How To Profit With Your Own Personal Brand

by Charlie Cook

During the early stages of building my online business, I had my assistant Ros call customers who’d purchased my how-to marketing guides to solicit feedback. The first few times she made these calls, she introduced herself by saying, “Hi, this is Ros from Marketing for Success.” The response she got was, “Marketing for what?”

Then Ros tried this; “Hi, this is Ros. Charlie Cook from Marketing For Success asked me to call you.” Customers almost always recognized my name and would say something like, “Oh, sure, Charlie. I get his weekly newsletter.”

Customers who had made a purchase from my site felt they were buying from me personally, even though we’d never spoken. My personality, my marketing expertise and my ideas suffuse the site. My approach to marketing and my ‘voice’ come across on every page of the site and in every publication.

My company is called Marketing for Success, but my brand is really Charlie Cook. The same is true for all small business owners, and the most successful ones are leveraging this for increased profits.


Your Personal Brand is Your Company Brand

As a small business owner, your company brand is your personal brand. And vice versa. For an ambitious individual, the idea essentially is that you package and market yourself and your career.

Wildly successful celebrities like Martha Stewart, Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey have shown how far you can take this concept, turning personal branding into mega-million dollar business empires. And you can use it to be a success too.

Even if you don’t become the next Donald Trump or decide to use a company name different than your own, you can profit enormously from using personal branding.


Because personal branding is effective. People like to feel a connection; more sales are made when there is a positive personal relationship. And it’s that unique relationship, the bond you have with your prospects and clients that distinguishes your business from the competition. In fact, your personal brand can be your best competitive advantage.

Because personal branding is affordable. Few small businesses have the financial resources to build a brand image the way big corporations do, with extensive advertising and promotion across many media. Personal branding can be done simply and inexpensively.

Think about it. When you need an accountant, a lawyer, a graphic designer or are looking for a new restaurant, or service provider of any sort, what do you do? You start with the list of people you know that might provide the services you need. If that doesn’t work, the next thing you do is start asking the people you know.

The key to being wildly successful is being know, being helpful and being memorable all of which are easier to do when you’re promoting yourself not the abstract concept of a company.

The brand you want to promote is you. When you do, you’ll make more money with less effort. How?

Two simple steps; define your personal brand, and promote it using the steps detailed on the following pages.

2 Easy Steps To Build Your Personal Brand

Step 1. Define Your Personal Brand

How do you want people to think of you and your business?

What do you think of when you hear the name Charles Schwab?

The name connotes financial advice you can trust and brokerage services at a reasonable price. I know I’m not going to actually “Talk to Chuck” when I call, but the message is that Chuck is an expert and he is approachable, and somehow this extends to the people who will pick up the phone. Branding Chuck as the friendly expert you can trust works.

What do you think of when you hear the name Jim Cramer? If you’ve ever seen Jim’s TV show you know he comes across strong. He rants and raves and is over the top in his commitment to his ideas. He doesn’t give nice dry analysis, he shouts and proclaims his ideas with undeniable passion, wearing silly outfits and performing ridiculous stunts.

Jim is highly entertaining for sure, but should you take his advice? Probably not according to

Despite the questionability of his stock recommendations, Jim is a huge entertainment and marketing success. At age 49 he has his own popular prime time TV show and two books on the Business Week top seller list. His over-the-top personal style has created a huge and loyal following providing him with a net worth of over fifty million dollars.

In both instances, Charles Schwab and Jim Cramer, personal branding establishes clear — and very different — messages that distinguish these professionals from each other.

Whether you use your own name or a company name, decide what you want your prospects to associate with that name.

Action A: Make a list of the five most important things or qualities you want prospects to associate with your name.

1. ______________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________

3. ______________________________________________

4. ______________________________________________

5. ______________________________________________

How do you want prospects to see you as a person?

Whether you sell to individuals or large companies, your buyer is another person like you, quirky, interesting and governed by their emotions. When they get to know you as a person full of ideas, expertise and passion, they’ll be more likely to relate to you and to want to do business with you.

I share information about my life, on my web site and in my newsletter to help people understand at least a couple things about me in addition to my marketing expertise. And it pays off too.

