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One of the most difficult challenges for small and medium-sized businesses is making their brand stand out in increasingly crowded marketplaces. Brand identity, messaging and positioning continue to play vital roles in how your business is perceived. But the smart brands are waking up to an old sales and business development concept: People buy from people they like and trust.

Unless you’re a massive consumer brand like Coca-Cola or Apple, i.e. a household name, it’s much easier to sell your products or services if you’ve developed a personal likability, trust, and rapport with your potential customers.

This isn’t an article in which I will tell you that your business needs to abandon all brand-related marketing activities. Still, I will tell you that an investment in the identity and reputation of key employees can pay massive dividends.

Many factors drive consumer purchasing behaviour and can vary significantly from industry to industry and between B2C and B2B selling environments. After all, the phrase, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM,” became a truism because of guarded corporate purchasing decisions that aimed to minimize personal risk rather than maximize returns.

But today’s buying behaviours are even more complex. Trust in institutions and corporate entities has continued to erode. Companies are struggling to maintain trusted brand reputations as customers take to the digital ‘airwaves’ to air their grievances through rants in Google reviews or clever TikTok takedowns that can quickly go viral.

As a potential solution to this erosion of trust and likeability, one area that companies have underinvested in is the value of their employees to become centers of credence.

But what steps can companies, from solo entrepreneurs to mid-sized businesses with hundreds of employees, take to empower their employees to serve as trusted and liked ambassadors for your brand? Let’s take a look at a few options.

Don’t Be Afraid to Invest in Employee Personal Brands

Whether you’re a three-person business or a larger entity with a dedicated marketing department, you can create a specific strategy around the idea of elevating you or specific employees to develop a reputation for being the X person for X in X. A few examples:

Staffing Agency

Suppose you run a staffing agency, and one of your employees is exceptionally knowledgeable, likeable, and already bears a bit of a reputation for being one of the best recruiters for construction & development companies in Toronto. Your goal should be to use various digital marketing tools to amplify that person’s reach and reputation further and continue building their personal brand to bring more clients to your door.

Speciality Bakery

Imagine you run a specialty bakery in town and have an employee who is particularly impressive at custom cake lettering. Once again, your goal should be to amplify your employees’ reputation for incredibly detailed artistic work on the cakes you sell – and by extension, their reputational excellence and your investment in their personal brand will help you bring in more customers.

LRO Solutions Client

This last example is from a client we currently work with. The owner has built an incredible reputation for customer service, fair prices, and treating every customer like a family member. When we engaged with this client, we knew we could take advantage of this. We designed a digital marketing strategy to amplify his reputation further and craft it into a story of integrity, product quality, and customer service that his competitors simply can’t touch.

The result? He’s now probably the most well-known expert in his field in a local market, and many new customers are choosing him over his competitors based on his personal brand as the most knowledgeable person in town. He’s so well-known now that any time we mention him or use an image of him in the company’s social media feeds, that post dwarfs the engagement of other posts and only serves to add more social proof of his incredible knowledge and skills. It’s an excellent marketing flywheel that essentially builds upon itself.

Allow Employees to Engage on Social Media

There’s no shortage of opinions on how companies of varying sizes should manage their social media policies concerning their employees. You’ll often see personal accounts with a disclaimer in their bio to the effect of: “This account is personal and is not a reflection of my employer’s views, etc.”

In most cases, I would say that organizations are missing out on empowering their employees to use social media in a manner that respects the organization’s views and values and gives employees the opportunity to represent their experience and expertise in their day jobs. 

This can be tricky to navigate, but when done right, social media can be a powerful tool to let your employees humanize your brand through the power of personal branding and connection. 

Highlight Team Member’s Abilities To Solve Your Customer’s Problems

One of the best ways to show the competence of your business to solve customers’s problems is to simply highlight how an employee, or even you, as the brand owner, took steps to help a customer through your service or product offering. These demonstrations can come in the form of videos, blog posts, social media posts, and even review replies or case studies.

The Risks of Building Up Personal Brands Within a Company Aren’t Really Risks

Here’s why. First, as a company, whether you’re just starting or have been in business for 30 years, you have to get used to employee churn. No matter your heroic efforts to retain your best employees, churn will happen.

That said, investing in your employees and their personal brands, aside from the usual tenets of competitive financial remuneration and fostering a great work environment, is quite possibly the best employee retention strategy you can have.

When you encourage employees to become brand ambassadors by investing in them and their reputation, you give them a sense of belonging and ownership over their fate within your company. Employees who feel like their company is willing to invest in them, whether they jump ship in a few years or not, tend to want to stick around for longer than employees who feel like they are the ones doing all the giving.

In the end, building up employee brand ambassadors is likely less risky and will result in more business for your company than only investing in your corporate brand.

If you’re still worried about investing time and money to build up the reputation of an employee, make sure you’re investing in more than just one of them. If they leave, your company can lean on the other employees whose reputations you’ve worked to enhance.

Not sure how your business can take advantage of various digital marketing tools to help build the personal brand of employees at your company? Contact one of our marketing experts to learn more about how we can help.

Sebastian Arciszewski

Author Sebastian Arciszewski

Sebastian Arciszewski has been working in various digital marketing roles for over 25 years including specializations in digital strategy, SEO, content marketing, brand development, e-commerce strategy, and paid ads management. Today he is the Chief Marketing Officer of LRO Solutions with a focus on bringing leading digital marketing services to clients all over Canada.

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