The Complete Guide to Building a Personal Marketing Plan

McDonald’s, Pepsi, Netflix, and You.

What’s the common thread?

You’re all brands.

Yes, you read that right. Even if you don’t think of yourself that way—

You are a brand. Here’s why:

  1. You’re selling something (but not in the way you think).
  2. You make an impression on people.
  3. You need fans.
  4. You stand for something.

Because you’re a brand, it’s important you know how to market yourself.

The major brands you know and love have carefully detailed marketing plans they use to get more customers and develop brand awareness.

In a moment, I’ll show you exactly how you can create your own unique personal marketing plan to increase your chances of success in your career.

But first, I want to clarify this whole “you are a brand” thing.

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

What is a Personal Brand?

Okay, there’s something I didn’t tell you…

You ARE a brand, just like McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Netflix, but you’re a different kind of brand.

You’re a personal brand.

Your personal brand is essentially the outward appearance you show to the world. It’s what you bring to the table. It’s the value you can give to others.

Think of people like Tony Robbins or Oprah Winfrey.

These people are MASSIVE personal brands. They provide a TON of value to people’s lives and they have built a business around their personalities.

But you might be wondering:

What’s the difference between a personal brand and the person themselves?

Think about it like this:

Tony Robbins probably doesn’t act the same way at home as he does on-stage.

“On-Stage Tony Robbins” is a personal brand.

“At-Home Tony Robbins” is a person.

Your personal brand is the image you consciously (or unconsciously) project to get your name and message into the world.

Who you are as a person is just that. It’s the person you are when no one is looking.

Both are you — they just have different goals.

Qualifications of a Brand

Let’s break this down even a bit further.

When I say “you are a brand,” what does that even mean?

It’s possible you may have never thought of yourself in this way before, but if you want to achieve the next level of success in your career, it’s important to be aware of this.

I say “you are a brand” because you meet these four qualifications, whether you realize it or not:

  1. You’re selling something (but not in the way you think).
  2. You make an impression on people.
  3. You need fans.
  4. You stand for something.

Let’s break that down.

1. You’re selling something (but not in the way you think).

Applying for a job…

Going on a first date…

Negotiating a lower price at the car dealership…

Even just walking down the street…

You’re selling something.

Not a physical product, obviously, but an idea.

When you’re applying for that job — you’re selling the company on your ability to perform the job well and work effectively with the team.

When you’re on a first date — you’re selling the idea that you’re an attractive, desirable partner.

When you’re negotiating for a lower price at a car dealership — you’re selling the idea that you deserve a lower price than the one advertised.

And even when you’re walking down the street — you’re selling the idea that you’re a normal, productive member of society…not someone who deserves to be tackled by the police and put in handcuffs.

In fact, your success in your career, or even your life, can depend on your ability to sell these things—

Much like a brand’s success depends on its ability to sell its products or services.

2. You make an impression on people.

Let’s get one thing straight:

Most people are not paying attention to you.

They’re too busy paying attention to themselves.

But sometimes, people do pay attention to you, whether it’s because you voiced your opinion at a meeting, or because you’re interviewing for a new job—

Whatever the cause, when people pay attention to you, you make an impression on them.

They’re (often unconsciously) making a decision about the type of person you are.

In other words:

They’re using your outward projection of yourself to determine if they’re going to “buy what you’re selling,” figuratively or literally.

3. You need fans.

People like to say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

I’d change that to:

“It’s not who you know, it’s who likes you.”

The truth is—

It doesn’t matter if you know every person in the world, if you’re a jerk to them — or if they don’t like you — they’re not going to help you out.

Does this mean you should turn into a people-pleasing maniac?

Absolutely not.

Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone likes me. And that’s okay. It’s a fact of life.

So, instead of trying to project a false outward appearance to get people to like you, your mission is instead to be authentic and honest.

Why?

Think about it:

The brands we appreciate most are those who are able to be honest. Those who are able to admit their mistakes. And those who are able to show us there are humans behind that big, bold logo of theirs.

The best salesmanship is born of authenticity and a sincere, honest-to-God belief in what you’re selling.

So, yes, as a personal brand, you do need fans. But you get them by being confident in your identity.

