Branding the Founder is as important as cash flow and R&D
Updated: May 13
In my world, I tend to meet and work with Founders who are from the fields of Science; Engineers, Mathematicians and Physicists. They are brilliant at their thing and building a business around that thing is of enormous value to them and the market they are here to serve.
Their focus tends to be on the technical aspects of their business first, and the marketing and communications side 2nd or 3rd. No surprises there.
It can take time for Founders to appreciate fully that as the Founder, they are also; the lead sales person, the lead recruiter, and the head of fundraising.
It can take even more time for them to embrace the incredible value that their more introverted, closed doors work environment-over-people preference, wants to make a bit of room for their personal brand to show up.
That by doing so, they are investing in their company’s long term growth, and their own long term business prospects.
This is usually when they recognise that they have a Personal Brand whether they have formally acknowledged it or not.
They are of course, researched online for any number of business related queries - and as a result, conclusions and assumptions are made based on the search results that emerge driving right to the heart of the good ol’ "know, like trust" narrative.
A Personal Brand is a tangible, virtual expression of your views on the world;
Your hierarchy of values, experience, failures, and successes, your approach to solving the problem you are bringing to life in your business, are unique to you.
Expressing those views gives your audience an experience of you before you ever get invited to bid on a project. That exact experience offers your audience the opportunity to know, like, and trust you before they meet you.
Branding the Founder is as important as cash flow and R&D and includes significant returns.
It is worth noting here as well that there is a difference between experts who understand google algorithms to reach the first 1 or 2 pages, versus subject matter experts who are not paying attention to algorithms that live on pages 5, 6 and 7. Seven times out of ten, the subject matter experts living beyond page 5, is far more valuable to you than the first few you see on page 1.
Likes, shares, follows, and similar tend to live in the virtue signalling camp more so than the meaningful engagement camp.
These stats have been a deeply important metric for marketers the world over and yet - they can offer little in the way of pipelines, revenue generation, and tangible business growth. I wonder if that has evolved from a valuable metric, into a less valuable metric because the tech platforms today tend to fence our online. content, limiting its exposure in an effort for you to buy ads to get it out far and wide that we have resorted to grassroots efforts among our community to manually get the likes, shares to circumvent the need to invest ad dollars? I dunno - I am thinking out loud.
While likes and follows absolutely have their place, I would argue whether that value deserves to be counted in the top two KPIS that many offer up when so much of our online reviews, likes, and shares are orchestrated behind the scenes inside conversations that go something like this:
“Would you like and share my post? Would you go to amazon and leave my book a review?”
The person receiving the request, often out of obligation, and to avoid not-being-liked (another fundamental human need) does just that giving impressions of value based on smoke and mirrors - and less on the quality of the content.
Don’t even get me started on advertising technology and the corruption that is rife in and around it.
I reckon #UnAdvertising will be a trend that explodes into the scene over the next 3 years.
Valuing meaningful engagement over virtue signalling likes - I hate to blanket term it but for the purpose of this article, please allow me to)
And no - I am not saying all likes, follows and shares are virtue signalling - or that increased numbers online don’t aid the reach and visibility of your content - I’m just saying that if it’s not adding to your pipeline or business development efforts, then it’s worth revisiting our KPIs and innovating how we go about them so we get the returns our business, and our genius, deserves.
Shannon Eastman, Growth Consultant
Inside Growth Podcast
Shannon Eastman is a growth consultant, human behaviour expert, communications adviser, management consultant, mentor and business coach. Shannon is the Host of inside GROWTH, Founder of Funds Ireland MiniCon and an Advisor to starts ups in the Middle East.