"The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself" - Peter Drucker
How well are YOU selling YOURSELF?
Coke, Apple, Google, Xbox, Mustang....We are bombarded by thousands of images every day without even realizing it. Brands scream out to us from the TV and Internet trying to capture our attention. You know what? It works!
When you see an image, you immediately have thoughts or opinions about that product that jump into your mind - good or bad. Some people will only buy one product brand without even looking at other options (you know who you are). Marketers love these people!
"Branding" has become mainstream, especially with the growth of social media and the ability for people to connect to each other all over the world. Products (and people!) are fighting for shelf space to get their message out there. Even nurseries and plant breeders have jumped on the branding bandwagon in recent years with unprecedented success. Guess what? You aren't all that different from a Knockout Rose or a Boomarang Lilac bush!
Are you growing your personal leadership brand to get some shelf space?
Traditionally, a brand is a relationship between a consumer and a business as well as a customer and a product. Brands are important because they effectively distinguish one good from another. They symbolize how people think about a product and they carry a "promise" as well as a history of carrying through on that promise. Strong brands sell at a premium and help people in making buying decisions. Whether you like it or not, you ARE a brand and you need to jump into the market. Your promise must come with a compelling benefit for your consumer. You need to remain credible, consistent, and true. You want to come across to your market as someone with a sound reputation in delivering a consistent and premium value.
Just like the myriad of plants in your garden or at the nursery, you are unique. It may seem like there are varieties similar to you, but don't believe that for a second. Your branding helps create a memorable identity of you in the minds of others. It sets you apart and follows you through all areas of your life. Just as in developing new varieties of plants, branding takes time. You will need to "test" your branding as you grow, just like new plants in nursery trials. Growth takes time and patience. When you have reached your peak - it's all worth it! It's critical that you continue to grow, nurture, and protect your brand. It may make or break your success out there in the market or with your people.
As consumers have become more savvy while demanding more value from their purchases, companies have become more innovative and responsive to putting out new products to satisfy the demand. Gardening continues to be a popular hobby as people adopt changes to their lifestyle or spend more time at home while using gardening as a stress outlet. Consumers want reliable, easy, durable, and consistent results from the plants that they buy. People are busy and have a lot of choices out there especially with the Internet. Breeders have responded by delivering brands that carry through on their promise.
Even if you aren't a gardener, I'm sure that you have seen plants branded under some of these names depending on where you live as some are regional brands... Proven Winners, Monrovia, Southern
Living, HGTV, and Hardy Boy. If these don't ring a bell how about these brands? Wave Petunia, Flower Carpet Roses, Endless Hydrangea series, Knockout Roses or Encore Azalea. What they all have in common is an established brand that delivers and has a strong consumer loyalty. Obviously some of these brands carry particular patents or registered trademarks but I don't think that you have to go that far!
Having a recognizable brand has been very profitable for these plant lines and brands. Jump into my world for a few minutes and pretend that you are a enviable branded shrub in the market. This is what it will do for you:
- Lets' face it, a strong brand means an increase in sales. For you this could mean more leadership opportunities, promotions or enhanced career moves. Who doesn't want a raise?
- Regional or national recognition. You want to be perceived as an expert with a reach as far as possible.
- Strong value. If you are seen as valuable, you can demand a higher price or increased space on the shelf. You can call the shots.
- Repeat purchases. If you are a salesperson, consultant, or entrepreneur, your brand may keep people coming back for more of your services, product, or leadership.
- Effective brands have a stronger ability to target a particular segment or customer. Perhaps you are a medical device professional and have a niche that you target. Your brand makes you stand out. This means more success and leadership with regional expertise.
- Great brands tell a story. Many of the plants brands above indeed have a background or story to tell that resonates with consumers. Tell yours!
- Established brands earn more consumer trust and less product confusion. This takes time and marketing. Effective branding doesn't happen overnight. Don't expect that your brand will evolve in just a few weeks. Gain the trust of others over time and don't be shy about self promoting yourself! If you don't, who will? Be a leader.
- Be consistent. A Wave Petunia (which is an annual and dies at the end of the season) had better perform the same year after year after year. If not, consumers move on. You need to remain consistent as well. Don't constantly flip flop with your brand or you won't have a following behind your leadership. Be a reliable shrub and perform like your "customers" expect.
- Back up your promise with a way for consumers to connect with your brand via the web, social media, and the old fashioned phone. As a leader, do the same. Interact with others on a web platform or the social scene such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google + etc. Be available and open to communicating.
OK! Time to jump out of the garden and back into your shoes again. Clearly, branding is a crucial element to success and connecting with others. The benefits are undeniable and you MUST get out there and plant some seeds to grow your branding. Not only is it a necessity, it is a must if you want others to believe in you and what you can deliver. Plant yourself out there and get busy!
Photo above Courtesy of Urban Woodswalker
|Wave Petunias |
|Proven Winners Limelight Hydrangea|
|Knock Out Rose|