Like it or not, if we make a living in the fishing industry, we have a “brand.” Some brands are obvious, like the ones of major manufacturers whose products are seemingly everywhere we look. Other brands may be more subtle, but they’re out there … and they matter.
There are lots of definitions of “brand.” Wikipedia defines “brand” as “a toolbox of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company from competitors and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.”
I think that’s a pretty good definition, but I’m not sure it goes far enough.
For one thing, it doesn’t apply to individuals … though “reputation” could stand in its place. For another, it’s too deliberate, implying that only the “toolbox” of methods matter even though there are a lot more things that go into a brand than the intentional aspects of branding.
If you’re a retailer, your brand is critical. Ultimately, it’s a big part of what your customers and suppliers consider when deciding whether or not to do business with you.
As an individual, your personal brand determines what opportunities you’ll have in this or any other industry.
I hope I don’t need to convince you that your brand is important. What I want to stress here is that your brand can be capricious and unfair at times — that too often it is created based only on the best and worst parts of us, and that first and last impressions matter more than they probably deserve … and we should always keep that in mind.
Those of us attending ICAST will be meeting a lot of people for the first time.
What can we do to make that experience positive and memorable? Think back to the people who matter in your business and life. I bet you remember meeting them, and I’ll bet you saw it as a positive experience even then. That positive experience was propelled into something more, something good.
What if you started every relationship with an eye to where you hope it will be in a year, five years, a decade? How would you start things off then?
I’m basically suggesting that you start every business relationship as if it was a blind date — not so over the top that you risk scaring them away, but strong, friendly and memorable. What would that do for your business relationships? I bet it would improve them a lot.
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that’s obviously true. The saying implies that first impressions are important. No one in his right mind would argue with that.
I think they’re more important than we realize.
First impressions not only kick off the relationship and give people an idea of who we are as a person or business, but that feeling or attitude usually grows roots. If we like a person or product from the start, it takes significant evidence to the contrary before we change that opinion.
You can probably overcome a lackluster experience or two down the road if you get that relationship started right. But if you start badly, you’ll lose them on the hook-set.
When a new customer walks into your shop for the first time, what are you doing to make that visit great and memorable? What are you doing to create a strong and positive first impression? What are you doing to get that relationship started on a path than will keep it profitable for the next ten years?
Maybe you’re not doing enough.
Let me be the first to admit that I don’t always live up to my own ideals. I can get distracted or lose focus. This is an area I know I need to work on, and it’s important.
First impressions last.