What’s Next for Brand?

A creative montage of a side profile silhouette of a man wearing glasses and colorful artistic accents inside of his mind and body.

It started out being a person to person in person thing.

Names and Symbols came to represent it. Behaviors, ways of doing business, were associated. It varied only slightly due to geography and political affiliations.  Capitalists reveled in it. Communists considered it propaganda and mastered a political version.

But even as it morphed as the size of some businesses increased and crossed borders at the heart it still represented a perception of being a person to person in person thing.

It continued to be seen as person to person but in person got lost somewhere along the way. Lost but not forgotten.

Brand is a shared perception.

The way people who are aware of your brand think, feel and believe about it is the way we approach it today. Masters of branding do everything they can to keep a singular vision of the product or service at the fore. They change only reluctantly to maintain share of mind and market.

What happens when perceptions are individual?

Big data could give sellers and advertisers a way to unlock the connections to a brand person by person. You could find yourself not only retargeted in your e-mail and on-line activities but in a way that gets at the heart of your relationship with the product or service.

You may see a brand as a world shift in how others see your body. But only you believe this shift is taking place. You could use a service because for you it is way to reflect your outgoing personality. But is it? Perhaps for others it is only a way to obfuscate.

Granted, those reactions are similar to what happens today. The thing to think about is how, as we are locked tighter and tighter in a digital embrace, our brand relationships now have a software filter.

What happens to individuals?

We are just beginning to see the impacts of digital culture. A family sits down for dinner at a restaurant. Mother, father and both children must interrupt their use of their smart phones to give their order. They immediately return to their phones. When dinner is served there is no conversation. They look at phones frequently as they eat. There is no person to person connection in person.

BUT there is a connection on line. Each of them is extending their relationship through a digital filter. One is texting an on-line friend. One is posting photos of the meal on Facebook. One elects to write a review of the meal. In simple terms, their relationships are not direct. They are filtered through the internet.

“Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

It is happening today. The internet has already become a surrogate. People vote with their wallets. A friend, exploring how people who buy on line see their relationships with sellers found that purchase behavior is frequently undertaken to win approval from the seller. It is a kind of “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

The receipt of a simple “thank you” e-mail after you give a brand your name and e-mail address is just the beginning. Whatever you were interested in, they are going to personalize messages to you about similar products. They will exploit your emotional connection without a second thought.

Bending the brand

The more the seller knows about you, the more the brand will be bent to be just for you. Yes, the appeal of most brands is pretty much the same for about 80% of their target audience but research I’ve conducted over the last 25 years shows that there are three reasons most folks buy. The secondary reason gets about 12 to 15% The third gets most of the rest.

Imagine if you were one of the second or third group. What if the digitally information served up to you was personalized to make that the primary way you were encouraged to see the brand? Would you want to get the approval of the brand that knew your heart’s desires? Would you go out of your way to keep that brand in the way you showed the world who you are?

The reality of brand automation

We are not there yet. We are well on the way. Human nature may yet find a way to sidestep the tsunami of surrogacy. This is just the latest revelation about brand. Research done 25 years ago verified the power of brand in the marketplace and predicted the growth of “tribes.”

What is old may yet be new again. And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

When they don’t know what they don’t know

Arrogance + ignorance is dangerous!

This morning a client and I were doing videos for his upcoming weekly Newsletters for the C-suite.

We were providing advice to overcome problems that center on the combination of arrogance and ignorance that occurs in new senior managers when they don’t know what they don’t know.

 “You’re right,” he replied, “what they don’t know they don’t know could cripple them and their companies.”

But it isn’t just the youngsters that have to watch out for that combination. It can happen regardless of your age, your gender, or any other demographic difference.

For instance, Price Waterhouse once reported results of a survey of CEOs of the 2000 largest companies. These executives were asked if they thought electronic commerce would “significantly change business.” Nearly 60% of them said yes.

Problem is, when asked if e-commerce would “reshape how they do business,” only 20% said, “Yes.” 

