Your Audience Isn't Growing, Because You're Not Interesting
There's something I've been learning recently, that in truth is so painfully obvious I feel as though I've been blind, staring at a neon sign, and have only now been given the gift of sight.
As I spell it out for myself, this concept seems clear as day! Though I wonder if it's like most self-employment and entrepreneurial lessons: impossible to see until you run straight into it. It's nothing, until it's the only rational option.
If it is like this, as I suspect, then I'm likely not the only one to recently notice it, and there will be many others just like me who haven't yet run straight into that neon sign.
I spend my days in the world of B2B content, where there is but one goal: provide value.
In content marketing, particularly in B2B, you operate under the assumption that there are already people and consumers interested in what you do, and that you can provide answers for all their questions.
People are searching through Google for your answers (content). All you need to do is be there waiting with the right information.
By that regard, content marketing is much like a family driving down the highway. They're looking for a place to stop. All you need to do is put your name on the exit sign. However, personal branding is nothing like this.
I wish I could go back and find the link. Recently I read a piece detailing what makes great speakers such great speakers, using Steve Jobs as a focal point. One of Jobs' (arguably) best characteristics was his ability to make you dream. "What if you could..."
This is such a powerful method of marketing, because everyone wants to live vicariously through their imagination, and in turn, through others.
People want to be a part of revolutionary dreams, of a "better" way of living, of exciting and interesting things! When they can't find that in themselves, they look to others to fulfill those desires.
Marketing your personal brand, whatever you do, isn't about providing value. It's about making others want to be in your position.
There's a methodology I've held for some time now, which holds just as true (if not more so) with this concept of "be interesting" in mind. There will always be people on your same level and on levels below you. These people will be your followers.
As you grow, that pool of potential followers grows as well. These are the people who will look up to you for growth, and respect you as someone in a similar situation to theirs.
They find value in you and your work, because your work feeds exactly what they're trying to do. These are the people who will find you interesting. You're doing things on your level that those on lower levels can't do yet, but want to do be doing.
They experience their dreams through you. You're interesting! That's the key.
You might be creating incredibly valuable content. You might be everywhere. You might be the most qualified expert to talk about the things you're talking about. But what are you doing that your target audience can't do?
What projects are you working on that they can only dream of doing? Where are you traveling that's on everyone's wish list? What activities are you a part of that others somehow hope to be a part of as well?
The value you can provide to others is a critical piece. If you can't offer any value, be it entertainment or information or inspiration, there's no reason for you to be a brand.
After you've got that down, which most already do, what distinguishes you from everyone else doing what you do? What makes people want to be in your position? What are you doing that's interesting?