Consultant Marketing Focus

I was in the Army. I should have learned then. I didn’t.

I volunteered.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t done it before. That was years ago for the organization. A whole new set of officers had come and gone for the local chapter of a national organization. The only one I knew from before is the current chapter president. They had no one in the Marketing director slot and I could tell from the communications that the President was drowning.

I said I would build a strategic marketing plan and supervise the tactical implementation on the agreement that my Virtual assistant would be paid for the work I would ask her to do to get the organization on a scheduled basis.

A simple question

I asked in an e-mail, “Do we have a web site, an e-mail service and a way to register people for events and any social media that the chapter uses?”

Sounds simple, right? Should take a yes or no and if yes than a time to connect in a phone call to convey the username and password.

Should is the operative word. There was no website so I was asked to join the President on a Zoom call. I listened as he connected with GoDaddy to get a cheap web site that would be sufficient to the chapter’s needs. That took two hours between explaining why a personal site would not work, waiting for a connection to GoDaddy and his exploration of how to save money by using personal credits.

Stop writing in code!

He agreed to send me the connection details (User name and Password) for the new web site, Mail Chimp and EventBrite accounts as well as the social media accounts. I agreed to take part of my Sunday evening to begin work on the web site. I could not get into the site to begin the design process.  The information he had sent was minus one letter in the password. Rather than call him after 10:00 PM on a Sunday I sent an e-mail stating the problem.

The following morning he sent an entirely different password. That didn’t work either. I decided to call him, request the data and try it while I had him on the phone. He insisted on sending me e-mails in a kind of code and then talking me through how to decode the information to get into the applications. Two hours later I had the basic information I needed. Then we started on the same merry go round for social media. Somehow he set up a new twitter account while we working through decoding how to get into the Linked In and Facebook accounts.

Can I hire you?

He asked me that as we were wrapping up Having spent nearly a day’s time total just getting to the point where I can begin to try to straighten things out, You can understand why I was hesitant to respond.

I queried his reasons for asking. His practice has declined and he has lost some clients and some he was assisting in succession/buyout were slowed because of the Covid.Pandemic.

He noted that his volunteer position in the chapter was eating a lot of his time.

There was a long silence when I told him my absolute minimum fee and noted that I worked only with a handful of elite consultants on a retainer basis.

Focus I said.

  1. “You let me worry about marketing the chapter. Forget it until you get a plan from me to evaluate.
  2. Shift your attention to assuring your paying clients are getting the service they expect and then some.
  3. Pick up the phone and call past satisfied clients. The script you should use is:
  4. I’m just checking in to make sure you have your plans in place as we go into 2021
  5. If not, you know I understand your busines from our past work together. I may be able to help you get to answers more quickly.
  6. Glad all is going well. I have some time available right now. Is there anyone you know that I could help? I’d appreciate a referral.
  7. Sounds like an interesting situation. Why don’t you invite them to lunch on me with the two of us or a joint Zoom call if we can’t get together because of Covid regulations.
  8. Let your former client talk about how you deal with the kind of problems the referral has.
  9. When he or she has made it clear you can handle the situation, suggest that you meet with the referral source at his/her office to gather the information it will take for you to put together a value-based proposal

Focus

Never forget consulting is a business. No matter how much you want to help people. No matter how much you want to change the world. No matter how good volunteering makes you feel. You still have to pay the bills. You still have to get results. The outcome of your efforts needs to be a net gain in revenues as well as social capital.

If you’re time isn’t sellin’ out your practice is shellin’ out..

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Doveryay no Proveryay

Jim sent a link.

I was for an article in the New York Times. In it the writer, Bret Stephens summed up his concerns under this headline: Donald Trump and the Damage Done

The key

As Mr Stephens put it, “Trump was a corrosive. What he mainly corroded was social trust — the most important element in any successful society.” Near the end of the article he noted why Trust was his choice in explaining his views. He quoted from an article written by Statesman George Shultz published in the Washington Post on the occasion of his 100th birthday:

 “When trust was in the room, whatever room that was — the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room — good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details.”

Consider that simple but powerful observation from a Marine who came back from the Pacific theater and served in 4 different cabinet posts for three US presidents.

