Building a Brand

/Building a Brand

Want to Get Noticed? Get a Job in Target

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Whether you’re in the market to sell yourself or your business you will have to build your brand. Your brand is what makes you unique—it’s what makes you.

Mark Zuckerberg in his "hoodie."

Mark Zuckerberg in his “hoodie.”

When I mention “hoodie” who do you think of? Could it be Mark Zuckerberg? He took hoodie to another level.

Don't forget clean underwear.

Don’t forget clean underwear.

My mom used to say, “Your reputation is all you have.” In those days it means a “good” reputation. These days I’m not sure if it has to be good. You just need a reputation!

Alex from Target,  no longer unknown.

Alex from Target, no longer unknown.

Building your brand isn’t easy. There’s lots of competition and everyday there’s a new unknown who’s become famous.  Last week, Alex was a 16 year old cashier at Target, overnight he became a celebrity with 300,000 followers on Twitter. Someone snapped a photo of him, and it went viral. He says he still doesn’t ’ know what has happened but there’s the buzz that it was a PR stunt from Target. It doesn’t matter, 30 days ago he was an unknown, know he is being represented by Shahidi, who is guiding him on next steps. We now have a brand called “Alex.” Alex was wearing a red Target shirt; I don’t think it was the shirt that made him famous. It was probably his innocent good looks. Here’re some ideas for building your own brand.

No matter what you do, you need your own personal brand to be remembered. If you’re in the sales business, you need customers to remember who you are. I remember I had a salesperson that was known as “the really tall, good looking salesperson.” He was 6 feet tall and definitely good looking. It got him lots of repeat business.

Here are some ideas for building your brand.

"A ship is safe in the harbor but that's not where it belongs."

“A ship is safe in the harbor but that’s not where it belongs.”

Be bold. Take a shot, don’t be afraid to be you and stand out. Your boldness may be your clothes, your hobby or your blog. It might be your haircut. Blogs have made many people famous.

Look like yourself.

Look like yourself.

Look good. Just because you’re running to the post office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress up. My mom used to say, “Put on your lipstick, you never know who you’re going to meet.” This was the upgrade from my grandmother who said, “Don’t forget to wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.”

Practice random acts of kindness.

Practice random acts of kindness.

Practice “random acts of kindness.” We always remember people who are nice to others. It never hurts to be kind.

Recognize opportunities.

Recognize opportunities.

Get known for working hard and doing an excellent job. This will also make you feel good about yourself.

Have fun.

Have fun.

Be fun, don’t take everything so seriously. I was lucky enough to work with Madeline Kahn in the 50’s. We were both college students working in a hotel in the Catskills; she was a singer and I was a waitress. In the afternoons, she used to dress up as Greta Garbo; a famous vamp from the 20’s and lounged around the pool.

Madeline Kahn, "Blazing Saddles."

Madeline Kahn, “Blazing Saddles.”

One day, the owner came out and yelled at her, “His line, Madeline; you have to get serious if you’re going to be a star!”

If you’ve ever seen “Blazing Saddles” you know she was silly and became a star.

Listen up.

Listen up.

Listen to others. A good listen that isn’t critical is always remembered. You don’t have to be a social worker; you just need a kind ear.

Albert Einstein said he wasn't smart, he was curious.

Albert Einstein said he wasn’t smart, he was curious.

See yourself as entrepreneurial. Being entrepreneurial with interesting ideas will always help your brand.

Take a chance.

Take a chance.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and way what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Lisbeth Calandrino has been a business consultant for over 20 years. To speak with her about your business or have her train your employees, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. She lives in Historic Hudson Park with her cat, Rainyday.

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“Think Pink.” What are you Doing to Connect with Your Customers During “Breast Cancer Awareness Month?”

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Beat breast cancer.

