Consultant Marketing Start-up Checklist

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There’s more to it then hanging out your shingle.

A lot more.

I had breakfast with an old friend the other day. He’s about to embark on consulting full time having been a CFO who found software so good he bought the North American rights.  In that situation he had a safety net. He was supported by his previous firm and the software developer. Now, he’s about to step out onto the high wire with no net.

A walk on the high wire

It takes courage, expertise and some luck to go from zero to full engagement in the consulting business. I’ve been privy to this journey for more young men and women than I care to count. Those that made it for the long term put a check in the box next to these things:

Savings to last at least 6 months in the style to which they have grown accustomed.

An initial engagement for their previous company or a client of that company.

Corporate filing in the state they are setting up their business

Defined Product/Service that is desired by identified prospects

A name for the company.A Vision, Mission and Position

A Persona that establishes a brand based on a real value proposition.

Courage to network your way to new business

A door on their office.

Step by step

Savings are the crunch element for folks that are married and/or have family. All the zeal you feel for this new adventure may seem to have been accepted by your spouse and the kids but I guarantee you that going backwards in terms of their socio-economic status is not going to play out well. You need to, as quickly as possible regenerate the “grouch bag funds” so that a set back occur in your business you can stick to it.

Initial Engagement is what keeps just about every successful consultant above water in year one according to our annual Consultant Marketing Survey. It gives you a safety margin where you are providing a service that is familiar but now performed at arm’s length. Often, this connection with a previous employer is extended as it is beneficial to both parties. But because you have control of when the work is done you can engage in the activities necessary to develop your consulting business.

Corporate Filing is essential if you are going to operate legally. It is a good idea to find your corporate attorney now before you open the doors. I recommend looking for a business attorney that operates from a small or home office nearby. I went to an attorney in one of those downtown towers and realized what those paneled offices cost me after few years. My current attorney has a home office but makes house calls! Every person I’ve referred to him tells me he has kept all his high-end litigator capability but shifted his personality from downtown to down home.

The primary options are C-Corporation, S-Corporation or LLC. Your lawyer can help you select which is best for you. The key is that you have a corporate shield to minimize the possibility of any suit filed against you personally.

Defined Product/Service is essential. Some of you may think that is obvious. It is and it isn’t. Some people try to start a consulting business without having the expertise to solve a problem that their prospects have. If you don’t know what your prospects want or need, how can you present yourself? You need to define the problem you can help solve in customer terms. More importantly you need to state the solution in way they can understand it and see as advantageous to them.

That phrase “identified prospects” was not just filler. Never assume that because your old company has a problem that all other companies have the same problem. Never assume that the same solution will work in every company. Never assume that this one problem will last as long as you want to maintain your practice. Before you step out on the wire make sure there is a market for what you have to sell.

A name is where a misstep occurs most often. I made this mistake. We get so full of what we know everyone needs and our different approach that we overlook the obvious:

  • People will identify your name with your practice more than any made-up name. Lawyers know this. So do CPAs. Plus a slew of consultants. You can tell the one’ that have learned this lesson over time by the way they begin to incorporate their name into their logotype.
  • Unless the name you choose is based on something well-known in the industry you are working in the probability of anyone understanding it is between slim and none.
  • If you base your company name on your process or part of it or a numeric outcome you are asking the prospect to make a leap which only you have made in understanding.

Vision, Mission and Position Your Vision is where you want the company to go in the future. Vision statements often include superlatives and competitive viewpoints. Generally it is for those that work for the company.

Mission is not your vision for the future of your company.

Mission is not your goals or objectives.

Mission is not something you are going toward or even something you are trying to become.

Mission is what your company is. It is why your company exists.

A vision statement is for the company and stake holders.

A mission statement is for the company and general public.

A positioning statement is for the targeted general public.

A brand is the sum of perceptions about the company in the general public.

Persona Everything you do has an impact on the people that become your clients. Don’t overlook the basics as you go to market.

Your Persona is a Core of Trust wrapped round by Product, Price and Passage encased in your Name.

Initially, the Core of Trust is you. If you operate solo it will always be. With a partner or multiple partners (an ensemble) you all have to ascribe to the same central beliefs about your business.

Because you can’t fool customers for long.

