Consultant Marketing Not a Selfie

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Turn your phone around.

Point it at your client.

Successful consulting is all about them.

Get their viewpoint.

Speak to it.

Use graphics that touch them.

Tell their stories.

Stop selling and let them buy.

Successful consulting is about changing what they think, feel and believe.

They think they are customer focused. They want to be but how often do their decisions meet customer preferences? Do they ask customers before building a new product? Do they depend on “gut feel” more than research? Do they resist A-B split testing?

Your mission is to find clarity and convince them to adopt a strategic analysis process

They feel that they have an inside track on what works because they were successful in another industry. They are of the opinion that their success will translate no matter that the culture of a new company or the customers is different from what they have known. They seem, at times, to be saying, “don’t confuse me with facts, I know better.”

Your job is to acknowledge their feelings and gently guide them to look at more viewpoints, particularly those of customers or clients.

They believe that what worked before will work again. You hear the phrase, “it has always been that way.” Someone notes that, “The industry standard has been in place since before we went into business.” Or, the argument that is supposed to end the discussion, “We can’t be the first to do something different.”

Your task is to convince, persuade or cajole them into trying a new way and see what happens.

Successful consulting is not about what you say. It’s about what people hear.

There is a word for it: Value.

Select your words with care and stand firm on recommendations because often it is not what you say but how you say it. Too often we provide features and benefits and overlook the power of why we’ve built things that way. We don’t walk the path our customers or clients walk. We become so enthused with our solutions that we lose sight of what success will be like for the folks we are advising. Clients want to know that you are going to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty helping them. That’s why you select:

            Guide versus advise

            Craft instead of assemble

            Shape rather than manufacture

You will be judged by your words in the first three seconds on or off line. You need to make them count. Past that, the way you describe what you do, who you do it for and why your approach works in specific terms must be rendered quickly, surely and in a way that people can connect with. People will give you 30 seconds to do that.

A case in point: 30-Second Marketing has been one of the strategic marketing tools I have provided clients for longer than a decade. It has changed over time as elements were tested and improved. The modules in the training and the speech used to be: Hook ‘em, Hold ‘em, Pitch ‘em and Close ‘em.

Here is how they are identified in the new experience-based incarnation:

30-Second Marketing takes you from Memorable to Unforgettable.:

  • Module 1—Your Memorable Hook: 3 tools that simplify finding the words that will make you memorable, establish your brand and begin earning trust as you introduce yourself.
  • Module 2—Crafting the conversation to Hold ’em: Developing the statement hat will help listeners sort themselves into prospects or referral sources in seconds.
  • Module 3—Getting to Trust to Pitch ‘em: Explaining what you deliver in a way that immediately earns trust and provides a simple script for a referral.
  • Module 4—Compiling outcomes to Close ‘em: Gathering the concrete examples of results that demonstrate how effective your advice is for your clients.
  • Module 5—Becoming Unforgettable: Specific ways to use what you’ve learned as the strategic center of your business development (Networking on and off line, building a persona video, ceveloping your web site, speaking to build your business, clarifying all your marketing materials.)

The value here is in presenting each module in a way that allows the client/customer to assess it in their terms.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to mull over what I’ve said here and how it impacts the way you communicate the value of your consultancy. Need to change? Build a plan. Stymied? Contact a professional. Still not sure? Try it out on a real client/customer. That’s the only way to be sure.

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 and Brand development advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Reinvention.

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Like it or not, if you are an independent professional you will, at some point, have to do it.

Times change.

Clients change.

Technology changes.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it is:

  • Adapt your approach and processes to today’s requirements
  • Find a way to get in sync with your kind of customers
  • Step up to the new technologies and learn how to use them.

I thought November and December were going to be quiet, just the regular client work, minimal new business meetings and just some seasonal cocktail dos. So I signed up for two on-line courses that help with that whole reinvention thing.

The best laid plans…

Two new clients, bless them, sent my laid-back, study at leisure, pipe dream up in smoke. I figured the year end change over would be cake walk. I got behind on the classwork. So I ensconced myself in the office over the holiday and did several ten hour days to get to the point where I’m only two days behind on each course.

