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Personal Branding that Moves Buyers w/ Libby Gill [Episode 440]

Libby Gill, an executive coach, author, speaker, and CEO of Libby Gill & Company, joins me on this episode. This show dives deep into building an online and offline persona for yourself that motivates your buyers in unprecedented ways.

Key Takeaways

  • Libby started in PR for a small company, and through acquisitions, and “raising her hand,” became a VP for Sony Television. She moved to Universal, and then to Turner. She then decided to start coaching, to help people succeed.
  • Social media has granted easy access to all voices. Professionals really have to stand out to be heard. All your platform exposures need to come from one authentic core. Libby explains the importance of your brand.
  • Technology has facilitated the “instant expert,” who competes with your audience for attention. Learning how to create your strong, consistent brand becomes a real challenge.
  • Having too many options available to the buyer creates confusion. Confusion is the end of the selling cycle. You need to create clarity for the buyer.
  • Libby says any store has dozens of choices for blue jeans, and she would prefer to leave, than to deal with them.
  • Libby asks clients first about skills, strengths, passions, and what their market wants. With that foundation, they build values and content for a forward-looking brand that tells their story in a few seconds. Don’t let others set your brand for you.
  • A brand can involve a slogan, a logo, and your backstory. What you do for other people is your business story. When those are married authentically, then it makes emotional sense to people, and it captures mindshare.
  • Libby cites Starbucks as a multi-sensory 360-degree brand, that surrounds a customer before they even consider their coffee choice. See that your brand hits on multiple levels.
  • Think about your endgame from the start. Know the buyer you want to attract. Chart your steps, customer touch points, and the messages you send, and how you will send them. When should you provide value to the buyer?
  • Libby discusses demographics. The “Moms” and Millennials want to know your advocacy, and they will choose a company making a deep contribution. But don’t paint them all with the same brush.
  • Having a social advocacy resonates with many customers. Gifts can be made as donations in the name of the customer, rather than chocolates or food gifts.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:35  

Hello and welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. Joining me on the show today is Libby Gill. She’s an executive coach, author, speaker, CEO of Libby Gill and Company. Libby, welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing.


Libby Gill  1:18  

Well, I started my career in Hollywood, I worked in the studios for almost 20 years. I started in the PR department of a company that had been founded by Norman Lear, who’s really a legendary guy. And thinking, Wow, what a great opportunity working in this small mid sized company and you know, great chance to get your hand into everything. And then that company was very quickly purchased by Columbia Pictures and then Coca Cola and then Sony, and I have found chaos is very good for opportunity. So I just kept raising my hand and in five years, I went from being an assistant at the PR Department of Norman’s company to being Vice President of Publicity, advertising and promotion in Sony’s worldwide Television Group. And I went on from there to Universal and Turner Broadcasting where I headed up public relations, corporate communications and then decided in I’ve kind of done that I’ve worked on a million different shows, I was always on the TV side of the business, and decided I would do what I love the most, which was helping people succeed. So I studied up then took my skills that I had learned in the corporate world and became a first time entrepreneur in my mid 40s.


Andy Paul  3:26  

Well, one of the topics I want to talk about today, because you work with your coaching business, you work with people on this idea of personal branding. And this has really become a hot topic over the last year or two as certainly as you know, the growth of the internet, social media and so on. The need for people to create that personal brand, a digital brand, if you help with some degrees for both professional and personal level, I mean, or at least one that’s congruent between the So why do you have to be coming to the fore so much these days?


Libby Gill  4:06  

Well, I think I think you nailed it in terms of social media and the internet. There’s so many people out there now that we have access to us that we have access to that are just on the radar. And, you know, that’s sort of good news, bad news. I have mixed feelings about the overnight celebrities and citizen journalists and all those things. I mean, there’s a place for all of that. But it makes for experts and real thought leaders and serious business people really have to stand out. They really have to delineate who they are, what they do for who they do it in a way that is catchy, and thoughtful. It’s hard to be pithy and thoughtful at the same time, but that’s really the challenge, so that you can establish yourself in all these situations, because who you are in a live presentation or a small meeting versus Twitter. Facebook, you know, wherever you show up Instagram, a podcast, and they all have to come from some authentic core. And yet you have to fashion all those personas slightly differently to fit those platforms.