They believed that the net would impact business but not their business.

Ignorance and arrogance is the deadly combination. How can you avoid that trap? Here are some controls you need to incorporate into your business planning:

  1. Match your use of the web to your best customers and prospects. They will thank you for your concern and interest. You will have to exceed their knowledge just to stay even but it will be worth it as you maintain the relationship that brought you their business in the first place.
  2. Give your customers the choice between people and technology rather than making that choice yourself. The best example here comes from the financial industries where the specialized advice and information to buy and sell securities that was once the province only of brokers is now available to day traders. Yet, some of the organizations which initially offered their services via the net now find themselves opening brick and mortar offices.
  3. Your audience on the web, not you, will determine what they use… laptop, pad or tablet, smart phone and apps. It is critical to your success that your web site work with the lowest common denominator of software and hardware which your client and prospect base have available. If your customers use Mobile and texting, then make sure your web presence can be accessed that way. If, on the other hand, your customer base is confined to a group of web designers apt to have every plug-in known to man as well as the time and inclination to download your specialized software then offer it to them.
  4. Treat each customer individually. Every interaction on the web is one-to-one. That means that you can and should take the time to learn from them each time they contact you. Only in that way can your relationship grow into the trust that will build a loyal customer base. But be careful. Acquiring information you don’t use is just as bad as not asking at all.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people want to know why you’re asking and how you intend to use the information including whether or not you intend to sell it. Take the time to tell them.

Nothing is as important as getting to trust. To become the constant resource for your customers you need to offer useful content. But the context of the site and the service behind that site are the true value to the customer. In the final analysis, whether you do business on the net or in person this remains the same. Make sure your service rewards loyal behavior and that you maintain their trust by honoring it.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Use Your Brand or Lose It

A man tries to fix a broken hour glass in the forest.

I can still hear his voice in the gym echoing slightly off the plaster walls,”Use it or lose it.”

That memory floated up from the nether reaches as I listened to a client again delaying business cards, letterhead, etc and also deferring publication of his web site.

Whether you are in start-up, refresh or rebrand mode once the development is done, you need to take action. YOu cannot reverse the sands of time.

  • You gotta put it out there
  • You gotta observe the impact
  • You gotta adjust based on experience

Navel gazing doesn’t work

Not publishing a web site dampens your ability to generate credibility. If you are an elite independent professional (like I work with) you know that before you get hired that potential client is going to check you out on Linked In and review your web site at bare minimum. Failure to launch a web site is a failure to engage with what folks might think, feel and believe about you. In short, new prospects will pass you by. Your competitors will lap you.

Perfect doesn’t exist

The major reason for hesitance is that entrepreneurs, and professionals want their company/product/service offering to be seen as “just right.”  In their view, there is always time to “fine tune” the logo one more time. A website must, they believe contain multiple blogs at launch. That on-line presence should, from their perspective, have everything they believe a prospect would like to see.

How do they know what that ideal client wants?

It is the owner/manager/ professional perception, not confirmed data.

It’s a conversation, not a commercial.

The single biggest mistake you as a business owner/operator can make in marketing is thinking you can control the situation. You control only part of what goes out there. The words you use to describe your products and services may have complexly different meanings for prospects. But you won’t know if you don’t put it out there.

What if you are writing to what you perceive to be your ideal client but you’ve never talked to them? Seriously. This happens way too often, particularly in start-ups. The cure is to have solid research. Too expensive? Go talk to some folks that might be buyers. Beware of “lip service.” That’s when they wax poetic about your product or service until you ask them to make a purchase. Suddenly they are extremely busy but wish you the best…

Why do you think you know what they are looking for? Again, what is your research? Been in business for a while? Sales not as good as you hoped? Does your sales compensation program give those guys and gals a reason to defer client activity to the end of the month or quarter? What, if anything, can rebranding do to change that? It could open a market you haven’t tapped into as yet. It could start a new dialog in your client base. But you won’t know if you don’t activate it!

