‘Some people make wearing a bin liner look great – the rest of us need help’

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

WHETHER someone gets a business contract or a promotion – or not – depends mostly on making a good impression and cultivation of a personal brand.

Bletchley-based personal marketing expert Sarah Setterfield of Impact for Success, said actually doing the job represents only 10 per cent of the factors determining whether someone is promoted or not.

She adds that the same principles apply to someone running their own business.

An astonishing 60 per cent of the success x-factor is down to exposure and visibility, having a network of contacts who sing your praises.

The other 30 per cent is image and personal style – including how you come across, your way of getting things done and your attitude.

Sarah, whose home-based business is off Buckingham Road, said: “Being brilliant is not enough – being the best in your field or working harder than your peers are not enough to help you succeed in your career.

“We believe what we see. In a world governed by visual imagery we are inclined to believe the evidence before our eyes. If someone looks professional and trustworthy we are prepared to believe them until they let us down.

“Your appearance is your packaging and part of your personal marketing mix. Appearances do count. You are what you wear.

“Clichés, but true nonetheless. We make snap decisions based on what we see and cling to those decisions.”

For Sarah the secret of success is the well thought out creation of what she calls Brand ME.

She explained: “The smallest details of how you dress and how you project your image and personality act like an advertisement for you. You can either make people want to know more about you or turn them off completely, all before you have uttered a word.

“People will judge you at face value. It is up to you to design your own Brand ME.”

She added that a professional image cannot be put on and off like a coat but must be consistent.

Sarah explained: “Your image matters on a daily basis to everyone you meet. The way you look, sound and behave is going to affect how people resond to you. A good impression will work for you well into the future so the effort is never wasted.

“You have a reputation whether you have crafted it or not, it’s what people say about you when you are not there. Get it right and you have a whole sales team free of charge regularly promoting you!”

Visiting tailor Gary Higson, of Bewdley Grove, Broughton, Milton Keynes., advises people to think of making an impression as being like a political election campaign.

Gary said: “Just look at US President Barack Obama, he doesn’t have to dress to impress, arriving on Air Force One is usually enough.

“But if you look at him on that famous Rolling Stone magazine cover pre-election, his appearance tells you a lot about him. The classic blue suit and white shirt show he is a working man, his bright red tie is making a statement – ‘I am a statesman.

“Think of a job interview as an election campaign. A good candidate for either would not choose their worst suit – ill-fitting, a bit grubby and worn, a greying white shirt with frayed cuffs, odd socks and unpolished shoes and expect to be selected or elected – unless you are Boris Johnson!

“Your clothes should project your values to others and that doesn’t mean they should be loud and colourful unless the person within them is too.”

Gary added: “Using the psychology behind what we wear is a powerful business tool – and it works outside the workplace too. Some people are lucky and can make wearing a bin liner look great. The rest of us need all the help we can get!”

And once you’ve got that big contract or brand new job, it then becomes a question of making that 10 per cent count – but that is a different story.

> Sarah can be contacted by email on sarah@impact4success.com or visit www.impact4success.com

> Contact Gary via gary@garyhihigson.co.uk or visit www.garyhigson.co.uk