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Personal Branding on Social Media with Stapho Thienpont

by | Aug 13, 2019 | Dreamchasers, Latest

Welcome to episode 5 of Dreamchasers! Today we’re covering personal branding on social media, and how to be known as ‘the person with the answer’.

Stapho Thienpont is a guest who gets zero-budget, human marketing, because that’s how he started his agency.

Known as the ‘buff Harry Potter’, he was in Jiu Jitsu competitions around the world, and from his story, took it really seriously. Until one day he realized that all his grit and determination wasn’t adding anything to the world.

So he returned home, and started reading, sharing, and contributing to the market by leaning on his skills. Today, his agency for B2B social marketing is doing extremely well.

Join me and find out how to think about personal branding, why LinkedIn is like Tindr, what  you can do with all that reading you’re doing, and a nugget of pure gold; a tried-and-tested formula for impressing and inspiring leads.  

Dreamchasers is the interview series for people who want human marketing on a zero budget. I’m your host, Dominic de Souza. Listen in for tips and insights, for 15 minutes a week. It’s the dreamers who make the future. Chase yours.

Meet Stapho Thienpont | Linkedin




Hey everyone! Thanks for joining us. It’s another episode of Dreamchasers the interview series for people who want human marketing on a zero budget.

Stapho Thienpont lives in Bulgaria and he runs Marketing Family. This guy has this hilarious branding thing where he’s the buff Harry Potter, because he looks like Harry Potter, and a bunch of his background is in Jiu-Jitsu.

So he does a lot of advising for companies with B2B lead generation consulting, that sort of thing. Thank you for joining us!


I’m very happy to be here, because I also feel that I’m part of your audience or at least similar to your audience, and I’m also somebody who started my company we were actually in debt.

So we really built this agency out from the ground up with no budget.


You focus on personal brands. I should have brought that up. What is it with personal brands then that people are struggling with? How are they not getting that?


So the thing is you want people to come to you because they know that they can trust you. Because they know that if they come to you, you’re going to solve their problem, whatever it is. 

A personal brand is a little bit like your reputation in high school, you know, like if everybody knows like “oh, that’s the guy that’s does Jiu Jitsu. Let’s not try to mess with him too much.”

But when one of your friends is being beaten up, who is the first guy they’re going to call?

So a personal brand is about making sure that the right people who should know you get to know you.

A lot of personal branding happens on social media these days, and what makes that difficult is that they just stay in there. 

They post to their feed, and a couple of thousand people see it, and then they forget about you. Maybe the people that you have in your LinkedIn connections might be your colleagues or your ex-colleagues from high school.

They’re not the people that need to know you, right? So the hard thing is structuring it and systemizing [your content] in a way so that you’re continuously attracting the right people by giving them the the correct ‘yummy contents’, but also making sure that you get to connect with them up front maybe one to one.

That is the challenge I see. It’s like everybody is listening to Gary Vaynerchuk. They understand they got to hustle, to put out content. But how do you do that? You know, how do you take a structured approach?

How do you make it so they’re not waking up going on social media posting all day and going back to sleep, and in the end of the month, you check your bank account and there’s no money in there?

No, structuring it, being consistent, making sure there’s ROI… That is what I think is biggest difficulty for most people in the personal branding space.


When it comes to building that personal brand, I keep hearing from people that it feels fake, like they’re creating a persona. Or it’s not really them, or who they are when they’re doing this kind of work is not who you’re going to meet at a barbecue.

How do you respond to something like that?


So it’s a really good question. In my opinion, personal brands is an extension of who you are. But that requires a little bit more context, because that’s kind of a used slogan.

First of all, there’s many parts to your personality, right?

There’s different parts of the brain, and you have how you act in different kinds of situations. Say for me, my personal brand is about helping people generate B2B leads. That’s really the main thing.

But right now I’ve been thinking about this video game I’m playing, ‘God of War,’ right? You could say this is not authentic, but I wouldn’t say so.

Personal branding – if you do it strategically – you take the parts of yourself that are real. You’re an expert, you’re knowledgeable about something, and you care about something.

And you find a way to structure it correctly and systematically and consistently to match the stuff that your potential clients need to know, right?

So it’s not about creating a fake persona that matches what your target audience wants. It’s about where does my personality and my expertise overlap with what my target needs to know. What is in that sweet spot inbetween? Amplify that. 

So it’s not about coming up with something new, because you’re because ‘that’s gonna bring the people.’ I don’t know if you’re fan or whatever, but you don’t have to be Conor McGregor and talk s*** all the time just because that will bring in attention.

