Summary: KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age by Mark W. Schaefer
Summary: KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age by Mark W. Schaefer

Summary: KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age by Mark W. Schaefer

There are eight different strategies to find the right space for your business to occupy, even if you don’t have a first-mover advantage:

  1. Develop a unique content tone or point of view.
  2. Move to a new social platform within your niche.
  3. Dominate a content type.
  4. Pioneer a new content form.
  5. Differentiate through frequency.
  6. Appeal to a new demographic target or region.
  7. Leverage relationships with influencers.
  8. Use curation as a strategy.


Strategy #1 Develop a unique tone or point of view

Finding the right “voice” for your content may not happen at the beginning of your journey or happen all at once. Your tone is forged through practice, feedback, and the occasional thunderbolt of inspiration.

It might be tempting to try to sound funnier/nerdier/hipper/snarkier than you are in real life, but that is likely to get exhausting. Your tone has to be a natural extension of your personality. James Altucher writes a quirky blog because he’s quirky. Isadora Becker produces funny and creative videos because she’s genuinely creative and funny. Finding a unique tone is about having the courage to let your freak flag fly


Strategy #2 Move to a new social platform within your niche

Take for example, the field of real estate can be notoriously social-media-spammy. It’s a mystery, really. Real estate agents know their business depends on relationships, but nevertheless their social media feeds are loaded with annoying open house announcements, price reductions, and can’t miss fixer-uppers.

So while other realtors publish pictures of their “for sale” signs on Facebook and promote open houses on Twitter, Suzy posts pictures on Instagram of … plastic donkeys. And ceramic cat planters. And the world’s ugliest wallpaper. She created a hilarious and very human account by posting photos of all the outrageous stuff people leave behind when they “clean out” their homes for sale.


Strategy #3 Dominate a content type

A few years ago, YouTube published a research report showing that individuals and companies doing the best job building brands on their channel published three different types of content:

Hygiene content serves the daily health of your audience. It gets people involved and helps them connect to you when they need you most because it answers common questions. Examples of hygiene content are a gardening guide, a how-to video on fixing a flat tire, and tips on how to get in shape for ski season.

Hub content is addictive content meant to keep your audience on your site. This could be a series of in-depth articles or an adventure video series that makes people want to stick around and learn more.

Hero content is something brilliant, dramatic, and bold that transcends the normal day-to-day internet offerings. A famous example is the epic mini-movies Nike produces for the World Cup. Their blockbuster videos feature celebrity appearances and earn more than 100 million views on YouTube.

The point is to differentiate yourself is to examine how these three content types are already being used in your niche. More than 90 percent of the time, your niche is probably dominated by hygiene content, and if that’s the case, you’ve found an opportunity with a lot of potential


Strategy #4 Try a new content form

One of the most crowded subject categories is digital marketing. There are thousands of people pumping out blog posts, videos, and infographics in an attempt to gain attention for their brands. How did Tom Fishburne find success in this saturated niche? By hitting them where they ain’t … in this case, cartoons!

Known as “The Marketoonist,” Tom has become one of the best-known voices in his industry through his insightful and hilarious cartoons about business life. Quality cartoons helped Tom dominate a niche, but there are alternative content forms emerging on an almost daily basis. The pressure to find ways to stand out is constantly generating inventive new platforms


Strategy #5 Focus on frequency

John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneurs on Fire started small and focused, connecting with an underserved daily podcast audience before diversifying into other content forms like blog posts, videos, and webinars.

On the other end of the content frequency spectrum is Avinash Kaushik of Google. Avinash only posts on his blog about digital analytics once a month, but it is a piece that is so breathtakingly epic that it commands attention, even in a crowded field. It’s not unusual for him to deliver a 10,000-word post! Perhaps one of the ways Avinash stands out is the infrequency of his posts. When something comes out, you know you need to pay attention.


Strategy #6 Find a unique demographic or geographic niche

Even in the crowded market of teen YouTube stars, Juan Pablo became known by focusing on an under-represented region like Mexico. This was also a key to real estate agent Suzy Trotta’s success. She has no intention of becoming an internationally known realtor. The local audience of people in her sales territory is enough for her to achieve her goals. If you can reach your goals by becoming known on a local level, focus on that as a point of differentiation.


Strategy #7 Connect with industry influencers

We live in an amazing time when power and authority have been flipped. The seats of influence no longer reside behind a news desk, on Wall Street, or in the corner office. Today, anybody with an internet connection can create content and seize the opportunity to have a voice, create power, and find an audience.

Trusted influencers with enormous power to “move the needle” are emerging in every market vertical. And it goes without saying connecting with the right influencers have a profound impact on your success.


Strategy #8. Use curation as a niche

Content curation is also a popular strategy in regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, banking, and insurance. Creating original content in those industries can be difficult and expensive, but curating articles from other sites is less risky. In the health field, for example, there are curation sources for news on diabetes and other diseases, establishing the newsletter’s author as the authority in the industry even if they’re not generating any original content of their own.

But curation involves more than just listing popular industry headlines. It’s serious work. Here are a few best practices if curation sounds like an option for you:

  1. Use content from a variety of sources and platforms, and help your readers discover new sources of news.
  2. Add your own voice by occasionally including a comment or opinion with a news item.
  3. Commit to consistency. Once you’ve established a publication schedule – daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the topic – keep to it. You want your readers to depend on you.
  4. Use curation tools. You probably already have some favorite sources, but there are a number of apps out there like BuzzSumo to help you streamline the process.