Consultant Marketing Shaping the Quiz

Under the urge

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

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

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

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

The inevitable gap

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

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

Asking is right

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

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

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

The Quiz Funnel

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

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

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

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

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

The categories

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re not alone

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

Sometimes we listen.

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

And so it goes

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

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

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

Brand:        https://brandbraintrust.com

Consultant Marketing Tech Trap

It’s great until it isn’t.

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

Change

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

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

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

Logging in

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

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

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

Buying in

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

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

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

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

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

Opting out

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

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

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

Integrating

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Automagiced

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“I don’t have to be there in person.”

First I had to teach consulting clients how to use Zoom. We walked through lighting, checking the background and the inevitable foul ups. Then we did a little refresher on how to present successfully at a distance. A couple months into sheltering in place we shared fun uses like a virtual happy hour.

Then the lights went on. Forced to work at a distance and substitute technology for being up close and personal I started hearing comments like:

            “I don’t have to be in the room to build rapport.”

            “I can work with folks a plane ride away without a TSA line.

            “Is there a way we can get to prospects beyond the metro area?”

Automagic Marketing

That’s what I used to call the kind of marketing that pushed the limits on georaphy. Still do, actually, but back when I invented the term I was more aggressively promoting it. To me, the promise of automated marketing was a kind of magic.

It still is.

But then or now the problem is that most folks just don’t understand it. To make Automagic Marketing work, you have to know the limitations as well as the impressive capabilities of computers connected to the internet using direct marketing techniques guided by the magic of if-then scenarios.

An apology, translation and explanation

For those of you that understand this stuff, please pardon my starting with really simple and moving toward more complex. I’ve been amazed by the lack of knowledge of the very sophisticated clients I work with of all ages and backgrounds.

A Rolodex TM

It started with a Rolodex TM. My friend Allen, one of the best sales people I’ve ever met, told me how his jewelry company kept card files on customers that included data on each customer’s extended family. They knew the purchases, ring sizes and preferences for both wives and mistresses! These days that kind of information is in databases manipulated by software for Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Some think that an e-mail program like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact is a CRM. That’s because CRMs always include a way of sending an e-mail either standing alone or working with one you have installed on your computer. The most modern CRMs can also send out texts to smart phones. (Drives me nuts, too!)

Automagic Marketing is what happens when you connect a CRM to an e-mail system and use the abilities of the computer to respond to what action the addressee takes on receiving your message. It is like direct mail on steroids.

The basics

Google is the great search engine that helps you find most everything on the internet. That’s because it ceaselessly searches what is out there. And those that understand how it searches are always dropping clues. Keywords are the primary way to get on the radar. These are words significant in any search you do. A hash tag (which started on Twitter) linked to a keyword makes the item you’ve tagged more visible on social media. Although searching by hashtag has declined, using them puts you higher in the search for the key word. (That’s why people use up to 11 for one item on Instagram or Facebook).

Blogs vs Newsletters

Many of us write blogs. For some it is like writing a journal. For others it is the need to put ideas out into the world and get reaction. If you are looking to have a conversation, you can allow folks to subscribe to your blog. After the psychic payoff you need to understand that a blog says to Google that you have made a change to your web site. That is the best reason for having you blog as part of your website. It enhances your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is the process that helps make sure that your site ranks high in the search engines for relevant keywords and phrases.

A newsletter is not a blog. A newsletter is published via e-mail. It can be all text or formatted with pictures and text, backgrounds and other design elements. It is usually developed using a template supplied by an e-mail service and is sent to a list of people who have opted in to receive it. That list is why some internet entrepreneurs are millionaires. That list, which includes suspects, prospects and customers, is becoming the basis of valuation for companies that operate digitally.   

These days newsletters come in all levels of graphic design from text alone to magazine style approaches that have audio and video links built in. Adding to and making offers to that list is how to get to a 24/7 payday.

Links that pay

People subscribe to your newsletter because they want your content. That may be because they saw a blog and signed up on a form  to get more information. Or they were intrigued by something you posted on social media (a lead magnet) that linked them to a form (a landing page) that had to be filled in to get the item they wanted. The sign-up form automatically puts the contact data into a list and sends out a message to the inquirer’s e-mail so they can download the information. That is automated marketing at it’s simplest.