An open mind.

I’ve learned a great deal because the coaching calls for the courses are recorded on video and available for viewing at your convenience. You can learn a lot by simply listening to other folk’s questions about how things work. One course has a Friday coaching call that deals with the technologies necessary to develop, sell and deliver products in person and on line. The nice thing is that technologies are reviewed from free to paid, cheap to expensive. The coach is straightforward about his preferences and gives his reasons why. 

Because I have had numerous clients in the technology sphere I am regularly assaulted in my inbox with pitches for new products and I’ve been known to try them out. That’s why I recommend products that originate around the world. This experience convinced me that I had made the right decision in going to Office 365 instead of opting for the free Google suite. Having to generate responses in Google docs and monitor activities in Facebook verified that neither is the best business approach.

It is really all about the experience

I’ve sold information products as a speaker since the 1990’s but had stopped when a combination of ill health and technology shift put that on hold for a couple years. So I dove into learning about how the dopamine injected addiction of gamification can assure that the expertise you offer for a business or personal problem gets put to use.

That is the big win in this shift. The research shows that by moving to an experiential model the number of people that actually use the advice offered, that complete the programs, goes from 1 to 5% up to 30 to 50% on average and as high as 70 to 90% in some cases!

Winning on the platform and after

Most people that step on to a stage and speak in public do it to because they firmly believe they have a message of value to deliver. Whether you are looking to get paid for the speech or to build your business by getting in front of prospects or simply intent on helping people you can learn to do it better.

I’ve been speaking professionally since 1993. The greatest compliment I’ve ever received was from someone that had gifted one of my double tape cassette tapes (before CDs and streaming). Her friend had overcome a fear of networking and was now building her business through membership in multiple chambers of commerce.

An involved audience

Zoom, an easy-to-use webinar/screen sharing/meeting software makes it possible to host workshops for up to hundreds of people to share your insights. No, it is never going to be the same as a face-to-face encounter in a room somewhere but for me it is a way to extend my offering and help people build a business, a brand and a life of joy by sticking with them for longer than that hour on stage.

Selling from the stage has never been my forte. Most meeting planners frown on it. I like to give full value so that the audience goes home with something the can put to work today. I’ve found a way to extend the relationship and take them deeper into the secrets I’ve discovered so more of them win and win bigger.

Free is a very good price.

These days I offer a FREE 3-Day Memorable Hook Challenge. (Regular Price: $197) It is a combination of short videos, worksheets and live coaching to go from Who? to Memorable spending no more than a few minutes a day for 3 days. Anyone that accepts the challenge learns three ways to figure out a trust-based hook that is unique to them. This is practical knowhow based on my experience in 1-on-1 consulting that has been tested, verified and well worth the price of admission.

Those that try the challenge are always the first told about new products, findings and ways to sync new technologies with new methods and new customer mindsets.

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 and Brand development advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing Video Up!

I admit it.

I’m a techno laggard at times.

Yesterday I was telling my twenty-something trainer at the gym about the difficulty I was having finding the take and bake bread I liked at the supermarket. (It is always out when I can shop)

All she said was, “Have you tried looking for it on line?”

I had never thought of that. Searching for distribution of a product on the internet for me is like swatting flies with an elephant but I’m nothing if not game.

I clicked into Google when I got home and found the bread of my desire was available at five major outlets in my neck of the woods!

I texted her about my success (I’m slow to try tech but when forced…)

She texted back with an animated video emoji.

Startled, I responded with a text that expressed wonder and delight.

Technology morphs so fast we can get left behind and not know it. That’s not okay if you are in the consulting business. Video is the wave of the future.

Video e-mail is something I believe every consultant should be aware of. I’ve learned a little about it and had a chance to analyze over the last few months as I, once again, reinvent myself.