Trust is the coin of the realm

Not my words. His. An elegant summary to a century of observation:

  • As a child he came from a loving home where Trust was a constant.
    Did you learn Trust at your parents’ knees?
  • As a Marine he lost the man he trusted with his life, his sergeant. Those of us who have served know the bonds of battle. Like George they inform our views for the rest of our lives.
  • As a graduate student he observed how a union negotiator could get labor and management on the same page by building Trust. Have you thought about how giving a little, seeing the other sides perspective, trusting just a little can make great things happen?
  • Throughout his career in government he saw that genuine empathy is essential in establishing solid, trusting relationships. Can you get into the other side’s mindset? Can you make them understand that you, too, have experienced events that are like theirs?
  • As Secretary Of State he was responsible for the treaty with Russia helping eliminate intermediate-range Nuclear weapons. He gave the credit for that to President Reagan noting that the President had nurtured a trusting relationship with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and that Reagan’s approach: Trust but Verify increased trust and in doing so made verification easier.

Doveryay, no proveryay

That is Trust but Verify in Russian. It seems that it is an old Russian maxim which President Reagan discovered in conversation with Mr. Gorbachev. They chuckled over this application of Russian words expressed by an American President (with apologies for his pronunciation) when they were signing the treaty.

Trust is the coin of the realm.

With Trust we can conquer anything. My hope is that in the coming year we can use Trust to:

  • Eliminate Covid 19 across the earth
  • Stop the insidious growth of fascism and replace it with democracy
  • Craft a cure for racism, establish equal justice and the rule of law

Tell the story

Trust doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Telling a story helps make your case in a way that no abstraction can: A story builds an emotional bond, and emotional bonds build trust.

Craft your story to build trust carefully. Make sure if is from your heart. People can tell if you are trying to fool them because it is human nature to Trust but Verify.

And so it goes

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.
See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Your Voice

Say what?

The right words can make you memorable at introduction. Past that you have to work at being quoted to become unforgettable. It’s all about being current, consistent, and considered in your opinions.

You don’t have to be controversial.

But it can help. What you want is to be heard. To do that you have to be real, straight up and willing to put yourself on the line. That’s the only way you will be able to expand belief in your savvy outside the firm you work in. There are three levels of expertise in my view:

  • Your niche in the local market
  • Well known in our industry
  • A “leading light” in your industry

When you’re building a business those three levels equate to Unforgettable, Indispensable and headed for Legendary. Being able to convey a contrarian viewpoint will limit your audience but enhance your fame.

Pick an approach

Find a way that is comfortable for you. Not everyone has to be the one that is noted for driving innovation. Not many can pull that off. But being the one that is like a forward scout can pay dividends. Being the source for everything going on in the industry can prove to be a powerful position. One benefit of that approach is that you have a large roster of experts to draw on. Or, you can narrow your focus. Knowing everything about one segment or technology in the industry can make you essential in some situations But most of us find it easier to connect two areas of proficiency. For me, it is marketing for consultants. Knowing how the crossover changes an approach tends to make you appealing to a slightly larger audience.

Stubborn counts.

The truth is that just about all business processes are burdened with an inherent need to stay the same. The same old, same old media outlets won’t get you out in front. Thinking that doesn’t challenge the “the way it has always been done” if just a little will go unheard. It will take time to get your point across so keep repeating it. The first time you are quoted to yourself will be an astonishing experience.

Quotes that have come back to me.

“People don’t want to hear a commercial they want to have a conversation.”

“Brand is an expression of Trust.”

“You can influence brand but you can’t control it.”

“What you know is important, who you know matters but the single most important thing about building a business is who trusts you.”

The payoff

Getting out in front by having a justified opinion pays dividends if you are an independent professional: According to a study conducted by Hinge Research:

  • 46% of those surveyed found that their name recognition (personal brand) increased.
  • 41% said it brought them business
  • 38% cited increased credibility and reputation

The fact that those interviewed were asked to speak more often was a contributing factor to their capabilities as rainmakers for their firms and for about 1 in five of them to open their own firms.

The ability to be more selective in the engagements selected and to demand higher fees are also direct results. Depending where you fall in your level of expertise you can increase your earning potential from 200% to 800% in your home country and over 100% if you practice internationally.

An Added Benefit

The better known you become the easier it is to build alliances with other experts in your arena. Your network will increase in both numbers and quality. That is particularly true as you come to discover how delightful it is to find other minds that are a match for your curiosity and ingenuity. Imagine what it is like to have someone you have never spoken with recognize you at an event or eagerly accept your phone call. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

Lazy won’t get it

This is a skill that must be honed continually. How?