But wait, there’s more

What if you could set a timer so that another message went out to that new subscriber in an hour or a day or a week or whatever combination of those you preferred?

You can. It is part of Automated Marketing.

What if you have your computer react to subscriber behavior such as their choices in a survey by sending out different information based on their answers?

You can. It is part of Automated Marketing.

What if you could shift your follow up e-mail sequences based on current responses?

You can. It is part of Automated Marketing.

What if you could track subscriber reactions from opt-in to purchase and then based on the purchase begin a sequence to purchase the next product in the series you offer.

You can. It is part of Automated Marketing.

The magic

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The magic is in knowing this is possible.

The magic is in the ability to test to see what works…automatically

The magic is in devising strategies with this capability to build a business, a brand and a life of joy…automatically.

I do that magic and I call it Automagic Marketing

And so it goes

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing List Building

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You snooze, you lose.

Something got lost between the Rollodex, the CRM (Contact Relationship Management) software and the growth of the internet generations.

People seem to have become a lot more transactional. They have given up the power in the connectivity of relational networking.

Relational vs Transactional

I’ve been speaking and writing about networking as a business development tool since 1990. Early on, someone asked me what the best “style” of networking might be. Here’s how I replied in an Article called Pearl Diving:

“Network. Just don’t try to turn that contact into a contract on the spot. It won’t work. We’ve all met people that try that. They glide up to you like a shark, ask a question, talk through your response with a rapid fire commercial, tell you to call them and then they’re gone. In their view, they are networking. Those predatory types just don’t understand the difference between transactional and relational networking.

Transactional networkers want to score now. They are driven to pin down a prospect, get the job or close the deal. They have no time for anything else. They see networking as just one more form of manipulation. Leads groups that penalize members for failure to produce prospects fall into this category, as do the tactics employed by some multilevel marketing organizations.

There is a place for transactions, but it is never on a first meeting. And in most cases it will come much later in the sequence. Tit for Tat Transitional Networking does not scale. The best networkers understand that Networking is the establishment of a relationship.

Relational networkers aren’t interested in what you might be worth to them. They are always more curious about you as a person. They consistently ask how they can be of help to you rather than the other way around. They maintain the contact out of regard for you, not a need to cash in on the contact.”

The power of the list

I advise elite consultants on the marketing they need to build already successful businesses. All have a list of clients, prospects, referral sources, trusted advisors (for themselves and others) and other resources pending Trust evaluations.

The numbers on the lists vary and may be scattered across the world depending on the geographic scope of the consultant’s business. For instance, if you need to initiate a change in a government or multinational I can tell you who to call. That trusted resource is headquartered in Singapore. Need software to revolutionize the speed of managing your business? I can connect you with the president here in North America or the founder in Australia.

In most cases the extremely successful do not have huge lists. If you sell product on line you need to continually expand your list or you need to offer new products of value on a regular basis. But if your business is primarily one to one B2B your list may be relatively small. My current clients have combined lists of no more than 500. They continually add prospects and referral sources but the best apply one measure you should consider.

Meet them before classifying them.

You can add folks to your list in these ways:

  • Speaking—all those folks that want to talk after you step down from the platform and be added to your blog and/or newsletter list if they agree to that. Meet with them before you classify them as a prospect or referral source.
  • Networking—at industry events, again with their permission. Before you go past your blog and newsletter try to meet with them on a more personal basis.
  • Social Networking Connections—to include Linked In, FaceBook, BeBee and any other that provides a profile and allows you to connect with them. Before you start adding folks willy-nilly be sure you have a solid description of the demographics and psychographics of your target addition in mind. Again, get permission before you add them to your blog and/or newsletter list. I recommend that you limit your on-line list development primarily to prospects and that you count on it taking longer than you expected.
  • Introductions—either in person or on-line from referral sources or a relational networker. Always get their permission to put them on your blog and newsletter lists. If you think they are worth pursuing as a prospect, add them to that list. Could they be a referral source or a resource? You decide.
  • Face to Face—prospects introduced by referral sources should be added to the blog and newsletter list almost automatically. If you are meeting with them as a result of speaking or networking you will need to decide whether to put them in your prospect or referral source or resource list.