My conclusion: Video e-mail can be the single most important arrow in the consultant marketing quiver. Here’s why:

Connecting with suspects, prospects, clients, referral sources and anyone you want to build a trust-based relationship with is more intimate in video. Through video, people can:

Read your body language

Hear your tone of voice

Engage with all the layers of your message

Get a feeling of what it would be like to work with you

Understand you at both an emotional and logical level

Accurately assess your sincerity or conviction about your message 

Becoming memorable is easier to accomplish when I can see you and hear you and not just read your words. All of us are more genuine when we’re having a conversation not delivering a commercial. A study cited in the Harvard Business Review determined that “face-to-face requests were 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than emails.”

If a video e-mail only gets you half-way there it is worth it because the message you’re delivering isn’t just about your words. It’s also about all the wonderfully subtle ways we communicate as social creatures. 

  • Holding interest over time with video e-mail can generate more business, more quickly than all the referrals you’re waiting for. Video e-mail is how you can take that content filled funnel everyone says you need in today’s digital world that is taking forever to produce results and make something happen now. Target selectively. Use proactive personalized video e-mail and stack up a pile of new business possibilities just waiting to be cashed in. This is one of the secrets of getting on more stages if you speak to build your practice.
  • Powering up your pitch by making it more cogent. E-mail video forces you to cut to the chase, inject emotion and stop hiding behind the numbers, logic and slides. Yes, you can still present a value-based proposal in person. But imagine the difference in impact when you ask for the in-person meeting in a video e-mail quoting their perceived values and as taste of how you are going to deliver them.

Statistics tell us that we open 77% of work email and 59% of personal email.

Video e-mail can make yours stand out from the crowd show that you are authentic and get to trust more quickly.

  • Trust building follow-up is quickly and easily accomplished for everything. It brings the client into the equation in greater depth and builds on a personal conversation.

One of my Oregon clients uses a web consultant located in Toronto, Canada. Each time a change is made in the client’s web site the consultant sends a screen capture video of the work he has done commenting as the actual changes appear. The work is done faster and with fewer repeat requests.

Other follow-up possibilities:

  • A simple thank you (Gratitude for any positive action)
  • A referralor recommendation
  • Introductions
  • Apologies
  • Status reports

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 and Brand development advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing Visual Cues

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Little things can mean a lot.

Start at the top, with hair or the lack of it. That works whether you are male or female. Unruly hair that looks like a frightened rooster just won’t get it. On the other hand being expertly coifed and looking like a model may be a bit much. The key is to fit in to the comfort zone of the audience and be just one notch above it.

You want to get to trust. Trusted advisors get the contracts.

One notch better

If there is a single piece of advice in this regard, that is it. Recently, at a conference attended by top independent consultants from across the country one topic that ran through the lunch room was that clients were asking that the men not wear ties. The consensus was that was a good idea until key players in a meeting showed up in cravats!

I’ve not worn a tie since 1990 when I opened my practice. But I wear special shirts when I do a keynote that have a hidden placket and a collar that buttons tight to the neck. I have them in both black and white. My notch down is a turtle neck worn with a sport coat.

The women at the lunch table simple laughed and said the one notch above was a good idea but the way to do it was not power suits. Their advice was to have great high value accessories—scarves, purses, and most important, shoes. One noted that women knew expensive shoes the way guys know cars.

A signature item

A few of my clients have considered trying to stand out by linking themselves with key items of equipment. One was forever trading up his laptop to the smallest, lightest and most advanced until one of his clients asked how much time he spent after each upgrade learning to use it.

For awhile one client was over the moon about his expensive fountain pen until a CEO told him that he never bought a pen in his life and had no intention of doing so.

Cars, watches, airplanes, etc. Those don’t matter to most of the folks that sign the checks. They are, at best, borrowed marks of excellence. Only something that relates uniquely to you will generate the memorability you are after.

One of my clients uses a tangled skein of purple wool to visualize the money knots in all our minds when she’s speaking. The color is the same that is used in her “Untangler” logo.

Graphic consistency

I started with your appearance because the human face recognition skills far surpass our visual cognition in every other area. We are better at sensing when something is amiss then when all is okay. Other graphic elements to consider:

Color The color in your logotype needs to be the same wherever it is employed. If the color plays a major part in identifying you. It needs to be consistent. Where?