Will you refuse to sell to them if they are not what you imagined your customers to be? (I witnessed this in a multi-national corporation!) All of us dream of our businesses being well received and running like clockwork. We have this fixed idea of who our buyers are and the way they use our products and services.

Have you looked at the inordinate number of ways Excel is used? At last estimate from a friend at Microsoft, over 90% of the uses were not planned. They can’ keep up with the ingenuity of customers. But they continue to listen, learn and adjust the product to meet the new uses. Marketing is messy. User encounters drive it. But you can’t get the experience to adjust your approach without launching.

How to unconfuse it

  1. Pick a name that has a URL you can purchase
  2. Develop a memorable title, benefit or shocking statement
  3. Say that in words the customer uses
  4. Ask them if it makes sense
  5. If they agree, make that part of the logo
  6. Incorporate the problem you solve how you solve it and key statistical support in a value proposition.
  7. Include the value proposition in every communication starting with your web site.

All of those can be done with the proper application of 30-Second Marketing TM. It isn’t easy but it will get you to the point of involving customers and potential customers.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

The Timid Brand

Headshot of confident senior man with frowning facial expression looking at camera, blurred background

He shambles up to you and fails to make eye contact.

In a halting voice he tells you how your comments have suddenly made it clear to him why people don’t buy from him. He explains that he never before had heard the idea that you must get to trust to get people to accept your ideas, to engage with you and to begin a relationship.

What you say matters.

I opened a speech with my story of how I learned that lesson and, well, he heard what I had to say. The foundation of brand in my view is Trust. Your brand is the sum total of what all those people who are aware of you think, feel and believe about you.

He told me that his problem was that he didn’t know how to get to trust. He told them everything he could think of about the product but they pulled back from him and the only reason why he could come up with is that something about him put them off. He believed he had to close as quickly as possible.

But first you gotta connect.

  • You gotta find a way to introduce yourself.
  • You gotta get people to listen to you
  • You gotta be able to tell them what you do
  • You gotta ask for their business
  • You gotta get to the beginning of trust.

It is difficult for an introvert.

I agreed to meet with him to help him better understand 30-Second marketing. He presented two typed pages that were supposed to tell me everything and asked that I read them instead of asking him questions. He believed I would learn more in that way.

He might have learned more that way but, I believe most people would rather have a conversation than read someone’s idea of their defining information carefully pushed through a word processor, spell checked and edited, unintentionally, to obscure the most salient information.

Conversation is key.

As I queried him I learned that people essentially shut him out because he pressed them with information about any subject with out listening to the point they were making. Over an hour he failed to hear and engage in a meaningful way on Trust, Brand, Selling, Religion, Product attributes, Benefits, Features and most importantly any concept that was new to him.

He confessed that he had difficulty putting himself in someone else’s position or viewpoint. Probed for what other people thought about he and his product, he could not delve into his successful sales and find a common reason why people bought. He could not sum up the problem that caused them to even consider!

Brand is built on similarities

It took over an hour to get to some very candid reasons why he operated the way he did. He grew up one of 14 children in a lower middle-class home. He is a Christian devoted to Bible study with a closed mind about other religions.  His idea of a Networking situation is repetitive attendance at a meeting of coaches none of whom yet knows of his high-end product after months of attendance. He found the idea of seeking out gatherings of potential buyers (such as at Chamber of Commerce meetings) a revelation. To determine potential customers, I suggested that he build a list of the people he had already sold to and write down their demographics and psychographics and their stated reasons for considering, buying and what they now feel think and believe about the product.

