The way prospects and clients research and purchase data center-related services has changed dramatically during the past five years.
As a result, 80% or more of the decision-making process is over before a prospect even comes into contact with a data center company’s sales or marketing executives. So, what prospects uncover about you and your brand matters a lot.
Here are three personal branding tips that are especially relevant to customer-facing sales and marketing professionals in the data center industry:
1. Your personal brand is no longer what you say it is.
In a digital-first world, where you're trying to stay relevant to the modern buyer, your personal brand is no longer what you say it is. Your personal brand is the collective wisdom of what someone sees when that person asks Google, Bing, Siri, Alexa, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., who you are. Google termed this phenomenon a few years back the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).
Being active on social media doesn't just help. Being active on social media is now mandatory for most data center-, cloud-, and mission-critical-related businesses that sell to buyer personas that use search engines and social media to start their buyer's journey.
In companies where a CEO in their 60s or 70s (sometimes even substantially younger) refuses to acknowledge that their buyer personas are hanging out at online watering holes, that CEO is leaving himself extremely vulnerable to disruption and competitive brand attacks.
2. Video matters a lot more than most realize.
Many data center providers have filled many a rack for clients that are essentially building content delivery network (CDN) infrastructure.
However, video is also extremely useful for portraying yourself as an educator, subject matter expert, trusted advisor, and thought leader.
And the great part with video content? It can be re-purposed in so many ways: podcasts, blog posts, eBooks, social media posts, webinars, etc.
The biggest strength of video: it connects with strangers -- future clients -- in a more deeply emotional way that allows sales and marketing professionals to educate and build trust much faster.
The video also helps from a practical standpoint: certain people prefer to watch videos vs. reading a blog post or eBook. And when you embed video in your blog posts and on your website pages, it almost always increases average session time and reduces bounce rates (which Google loves).
3. Build a social media presence where your prospects and clients already hang out.
Sales and marketing executives who have to worry about keeping a clean public profile across search and social media should start by looking in the mirror:
- Do you really understand what a good fit client looks like? What a good fit employee looks like?
- Does your company have a sense of its product/market fit?
- Do you know what your buyer personas care most about?
- Are you creating and using social media to promote helpful, educational content that addresses their biggest questions, challenges, struggles, and goals?
- Are you listening to conversations about you, your company, and your industry on social media?
By digging the well before you're thirsty, and being proactive about building your brand, you'll be much better positioned to avoid or deflect a personal brand attack.
Remember: often, someone attacking your brand pretends to be a legit prospect or customer but is really a sleazy competitor hiding behind a mask. So the sooner you can take the conversation offline, the better off you often are.
One of the best insurance policies to protect your personal brand on search and social: truly delight your customers into promoters.
What’s your favorite way to build and protect your personal brand online? What’s especially relevant for sales and marketing executives in the data center industry? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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