Andy Paul  5:13  

That’s interesting, the sort of the takeaway, if you will, as someone agrees is that, the technology that we in the world we live in facilitates the rise of the court unquote instant expert, that now becomes noise that makes it hard for a real expert to rise to the surface.


Libby Gill  5:31  

It does, and at the same time, it’s a good thing that we can now edit a movie or create a symphony and all of that from our own laptops. So we’ve been afforded all sorts of possibilities that didn’t exist a decade ago. And that’s a great thing, I think, but it does. It enhances that sort of sense of add that so many of us have, that there are all these mediums and all these things that we want to devote time and attention to and we are so scattered, that learning how to create that consistent brand that can be strong enough, attractive enough catchy enough and yet reach your core audience we reach the right people, it becomes a real challenge. It can be very difficult to figure out, you know, in this world of infinite possibilities and connections who am I?


Andy Paul  6:22  

That’s absolutely true. When I think about this, a large portion of the audience is a sales audience. And you know, the branding, as you talked about standing above the noise, really essential because at the company level, at the product level, there’s so much noise now and it’s so easy for technology be copied, brought to market quickly, the people are confronting more and more sellers to confronting more and more competition out there. But really, that first line of differentiation is really them as the individual in the mind, Mind’s Eye of the buyer. So you have the need to be able to know when to dig into this. How do they build this brand? That’s about being the trusted adviser, being a value creator, being a problem solver for their customers.


Libby Gill  7:09  

Right and there’s so many different ways that people do this. And I think the biggest part of the challenges is you have so little time to establish that certainly online. And you know, we’ve all heard that people come to your website and they’ll give it three seconds before they decide if they’re going to stick around and read a blog or bounce to something else. And it’s interesting, there was a great study about options and lots of options. Having some options is a great thing living in a world where we’ve got options and we were joking in the one percenters we’ve got a lot of options available. Having too many options can just shut people down. And certainly you know, this is a sales expert. A few options, great thing that lots and lots and lots of options. You just confuse your customer and you leave them not knowing where to even begin. And of course confusion is the end of the sale is the selling cycle you want to be clear and consistent.


Andy Paul  8:11  

Yeah, why Levin talks about in his books the paradox of choices is just using salad dressings as the example he gave about, you know, when he was growing up, there’s maybe half a dozen selections of salad dressing on the grocery shelf files. Now there could be you know, 10 feet of shelf space with 6 different shelves covering you know, 100 choices.


Libby Gill  8:32  

I use blue jeans, like remember when you would buy a pair of Levi’s. Now you can go into virtually any store, I mean, from a target to a specialty store. And you know, they’re going to be dozens of choices, which to me is like, Oh, forget it. I’ll just hang on to these a while longer. It can really make it difficult if you don’t narrow it down.


Andy Paul  8:57  

So let’s talk about this process. None of building a brand as a trusted adviser, you know, if you’re in sales or some sort of position or you know, your, we’ll call it influence professional, if you will assess people sometimes call it is, you know, how do you develop this persona?


