About Jerry Fletcher

Jerry is the CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. which he founded in 1990. He is an expert at business development and has changed the way the way new business is acquired and introduced on three continents. He is known to meet with clients in dining rooms and boardrooms. He stopped counting successful introductions of new products at 207.

Brand and Passive Aggressive Prospects

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Today’s consumers are Passive/Aggressive.

  • 51% research brands via search engines.
  • 27% want brands to improve their knowledge and skills
  • 44% post an online review monthly

Globalwebindex uses those research results and others to claim that the “new consumer” is primarily engaged with on-line media to “find the brands and products that suit them.”

More touchpoints is just that.

Yes, there are more touchpoints on the way to a purchase. That has changed. But the assumption that on-line is pre-eminent is poppycock. Traditional media still plays a role. Their own data proves it:

  • 63% of consumers discover new brands without using search engines.
  • 73% don’t want brands to improve their knowledge and skill
  • 56% don’t post monthly reviews.

Consistency is key

When half of on-line adults block ads on their mobiles and desktops you need to be sure that the media they do see tells your story the same way every time. What does that mean? In simple terms your value proposition needs to be implemented in a recognizable, memorable way across all media. Simple ways you can do that:

  • Use the same logo in all media
  • Use the same key attribute benefit (both verbally and in video animation) across all materials you present to them
  • Personalize your approach based on why the client/consumer/patient wants your product/service
  • Use their language, not yours to describe what you deliver
  • In short: Go where the money is, sell what they want to buy and do it again.

B to C versus B to B Touchpoints

Awareness (A) Research(R) and Preference(P) are requiredin the context of any purchase journey, Business or Consumer. There is a difference. Here’s how it breaks down:

Consumer                            Both                                       Business

                                                Word of Mouth (A)

Traditional Ads (A)              Direct Marketing(A)          Trade shows(A)

Search(R)                              Website(R)                            Search(R)

Social Media(R)                    PR Mentions (R)                   Linked In(R)

Online Reviews(P)                                                              Testimonials(P)

E-Commerce                                                                         Direct sales

Products sell on line, services not so much

The difference is matter of Trust. Don’t get me wrong. Trust is required before a purchase in either category. The difference is in the object of trust. Usually in a consumer business the Trust is in the product. Business requires the buyer to get to trust with the seller—the person who is going to supply the service.

We could quibble about Software As A Service being more of a product sale but unless the provider is a major corporation it always comes down to building trust in the founder/developer/owner and her/his expertise in the industry.

Building Brand based on why

Whether you sell BtoB or BtoC you will be more successful if you understand why your customer needs your help. More importantly you’ll connect with more prospects if you voice their problem or concern that you solve in their language. Use their words and know what makes them consider your option.

The only way to get that knowledge is to go talk to potential clients/patients/customers and listen. I’m constantly amazed when an entrepreneur builds a product or develops a service without ever talking to the people that might buy it!

Listen to them. Write your value proposition based on what they have to say. Name your product or service in terms they might use particularly if you are cash strapped. Pay a professional to develop a logo that connects with your potential purchaser. Be sure it does by asking them. Pu your key benefit attribute out front so it is easily seen and understood. Stick with it across all the ways you can deliver a message on and off-line.


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

What Are the Key Words of Your Brand?

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That sounds simple enough but as my client Brent said over lunch, “Finding key words takes a lot of time and you’re still not certain they match up with your brand.

Search engines are dumb.

Type in a descriptor of what you are looking for.  For example, I’ll use “keynote.”

I mean a major presentation by a professional speaker at a meeting or conference. But that is not what Google served up. All I got initially was a lot of information about an Apple program. It took three pages before I found any item about a professional speaker!

Maybe not so dumb…

I changed the query to “Keynote speaker.” That yielded 62,800,000 possibilities and the first page was all about professional speakers and speakers bureaus.

I started looking at how to get really good key words because “keynote speaker” got a lot of possibilities. Way too many!

Key Words are competitive

As you minimize the competition for your key words you increase the possibility of your web page showing up on the first page of the search engine. That gets you up to 90% more views!