  • Business cards
  • Letterhead
  • Website
  • Signage
  • Vehicles
  • White Papers
  • Brochures
  • Presentations
  • On-line Content

Typography The type style you use for your logo may be so singular that it will prove too hard to read if used for all the text in your materials. That is not always the case. The critical decision here is the selection of a single type style for all the required word elements—headlines, subheads, text, captions and even footnotes. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to make it all easily readable.

If you tend to produce a lot of your own content there are a couple other tips you may want to employ:

  • Try to keep your line length under 50 characters. Tess show that the human eye tends to tire if the line length is too long. Apparently, resetting to the next line “wakes up” the eye.
  • Use flush left ragged right. Do not use the other options available in Word (Center, Flush right ragged left and Justified) All of those are harder to read.
  • Multiple columns of information tends to be perceived as for business purposes.
  • Eye traps (bolds, underlines, italics, bullets, lists, indents, and initial caps) can enhance read through.
  • Use reverse (white type on black background) very sparingly.

Process Diagrams I never met a consultant that didn’t have a process. Like most of us they like to have diagrams that help explain their unique approach. Too often those diagrams are drawn anew each time. Again, consistency is the most direct route to Trust.

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The style of the diagram also needs to be constant. This is particularly true if there is motion or implied motion in the process. That is why I use a gyroscope as the primary overall illustration for the Z-axis Process. You can use a photo or a graphic extracted from a photo or linear graphics. Arrows can be hard-edged or brush strokes, open or filled in. Here’s a hard edged example straight out of Word

Whether you use hard edged or loose design the key is to keep it the same throughout and to use the same descriptors throughout.

Photography/Illustration Be careful to assure that your photos are all the same level of quality. If you use color photos, do so on everything (unless you have a historic black and white or tinted photo that lends credence to your “About” story) Seldom if ever should you swap back and forth between photography and illustration. Pick one and stick with it.

Most importantly, be sure all your designs look like they came from the same family. A good designer can give you a “look” that helps brand you, make you memorable and get you one step closer to becoming a trusted advisor.

Like mama said, “Mind your Ps and Qs and use consistent Visual cues!”

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 and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing Wicked Worksheet

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How will you be remembered?

What is your legacy?  What will people say about you and your business when you are gone? If the business continues will people remark on what it did for clients? Will the name stir golden memories or just a confusion of recollections?

Why?

At the heart of every successful business, particularly a consulting business there is a reason why the organization exists. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a group with offices across the country there is a core purpose that keeps the firm alive.

But it is more than that driving force. Over time it also becomes the results achieved. Those for whom you have delivered become a tribe linked to each other by those results and the passion that drives the enterprise.

It is most commonly called your mission.

Because of the emotions involved it is difficult to state simply and clearly. One of my clients who had easily completed all the exercises and worksheets presented to her earlier said that this one was “Wicked.”

The Wicked Worksheet

The Why of your business is not easy to put into words for most consultants. The easiest way I have found to get to the WHY of a business is to start with the easier questions and work into it. Repeat until it “feels right”

  1. What one or two words describes your business or organization in terms of what it delivers?

Examples: Marketing Advice (for a consultant) Delivery (for a package service)

My What word is: ________________________________________________________

2. Add one word that says how you provide it.

Examples: Do it Yourself Marketing Advice Overnight Delivery

My How word is: _________________________________________________________

3. Add a word or phrase that tells people Where you provide it.

Examples: D-I-Y Marketing Advice in person or recorded Overnight deliveries in the USA

My Where word is: _______________________________________________________

4. Add a word or phrase that tells me Who it is for.

 Examples: Do it Yourself Marketing Advice in person or recorded for small businesses the “little guys” Overnight Delivery in the USA for businesses

My Who is: __________________________________________________________________

5. Next comes when, the need use or occasion that helps make your offering special.

Examples: Do it Yourself Marketing Advice in person or recorded for budget limited “little guys” Overnight Delivery in the USA for businesses on a deadline.

The when of my business is: ________________________________________________

6. What is important to the customer about that? ___________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Examples: Do it Yourself Marketing Advice in person or recorded for budget limited “little guys” who need confidence to build their Business.

