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June 11, 2013. I have had the pleasure of spending time with Rick McPartlin, the CEO of The Revenue Game. Rick gets companies focused on revenue growth and helps to get rid of what stands in the way of profitable sales.

The first question Rick asks is “What is your brand promise?”

This is a great question, and most business people cannot answer the question for their own organizations.

Should a company have a brand promise? The answer is yes. However, face to face with a prospect or a client, ultimately the individual employee is the brand.

The service manager at the dealership says the part is not covered under the warranty. Does that damage the relationship of the brand of auto the client is driving? The answer is yes, most of the time.

The salesperson sells the client. The client knows only the sales person. The route driver delivers the products; the repairman makes the service call. To the person signing the checks, the individual who did the work is the brand; that person is the company.

We get angry or disappointed at a company when we deal with someone who is unprofessional, doesn’t follow through, and makes promises he or she had no intention of keeping.

How can owners and leaders improve their brand, and in turn, strengthen and add value to the company they are responsible for running?

A brand is created by a transfer of trust from the seller to the buyer. It doesn’t matter what is being sold. The more trust there is, the more likely the buyer will buy again and refer others to the seller. This trust serves to enhance the reputation of the brand.

The first step is to create the brand promise for prospects and clients. If the product or service is sold, what is promised to the client? Are the elements of the brand promise worthwhile and valuable to the prospect and client? Can the deliverables be measured? If a promise is meant to be kept, what guarantee is made to that effect?

The second step in building the brand, and something that can never be neglected or forgotten, is that the seller must constantly seek to build on the initial trust that the buyer made in the seller.

The most obvious way to do this is to make certain that the brand promise is kept. “Doing more than is expected” is one way to continue to build trust and another is “never promise more than you can deliver and always deliver more than you promise.”

The third step to improving the brand is by improving the people behind the brand. A big mistake a company makes is putting unqualified people in front of clients. Organizations have their reputations at stake with every prospect or client encounter.

It’s an easy decision to hire someone and believe that person will learn on the job but the cost of doing so can be terribly expensive. Investing in people pays impressive dividends provided the employee is engaged in the work.

The fourth step is to make a continuous effort in company processes to deliver the brand in a more satisfying way for the client. Universities have on-line classes; car rental companies pick clients up at their homes and take them back when the rental is returned; restaurants allow individuals to reserve specific tables for specific times on specific dates.

The protection and enhancing of the brand will never end. It pays to recruit the right individuals and to invest in their education. It makes sense to constantly monitor the brand promise, adjusting where possible. Processes to enhance the client experience must be a constant practice.

Protect your brand, your reputation, because it is more valuable than all the other assets on your balance sheet.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with small and midsize business owners to grow top line revenue. He can be reached at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of

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