Beat breast cancer.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation,  more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer across the United States this year, worse; approximately 43,000 will die as a result of being afflicted with the disease. I lost both my sister and cousin from this dreaded disease. There aren’t many months that give us an opportunity to stay in front of our female customers and make a difference.  October, Breast Cancer Awareness month is one; the other is Women’s Heart Month, February.

You may have seen national retail stores marketing pink-themed products over the last few years. Every time a pink product is purchased – be it a makeup bag, purse, scarf or t-shirt – a portion of the proceeds is donated by the merchant to the breast cancer organization of their choice. If you don’t want to peddle pink merchandise, how about holding an event in your store and have a pink theme? How about holding a pink hat contest?

Whatever you do, make it matter. To make it matter even more, Fabulous Floors Magazine is giving away $100.00 to the store that has the best party with the most people supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please send me your photos and the details, so I can blog about it either in October or November. I know; the rules are more subjective than objective, but one of you will win. Please share your stories; it’s the stories that keep the fight alive.  My sister was too late; my cousin wasn’t up for a repeat fight.

I look forward to your entries, whatever you do, it will make a difference.

I can’t wait to see the photos.

Thank you for making a difference.

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Is Your Brand of Business Putting You Out Of Business?

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Are you burning your brand?

I conducted a workshop  this  week with a group of  small business owners.  I asked if they had the same passion as when they first opened their businesses; they all laughed at me. I said I knew my business was in trouble when I decided it would be easier   without customers  and employees; this got a round of applause.

The longer you’re in the business the more you get worn out. How can you do the same thing day after day and not get tired? You have to re energize yourself and your passion.

I’m convinced that many people go into business for the wrong reasons. If you ask why they’re in business they often say: “It’s to make money.” I then ask: well are you making money? The majority will say “no.” Then I ask why haven’t they made money and they come up with a ton of reasons–usually it’s the economy, no customers and bad employees.  These are the same people who rarely attend a seminar or hire a business coach. Instead they turn up their noses at anything that goes against their thinking no matter how good the idea.

I went to see one of the business owners that didn’t attend the workshop and asked her why she hadn’t attended.  Her answer: “I don’t need it.” I then asked how her business was doing and she said “not so good.” I really wasn’t sure what to ask her next but she obviously doesn’t have much faith in anything.

Today I stopped by a local nursery and told them it was nice to finally see them open. She laughed and said “its been a long winter.” I agreed and said “I would love if you would put up a sign that said, “200 days until Spring”  instead of the one that says “Closed for the Winter.” She laughed and asked me “why” to which I replied, “It makes me depressed.”

She laughed again and said “It depresses me too!” Case closed.  (You may have read my blog “Closed for the Winter” that I wrote about this nursery.)

Do you think people listen to what they say?

In order to make a business work, you must have passion and a plan.  One without the other rarely works. If you don’t have passion it’s hard to stay focused; a bad day becomes a bad week. If it doesn’t go your way you stop all forward movement.

I observed businesses with no hours posted on the doors, “A be  back in 10 minutes sign”  (with no time on the doors stating when they left) and no emergency phone numbers. This isn’t a business that wants to make money; this is one that forgot about its customers.

As my mom used to say, “You can explain until you’re blue in the face, and no one is listening.” I think she was referring to me.

So what will build passion? Here are 8 ideas that might help.

  • Talking with other business owners about what works. They don’t have to be in your business to get ideas.  This is different than complaining about the economy and talking about what doesn’t work. Look at the half full glass of water not the half empty glass. Share ideas. A friend of mine said she got a call from a design competitor. At first she was nervous about talking with the woman then she realized she might learn something. She even took it a step further and decided they might even work together! Good for her! I turned out there were products she could sell the other designer. I spoke with several of the businesses in my workshop who can’t wait for the next one.
  • Take a class on marketing, social media or ideas on how to grow your business. I have been listening to the radio station (on my phone) called Freakonomics, the hidden side of everything. A funny and thought provoking view of many things in the world.
  • Do something that you enjoy; at least once a week. Many business owners do nothing but go back and forth to work. Give yourself a break.
  • Sing out loud! Singing is a great way to relieve stress.
  • Go to the gym or get some serious exercise. Working out will release endorphins, a chemical that will make you feel better. Endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. I can’t say enough good things about the gym; working out helps me get better sleep.
  • Look up videos on how to energize your passion. Simply Google or YouTube t videos on unleashing your potential.
  • Read a book on business or motivation. I have a book called “Positive Quotes for the Day” that I read before I go to bed. I’ve given you a link to Internet quotes you can look at. I’ve taken the television out of my room so that I go to sleep with good thoughts rather than the last rerun of “Law and Order.”
  • Take care of yourself; you’re the only one you have.