Read. Read everything that directly impacts on your area of expertise. Then read something that doesn’t connect and find the connection. Don’t accept anything at face value. Dig into it. Go find the scientific paper and decode it. Don’t stop with the items mentioned on the first page of Google.

Write. Put pen to paper or exercise your keyboard skills to take the newfound knowledge and turn it into observations in your voice. Think it through. Does it change a previous view? Does it add to a process you’ve espoused? Can you put it in an emotionally approachable way and back it up with logic and data?

Voice.
Take that information and put it to the test. Bounce it off some of the experts you have come to know. Listen to what they have to say. Publish it, first in your own social media outlets and then in commercial print media and broadcast interviews. Never stop listening. Parse the comments into additive and hidebound and stand your ground.

Try. There is no test like putting your observations to work. Clients will want you to do so. In the end, the outcomes your views produce will be the most telling argument. But first, you gotta find your voice.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Stages of Success

Not everyone is a customer.

Online or in person you will meet a host of people. Some will, over time, become customers. But most will not. Many will be contacts forgotten almost as quickly as they passed through your sphere. Others will form lasting relationships with you often as just an acquaintance that “gets you.” A few will be referral sources.

All are evaluators of your brand.

Whether they are in your headlights for moment or seemingly along for the ride as you navigate the fog of building a business each has an influence on your perceived brand. That is true whether their assessment is formed from an internet experience or a candid conversation over coffee.

Networking ain’t what it used to be.

These days, due to Covid, the closest you can get without pushing the regulations is a one-to-one Zoom call. Your favorite association is meeting virtually whether it’s in your home town, nationally and even internationally. Expense accounts are no longer a major item for corporations as travel and entertainment have pretty much been eliminated.

Yet, some people still get the call.

Why?

What makes them different?

Why are they rain-makers for their firms?

Stages of Success

Certain things work whether you are meeting virtually or in person. You have to step up in order to be at the forefront when others need a solution to a problem. You have to consciously work at being the one they call.

There are stages to success:

  • Fresh New to the business or the area or to the role you fill in the organization.
  • Memorable Positioned in a way that makes it easy for folks to remember you, your name and what you do.
  • Branded People recognize your name, your organization’s mission and the positive attributes you bring to the table.
  • Tried Someone takes a chance on you, hiring you and your operation to solve a problem for them.
  • Successful You complete the project on time, on the money and with the results promised.
  • Proven Your experience and credentials have paid off for a number of clients
  • Trusted You are now the go-to guy or gal in your industry, market or geography for your expertise.
  • Promoted You are asked to speak at conferences, appear on panels, interviewed by on and off-line media.
  • Quoted Your views, based on solid data and good thinking become touchpoints in your area of expertise etched into prospects minds.
  • Unforgettable You are now in a sustainable position and could probably put your practice on cruise control but you are driven.
  • Indispensable Key clients will not make a move without consulting you.
  • Legendary Over time you have changed the way a formidable group of men and women think in and around the businesses in which you provide advice and counsel. The world you set out to change is actually changing because of you.

What stage of success are you on?

Each of us moves at our own pace. Some more quickly than others. Speed is not the gating factor. Consistency is more important. Originality is more deserving. Trust, maintained over time is critical.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Synchronicity

It is Friday the 13th as I write this.

That has always been a lucky day for me. And this week has proven positive as well.

Monday, I attended my local NSA chapter monthly meeting. Virtually, of course.

One of our speakers was talking about interactive activities that could be used working virtually and taking advantage of the breakout room capability available in Zoom and other virtual meeting tools.

Rant, he said.

And rant a couple of us did. The exercise is to have someone in the meeting rant for one minute, uninterrupted, about a subject of their choice. If you haven’t thought about the subject, I guarantee you will run out of things to say quickly.

On the other hand, if you are really into a subject, if you are passionate about it, you can go on for quite a while. And you will find that you can expand on the key elements of your beliefs quite easily.

The exercise is intended to open up a closer understanding of the people “in the room” and to build engagement. It works. But more importantly it is a way for you to determine just how “into” a subject you are. It is way to fix powerful emotions on an issue in your mind. Your fervor will make you more convincing. Every time.

What Is Your Soapbox Stand?