Customers see your company from the outside in. They rely on how your decisions impact them to make judgements about you

Courage Stepping out on your own is not easy. You are, in all likelihood, going to have to get out of your comfort zone if you want your business to grow and prosper. Every business is built on Networking. Every business. It will be up to you to go wherever prospects gather to get to know them and how you can serve them. You will need to find away to say something that makes you memorable. Weak statements don’t work. You’ll need to understand 30-Second Marketing TM at a minimum. And buckle up Bunkie stepping into the limelight and speaking about your expertise could get you more leads in less time than all the social media campaigns.

A door on your office is needed because if you work from home you’ll find yourself working well into the evening and on weekends. That is not good whether you are single or married with or without children. Learn to close the door and get a life. Isn’t that part of why you decided to do this?

And so it goes.


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

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

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
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.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Content

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Yes, we live in a digital world.

Yes, every business needs some content to fulfill marketing needs.

Everything you need and nuthin’ you don’t.

There is no one size fits all. Each practice must build the content that will answer the questions prospects ask and maintain the contact over time. No two are the same. You and your clients are a different equation from all the others out there.  It comes down to these functions:

  • Starting a relationship
  • Maintaining the connection
  • Supporting Referral Sources

The start of something big.

Run the numbers. You’ll find that conversion rates for digital offers are at best 1 to 2%. Direct marketing using more traditional media may get you up to 5%. Networking because it is so personal can generate about 30% new contacts if you operate in the right circles. Speaking to an appropriate audience, if you understand how to reel people in from the podium, can range up to 70%.

No matter which approach you use, you first need to determine exactly who your best prospect is and learn what they want to know about the solutions you offer to their problems. You need to know how they define the job they want done and where they are in relation to that concern. You must also understand that you must be available to take their order when they are ready to buy.

The purchase journey is not a linear path. These days, because of the ease of access to all kinds of information sources the average buyer may move from broad information gathering to supplier specifics and back to more general information any number of times before making a purchase decision.

All you want to capture initially is:

  • Name
  • E-mail
  • Smart Phone Number

I find that having a singular offer makes getting that information more efficient for you and prospects. I recommend offering what is commonly referred to as a “lead magnet” in the parlance of digital marketing. This will vary based on your business and that of your ideal clients. I find that Checklists, Worksheets and Quick Guides work best.

In digital situations I use a form to fill out on a landing page which grants a download to the e-mail given after the data is entered. The contact data is put into a CRM for further attention. I suggest that in Networking situations the item be mentioned as available and that the consultant will send it personally if the contact data is furnished. Usually a business card is exchanged. Speaking to a small group you can simply make the offer and ask for a card to be given to you to assure its delivery. With larger groups you need to have what I call a feedback card which is placed on every seat. The feedback card carries a way to write in contact information (and perhaps respond to a survey question or two) on one side and the same pitch you would use on a landing page on the other side.

Staying connected

Most of my clients connect with the C-suite, usually with the CEO. When I asked one what sort of content he wanted to receive he answered:

“Don’t give me stuff I’ve already seen in business publications. Give me the benefit of your thinking that is relevant to me. Be consistent. I appreciate it when information arrives at the same time each week and in the same form. That way when I get something out of the ordinary, I know it is important.

In a lot of consulting businesses (particularly financial) the industry sends out information quarterly at best. That is not good enough. In order to stay top of mind with a prospect, client or referral source you need to touch them at least once every four weeks. And more often is better.

That’s why I recommend a weekly contact of some sort. The best options are:

  • Blog
  • Video Blog
  • Podcast

In addition, I recommend that high end consultants provide everyone on their e-mail list a Newsletter on a monthly basis. Based on feedback from their clients a recap of the weekly items provided is the best received. I’ve been told that it makes for a good way to provide staff with solid information quickly and to give other CEOs a quick way to get a fix on a consultant that might help them.

A Recommendation beats a Referral

A referral can be as simple as, “Here’s a number for someone that might help you.” These days, a notch up from that is the e-mail introduction. Both are helpful but a full-bore recommendation is more powerful.

A recommendation is when a person who knows you and your consulting capability invites you to a meal with a prospect and proceeds to sell your services over the meal. Done properly, all you do is take the order.

But in order to be able to do that, your recommender must know about your success and your failures. She or he must know how you have developed. The only way that can happen is if you consistently provide that information. That means you need to identify those Recommenders and Referrers and kept hm informed. One of the best ways I’ve seen is to continually change your e-mail signature to incorporate short outcome- oriented testimonials. It also helps to provide these known sources of new business with copies of your case histories as soon as they are issued.

