Branding is more important today than it ever has been.
A very clever chap called Tom Peters argues that the interesting developments in brand management are not happening at a multinational scale, but at the individual end of the scale.
Peters suggests that individuals should think of themselves as a brand and that their approach to differentiation in the world should be exactly the same. Individuals should look at themselves and try to identify why they stand out in relation to those around them. If they do not stand out, they should start trying to find ways to do so.
He argues that every individual should be addressing a series of questions to find out if they are selling themselves effectively to prospective employees:
- What makes you different?
- What is the pitch for you?
- What is the real power of you?
- What is loyalty to you?
- What is the future of you?
- What makes you different?
Individuals should start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that distinguish them from colleagues. Peters suggests using a standard model from the world of corporate branding, the feature-benefit model, which ensures that every feature that they communicate to potential buyers has an identifiable benefit. For example, an individual that is able to solve any problem quickly and efficiently will provide considerable value to their internal and external customers. Individuals who do this will quickly gain a reputation, and in doing so, build a brand for themselves.
So what is the pitch for you?
The first stage in the corporation branding process is developing visibility. However, instead of glossy campaigns, individuals must enhance their profile in different ways. As a starting point, Peters suggests that individuals should introduce themselves to colleagues by signing up for extra projects within the organisation, and getting a reputation for contributing. Alternatively, Peters suggests writing a column in a local paper or teaching a class in a community college.
Peters argues that communicating a brand to others is all about style as well as substance. This involves communicating efficiently with others at all times, whether it is during meetings, giving a presentation, writing a letter or sending an e-mail.
Essentially this amounts to what advertisers call ‘word of mouth’ marketing, and it involves using personal and business networks to cultivate a presence in the marketplace.
Not only should individuals advertise themselves; they should also concentrate on developing power in their chosen area. In other words, they should attempt to cultivate a reputation for using their expertise intelligently. Just as consumers are drawn to powerful product brands, individuals should attempt to develop a powerful brand to draw in external and internal customers and at the same time creating customer loyalty.
Your answer to the ‘what do you do?’ question will either limit relationships or give them life. It’s your choice. What’s crucial is that you take every opportunity to deliver an ‘elevator speech’ that makes a positive rather than negative impact. Here’s how.
Here are two types of Elevator Speech (ES) that are only going to induce yawns…
‘Hello, my name is Joe Smith, and I’m a banking manager with XYZ Bank.’
Or: ‘Hi, I’m Mandy and I’m an accountant.’
If you forget everything else when crafting your ES – remember to focus on what you can do for the listener. Now, if Joe and Mandy changed their ES to this focus, here’s how they might come out:
‘Hello, my name is Joe and a big part of my role is building local businesses’
‘Hi, I’m Mandy – my job keeps our multi million pound business in the black’
Aren’t those more likely to get people’s interest? Might they prompt a follow-up question from you along the lines of ‘Really? How do you do that?’ They’ve got your permission to tell you more rather than assuming you want to know more.
When you walk into a situation where somebody is going to ask you what you do, you have time to plan what you are going to say. By planning ahead, you’ll be ready with an impactful, credible and relevant Elevator Speech (ES). Here’s how:
Determine Your Audience
Who exactly are you going to be speaking to? If you don’t know, you need to ask. Will it be board level, senior management, or someone lower down the hierarchy?
Define Your Objective
What exactly do you want to get out of this interaction, meeting or phone call? It could be as simple as leaving a favourable impression, or as difficult as getting a sale on the day.
Define Your Content
Once you know your audience and your objective you can decide what will work best for getting the attention of your listener.
Deliver with Style!
Your ES must roll off your tongue with ease. Practice saying it.
Decide on a Call to Action!
Finally, think through what you want them to do once they’ve heard your ES. Book you? Meet with you one-to-one? Connect you to someone? Refer you? Ask for further information. Begin with the end in mind.
A customised approach takes effort and preparation. That’s why few people do it. But it is a powerful tool in business and personal arenas.