strengthsfinder 2.0

How to Create a Fool-Proof Personal Branding Elevator Pitch

First impressions are everything, especially when trying to network for a new job or to build influence within a community. Networking events and conferences are usually packed with new introductions. You have less than a minute to be labeled as either boring or someone who is interesting and worth getting to know.

Today we share a simple exercise to crafting your personal branding elevator pitch that helps you clearly position your value and stand out in the minds of the people you meet. 

The Importance of Personal Positioning

Avis was the number two car company in the early 1960's. With lagging sales, the company looked to firm DDB to create a new marketing campaign. The "We Try Harder" tagline launched the campaign and Avis sales to success and a market share increase from 11% to 35% in only 4 years.

Avis increased sales by reconciling its messaging with consumers' perception of the brand.

Avis increased sales by reconciling its messaging with consumers' perception of the brand.

Before the "We Ty Harder" campaign, Avis went head-to-head with Hertz on messaging relative to being the market leader. The Avis message fell flat because consumers recognized Hertz as the top choice in car rentals due to its superior sales, market spend, and market share. It was only after Avis embraced the under-dog message of "We Try Harder" did their marketing messages resonate with consumers. 

The implications for your own personal brand are huge. Don't fill an elevator pitch full of what you're not. Not even a drop. The goal is to identify the core of who you are in order to choose the right words to describe yourself and what you bring to the table. 

Finding the Center of Your Brand


So how do you find your own message that resonates like the Avis campaign? You're invited to try an exercise I developed utilizing the Clifton Strengthsfinder personality assessment. What's that, you say? The Strengthsfinder assessment provides you with a list of your top 5 strengths from a list of 34 total talent themes and should be at the core of any personal branding plan.

The assessment methodology is based on data from thousands of individuals. Your exact combination of strengths is rarely duplicated among the people you meet and work with, so it's a remarkable way to describe yourself in just five words.  

There's great value in the simple adjectives produced by such a disciplined and rigorous approach to studying how humans act. Use these strengths to position yourself and find your own "We Try Harder" message.

Creating Your Personal Branding Elevator Pitch

After you've discovered your strengths let's use them in our elevator pitch exercise. First start with a simple introduction of who you are, where you work, and what your role is.

Example: Hi. I'm Josh Braaten, the Associate Director of Inbound Marketing at Rasmussen College. 

Next, develop a thesis for your personal branding elevator pitch by combining your top five strengths into a sentence that describes what you do. 

For example, my top five strengths are: 

  1. Activator
  2. Maximizer
  3. Futuristic
  4. Communication
  5. Strategic

My elevator pitch thesis might be:

Example: I'm a strategic marketer seeking to envision and communicate the future of higher education marketing, and to initiate to campaigns that maximize return on investment.

Putting it all together then:

Example. Hi. I'm Josh Braaten, the Associate Director of Inbound Marketing at Rasmussen College. I'm a strategic marketer seeking to envision and communicate the future of higher education marketing, and to initiate campaigns that maximize return on investment.

This exercise produces a rock-solid intro that you can use when you're meeting new people or networking with industry acquaintances. It leaves a clear impression of who you are and what you're good at, and it will be no doubt reinforced by subsequent interactions because it's based on the essence of who you are. And what's better for branding than a consistent message?

What do you put into your personal branding elevator pitch? Are there specific words and phrases you employ to describe yourself? Is there something relative to your fashion or appearance that you consider and others might not? Share your tips for a fool-proof first impression in the comments.  

The Secret First Step to a Strategic Personal Branding Plan

Your personal brand is all about you, so doesn't it make sense that any personal branding plan should begin with an honest look at yourself? As intuitive as this may sound, it's easier said than done because we tend to be pretty poor judges of our own capabilities and inadequacies. Fortunately, there's a secret first step you can take to bypass our natural limitations and create your own killer personal branding plan.

Effective Personal Branding Plans: First Thing's First

If you've followed the evolution of today's workforce, you've likely recognized the importance of differentiating yourself from everyone else  and now you've decided to create a personal branding plan. Many articles will tell you how important a personal brand is, but what's the best way to start? 

A personal branding plan requires knowing thyself.

A personal branding plan requires knowing thyself.

Self-awareness was the first item on a Harvard Business Review article's list of tips on leadership and personal branding. Doing some product research to understand what you're working with will help you nail your positioning, your mission statement, and so much more down the road.

But acquiring self-awareness isn't as simple as reading a book. Hang with me through the next section as we dip briefly into the world of neuroscience to understand why self-awareness is easier said than done, and what you can do about it.

The Tricky Thing About Self-Awareness

Brands are all about emotion and our collective thoughts, feelings, and ideas we have towards a product or company. Amazon Prime the service is free two-day shipping for an annual flat-rate fee, but Amazon Prime the brand is a magical bringer of joy and new things. Emotions are much harder to define, which can present a problem when trying to better understand the brand of you.

Amazon is a great brand.

Why do we struggle to define our feelings? Let's turn now to a brief lesson in neuroscience and how our brains work. Our brains interpret emotions and produce feelings a different area than they process and interpret language. Our limbic system, driven by the amygdala, produce the neurotransmitters that manifest into emotions and feelings, while the Wernicke's area is responsible for communicating coherent ideas and language comprehension. 

Getting these two areas to talk can be a challenge. In fact, men are thought to be less emotional and intuitive on average because we have less circuitry dedicated to bridging the gap between these areas. How can you put a personal branding plan together when you don't have the required vocabulary?

Clearly, we could all stand to use some help and a more formal way to understand ourselves. At last, we've come to our secret personal branding plan weapon.  

The Secret First Step: StrengthsFinder 2.0


Based on a 40-year study of human strengths, Gallup created a list of the 34 most common talents and developed an assessment to discover and describe these talents. StrengthsFinder 2.0 costs less than $15, and is the very best way to put the essence of what makes you special into words, and then into action. 

The book itself is not really much of a book, and more of a handful of pages that describe what StrengthsFinder 2.0 is and how to use it, followed by a glossary of all 34 strengths and what they mean. In the back of the book, you'll find a code that allows you to take the online Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. It takes about 20 minutes, and when you're finished, you'll see your top 5 strengths, which can then go on to be the cornerstone of your entire personal personal brand. Seriously, consider buying it right this minute if you're serious about your personal brand.

All great brands recognize and stay true to the attributes set forth in their brand identity guidelines. Think of your fives strengths as the core personality traits of your own personal brand, and you've just unlocked the secret first step to a killer personal branding plan.

In future articles, I'll cover how to use the knowledge of your strengths to fully build out your personal brand -- from the big things like your personal branding mission statement to the little things like which fashion accessories best support your personal brand.

Have you taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment? I'm Maximizer, Futuristic, Activator, Communication, and Strategic. What are you, and how does the knowledge of your strengths help you understand yourself and how your relate with others? I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. 

Image Credit: skyseeker