Know your customer.
Know your customer.
Know your customer.
Since day one, you’ve been beaten over the head with those three words.
And while they’re important, there’s actually something bigger at stake:
How well do your customers know you?
ANSWER: Not enough.
And if you think you don’t have customers, look harder. Everyone has customers. And they need to know who you are, where you are and why you are. Otherwise your message fades into the echo chamber with the rest of the noise.
Ultimately, it’s a question of trust, which is a function of self-disclosure. That’s a basic tenant of human communication, first researched and proved by psychologists like Sidney Jourard and John Powell.
But you don’t need to read books to know how trust works. In fact, that was one of the first realizations I encountered in the early days of wearing a nametag twenty-four seven: Strangers trusted me more once they knew my name.
Not that much more. It’s not like they gave me their ATM passwords or anything.
But there was enough additional trust to be noticeable.
It was weird. I didn’t really do anything. Just wore a nametag that said, “Scott.”
AND THAT’S THE SECRET: When trust is the only currency that counts – and it is – if your customers don’t know you, you lose.
It’s not about nametags – it’s about making yourself more knowable.
1. Communicate yourself to the world. Branding is finished. Not as an idea, but as a word. I don’t care what industry you work in. It’s not about branding – it’s about identity. The best and highest version of yourself.
And it’s not about company name – it’s about constitutional knowledge. The non-negotiable values and decision-making mechanisms that drive your daily world. That’s what customers want to know: Why you are, who you are and who you aren’t.
If you’re not communicating that to the world with consistency, intimacy, honesty and immediacy, your customers will pick someone else. Somebody cool. Somebody transparent. Somebody they feel like they already know.
I’m reminded of my friend Harlan, who owns a production company. He once told me, “Video is the second best way for people to meet you.”
What about you? Other than in person, how else are you enabling people to meet you? From online profiles to multimedia introductions, the opportunities are endless. What’s more, the tools to execute them are affordable and accessible. What are you using to make your identity more knowable?
2. Photography is priceless. A picture doesn’t just say a thousand words – its earns a thousand dollars. Literally. In my experience, a cool, interesting, unique and brand-consistent headshot has the power to book new business, secure media interviews and capture the eyes, hearts and wallets off the masses.
But only if you do it right. Only if you pay a real photographer real money (like Bill Sawallich, who I use) to capture the real you. Otherwise your headshot comes out as the same bland, fist-to-chin, Sears Portrait Studio tripe that every other amateur uses on the profile of her Facebook page. Blech.
On the other hand, when your pictures rock, the world doesn’t just pay attention – it pays dividends. For example, I’ll never forget the time I gave a speech in Biloxi, Mississippi. While commuting from the hotel to the conference center, I unexpectedly drove past my own headshot on a highway billboard.
I was so stunned that I nearly swerved off the road. Talk about surreal. But apparently my client loved the picture so much; she wanted to share it with the entire city. And I was happy to let her. Is your headshot billboard worthy?
3. Emphasize your expanded role. Do your customers truly know all the different ways they can engage your services? Or do they just assume you’re a one-trick pony like everybody else? That’s the secret to helping customers get to know your business:
Transitioning from “Should we hire this guy?” to “How should we use this guy?”
I made this transition a few years ago. My role expanded from some guy who wrote books and gave speeches to a trusted resource. Now my clients use me in seven different ways: Speaking, Facilitating, Books, Online Learning, Rent Scott’s Brain, On-Camera Talent and Private Commissioned Art Pieces.
This not only diversifies my business and positions me as a valued asset, but educates my clients on who I am through the depth of what I can deliver.
Your challenge is twofold: First, physically map out a chart of every single possible way somebody can use you. Second, articulate that diverse offering to emphasize your expanded role. Customers won’t just know you – they’ll know how to use you. How many different ways do you make money?
4. Make the mundane memorable. Sam Walton was the first retailer to require all of his employees to wear nametags. The nametags helped the customers get to know the people they bought from, said Walton.
How do your people get to know you? Here are a few ideas that might stick:
*What if you did video interviews with each of the company executives about their individual leadership visions?
*What if you removed everything from your purse, bag or wallet – spread it out on a table in an orderly fashion – then took a picture of it and posted it on your blog?
*What if, instead of your boring resume, bio or curriculum vitae, you published a downloadable and printable copy your Personal Constitution, Professional Philosophy, Theory of the Universe?
Try one of these strategies to make mundane memorable and show your visitors who you really are. What’s your nametag?
5. Embed your personality into your premises. I once worked at a mom-and-pop furniture store in Portland. The owners leveraged self-disclosure to its fullest extent. You couldn’t step five feet into their store without seeing pictures of their family, nostalgic newspaper articles and personal memorabilia from the early days of the business.
These decorations engaged transient customers, contributed to the personality of the business and brought the store to life. What’s more, there was no doubt in the customer’s mind: You knew who these people were. You knew exactly whom you were buying from. It’s no surprise they averaged fifty million a year.
Lesson learned: Stop telling your customers how you are and start showing them who you are. Especially if you have an office, store, branch or location with high traffic. Take advantage of those eyeballs.
Make sure they don’t leave until they have an accurate picture of who you are and why you are. Make sure they’re clear about what you say you’re committed to caring about. Otherwise they won’t tell their friends about you. What makes your walls come alive?
6. Get over your product and get behind your personhood. In a recent blog post, cartoonist Hugh McLeod wrote, “Nobody’s reading your blog because of your art. Or because they have an inherent love for purple dogs and green sofas. They’re reading your blog because the person you are inspires them. Not because they’re thinking of buying your paintings. But because the way you approach your work motivates them. It sets an example for them. It stands for something that resonates with them. It leads them to somewhere that they also want to go.”
Lesson learned: Stop explaining who and what and start demonstrating how and why. That’s the ultimate instrument of your expression. Your life. Your being. Your truth. Try writing with that pen.
Customers, readers and fans – that already enjoy your art – will go absolutely crazy when you reveal the unique process behind it. That’s how you get over your product and get behind your personhood. Do you believe that you’re more than just a pretty picture?
REMEMBER: Hiding the true picture of who you are is a form of reputational risk you can’t afford to take.
Look, we live in a low-trust culture. And people will try to discredit you with anything they can find.
But, if you tell them who you are first, you win.
After all, branding nothing more than committing to and acting from the best, highest version of yourself – every day.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How well do your customers know you?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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