I work with many CEOs, I am a CEO, and I am also married to one. Many CEOs overlook personal branding and the impact it has on the brands they represent. Here are five ways CEOs can leverage a better brand. This is also a lesson for anyone who has aspirations in the business world.
Get a professional photo done every two years
It amazes me how many CEOs have no photo on Linked In or even worse, a hastily made selfie in place of a professional headshot. There are a number of reasons I hear from these CEOs. They don’t want to spend the money, they don’t have the time or they didn’t think it was a big deal. But it is. If you want to be thought of as a professional when your prospective customers and colleagues look you up, you need to look like one. It is amazing how good lighting, attention to detail (like your hair), and background affects the photo and the way someone is perceived. For women, a professional hair and makeup artist can make a big difference. You want to look like your best self on your best day. Remember how you want to be perceived. Let your expression convey that. Keep in mind how this will be used. Many of the CEOs we work with will want to use this for social media but also their websites, collateral pieces and in some cases, even book jackets. You might want a change of clothes at your photo shoot. Try to dress for all seasons. And don’t use one for more than two years. You want to look like your best self today.
Keep up your social media presence
I have clients who are CEOs and refuse to be on LinkedIn. Why? Some of them have a disdain for social media and refuse to participate. Some don’t understand how it looks when they are absent. It’s like they don’t exist. Michael Milutis, co founder of IT Metrics & Productivity Insitute, said, “ It’s suicide. Imagine this. What if you showed up for a job interview in the 1980s or 1990s and refused to produce a resume? That’s how decision makers and employers will feel about you if you are not on LinkedIn.”
LinkedIn is also responsible for over 60% of all social media visits to company websites. According to Kissmetrics, LinkedIn is responsible for more than 80% of a business’s social media leads- more than all other social media platforms combined.
Also, keep in mind a good profile helps build trust and win business. Your experience, community involvement, certifications, and achievements are showcased for the world to see. LinkedIn is a requirement for all professionals. But there may be other social media that is just as important. Think about where your potential customers are. Research their social media habits with surveys or psychographic data.
Blog and be found
Many CEOs feel like blogging is a waste of time. According to a recent survey in Top Rank Marketing, 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits within twelve months. Other benefits (between having potential customers or clients find your site with SEO) are:
- It improves your company’s visibility
- It establishes your company as a thought leader
- It puts a face to your company and allows you to position your company in a number of areas
- It demonstrates that your company is up on new marketing techniques.
- It further develops a relationship with the community.
- It is absolutely free to blog and yet it’s a tool that enables your business to make more money.
If you don’t have time to blog, hire a marketing company or freelancer to assist in creating blogs.
Your business card is boring
If your business card looks generic or unremarkable, you need to consider a rebrand that starts with your business card. It’s the one collateral piece that continues to be relevant. It’s often the only piece a person has- before they look you up on Linked In (see above). A strong business card will make people think twice about you or your company, once you have met. It should have an unusual element such as a different size, shape, or piece of information. It could have a purpose- such as a bookmark, note card or sticker. It could have a shiny metallic finish. Remember to not put too much information on it and create a care people want to keep.
Never stop networking
I learned this one the hard way. After being in business fifteen years, I had stopped making the rounds at industry events, stopped going to functions, took a break from the non-profit dinner circuit. And I wondered why business started to wane. I brought in a consultant who did his analysis and after careful consideration reported that my company’s visibility had diminished. People didn’t know we were still open. Needless to say, I have joined a local Chamber of Commerce board, a major business networking group frequented by CEOs, and am doing pro bono work for a local non-profit. It’s already netting dividends. Many of my CEO clients are in the same place. After years of hard work, they want to live a sheltered life at home and away from the business world. While I applaud balance, one needs to network as long as they want to stay in business.
These five steps will improve a CEO’s visibility and a company’s profits. They are all low investment strategies that can deliver great dividends.