As a sales person I have always considered marketing to be comparative to motor oil in a car. If it is applied correctly it keeps your sales machine working at peak efficiency. Most sales people I have come across over the years however tend to confuse marketing with branding or think the two are one and the same. This belief could not be farther from the truth. Wikipedia defines marketing as “the process used to determine what products or service may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communication, and business development.” Let’s talk for a minute about marketing insurance services, and I choose this industry not just because we as consumers are inundated with mailers and TV commercials but I am also a licensed insurance agent. Ten months a year I send out mailers, I have a telemarketing service I use, and several of the companies I work with have a lead program that I utilize. All told, I employ four to five different types of lead generation strategies throughout the year and that works for me. These are all examples of communicating a particular product or service that may be of interest to my customers.
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Each and every day we see brands all around us, McDonald’s, Apple, Google, etc… and that is the point. Successful branding is doing just that, getting your name out there everywhere, all the time. Here’s an example, at this point in my life I don’t eat very much fast food anymore. Once or twice a year if I’m pressed for time I’ll pull into a drive through and grab a burger. The two times a year that I’m in a rush the first thing that pops into my head is “I need to grab a Big Mac”. McDonald’s has been around since before I have and growing up I remember the golden arch’s everywhere and commercial’s on all the time with Ronald McDonald. This is branding at it’s best… when you immediately subconsciously associate a product with a company. Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard once said, “When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.” Every single day I use Google and I always speak of it in the same context “I Googled it.”
Where a significant amount of sales people go wrong is they tend to focus on marketing and ignore branding themselves. As a sales person one of your main goals should be to promote yourself as the expert authority in your particular field. You accomplish this primarily through name recognition. Writing articles and hosting seminars are great ways to do that. No other tool at your disposal however, will reach more people than the internet. Utilizing a website and optimizing that site will reach
more potential clients than anything else you do. If you are an independent sales person like myself, design a logo for yourself or have one done professionally and put it on your business cards and marketing material. Email marketing is also an inexpensive and effective way to get your name and logo out there. Keep in mind that marketing is show casing your products and service but branding is pushing an emotional button in your target market. Sometimes that emotion is positive and sometimes it’s not. The cell phone industry is a great example of this, some consumers are die hard iphone users, some are die hard Blackberry users. We see commercial’s for these phones everyday and Apple and Rim are both pursuing the largest market share they can, but at the end of the day you’re not going to sell every consumer on you or your product. Setting yourself apart from your competitors is crucial to your success in sales.