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal customers through sales and customer service training.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:06-04:00May 20th, 2012|Blog, Building a Brand|4 Comments

Who Cares About You Anyway?

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Love letters to a businessMy oncologist has decided to move back to Hawaii; he says he needs a place where something new is happening and he can participate in research.  He gave me the name of a physician that he said was very good and I would like. The first thing I did was Google the physician. Much to my dismay, he had two comment with two stars out of five! I was horrified. He had gone to very reputable schools but his patients said he was always late and didn’t seem to listen.  I reported my findings back to my doctor who was also somewhat horrified. His comment, “Now I know why you want me to get testimonials from customers who like me!”

I have been working with a notable bank in my area. They said they didn’ think they needed customer service training because across the country they were rated 97% in customer satisfaction. I suggested we do a search and sure enough there were 14 complaints and no “attaboys.” They were horrified also. They were quick to explain the complaints were world wide and there were none in Albany. I asked how long did they think the customer would spend examining the complaints. Case closed.

Hey, have you Googled yourself and your business? Give it a shot. I Googled my house and was horrified (my favorite word) to find that the picture of my house was before it was painted! I had just saved enough money to have it repainted and it still looked awful. How do I call Google and get them a new photo?

By now you must realize that everyone cares about you. Some like you and some don’t like you. I remember when my sister first went into business. She was well liked and doing great business but didn’t have any testimonials so I decided to send her some. Yep, I made them up. Sis would call me glowing when she got a letter; she was so proud. So I continued to send her more letters. The letters lifted her spirits, helped her stay motivated and loving her business. It wasn’t until years later that I told her I had written the letters. After she died, I found the letters in some old papers.

You need letters and testimonials from your customers for two reasons. You want other people to see them and feel comfortable about coming to your business and they make you feel good! I don’t care what your business is. Whether you have a part-time cleaning business or you’re a physician — you need testimonials.

Check out this link to the article about customer’s shopping locally. In a nutshell, 70% of customers go online locally to check out businesses before they shop.

Should you write your own comments? It’s probably not a good idea–ask your friends.

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through sales and customer service training.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:06-04:00May 17th, 2012|Blog, Building a Brand|2 Comments

Should He or Shoodie? How are you Building Your Brand?

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Mark Zuckerberg wears his hoodie to Wall Street.

Mr. Zuckerberg caused quite a stir this week when he showed up on Wall Street wearing his hoodie. Many saw it as a sign of rebellion or that Mark doesn’t really give a crap. When I grew up we dressed up to go to church, get on an airplane or go to school functions; that’s just the way it was. It wasn’t until the middle 60’s that female school teachers were allowed to wear pants. Steve Jobs had custom-made  black turtlenecks (by Issey Miyak) and it’s rumored that he had enough to wear every day for the rest of his life. According to what I read, it was his lucky turtleneck.

Through the ages we knew who had money by the way they dressed.
Then there was the “dress to impress,” the hippy era, what to wear on a cruise wear and prom attire. Isn’t there a special dress for “the mother of the bride?”

The question remains, do we really care? Apparently so or at least the Wall Street types in their Hermes ties care. Is it really a crash of two cultures and does Mr. Zuckerberg represent the new culture? Maybe it really means “I  don’t really care what you think.”  Personally I didn’t really like the color–a little too drab for the spring and I wouldn’t have showed up in a hoodie–only because “it’s just not me.”

