Whenever a business owner fails to understand the importance of branding himself/herself, they are opening the door for their competitors to take their clients. Let’s face it for a moment – a whole lot of people like to say that competition is good, however, if you think about it for a moment, if you’re a business owner, why would you want someone to compete with you in providing a certain type of service and/or product? You want to be the only one and if not, you want to be the one that stands out. Unfortunately, reality quickly reminds us that we are in competition locally and globally. That’s why you need to understand the importance of branding yourself.
While working in corporate America, I was an Account Executive for a major Fortune 500 company handling accounts from corporate to individuals. I quickly learned how important it was for me to brand myself. The company had its brand, product, and service. What I didn’t have was my personal brand. Working on commission, one quickly learns the importance of customer service as well as finding the right niche that separates you from your competitors. I had to take it a step further. I had to find out what would separate me from my fellow coworkers and competitors. Now that may sound harsh, but you need to know when you’re in sales and your income is based on your productivity, you understand why branding yourself is important.
In my position, I learned how to build referrals so much so that I stopped cold-calling and knocking on doors. In other words, I dropped all of the traditional stuff and allowed my brand to do the selling for me. What do I mean by this? I stopped selling the company and started selling myself. It was through selling myself as the expert, consultant, friend, and go to person that sales started increasing. Every client I sold associated my name and face with the company. Let me say it this way. When the name of the company was mentioned within their circle, my name was brought up because of what I was able to do. I say this not to brag, but to help you (business owner) realize that your brand is everything.
Because I care about the plight of business owners, I would like to offer you some suggestions on how to build your brand effectively and efficiently.
- Develop a habit of getting to know your customers/clients. Just don’t thank them for the purchase, get to know their likes and interests. Unless you show your clients you care about them as a person, you will not have a brand that says ‘caring and concerned’
- Be YOU. That’s hard for many people because they like going by a script. People can read between the lines and when your clients see you, they should see a person who is real and relevant
- Incorporate your personality with your product and/or service. Those in sales will hear plenty of ‘No’s’ but when people know you by your brand, you’re more inclined to hear ‘Yes’
- Keep your social media polished. That means you can’t post or write anything derogatory. The moment current clients and potential clients see or read anything that’s demeaning or degrading, your credibility is lost
- Attend networking events and be active. Just don’t show up to an event and remain close to the wall. Meet people, get to know people and make new friends. Check this out – it’s not the time to sell your product and/or service. Simply establish new connections
There are many other ways a business owner can build his/her brand. What’s important is that a business owner remains conscious of their profile.
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is a speaker, author of The ABC’s of Making Business Networking Work For You and success coach. Contact him at www.sinclairgrey.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @drsinclairgrey