Consultant Marketing Into the Dark

The sneezing makes it hard to concentrate.

Two nights and two days without power with temperatures below freezing in a hundred-year ice storm will leave you cold.

Bone Cold

Even when I found a friend’s couch to surf on I was still cold. Even when she produced a stew that I’d write home about I was still chilly. After two days of hospitality I got a call that power was back on in the neighborhood.

I walked into a home that was already warming up.

The lights worked.

My computers came back to life.

 I muddled my way through 4 days of e-mail. Life had become normal again.

I had a hot meal. Left-overs, yeah, but I zapped ‘em in the microwave.

Slept in my own bed.

Murphy came to visit.

This morning I got up early to catch up with all the things that needed doing after 4 days in the dark.

What is that old line about he best laid plans going to Hell even as you put them to work?

My internet that had been working when I returned home was not. At first I thought it was somehow connected to the power outage. I rebooted two computers just to see.

Nope. So I turned to my phone to try to call the cable company. To use search on the phone I had to enter my Office 365 password. I tried that but it requires double security. I got through the first step using my phone as the security device. But because it is a two-step security system you need to use e-mail for the second step. Of course, I had none.

Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will.

Into the dark

So what do you do? I figured that there were a number of things I could do that didn’t require the internet.

  • Continue pulling together scripts (audio and video) for the next round of Newlsogs
  • Tackling all the filing I’d been putting off (one piece of administrivia I abhor)
  • Preparing some blogs in Word for a client to demonstrate how to do them in WordPress
  • Scripting sequences for orderly contacts of meeting professionals
  • Tuning to local radio to see what is going on in the world.

Long term.

Those things are fine for the moment. But what should anyone do to avoid the problems long term?

  1. Learn to use your phone. Unless towers go down it usually will be the last device lost.
  2. Be sure you have all the methods of accessing your phone written down and that you test them at least monthly.
  3. Be sure you have the emergency number of your internet service in your phone (with a written copy in reserve)
  4. Make sure you can use your phone to contact clients, associates and others that impact your business.
  5. Be proactive. Reach out to all those an outage can affect. Do it as soon as you know.

That is not a lot to do, but it would have saved me hours of trying to get hooked up when my problem was an outage for the area.

I can work on both my business and projects for clients because I keep files resident in my system and synced with cloud copies. Unfortunately, I don’t sync everything. That will change.

Too many assumptions

The designers of the security systems are just trying to make things as risk free as possible. BUT, sometimes security measures can get in the way of effectiveness. The only way I could get the emergency phone number for my cable/internet service was to call a friend who was still connected. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to put it on every device where it could be found easily?

Customer disservice.

When you turn the TV on you get a message that the cable/internet is not connected and instructions you can’t finish reading about what to check. Wouldn’t putting the number to check for outage problems be a good idea to put into that message?

The problem is that damn little brain sweat is spent on situations with less than perfect conditions. The assumption is that these kinds of situations occur so infrequently that a band aid is sufficient for a sucking chest wound. Phone software that assumes you will have internet capability is simply stupid because there are a lot of times that could happen that are not connected to power outages. The inability to get any information on an internet outage other than a non-committal “It will be fixed shortly” is a customer disservice. People want to know how long power will be out, when the internet will be available again. How about a little customer service that acknowledges the customer’s questions and concerns.

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 Trust Barometer

I’ll be keynoting on Trust in April.

Every time I’m asked to present on Trust I look for new information I might bring to the audience.

Online Resources

I always start with a review of the usual suspects. That means typing “Trust Research” into Google. This time it got me this selection of the most recently published items:

  1. An article from the Harvard Business Review on The Neuroscience of Trust (from 2017)
  2. The Journal of Trust Research (Volume 10, Published in 2020)
  3. The Psychology of Trust (A book published in 2018)
  4. Trust and Power (A book published in 2018)
  5. Individual Trust and the Internet (scholarly article published in 2018)

Notice the dates. Only one is as recent as 2020. That is the first problem. The second is wading through the linguistic torture of scholarly articles where communication is sacrificed on an altar of accuracy resulting in impenetrable obfuscation.

Trusted Resources

Thank the gods of business for the Edelman Trust Barometer. Each year since 2000, this worldwide Public Relations Agency with offices in major cities around the world publishes an annual survey of trust and credibility of the world’s four major institutions – Government, Business, Media and NGOs. It is one of the longest running studies on Trust.

What makes it more important is the ongoing comparison of results it affords the viewer and the efforts of the company to find and report on those points where the findings begin to diverge from previous norms.

Diverging Trust

In the 2004 study23% of the people interviewed said they would trust someone just like them. By 2016 that percentage had increased to 82%. People trusted folks like themselves more than Businesses, institutions, Governments, and  NGOs. People like me got higher ratings than any other occupations with the exception of folks with very high Academic degrees and some attorneys. It seems they didn’t like lawyers but did respect them.

Trust Today

So where are we today? What did Edelman turn up in their most recent survey?

