Success can be achieved through revenue, viewership, the number of social media followers, the prominence of certain businesses, and so much more. How we define it is subjective.
In a sea of brand builders, readers often stumble across successful business brand builders who dove into unknown waters with the purpose of providing extraordinary service for businesses that need to be heard.
Patti Reilly is one of those extraordinary brand builders. Women On Topp spoke with Reilly about her experiences as an incredibly motivated, business-minded woman.
Tell us in your own words about yourself:
As a former home shopping tv host & on-air spokesperson, I have worked with thousands of inventors & entrepreneurs and have presented alongside celebrities like Suze Orman, Lori Grenier, Joan Rivers, Tony Robbins and Jessica Simpson. I have sold tens of thousands of products that include: computers, vacuum cleaners, skincare, fashion, jewelry, electronics and even a trip on the luxury cruise liner, the Queen Mary 2. You name it, and I’ve probably sold it!
Today, I work as a Brand Strategist & Business Coach working one-on-one with both businesses & personal brands to help them identify their signature brand personality and unique points of difference, allowing them to craft their messaging directly to their dream clients. I offer an 8-week Brand Strategy Course, inspired by my Built for Connection Guidebook, that walks participants through a thorough brand building framework via video tutorials and supporting exercises. I’ve launched thousands of new brands, helping them grow from the ground up by giving them and their products a voice & story that rises to the top and resonates with their ideal customer.
I hold a BA degree in Speech Communication and have a background in corporate coaching. I am also certified as a Mindfulness Coach Practitioner.
Since working with major brands, what advice would you give someone aspiring to work with the same type of clients?
Show them how you add value, don’t just tell them! Leading with “how they win” by working with you is always a great place to start. I am writing a proposal now for a client that reached out to me looking for advice and a possible partnership on a major rebrand. My criteria for outlining a proposal like this is to find out as much as I can about the company history, current partnerships, and vision for growth, as well as conducting a competitor audit. But more than that, I’m able to offer a fresh “consumer perspective” of their brand and offer honest feedback based on what I see by walking through their current collateral. I also prioritize personal attention and fostering a relationship of trust with my clients by encouraging open communication so that both parties feel good about the partnership. Regardless of how big or well-known a brand or company is, there are actual people behind the brand – and people in general respond to honesty, passion, and ambition. By showing your prospective client that you have the commitment and drive to take their business to the next level, you’ll stand out and make an impression that could lead to an amazing partnership with your dream client.
What’s your vision for the company in the next 5 years?
I love this question and I pose it to my clients as well! I see Built for Connection becoming the go-to Brand Building Academy for all types of businesses and personal brands across the globe. We’ll be known for helping people & businesses get clear & confident on who they are, what makes them unique, and how to authentically connect with their ideal audience. I’ll have a variety of online courses, as well as a team of training specialists, offering one-on-one coaching, advising on best brand building practices or rebranding initiatives, and enhancing the customer experience. My overall goal is to help people & businesses connect with each other. Behind every “business” there are people – I want to help businesses “humanize” their brand across all consumer touchpoints. Even making minor changes in the look & language of a brand can have a major impact on the community they want to engage.
Tell me one thing in your studies that you learned that will stick with you forever?
Benefits trump features all day long! Whether it’s a product or a service, the customer always wants to know WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). When you approach your audience with a benefit or a win for them, the more successful you’ll be. I coach my clients to focus on “the outcome” for the customer. For example, we dive deep into Buyer Personas by building out what a day in their life looks like: What does an average day look like before using your product or service? List all of the pain points. Then, the after: How does their day look now, after using your product or service? And this is where measurable transformation occurs- whether it’s saving them time, money, or giving them peace of mind. Focus on benefits to the customer, features are secondary!
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken and what in you has prompted the risk-taking?
The biggest risk I ever took was abandoning everything that was comfortable and familiar to me to take on a new role that I had zero experience in: on-air Show Host at QVC. I gave up a lucrative career, sold my home, said goodbye to family & friends, and moved out of state on my own with absolutely no guarantee that the job was mine (new Show Hosts have a 3- month probation period) or that I would even like it. It was a make or break situation and I went into it determined to succeed. I took the risk because I wanted more for my life and QVC was my opportunity. And I’m happy to say, the risk paid off.
What are some of your favorite things about what you do?
I love helping people see their business or personal brand through the customer’s eyes. It’s always fascinating to me how as human beings, when we’re immersed in something, we see it differently than someone on the outside. I read a quote recently that says: “Sometimes it takes a professional outside of your business to actually see your business”. That’s exactly what I do for my clients – I help them to see what the customer sees and advise them to make all important business decisions from that place, and success will inevitably follow.