A morphing mental portrait

That mental portrait will allow him and you to gird up your loins, enter into a conversation with anyone to determine whether or not there is any interest. In my years of assisting independent professionals and entrepreneurs I’ve concluded:

  1. Between 60 and 80% of all your customers are trying to solve the same problem and the reminder have only two other reasons sufficiently important to note.
  2. If you talk about the highest percentage problem and your solution in their terms you will be successful over time
  3. Listening to contacts and how they talk about the problem/solution over time will allow you to focus ever more clearly on those that buy

Every successful business starts with networking

You can’t sell anything if you don’t go find a customer. Networking offers the lowest cost and fastest way to get in front of more people. It forces you to have conversations and learn about real prospects. By meeting with folks you can learn which will attend a workshop or how to convince the few that will accept a free trial of the product. You can get to a point where they ask the question, “How much is it?”

Sometimes sampling is the key

Instead of scaring them off with a high price you’ll be able to tell them you won’t sell them one until they have proven to themselves that it works for them. And, after the trial, you’ll be happy to do it for a one-time payment or on the terms offered by the company.

Being timid isn’t all bad

Being concerned about people’s time is a good thing. Wanting to not be too intrusive is positive. Being genuinely interested in having a conversation can be rewarding. Those behaviors will be seen but failure to look someone in the eye will send another message. You must present yourself with a modicum of confidence and directness to garner credibility. Too often the timid mistake the behavior of the extrovert as ‘the only way to sell.” It isn’t. Timid with integrity, authority and consistency will build a brand based on trust.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Peeling the Onion of CRM

Why I chimed in.

In the Q&A portion of a webinar I was attending the other night someone asked the folks assembled what CRM they used.

I could tell by the answers that there were several different understandings of Contact Relationship Management.

I’ve spoken on the subject on three continents and what I heard caused me to chime in.

Confusion is natural

Not long ago and not so far away business people kept track of their contacts with a rolodex. More sophisticated operations had card files on clients that could be accessed by the sales staff. A friend that was in the jewelry trade told me how they used color coding of the cards to visually differentiate the gentlemen’s purchases for wives and “lady friends.”

Direct marketing operations used master files to have data on purchases, recency and frequency.

Even back then the difficulty was in the multiplicity of processes in use. It is the same today. With the advent of the computer, accounting programs were drafted into use to keep files. Today, it is not uncommon for businesses to keep their customer records in Excel.

Software for salespeople

The granddaddy of software built specifically for the purpose of managing all the contact data a salesperson or a company could muster is ACT!. Initially it was a flat file rather than a relational database and offered limited capability for sending letters. (The internet and e-mail were in the future!)

Over time the product came to offer 15 special fields to enter data that was not “standard.” It became more and more robust and is still in use in a relational database form today.

The man that introduced ACT! is responsible for the top selling CRM product in the world today, Sales Force.com a cloud-based product.

Contacts vs Prospects vs Customers

Products originally built to track customers or clients started to get used to follow the actions of prospects who were people that had been contacted and established as a “sales lead.” Of course, none of this could work without input from each of the salespeople. Therein is a huge problem. Sales folks don’t like doing that detailed kind of data entry. So I developed a 3 step mantra that they could apply after each sales call:

  1. Note what happened in the prospect or client file
  2. Decide your next action
  3. Put a follow up date on that action and when it comes up just do it.

(Incidentally you can use this process in a paper-based CRM, any software CRM and it works in Outlook as well.)

It worked when sales managers encouraged it and let the rest of the sales force know about the results.

I start where the software stops

That’s when I honed my expertise in the CRM arena. It was difficult enough to get salespeople to use the systems let alone purchase lists of suspects, do the mailings and phone calls necessary to assure that it was really a lead worth pursuing and then maintain the contact over time. I showed companies how to go beyond CRM software to what I termed Automagic Marketing kluging automated e-mailings, data capture and timely automated sales follow-up as well as prospect qualification.

E-mail became a universal cure but if you didn’t automate it the costs were too much to bear. Solutions like Constant Contact appeared on the scene providing the ability to use graphic e-mail rather than text alone. Organizations started using these products for Newsletters and on-line magazines. Mail Chimp is a good option these days. These programs operate from lists loaded into them, require proof that the folks on the lists opted in and have no CRM capabilities. For that you need to connect them to your CRM system.