Personalization of all the materials you send them will pay dividends.

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 Credo

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Normally I don’t do this.

My Blog here today and the one I posted internationally are essentially the same.

Last week, I headed this post with a familiar symbol with some unfamiliar words that a friend had shared with me at a conference we were attending.

A choice

It reminded me that all things are both good and bad and that we have the choice to opt for one or either or both.

Consultants must contend with that decision daily. We often step onto the tightrope with little or no pre-knowledge of the way the path lies this time.

‘Midst the Graffiti

Add to that our continual search for what is really going on, what works and finding measures of real outcomes. What we find ourselves engaged in is sorting the underlying message from the graffiti and then incorporating the current cultural changes that impact resolutions.

Sometimes it ain’t pretty.

Sometimes clarity is concerning for everyone involved.

Sometimes the choices are confusing.

A Compass

I realized that in the multi-layered world we live in a consultant’s consultant (like me) could get lost. When you need to find your way you need to know which way is up. You need to get to an ethical approach. You need to know North from sideways and you can’t depend on a Google search to give you the answers you need.

Thing is, you’re in the middle between your client your self-respect. You need to simplify how you get your bearings. But you can never forget you are in the middle. It’s a Yin & Yang thing. What seems to be opposites are really part of the same force each, in turn, giving rise to the other. Any moral compass must acknowledge that connected duality.

A Balance

Could it all come down to the words interposed on the symbol my friend passed along?

Could it be as simple as: “Do no harm, Take no shit”

Or is there a better way to say it?

Or is there more to be said?

What other directives should be placed opposite a central “but?”

A credo—the first half

I started with those words and considered how well they worked based on successful engagements from the past.

They didn’t.

Do no harm didn’t fit. My recommendations have been the reason some folks lost their jobs. My clients are always told I work for the organization, not them personally. When the strategy changes, managers and staff either shift or leave.

When a manager is not right for the job, I say so. In some cases I’ve helped them find a position more suited to their skills. And in others I’ve coached them to a new level.

Change occurs when you solve problems.

Change is the only way to avoid lunacy.

Change is inevitable but it can be merciful.

Perhaps the first part of the Credo should be something like “Advise caringly.”

The other side

“Take no shit” is strong language. When you are on the cusp of client service versus self-respect however it is merely straightforward.

I’ve had clients try to hold me hostage with their billings. My response, which I learned in the Advertising Agency business as an Executive and later as a CEO has always been the same. “You hired us for our expertise. We’ve given you our best counsel. How much you might pay us in the future is worthless if you don’t implement our advice.” That same statement has been used on accounts from a few thousand dollars to over $10 Million.

That side of the equation has tough but clear words. I’ll stick with them.

Working Credo

The Credo that works for me based on looking back over 25 years of being the marketing consultant for consultants, entrepreneurs and independent professionals is this:

Advise with care. Take no shit.

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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 Well Spent Weekend

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I decided to journey to the Institute of Management Consultants Conference held over last weekend in Dallas, Texas.

The Crucible

At the airport I bought a paper back to read on the flight. The title was “The Crucible” which sucked me in with, in part, this jacket copy:

“…a frantic quest for answers that are connected to mysteries reaching back to the Spanish Inquisition … What they uncover hidden deep in the past will reveal a frightening truth in the present and a future on the brink of annihilation, and force them to confront the ultimate question: What does it mean to have a soul?”

Within the book, James Rollins connects witch hunts to the wonders of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and where it is headed. Little did I know that I was getting an in-depth preview of one of the keynotes!

Late Arrival

I missed the opening keynote delivered by Alan Weiss as I decided not to go to the airport at early dark thirty. I chose a 9:45 departure which got me in town about the time Alan started speaking.  Apparently, he said some of the things I’ve heard before so it wasn’t a great loss for me.

Why did I go?

  1. To renew some old acquaintances and make some new ones.
  2. To learn what’s new
  3. To gather new contacts for my annual Consultant Marketing Survey

Old Acquaintances

That piece of art at the top of this missive came from Mark Haas. Years ago when the IMC web site was in development, I was the Marketing chair in Portland. Mark was volunteering to get the site up and working from his home office near Washington DC. Many a night we would be on the phone, me at Midnight and he at 3:00 AM. The only time we see each other in person is at these gatherings.