Libby Gill  9:18  

It was brilliant. But it’s interesting I think the closer you come to your own truth, the kind of warts and all who you really are, the more interesting your brand becomes. But of course, you’ve got to think about your end user and your customer. But going back to yourself, I always ask entrepreneurs, especially new ones, if you know, what are your skills and strengths you got to be very clear about what you’re good at. That’s foundational. Next, what are your passions? Because who wants to lock into a career that you don’t really want and if you’ve got multiple services, no or products, I’m more of a service person than I am. I work much more with experts than I do physical products. You’ve got to understand Stand is, is what are your passions? What are your strengths and skills? And then finally, what is the marketplace? One from me? What do they truly want that you have to offer? And that’s the very beginning. I mean, I think some people when they come to me they think their brand is about my website and my logo and my company name and of course, it is about all those things. But if you haven’t nailed it, who am I? What do I do? How do I deliver it? And who is my ideal customer first, it’s really hard to express your brand in a meaningful way. But let’s assume you’ve nailed that. You’ve got that, then it becomes looking at, you know, how do you make those expressions of your brand and and everybody’s got their version of the elevator pitch, I tend to think of your value statement. What is it I do for others? And if you can very simply fill in the blanks of you know, my name is we all get that question that we think is not coming but whether you’re sitting next to somebody on an airplane or you’re at a conference, somebody is not many people are going to say, so what do you do? And, and even though we know it’s coming, many of us sort of stumble over that. And we’ve got to be able to clarify that value very quickly. without being too clever and too cute. I think sometimes people sacrifice clarity for cleverness. And that never works. I had a client who was essentially a web designer developer who had some online venture is still you know, this long, wordy overly clever title. And at the end of the day, he was a web guy. And had he said, I’m a web guy, it would have made a lot more sense to a lot more people. And granted, you know, there are a lot of people that can claim that so we had to sort of venture on and get into what did that mean for him and how was it different and, and actually, he had a great sort of secret sauce to that because he was a web guy who could design it. Develop your site, but his slogan that he would get into later and as a coach I always listen for, what’s something different, what’s something unique? What’s something I haven’t heard 1000 times. And this guy would say, without all the other elements, the SEO when they you know, the search ability, your site is a billboard in the woods, meaning nobody’s ever going to find you. And that was one thing he had discovered as a web designer that people just didn’t take into account. They wanted this great site, they wanted it to mirror sort of the look and feel and who they were, whether it was whether it was artsy or hard hitting or, or hip or you know, are very solid citizens sort of a look and feel, but they didn’t really think about how am I going to be found and for him, that was what really propelled him forward that he educated his customer on the next step beyond having a great website. So brands should be very formal. Looking there, they’re not positioning you for what you’re doing yesterday and not even today. They take you and your customer to where you’re going next. And I think when people think about that future focus because our world is turning very rapidly and however you feel about where we are in the world today. It changes just as it really is our only constant. And one thing I talk about when I go out and present I work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies as well is that, that the process of change itself, the nature of change is changing. It’s more, it’s more persistent, it’s more rapid, it’s more complex, it’s more complicated than ever, so our brand has to address that. And when you say it, we’re influencers and problem solvers. You’ve got to nail in about five seconds. What is the problem you solve? What is it that you do for other people, and how quickly you can come to that and then the style because there’s Could be, there’s a zillion coaches out there. And what is it they do that’s different from what I do or podcasters? What do you do that’s different and your brand is so readily apparent because even though you’ve got offshoots, it’s all about the sales process. And it’s all the variations and they’re endless, really. But it all comes back to sales. 


Andy Paul  15:19  

No, that’s that’s not the outcome you want. When I think that when your eyes are reading a note as you’re talking, it’s like yeah, you’re your elevator pitch, but it’s almost like you’re coming up with a metaphor. Yeah, if you have a really succinct metaphor he talked about building a website without SEO is like a billboard in the woods. Yeah, pretty. Pretty powerful, right? Mm hmm. Seems like that’s what you’re really to some degree you’re really trying to boil it down to is the put the thought in the say, Okay, how many of you can almost call it a slogan, I guess, but it becomes your story.


Libby Gill  15:59  

And you know, sometimes when I speak about branding, I’ll throw those logos up and ask people for the slogan and it’s, you know, they remember it. You hear that enough, and it’s catchy. And it’s interesting to find out the story behind those logos but your your brand is really your backstories Why do you have this passion? Why do you care about this? Why does it speak to you because that’s really important. And then the front story is really what you do for other people, and when those are married, authentically your backstory in your business story overlaps, and they’re truly one, then it makes sense to people. And that’s one reason I talk about branding is capturing the mind share. It’s really about getting into somebody’s head and heart. And it’s for me and I’m not an SEO person or a you know, I know what I know enough to be dangerous, but I’m no expert in those areas. It’s about emotional connection. And that’s to me what a brand is. And it’s it’s so fascinating. In the past, businesses relied so much on tools like customer surveys, and you know, people standing at the airport with the clipboard asking you questions, or when you come out of a movie have focused as that sort of thing. That’s how we looked at people how they made consumer decisions, and how those decisions formed habits over time. But now we’ve got all this great brain scanning equipment and MRIs and all these things that researchers can really peek inside somebody’s brain. And what they’ve discovered in this sort of neuromarketing science is that people feel first and think second is no surprise. That’s how we’ve stayed alive. That’s how we’ve got our fight or flight syndrome, all of those things, but it goes a step further in terms of marketing. So your consumers may say that they prefer Diet Coke, but their brain and the scans really show that they like Pepsi. And so we’ve got to take into account that this whole brand process is education, and that we’re first appealing to the heart. Because if you don’t get people on that field first, that emotional basis, you’re not going to get to the business level.