Maybe the hoodie is what inspired  him to build Facebook so it’s really for good luck. We know that professional athletes button their shirts a certain way for good luck and there are salespeople that have lucky shirts, pants and ties; maybe it’s just a hoodie and nothing more. Or like Steve Jobs and his black turtlenecks, it represents good luck.

Of course if I were going to Wall Street to talk about the public offering of my product I would get dressed up. In my case I look for any excuse I can to  get dressed up.

Now we’re back to “does it matter what you wear?” Personally I would say it does matter. My hunch is some of that comes from my background and my age and some comes from my preferences. “When in doubt get overdressed” is my motto.

I recently attended International Wool Textile Organisation where the fashion types and the business types merged in the same room. The business types were all dressed in suits and the fashion types were dressed in more interesting outfits. I think everyone was dressing as expected.

There is another expression, “When in Roman do like the Romans.”   St. Ambrose coined this expression in  387 A.D. Basically, if you’re in Rome follow their customs.

In sales we we call it building rapport. We feel most comfortable when we are with people who look like us, act like us and yes dress like us. Have you ever been to an occasion when everyone was dressed up and you didn’t get the message? When you’re shopping don’t you feel better when someone your age waits on you? We expect that since we are close in age they probably understand us better or even have a better idea of what we want.  Many of my friends with tattoos, despite the fact they consider the tattoos art and “cool”, they often hide them with long sleeve shirts.  Somehow there is still a stigma about tattoos. In 30 years the whole  country will have tattoos and those without tattoos will be in the minority. A Harris poll from 2003 found that 16 percent of Americans have tattoos and that a whopping 64 percent of those people are in their 20s and 30s. The late senator Barry Goldwater caused quite a stir in 1978 when it was noted that he had tattoo on his left hand. The tattoo was a  line and four dots capped by a half circle , the trademark of the  Smoki People. I remembered how shocked people were but I doubt the tattoo is what caused him to lose the presidency. Of course there was Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt, both with tattoos.

My thoughts, if you want me to be on your side, it’s best that you do whatever it takes to make me think we’re alike. I looked at some photos of a White House Dinner and Mr. Zuckerberg is wearing a white shirt. My hunch is he did it “because he could.”

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal customers through sales and customer service training. For a copy of  her book, Red Hot Customer Service check out her web site, www.Lisbethcalandrino.com

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:06-04:00May 14th, 2012|Blog, Building a Brand|0 Comments

Do You Know Where You’re Going?

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Take a riskI hope this article is timely for you; it is for me.  For many of us the  economy is still moping along and we’re trying to figure out what to do next. Consumers are changing their buying habits, myself included. Friends are downsizing their lifestyles and examining their life choices. The recession may be over, but the landscape has changed.  In many ways it’s unfamiliar; at least it is to me.   I’m in a different place too. It’s not a bad place, it’s just a different place and different doesn’t always feel right–especially in the beginning.

Change is good. Well, change is interesting but it’s more interesting if it’s happening to you rather than me. In my case, I find when it’s time  for a change I put more hours in at the health club! Somehow I know it’s a safe place for my mind and my body. I feel less stressed after my workout and  feel I’ve done something good for me.

Each of us is building new roads, repairing our highways and hopefully avoiding serious pitfalls.  I’m convinced that sharing this journey with positive friends who have good intentions will make our journey more pleasant and safe. It’s time to re-cultivate your the garden and  get rid of the weeds that might be choking you from making new decisions. Sometimes, these weeds come in surprising forms–forms we call “friends.”

