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Following the Rules

Personal Branding Strategies From Frank Abignale

A con man that stole more than two million dollars in four years, Frank Abignale mastered his way into becoming a pilot, a lawyer, and even a doctor. His journey was made into a great book, and a movie of the same name. Success came to him in part because he understood how to build a personal brand.

Leo D as Frankie A

Here are four rules Frank followed on his journey, and how you can use them in your own entrepreneurial ventures:

1)    Know Your Customer

To learn flying, Frank Abignale called Pan American several times and read many books on the subject. Afterward, he could talk to every pilot without raising a single flag.

You need to do the same thing with your customer. Define him, survey him, and get inside his head so that you know his struggles, problems, and solutions.

2)    Speak You Target’s Language

During Abignale’s research, not only did he master technical flying skills and gain a deep understanding of pilots, he learned how they spoke. After, he tested his lingo in airports to make sure his words didn’t give him away.

What Frank did for pilots, you need to do with your target. Live in your customer’s world and use their words. Read books about sayings and hang out where they do because if you speak the wrong language, your message won’t get across.

Federal Bureau of Investigation mugshot of Fra...

Frank Calabrese. Same first name, different guy. OR WERE THEY???!?!??! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3)    Find gaps in the market

Frank made his money through check fraud. Having an entrepreneurial mind, he noticed that store clerks accepted checks without looking at ID, and used that knowledge to make millions of dollars.

You can use the same strategy to find new markets. Everywhere you go, watch for people struggling or complaining about problems. Business possibilities are all around if you learn to look at the world through the eyes of a con man.

4)    Become An Expert In Your Subject

Frank Abignale stole millions of dollars, practiced medicine without a license, and flew airplanes packed with people, yet he only served two years in prison because he leveraged his expertise. He understood check fraud better than anyone else in the world, and he knew how to teach it.

His mastery of a skill plus his willingness to spread his knowledge made him a valuable asset to the FBI, and he made more money legally than he ever did with scams.

What is your check fraud? What skill do you know more about than anyone else? If it’s nothing, read more books until you find one. Becoming an expert will separate you from all other job applicants and define your personal brand. Once you’ve read enough, start a blog or write a book to leverage your expertise and increase your customer base. The knowledge is out there, you just need to learn it.