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2023 was the year of Taylor Swift.

If ever there was a brand, that was it.

1/17/2024 | Joel Schaffer, MAS, The Take Away

The sales strategy of “selling yourself” holds today, even more than it did when I made my first promotional product sale (then called ad specialties) to the carpet dealer who sold my wife and I our first rug for our first apartment. Because we have “big box” distributors saturating the airwaves, because we have more direct selling sources for “swag" (boy do I HATE that word), because new buyers entering the world do not want personal contact and scour the internet for sources, it is indeed more critical for you (and therefore your company) to establish a brand.

Selling oneself as a salesperson to customers is an integral part of building trust, rapport, and credibility.

Creating a personal brand involves shaping how others perceive you, your expertise, values, and what you stand for. Here are a few steps to help you build a personal brand:

Define Your Brand Identity: Determine what you want to be known for. Consider your strengths, values, passions, and what sets you apart from others. Craft a clear and concise personal mission statement or elevator pitch that defines your brand. We sell into many different markets with different applications for our products. Do you want to be a “brand builder”, an HR expert, awards and recognition guru, safety, wellness or “just Jack”? - a Jack of all trades?

Identify Your Target Audience: Understand the audience you want to appeal to. Who are they? What are their needs, challenges, and interests? Tailor your brand message and communication style to resonate with this audience. Use every medium to reach them. Try print.

Develop Consistency: Consistency across all platforms - social media, professional networking sites, personal websites, and offline interactions. Use a consistent tone, style, and imagery that reflects your brand identity. Consider a unique logo. Consider the real estate broker approach and put your picture on your brand.

Create a Strong Online Presence: Utilize social media platforms, personal websites, and professional networks like LinkedIn to showcase your expertise. Share valuable content, engage with your audience, and participate in discussions relevant to your industry or interests.

Share Valuable Content to Develop Your Expertise: Create and share content that demonstrates your expertise and knowledge in your field. This could be articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts, or presentations. Providing valuable information helps establish you as an authority in your niche.

Network & Build Relationships: Actively network both online and offline. Engage with industry peers, mentors, potential clients, and influencers. Building meaningful relationships can amplify your brand through word-of-mouth referrals and collaborations.

Be You: Authenticity is key to building a strong personal brand. Be genuine in your interactions, share your unique perspective, and stay true to your values.

Be A Better You: Continuously improve your skills and knowledge in your field. Attend workshops, courses, and seminars to stay updated with industry trends and advancements.

Share Your Successes: Enter and win ASI, PPAI, and Regional awards. Winners get business. You will have a good chance of winning as not many distributors submit annually. Share testimonials, success stories, and case studies that highlight your accomplishments and the positive impact you've made on others. These can reinforce your credibility.

Adjust When Needed: Regularly monitor your brand's performance. Assess what's working well and what needs adjustment. Adapt your strategies based on the feedback and insights you receive.

Building a personal brand is an ongoing process that requires dedication, consistency, and a genuine commitment to delivering value to your audience. Tailor your efforts to align with your goals and the image you want to portray to create a strong and influential personal brand. You will not reach the brand recognition of Taylor Swift, but there are lessons to be learned from her.

Joel D. Schaffer, MAS is CEO and Founder of Soundline, LLC, the pioneering supplier to the promotional products industry of audio products. Joel has 48 years of promotional product industry experience and proudly heralds “I was a distributor.” He has been on the advisory panel of the business and marketing department of St. John’s University in New York and is a frequent speaker at Rutgers Graduate School of Business. He is an industry Advocate and has appeared before the American Bankers Association, American Marketing Association, National Premium Sales Executives, American Booksellers Association and several other major groups. He has been a management consultant to organizations such as The College Board and helped many suppliers enter this industry. He is a frequent contributor to PPB and Counselor magazines. He has facilitated over 200 classes sharing his industry knowledge nationwide. He is known for his cutting humor and enthusiasm in presenting provocative and motivating programs. He is the only person to have received both the Marvin Spike Industry Lifetime Achievement Award (2002) and PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award (2011). He is a past director of PPAI and has chaired several PPAI committees and task forces. He is a past Chair of the SAAGNY Foundation, Past President of SAAGNY and a SAAGNY Hall of Fame member. He was cited by ASI as one of the 50 most influential people in the industry.
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