What is a personal brand?
A brand stands for something. Think Coke, not cola. A brand tells you what you can expect and gives a promise to the consumer.
Same for you if you want to stand out from the ordinary in your store.
A personal brand is your attitude about your work, your process, your personality.
A businessman walks up to a construction site in New York and asks one of the workers, “What’s your job?”
He answers, “I’m a bricklayer.” The businessman asks another worker doing the identical job the same question. The worker answered, “I’m building a skyscraper.”
That’s an example of a personal brand. Here’s another...
I ordered window coverings for my home. I gave John 50% down. I had to call and call and call for updates. After 12 weeks he finally called with a cryptic message, “They’re in.”
That too is an example of a personal brand.
Both of them struck me as authentic. They are showing what their personal brand means.
Of course, I won’t do business with the window coverings guy again.
While it might be easier to see why branding is important to outside sales representatives, it still is important if you want to make a good living working in retail sales and not be dumped into the same bin as those who basically fogged a mirror to get a job, picked up the nametag, and left their personality and creativity at the door.
Most people trust other people before they trust brands; that’s why your own brand is based on how well you can develop relationships. And with most products being seen as the same by shoppers, the only difference between those who get more sales and those who don’t are those who form bonds.
A personal brand helps set you apart as someone who is serious about their industry. It also helps you understand who your customers are and aren’t.
Look at the why of what you do. What do you like about it? How do you connect to the products, the environment, and specific customers? Why do you work here and not somewhere else?
The way you do what you do. Is there some process you use to overdeliver? What do customers thank you for? What specific compliments have you received?
Look at who your customers have been. What do you notice they have in common?
Ask your customers why they come back to you at this store.
Know your competition. What are their weaknesses and strengths? After having been to a competitor, why do they come to you?
If you use an app like Cloze to keep in contact with your best customers - that’s an asset.
If you are always following up on the sales floor, on special orders, or following up after the sale - that’s an asset.
If you are curious about your industry, go to events, or take special training for the brands you represent - that’s an asset.
If you are a student of human behavior - that’s your biggest asset.
Do you have to come up with a fancy name? No, but you do have to have a picture in your head of who you are and aren’t. Writing it down is ideal, so you can review it daily and refine as needed.
How to leverage it
Come up with how you can help your target customers. For example if you are a premium retail shoe salesperson think, Why buying the best loafers in the world could be disastrous if you travel a lot. Then write the article, post the video, and add it to an email.
Survey your customers. What they are looking for they aren’t getting? Unlike what you might do in the store to discover their pain points, you’re looking at what they want to do with your products, the lifestyle they want to lead, the trends, the things they didn’t know were crucial to getting more enjoyment from your products.
The more you can keep in front of your customers, the more you’ll stay top-of-mind. Just make sure you post and share relevant information.
It could be as simple as showing how leather soles wear out 3x faster when wet and what to do about it. Or you might create your own hiking video showing three ways the wrong hiking shoe - the cheapest - can make every step painful.
You know your customers.
No one else does.
By creating a blog or video, you are able to succinctly convey your opinions and ideas. You need to be able to make the complex simple.
You’ll use those in turn in your selling because you’ve had to do the hard work to encapsulate what you wanted to say.
The retail salesperson who can brand themselves doesn’t have to worry about who will walk through the door; they know because they are able to predict demand.
You can leverage social media channels to project your personal brand - your values, opinions, and advice like never before. And don’t change your tone once you find it or change sides or opinions, or you’ll lose the interest of your target followers.
While you’re marketing yourself, build Facebook ads with your phone number linked to your mobile phone number, so you can sell more too.
Through it all, you want to be putting your best face on YOU. This isn’t some fake way to become something you’re not, so if you like to get a laugh from people, like I do, keep it in your writing and messaging. Yes, it’s a fine line.
Your brand is you - that’s why customers and their friends will follow you because you are the same gal or guy they can go to your shop and meet. There are no disconnects.
That said, if you’re naturally an introvert and only talk in clinical ways about product features, I think you’ll have a tougher time building your personal brand.
Product knowledge can be found across the internet with reams of facts. Your personal brand has to have the ability to compare and contrast and weigh value versus ease of use. People will form a tribe around you if you help demystify their favorite passions from cooking to building, from painting to watch-collecting, from fashion to hiking.
Limits of personal branding
Your own brand can’t be larger than the brand you represent. For example if you were a Cartier salesperson, you’re still a Cartier representative first. Ultimately your personal brand is backed by the strength of the corporate brand, not the other way around.
And if you had a very strong brand, say Kim Kardashian working on your floor, your products would be secondary or third behind her personality. Not a good fit for most retailers.
I had customers follow me from store to store in my early days in retail. They knew my brand, what I stood for, and how well I took care of them.
If you’re a sole proprietor, a sales trainer, or single-service provider, you know how important a personal brand is. Outside of that, you might think you don’t need to think about it.
Retail represents 1 in 4 jobs in America. Most people who work in stores are willing to jump stores for an extra quarter an hour because they are blah and boring. That makes them interchangeable and oftentimes unpromotable.
The truly great retail salespeople will take this post and define, create, and use it when marketing their brand. They’ll build their following while always looking for the next idea to help their customers. Zig Ziglar said it decades ago, “You can get everything you want in life if you first help others get what they want.”
Thanks for reading this, and if you truly want to create an exceptional experience for your customers, checkout my online retail sales training program SalesRX.
Are you a hungry brick-and-mortar store owner who’s ready for a fresh, people-obsessed strategy? This training is for you if you want to grow your business using a powerful customer experience formula proven to make your cash register chirp.