Think about the message you project when meeting others. Talk is cheap and branding goes much deeper than words coming out of your mouth. A brand can be characterised as a subtle promise or relationship formed between two parties, systematically enhanced and buffed to communicate two important pieces of information:
- Who you are personally.
- What you do.
Establish this information clearly in the minds of your prospects to quickly develop a self perpetuating reputation. You want to get into a position where people will want to buy from you, rather than feel they are being sold all the time..
Madonna, Bentley, Armani, Simon Cowell, Margaret Thatcher, The Rolling Stones, Alan Sugar and Richard Branson are well known “names” and examples of people who have carved out a personal brand to create expectations amongst their followers. It is the reason you like or dislike their message. You either engage to varying degrees or remain indifferent.
A well known comedian can raise a titter with a mere raise of the eyebrow because of the relationship created between himself and the audience. What will your future customers think when you walk through their door? How will they respond?
Having a brand or personal dialogue is beneficial for the following three reasons:
- It builds credibility
Recently I visited an Indian restaurant to deliver QR code marketing stickers and chat about internet promotion. Prior to turning up unannounced, I had several telephone conversations with the owner and his brother to establish an understanding of the marketing potential for their business.
I handed over a business card and also demonstrated how the QR barcode URLs convert hungry customers into instant sales. This impressed them, especially because I offer the service free as a loss leader. A genuine interest in them plus relevant branded materials showed I am to be taken seriously.
- It builds relationships
Perhaps the most important stage of selling is the ability to get along with others. Building sales rapport is the process by which you subconsciously gain permission to ask for money in return for what you offer. Rapport goes hand in hand with pre-selling and happens quickly or gradually.
In the fast food QR code example, I am taking it slow. The reason – I eventually want to be working with long term clients who buy from me frequently and repeatedly. This is another part of my personal brand: I do not hold my hand out in expectation and am prepared to prove myself first. With so few clients in my small town I cannot afford to be pushy nor must I be complacent. This brings me to the next point.
- It generates leads
A warm fuzzy referral is always preferable to a cold call. It’s even better when the referral is for the same business. I’ll explain.
At the restaurant I demonstrated my website in action, explained research, statistics, vision and reach. I showed the QR code stickers I had designed for all the other fast food restaurants in town, which surprised them. When I finished talking I was immediately asked to design their printed menus.
The same day, at another outlet, the owner brought up the idea of his business sponsoring local football teams and using both our logos and web URLs on the shirts. This was off the back of what I demonstrated as a free service and my commitment to helping them has led to paid work.
- Remember people’s names. It is not often a stranger gets our name right having met once. Get a name right and you’re on your way to building good rapport.
- Have a notebook handy and take notes of finite business details. Show you're paying attention.
- As soon as you leave the premises or are out of sight, jot down names.
- Branding works from bottom to top, not the other way round.It should represent you.
- Your visual or printed literature should reflect your ethos and principles. Are you a local person serving the local population? Make it part of your brand.