That was the title of a blog from a Canadian Consultant friend, Charlene Norman. In it she discussed her reaction to finding a would-be local politician behind the knock on her door. She asked him, “Why should I consider you?“

That simple phrase means a lot more. It is precisely the same string of questions each one of us must answer every time we bump into a prospect:

  • Are you like me? 
  • Are your values close to mine? 
  • Are you going to fix MY problem or make MY life better? 
  • Can I trust that you will do what you say? 
  • How long will it take you to deliver what you say?
  • How much of my time do you expect from me?

Hang on. Here comes the synchronicity.

As Charlene says, “One superb way to hold attention is to take a stand.  What is the one thing you could spend hours talking about on a soapbox in a public square?  (I am not expecting you to actually do it.  I am hoping you can imagine ‘what if I could.’)

I very much doubt you can talk all day about the product or service you sell.  I highly doubt you can wax poetic for more than 10 minutes about all the ways you deliver fantastic customer service.  And I know you can’t fill more than maybe an hour with tales about your experience, your years of service and your fabulous team.”

“Every consultant has a branding problem…You gotta move
from Nobody to Somebody and do it in just 3 seconds!”
 

To be memorable you take a stand.

Taking a stand makes you both more vulnerable and more respected. The immediate change is that you have a brand impact in 3 seconds or less. Your opening words in a self-introduction can make all the difference! You stand out from your competition. And people want to engage you in conversation if they think you have a point. You also, very quickly, determine if you and the prospect are compatible.

If you are any kind of independent professional taking a stand will pay dividends for you. Clients searching for trusted advisors gravitate to truth tellers. Elite clients want to work with thought leaders.

The truth of the matter is:

“Controversial gets you heard… Proof gets you hired.”

It is all a matter of being seen, heard and, in the final analysis, trusted. We trust those who are consistent and make us think. We find them unforgettable and consider them indispensable.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for crafting on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com   Sign up here for the Newslog!
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Virtual Virtuoso

Professional Speakers are out in front.

I don’t mean on stage but rather in figuring out how to make the most of presenting virtually.

I asked, in a “mastermind” group, “Anyone else finding that you know more about how to make virtual meetings work both in terms of technical and techniques than the folks hiring you and their experts?”

It was like dropping a match into a puddle of gasoline. First the whoosh of the gas and then a long low steady burn. The entire group whooped and then each told a story of woe. I took notes and here’s what I learned:

Live is easy. Virtual ain’t

Half of the group are Certified Speaking Professionals. The rest of us split out between  those, like me, who have been speaking professionally for over 25 years and the youngsters averaging 5 years of experience.

All of us were appearing live across the North America regularly and a few of us have presented in International venues. All of us concluded:

  • Live is easy. Virtual ain’t
  • Live interactivity is not expected
  • Virtual interactivity is a must
  • Live reaction is easily visible
  • Virtual reaction is sometimes unreadable
  • Most Meeting professionals do not comprehend the differences
  • On-site technical experts drafted for Virtual duty are not up to speed on all the capabilities and difficulties of virtual technology

Technology tips

Those of us that have now been presenting virtually since January have used most of the major video conferencing tools. Our experience adheres to the general market share pattern.

  1. Zoom 40.49%
  2. Go to Webinar 19.82%
  3. Cisco Webex 12.31%
  4. ON 24 3.51%
  5. Adobe Connect 3.38%

Each has peculiarities and each makes different demands on the presenter.

Meeting professionals who would never dream of having a keynote speaker say “Next slide please.” don’t understand that is exactly what they are doing when they do not have their technicians cede screen sharing to the speaker.

Those who plan meetings and conferences can no longer use the same sort of scheduling for their events. Sessions must be shorter because the demands on the visual cortex of watching a screen are greater than when you are in a live event. “Shorter is better in a virtual meeting” was our consensus.

To get the most out of the video conferencing platform speakers, especially non-professionals, should have a rehearsal before the event was a suggestion from one of the veterans. All agreed that programs would be more successful with this simple change.

All of us have had to deal with schedule changes. I have cut a one-hour keynote down to 32 minutes while on stage to get a meeting back on schedule. You need to make sure that you, the organizer and the technologists are all on the same page. One of the long-time professionals in our group suffered a change in scheduling that made it impossible to become interactive with an audience seeing her recorded keynote with segments built for that purpose. The technologists used multiple times for the audience to begin viewing without advising her!