Keeping track of them

There is no question that the digital world has more efficiency than the old rollodex. The question is how much of that capability do you need?

Excel or other Spreadsheet programs are quite sufficient for some small or highly specialized organizations. That is good for maintaining the list. You’ll need to have calendar program as well to assure you can schedule follow up.

Manual CRM system sounds like an oxymoron but if you are really dealing with a small target number it can make sense. I designed a manual system for a client specializing in Gallium Arsenide chips that had a total of only 26 prospects. It worked. He sold his process and retired.

Digital CRM software can be added to your computer as a standalone or cloud based. Your practice or business size and the number of people that will require access to the data can significantly impact your choices. That, plus the capabilities of the software to deliver blogs or newsletters and other marketing materials, should be considered.

E-mail Programs like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp make it easy to build and e-mail your newsletter as well as keep track of your lists. One of my clients decided to forego a blog opting to send his guidance filled newsletter on weekends. Midweek he sends a mini-update including a new video. His opens average 25.3% on a list that is exclusively c-suite.

Automated Marketing? Yes, It can be done but do you need it? Do you need to trigger actions based on time elapsed or actions taken? Can you build out a funnel that will guide the prospect to a sale based on their situation? (That is a whole blog by itself)

Your list is the second most important part of your business.

The most important is you. If you are a solopreneur the knowledge you bring to the equation is why the business succeeds. If you are an entrepreneur working with a team, your ideas and processes are the intellectual property that makes the business possible. Whether you provide a product or service without your list you can’t make sales over time.

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 on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

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

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

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 Edge On

A friend once described the Platte river (near Denver, Colorado) as a mile wide and an inch deep.

Your brand might be like that.

You have a choice to make:

  • Maintain your broad coverage
  • Dive deep into a select audience segment.
  • Try a little of both

The broad brush

Your target may be portrayed in broad brush strokes at the beginning. Most entrepreneurs believe that broad appeal will get them the most customers.

Maybe.

More often the broad appeal helps those who will become their best customers/clients find the company, product or service. That gives the appearance of a brand that works. But if you don’t regularly probe the information your customers/clients are willing to give you the profiles of your best purchasers will not be revealed.

Edge on

How can you tell? The rule of thumb is that the more niched you are, the better off you’ll be. Generally, that is true. To evaluate your situation, look at the depth of what you know about your client base, the percentage of your sales that cluster in one group, initial and repeat purchases as well as the estimated life time value (LTV) of the individuals as well as where you want to take the business.

The more carefully you describe your avatars, verify them with market research and, over time, add details to their portraits the better you will understand the kind of people that can make you successful. If you’re well-funded, that research can be done by a specialist firm. If you’re little guy, under-funded, or a start-up you may have to do personal interviews to get a handle on that better picture.

What works? I’ve been successful with all three of the choices. More successful with a deep dive. Most successful with the combination and carefully watching the metrics.

Deep Art

The more detailed portrayal of your ideal customer/client the greater the probability of enhanced profits. True, there may be fewer. But each will be worth more in most cases. Repeat purchases are the primary reason as well as a tendency to accept higher prices. The fact that you have found them and are personalizing your approach establishes a large emotional difference from competitors. It makes your brand unique.

Detailed knowledge of two or three groups can not only add to your profits, it can extend the life of your business. A financial planner might open the doors and quickly find that her primary customers are Baby Boomers but that they are referring their children who are in the cohort known as Boomers II or Generation Jones born between 1955 and 1965. They, too, refer other youngsters, born between 1966 and 1976 (Generation X).

The planner may find that Generation X is significantly different from the older clients. But her only way to build the business long term is to understand the differences, speak their language and make the picture familiar to them.