No, there is something already interesting about you. There is something that you already have. Usually that is of value. That should just be amplified  that match the needs in the market


Exactly. So it’s like you’re pulling into focus the parts of who you are that play well or that support properly your service.

Like you said, you could be a complete gamer on the side, but that doesn’t really need to factor into your brand as B2B sales. Maybe it could, but then the takeaway is you could have multiple personal brands, depending on your audience and your channel and your outreach right?

Because it’s different areas of you that you’re pulling into Focus for perhaps a different project.


Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that. That would be correct.

At the same time, there is so much effort that goes into building a personal brand, and there’s such a scarcity in terms of attention, that ideally you want to pick your message and just hammer that same message over time to the same people. When those people really start caring about you, then you can like become a little bit more broad.

But in the beginning, let’s say the first year, I would really choose one audience and choose one message, and just keep keep repeating that one.

Not that you couldn’t do it. It’s just that I that’s going to be like the biggest bang for your buck. Incremental efforts have exponential results, because every time you activate one little switch in the head, it’s going to activate other stuff as well within themselves, but also with them communicate with our people and just keep hitting those switches, it’s just going to be more than linear results.


Absolutely. Let’s take a couple of minutes. I’d like to hear more of your story. Like how do you go from Jiu-Jitsu into creating Marketing Family?


That’s a really interesting question. So before, I dropped out of college to go train Jiu-Jitsu full-time in Stockholm, Sweden. So I am from Belgium. For the people who don’t know, that’s really on the other side of Europe.

It’s very far away. I went there and I lived in the gym, slept on the mats for a while. I was competing all over the world. I fought in Europe, in LA, all those kind of places.

But one day, I realized that I’m developing myself, and gaining better skill, and my mindset is improving, and all this kind of stuff. But the actual physical output of what I’m doing is me choking my friends, you know? And my friends choking me.

Ultimately, I had this moment where it’s like “what is the actual value I’m bringing it to the universe?”

So I had no money. I had to move back to Belgium live with my mom again, and I figured I’m a pretty smart guy, and I can work hard. So I should use that to bring value to the market. So I started to think ‘what is this stuff that is good for you, that is important to me?’

In the beginning, I wanted to be location-independent, so that I can go wherever I want to go. That was what very important to me. So I wanted to work with my natural strengths which are systems and analyzing stuff. As well as psychology. Those are things that I’m naturally attracted to.

So that’s how I just started with the Marking Family. I read a marketing book, and then I shared online the stuff that I learned, and then I made a group for people that wanted to hear the stuff that I learned about marketing.

It was really funny, because I just read a book and then I put it out there. Then people start seeing me as an expert. I was like totally open about it, “I’m just getting this from this book.”

But that accumulates, you know. People start seeing us as an expert, and they started to ask for help with this and that. Over time, it starts to turn into something that actually can drive revenue, attract customers, and attract those people that you can actually help.

That’s what started happening. It was like, “I can’t do this by myself.” So then I moved to Bulgaria (where I am now), and I built my agency. We’re full-time and then there’s 15-ish people externally who help as well.

But at all just comes from me wanting to advance in the market, figuring out how I can help myself by just reading, sharing what I’ve learned, and that’s turned into this crazy roller coaster.


What a fantastic content idea, or way to start engaging discussions on LinkedIn: share what you’re reading, especially if you’re the kind of person who does that that a lot.

I know that there’s a lot of people – I’ve met them – on LinkedIn who do a ton of reading, but they don’t share it as often. So it’s a really great suggestion.


And then when you if you go this route you got to be sensitive to to how your own brain works.

For example, me personally. I’m a pretty good synthesizer. So I could take lots of information and condense it into very very little words. So that plays really well into LinkedIn video, and LinkedIn short-form content.

Somebody else they might want to be more elaborate and more specific in their language. Then they could go for the articles, or podcasts, or whatever. Then you can still use a short form to get that out there.

But just don’t do what the next guy is doing because it works for them. Pay attention to how you like to consume and produce content, and use that.

Don’t be like “he makes one-line posts, let’s do that.”

Just follow what’s your natural strengths.


Let’s wrap up with maybe a couple of suggestions. So you run a social media agency. You’re always thinking about engaging, short form content for a lot of your clients.

So for the audience that we’re talking about here – remote, no budget, and looking to add a lot of value, and especially if they are refining their personal brand – what might be one place that you would recommend people to start?

I mean apart from this great idea of maybe synthesizing what you’re reading. What might be another idea that these kinds of people could do to create engagement?


So I’m gonna answer your question, but I’m going to spin it around a little bit.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been doing some experimentation. I haven’t talked about my results anywhere, and I think this is going to be a really good premiere for your audience.