Ken Lizotte was speaking at this conference. We tried to figure out how we know each other and gave up after about ten minutes. Ken is the conference chair for next year. We chatted about me speaking next year and he asked me to be his sidekick in putting together the 2020 Conference in Boston. I think I dodged that bullet!

AI, AGI and ASI

AI is, of course, Artificial Intelligence. The Saturday morning keynote was delivered by David Copps, a futurist, technologist and visionary as well as a member of the Aspen Roundtable on AI among other things you might expect. He spoke of where AI is today noting things I’d read about in The Crucible including how AI will morph to AGI or Artificial General Intelligence (like Asimov’s Robots) and then to ASI, Artificial Sentient Intelligence when the AI takes on a life of its own. Mr. Copps made it clear, with specific examples that it is happening a lot faster than you think!

Serendipity is a strange thing.

New Acquaintances

Saturday, after that serendipitous keynote I joined an experiment where conference attendees could suggest topics for a series of breakouts on subjects of interest to them and then see if other also wanted to discuss. I suggested “How is Consultant Marketing Changing?”

Six people signed up and we did a roundtable on the subject. The participants ranged from a start-up to a couple of us with 20+ years of experience. I heard a lot of current and future possibilities but only one current approach I had not heard put so simply before:

“Don’t try to build a huge list. Keep track of folks that provide referrals, no more than 100 if you get that many and touch them at least once a month personally with a phone call or in person meeting. Let them know the kinds of engagements you are currently working on. Send them a monthly newsletter. Do something special just for them at least quarterly. Things like lunch or dinner, tickets to an event or sending them a book or article especially selected for them.”

I will, of course be sending all of the round table members along with a score of others that agreed the Annual Consultant Marketing Survey.

The attention span of a gold fish

Yoram Solomon, another of the keynoters cited Microsoft research that said that the human attention span had dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. The study noted that the attention span of a goldfish was 9 seconds. So if you’ve read this far, you have the attention span of at least a school of goldfish!


Yoram spoke on trust. Here are his 7 Laws of Trust:

  1. Trust is not binary. It is continuous.
  2. Trust is contextual
  3. Trust develops between every two people independently.
  4. Trust is asymmetrical.
  5. Trust is transferable.
  6. Trust is reciprocal.
  7. Trust needs two sides.

Yoram has done the research, that is why he has a PhD. I’ll leave you with this fact from his investigations:

“A trustworthy salesperson
can sell the same product or service for 29.6% higher price.”

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 Website Panel 1 Options

Can your home page first panel pass the three second test?

Three seconds is all you have for your brand to register with a visitor. That visitor is like a stranger you’re meeting for the first time as you’ll see in this video https://vimeo.com/351932771

The first panel on your home page must get across:

  • Who this is for
  • What problem it solves
  • How to take action

Dissecting the panel I have in development.

The navigation bar is often not streamlined to make that first glimpse as powerful as it might be. You need to have your logo up there in the upper left. Make sure it is clickable. That way you don’t have to put “Home” in the navigation.

Keep the pages listed to an absolute minimum. You can use the footer for all the wonderfulness that proves you know your stuff.

Put a call to action button at the far right. If you are lucky to catch someone at the point they are willing to make an interactive commitment you want to make it as easy as possible for them.

You’ll find I’ve followed my own advice. Here is the first option:

Option 1

Background Image is usually the first thing people see. We are, after all, visually oriented. The image should give us the idea of what the shift is like on the other side of your advice.

It is the kiss at the end of every romance movie ever. It is the celebration of a team. It is the fond hope of the target audience.

Here is the first alternate. Notice how the copy and the photo play to success.

Option 2

Headline is where things get tricky. We need to get the unique difference across in just a few words. You need to consider these things: 

  1. Awareness level of most visitors. Are they aware of the problem you solve? If not, that is part of your job here. Are they aware of solutions? If so, you may want to offer a comparison to a known solution. But if they are well along in the customer journey and already aware of your brand you need to find a way to engage more personally with them
  2. The job to be done. What, in their terms is the job they need to get done that you or your product/service might do for them. How you refer to what you do needs to be in terms of, “Here’s what you can do with our product.”
  3. What it’s worth to the prospect plays a key part in how you will be perceived. If you have a value proposition for your business this will be an integral part.

