It’s never been easier to waste time and money with a personal branding agency.

Here’s why…

It’s the digital age. There are unlimited opportunities to communicate with an audience. You can tweet your thoughts, share your selfies, and publish your intelligence all from the comfort of your couch.

The problem is that too many smart people try building a personal brand haphazardly, only to end up spinning their wheels.

Stressed. Overwhelmed. Defeated.  

Developing a personal brand in the digital age requires a whole lot of time and strategy. If you’re serious about growing your leadership, it’s critical to find an agency that will help you do it RIGHT.

Keep reading to discover the 5 criteria you need to find a personal branding agency with the right expertise to elevate yours.

RELATED: How Social Media Agencies Actually Work (And Why You Should Avoid Them)

Criteria #1: Do They Match Your Online Persona to Your Offline Persona?

Whether you like it or not, you already have a personal brand. As Jeff Bezos puts it:

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

A good personal branding agency won’t “create” a new person out of you. Your network knows and respects you for who you already are. You rock at being yourself.

Instead, a good personal branding agency will identify your core focus and strengths. Then it will optimize your passions into a killer messaging plan — authentically you 100%.

Key Takeaway #1: Find a personal branding agency that communicates the WHOLE YOU: your story, your voice, your personality, and your style.

Criteria #2: Do They Help You Give Value To Your Audience?

Let’s get straight on what a strong personal brand is NOT.

It is not an opportunity to brag about yourself or your accomplishments (although we know you have them.)

A strong personal brand shows how your leadership in a specific niche helps solve a specific problem for your audience.

Do you know what the most expensive commodity in personal branding is? Attention.

You need to earn it from your audience, and you do that by giving them your unique perspective.

OF COURSE achievements add credibility to your reputation, but if you fail to deliver value to your audience first and foremost, well…you just won’t have an audience that will listen.

Key Takeaway #2: Find a personal branding agency that focuses on highlighting how your wisdom and perspective can solve a problem.    

Criteria #3: Do They Connect Your Goals To ROI?

How many likes did your last Facebook post get? What about Instagram? How many followers do you have?

What if I told you none of that really matters?

Garnering a social media following certainly helps develop a personal brand. There’s no denying that. Unfortunately, you can’t cash in vanity metrics at the bank. You’re wasting your money with any agency selling you on that premise.

Mistake to build a personal brand on vanity metrics

Don’t be fooled by these “red flag” goals

  • Garner millions of views!
  • Get more post engagements!
  • Create content that goes viral!
  • Increase your followers by 200%!
  • See your article published in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and New York Times!

A solid personal branding agency understands how social media and other online platforms play a role in accomplishing goals.

That’s right … “play a role” in accomplishing goals, not “be the goal.”

So instead of making it the goal, a good agency will use social media and other online platforms to work towards a goal. Everyone has different goals depending on their niche, but these are some guidelines to consider.

Look for an agency that offers a path to ROI such as:

  • Land 5 new clients by Q3
  • Increase book sales by 70%
  • Get hired for a $10k + speech
  • Add 100 new people to volunteer base
  • Increase search queries for your name by 40%

The agency you hire MUST give complete visibility of your goals in terms of ROI.

Key Takeaway #3: Find a personal branding agency that takes time to understand your goals AND shows you how they connect to ROI.

 

Criteria #4: Do They Save You Time or Steal Your Time?

Before you hire an agency to work on your personal brand, get clear on how much time you must contribute compared to what you’ll get in return.

It’s classic input vs. output, and it isn’t as intuitive as you might think. Here’s why.

Agency Approach #1:

These agencies use a questionnaire to “understand” who you are and what you do but they can’t ever nail your voice or wisdom in your head.

PROS

  • You save time
  • You aren’t regurgitating the knowledge in your head to an agency
  • The agency does the research to write or curate content on your behalf

CONS

  • No unique understanding of your niche
  • Doesn’t sound like you – you’ll find yourself saying, “I’d never say that” or “that’s not at all my voice”
  • Everything the agency publishes on your behalf has been said before by someone else. (Google it and you’ll see.)

Agency Approach #2:  

These agencies build and maintain your social media accounts and website, but you still have to create the content.

PROS

  • Original content
  • Content displays niche insights
  • Content published online reflects your voice
  • Don’t have to worry about any backend publishing. Just hit send and your agency posts it online.

CONS

  • Takes a lot of your time
  • You’re still stuck plucking away at your keyboard when you should be out working in your industry

Many agencies exist that work in some nuanced variation of the two mentioned above. It’s just a matter of finding an agency that fits with your style and schedule.   

Key Takeaway #4: Find a personal branding agency that optimizes your time so you can continue developing your talent.  Become an influencer

Criteria #5: Do They Practice What They Preach?

You’ll find the answer to this question within 20-25 seconds.

All you need to do is browse their website and look for the following:

  • Email opt-ins that are engaging but not overwhelming
  • Social sharing buttons on their blog (and they should have a blog)
  • Thought leadership coming from the company AND the company’s leadership
  • Multiple social media buttons that connect to the company’s platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Medium, Google+, Snapchat, and YouTube

A good personal branding agency should hold itself to the same standards you’d hire them for. Be concerned if they don’t drink their own Kool-Aid.

Key Takeaway #5: Find a personal branding agency led by industry thought leaders with solid online communities.

A good friend once said, “Nothing’s as simple as you think it is, even when you factor in how simple you think it is.”

Translation: a solid LinkedIn bio and some catchy re-tweets don’t cut it if you want to build a good personal brand.

Your time, leadership, and reputation are too important to waste on bad results. Find the right personal branding agency and experience success.

RELATED: How To Become the Face of Your Business