Elinor Stutz

Elinor Stutz

If what they say is true about needing 10,000 hours of experience in something to become an expert at it, then we’ve got the perfect Plan B: an interview with an expert that takes only 10 minutes to read.

This time we’re welcoming international speaker, author, trainer and CEO of Smooth Sale, Elinor Stutz. Elinor has devoted her life and career to winnowing out outdated, pushy ideas in favor a building a brand reputation for integrity. Can a personal brand that’s synonymous with being nice really work as well as aggressive tactics? Elinor thinks so, and she’s rather convincing.

A truly life-changing experience sent you in a new direction, and one that seems to be very rewarding. Do you believe that a person needs a fundamentally altering moment to find a better path?

My experience with a broken neck was a wakeup call to help communities during the remainder of my life. But I certainly hope no one else suffers through anything similar. However, discerning observers of life may immediately learn from the experiences of others. When we let information synthesize with what we already know, we may then embrace the pieces that speak to us loudest to make our personal desired change and rewrite our destiny.

Can you offer some marketing and branding techniques for building a reputation of integrity?

Integrity begins with self-introspection and reflecting on principles for life and business. Once principles are defined, you are able to differentiate services from everyone else in your field. Convert these into mission statements and all other verbiage.

Consistency is key in all you do. People meet you, in person or see your name in print, and they will recognize everything you stand for. This becomes your personal brand. The next step is to get your brand recognized through multiple mediums such as tweets, postings, videos and profiles. Offer services from a place of helping others. Upon networking, ask another if they would be interested in having a private conversation to find ways to help one another. Rarely will anyone turn the offer down.

How can social media help with branding and networking?

Social media is my dream come true in that it leveled the business playground. It is no longer just about the good ol’ boys network or the rich and famous. Anyone wanting to make a difference and aspire to higher achievement is able to when they know the better techniques.

Be helpful and generous by sharing content you know your audience needs and wants. So whether through tweets, a blog, postings or video, give away samples of your knowledge 75% of the time. The other 25%, provide a link for where you would like your intended clientele to visit. Your sound advice builds trust.

Another aspect of generosity is to answer questions of your followers and thank each person individually for sharing your information. Most people do not take the time, so this strategy helps you stand out.

When others see your personal brand of integrity in action and enjoy the information you share, they will propose offers of collaboration. This is key for reaching larger audiences. Prior to an agreement, circle back to your priorities and principles to be certain the asking party is in alignment with yours. Everyone with whom you partner, hire or affiliate has to have similar priorities to maintain personal brand integrity.

Selling today is the exact opposite of the old-style push selling. Social media perfected the sales cycle. My favorite saying is, “when you combine old-fashioned etiquette with new age technology, you have a winning combination.”

Will customers see through “integrity” if it’s really just a marketing ploy?

Those out to quickly make money and move on will continually seek new clients. This gets tiring and these people usually go out of business.

When a business owner cares about clients and shows it by delivering beyond expectations, then checks to see how that client is enjoying the service, that’s the time rave reviews come about. This is the time to ask for testimonials, referrals, and permission to check in on occasion. This leads to making a Smooth Sale.

You’re being nice and building relationships when a red-faced customer appears out of nowhere. Aside from ruining your whole day (and anyone else’s who might be within earshot), how much of a reputation impact does a seriously unhappy customer make?

When a problem arises, immediately focus on resolving it. The most important piece is to let the angry person talk until there is nothing left to say. Once understood, the client will be receptive to a solution. Now the two of you can move forward. Done well, you will still receive the repeat business, referrals and testimonials.

Can you offer any other morsels of advice that anyone can use in their quest for becoming a better, nicer and more respected businessperson?

Find the joy in your work because when you do, it comes through all of your communications attracting even larger audiences. Most importantly, you will enjoy your journey and recognize greater accomplishment. Looking back, it will all seem as if it were a Smooth Sale!

So working toward a better understanding of customers and seeing to their needs really can make a difference. Thank you, Elinor, for spending a few minutes sharing your “nice guy” (and nice girl!) insights with us. You can learn more about Elinor and what makes her methods work so well by checking out one of her books, Nice Girls DO Get the Sale, Hired!, and Inspired Business.

Carole Oldroyd is a freelance writer whose work focuses on branding, content and many other topics.