HOW DO YOU BUILD A BRAND? Network, Network, Network — and become a household name.
From logo apparel to handing out business cards at community functions, making sure people connect you and your company together can help earn business.
I was reflecting back recently to our humble beginning in the early 1990s. There were two other limousine services in town and both had a head start on us by a few years. I knew that we had to get our name out in the community. Not just the company name but my own name. People like to do business with people they know. They like to feel like they have a friend on the inside.
A company is nothing more than a name and bunch of people that work at the company. There is no individual personality. I was about to become Limousine Scene. I wanted people to see my face and think of Limousine Scene each time they did.
Getting out on the town was the first order of business. I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and began attending every event. I always wore a shirt or jacket with our logo. I handed out business cards and introduced myself to anyone that would talk to me. I always asked them for a business card too and tried to figure out how I could best serve them. I always send a letter the following day to someone I have met thanking them for the time we spent together. I also include a brochure.
I joined bridal associations and business networking groups. I attended community sports events, street fairs, and charity events. If handwritten name badges are used at an event, I not only write my name but in block letters I write our company name as well.
I also made the nightclub circuit on a regular basis. I always showed up in a limousine and always took time to meet doormen, club managers, promotions directors, and anyone else at the club I thought could help me including deejays. To this day, I still make the rounds a few times a year.
I also got involved in charity organizations and volunteered my time to work at events or on committees where I met lots of interesting people. Since most events were covered by the media, I made friends with news anchors, camera personnel and sales reps. I knew the sales reps were always beating the streets and could incorporate us into events sponsored by their clients. This was one group where the connection with my name and face was most important. These media reps had to believe they had an “inside” to our company and could make a phone call on behalf of their client.
It was a five year journey to get to a point that I felt like I had succeeded in creating the image and connection I wanted to have. It was exhausting but well worth the effort.
Finally, you cannot afford to miss industry association meetings and trade shows, in particular the 2011 INTERNATIONAL LCT SHOW. Branding yourself in the industry is as important as getting your name out into the community.
See you next week in Las Vegas!
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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