Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Branding Offline

I don’t miss putting on a suit every day. I don’t miss the robotic motion of getting up to an alarm, rushing out of bed, into the shower, gulping down coffee, dressing and running out the door. I don’t miss the dry cleaning bills. I don’t miss any of that.

I like getting up when I want to. I like that mornings I can go directly to my computer and start writing. I like that some days I have accomplished between 6 and 10 what it used to take me a full day to and still have not showered. I like that I do not have to wear make up every moment of every day. I like that some days I work in gym clothes.

I admit it.

BUT when I have some place to go I open the closet and I dress for it. When I am attending a networking event or a seminar I dress as if I am going to the “office”. I am branding.

So today, when I was racing out the door early to attend a Constant Contact seminar I wore a suit. Yes, it was warm out. Yes I would be sitting for the better part of two hours listening to the rules of permission based marketing. Yes, I suppose I could have slipped on a pair of jeans or capris and a t-shirt and been fine. But I didn’t. I dressed as a professional.

That was how I was raised. That was what I learned in my early days of sales. Presentation is key and it starts with how you present you. Plus whether it was my mother or a manager I worked for, it was ingrained in me, that you never know who you are going to meet. It could be just that person who is going to be pivotal in shaking up your world for the better. So look your best. Be your best. Dress like you mean business.

Maybe what I am about to say ages me. Maybe this sounds ‘old school’. I was a fan of Casual Fridays when still locked away in the corporate world. I was happy to be able to wear my jeans on that one day of the week. Still when I walked into the very full room at 3 West 51st Street this morning I was taken back. There were many who had indeed dressed to impress. They stood out. But there were as many who looked as though their next stop was the tennis court or the park bench.

While we were all there to learn, part of what we were learning was how to better brand our respective products on line through email marketing. I have become a big proponent of social media and on line technologies in the last year. The buzz word there is branding, and not just your product, but you.

Did the gentleman wearing shorts and sneakers and sporting a great tan not think that maybe he might be sitting beside his next big client? That this could be their first touchpoint to his business ? That this was that person's first taste of the brand that is both his product and him?

Of course, maybe he was in the spray tan business and no one told me.

OK, so you might be thinking, that I am now a writer. Why should how I present myself matter? My clients are my readers. What do they care how I look as long as I can write? At the end of the day, if they don’t like my writing it doesn’t matter how presentable I come across.

But I think it does. If I don’t look like I care about myself, why should a potential reader, editor or publisher care. Maybe it is an old school way of thinking. But I would rather engage in business with someone who looks like they care enough about themselves to care about me.

Branding on line is the new black. And I believe in taking full advantage of that. And when given those rare opportunities to brand in person, I believe first impressions count.

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