How To Hustle Your Brand Without Being Obnoxious
Contributed by Lee Schneider
Congratulations – you’ve created a brand. Your designs are amazing. You’ve sourced your materials. You have your production chain rolling. Take a deep breath, because now you need to sell. It’s time to put your line into the hands and inventories of wholesalers.
For some of us, that brings on a wave of euphoria. (“I love selling!”) For many, a feeling of dread. Talking up your brand might not come naturally to you. It might even get you down. If your brand is already in the marketplace, it might not be getting the traction you want, and you might feel frustrated. Guess what? We can fix this.
Attitude Is Altitude
Marketing takes persistence and stamina, and you can’t nurture those qualities unless you have a great attitude about what you’re doing. Are you proud of what you’ve accomplished? Use that. Are you feeling a little shy about talking up your brand all the time? It would be easy for me to write “get over it,” but let’s delve into that feeling a little bit.
If you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far, then it’s not that much of a jump to be proud to talk it up with others. People sometimes equate marketing with puffery, making the mistake that only exaggeration will do. “We’re on track to do a million in revenue this quarter,” might sound great, but if it is only a boast or wishful thinking, it might not feel so great to trumpet it to everyone you meet. What about being realistic, honest, and genuine?
Your Brand Is A Promise
When you market a brand to customers, you are making a promise to them. Your product will make them feel good, feel part of a cohort or group, be well-crafted or truly different from anything else out there. Any statement you make about your brand has to be true. Why? Brands are about making promises and about trust. You want customers to buy from you the first time because they are curious, and buy from you again and again because they like you and trust the brand.
Sometimes we think of marketers as hustlers, and who can trust a hustler? The quality of brand hustle has to be linked with charisma and likability. Customers must see your hustle as signaling that you’re hard working, creative, and inventive. To be a hustler shouldn’t mean you would be perceived as a huckster. They are not the same thing. Think of any brand you respect and you won’t be able to attach the words “lazy” or “laissez-faire” or “meh” to the owner or spokesperson. You will probably attach words like “passionate” and “creative” to designers, and “problem-solver” and “market visionary” to CEOs.
Shift Your Thinking and Change Your World
If you think about marketing as talking about the thing you love to do, it will be a lot easier to remain persistent. If you think of hustle as being charismatic and working hard, you have it made. Most importantly, do what comes naturally to you, with the least friction and resistance. And if something is not working, be quick to drop it.
Sales Channels that are Fun and Low-Friction
You might be accustomed to think of sales as being really hard. But it doesn’t have to be. Certainly when you market your brand, you have to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. Designers we’ve interviewed say they found success for their brand by literally walking into stores and presenting their product. Everyone should try that. Others find success by “cold calling” retailers and wholesalers. Experimenting with pushing outside the box is good, and you might discover some winning strategies. There are also non-stressful strategies that can help.
Warm Up Contacts with Instagram
A “cold call” is when you call a retailer or wholesaler out of the blue. They know nothing about you, and you might only know a little about them. You can easily turn a cold call into a warm call by first following the brand or rep on social media. Getting to know brands/retailers and their customers is really taking off on Instagram. You might comment on their post, post a reply to their blog, or connect with them on LinkedIn. When you call, they might remember you, and you will have something to talk about.
Making a conversational connection with a retailer or wholesaler is powerful.
Use the advanced search capability of LinkedIn to discover if reps from your target wholesalers are in your first or second circle of contacts. Use the keyword search to see if you happened to go to school with a buyer or belong to the same club or professional association. It’s not as far-fetched as it seems, and you might be surprised at the connections you already have.
You can use a similar technique when emailing buyers – see if you can find something personal to connect on, or seek an introduction from a mutual friend or acquaintance. If you’re feeling technical, you can use an email validator like kickbox.io or reply.io to check emails in advance to see if they are right. Apps like prospectify.io will dig into LinkedIn and give you emails from contacts you find there. You can then reach out in an informed, conversational way.
Contributed by Lee Schneider, a branding expert at Red Cup Agency who is working with Brandboom to introduce the brand to buyers and creators. Brandboom is a wholesale e-commerce platform that makes selling easier. You can create line sheets for your entire product line. And coming this summer, the Brandboom platform will become even more helpful with the addition of artificial intelligence to the platform, which will help match your product line to Brandboom’s extensive database of prospective wholesalers. No matter what tools and tricks you use, remember that hustle is an attitude more than any specific technique. Choose a mix of tactics that stretch and challenge you, as well as strategies that are easier and low-friction. The secret is in the mix, discovering what works for you and your brand, and keeping at it.