Autoresponders The first were part of e-mail transfer agents. They created bounce messages such as “your e-mail could not be delivered because…” Today’s autoresponders can handle if-then branching sequences as well as time delayed responses and even action-based triggering. Responses can be automatically entered into your CRM system with the right hookup. The best available at the moment in my view is Active Campaign. Visit their web site to see how this sophisticated kind of product works. (Note that Active Campaign is introducing a CRM linked to their Autoresponder capability.)

E-commerce solutions

The first “complete solution” software that became a market dominator was Infusionsoft. It included a store, upsells, downsells purchase tracking and the ability to accept payment (with a link). More importantly it was a fully functioning CRM with individual and bulk, text or graphic e-mail capability, autoresponder with linkage to telephone as well as snail mail. Today there are a host of systems available. Here are some to consider if you intend to sell from your website:

  • Infusionsoft
  • Click Funnels
  • Kartra
  • Ontraport
  • Builderall
  • Active Campaign (with a store integration)

Pricing for these ranges from under $20 to $300/month

Before you leap be sure of what your real objectives are.

Need help with that? E-mail me.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Brand Loyalty is a Matter of Trust

Business people joining hands

I was three slides into an after-lunch keynote in Bogata, Colombia.

I had exhausted my Spanish and had switched to English when a gentleman about six rows back in the audience started waving wildly.

I acknowledged him and he said in heavily accented English, “No interpreter!”

I responded, “I will speak verrry slooowly.”

The entire audience, some 600 strong laughed with us. Moments later, the interpreter, speaking through the earphones the audience was wearing, apologized for being late.

The moral of that story is Confianza, Spanish for Trust. The audience member assumed I would trust him. The laughter of the audience said they trusted me and the organization putting on the conference. The interpreter’s apology sealed the deal.

Here’s the slide that was up.

Trust (Confianza) plus time equals success. That is as true today as it was 10 years ago.

But the point that followed it has proven to be prophetic.

Marketing today on and offline is about Trust (Confianza)

  • In yourself
  • In your staff
  • In your company
  • In your customer

Trust in yourself 
Just about every independent professional has that little voice that sits on your shoulder and insists that you are not really qualified or expert enough. Working through the steps of 30 Second Marketing can solve that for you and at the same time make you more memorable and easier to refer.

Trust in your staff 
If you’re a solopreneur that means structure your processes in such away that personal foibles don’t get in the way of getting the job done. If you’re a corporate manager it is similar but in this case the clarity of your directions to staff and allowing them to use creative problem solving based on pre-set criteria will make our life more joyous. Trust ‘em and both your personal and product related brand will rise in the customer’s view.

Trust in your company 
The organization you work for is not just a legal formality. If you’re a solo or partnership or ensemble there will be a brand associated with the organization. It will be the sum total of what people aware of the company think, feel and believe about it. Corporate manager? You, too, mus establish trust in the organization. That starts with you demanding to understand what the real objectives are and agreeing with the ethics of the outfit. Then you have to make that information understandable for your staff. Your company will have a brand whether one id wanted it or not.

Trust in your customer.
The customer has always controlled brand. In the Mad Men era, mass media wielded tremendous influence over what people believed. They trusted what those 60-second commercials had to say. Customers were loyal to a fault.

The internet altered that.

Today they can “shop around” for anything in seconds.

Today you have customers rebelling against traditional and digital marketing approaches.

  • To belong
  • To be respected
  • To be recognized

Today they are moved less by selling and more by understanding their needs:

Serving and rewarding their communities will build your brand and their loyalty.

They will make repeat purchases and refer you.

They will be willing to pay a 25% increase in price over the competition.

They will still wait for you to introduce a competitive product

The answer is to champion something 
It isn’t about you. It is about them and their values. Be careful. It is nearly impossible to go back after you commit without destroying the brand you’ve nurtured.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

The Overlooked Dimension

The world is 3-D.