The cohorts are often put into “Buckets.” You could easily identify the three noted above. But the Brand oriented planner will take it a step further using automation software that allows you to “tag” each contact with a full array of ways to sort them into segments within the groups. Here are just a few:

  • Demographics (Age, sex, income, education, housing etc.)
  • Psychographics (Observable personal behavior)
  • Engagement (The degree they respond to your offers)
  • Purchase Behavior (purchases, repeat purchases frequency, recency)
  • Satisfaction (Reviews and testimonials)

Wade in

Keep track of what you learn about your customers/clients. The depth of your knowledge will impact the value of your business every single day.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jerry Fletcher ThinkinigJerry 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 Registration Plus of the Personal Touch

Late today I got a call from a young man striving to get the same sort of business levels here in the Pacific Northwest that he and his wife had been enjoying in Texas. I agreed to meet with him and immediately turned to my files to see if there were tips I had passed along in articles that might help him.

This was first posted in 2013.

Bill got right to the point. He asked, “You’re the expert at on line marketing how can I put my half of the seminar attendees in their seats?”

“Back up,” I said. “Your half?”

Bill explained, “I’ve worked out a deal with a client to host a seminar and they will put 10 people in the room and I have to provide the other 10. I’ll present and they will host the room and the lunch. It’s a win-win if I can get those other seats filled without having to buy the room.”

“Buying the room is a theater expression for providing free tickets to an event to fill the room so it looks like it is a hit.”

“So,” I asked, “Why are you buying me coffee?”

He reviewed his plan to send out e-mails to his list of connections that had opted into his newsletter and even showed me the rough outline of his message.

Bill got a blank expression when I asked him, “What is the subject line?”

He was so wrapped up in the message that he forgot that you have to get the e-mail opened. There are two things people look at before opening an e-mail:

  1. Who it is from
  2. The subject line

The more personal the message appears, the more often it is opened and the easier it is to accomplish your objectives.

I told Bill, “If you have to put 10 people in the room the process they are going to go through is:

  • Open the e-mail (Open rates from a Newsletter list are good, up to 50% but don’t count on more than 20%)
  • Read the offer. Reject you, look for more information or register (Rejections—80% at least. The measure here is click-throughs)
  • If they look for more their options are to reject or register. (About 20%, with luck will register).”

Bill, who is a numbers guy said, “So if I hear you correctly, if I went out to 100 people only 20 would open the message. A best 4 would look for more information. Of those maybe 1 would register.”

“Right, “I said, “so the number you go out to is critical. With those analytics you need to go out to 1000 to get your ten. BUT I can increase our odds. Put their name in the subject line and you get a 15% to 25% increase in opens.

Do the math. That gets you 40 opens, 8 click-throughs and 2 registrations per 100 e-mails sent.”

Bill said, “Thanks, with the personal touch it now seems possible.”

How you handle the click through (CTA) to more information and the page which that delivers can also increase your odds but the single most important factor is getting them to open your message. Personalizing does that.


Jerry Fletcher Keynote in ColombiaJerry Fletcher is 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 on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.

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

 

 

Deja-vu Testing for On-line Success

The Marketing lunch bunch“It’s not a new idea” Kate said, “So don’t try to take credit.”

Rick groaned, took another sip of wine and nodded. Then he rose to the bait saying, “I know I didn’t invent the idea but at least give me credit for figuring out how to apply it to the funnel hacking e-marketing world we live in.”

“So what brilliance did you come up with?” I asked.

“Daily déjà-vu of simultaneous synchronized multi-variant testing of multiple elements is my claim to fame,” he said.

Gail guffawed looked him in the eye and said, “What a mouthful! Rick, my boy you are brilliant at times but this is not one of them. You know as well as I do that direct marketing copy controls have been tested every which way you can imagine over the years and that something as simple as an A-B split test is so easy online that anyone that can afford the software or the service can get it done. So what are you claiming?”

Kate piled on noting, “And don’t try to pull that tale of having to dumb down your ideas of how to test that the programmers couldn’t figure out 10 or 15 years ago because Fletch was sitting beside you in that meeting you’ve told me and as I recall he’s the one that had to explain what an A-B split test was.”

Rick swished his wine in the glass, carefully set it down and replied, “You all would agree that we need to find out the relative importance of the offer, the list of people you are addressing and the approach. That principle is true of direct marketing, e-mail marketing, e-commerce stores/catalogs on-line or even a web site developed to begin a relationship for a professional service.