Technique Tips

Any event with more than a few people in the room is show time. Virtual makes it more so. The further you can get away from the “Talking head,” the better. Here, in no particular order are suggestions to strengthen your appearance in that virtual meeting:

  • Stand up! Presenting standing up will give you better breath and voice control as well as make you more active in front of the camera.
  • Don’t be afraid to gesture. We, as humans, read body language more easily than we read facial expressions. It takes fewer of the little grey cells to understand what is being said.
  • You can move, the lens can’t. We all want to have visual cues about what is important. Even as a baby we respond to someone who “leans in.” Don’t be afraid to use that knowledge to get your point across.
  • Use hand gestures. Because you and your audience are closer to one another using the kind of gestures you would use across a desk or a table will be more easily understood than the broad gestures you might use on the platform.
  • Share your screen, briefly. That is one way to increase the interactivity and engagement in your message. But, one slide left up for more than a half minute is going to bore the audience to tears in live or virtual. But in virtual they can be gone completely and you will not know it.
  • Get interactive. Use polls, voting via gestures visible to all, having a contest with entry via the chat capability, Q&A using the chat, Breakout rooms with reports on return, team tasks in breakout rooms that may be contest oriented, Try a Karaoke choir to get everyone working together.
  • Record it in video. Yes, Use the capabilities of the platform for record purposes but understand that you want a higher level recording for promotion as the compression algorithms in the platform recording deliver a less than stellar result.

Do not be the weakest link.

Even nine months into the Pandemic there is a huge lack of knowledge in how to use the video conferencing capabilities available to us. Ask what platform is going to be used. Set up a way to communicate any program or timing changes in advance. Question everything. The success of the program depends on you.

And, so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Brand:        https://brandbraintrust.com

Consultant Marketing Shaping the Quiz

Under the urge

You set out to share your knowledge and make the world a better place.

That is what lurks at the heart of consultants, coaches and all the independent professionals that provide services that assist in solving problems or providing a skill set that a client doesn’t have. The few of us that consult with consultants have heard about this dedication time and again.

If it were not for this urge a huge number of entrepreneurs would not join the work force. They would continue in their hum drum lives clocking 8 or more hours a day in a cubicle or, these days, working from home.

The world would not be a better place. But even if they decided to be a solopreneur there would be a gap between hanging out the shingle and having a steady stream of clients.

The inevitable gap

Whatever expertise is at the center of each individual’s urge to make a difference, they quickly come to the conclusion that they need to learn how to find prospects, turn them into clients and get referrals from them. They have to learn how to market and sell their services.

If they can’t fill that gap they are out of business before they start. Most, if they figure this out before announcing their new business look for advice from those they believe are successful. The appeals are varied but all come down to a small bribe to “pick your mind.”

Asking is right

That demonstrates a key element that can lead to their success. That urge to find out, to ask questions but, more importantly, to listen is a predictor.

The predictor is the ability to hear what is being said. Ever had a conversation where you are trying to get something across and a few minutes in you become aware they didn’t hear you? Or a least that is what appears to have happened. Sometimes they heard all you had to say but they pushed it through a filter and your views got skewed.

So in those mind-picking conversations I try to listen as well. And I ask questions about their suppositions as well.

The Quiz Funnel

That is what led me to develop a Quiz Funnel about Consultant Marketing. It is called [Quiz] What’s your #1 Consultant Marketing Mistake? See it here.

If you are a consultant or a coach, I urge you to take the quiz. It embodies knowledge gained by surveying people in all levels of consulting for 17 years about the marketing that works, what doesn’t and where they see things heading in the coming year.

The benefit of the funnel to anyone engaged in this business is that allows you to pick hundreds of minds at one time by simply answering 12 thought provoking questions about how you are marketing your services. It takes 3 to 5 minutes.

Based on your answers you learn the single most important mistake you are making whichever of the categories you fall into:

  • Unaccompanied—Thinking about going into the trade. Outside, looking in. Stressed as you consider whether this is the right thing to do. Sure, you’ve been thrilled when you tried it as a side hustle. But still you’re looking for answers.. Take the quiz and find out.
  • Ticket Quandry—You’ve decided that you are going to set up a practice but before you enter the fray you want to get a better handle on how to at least get some folks into the funnel. Take the Quiz and find out
  • Crack the Whip—is what it feels like when you’ve been at it successfully for a while. But there is that nagging feeling that the business is running you. You’d like to know what to do to get back into control. Take the quiz and find out.
  • Roller Coaster—can become the operating procedure in your practice whether you just started or been at for years. It’s when you market, market, market until you find a client and then do the work, do the Work, do the work. Round and round you go at breakneck speeds with no time to plan, unsure of what you can do to break the cycle. Take the quiz and find out
  • Fun House—You’re not sure. Everything is like one of those distorted mirrors. Finding new business is like working you’re way through a maze and feeling time limit encroaching on you. Frustration is at the center of your day. You’d like to know how to sort out direction and take action calmly. Take the quiz and find out.