Popular search terms only make up a fraction of all searches performed on the web. In fact, keywords with very high search volumes could draw visitors to your site whose goals don’t match the content your page provides.

Long tail key words may be more valuable

This chart from MOZ shows how key words ranked outside the top ten provide over 80% of the searches.

Test and Reset.

Finding key words that match your brand is an iterative process. Trial and error can get you to a better place. I started with: “Keynote Speaker for Independent professionals”

That generated zero, zip, nada so I tried:

Keynote speaker for Consultants 77,100,000 results
Keynote speaker for Coaches       72,000,000 results
Keynote Speaker for entrepreneurs         20,100,000 results
Keynote speaker for solopreneurs           59,100 results

Get more specific.

Since I speak on multiple areas of business development essential to these kinds of businesses I next tried searching based on those possibilities. The results:

Brand Keynote speaker      30,300,000 results
Brand Keynote Speaker for entrepreneurs         9,550,000 results
Brand Keynote speaker for solopreneurs                        87,000 results Networking keynote speaker          11,700,000 results
Networking Keynote speaker for entrepreneurs 12,700,000 results Networking Keynote speaker for solopreneurs  97,500 results
CRM keynote speaker         801,000 results
CRM Keynote speaker for entrepreneurs           410,000 results
CRM Keynote speaker for solopreneurs            39,800 results
Brand keynote speaker for solopreneur consultants     204,000 results Networking Keynote speaker for solopreneur consultants 136,000 results CRM keynote speaker for solopreneur consultants       28,900 results

Focus

Deciding what to do is damned difficult. Trends say there is more interest in brand than networking and definitely more than in CRM. But, the smaller the niche you approach the easier it is to get high search rankings and hence bookings. It looks to me like I should put more emphasis on my speaking site on CRM or possibly crank up a new site.

What do you think?

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 and the Placebo Effect.

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Go ask Alice

The lyrics to “White Rabbit” written by Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane begin with:

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all…


When it comes to Brand that is correct as far as it goes. Spending to build or maintain a Brand will keep it on track, Cutting marketing to the bone as was done following the merger of Kraft and Heinz reduced the size of the company as well as the shares of all their Brands.

Owners and managers were counting on the placebo effect, that power of the human mind to experience what we expect. Those marketers expected their customers to continue to believe in and buy the brands even if the brands did not reach out to them.

Turns out the customers are on to that trick.

  • You can’t build or maintain share by cost-cutting.
  • You can’t keep customers if you don’t listen to them
  • You can’t convert prospects by solving old problems

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call

To succeed in building or maintaining a Brand you can’t count on where and what you’ve been. The audience is changing. The customer’s methods of evaluating your product or service are changing. The media that reaches them is changing.

Your Brand is the sum total of perceptions held by contacts, prospects and customers.

  • If you don’t keep up the conversation your Brand will weaken
  • If you don’t use social media to get close your Brand will stagnate
  • If you don’t publicize how you are disrupting the category your Brand will lose share.

Small businesses have the advantage here. You can build a stronger relationship with contacts, prospects and customers. You can personalize your communications meaningfully by going beyond using their name and knowing what it is that caused them to build a relationship with your Brand. Once that bond is reached the placebo effect will work for you. They will defer purchase of a competitive product until your similar product is available. They will become your best salesmen.

When the men on the chessboard get up
And tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow

As soon as you begin to have some success you will be accosted by marketing experts who will want to sell you their advice. Stick with the personal touch. It is the shortcut to Brand. Stick with what has been working.

Yes, you’re busy. Yes, you’re getting more business than ever before. Yes, what they say sounds good.

Take your time. Don’t make any long-term commitments. Test their advice. It is your Brand, after all.

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said

Feed your head, feed your head

The demographics of your market are changing. The psychographics of your market are changing. Find out how. Find out by getting as up close and personal as you can. Listen. Really listen to what is going on with your contacts, prospects and customers. Let them help you innovate and stimulate how you can disrupt the arena your product or service is in.