Overnight delivery in the USA for businesses on a deadline that need to be sure it will get there on time.

7. With that in mind sum up Why this business or organization exists in as few words as possible:

_______________________________________________________________________________

Examples: Z-axis Marketing’s Marketing Without Money TM for the little guy
Federal Express When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.

Will your Mission stand the test of time?

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 

The Pivot

Divorced, downsized and still dedicated

Other than my daughter, my consulting practice has been the single on-going relationship in my life. Yes, clients have come and gone but the tenets of marketing I discovered on this journey, added to the knowledge imparted by 25 years prior in the advertising trade have stood me in good stead.

I’m still standin’

Z-axis Marketing was incorporated in 1990. It has been my primary business since then and was profitable enough to help put a daughter through college as well as put food on the table, a roof over head and an SUV in the driveway.

That is still the case.

Getting back on track

My marketing has changed over the years responding to on one hand the whims of the moment but on the other to constant monitoring of results. If I had to cite one book that put me on this path it would be Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising. It provided the inspiration for this mantra:

Test, Measure, Reset…Test, Measure, Reset Ad Infinitum
Jerry Fletcher

Long ago and not so far away

I identified myself as a Consultant and Speaker as far back as 1993.

That’s when I helped found the National Speakers Association chapter in Portland, Oregon. Speaking, as I now coach the consultants I work with, is a superior way to reach more prospects and get to trust more quickly than any other way I’ve found.

The key to getting booked to speak is to provide information of interest that will help audience members take skills away with them that can help build their business. Networking was what I centered my speaking on back then.  After waiting 7 years to scoop it up, I owned the Networking Ninja URL, built my speaking web site and, overtime, updated it several times.

Because my one-on-one consulting practice kept getting bigger I reprinted the cards with the consulting identity on one side and Networking Ninja on the other.

That’s when this phrase first appeared:

“Trust-based strategic marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy…on and off line.”

Confused, cross and convalescent

I was speaking internationally by now but a health problem, later diagnosed as Thyroid snuck up on me and sapped my energy. Airports, traveling to speaking engagements, became for me a version of the Bataan death march. I stopped promoting myself as a speaker and coped with having to rest after just a couple hours of work. Finally, I subjected myself to a battery of tests that required drawing six vials of blood. Both my oncologist and my regular doctor reached the same conclusion. I had a thyroid problem.

Now, I take a pill the size of a baby aspirin each day and I’m in the gym daily during the work week. It took a little over a year to get back to normal. 

Google Trends

I decided to, once again, go back to speaking. A fellow speaker suggested I check topics on Google Trends to determine what folks were interested in these days versus the past.

I did.

It wasn’t pretty. The younger generations are not relationship oriented. For them, networking knowledge is not something they covet. Brand, particularly personal brand was trending up. That was about a year ago. I switched to identifying myself as the Brand Poobah. The story is here: http://jerryfletcher.net/2018/12/brand-anew/

SEO to success

I received my copy of the book Choose from Ryan Levesque, who is the founder of The Ask Method. I proceeded to read it and then over Independence Day follow the advice between the covers.

My assumptions regarding the search terms that would profit me most were only partially true. The approach I had taken is here: http://jerryfletcher.net/2019/04/what-are-the-key-words-of-your-brand/

Choose lays out how to decide what your keywords should be if you want to sell education and expertise on line. The advice is straightforward and the tests easily accomplished in a day at your computer after some initial brainstorming.

Power in a pickle label

I generated over 50 possible keywords and proceeded to test them with the process Ryan had developed.

My selections didn’t even get through the first round unscathed. I stepped back and tried again. On the third try I put in two phrases copywriters would call “pickle labels.”

Both met the test requirements…all of them. That’s why my consulting website has been rewritten. That’s why my profiles on social media have been updated. That’s why the ID at the bottom of the page is changing.

The moral of the story

I’m not getting any younger. I still like speaking because I can see the lights go on in solopreneur’s minds when my advice hits home. I still like one-on-one consulting and I’ll continue to do it. The thing is, clients and others keep asking me to put some of my advice on line and to provide ways I can work with more folks.

