Putting the business aside, what are YOU — A Commodity or a Brand?

Do not be afraid

As human beings we have a tremendous ability to deceive ourselves.  Jesus taught in parables so that those who thought they ‘knew it all’ wouldn't understand. Within the parable of the Talents the one who hid his talent, choosing not to grow and just continue doing what he had been doing, was cast out as a wicked servant. 

So, the basic of all life lessons is to be a continuous learner, follower and servant leader; each and every one of us, every day.  We stand still we get run over.  Today customers rule, and you either are a brand to your each and every customer, or you are a commodity, period; no in between.


February 4, 2013 Automotive News headline: "'AutoNation' now a brand; who's next?"  Read it, not to hope or wonder how or why your business can't or won't be such a brand.  Mike Jackson's last quote in the article is important: "The hardest thing to do in business is to open up a sustainable competitive advantage." Jackson said: "I'm declaring today that we've done that."  Obviously, that “sustainable competitive advantage is the AutoNation business brand.  Congratulations, good for them!

In the same article, Scott Smith, CEO of Sonic stated: "Branding promotes transparency."  His three words speak volumes.  I would further Scott's sentence this way: "Branding promotes transparency building trust and retention."  

Both Jackson and Smith clearly refer to the branding of their respective business brand, AutoNation, Sonic!  I am not!

Being The Brand

In fact, not to be a point of contradiction, but a complementary declaration for the business doer’s of a business, I make this declaration: “The EASIEST thing to do in business is to open up a sustainable competitive advantage branding persons and teams of people (advisor/technician/sales, everyone) customers choose to remain loyal doing business with ongoing."  

So, what is “the hardest thing to do in business” is actually “the easiest thing to do in business” when, within a bottom-up pulls-up person to customer, team to customer, one team in complete synergy branding movement the branding of the business is principally accomplished  by branding up from the doer’s, team to entire business with every customer and prospect. Let’s explore.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage

It is far easier, far more productive, far more rewarding for all, branding a business person and team with a customer while branding the customer with a person and team.  The “sustainable competitive advantage” for the business is for the business to wrap its arms around the individual and team branding of themselves, team and dealership.  The greatest strength of a business is not the brand of the business but the collective brand of their professional branding people with customers, that truly brands the business with customers and their people.   

While the world right now is fixated on branding business, the people of your business deserve to be welcomed into the brand, for them to freely choose to gain and retain “a sustainable competitive advantage” branding themselves and team --- and business!  This is an ‘everyone wins’ movement.  Why?  Customers want human being relationships with two or more within a business to commit to remaining loyal.  That requires not a business brand front and center, but a personal business person branding initiative.

Predictable, Repeatable and Sustainable

Smith said in the article: “In today’s age, where there is so much information out there, the only thing that really differentiates you is your customer experience…being predictable, repeatable and sustainable…”  Again, he was clearly referring to business brands.  I am not!  I am referring to the business person(s) doing and being this “predictable, repeatable and sustainable.”  If the people do this and lead the way, customers stick and stay with the people, therefore the business, make sense?

Commodity or Brand; You Choose

In a related article in this AN edition, Cheril Hendry states: “If you are not a brand, the only other thing you can be is a commodity and you are only about the lowest price --- even if you win, you lose.”  

Cuts to the core, doesn’t it?  

You, me, every one of us are either a brand or a commodity. Think about this!  This IS how the customer views us.  To the customer each of us is either a brand or a commodity, each of us!  No defining relationship between the business doer and a customer therefore relegates that business person to the customer as a commodity; same for the team, same for the business!    So, the next time you lose a customer over price, look in the closest mirror and say: “I was only a commodity to that customer, as was my team and my business.  I, we and all of us must each become a brand building trust in every customer experience.”  

All of us must face this reality.  If we are without a personal brand, our team is without a team brand.  Together, we are all commodities.  So, no matter what the assumed brand of the business was to the customer, everyone loses being a commodity.  

Is today a good day to gather all Fixed and Variable operations personnel together and ask them individually would they prefer being regarded by every customer and prospect as a brand or a commodity?  Explain it first of course.  It should result in one of those slap-upside-the-head moments for everyone, to look in the mirror and ask: “Am I a winner, or am I a loser?”  A fair analogy to Brand or Commodity, yes or yes?

Customer Experience

Jackson states: “we needed to have created a unique, compelling, peerless customer experience.”  He of course again speaks of the AutoNation brand.  I am not!  Who can best deliver “a unique, compelling, peerless customer experience?”  A business person, or two or more together, professionally branding themselves within best customer experience habits win as a brand, and continue to win more customers over time as a brand themselves.  The brand of the business person will brand the team, proving to far more easily brand the business to “open up a sustainable competitive advantage.”   Will you be a Brand or Commodity still next week, or start this week?     

We cannot stay where we are.  Our lives change for the better when our habits change for the better.  We need each other; we can’t do this effectively alone.    The definition of 1TeamSynergy applies: “the sum of all in oneness working so cohesively together produces far greater results than the sum of all individual efforts combined could ever dream of achieving.”  Think about this.  Act upon becoming the best brand of yourself doing so with others, helping each other, branding one another with others!

