May 21, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Do you remember the times when you would save the change from your lunch money and drop those couple of nickels into your special jar at home? It felt so good. I tried to recall at least one precious item that an 8-year-old me was saving for, but that memory has faded. However, I still remember the feeling. Tucking away the coins. Visualizing how one day I’d be able to break the bank and, finally, own the objects of my heart’s desire.
A few days ago, I had a chat with my fiancé. I was celebrating the fact that another potential client found me on Instagram. “So what are the posts that bring you clients?” He asked. I didn’t quite know what to answer.
I love Instagram. To be honest, I spend far too much time on it and take far too many courses about it. Nevertheless, I’d never linked a specific post to a specific outcome.
This got me thinking further. As a founder of a PR agency, I often get asked which media placement or which podcast would bring leads or sales. Just as in the example above, it’s often hard to make the connection. You know leads are coming, but you can’t quite put your finger on the exact piece of earned media that’s bringing the results.
And here is where the piggy bank analogy comes in. Think of your personal brand as an investment. It grows with every brand interaction — an expert post on social media, a podcast interview, a guest post on an authority website. Every “nickel” you put into your “brand bank” increases your authority, brand recognition and audience trust. Some are small drops. Some are bigger wins. And then one day you are ready to make an offer. Take the hammer out…and boom! The trust you’ve built is your capital, which is now ready to work for you, giving people the trust they need to buy from you.
This metaphor really helps you get into the right mindset when it comes to investing in your brand. Here’s why I believe you should treat your personal brand like a piggy bank.
1. You can’t sell without giving value first
You can’t expect to cash out until you’ve put something into your piggy bank. Although this seems obvious, far too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of hard-selling to prospects who don’t know them and don’t trust them just yet. Whichever marketing tool you use — email, social media, affiliate marketing — remember that value comes first, and once enough value has been imputed, you can think of cashing out.
Multiple social-media courses that I take love talking about the “content formula” that applies to social media as well as your email marketing. Experts usually recommend planning about 40 percent value, 20 percent engagement, 10 percent inspiration, and 10 percent sales. Percentages vary, but you get the idea.
The “piggy bank model” is a great way to audit your brand as well. If you’re pushing a good product without much success, it might just be that you haven’t got enough “trust nickels” in your brand bank.
2. There’s no point in just collecting value if you’re not going to “break the bank”
While some entrepreneurs are trying to follow in the footsteps of an Ethiopian prince by selling to the cold leads, others commit the opposite mistake: They never sell.
To those of us who thrive on creating great products or building relationships, selling sometimes might feel challenging. I grew up in a culture where “salesman” and “entrepreneur” were dirty words. We end up expecting that just from being in the room or sharing awesome content, the right customers are going to somehow find us. They would somehow overcome their own objections and chase after us to give us their money.
If you’ve been in the content-creation mode for a while, it might be time to take an honest look and ask if all that work breeds monetary results. Break that bank. Plan a launch or run a promo. Openly talk about the offer, help your tribe members overcome objections, and tell them exactly how to buy from you.
3. Consistency is key
Does it make sense to start investing time in building your authority if all you have is 30 minutes a day to build your brand? If you don’t have access to big-name publications and can’t break into big podcasts just yet? Investors say that consistency is one of the key habits leading to success. Every capital — brand capital included — starts with consistent investments. The size of investments is secondary.
In the case of building a brand, you’ll be mostly investing your time and knowledge. So if you are just starting, think of it as a long marathon and plan your investments accordingly.
Think about it like this: When you were eight and dropping coins into your piggy bank, you could just save the change every day after buying lunch at school. If you needed to grow the capital fast, you needed either to skip lunch that day or run a yard sale. Good as a one-time strategy, but not sustainable in the long run. If you’re investing in a personal brand, think of small actions that you can commit to consistently. Pitch 2-3 podcasts a week. Post a few expert tips. Record a video. Committing to launching a daily podcast sounds exciting, but if it’s not something you can sustain in the long run, it might do more harm than good.
The 8-year-old you was wise enough to know that a few little coins can turn into a much-desired pair of sneakers. Now, I challenge you to apply this mindset to building your personal brand. Here’s a secret: While you can break the piggy bank and empty it, your “personal brand bank” will never be completely depleted. If you maintain consistency, even after “breaking the bank” to sell to your audience, the trust and respect you’ve once earned will always stay with you.