4. You stand for something.

Speaking of identity, this is an important point:

A good brand stands for something — even if it means losing fans.

A present-day example of this is Nike’s decision to feature Colin Kaepernick in their ads.

Your personal brand is strengthened by those things that cause you to plant your flag in the ground and stand strong —

Even when everything is on the line.

How to Develop An Effective Personal Marketing Plan

How to Develop An Effective Personal Marketing Plan

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

So, since you are indeed a brand —

It would be smart to learn how to market yourself as effectively as possible to increase your chances at success.

So, here’s how you can create your own unique personal marketing plan to do just that.

1. Define your goal.

What do you want?

No, really. What is it you’re going after right now?

Is it a new job, a raise, a speaking gig?

It’s important you know exactly where you’re trying to go before you start down the path.

When you’re defining your goal, consider these things:

Motivation

Why do you want this new job, this raise, or this speaking gig?

Change is hardly ever easy, and developing and working through a personal marketing plan might sound fun in theory — but it’s hard, uncomfortable work, especially if you’ve never done it before.

So, before you start, write down exactly why you want to do this, and what you’ll do to stay disciplined when it gets hard or uncomfortable.

Timeline

Based on your goal — what’s a realistic timeline for achieving it? If you’re angling for a new job in a new industry — you might be able to accomplish that in a few months or a year’s time. But if you want to build an entire business around your own personal brand, give yourself plenty of runway.

2. Discover Your USP.

Remember that time McDonald’s started selling gourmet pasta?

Right. Me neither.

McDonald’s wouldn’t do that — because it’s not who they are.

Their goal isn’t to give you the best pasta you’ve ever had or the healthiest meal you’ve ever eaten.

Instead, their goal is to give you consistent quality and quick service with an affordable price tag at convenient locations.

That’s it.

And they’ve built a $100-billion-dollar business on it.

That means if you want to build a successful brand — you must know who you are…and who you are NOT.

You have to do the soul searching.

You have to identify your USP —

Your unique selling proposition.

This is the thing that makes you different from everyone else going after the same goal as you.

Many major brands have multiple USPs. But for now, focus on finding your one single USP and highlighting it whenever possible.

You can add others later if necessary. One should be plenty for now, though. If you try to highlight too many USPs, you’ll dilute your brand.

Here’s what I mean:

If you have too many USPs, you’re like a buffet.

No one goes to a buffet when they want to have a great steak, or great pasta, or great anything, for that matter.

A buffet caters to everyone.

Your brand should not.

Instead, your brand should cater to a very specific audience with a very specific problem that you can solve.

You want to be more like a gourmet steakhouse known for its filet mignon—

Not a buffet where you can get spaghetti and tacos in the same meal.

Here are some examples of USPs from personal brands:

(Keep in mind — these brands have multiple USPs, but these are some of their biggest ones.)

Jerry Jenkins has written 21 New York Times bestsellers. It’s hard to beat that kind of credibility.

Ramit Sethi is not afraid to give financial advice that goes against-the-grain of what’s typical.

Gary Vaynerchuk is going to give you blunt, straightforward motivation to take action and work toward your dreams.

So, what makes you unique? How do you want to differentiate yourself from everyone out there going after the same goal as you?

For example:

If your goal is to get a new job—

What makes you different from all the other applicants?

It’s okay if you don’t identify anything immediately, but sit with it. Think on it.

And if nothing comes—

What can you do to differentiate yourself from all the other applicants?

Maybe it’s creating a “shock-and-awe” package and sending it to the hiring manager…

Maybe it’s doing a creative project on your own, free of charge, that showcases the skills needed for the job position…

Whatever you choose — make sure there’s something that makes you different from everyone else out there.

3. Define Your Audience.

Who should care about what you’re saying?

This is easily overlooked, because we often think we know.

If your goal is to get a new job, our audience is the people in charge of hiring at our target companies.

And that’s a great start, but you can get a lot further by digging deeper.

Who are those managers? What do they do in their spare time? Who have they hired so far?

What kind of TV shows do they watch? What books do they read? Who do they follow on social media?

What problem can you solve for them?

Your success in marketing yourself is determined by whether or not your message resonates with your audience.