Just as I’m writing this article, I received this from Kevin Clancey a Realtor in Albany, New York from his Monday Morning Mojo:

The biggest obstacle to creating a wonderful life is self-limiting beliefs. A self-limiting belief is an idea you have that you are limited in some way, in terms of time, talent, intelligence, money, ability, or opportunity. Brian Tracy

At times we all have limiting beliefs, and there’s nothing to fear except fear itself and fear can be defined with the acronym “false evidence appearing real”. So, now what, where do you begin? It’s time for you to become your own coach, a good coach.

Speaking of coaches, one of my guests on Red Hot Customer Service Show was John Stahl from The Growth Coach of New York  serving business owners throughout the Northeast. John talks about limiting beliefs. Of course, beliefs simplify our lives but limiting beleifs dis-empower and hold us back. John talks about “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable” while making changes. If you’re talking about business challenges, Johns says the biggest challenge is between the ears of the business owner. I think this is a problem that many of us share.

Coach Vincent Lombardi once said that the difference between a good coach and a bad coach is the good coach always knew what the end would look like. If you don’t know where your want to go, how will you get there? If you get wherever “there” is, how will you know it’s the right place? In Warren Bennis’s book, “View from the Top“, he examines ninety leaders and found that one of key strategies was “attention through vision.”

What’s vision you ask? Vision can be a simple act or a thought; what do I really want out of life?

What makes me happy?

What are my dreams, my goals or my purpose? What would I like more of in my life?

I know I want more time at the lake.

Sometimes visions are statement for the future, a destination that you want to achieve. Last year I joined Toastmasters. I have competed in several events and recently joined the advanced Toastmasters Group. My goal is to continue to advance my speaking craft–I love speaking. The club gives me the opportunity to test new topics, get feedback and make changes. It’s a way to continually focus on something that’s important in my life.

Your vision may be simple. If you are invested in the outcome and feel ownership over your vision, then the happiness is in the journey– the appreciation of the uniqueness of the components it takes to get there.

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Is A Complaining Customer A Good Customer?

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Are they better with their mouths closed?I know lots of customers that would disagree with this statement. If you’ve ever had a customer complaint on line than you know what I’m talking about. I have seen some mighty disagreeable comments that wouldn’t seem to go away.

How do you counteract these things? The first thing is to have your “great” customers  post loving comments about your service, your staff and your products. This way if you have any negative comments there’s a possibility they will get lost in the good ones or the complaining person looks like a nut job to the rest of the  readers. My experience is that most businesses don’t “stack the deck” with great comments to counteract the possible nasty ones before they occur. When a nasty comment is written, it is glaring.

I found myself the target of one of these feuds. A client of mine got some bad press for posting a photo without giving credit to the photographer. The title of the blog charged the customer with something other than the above which was not only incorrect, but slandering.  I pointed out the error of the title and immediately someone else became annoyed at me. (By the way, I checked with a lawyer first about my concerns which turned out to be correct.)  The title charged the customer with a very serious crime, obviously the writer didn’t understand what he was writing.

Online remarks can get very sticky. One of our local supermarkets received an unflattering comment on Twitter which was responded to by an employee of the market. The employee was so upset he went to the commentator’s boss and suggested the person be fired! The target took his case to the local newspaper and the rest is history.

Last year I was curious about a local luggage store so I went online for testimonials. Much to my dismay, there  was more than one nasty comment. When I went to the store to have my Tumi luggage fixed, I told the manager about the comments. His reply, “I never noticed”. Needless to say they closed the following month; they had been in business for over 20 years.

Some thoughts about what to do before it happens and after:

Manage your own publicity; get your happy customers to post great comments.

Post articles of value for your customers; articles that make them smile, feel special and get valuable information.

Be aware, watch for comments, Google your business to see what’s being written about you and your business. Sign up for Google alerts.

Blog about your great customers. Interview your customers about their families and their businesses. Make your customers your business partners. Great customer service means giving your customers what they want and possible helping them to stay in business.Consider the bank or insurance company  that provides valuable workshops on marketing and sales  for their small business customers.

By the way, I couldn’t find any. But it stands to reason if your customers can’t stay in business neither will you!

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