My approach takes the ability of the internet to produce quantifiable data quickly and the need to look a multiple components of the message to new levels. There are entrepreneurs out there right now that are pushing the envelope. They test everything. They find a control that works and then start testing to improve it. Sometimes as simple shift can increase ROI by hundreds of points.

What are you doing to make your web-based marketing activities more successful? Why not try tests of formatting, subject lines, subheads, arrangement of paragraphs, captions, descriptions, addition or deletion of photos and a host of other variables. There is hard data that shows that at least half of these have increased response levels.

The time to test what works for your business is right now. And tomorrow. And the day after.

Testing ought to be Deja-vu, over and over again.”


Jerry Fletcher weaves the tales of the Lunch Bunch based on his experiences in advertising, direct marketing, consulting and helping build entrepreneur businesses.

Jerry Fletcher KeynoteJerry Fletcher is 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 on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.
Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Get all the Brand Success Stories. Sign up at http://www.brandbraintrust.com/home.html

How to Build a Killer Brand

How to Build a Killer Brand

Heart in sightsIt has been one of those months this week.

Planning. Candid conversations. Decisions to hire and fire. Web site assumptions and dialogues. Quality constraints and requirements. Analytics that spiral positive and those that went down in flames.

Brands suffer the impact because brand building is really not for innocents. Either you really understand marketing or you don’t.

Taking careful aim is at the heart of killer brand development.

What not to do.
Here are some mistakes I witnessed this week:

  1. Put a group of strangers in a room, brief them and expect them to walk out as a functioning collaborative team.
  2. Drop the ball on a project because of bad digital filing habits.
  3. Give a web developer 6 chances to respond to basic direction before deciding to fire him.
  4. Consider video approaches without looking at cost as part of the equation.
  5. Become ecstatic over an increased click through rate that didn’t generate sales.

The Killer Solution

Experience over the last 50 years tells me that to build a brand that captures hearts and minds successfully you have to understand how marketing professionals work in teams and their expectations of management. Clarity is what will make you successful.

Be perfectly clear that :

  • The owner/founder/CEO/President—the leader of any small firm owns the brand. Her or his understanding of the Vision, Mission, Position and Value Proposition is what will be applied to all organization communications.
  • Direction on any major project should be in writing and agreed to in advance. The directional document should be the reference point for approvals. Staff can provide additional information but is encouraged to do it before any work is done. If there is concern over the materials delivered the reference point is the direction.
  • A digital “paper trail” needs to be kept and used as the reference when anything goes sideways (as well as a way to assure continuing process improvement). With small clients I had eliminated my Action Reports on all meetings. I’m reversing that decision.
  • Budget, Quality and Outcome are interrelated. There are significant differences in delivery of digital capabilities, video production, and all communication vehicles based on what a firm is willing to pay, the level of excellence of the work and what the expectations of the item are. Too often, even though we have much better visibility of analytics the end results are not the key factor in evaluating marketing efforts.
  • Business Development objectives are the real measurements. Everything done in marketing needs to acknowledge contribution to the target numbers. Be as concrete as possible. For instance:
  • Optimize web site to make it as easy as possible for visitors to self-select the action which will give you a way to connect with them over the time to build a relationship leading to a “sale.” Track all actions. Track actual “sales” to determine the apparent customer journey.
  • Direct Social Media activities to continually tested landing pages that capture data to build relationships over time. Track actions by landing page. Track “sales” as with web site. Review results and test all contact activities to find the ones that lead to “Sales.”
  • Build better ongoing relationships with customers by monitoring opens, comments and direct contacts due to blog and newsletter postings. Modify content to take advantage of proven highest interest. Keep tracking.
  • Test automated sequences in support of direct sales staff. Monitor results.

Trial to buy ScorecardPost status versus your corporate goals on a scoreboard visible to all members of the firm.

Weekly results usually work best. Keep it simple: New info sign ups, New trials, New customers/clients.

Those few items will keep everyone in the game.

 


Jerry FletcherJerry Fletcher is 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 on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.

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

Get all the Brand Success Stories. Sign up at http://www.brandbraintrust.com/home.html