I always thought that sales consisted of finding clients, setting up meetings, and getting them to sign a contract that would eventually make me direct advertising money. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much more sales can be, and how it can affect every aspect of your business and your life.
The personal sale is something I have always been an advocate of. Not necessarily from a patron aspect, but instead, from the marketing side. With my company, I have been lucky enough to have my target demographic all in one area, with the same interests. The design of my website was aimed specifically at my market, and my slogan, “for the students, by the students” was also an attempt to make a personal connection.
However, I am not alone in this market, we’re just one of hundreds of companies attempting to get a hold of the population of the largest university in the country. We had to come up with something unique in order to gain a loyal customer base. When we looked at what worked and what didn’t work we realized that a personal sale was the most effective form of advertising. I thought about the best way to approach this, and this is what I came up with:
Introducing myself to everyone. This includes randomly going up to people in popular hangouts, shaking their hands, and sharing my message with them.
Going into offices around campus. I tell the secretaries about how my friend and I want to give back to the university, so we started a website that would make their lives easier.
Speaking in classes. I get in front of classes of 700+ students, and tell them about our website, why we started it, and how it is for them to use, free of charge. This enabled me to give a personal sale to many people all at one time.
Sponsoring university functions. This includes everything from Homecoming Week, to dorm socials, and fundraisers.
These were all very successful for us, they were our most effective routes of advertising. It gave us the opportunity to get in front of thousands of people and spread our message.
Throughout all of this I realized that I was not only branding my company, but I was branding myself. When I go out now, people recognize me as the SloopyMenus.com guy, and tell me how cool it was that I spoke in front of their class. I go into the business school and say hello to at least half of the people I see, not because I have spent quality time with them, but instead because I have branded myself as the SloopyMenus guy.
This got me thinking, and what I realized was that personal sales are a way to brand yourself as whatever you want. If I had stood in front of classrooms, and talked about registering to vote, I would be known as the vote guy, or if I represented the Buckeye Barbeque Club, then I would be the BBQ guy.
I fell into this role without even knowing it, and every time I wore a shirt with my logo, or said hello to someone and told them about my website, that is how they thought of me. I need to remember this lesson in the future, because whenever I meet someone, or have a conversation, I need to assume that they will recall me, my face, and my name by whatever was in the context of the conversation.
When you meet someone at school, at work, or even in the bar, be aware of what you talk about, and take advantage of it, because that is how you will be remembered. And that’s personal branding.