We know that you are a great storyteller! What is the one tip for compelling storytelling you would give to entrepreneurs who are interested in personal branding?
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. The more you are willing to open up and share both the highs and lows of your journey, the more relatable you become, and the more people will trust you. When I cover Brand Storytelling with clients who are new to personal branding, I encourage them to take notes and record their journey from “behind-the-scenes”. Regardless of whether or not they choose to publicly share the more intimate or challenging aspects of their story, it’s so valuable to have and they won’t ever regret documenting it. I wish I had documented my journey from Training Specialist at a casino in Connecticut, to on- air Show Host on QVC! I recant it fondly, but it would have been amazing to share video recordings as a reminder to myself and my audience that anything is possible.
At what point did you know it was the right time to work as a brand builder?
Soon after leaving QVC in 2011, I was contacted by a well-known beauty company who wanted to hire me as a media trainer for one of their Brand Ambassadors. They wanted me to prepare them for the on-air experience by doing mock sells and instructing them on best practices for a live tv sell. In my experience as a Host, I learned early on that guests have a tendency to over-share every aspect of their business when they’re on the air – they want to speak to the fact that it was made in their garage, with their brother & sister, and that the neighbor tried it & loved it, so here they are, and on and on…. and it eats up the average 6- 10 minute time frame they were allotted, without the customer ever truly understanding how they benefit from the offer. As a Host, I learned to speak in bullet points, or deliver what I call the “movie trailer” version of a product. Customers appreciate bite-sized content that they don’t have to work hard to figure out, and yet clearly highlights the benefits to them. Once I realized how successful this strategy was, I decided to dig deeper into all aspects of branding and now offer a complete brand building strategy that works for every type of business. If I can sell a $3k mattress on tv in less than 10 minutes, anything is possible! I enjoy helping people overcome perceived obstacles in brand building by simplifying their message. Being a Brand Strategist is a great fit for me and I love it!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I would say, be flexible, open-minded, and ask yourself customer-oriented questions along the way. My business motto is “think like the customer you are”. When you look at things through the consumer lens everything changes! How does what you’re building or selling look or sound like then? Where is the value to the customer? Is it obvious to them? Are you telling them, or showing them how their lives could be better by doing business with you? Also, remember to not take feedback personally- especially if it’s coming from a professional or a trusted member of your inner circle. If they’re willing to give you advice about your business based on what they see or feel, chances are likely that their perception is shared by other people. I advise routine brand audits to make sure you’re on the right path with your brand identity – send out customer surveys or create voting polls where customers can actually weigh-in on a new logo, product formulation, or even a name for your brand! Customers love to get involved and be part of the experience.
What would you say are the essential qualities for success in your industry today?
For anyone in the coaching industry, I believe that being clear on who you are and what you stand for are critical components for success. Defining your top values is a great way to start. Do this by creating a list of all the things you believe in and stand for, as well as an opposing list: things you won’t tolerate or support. When you do this simple activity, it helps you get much clearer on your brand identity while also revealing your top qualities. It also helps carve out the qualities and characteristics of your ideal client. It’s been both my personal and professional experience that when you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. If you pride yourself on being a thoughtful, inspiring coach, let your audience know via your messaging and content. The more you stay true to who you are and what you believe in through consistent messaging & visuals, the better chance you have of connecting with customers that share the same or similar values.
Do you have any suggestions for enhancing Customer Experience?
Customer Experience is everything these days! I think we all know as customers ourselves, that if we’re unhappy with a product or service for whatever reason, we’re literally one Google click away from millions of other options. Choice is everywhere, so it’s imperative that businesses look for ways to enhance the customer experience, otherwise they’ll just blend into the background. I challenge my clients to think about the customer experience by writing a Brand Promise. A Brand Promise is the value or experience a customer can expect to receive anytime they do business with you. By asking yourself questions like: What is it that we can offer our customers that no one else can? What can we promise to deliver on? What can we do differently than our competitors that the customer will appreciate? Ideas might range from expedited shipping & handling, better pricing or overall quality, or something meaningful like one-on-one customer support or lifetime guarantee. I personally promise my customers a bespoke brand building experience and access to me for any questions. I have customers from several years ago who reach out to get my thoughts on a new logo, package design or even a product formulation, since I specialized in beauty & skin care for many years. The goal for every business should be customer loyalty. I also encourage my clients to add a personal touch whenever and wherever they can. Personalization is a way to stand out and make your customers feel seen and valued. Something as simple as a handwritten “thank you” note or shout-out on social media sends a clear message to your community that you’re listening and that you care.