Our eyes are specially adapted to focus on a point that exists where our mind directs. So why are most of our business models two dimensional?\

The Z-axis

The Cartesian Coordinate system has three axes: X, Y and Z.

The Z-axis is overlooked most of the time. The most frequently seen business graphs use the X and Y axes in an L shape with time on one dimension and money on the other. The next step up is to set up a graph with the X and Y axes crossing at a center point. Suddenly one can put ranges from bottom to top on one and left to right on the other. This sort of graph is particularly good at comparative outcomes.

The whole story

You can’t tell the whole story with just two axes. That is why often there is slew of graphs in a business presentation. And you’re asked to assemble the data in your mind to get the whole picture.

I was intrigued with this problem in the days before I started my Consulting practice. (That’s why my corporation is Z-axis Marketing, Inc.) I believe we restrict ourselves to essentially two-dimensional thinking because of the tools that were available. Pen and paper do not lend themselves to 3-D visualization. Yes, it can be done but it takes the ability of an artist to really be convincing and plotting data is not easy.

The trust factor

Then, too, how do you decide what three factors really tell the story of a business? In my view you need to show the interaction between:

Time (in most cases months and years but days and weeks can prove useful)

Money (the primary measure of any business– can be stated as income, revenue, profit etc.)

Trust (the single factor that can make or break any organization in my view)

Trust is best demonstrated by situations such as the Tylenol poisoning recall. The share of market dropped to 8% when cyanide was found in product on the shelf. They recalled all products, developed tamperproof packaging and returned to the market recapturing their 35% share of market.

In my experience, Trust is the predicator of success or failure for all independent professionals. I have been comparing the citations of Trust in testimonials and reviews versus the pricing and estimated income for consultants and coaches for the last 15 years and seen the proof of the saying:

People do business with individuals and companies they know, like and trust.

And Brand is an expression of that trust.

Data Points

So why don’t we have programs on every business desktop to give us 3-D graphing capability?

We don’t have sufficient data points. Scientists gather data on every variable they can find. Often, they are drowning in data. Businesses don’t. If it isn’t part of the accounting package it is given short shrift.

That is because the Z-axis is best used to show how a social factor impacts the bottom line. Acquiring the data in the time required is considered “expensive and not part of the essential data needed.”

And so it goes.

____________________________________________________________________

Jerry Fletcher, Brand Poobah is a sought-after International Speaker, beBee ambassador, as well as founder of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and Business Development on and off-line.

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

Brand Consequences

Brand can disintegrate if you don’t have the right team in placc.

Jim asked me to build a campaign to lure millionaire business CEOs and owners to a seminar hosted by a business bank, a major law firm, an investment banking firm and an expert on leadership as well as succession.

Focus
One of the reasons those men and women have become millionaires is that they succeeded in business. Starting a business is hard. Building it is harder still. Succeeding in building personal wealth at that level can be a herculean task.

In most cases what got them through is the ability to focus on picking one thing at a time and giving it their full attention for a minute or month.  A solid brand is the consequence.

The other side of the coin
When you focus and things turn out as hoped it can pile up ego. You can begin to believe there’s nothing you can’t do. Entrepreneurs that try to do it again quickly learn the need for resilience. Business owners that have been in their position over years lose some of the flexibility that made them winners in the early days.

The ego consequence
Because I consult with advisors like Jim and others that negotiate mergers and acquisitions and manage personal investments I hear the tales of woe that make me want to reach out and grab these millionaires by their lapels, shake them and tell them in a hit man’s quiet tones to stop believing they can do everything.

The real scorecard
Their egos can cost owners millions. That is millions before, during and after the sale of their company:

  • You can lose a third of the value cited in the letter of intent on the appraisal alone.
  • You could make assumptions on the value of your brand and not have the ongoing customers to back it up
  • You might not consider actions of the company you no longer run impacting the payout.