The categories

Those designators come from listening to consultants, coaches and independent professionals across the years. The more I listened the more a vision of an amusement park grew as a way to frame the common circumstances.

The most common is Roller Coaster. Sooner or later just about every professional finds themselves clicking up the marketing first slope and then having the gravity of the situation propel them through curves they didn’t anticipate.

That was the impetus to look at the other behaviors that seemed to occur all too frequently. Unaccompanied came out of relating to the solopreneur striving to summon up the courage to hang out their shingle. I see them staring in at the amusement park nose pressed and fingers clenched on a chain link fence.

Ticket Quandry is for those that have made the leap of faith but are still feeling their way. Their quandry is the level of commitment they bring to the business. I’ve seen seasoned pros revert to this behavior when confronted with major shifts in the industry they serve. Covid has impacted many in this way.

You’ve reached the phase in your organization where business just seems to be rolling along without a lot of concern. You aren’t really working a plan to bring business in. You could picture yourself on one of those whirligig rides that starts slowly revolving, picks up speed, and then pins you in your seat. Suddenly you understand what people mean when they talk about the business running you. Crack the whip is how those that have lived it describe the problem.

The Fun House ain’t. Whether you’re a solopreneur, a partnership, an ensemble or a group every practice can fall into this situation. When business is good we tend to rein in our reviews of processes particularly marketing. Then one day you find yourself a little disconnected. Those you work with seemed to have changed. And all you want to do is find your way out of this unfamiliar territory.

You’re not alone

None of us operate at the highest level all the time. We’re human. We learn as we go. We ask for help.

Sometimes we listen.

I’ve been listening for a lot of years. What I’ve heard might help you.

And so it goes

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Brand:        https://brandbraintrust.com

Consultant Marketing Building a List.

It begins.

I’ve stood on stages on three continents and said:

“Your e-mail list is often your single most valuable corporate asset”

That is especially true if you are an Independent Professional, a Consultant, or a Coach or in any profession that requires you to provide a professional service to individuals or organizations.

Analog versus Digital

Everyone thinks the world is all digital now but a hard look behind that internet of things reveals that the digital controllers are fronting for analog sensors. The point is that we keep trying to invent ways to capture and manage data that has a foot in both worlds. For instance, one of my clients, a Certified Financial Planner, has, for years, sent out birthday letters to his clients.

I’m talking actual typed on paper and sent via USPS letters that have a celebratory illustration and a short note that says “Happy Birthday.” He has had clients call him in tears saying he was the only one who remembered.

I cautioned him when he was talking about sending out Anniversary greetings to the couples he works with. My concern was that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and a fair number that don’t still aren’t all sweetness and light.

A brilliant suggestion

That’s when he applied some analog logic suggesting, “How about I send to the husband only but I do it so it arrives about a week before the anniversary date. Face it , guys are always forgetting dates that are important to tier wives and girlfriends! He’s right. Imagine how helpful that would be if you’re guy. Suddenly you could be a hero.

There was a time he would have done it with a rollodex and a tickle file. No more.

Now he’s using a fancy piece of CRM software. Big companies are using Artificial Intelligence to sort through tons of information stored in Contact Relationship Management data bases.

It’s all about the entry data.

Garbage in, Garbage out is still true. Consider what happens when the data in the data base is wrong. Even with all the security precautions now in use some things are nearly impossible to change. It is easy to change a password. But if you’ve upgraded your smart phone you know you may be dragging around contact information that goes back multiple e-mail addresses ago. You need a genius in a bar where you can’t get a drink to begin to get it done!

The Double opt-in will fix it.

Right, and if pigs had wings…

But I’m going to use it. With it I will take my miniscule double opted in list (5) and add those folks who want to see my regular blogs and are interested in getting my Newslog which will include a blog, a video and an audio weekly.

In addition to a number of friends, fans and colleagues who will get personal e-mails telling them what’s up and how to assure their place I’m going to aggressively recruit new subscribers.