I can do that best by concentrating my efforts in one thing: Consultant Marketing. That’s why I bought the URL and a new website is on the way.

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

How Your Brand Can Win Customers Over

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It isn’t automatic.

There are some basic reasons your product or service will even be considered. Here are the results from a survey conducted by InfoGroup. What customers want from a brand:

  • Excellent product or service—58.2%
  • Meaningful Content—15.4%
  • Relevant ads/messaging—11%
  • Funny Marketing—10.9%
  • Flashy Packaging—3.3%
  • Celebrity Endorsement—1.2%

It’s close to Pareto.

The first three categories above add up to over 80%. The Pareto Rule of thumb is that in any group 80% will hold similar opinions. Another corollary is that 80% of your purchases will come from 20% of the audience.

The online corollary continues.

Research reported by Bynder tells us that the number of brands followed online breaks down this way:

  • 1 to 9 brands followed—67.6%
  • 10 to 19 brands followed—22.6%
  • 20 to 29 brands followed—5.9%
  • 30+ brands followed—3.9%

Over 90% follow up to 19 brands. That 90% number is common for a significant series of analytics on the internet. Sales is the most commonly cited with 90% of sales being generated by 10% of the followers that engage with a brand.

How do you engage for greatest impact?

There are no surprises here. Nearly 60% of prospects prefer a visual approach using photographic images and videos. Another 16% want your online content to be interactive. Another 12 % stated that they didn’t want to be “sold at” and preferred a conversational format (to include chatbots and forums). If they are truly interested in what you have to offer they will read blogs and articles of length.

In fact, over 50% of them cite articles, blog posts and social media as the reason they will try something new.

Once you have their interest…

Don’t betray their trust. Make it as easy as possible for them to buy. They measure the convenience you offer from the git-go. Will you customize the product or service? Tell them. Can package offerings or packaging be customized? Consider it. About 10% are looking for that kind of consideration.

The more they orient to working with you on line the more you need to have a firm grasp of their pet peeves and how to avoid them. The more you can personalize the content you serve up, the better off you’ll be. Just as importantly, the better you know what they think, feel and believe the more singular the information you provide to them can be. Being the same as “everybody else” will make 34+% of them lose faith in you. Whatever you do, make sure the data you provide is appropriate for the platform on which you serve it up.

Communication is not a two-way street.

The way customers want to be contacted is not the same as they want to use to contact you. Here are how the differences stack up:

Technology               To Customer             From Customer

E-mail                         70.8%                         59.4%

Phone                        7.2 %                          23.1%

Direct Messages
on Social Media        4.5%                           5.9%

Text                             6.1%                           3.7%

Direct Mail                 7.5%                           2.6%

In summary:

  1. Offer a good product or service that you explain in a meaningful, relevant way.
  2. Treat loyal customers with respect.
  3. Don’t betray their trust
  4. Be as easy and convenient as possible
  5. Personalize your approach down to how you communicate with them.

What will you change in your approach?


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

Bad Actor Branding

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It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is deadly.

The internet and social media have given a great deal of power to the public. Like most changes it presents good sides and bad sides. If folks like what you’re purveying and say so it is that wonderful positive feedback loop of great reviews and unsolicited testimonials.

But, on the other side of the equation…

The bad side hijacks your good ship lollipop.

Your brand sinks in a quagmire of negativity. Multiple bad actors add to the pool of despair with comments and reviews that water down all your hard work. If you, as an independent professional, are targeted, your brand and your reputation can be jeopardized. The trust you’ve built over time begins to wash away.

You may not know you’ve offended them until it is too late.

Just like a cocktail party, social media is subject to becoming a jungle of gossip. The juiciest tidbits are always negative. It is just the way human minds work. Ever notice how there are always just a few people that seem to garner all the attention? Disagree with just a few that share a viewpoint and they gang up on you.

When they decide to attack it is with all the positive aspects of social media up ended. At the least, a storm of innuendo rains down on you. At the worst, you can be subjected to boycotts or petitions that prompt attention from the media.

Their strength is their weakness.