Without expert professionals on your team to sell your company you can count on making mistakes you won’t even be aware of making. You will see it on the scorecard—the price you get for this thing you gave our life to build. You will get a lot fewer dollars for all the blood, sweat and tears that went into building that brand. It can seem like your brand is disintegrating a pixel at a time.

What is your brand worth?
Entrepreneurial brands are built on individual and team knowhow. Innovative brands may profit from public offerings. No one tries to go that alone. Few empire builders have had the time or the inclination to carve out expertise in the arena of mergers and acquisitions. Why would you assume what got you here will take care of you there?

Do you want full value? Is it worth swallowing a bit of pride? Is it important enough to ask for help from experts?

The right team
You can build a company and a brand but usually it takes a team to take it to its greatest heights.

Selling a company is also a team sport. Selling what took you the better part of a life-time to build requires another lineup. You need experts:

  • A lawyer that has real experience in buying and selling companies
  • Investment bankers skilled in preparing a company for sale and for the inevitable appraisal
  • A management consultant who can help you build the leadership team that will continue to make the company profitable

That is the team at a bare minimum. You will also need accountants and a professional negotiator.

Brand Consequences
If the sale is managed properly your brand will go forward as strong as it ever was. If you’re lucky it will be like Craftsman Tools formerly offered exclusively by Sears but now available at Lowe’s.

Your personal brand is another matter. If you get significantly less for the company than the market perceives is the worth it will be ascribed to your ineptitude. If you strike a great deal (even if the brand is absorbed by the purchasing organization} it will be reported positively in the business press and you will get the credit.

Like Brand it takes time
You can believe the buyer (the opposition) will have the best team money can buy. Your lineup must be just as strong.

You can’t get top dollar jumping in at the last minute. You must plan this just like the most important thing you’ve ever done to build the firm. If you want to sell in five years you need to start now. First, establish who would make up the best team in town. Meet with them. Start building a relationship. Determine if you can trust them. Ask their advice before you start. You can hire them later. Right now you want to know what you can do on your own. You need to know what you don’t know.

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com 9

Brand Stagecraft

Think of your brand in a concert hall or conference room

Yesterday I reviewed the latest blog from Science of People. One of the items was about how to use the physical elements of the stage to enhance your ability to communicate when making a speech.

That got me thinking about how we present information about our brand on web sites.

Brand is the expression of Trust.

How you stage yourself, your product or service makes a difference. Your words can tell prospects they are seen, heard and understood. That creates a level of empathy. Your authority must sync with it to get to Trust. Stagecraft can make the difference. Let them see an expert guide.

The body has a language of its own

Some people craft what they say as if the world will hang on each word. It doesn’t. Your physical appearance in the space impacts it just as much. The elements of body language that can impact your meaning are:

  • Facial Expressions (including your eye movements)
  • Body posture
  • Gestures
  • Breathing
  • Touching to include handshakes

Brand is all about getting to trust. If your posture gives the lie to the empathy you are presenting in your words, you lose. A direct gaze in a Latino culture is a challenge or a romantic indicator. Want to come across as an expert? Relax your hands. That indicates confidence and self-assurance across most cultures. Breathe. Take full deep breaths. Shallow breathing means you are nervous.

All that applies whether you are in a one-on-one meeting, on stage or on video.

Blocking for intimacy

The stage has a front (closest to the audience), a middle and a back (upstage). Intimacy increases the closer you are to the front. It is the same with photos you use on your web site. It is the same in any video you do. Think about how in a movie there’s a shot of the city that cuts to a street with our hero and guide walking along that cuts to a close-up of them talking. That builds intimacy without saying a word. As the distance between the presenter or product is reduced the intimacy increases.

Importance is all about placement

Looking at a stage there is a left, a center and a right from the audience’s viewpoint. If you are presenting something that has a time line involved you may want to begin at the audiences left and work your way to the right to physically enforce the time frame. If you use flashbacks as part of your presentation, always move to the point in the linear narrative where the action occurred. Your audience will get it without a lot of explanation.