Andy Paul  18:25  

Yeah. And that’s what really then especially in a business to business sales environment. And this is really so critical. I’ve written about this in both my books so far as that moment that you actually encounter somebody that the perceptions are being formed and the reading formed at a subconscious level. I mean, those think like scientists called pre cognitive processing where you’re forming a perception of someone without even being aware of it. It takes place within a quarter of a second, right? So that’s pure emotion right there.


Libby Gill  18:56  

I mean, Starbucks for years. It said, it’s not about the coffee, it’s about the community. But once and of course, that’s true. And they built this cafe community in the US that didn’t really exist here. And now interestingly, even though they’ve cloned it from European cafes, and that sort of thing, Starbucks is taking over in some of those areas as well. But one thing they do well from the get go, is sort of a multi sensory 360 kind of brand so that the Starbucks logo now is recognizable by toddlers. You really have to look at it. It’s sort of like the McDonald’s arches. You they know what that big green circle with that sort of lady figure is and it’s so recognizable and then you open the door and as adults, we get that in immediate rush of, of all of the senses, we hear the coffee grinder we hear the music they’re playing, you smell the coffee, you the banter with the people. I mean, it’s across the board, it hits every sense before we even think about what’s my coffee choice? Or why am I here? It’s a good feeling. Now, if you don’t like coffee and you don’t like that smell or that noise, you walk out and that’s also in the sales process if you know, you don’t want to spend time with somebody who’s not a customer. 


Andy Paul  20:34  

You want them to turn around and walk away to go to the coffee bean or their neighborhood or their house or someplace you walk away from them because they’re not a prospect.


Libby Gill  20:38  

Right. Exactly. So it’s really identifying, establishing and then seeing if your brand hits on all those multiple levels. And that to me is that mindshare piece that has to happen before market share is going to happen. You can’t say I’m going to go after this customer and hit them over the head with all of my fabulous skills and benefits which of course have to come in. But as you said, not until you’ve gotten past that first moment of connection.


Andy Paul  21:05  

So getting down to this level about sort of detail about building the brand and you know, we talked about digital earlier as. So as you’re working with your clients and you’re helping with this, what do you see us are no more frequent pitfalls you see them running into when they start taking a sale, and I started the personal realm out into the social realm.


Libby Gill  21:28  

I think people don’t think about their end game early enough. And if you’re gonna go to the trouble, the expense to build a social platform and your website and all of those things. It’s really not just one big end game. Oh, I want to be rich and successful. Like, right, who doesn’t? But what are the steps along the way? Where will you be connecting with customers? What is the consistent message that you’re going to build across all of these brands and I see people coming with who’ve jumped into building The websites starting their social media, putting their editorial calendar all of these things together without thinking, who’s as they like to say in marketing? Who’s your avatar? Who’s your ideal customer who more than anybody do you want to attract? And then backing into how does every piece of your brand connect with that person because of course, it even though that first moment is critical, and doesn’t mean somebody’s going to buy your five or $25,000 program because they like the look or the sound of your voice or the homepage on your website, it is those multiple touch points. And it everyone I see people understanding that they’ve got to reach out on multiple occasions and in different ways. But I think in each touchpoint, whether that’s a tweet or a conversation of phone or direct mail in which people don’t do so much anymore, which is why it’s attractive, again, is that you’ve got to deepen the value. You’ve got to give something additional occasionally something special Pricing something people would pay for that you’re offering for free. I mean, you’ve really got to shower your people with some sort of love and information upfront before you’re going to get their trust and their loyalty certainly.


Andy Paul  23:15  

What do you find that there’s no difference in serving the in different age ranges about the other facility for building the brand. I mean, there’s been another some studies showing that actually, you know, oddly enough like on certain social platforms like LinkedIn and so on those studies show that actually people sort of 45 and older actually, we’re doing a better job of crafting the personal brand online because I understood it was about the personal relationships.


