Personal branding is a buzz-phrase in today’s online marketing culture. It is being touted as the way to become more hirable and to differentiate yourself in corporate America, but the automotive industry is beginning to recognize it for a different use—business development and increased sales. A personal brand in the automotive world has one end-game: to sell more cars. Personal branding isn’t about divorcing the dealership or not promoting it, it’s about ownership of personal sales success. It’s about salespeople being proactive about their living. Here are five unconventional steps for salespeople to begin to use a personal brand to increase visibility and sales.
Take Wild Action.
I came to this first unconventional step by taking wild action myself. When I began my personal branding and social selling efforts I understood very basically that customers do a lot of research and shopping online, so it made sense to me that that’s where I needed to be visible to them. The Internet space is where I needed to capture prospective clients’ attention, and then lure them in to see me directly.
And that’s about all the thought and planning I put into it.
I immediately sprung into action on multiple social platforms to begin to piece this social selling puzzle together.
The reality of wild action is: you don’t know yourself, what connects with your clients, or what’s effective until you start tinkering. Tinker a bit wildly at first to see what garners results and what resonates with your online audience—it will help illuminate a unique personal branding path to help you move forward.
Don’t Get Cheesy
The automotive sales professional’s instinct is to return to his plaid-jacket roots and jump online with a persona, a tagline, and a logo. Auto-marketing beginners often believe you need these traditional ingredients to begin to convert off social media; they create their online persona, set their profile photo as the logo they paid to have made, and then wonder why they don’t see results.
Do you know what’s better than a logo for a profile photo? Your face.
The most powerful way to convert off social is to make a human connection with prospective and past clients. Focus your efforts not on becoming a caricature car salesman but on the you-ness that makes you YOU.
Learn As You Go
Many salespeople resolve to begin creating a personal brand only to then spend too much time, and expend too much effort, in the planning phase. Too much planning or aiming for perfection can suffocate a personal brand before it ever even fully forms. Begin with wild action, learn what works best for you, and continuously hone those efforts. You’ll learn more and more as you move ahead and as you reflect on the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of previous efforts.
Give Up on Something You Don’t ‘Get’
It may take a little patience to see a return on a personal branding effort. But if, for the life of you, you can’t fall in step with a social platform, like Twitter, for example, give it up. Different mediums are going to work better for some people than others. The salesperson with quick wit might enjoy success writing copy that converts on Facebook while the salesperson with artistic DNA will find more success sharing photos on by a visual platform, like Instagram. For me, this question-mark-platform was Pinterest. I never quite got it and after trying unsuccessfully to convert clients off Pinterest over time, I finally gave it up and dedicated more of my time to video and YouTube.
Beware the V Word
Every post on social media, every action step and every strategy should move you closer to your end-game: selling more cars. Increasing visibility with prospective clients online is your goal, but too often somewhere between photo sharing and videos going semi-viral, vanity rears its dreadful head. The goal of a visible personal brand is not to gain celebrity. The goal is to convert. Don’t fall down the personal branding rabbit hole, seeking attention from people who will never purchase a vehicle from you. Keep the end-game in mind and be wise about what activity truly garners results.
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Laura Madison is the National Director of Sales for Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions and owner of LauraDrives.com. She is a former car salesperson, “Laura Toyota,” best known for her use of social media and personal branding. Laura has been featured in Automotive News, Advertising Age and Edmunds.com for her unique marketing and self-promotion efforts.