How to become the competitive advantage of your start-up by leveraging your personal brand

by David Gaudreault, Entrepreneur, Maker, Online Marketing and Personal Branding Specialist

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Comment devenir l'avantage compétitif de votre start-up - bannière course

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Do you want to have a competitive advantage in your start-up that will bring you more customers, more sales, allow you to sell at higher prices and close sales faster?

An advantage that will bring you more visibility, more engagement on social media and on your website … and all that gratis!

Today, I tell you how you and your employees can become the competitive advantage of your start-up by leveraging your personal brand!

Time is against you

As an entrepreneur and business executive, you face a constraint that is universal, time! A constraint that is vicious, a constraint that accompanies and influences each of your business decisions.

Time is rushing us to finish our MVP, to find customers, to make our first sales, to raise financing, to release a finished product, to make more sales, to grow!

Entrepreneurship is a race against time.

That said, by chasing after time we often come to direct our decisions towards what gives quick results.

Results that will allow us to take the steps as quickly as possible before burning out our cash!

And so, very few entrepreneurs will choose to invest valuable time to build their personal brand and those of their employees.

And that’s kind of good news for those who take the time!

Because if everyone invested time developing their personal brand, it wouldn’t be a competitive advantage anymore!

Your personal brand, your competitive advantage

You may be wondering whether your brand can really become a competitive advantage for your startup.

In fact, your brand will bring you three important things, (1) credibility, (2) free visibility and (3) a community that will serve as an extraordinary voice to propel your business projects with underlying benefits totally unsuspected.

To illustrate my point, I will take the example of a Quebec entrepreneur who has a strong personal brand, an engaged community and who has taken full advantage of his brand to propel his start-up.

Julien Brault.

Julien launched his startup in 2016 completely broke and yet, in two years, he has multiplied the achievements and successes, and many of them are attributable to Julien “the brand”, that is to say, years committed to building his personal brand, his network, his web presence and to engage his communities.

Highlights – leveraging his brand, Julien…

  • has generated more than 250,000 pageviews on his website in less than a year… And he did not do it by selling the latest cool thing, he did it by selling a course on investment!
  • did a successful Ulule crowdfunding campaign and raised nearly $ 70,000, 7 times his $ 10,000 goal.
  • did a crowdfunding campaign on GoTroo that raised $ 250,000. $ 100,000 more than its initial goal of $ 150,000!
  • has managed to gain impressive media coverage in many mainstream media that would be dreamed of by the biggest companies.He made an appearance at RDI Economics, in addition to receiving continuous media coverage in several media such as the Huffington Post, Journal Les Affaires, Montreal Gazette, TVA Nouvelle, the Journal de Montréal, the Info Presse, Le Devoir, Finance et Investissement, Advisor.ca, Betakit.com, and many others. Without counting all the radio interviews he has given! All free visibility!
  • Recently launched the series Open Wallet and started in force with distinguished guests like the former dragon and collaborator on the show Moment decisif Serge Beauchemin, the former hockey player of the Montreal Canadiens Georges Laraque and the well-known economist and Léger president Jean-Marc Leger.

    All these people who agreed to participate in his show dit it because they are inclined to associate their brands with Julien’s, their credibility to Julien’s credibility.

5 tips to become the competitive advantage of your start-up inspired by Julien’s story

Tip 1: Build your brand early

Before even thinking of becoming an entrepreneur!

Julien Brault started to build his personal brand well before starting his start-up. He was a journalist at Journal Les Affaires where he signed 960 articles among which a guide on How to launch a start-up in 7 days with $ 700. He was also the instigator of the Start-up 7 Challenge at Journal Les Affaires. He also wrote two bibliographies and he interviewed dozens of business personalities.

All of this helped to build his brand.

The best time to build your brand was a long time ago, but the second best moment is right now.

Are you planning on launching a start-up soon and you think you’ll start building your brand in a timely manner?

Start now!

Determine what kind of influencers would be best positioned to promote your next start-up idea and start working right now to build your personal brand to become that influencer.

Tip 2: Build engaged communities around your personal brand

From the launch of Hardbacon, Julien directed the theme of his blog at the Journal Les Affaires on the theme of his start-up: From zero to a million, and in his first publication, he immediately made the launch of the Hardbacon newsletter to start collecting emails.

In parallel, he also built Hardbacon communities of a few thousand subscribers, but it was under his own name that he built the largest communities for one simple reason: people are much more inclined to engage with people than engaging with corporate brands.

Keep in mind that an engaged community is a voice for all your professional, community, social and entrepreneurial projects.

Start building your communities on social networks now and start a newsletter to start building your email list.

Tip 3: Feed your communities with authentic content and make them grow

Julien provided valuable content describing his journey in an honest and authentic way, and in less than a year, he had an honorable list of 5300 subscribers.

As we often say in marketing: “Money is in the list! ”

He has also developed his communities on social media continually with various content.

Julien’s community to date:

The way to build and engage your community is:

  • to generate content that offers high value, that is very interesting and allow your audience to learn, grow, evolve and become better people.
  • to generate this content with consistency and regularity over a long period.
  • to engage in discussions with your audience
  • to be generous by giving 10 times more than what you receive and this, over a very long period

Tip 4: Seize all opportunities to gain free visibility

As I said before, when he launched his start-up Hardbacon, Julien did it at a time when he was rather broke. A bit reckless, you might say, but his financial situation has led him to become addicted to free visibility.

He took every opportunity to speak in public in events, blogs, podcasts, etc.