They can’t really use social media against you unless and until they have a group of people with the same perceptions. It takes a crowd to build a movement and to make an attack go viral. The only way they can influence customers about your brand is if there are a slew of them all taking action.

Get ahead of the jackals

There is only one way to know if you are in the sights of these adversaries. You need to monitor what is being said about you.

  • Look up your name on Google and read the trending comments on Facebook and Twitter
  • Look up your business and check the trending comments there.
  • Is your product or service reviewed? Read ‘em!

Rethink your approach to subjects that cause people to choose sides.

You can probably get away with having a favorite sports team. That sort of disagreement comes with the territory but opening a bar named for the primary rival across the street from the home town team’s arena…not such a good idea.

Politics was once a refined conversational topic. Not so much anymore. The gold standard was important once but not these days. Religion. Careful. It can depend on where you are and what you are wearing. But sticking to the higher demands of you persuasion sometimes earns a cautious respect.

Announce your beliefs in a sincere but unthreatening way that acknowledges the law.

  • You can say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”
  • You can’t say, “If you’re queer don’t come in here.”
  • Try: ”We provide a personal service and believe the agreement to work together must be mutual”
  • Use the phrase: Not all our clients (customers, patients) agree with our personal opinions but none dispute our professional capabilities.
  • Help prospects to accept your approach with these words: Part of our approach is to provide a contrarian look at your business. You must accept that if we are going to work together.

 In other words. Check the situation. Step back. Look at the areas that you might conflict with an influential group. Be careful when and where you open up about your opinions and be sure to disconnect them from your business acumen.

That should help.

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

Personal Brand Memorability

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Anna Liotta gave us a glimpse of her expertise in “Generational Codes.” It was obvious from the amount of information she conveyed in a limited time that the years she had devoted to studying and interpreting this phenomenon had not been in vain.

A wake-up call

The trouble is, she made me rethink Brand in terms of how the collection of cohorts now co-existing on this planet each think feel and believe about the most important element in marketing products, services, concepts and even individuals.

There is sufficient difference in how each of the groups she cites think and behave to suggest that they may deal with a complex notion like brand in distinctive ways. That is why I purchased her book, Unlocking Generational Codes this morning.

The generations in her terms:

  • Traditionalists, born from 1927 to 1945
  • Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964
  • Xers, born 1965 to 1977
  • Millenials (Gen Y), born 1978 to 1999
  • Globals (Gen Z) born 2000 to 2016

What makes them tick and what ticks them off (as she puts it)

Her analysis of how the generations differ, their codes, is broken down in these elements:

  1. Communication–the preferred style of communicating and interacting.
  2. Orientation—the way they view themselves in relation to other generations, people and the world.
  3. Discipline—how they interact with authoritarian figures
  4. Environment—the behavior they exhibit dealing with the environment including how they gather information, make decisions and relate to the world.
  5. Success—how they measure it. What drives them and gives meaning to their lives?

Comparison to a Millenial Daughter

Because she was born on the cusp between generation X and the Millenials my daughter displays attributes of each but generally falls into the Millenial category. Like an Xer she is very much an individual but she exhibits the Millenial trait of taking things to extremes becoming an Ironman, participating in ultra-running and swimming across Chesapeake Bay when there were small craft warnings.

When it comes to technology she can squeeze more out of a cell phone than I can comprehend. She would rather text than talk if it is a matter of data or a photo. The internet is, for her, a playground. But she doesn’t own a TV.

Her relationships stay strong regardless of distance due to the acceptance of digital connections. That crosses over to the business possibilities for her. She has gravitated to seats of power and because of acquaintances made in those positions enjoys entrée to extremely senior level options in both industry and government. She sees herself as both a nomad (Generation X) and a hero (Millenial).