Video Branding is about effective time and consistent professionalism

I daily engage, teach, coach and share group best practices using  an all-inclusive 10 video product solution unmatched anywhere to professionally communicate, relate and brand people and business with the customer and prospect.  Here are these 10 video solutions, each with an example:

Video Email (VEM) within branded templates
    Example: Customer sales inquiry; immediately send short personal VEM thanking customer for opportunity to serve them.  Piggy back a library stored short video thank you from a leadership person in your business to further WOW the customer experience thus far.

IPhone, IPAD, Android Video Email on-the-go  within branded templates
    Example:  Service advisor using  smartphone shoots short video edifying the greens and sharing necessary information of the 3 yellows and 1 red from the vehicle inspection, with technician and advisor in video, inserts in seconds to a template of choice, enter email address of customer waiting in lounge, cc manager, click send.  Walk to lounge and review video openly with customer for others to witness and expect to receive same excellent customer experience.

    Example:  At the first stop on a vehicle demonstration the sales pro using their smartphone video’s a walk around of vehicle asking customer all the right questions, records their smiles, loads in seconds into a branding template, fills in email addresses of customer(s) and manager, clicks send.  Validation and transparency builds trust, builds the brand of you and everyone, and the business.  

Video Newsletter (world’s first) within branded templates
    Example:   A branding sales person creates video and text of testimonials and thank you’s once a month to all his customers and prospects within Newsletter video centric.

Video Conferencing within branded templates
    Example:  Out of state customer inquiry on a vehicle, set up live meeting time and send prospect and manager invitation link and time set.  Showcase people (team),vehicle(s) pictures and or videos, then open up video dialog for all to collaborate seeing and speaking with each other.  

Video Live Broadcasting within branded templates
    Example:  Think of this as you live TV show and you have 30 used trucks you are going to showcase and your invitation went out to your entire data base with date and time of live event.  You record and save event and can archive and send customers a link of broadcast. Wow factor moments win.

Video Auto Responders
    Example:  Service advisor scheduled next service appointment with customer.   Advisor sets up Video Auto Responders to go out reminding customer of appointment 2 weeks from appointment, 1 week, 2 days, 1 day; whatever.  Oftentimes the best way to video remind is to just create, set date and time to send and forget about it.

E-Subscription Forms
    Example:  For all the right reasons you can have or create many custom made forms on your website capturing information for any imaginable objective.  Always be giving!  Have Video Auto Responders set to go for every inquiry.  

Video Wall
    Example:  Turn your social media profile into a living 3D-video community, posting videos with one click creating transparency and customer validation. Great for SEO

Video Blog
    Example:  Create an online presence with company background, tutorials, video tours, whatever you can imagine, improving online SEO within branding templates surrounding video!

Video Share
    Example:  Expose your business to new potential customers in multiple demographics.  You can post your branded template video to more than 200 social networking sites with just one click. Imagine your branding possibilities.  

Servant Leadership

This video solutions system is a professional brander’s prospecting and retention-proof gold mine.  This system is a unifying synergizing all-inclusive branding machine for one and many.  Branding templates are as limited as your imagination.  

Let’s not deceive ourselves.  Communicating and relating by phone and email are being rapidly replaced by live video, where validation and transparency builds trust within a brand. Video branding solutions are in our computers and in our smartphones.  Customers prefer communication and relationships with you here in this video solution world.  The question is, will you be this brand, or wait it out as a commodity perhaps until you are too far behind to catch up?  

Be a Continuous Learner

The basic of all life lessons is to be a continuous learner, follower and servant leader in a world today where professionally, ethically and tangibly branding yourself, team and business, proves to better brand the customer with oneself, team and business!  Is this now common sense to you, yes or yes?  In this bottom up pulls up customer-centric experience movement being a brand or a commodity is the #1 choice you must make today.  Choose wisely.  Shall we?

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Comment by Tom Loyalty Coach Wiegand on February 14, 2013 at 8:16am

Thank you, Marsh.  In our business world it is vitally important to acknowledge, accept and prepare professionally, that besides the team, company, business and industry, every individual is an asset or liability, and the brand of the individual represents the brand of the team, company, business and industry.  Becoming a highly reputable brand must become every individuals resolve.  Five years from now there will be no need for sales people that rely on the "UP."  Customers don't want to be an "UP."  Customers want relationships.  And these relationships will be with those well-branded individuals that are respected within the business and community as the "go-to" person for validation, transparency, and totals selfless servant leadership.  Lead the way, my friend, lead the way!

Comment by Marsh Buice on February 14, 2013 at 4:54am
Tom, you make some great points and we should all take notice of this. You listed numerous ideas of how we may differentiate ourselves- many may get overwhelmed at the possibilities but I would suggest pick something an start there. Success begins by starting. You can't be different thinking like everybody else- it's time we color outside of the lines. Great share!
Comment by Tom Loyalty Coach Wiegand on February 7, 2013 at 4:15pm

Thank you, Chris!

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