Your Brand is a living breathing entity. Remember you can influence it but you can’t control it. Complete control rests with those that think, feel and believe what is said about it. But if you don’t support it with ongoing marketing it will fade. You need to feed the way you want it perceived or it will lose its luster for fans.

The placebo effect can add to your Brand.

  • The visual appeal of your product or service can make it more desirable
  • A referral from a trusted friend or advisor creates positive expectations
  • Great reviews or testimonials build Brand prior to use by new customers

Here are all the lyrics:

White Rabbit

Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
To call Alice, when she was just small

When the men on the chessboard get up
And tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice, I think she will know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head

Songwriters: GRACE WING SLICK


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 Little Guy Brand Advantage

Relationships are the heart of the advantage.

Twice this week I’ve seen research reports that verify what brand experts have been saying for years:

“Small brands have a distinct advantage in gaining the trust and loyalty of consumers.”

Those of us the that work with the “little guys” know it is true. What the research verifies is that the advantage accrues in both the Business to Consumer and the Business to Business World.

Trust is a complication

According to the Edelman 2018 Trust Barometer, Trust in traditional media, search engines and social media varies around the world. Here in the USA, Trust in Traditional media is at best neutral (58%), in search engines at 54% and in social media declining, now at just 30%.

Trust Building: Advantage Little Guy

The bond between brands and people favors small businesses:

  • Customer service is the number one way to the heart of a today’s consumer
  • Direct conversations are considered more truthful than advertising
  • Social media is essential to discovering new brands and building an emotional relationship
  • Brands expected to pressure platforms to address fake news and hate speech
  • Brands are obligated to protect personal data (89% in the USA)

Customer Service

Service to the customer is part and parcel of the small business. Just about anyone in the small operation will help you or point you to someone who can. That is the everyday experience. It can be even more impressive when you have problem.

Small businesses generally can’t afford setting up technology heavy customer service departments. The likelihood that you will talk to a real person without having to go through an interminable automated phone message system is high. The probability that the person you talk to will be able to act on your problem without deferring for an approval is significantly higher than you’ll find dialing into the big guys. Even if the matter must be referred to a supervisor you’ll get a resolution now instead of waiting days.

Direct Conversations

Major brands advertise at you. Small brands build relationships. Would you rather have a conversation or hear a commercial? Small brands, particularly as they are beginning get to know you. As they grow they get to know a lot of folks like you. The thing is, for them a lot is a business. The same number for a big business is a drop in the bucket.

So the little guys tend to talk with you, not at you. They understand why you want to eat the whole half-pint of ice cream or how you like your Latte in a mug not paper without having to ask for it. They have listened when you told them you prefer text or e-mail to learn about special sales or events. They pay attention because they know this relationship is important to both of you.

Social media

All brands must act to:

  • Give customers a better deal for their data
  • Create trusted content on social media
  • Join forces to build trust in social media

Those are not my words.  They are straight out of the Edelman report. 

The deal: What they mean is that the consumers/customers expect their personal data to be kept safe, that policies are clear, and that it is okay to build a relationship using that information.

The content: Builds credibility through quality, well designed material that is transparent as to author and sponsorship. Allows opt in/opt out. Stays consistent using the same message across media.

The trust: Brands, along with government and help from consumers are expected to be proactive about data and privacy, create and champion quality content, act with integrity, transparency and humanity.

Brand Obligations

The most recent hate speech reaction of note was from one of the big guys. Nike supported Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the national anthem. Initially the reaction was disbelief. But among the Nike customers the reaction was extremely positive. Nike had a solid relationship which made the decision an obvious one.

Protecting your personal data is not an easy task for the little guy. True, they may have less information and it may be in human memory initially but sooner or later it will wind up in a contact relationship management database.  Even then, it may be easier to preserve as it is too small for hackers to go after it. But, the availability of highly secure cloud storage may partially solve that problem.

Little guy? Build your relationship with clients and customers.

You’ll generate trust and loyalty to build your business and the joy in your life.

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 00

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