The Deloitte Research presents another picture

The opening statement is:

Millenials are the most diverse cohort in US history

Black, Latino and Asian ethnic groups make up 44% or the Millenial cohort.  In the Baby boomer generation just 25% was non-white. The research shows that a more complete view of the dynamic consumer includes these factors:

  • The cost of education eats into discretionary funds.
  • People are getting married later or never
  • Home ownership is no longer a part of the American dream
  • There is a deepening divide between the top 20% of wage earners and the rest of the population
  • Millenials, overall are financially worse off than previous cohorts with a 34% decrease in their net worth since 1996.
  • Additional spending on experience-based categories is driven more by income than by age

The impact on Personal Brand

If you are in the top 20% of income (across all cohorts) you already have a brand. Your position in an organization, the reason you met someone, and where you made an acquaintance all contribute to their perception of you. Can you significantly add nuance to that perception? Of course. And if you are conversant with social media and offer a consistent image across the platforms you select you can easily build on what began on a positive note. Interestingly, you can limit your exposure on social media without adverse effect on your brand.

Not on top the income pyramid? You still need to be consistent across the social media spectrum. And, because you may have fewer first-hand meetings that build relationships with influencers you will have to strive to become known to them. How? Take the time to learn who they are and then follow them. Comment at some point and if they engage let them see the “real you.” Never pass up a chance to begin a conversation. And never overlook a direct or indirect request for more information that will put you in front of their “tribe.”

Personal brand is built one connection at a time. One gem of a connection plus another and another until you have a string of them…like a string of pearls.

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

Formula for Creative Brand Marketing

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Some advertising wag once said:

“It ain’t creative unless it sells”

But most of us are standing here on the other side of that evaluation trying to come up with something creative that will sell our brand, product, concept or service. We need a way to figure out what will convince a large enough group of folks to lay down their cash so that we can make a profit.

Building a brand that sells

You can work all the magic of words and graphics on anything but when you bring them to bear on something with a real difference they become unstoppable. A truly unique product or service is much easier to position, promote and sell.

How do you make your concept unique? How do you develop it so it inherently has the differentiation that makes it saleable? What do you need to do to make your offering singular?

Here are three things you can do that will help you innovate:

  1. Act like a child

The sad truth is that our education, though not designed to do so, removes the marvelous questioning and experimentation that we have as primary behaviors when we are children. Do you recall losing track of time as you delved into some simple thing? Have you ever gone back to that ‘anything is possible” set of beliefs? Therein lies one of the most powerful tools available to you.

Experiment. Get your hands dirty playing with the possibilities. Try anything and everything, the less orthodox the better. Keep track of what you find out. The insights you reach could prove valuable.

2. Make new friends

Scientific studies tell us that we are most creative when we see connections across unrelated fields. People with different ideas and perspectives can help you see those connections, questions, problems and ideas.

Network in organizations or groups that are outside your “comfort zone” to gather distinctive new thoughts. Allow those new relationships to direct your reading. Ask the questions that challenge their status quo. Apply their answers to your view of the world. Find a way to merge the two. Test the new “common wisdom.”

3. Renew industry acquaintances

Take along look at the behavior of customers, suppliers and competitors to identify how they do things. Just because it has “always been done that way” doesn’t mean it must continue unchanged.

Borrow ideas from other industries. Try them on and think through how they could change your product or service and the industry in which your firm is doing business. Play out the “what if” scenario alone or with your partners. See what might happen form an operational and an income viewpoint.

We live in a time of disruption.

Join the party.

Apply Sir Richard Branson’s mantra:

A-B-C-D Always Be Connecting the Dots

Here are some what ifs that I’ve been thinking about which you may find stimulating:

Cosmetics

What if you could use DNA testing to develop formulations for foundation makeup for women that was healthy for their skin and offer it in tones that matched their complexion by race?

Commuting

What if you had AI driven vertical take off and landing one or two passenger vehicles which you sold as a subscription service. Think about pricing. Peak and off-peak utilization. Would suburbs expand or contract? How would you control traffic particularly altitude changes in the flow?

Distribution

What if you could find a way to replace trucks as the primary physical distribution vehicles. It wasn’t so long ago that the intermodal revolution swept this industry. That change brought about containers that could be moved on the high seas, via rail, air and finally via truck.

Initially, if you had drones to carry single truckloads you might operate at specific heights above the current freeway system. But what do you do about delivery at the destination. How would existing loading docks affect your transport design? Do you have operators either in each unit or at a distance or do you use AI?

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