All of us have seen web sites with pricing and benefits arrayed from lowest price and inclusions on the left to most on the right. Sears Roebuck started this with their catalog offering of Good, Better and Best. Most commonly today these options are identified on web sites as Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Position can also indicate importance.

In cultures that read left to right/top to bottom, the tendency is to place the most important item on the left moving to lesser items to the right. Where should your most important service be positioned in the offering on the web site? The service panel templates usually have three options. I recommend putting your signature item on the left, the next best revenue producer in the middle and the lowest of the three on the right.

Position vs Intimacy

Combining position and intimacy of graphic can shift this reaction. Frequently there is emphasis put on the center item to supercede the positional importance.

For instance, place an intimate photo of the product/service in the center flanked by less intimate graphics of the other two services. Our tests show that the intimacy of the graphic tends to be the governing factor when there is a difference. If the graphics are similar, position wins.

Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage…

Look at how you block your brand appearance to enhance your connection with your audience.
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Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Brand Anew

Woman developing marketing mindset

When is it time to rebrand?

  • If people can’t remember the name of your business it may be time to rebrand.
  • If people can’t spell the URL for your website, it may be time to rebrand.
  • If people recall your name and not the name of your business, it may be time to rebrand.
  • If people start to think of you in connection with one product more than the one you started with, then it may be time to rebrand.
  • If the market is disrupted and your business becomes passe, it may be time to rebrand.

There are other reasons.

Mergers. Acquisitions. Legal hassles. Reinvention of a product line. To apply new technology. To update the graphic representation of the company.

All those are valid. But the difference from that first list is in the viewer. Those first five reasons are all from the viewpoint of the client or customer. They might be asking you to change to build a better communications stream. It is all about them.

Your prospects, customers or clients are the heroes of the story.

Brand happens whether you like it or not. If you believe as I do that brand is the sum of all your interactions with a prospect, client or customer and an expression of their trust in you then you must pay attention to the signals they send.

I learned the hard way.

When I opened my consulting practice in 1990 I incorporated under the name Z-axis Marketing, Inc. like most entrepreneurs I didn’t research the company name. I just jumped in. Bad move.

The original logo

I was slow to learn that people just couldn’t remember the name. Then one day a client and friend told me he couldn’t remember the URL for my website when he was trying to do a referral. That got my attention. But I didn’t do anything about it immediately. I took the time to investigate what other independent professionals did.

A basic rule.

I found that independent professional brands are locked to personal names. Over time the name may be shortened to just the last name of the founder/owner. Or if it is a partnership or ensemble the shortening may be to the first two names on the masthead or the first letters of the names. Examples abound:

  • From the world of fashion: DKNY (which is Donna Karan New York)
  • From the world of consulting: Ernst & Young
  • From advertising: JWT (J Walter Thompson)

This is particularly true for small firms and start-ups. In initial phases of a business, the reputation of the founder(s) is what will lead the way to client acquisition.

Now you know who built this company

An introduction

These days when I’m asked to introduce myself at a networking gathering or even in response to the question, “What do you do?” Here’s how I respond:

“I’m Jerry Fletcher, the Brand Poobah.

You know how people are always telling you that you gotta have a brand to be successful?

What I do is work with independent professionals to craft a unique trust-based brand to build a business, a career and a life of joy.

I’ve found unforgettable brands for 127 independent professionals at last count.”

Multiple Brands

Now my name is a part of all my brands. All? Yes. I began speaking in 1993. The topic I selected was Networking. I became the Networking Ninja. By then, I was smart enough to know that my name had to be part of the brand.

Fast forward to this year and you can see how the logo has changed.

But another change is coming. Over the last two years I’ve been asked about Brand more than ever before. Google Trends shows me that interest in brand far outweighs interest in social networking and has done so over the last 4 years.

That is why you’ll begin seeing this logo. And why I’ve been blogging about Brand now for two years.

Are you ready to brand anew?

Jerry Fletcher Keynote in Colombia
On stage in Bogota, Colombia/

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com