Building and promoting your personal brand with Dennis Yu's Topic Wheel

Credit: Dennis Yu, Blitzmetrics

Anyone can build a personal brand to become a well-known influencer or sales machine. Better yet, you don’t need to be a celebrity to do it.

Instead, you need:

  1. Topics that you’re passionate about
  2. Consistent, engaging content
  3. Help from established influencers

The Topic Wheel is a powerful strategy designed by Dennis Yu at Blitzmetrics to accomplish all three. It will allow you to produce content faster and leverage word of mouth for your funnel by collecting what customers and influencers are saying about you and then distributing your story.

Step 1: Create a bubble graph

Take a piece of paper and put yourself in the middle.

Around yourself, list the six topics you care about most. Anything goes.

For example, here’s Mark Lack.

Mark is a motivational speaker, so his topics could be about public speaking, business rockstars, motivational speaking, etc.

Step 2: Identify influencers

Take all of the topics you wrote down and think of the first three people that come to mind for each one (they don’t have to be people you know).

What you end up with is a bunch of topics you care about and people who could be your ambassador—i.e.,  brands that can help you make a name for yourself in those areas.

That’s important because, like it or not, you are essentially the sum of the three or four people you hang out with most. So map the topics you care about to the people who are leaders in those fields and complete the exercise.

Step 3: Record 60-second videos

Now comes the grunt work.

For each bubble, make a video with the influencer about the topic you linked them to.

A minute or two is fine. Short interviews work best because they don’t take a ton of prep and they tend to be more engaging.

Try to uncover valuable pieces of advice, an interesting personal story, or something entertaining. Don’t go fishing for compliments or force an influencer to mention your social channels (if it happens organically, great).

Here’s an example of Jason Tropf interviewing Dennis Yu for two minutes.

In this example, Dennis—the influencer—drops some knowledge about SMB lead gen, and Jason benefits from not only being seen with him, but also from being associated with experts and the topic at hand (SMB lead gen).

If you know the influencer you want to interview or can get ahold of them, do so. The more you’re seen interacting with authority figures, the more you’ll benefit from their halo effect. If you can’t get in touch with an influencer, create a video about them or their content. By associating yourself with them, you’re creating a perceived connection. You may even be able to tag them in that content and use it to get in touch with them later.

Ultimately, like any marketing strategy, you’re trying to build a funnel. Refer back to the 3×3 grid above for examples of topics that work at every phase of the buyer journey, from awareness to engagement to conversion.

Step 4: Find the winners, ditch the losers

The next step is to promote each video and find the winners.

The goal is to build up a list of “greatest hits”. Like the 3×3 grid, you’re going to end up killing 90% of your videos because they didn’t perform as well as they should, but 10% might turn out ok, and 2% will be unicorns that will provide a ton of value in perpetuity.

See which videos perform best by comparing them against the following benchmarks.

The idea is to organize the winners—the videos which are earning you two cents per video view or $3 per lead—into a basic marketing funnel, from awareness to engagement to conversion. If you’re short videos at any of these stages, keep recording more until you’ve got a well-fleshed-out funnel.

Again, the idea is to have a good mix of videos at every stage of the funnel, from awareness to engagement to conversion.

Step 5: Set a big, hairy goal and tackle it

By now, you should have a set of videos that are well on their way to making you more recognizable in the fields you’re passionate about—depending on how good they are and much you’ve spent promoting them.

Sometimes this strategy alone is enough to attract attention from media or potential customers. You may find your inbox filling up with requests for your opinion about X or asking for interviews about Y.

Other times, you need to start setting goals and go after them proactively.

Here’s a diagram from Matthew Barby about the hierarchy of building a personal brand.

Wherever you’re at on the pyramid, use the Topic Wheel to punch above your weight.

If you’ve already guest posted on industry blogs, use the content you’re promoting via the Topic Wheel to secure a column for a trade publication. If you already speak at events, try to lock down your first keynote. It’s all in the targeting and the message.

On the flip side, Dennis Yu says the Topic Wheel is also fantastic for building evergreen content that’s triggered by user action—e.g., lead magnets, autoresponders, inbound marketing efforts, etc.

So go ahead and implement the wheel with all your marketing efforts. If someone arrives at your site and downloads a paper, add them to the Topic Wheel campaign; if you’re deploying ABM campaigns, upload your target list to Facebook and add them to the appropriate spoke of the wheel. The possibilities are endless.