So, the more you know about them, the better able you will be to craft an effective message.

Think about it like this:

If you’re vying for a new job at a fun, exciting company, you are still solving a problem for your audience.

Management at the company wants to hire skilled, likeable, qualified employees who are easy to work with.

Those people are harder to find than you might think.

So, if you meet those qualifications and can effectively communicate that, you are indeed solving a problem for management.

Effectively marketing yourself just means you have identified how you can solve a problem for other people and clearly communicating that to them.

4. Identify Your Plan of Attack.

At this point, you know your goal, you know what makes you unique, and you know your audience—

Now it’s time to make your move.

How can you get in contact with your audience?

Where do they hang out?

If you’re building a speaking business, this might include reaching out to local organizations that could benefit from hearing your message.

If you’re applying for a job, it might mean reaching out directly to the person in charge of hiring. Or it might mean publishing content on LinkedIn regularly to demonstrate your expertise.

Your goal here is three-fold:

First, find out where your audience is.

Second, determine how you can communicate with that audience. Is it social media? Email? YouTube videos?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but your goal is to meet your audience where they’re at.

So, if your audience is hiring managers who spend a lot of time on LinkedIn —

Focus your efforts on LinkedIn, not Instagram.

Third, communicate with that audience regularly.

Disclaimer: This might be discouraging at first.

When you start communicating with your audience, whether it’s through cold emails, LinkedIn content, or YouTube videos—

People probably won’t pay attention at first.

This is where perseverance is key.

The truth is—

Anyone can write one blog post or create one video.

But not anyone can do that month-after-month, year-after-year.

Obviously, your ultimate goal (getting a job, building a business, etc.) will determine the frequency and long-term time commitment to publishing content, but focus on consistency.

Remember:

You’ve identified who you can help. Now it’s time to show them you can actually provide that help.

Get specific. What type of content will you create, if any?

If you’re trying to get a new job, your marketing plan might consist of making contacts through networking events or reaching out through LinkedIn.

But if you’re trying to build a speaking business, you may benefit more from consistently writing blog posts or publishing YouTube videos.

Beyond that — how often will you communicate with your audience?

Will you go to three networking events per week?

Write 4 blog posts per month?

Get crystal clear here. This is the framework that will turn your marketing plan into action.

5. Get Help Early and Often.

Whatever you want to accomplish, odds are someone has done it already.

Find out who those people are.

If your goal is to get hired at a specific company, see if you can get in touch with some current employees there.

What is the company looking for? How can you provide the most value to the company?

Or — if you’re looking to build a business around your personal brand, your path might be a little longer.

Find someone who has done what you want to do. See if they’d be willing to coach you or help you reach your goal.

Success generally doesn’t happen in a vacuum. That means you’ll need to surround yourself with the right people to get the results you want.

6. Re-Evaluate Regularly.

The marketing plan you create today might not make sense in 6 months or a year.

When you create your plan, be realistic about how long it will carry you.

You want to get into the “Goldilocks Zone” here.

Meaning, avoid creating a plan that you can only follow for a month.

But don’t doggedly stick with a plan to publish content on LinkedIn if you find out your audience actually spends more time on YouTube.

Beyond that, if you find yourself wanting to adjust your plan, be honest about your reasons.

Boredom, lack of motivation, or “it’s too hard” are generally not legitimate reasons to alter course.

Even lack of results isn’t a reason to alter your course when starting out.

Remember, anyone can write one blog post or create one video.

But not anyone can do that month-after-month, year-after-year.

Pick your lane and stay in it until you run out of road.

And when you do run out of road, pick a different lane, and get going again.

Personal Marketing Plan Example

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

So, now that we’ve covered the “big picture” of developing a personal marketing plan, you may be wondering —

“What does an actual personal marketing plan look like?”

Here’s a quick example of a personal marketing plan that incorporates all the elements we’ve discussed so far.

Background

This personal marketing plan example is for a fictional character named Jack Brown.

Jack is happy with his current job, but his ultimate goal is to become a professional speaker.

Jack’s Marketing Plan

Goal

Replace my current income with income from speaking engagements.

Timeline: Within the next 5 years.

Motivation: I’ve learned a lot over the course of my career, and I’ve been told that I have a great personality for the stage. I just want a platform to help people create better lives.

