The Value of Personal Promotion

You might think that more business is important to anyone who sells for a living. That is usually the case, but, as it turns out, not always. The fact is, there are those business people who use the approach, "What I have is just enough, I don't need more it doesn't really matter." This group could include salespeople, clerks or business owners. I hope it's not you, and I hope it's not anyone in your showroom.

I went looking for an over-the-range microwave oven a few days ago. I had a good idea of what I wanted, and it came down to price, service and immediate availability. As with most customers, I wanted to be able to talk one-on-one with a salesperson, so I could learn about features and benefits, while making comparisons with other makes and models. I also didn't want to feel like I was paying too much. My purchase had to be from someplace I felt was reliable if I had a problem, I wanted to know it would be fixed quickly. I didn't want to wait two weeks to get it in my house, I wasn't going to buy it from a catalog and I wasn't going to order it on-line. I ended up at Sears.

The salesperson was a young lady named Olga. Olga was definitely not the "pusher" type, but she knew the various models inside out. What she didn't know, she brought up on her computer and gave to me in print. I liked Olga. Her English wasn't great, but her tenacity, personality, and direct approach made up for any lack in communication skills.

Like any good customer, I ended up by saying, "I'm going to look around; I'll be back." She replied with, "Hold on, let me check something in my computer. We are having a one-day-sale two days from now. You can save $50. No one else will tell you that, so perhaps you'll come back and ask for me." Well, I came back two days later, asked for Olga, and bought the microwave with all the bells and whistles.

As I left the store, I asked for her card, in case I wanted to come back for a new refrigerator. Olga told me she didn't have cards; Sears didn't give her any, and as she put it, "What's the point? Customers either buy or they don't." I took great pride in telling her I had written a book on personal promotion and business cards and would send her a copy. She said "I don't need business cards, I just need to sell the customers who come in."

Olga has her own comfort zone, and personal promotion is not important to her. She relies on walk-in traffic. So what if Olga really wanted to get her name out there and build up a database of her own? Guess what it will never happen. Not the way she currently operates.

That's the difference between selling just enough to make a living and selling a lot more than "just enough." This is what separates clerks from sales people the ability to generate business on their own.

Now, if you wait or rely on customers to find you on their own, that's okay too. Customers who seek you out are an easy sell. But if more business really matters to you, you can do something about it starting right away.

Creating business

Concentrate on getting your name out there. Don't rely on your company to create traffic or supply customers. Have people come in to see you personally.

Since I wrote Here's My Card, salespeople and business people have been sending me their cards and ideas for promoting themselves. The file is starting to overflow. One gentleman wrote asking for a signed copy. I sent him the book, as well as one of my cards. He then wrote back and included his business card. It had a peel-off sticker on the back, so he could adhere the card to any surface he wanted to. One of his ideas was to stick it to an envelope as the return address label. This way the recipient had all of his information, and if the envelope sat on a desk, other people would see his card. It's a great idea.

I also received a lot of business cards with interesting titles other than "sales manager," or "assistant v.p." I saw titles like "head art gal," and "director of interplanetary sales," and I came across a number that read "el grande queso" (the big cheese). The idea, of course, is to generate some conversation when handing out a card, to get people to like you and to feel good about spending money with you.

It's great to have the ability to get people to laugh with you. There's a real art to appearing nice and always having a smile on your face, even when you don't always feel like doing it.

One of the better ideas I've received was from a lady in New York. She's a speaker on change and team-building, as well as a magician. Her business card is a playing card. When asked for her card, she pulls three playing cards out of her pocket, face up. There are two black cards with a red card in the middle. She then turns them face-down and asks the recipient to pull out the middle card. The diamond or hearts playing card suddenly becomes her business card! It's terrific. I thought it was so creative that I had plenty of sets made, along with instructions. You can easily be a hit at your next social event and promote your business at the same time by simply trying this trick.

Promoting yourself starts with business cards, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways to get your name out there, spending little or no money. I've discussed a few of them in this article; I discuss more of them in my book. What can you come up with? To help you get started, I'll send you your very own "turn a playing card into a business card" trick. Simply send a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) along with your business card to: Creative Selling/Business Card Trick; 120 Walton St., Suite 201; Syracuse, NY 13202.Bob Popyk is publisher of Creative Selling, a monthly newsletter on sales and marketing strategies. He is the author of the book, How to Increase Your Kitchen & Bath Business by 25% Starting Next Week!, available through the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and is a speaker at various industry events, including the National Kitchen & Bath Conference. For a free sample of his newsletter, call (800) 724-9700 or visit his Web site at