I’ll use three methods:

  • A significant increase in social media postings (daily across 4 networks) all with a link to my website that has a pop-up to get their data.
  • A lead magnet that explains how to build a B2B e-mail list using video which will be featured in blogs, and postings in groups. Interested? Click here
  • A Quiz Funnel for people interested in finding out their #1 Consultant Marketing Mistake. That will go live on October 7.  

I have no great expectations. I’ll track the numbers and add to them with product offers in upcoming keynotes. I’ll be happy to end the year in triple digits.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Tech Trap

It’s great until it isn’t.

It can be the backbone of the sharing of your body of intellectual property or it can delay the release by days, weeks or months or, in some cases years.

Change

The inherent problem as well as solution with technology is that It keeps changing. Engineers and software designers keep trying to simplify things and, in my view, have achieved wonders. On the other hand as they make things like template driven websites they take away a great deal of creativity in the design. They have made it nearly impossible to intentionally misspell a word. Your spreadsheet won’t compute if your formulas are fongooled. Your presentation slides look good even if they have too many words.

The changes can be incredibly powerful like a search engine that does complex Boolean searches based on answers to questions in English. Or would you have imagined the explosion of meetings software that has occurred in the last six months? The best software has the ability to simplify complex operations and make understandable answers available speedily.

This last week, I got caught on the bad side of the cusp of change multiple times.

Logging in

Cristy, my VA found a piece of software to solve a problem we had been working on to incorporate audios into my Newslog on a regular basis. She suggested I fire it up and get conversant with it. I tried. Oh how I tried. Instead of the usual Username and password approach the site sent me a special key to use to open up my personal part of the site. When I tried it I was advised that my browser software was unacceptable and that I must use one of two which I try never to use. In order to use the key I would have to make one of those browsers my standard. 45 minutes later I figured out how to hook up using a username and password.

Yes, they were trying to make their product better than all the others out there. But they didn’t consider the customer’s viewpoint. I don’t care about having a new way to register. I don’t have time to switch browsers and learn a new system just because it is new.

Software is a tool. It needs to accomplish the task it was designed to do. It needs to be as easy to start and stop as picking up a wrench and putting it down to select a screw driver instead. A more complex tool needs to plug into the electrical power outlet and use the power generally available. Don’t tell me I need to put a special new power converter into my basic system. I’m not buying that idea or using that other browser for one piece of software.

Buying in

Most of us are aware of new standards in acceptable e-mail practices. But the companies that supply e-mail services have significant differences in how they respond to those regulations.

Recently, I moved a client to Active Campaign in order to take advantage of their field leading implementation of automated marketing. Having used their services before I knew that even though they would assist in uploading the client’s list that they would insist, at some point, on proof of double opt-in for all subscribers. More importantly, I knew they would not allow use of their system for those verifications.

So we sent out a notification to all 360 subscribers using a double opt-in sign up form from Active Campaign. That request got us 36 subscribers on Active Campaign pushed through their system. I dropped the subscription notice 5 more times to those who had not signed up and we achieved a 15% sign up overall or 48 people. Then my client offered a book in a webinar he was doing with 2 other experts. Six people provided their e-mails. He sent them an Active Campaign form to get their mailing address noting that they would also receive his Executive Letter via e-mail weekly. Five of them signed up. The count is now 53 double opted in using Active Campaigns forms and automations.

In the following week he added six names manually for a final count of 59.

We designed new templates, prepared appropriate content and scheduled a mailing. The mailing was stopped without prior notification and when asked why Active Campaign responded that it did not meet their compliance standards. When queried multiple times the respondents kept changing and all responses were couched in lookups from their manuals. Because my client requested escalation, our inquiry supposedly was handled by a senior compliance officer. At no time did any one in Customer service or compliance deign to pick up a phone.

Opting out

As of yesterday My client elected to accept their money back offer. I followed close behind and have advised two other clients not to use a service I once proudly recommended.

Let me be perfectly clear. Active Campaign though technically superior is not a good option for Automated Marketing as their promotion does not make it clear that there is no guarantee that your mailings will go out even if the criteria they state is met using their own systems! Their staff is not trained to help you accomplish your tasks as they claim but rather to enforce rules and regulations that fail to meet basic tests of reason.

I recommend that you opt out of using Active Campaign and tell everyone you know to do so as well.

Integrating

So I had to find another solution to my need to handle the back end of a Quiz funnel built in Budket IO 2.0. The one piece missing is the integration to an e-mail provider to provide the capability of sending out the reports. I elected to use Kartra for that and so began the adventure of using Zapier to put the two pieces of software together to transfer the necessary data.