Audience

Middle-aged men who are generally satisfied with their jobs, but feel they’ve lost the fire they once had.

Men who know something is missing in their lives, but aren’t sure what that “something” is.

They want a path to a happier, more fulfilling life, but they’ve been stuck in their routines for so long, they’re scared to venture outside their comfort zone.

They generally work white-collar jobs and play golf or go cycling most weekends.

USP

I have been in these men’s shoes. I know what it’s like to be in their position. I changed my own life for the better and was able to reclaim happiness and fulfillment.

Since I have the same experience as them, I know the exact steps they can take to build better lives for themselves.

Strategy

Where is my audience?

Locally, they are on golf courses. They’re members of cycling clubs. And they’re probably in the corner office with a view — or close to it.

Online, they’re on LinkedIn.

How can I communicate with them?

I know a few members of my target audience personally, so I could go golfing with them one day.

But if I want to reach the most people possible, LinkedIn is the way to do it.

So, I’ll block off Saturday mornings to run my ideas past the people I know personally, and I’ll use their feedback to determine what sort of content I should create.

I’m a decent writer, so I think publishing content regularly on LinkedIn will be most effective for me.

How frequently can I communicate with them?

Work has been busy lately, so for the next month, I can only write about one 1,000-word post per week.

I’ll write posts throughout the week and publish them by 9:00AM every Friday.

But things will lighten up during the summer, so I’ll plan to write three posts per week for the months of June through September.

I’ll publish them on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 9:00AM.

Rationale

If I want to become a professional speaker, I need to understand my audience.

Focusing on these blog posts for now will help me determine which messages resonate with my audience. And it will help me build a backlog of content I could use for speeches eventually.

People Who Can Help Me

I know a few people who have done something like this before, so I want to grab coffee with them to hear how they did it, and see if they’d be interested in helping me.

Those people are:

    • Fred
    • Steve
    • Susan
    • Reggie
    • Carla
    • Andre

For the next six weeks, I’ll try to meet with one of them per week, at least.

Beyond that, I know there are some Facebook Groups for people who want to become professional speakers, so I’ll find a few of those and join them by next Friday.

I also know there’s a local Toastmasters group that might be able to help me improve my speaking skills, so I’ll look at their schedule today and attend my first meeting next week.

Re-Evaluation Date

This current plan should carry me at least for the next 4 months, but around that time, I think I’ll need to start trying to book some local speaking engagements.

I’ll re-evaluate this plan on September 31.

Personal Marketing Plan Template

As you can see from Jack’s example above, creating a personal marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated.

It’s essentially a framework to point your personal marketing efforts in the right direction.

But your plan should be as specific as possible.

If there are people you want to reach out to, include their contact information in your plan as well as the date and time you will contact them.

If you plan to create content regularly, determine the time and day of the week you will publish that content.

Whatever the goal, be crystal clear in how you will accomplish it.

You can use the personal marketing template below to create your own personal marketing plan.

Goal

The goal you hope to achieve through your personal marketing plan (getting a new job, building a personal brand, etc.).

Timeline: Your expected timeline for this phase of your marketing plan.

Motivation: Your motivation for pursuing this goal.

Audience

The group of people who should care about what you have to say.

Don’t forget to dig deep here to find out what your audience is really like.

USP

What makes you different than everyone else trying to achieve your same goal?

Strategy

Where is my audience?

Where can you find members of your audience (both in-person and online)?

How can I communicate with them?

What’s the best way for you to get in contact with your audience?

How frequently can I communicate with them?

Realistically, how often can you create content or get in touch with your audience?

Rationale

What is the purpose of this strategy? Why is it the best path for you right now?

People Who Can Help Me

Who has already accomplished what you want to accomplish?

How will you get in contact with them?

What’s their contact information?

Re-Evaluation Date

How long will your current plan carry you? When will you re-evaluate it?

Creating Your Personal Marketing Plan

Just like McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Netflix—

You are a brand.

Creating your very own marketing plan gives you the opportunity to increase your brand’s chances at success.

Use the strategies and templates in this guide to create your own personal marketing plan.

And comment below to let us know how it goes!

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

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