The perception others have of your personal brand is their reality. I’ve heard it said that it t takes 7 seconds to make a first impression, but the truth is… a first impression happens in the blink of an eye. The very first split-second someone lays their eyes on you live or digitally, they begin forming an opinion and it is that instant that compels them to approach you, listen to you on stage or click further to learn more about your products and services.

I’ve found there are three crucial elements to attracting and happily sustaining your ideal clients so here they are:

SEQUENCING- Many entrepreneurs come to me confused about the sequencing of building out a brand. Do they begin with a logo? A business card? Do they need a web designer? At what point do they need pictures and how do they integrate with the brand? Think of building your brand like building a home. The foundation is poured when you get clear on the unique blend of your qualifications, training, purpose, strengths, and interests. Then it’s time to get crystal clear on your target market, down to a pinpoint. Don’t be afraid to keep it very narrow. When you think it’s narrow, narrow it even more. It’s that clarity that will create a strong brand and when you are definitive, you won’t just attract leads, you’ll attract your right-fit client and the conversion will happen quicker.

Next, comes your image. Your personal appearance has an enormous impact on your credibility. Dress, the way you want to be addressed. Not long ago, I attended a breakfast meeting with a gentleman who was considering hiring me to speak at his conference. I dressed with care and professionalism. I wanted to present myself in a way that would cause him to visualize how I would show up on his stage. We had a successful meeting and as I was leaving he asked, “Where are you off to? You look so nice.” My answer was what clinched the deal, “Actually I’m working from home for the rest of the day.” He was impressed that I had dressed up just for our meeting. He felt honored.

Your wardrobe can actually improve your credibility. “If you dress up, you will move up in the world. A well-dressed individual automatically communicates professionalism, concern, personal awareness and complete credibility.”  Neil Patel, Entrepreneur Magazine Contributor.

At the same time, you’re addressing your image, be thinking about your non-verbal language. Carrying yourself with dignity and professionalism shows confidence (even when you’re not really feeling it)!

While this post is not focused 100% on sequencing you can read more in my book The Total Package: OWN Your Profitable Personal Brand. You can get the first two chapters with more great examples for free at www.JuliAnnStitick.com.

STRAIGHTFORWARD BRANDING: Recently I was taking a horse-drawn carriage sightseeing tour through historic Philadelphia. We were treated to sights like Betsy Ross’s house and the Liberty Bell, but the personal brand nerd in me found the most memorable moment to be when we passed by a tailor shop. There was a sandwich board out in front that read: We do quality alterations at a fair price. The brilliance was in their simplicity! I knew exactly what they offered and the wording/language hinted at a long-term, family-owned business.  If I lived in Philadelphia I would be taking my alterations there.  The straightforward marketing reflected that they would be straightforward to do business with.  That in and of itself, built credibility.

Clever and quippy marketing can be tricky if it’s not done correctly. More often than not, it confuses your customer. No doubt you’ve seen advertisements and commercials where you had absolutely no clue what the company was actually selling. You just had to think about it too much. In our digital age where information is passing by us at light speed, getting to the point with straightforward communication can be the most powerful way to connect and convert your clients.

GREAT CLIENT CARE: Your personal brand is your customer’s overall experience of you. From their first impression to the follow-up and beyond can mean the difference between just satisfied clients and loyal customers who can’t wait to rave about you–the difference between ordinary and extraordinary. Let’s consider some top names in customer experience like Apple, Nordstrom, Disney, Starbucks and Zappos. My research found that these companies collaboratively learn from each other. Recently one of my clients, a renowned real estate developer in Los Angeles, was awarded Best Concierge Services in The Wall Street Journal. As I toured his properties, the director shared that they had learned elements of their valuable culture from Disney and that ultimately, Disney executives had asked to visit their properties to gain access to their customer experience expertise. Each and every detail of the grounds was meticulously maintained–even the brass topped trash cans were polished to a shine. Clearly, they know manicured surroundings create an upscale and enjoyable experience for their customers.

As a 5th generation entrepreneur, I was raised with an incredibly strong customer service ethic. While I am well aware that our systems don’t run smoothly 100% of the time, we maintain an attitude of how can we WOW you in addressing a customer service issue so that you know we deeply care about you and your experience. When I ran my first webinar, there were some bumps along the way. We received a few emails from frustrated customers and decided to add the very personal touch of a phone call to get it handled. The tone of caring can get lost very easily in an email interaction, but not a phone call. To take that a step further…the emails themselves can get buried and then the customer may have the impression you never even responded.

Knowing who you are at your best and tapping into that each and every time you interact with a customer,  talk to a prospect at a networking event or sit down to write a blog post will help you project a consistent and cohesive brand  and communicates what matters most.  Without a doubt that confidence and purpose will translate outward and your ideal clients will be attracted to it.  Keeping your communication straightforward is a simple, yet powerful way to reflect your straightforward way of doing business and amp up your credibility factor.  You can never go wrong with providing great customer service as a practical application of your overall brand identity. Your customers will love you for it and tell all their friends and colleagues.  The late Jim Rohn said it best, “One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”

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