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7 steps to building a personal brand like Jimmy Buffett

Last week, Parrotheads around the world, including me, mourned the passing of Jimmy Buffett at the age of 76.

In addition to being a best-selling recording artist, Buffett built a business empire that started with just one song, “Margaritaville.” He also created one of the strongest personal brands in the history of personal brands.

Replicating his success is a tall task, but we all can learnfrom it. Here are the seven ways to build a personal brand like Jimmy Buffett.


Buffett was a songwriter and performer. He also made and sold t-shirts in his early days. Later he wrote books. He was relentlessly creative.

You may not be a songwriter, but you don’t have to me. You can create content, tell stories, post videos, and share ideas. It’s easier now than it was in 1977 when Buffett started.

Know Your Audience

When “Margaritaville” became a hit, that was Buffett’saudience telling him something. They craved the relaxing, Caribbean vibe he was providing.

Knowing your audience is a little harder for anyone who doesn’t have a hit song. But you can still get a sense of what they like by listening to their comments and engaging in conversations with them.

Connect to Emotions

Like all music, Buffett’s songs were popular because theyconnected with his audience on an emotional level.

People make decisions based on emotion. Even in B2B scenarios. You can use this to your advantage by knowing your audience (see above) and using emotional triggers to get attention and build trust.

Stay Consistent

Buffett was a model of consistency. He didn’t release muchnew music in his later years, but he toured reliably. His music, his books, his properties were always there, and their message was consistent.

“Creating” was Buffett’s job. The rest of us have to findways to continually show up and build our audiences. It’s not easy, but it’s a requirement.

Find the Right Partners

Buffett knew his strengths and weaknesses. He was afun-loving beach bum. He didn’t know how to turn that brand into an empire. So he partnered with John Cohlan to build his business.

For you, it might be the opposite. You know your businessbut perhaps don’t know how to tell your stories. Or you might not have the time. If that’s the case, find someone who can help you.

Be Yourself

Buffett endured constant criticism for his music. It was not sophisticated or groundbreaking or complex. His songs were simple and predictable.

Buffett didn’t care what critics said. His music was areflection of who he was. Your stories, your content, your brand should reflect who you are. That’s what people want to see.

Have Fun

As the passing of Buffett reminds us, life is short. To him,it might have felt like the ride would never end.

But it did, as it will for all of us. We should enjoy it as much as we can.

Building a personal brand is about giving of yourself inservice to others. For Buffett, that “service” took the form of providing escapist entertainment. For you, it will be something entirely different.

Embrace it. Enjoy it.

And have a few margaritas (or whatever you relax with) along the way.

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