By Jeff Beals
“As Walgreen Co. pushes its army of pharmacists into the role of medical care providers, it is bringing them out from their decades-old post behind the pharmacy counter and onto the sales floor.”
That was the lead sentence of a recent New York Times article that caught my attention.
What is so remarkable about this lead, you may ask? On the face of things, not too much, but to me, this is a perfect example of how a major corporation can take advantage of personal branding.
When most people think about personal branding, they automatically assume you’re talking about career advancement or something a salesperson, insurance agent or real estate broker would do in hopes of closing more deals. Certainly, such images fall under the personal branding umbrella. But organizations benefit from personal branding too. Personal branding by employees helps companies make more money and non-profit organizations more successfully meet their missions.
The Illinois-based Walgreens has renovated several stores in order “to get the pharmacist closer to patients,” the article continued.
“It’s not about the product but the care we give.”
Some might say Walgreens’ move is a form of customer service. That’s true, but it is also a form of personal branding.
Businesses large and small must realize that people – their employees – are the portals of profit. In other words, customers like to come into a company through a human being. Personal relationships are the most effective way to land big clients. Personal relationships are even effective in the highly commoditized world in which Walgreens competes. The more a company’s employees are out and about among the public, becoming well known and building relationships with prospective and current customers, the better a company will do.
Too many organizations fear personal branding efforts by their employees. In fact, conventional wisdom says that well-branded employees might be snatched up by competitors. While there is a greater risk of losing well-known employees, savvy companies realize the benefits outweigh the threat of greater turnover. What’s more, my gut tells me that employees who are encouraged to build their personal brands will be happier at work and therefore less likely to leave (even though they would theoretically have more opportunities to leave).
The New York Times article indicates Walgreens is under pressure, because external circumstances threaten future business. The company’s effort to strengthen relationships between pharmacists and customers is an attempt to mitigate that threat.
Organizations need not wait for a threat to tap the latent personal branding power that sits unused on their organizational charts. Now is the time to empower employees. Help employees build their brands and turn them loose as deputized ambassadors. Employees must become famous in their own spheres of interest, so they can become the portals of profit.
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.
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