing start-ups.

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