I used the directions provided by Bucket and got thorough 4 steps even though nothing looked the same as described. At step 5 things went in the toilet.

I did what has worked for me in the past. I asked for help. Haven’t heard from Bucket yet but Zapier responded immediately via a straight talking bot promising contact with a human. Then this morning I received an e-mail from a human.

Wonder of wonders, a software company/service that understands customer service.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Trepidation To Elation

Lindsay joined the local chapter.

I welcomed her by e-mail.

She is a newbie in multiple ways:

  • A new college graduate
  • A new MBA
  • A new member of IMC (Institute of Management Consultants)
  • A wannabe consultant

We’ll be Zooming next week because she has that innate need to find out how this business works and what it takes to be successful. She already operates on one of the basic principles she will need to be successful:

Trust but Verify

This simple statement which Ronald Reagan made popular comes from a Russian Proverb. It is an elegantly brief bit of advice that works well so long as the relationship is not the key element in question. For someone like Lindsay it is a way to gather a lot of information quickly without committing to any outcome based on that initial data gathering.

That is why it is so practical. The successful consultant is forever gathering data. They must, because of the nature of their calling reap the knowledge of a broad swath of sources. By joining an organization made up of people that do what she wants to do she quickly increases the number of sources easily available to her.

She can Trust in the interviews and based on comparing her analysis of the relative success of her contacts verify how much she should attend to their advice.

Impress but focus

When I was CEO of an ad agency I would do two or three informational interviews with youngsters, new to the trade, each week. It was a way to give back to all the people that helped me, a way to pay it forward. Early on I learned to employ a technique I picked up in a Xerox Selling Skills Class.

It is simple. Ask a question. When the person finishes, simply say Oh? Then wait. They will begin speaking again. Do it again. Do it as many times as the other person will continue speaking.

Employing this technique does two things:

  • You will learn a great deal more about that individual than you ever imagined.
  • You will find out just how capable they are of setting objectives and focusing on them.

They wanted to talk to you ostensibly to get some answers about the industry they want to enter yet they are afraid to say what is really on their mind, getting a job. So the real question each of them has is, “How can I take my education and my limited experience and convince someone to hire me?”

That is tough enough if you are just looking for a job. How do you take that resume out and convince someone to hire you as a consultant?

State a problem and your solution

One of the secrets of finding leaders is how they ask questions.

An individual may ask in one of these informational interviews, “How did you get to this position?” And in all likelihood they are truly interested.

Another might say, what positions did you have to go through to become CEO, President or whatever. They really want to know.

Leaders approach the person granting the interview as a resource that can advise them on the relative strength of their proposed solution.

Do you see the difference? The leader says, “I want to get started in consulting but I don’t think I have experience that business owners will think is enough. I’m thinking of offering my services at no cost unless we get results agreed to before we start work. Would that get me hired?”

Whatever you think of the solution you have had a demonstration of how someone thinks. More importantly you know how they will approach situations in the future.

There is no CEO worth her or his salt that doesn’t want that kind of thinking.

Be planned but present

You know you have a set amount of time for the interview. Don’t waste it. Come to the table with a list of questions. Work it. Ask them in order of importance to you.

But listen. Often a comment from that source will register with you and you will want to know more. Ask the unscripted follow up question and see where it goes. Listen. Pull that string that intrigued.

Often you will discover a creative way to solve a problem you have. Some that I’m aware of:

  1. New college graduate writes a laudatory one-page letter as his wife to personnel directors of ad agencies across the Midwestern USA touting his New York experience with no resume attached. He took the job offered by the personnel director that called one evening and asked to speak to his wife.
  2. A transgender woman encounters a meeting planner on an airplane looking for someone to do a keynote at an upcoming company meeting with diversity as the primary takeaway. She responded to the question, “What do you do?” with, “I take the fear out of being queer.”  She got the gig.
  3. The founder of a world class direct marketing agency diagrammed on a napkin the difference between Brand and Direct. It sat in his desk drawer for a couple years and then he convinced a client to try it keeping track of a full set of analytics. Then he wrote a book about it. He keynoted at the worldwide advertising convention held in Cannes the next year

That’s some simple advice for a newbie. If you like this kind of information about consulting or brand or networking or CRM or writing to persuade you need to sign up for my newslog.
Click here to sign up.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com