Libby Gill  23:45  

I think LinkedIn skews a little bit older because it’s, it’s more for people who are a little bit more mature, not necessarily I mean, my son has a killer LinkedIn page. And he’s a grad student, but it does make a lot of sense for older people. It’s a lot about networking, professional networking and job search. It’s so much of that. But definitely there are things that appeal to There are obviously a lot of younger people on Snapchat, Instagram, and some of the others you know, and whatever pops up tomorrow that you and I haven’t even heard of yet. Often younger people have but one thing in my book that captured the mindshare did a lot of research on and found really powerful was that the mom community which is very powerful online, there are tons of moms, bloggers, and they’re not just about parenting. They’re about finance and fitness and everything else about health and wellness. And millennials, the youngsters and I’ve got to my own, they really look at what are you doing to save the world and the planet and other people they want to know what your advocacy is, what do you do that’s socially responsible and significant? And all things being equal? Is it about the environment? Is it about hunger? You know, they really want to know where you stand on a lot of these issues. And that’s become a real signature of the millennials and as much as people complain, I mean, I hear from, you know, baby boomers and traditionalists and older managers that you know, want to want to slap their millennials. They feel like they’re so entitled. And that’s sort of painting all of them with one brush.


Andy Paul  25:37  

Absolutely. I mean, personally, as a parent of two millennials, as well as and been exposed to a lot of companies that have been started by millennials. It’s like, yeah, this generation is hardworking and as exciting and as educated as any that’s come before it.


Libby Gill  25:53  

I think so too. And I do find that they’re, they’re deeply committed and I think it’s just been to change in our world in the way in their mindset and the world they grew up in, and millennials grew up with things like terrorism, and ATMs. And you know, God forbid you would get up to change the channel on your television that’s like, you know what our grandparents did. They can’t do that. 


Andy Paul  26:18  

I can remember that.


Libby Gill  26:21  

We were visiting a friend and my son said, Mom, what’s this? And I thought, Oh my gosh, what did he find? It was a typewriter. Yes. And he was a little guy. It was a typewriter. He’d never seen an old fashioned typewriter, which of course, he immediately wanted because it’s like vinyl LPs have come back because there’s this nostalgia that young people didn’t grow up with. So there’s a level of awareness and again, it’s you can’t paint them all the same. Millennials are not all technical geniuses, either. I mean, they certainly grew up with being more adept at technology than many of us because it’s been around since their infancy, but it doesn’t mean They’re all going to be coders. There are many that are interested in social issues or history or all sorts of other things that are sort of in the more in the, the, the liberal arts sort of world than they are in the technology world, but there is definitely a mindset for social interaction online interaction, for taking care of people and planet that doesn’t necessarily exist with the older generations.


Andy Paul  27:27  

Well, I think it’s really an interesting point as you bring out in terms of social responsibility and as part of your personal brand as is Yeah, I mean having a sincere passion for something that’s other than outside yourself, other than yourself. become important in the eyes of many customers.


Libby Gill  27:48  

And one reason several years ago, I switched on my company holiday cards and gift giving that I did. You know that you know the world or at least my customers, they have enough chocolate and can sweets and wine kind of stuff and started doing things that were much more socially relevant and this past year gave away. And people really responded that they were very appreciative and not just the millennials, but people in general, really had a great response to that. And I feel like that’s we’re living in a world where people want to know that you’re, you’re making a difference not just in your customer’s life because they paid you and they expect you to do it. But on a broader scale, that that’s what you believe in and that’s how you act.


Andy Paul  28:59  

Yeah. Very interesting. Well, good. I mean it’s great talking with you. So tell folks how they can find out more about you and get in touch with you.


Libby Gill  29:09  

They can find me pretty easily and keep it simple. It’s LibbyGill.com and I welcome any of your listeners emails, phone calls, all of my information is on my contact page, or they can email me directly.


Andy Paul  29:23  

Excellent. Well, good. Well, thanks again for being on the show.


Libby Gill  29:26  

My pleasure, Andy, thank you for having me. 


Andy Paul  29:29  

And remember, make it a part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your own success. And one way to do this, make sure you join my conversations with top business experts like my guest today, Libby Gill, who shared her expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks for joining me. Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everybody. Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard, and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for more information about today’s guests, visit my website at AndyPaul.com