That said, it was when he completed his crowdfunding campaign brilliantly that he began to really get the attention of the mainstream media.

… And then occurred the snowball effect

The snowball effect

Julien had real success with his crowdfunding campaign thanks to his communities that he had developed and engaged over several years, and who supported him.

This great success then attracted the attention of the mainstream media and they approached him with confidence since he already had much visibility in blogs, podcasts, events which gave him much credibility.

Then, this visibility in the mainstream media helped to give him even more credibility and eventually more coverage. For example, he benefited from a major coverage when launching his application and when he made a partnership with Desjardins.

The snowball effect in personal branding is the simple principle where each of your actions helps you get prepared and gather all the necessary elements to seize the next opportunity. Click To Tweet
Without even being aware, every action you take to build your personal brand lead you in the right position to seize future opportunities and ultimately achieve your goals. Click To Tweet

This means that to get free visibility, you need to build the foundations of your personal brand stone by stone with consistency and regularity, accumulate successes, be generous and make bold,  inspiring, innovative and creative actions to really stand out.

The stronger your foundations, the more visibility you get, the more credibility you get, the greater your chances of getting media coverage.

Tip 5: Build on your strengths and surround yourself for the rest

Julien said before: “I think I have found my unfair advantage; it’s my ability to tell stories“. And that’s exactly what he’s focusing on to propel his startup.

He did not code his application himself or make his own graphics. He relied on his greatest strengths and surrounded himself with people with complementary skills to take care of the rest.

There are thousands of ways to build your brand, build your credibility, generate content and make your own way, but ultimately, you have to find yours. Concentrate on your strengths and perform to the best of your abilities.

If you want to learn more about the strategies Julien has used to generate more than a quarter of a million views for his startup, I invite you to read his article on Medium 25 Free Marketing Tricks I Used To Generate a Quarter-Million Page Views For My Startup.

Personal Branding - Comment devenir l'avantage compétitif de sa start-up grâce à sa marque personnelle

Photo de Medium

Summary list of 25 free marketing tips from Julien Brault

  1. Display Your Ads on Other People’s Website
  2. Post Highly Shareable Content On Social Media
  3. Use Snapchat Creatively
  4. Use Job Boards as Marketing Channels
  5. Use your Profile Picture as a Billboard
  6. Get the Media to Talk About You
  7. Recycle Your Snapchat Stories on Facebook and Instagram
  8. Do Live Interviews on YouTube
  9. Associate With Influencers
  10. Leverage Your Email Signature
  11. Automate Twitter As Much as Possible
  12. Automate Instagram (Sparingly)
  13. Answer Questions on Quora
  14. Add a Lot of People on Facebook
  15. Give Lectures
  16. Do A/B Tests
  17. Post an AMA on Reddit
  18. Live-stream as often as you can
  19. Provide Visibility Without Asking For Anything in Return
  20. Set Up a Referral System
  21. Send Handwritten Notes to Your Audience
  22. Recycle Your Content on LinkedIn and Medium
  23. Use Your Slogan and Job Position Strategically on LinkedIn
  24. Write on Other People’s Websites
  25. Launch a Chatbot

The Skeptics

Some people say: “I do not want to put forward my personal brand, it could shade my corporate brand. ”

Sincerely, this popular belief is totally wrong and it brings me to share my Bonus Tip.

At the beginning of the article, I said that I was going to demonstrate how you, but also your employees could become the competitive advantage of your start-up.

Indeed, you, as an entrepreneur and business executive, have a role to play in taking benefits of your personal brand.

But your employees can also contribute and become competitive advantages for your company!

Bonus tip: Leverage your Employees to Distribute your Corporate Messages

Did you know that when your employees distribute your corporate messages on social media, they get 24 times more sharing than those published directly under your corporate brand, without even having made the slightest effort to develop their personal brand?

Imagine if you encourage them to develop their personal brand, build their own communities and distribute your corporate messages!

People connect with other people much better than with corporate entities. So it’s up to you to take advantage of it.

Knowing that 78% of the population has a presence on social media, more than two-thirds of your employees can help distribute your corporate messages!

Conclusion

Julien knew how to use his personal brand with brilliance and turned it into a competitive advantage for his start-up.

To use your personal brand as a competitive advantage, there is not only one way, but there are foundations that must be present.

  • Start building your brand early
  • Generate engaging content
  • Build an engaged community
  • Build on your strengths and surround yourself with the rest
  • Seize every opportunity to get free visibility
  • Favor the personal channels of the employees to those of the company for the diffusion of your corporate messages.

Remember that people connect and engage with people more than with corporate brands, so it’s up to you to be aware of it and benefit from it!

Let me ask you, do you leverage your personal brand to promote your start-up?

Answer yes or no in the comments below!

Thank you for reading to the end ;) !

Who is David Gaudreault?

David Gaudreault Bio - David's Way

I'm an entrepreneur, a maker, an online marketer...and Personal branding passionate.

I help entrepreneurs develop two essentials for building a successful startup: (1) building a strong personal brand and (2) building solid foundations of passive incomes to gain professional freedom.

I also help entrepreneurs find their big ideas, execute them right, impact millions with their businesses, and change the world.

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CHAPTER 2: BUILDING YOUR BRAND ASSETS!

12. Build a Website & a Blog
13. Setup Google Analytics
14. Setup Facebook Pixel
15. Setup Your Professional Email Address
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CHAPTER 3: CREATING ENGAGING CONTENT – BLOG POSTS!

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CHAPTER 4: CREATING ENGAGING CONTENT – PHOTOS & VIDEOS!

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