One Christmas my family and my wife’s parents, brothers, sister and various children all packed up and headed to Tortola in the Virgin Islands for a week. I mentioned this trip in a subsequent newsletter along with a link to photos of the family having fun in the sun. The result? My sales for the week jumped sky high.

If you’re a regular subscriber to this newsletter, I bet you know at least one personal fact about Charlie Cook. You probably know I’m obsessed with skiing, spend much of my winter in Vermont and during the rest of the year I bike or kayak daily. I’ve shared stories about my family – my son and his endearing habits, my skinflint Dad and his leaky boat – and more.

On my website you’ll find a section about what I do when I’m not working. It includes pictures from trips with family, of skiing, sailing and cyclying. Yes I look silly in my lycra bike outfit, but that’s part of who I am and what I do.

Haven’t seen these photos? Here’s the link:

You don’t have to reveal the secrets of your soul – in fact, please don’t, but do let your personality and your interests come across.

Action B: What passions, hobbies, interests or personal qualities do you want associated with your personal brand?

1. ______________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________

3. ______________________________________________

What is your expertise?

If you’ve been in business for at least a couple of years, you know a lot about how to help your clients. You’ve probably already forgotten more than most people will ever know about your specialty.

You’re good at what you do and getting better all the time. You’re an expert, and this expertise is a big part of your personal brand.

If you run a printing business catering to retail stores, send out tips on how they the best ways to use in store signage to increase sales. Or if you sell car stereos, share product reviews and ideas on how to make your car sound like a concert hall, or tell about the most challenging installation you ever had.

The best way to establish your credibility and earn prospects’ trust and client loyalty is to regularly demonstrate your expertise by sharing helpful ideas, ideas that also create a perception of need for your products and services.

For example you’re a financial advisor, share ideas on how people can make more with a properly diversified portfolio. Of course they’ll need your help to implement your ideas.

Action C: What problems or concerns do you want to be known for solving? What are your areas of expertise?

1. ______________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________

3. ______________________________________________

2. Promote Your Personal Brand

You defined the messages of your personal branding above, in the short lists A through C. Now decide how and when you will deliver those messages to establish yourself as an expert and make your marketing personal.

Establish yourself as an expert.

Bruce came to me for help in building a management consulting business. A former pastor, he was a natural in front of an audience. With my encouragement, he reactivated his speaking skills and started scheduling speeches for Chambers of Commerce in his county. Six months later, he’d grown his income from $12,500 to over $20,000 a month.

Not everyone is comfortable in front of an audience. Regardless of whether you decide to speak or to write, choose a forum to regularly share your ideas and demonstrate your expertise to your target market. More and more prospects will see that you understand their concerns and have the answers to their problems.

You could mail or email a newsletter on a regular basis; maintain a daily blog; send an audio email twice a month or post video newsletters on your website. Or get out there on the speaking circuit, as Bruce did.

Action E: Identify 3 ways you will act like an expert at least twice a month.

1. ______________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________

3. ______________________________________________

Make your marketing personal.

Jill is a client of mine who works with business leaders helping get their teams producing more. She’s also an avid rower and brings the same concepts that work for a rowing team to her business coaching. (You know like all pulling together to avoid going in circles.)

She’s discovered how to personalize the key concepts she wants her clients to understand. Her clients remember the lessons and Jill’s enthusiasm for her sport and her work.

Put your personality into your business marketing. Together with honest performance of your products and services and you’ll be amazed at how much business you’ll attract.

If you have a web site you can:
•  Put up snapshots of yourself in your office or on the golf course.

•  Use audio and or video clips throughout your site presenting ideas that your prospects can use.

•  Provide free telecalls. This gives your prospects a chance to hear you demonstrate your expertise and gives you an opportunity to find out what they’re really thinking about.

Action F: Identify 3 ways you’ll make your marketing more personal right away.

1. ______________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________

3. ______________________________________________

The purpose of your personal brand is to create a unique and lasting relationship with your prospects so they become clients and with your clients so they become repeat clients. When you do you’ll see your business grow and your profits increase.

“The greatest reward for becoming a millionaire is not the amount of money you earn. It is the kind of person that you have to become to become a millionaire in the first place.” – Jim Rohn

Additional Resources

The Brand Called You by Peter Montoya, available on

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