  • Income inequality is the most significant factor in developed countries like the USA
  • 56% of the population worldwide believe that Capitalism does more harm than good in today’s world
  • 83% of employees fear losing their jobs
  • Government and media are perceived to be incompetent and unethical
  • Business is seen as the only competent institution

Business stakeholders now expect more from companies.

 “A stunning 92 percent of employees surveyed in the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer say that they expect their employer’s CEO to speak up on one or more issues ranging from income inequality to diversity and training for jobs of the future. Seventy-three percent of employees expect a prospective employer to offer the opportunity to shape the future of society in a positive way.”

Richard Edelman

The Edelman 2019 “In Brands We Trust?” study reported that nearly two-thirds of consumers buy based on their beliefs, and 81 percent agree that “a brand I can trust” is one of their top reasons for purchase.

Trust Boiled Down

Customers and employees are now over five times more important to a company’s long-term success than shareholders.

Business is considered to be the best at getting things done. But is faulted on ethics. Research conducted in 2020 indicated that ethical attributes drive 76 percent of the trust capital of organizations, while competence drives 24 percent.

Trust in the light

CEOs, Presidents and Owners of companies have a chance to step up Here’s what is needed:

  • Take the lead in partnering with government and other institutions
  • Pay decent wages and retrain those replaced by technology
  • Speak up for what is right starting now

In my view, the stepping stones from start up to skyrocket now include a need to be outspoken in word and deed. Speak the truth even when it is uncomfortable. Act as if you were not campaigning for the next rung on the ladder. Solve the Trust paradox. Your employees and customers are counting 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.
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 Juggernaut

I was zooming today with the founder of an organization using Mighty Networks as the software they use to manage their expanding community.

One of the reasons he cited for that selection was the ability to provide a deep repository for content.

Lots of content

Here’s what he said he and his partner have as weekly goals for content production:

  • 2 blogs each
  • 2 podcasts each
  • 2 videos each of 3 to 5 minutes or longer
  • 2 articles each of 2000 to 8000 words
  • 2 pass alongs of materials of interest to the community from each of them
  • 2 subject driven webinars 90 minutes each
  • 2 open discussion round tables 90 minutes each
  • Social media directed to lead magnets derived from articles, blogs and an annual survey

If I wanted to make use of all that information it would take me about 4 hours minimum.

I don’t have that kind of time

I have a business to run. I’ve drunk from a similar fire hose before. When you add the inconvenience of the hours when the webinars occur (during the working day) and the fact that I’m involved with users of Mighty Networks in Hong Kong, London and Ottawa with similar scopes of operation and all with thriving communities I could literally spend my days wandering the earth and absorbing information linked virtually arm in arm with active communities.

Ya gotta be picky and other tricks.

Here’s how I stay connected and still manage to keep my business thriving:

  • I plan my weeks to assure blocks of time for clients.
  • Each client has a block of time assigned each week for regularly occurring required actions
  • Each client has a block of time each week for thinking about their strategy and where we can get more or better traction
  • Each client has a block of time set aside for analysis of current activities and consideration of modifications to strengthen them
  • Each week has a working day devoted to Content development
  • Speech scripting, revising, personalization by event
  • New lead magnets (booklets up to 96 pages, Infographics, Checklists, worksheets, etc.)
  • Blog and Newslog development to include recording and editing audio and video components and uploading them to Vimeo and YouTube
  • Books, for example one for entrepreneurs on how to use speaking to build a business
  • Speaking professionally requires a great deal of sales activity. The assistance of my VA is invaluable in this regard. Her ability to do the research necessary to find data on upcoming venues has freed up days of time for me. Now, all I must do is:
  • Review the options found. Verify their possibility and have them posted in my speaking CRM
  • Contact the Meeting professionals involved in a sequence of contacts using, in most cases, e-mail, Linked In, telephone and/or Zoom
  • Once a presentation is booked it is a matter of a follow up sequence to assure that we accomplish the organizations goals for the meeting.
  • I look for alternative views regardless of the delivery medium
  • Viciously defend your time by looking at the indicators of what the content really has. Is it a rehash? Skip it. Does it challenge what “everybody knows?” Look a little deeper. Does it straight out come at things from a Different Slant? If you find good ones, stick with them.
  • Podcasts can be listened to at 2x. Yes. If the subject is worth it but not during the day. Push it into the evening or on a daily walk. Don’t waste production time.
  • Video. Never watch in working hours. When you do tune in be sure it is a subject with a presenter that is going to give you something to think about. I prefer reviewed items like TED talks, personally.
  • Use what you’ve learned
  • Your prospect doesn’t have all day to be involved with your content. Be succinct. Do not “work up to the good stuff.” Prospects want the best you’ve got right out of the chute. A very, very, few will be able to run with what you tell them. Most will come back multiple times to “sit at your feet.”
  • In time, they will need to work directly with you either in a one to one or a one to many program in order to get the outcomes they envisioned. The fact is that they will never be able to see things from your unique perspective and find the solutions they are seeking.
  • Keep making the offer even after they have completed our course. Repeating a course can easily be sold especially if you allow them to bring a friend.

Meanwhile back at the ranch

Well, I’ve gobbled up all my content time for the day, so I’ll sign off with a final quote:

“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”
― Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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 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