So I came up with a new method. Well, it’s not new, nothing is new, but something that’s new for me.

I’ve created a new way of posting, or new way of writing, and I think people should do this when they’re at home. It’s a post that starts with a really specific and crazy result that I’ve created for myself or for my clients.

It’s very important is that it’s just the one line. You can go to one of my posts, and you’ll see how for one of my clients, in one month’s time, we brought them 157,000 views on their LinkedIn profile content.

So that is it is crazy amount to do in one month, for like the first month post. Nobody does this. So I start with the crazy results.

Then the next step is to explain why it’s so crazy. I will say “okay, but look, this is how I’ve actually done it.”

So I’ll give them three to four five steps so that you’re not only bragging. You dangle the results that they want a front of them, then you say “look, this is actually really crazy results, and this is how I’ve done it.”

Then you link it back to your own service. And you add something of scarcity over there.

So it’s like “I got this amount of views for my clients. It’s really crazy because the average is this. We’ve taken these five steps that you can just make at home, if you want, but it just so happen, magically, I actually have one opening for one client this week, or this month, or whatever. So if you want these crazy results for yourself, you can reach out to me over the DM.”

This template has gotten me eight discovery calls, but out of those 8, 7 have turned into proposals. So the ratio there is pretty crazy.

And that is something that I think people should take home to work on.

How can you take a tiny piece of your work. Because it doesn’t matter if the whole project was a success or not. Just one detail that is really impressive. Put it out there in the world. Explain to the people why it’s crazy.

Then show them how to do it, and give them some kind of call to action to reach out to you.

This has been phenomenal for me and I’m now rolling it out for all my clients.


It’s brilliant. I mean, it’s not even like a hack. You’re not even cheating.

You’re leading with the results, helping people see how it’s possible, and then helping them. And like you said, especially if you’re an individual running their own business, it’s not totally a scarcity thing.

You literally only have a set period of time available so like each week.


There’s many ways to add the scarcity there, but it’s really the point is you got to give people urgency to act now.

Out of this people that messaged me about it, they said, “oh, I guess it’s finally time to reach out to you.”

“What are you talking about? We’ve been connected for a year and a half. Why reaching out to me ‘now?’ Because I told you I have an opening? Do you really think I didn’t have any openings over the last year?”

It’s because I said “Now is the time” that people will act. It’s so important for your marketing.


So you have a huge focus in the B2B space. Does that mean you live a lot on LinkedIn, or have you also built up other communities on other networks, like Facebook?


So I have my own Facebook group, which is like 2,500 members, which is where most of my clients came from. 

I’ve actually also have the biggest Facebook group for videographers in Belgium. We’ve run a lot of different kind of Instagram accounts, especially with automation. So we really play with a lot of different platforms, but my main platform is definitely LinkedIn, and I can tell you why.

Some might think this is funny. The reason I like LinkedIn is first of all, there was a huge opening because the platform was exploding right when I got into it. I got really good mentors there.

But the real reason is that I feel like LinkedIn is a little bit like Tindr. You know, you’re there and you can ‘pretend’ like you just wanna be friends. But ultimately everybody knows why you’re there.

I think LinkedIn is the same as saying that it’s like everybody knows you’re there for your business. It’s not necessarily a high intensity platform. You don’t necessarily go there to achieve specific goal.

But you are there with the knowledge and the awareness that there’s some business going to go be happening there.


It’s a great network because it has that purpose, as opposed to Facebook where it’s kind of all over the place. Nobody really knows why you’re there. It’s one of the reasons why having a bio like yours, which is, part hilarious part awesome. People don’t quite expect that because this is a ‘business network,’ and then you show up with a little bit of humor, a little bit of humanity.

On Facebook, everybody’s doing everything every different way. So it’s harder to stand out.

So thanks again, this was awesome. A lot of value that we just covered.  


Yeah! I really enjoyed being here.

And anybody that needs some help, you can always reach out to me and if it’s something small that you’re struggling with, I’ll totally help you for free.

So don’t don’t be afraid to reach out to me. I’m always doing my very best to help however I can.

So it’s been awesome being here, and everybody’s welcome to reach out to see if they need any help


Take him up on that. That is very generous.

All right catch y’all soon!

So what do you think? Leave a comment.

PS: Who’s one person you know would like to read this post? Can you share it with them? Thanks!

Dominic de Souza is a novelist-turned-marketer. He believes that passionate small businesses should stop with ads and funnels, and get back to the human roots of business: clarity, excellent service, and building a community. Everything you’re already good at.  Meet Dominic →

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