Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand. You can choose to ignore what other people (clients, freelancers, business partners) think about you, or you can do the work to understand, shape, and use your personal brand for your own benefit.
But as small business owners, it’s sometimes difficult to get clients, virtual assistants, followers, and even close friends to tell us their honest opinions of us.
And even if we could get real answers from them, what are the right questions to ask?!
In this blog post, I’m breaking down my four step process you can use to audit your personal brand.
Step 1: Do Your Own Audit
The first step is to put yourself in your audience’s shoes, wherever they may be. Make a list of all the groups of people who interact with your personal brand – you can learn something different from all of them. However, you should heavily weight the feedback and opinions of your current and potential clients, because their opinions are the ones you will focus on shaping.
Review all the touch points you have with your current and potential clients. Look over your website, Instagram feed, blog posts, email templates, and any other communication channels or touch points you have. Ask yourself three questions:
- What does my content say about my personal brand?
- Does my content positively or negatively impacting my personal brand?
- Based on these findings, what can I change moving forward to build my personal brand?
Step 2: Gather and review past feedback.
Since our personal brands are in the minds of others, not our own, it’s important to ask for feedback. Start by reviewing any testimonials or emails you’ve received in the past – what do other people say about you? Do you notice any trends? Is it positive or negative? Are they highlighting the things that you want to be highlighted? When you’ve been asked to speak or contribute in the past, what have others asked you to speak about or help with? What are you known for?
Take note of any trends that you see.
Step 3: Get new feedback.
By this point, you should have some assumptions made about how people view your personal brand – and now it’s time to test those assumptions.
The most important part about collecting honest feedback is ensuring that your respondents remain anonymous. There are a couple ways to do this:
- Have a third party collect the information for you. Whether it’s a virtual assistant or a market research firm, there are many options that can separate your respondent’s personal information from their responses. If you want to offer a gift or prize to a survey respondent to incentivize more people to take the survey, you should definitely use a third party to manage the giveaway.
- Create an anonymous survey that doesn’t ask for personal information. This link can be sent out to your client or email list, but you’ll still want to give them a clear incentive to take your survey. People are more likely to respond if you write them a personal message, so you could create a templated email and send the survey to each of your past clients individually. Or you could provide a gift to ALL of your subscribers/followers whether or not they take the survey. This may seem like a ridiculous thing to do, but we have a strong sense of reciprocity, so if you link to a Starbucks gift card that anyone can use, and ask that they take your survey, people will be more likely to participate, whether or not they actually use the gift card.
As far as questions go, you’ll want to ask questions that don’t lead your respondents to a specific answer. For example, I wouldn’t want to ask, “How much did you enjoy working with Jade Boyd Photography?” because the question assumes that they enjoyed working with me. Instead, I might say, “Tell me about your experience working with Jade Boyd Photography.”
Remember, you’re trying to figure out what your reputation is – this is the summation of the things you’re known for. Make sure your questions will lead to the types of answers that will be both insightful and actionable in building your brand in the future. Here are a few questions that you may consider asking:
- What are 5 words that you would use to describe me/my personal brand?
- If you asked me to speak at a professional event, what would you ask me to speak about?
- If there was one problem that you were 100% confident that I could solve for you, what would it be?
- If you sent a friend or colleague to me for help, what would they need help with?
- Is there anything that you would warn your friend about before sending them to me for help? Would you give them a disclaimer of any kind?
Step 4: Analyze your results and determine key findings.
The last step is to review your results and interpret them. There’s a different between ‘data’ and ‘information’, and your job is to put on your marketing researcher hat and bridge that gap.
Review your results one question at a time and take note of any trends you see. Are there any misperceptions about who you are and what you do? Are there any surprises in your responses?
Once you have a better understanding of how people view you, determine whether or not your personal brand is in line with what you WANT it to be. Do you want to be known for something other than what you’re known for now? If so, determine how you’ll make that adjustment.
Are you known for something that you DON’T want to be known for anymore? How will you make that clear to people in the future?
Step 5: Take Action
Personal Brand Audits can be extremely useful tools in diagnosing problem areas in your brand and determining an action plan to build a brand that converts in the future. Make sure you take the time to create clear next steps and put them on your calendar!
You may be surprised by what people think about when they think of your brand and that’s okay! It’s so much better to know that information and be able to act on it than to sit in the dark hoping your brand is working for you.
I’m passionate about helping creative entrepreneurs build powerful personal brands that convert, and I’d love to connect with you on Instagram @jadeboydphotography. I have plenty more tips and tricks to share, and I hope you’ll join in the fun!