Here’s an option that might play better with women. Note how the headline has been shortened.

Option 3

Subhead is optional but I highly recommend it. It gives you the chance to add to the value of your headline, expand and define the job the product does and personalize your pitch for the target audience. The more these words come out of the situations your prospects find themselves in the stronger they will be. The more you can let them see you understand the emotional context they find themselves in the more they will be drawn to you.

Notice how the subhead has changed slightly to include the phrase “lifelong success” which is gender and age neutral as illustrated by this example:

Option 4

Call to action (CTA) After all that skull sweat to find just the right words you can’t let it go to waste. You can’t expect the visitor to know what to do if you don’t tell him/her. You don’t need to put your primary CTA on the first panel. But you do need to put at least one simple button there that is the overall action you want folks to take.

You need to give the visitor a simple mechanism to connect with you. In the case of the Master site we have button in a color contrasting from the background image with the words Arrange a Chat. That drops down to the primary home page CTA that is a form that gathers additional data about the prospect. Why? I’ve written before about “Skin in the game.” If a prospect will answer a few questions they are more likely to be someone I’d like to work with.

Here’s a tip: include a second CTA but make it not as prominent. Offer the visitor a less direct close. Give them an option.

This is glimpse into the thinking and development process I use with every website. This is just the first panel on my new site in development. Which design will I launch? Right now, I’d probably go with the old guy version. Which do you prefer?

And so it goes

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

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for 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 

Consultant Marketing Mindset

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Take a hard look at the photo.

What do you see?

Me, I see a very confident young woman. My impression is that she knows who she is, has mastered some capabilities and expects you to acknowledge her expertise.

How can I get all that out of a photo?

You make your mind up about anyone, in person or in media in the first 3 seconds.

How do you want to be perceived? What do you want your personal brand to project? How do you introduce yourself? How “Real” do you come across?

Currently, there is a commercial that portrays the danger of hiring someone that is “just okay.” The series is, in part, humorous but if you want to get hired you need to be perceived as more than barely competent. As the commercials say, “Just okay is not okay.”

You need to convince four groups:

  • Your Associates
  • Your Prospects
  • Your Referral sources
  • Your clients

But first you must convince yourself

All of us fear rejection. Somewhere north of 98% of people are afraid of public speaking. Most of them would prefer death to doing “the talk.” What about less-open appearances or interactions with strangers? Not quite as death-defying but still seen by some as a disaster about to happen. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert makes no difference because just about everyone has a fear of being seen as inadequate.

Self-doubt must be erased.  

Whether you’re applying for a job, presenting in a corporate conference room or trying to get a consulting engagement over breakfast or lunch you need to be confident in your skills and how you present yourself. That 3-second judgement capability is something you can control. It is not logical. It is emotional. With powerful people it is a skill that has been carefully honed.

Overcome the impostor syndrome

All of us, on occasion, feel we are impostors. We judge ourselves more harshly than all those with whom we come into contact. The key here is to listen to the concerns and take steps to overcome them. Here are three suggestions that will allow you to stand tall, command the room and be memorable:

  1. Disconnect before the meeting. Look at yourself through the eyes of those you are interacting with—individual or group. Can they possibly know more than you do about your special expertise? It is truly doubtful. The more years of experience you have, the greater your practical knowledge. They simply don’t have the experience you’ve compiled. Do they know more about another subject or arena? Probably. But not yours.  Their view of you will be that of the inferior. Their expectation will be that you will teach them as you advise. They will incline towards respect.

Walk your talk. Let the confidence reek. They will sense it.

  • Practice positive self-talk. Do what it takes to know your audience. Check them out on social media. Understand their way of thinking based on their writings, interviews and appearances. No time to prep or a networking situation? Say, “Self, you’ve got this. You’ve thought yourself through 30-Second Marketing TM https://vimeo.com/358198046  so you know how to Hook ‘em, Hold ‘em, Pitch ‘em and Close’ em. More importantly you have honed your ability to listen, react and really be interested in them. 

  • Stop trying to close. The worst advice I’ve ever heard for a consultant is, “Close early and often.” Put yourself in the prospect’s position. They are anywhere in the process of deciding from just starting to think about it to shaking hands on an agreement. The better advice is, “Agree to work with them after they have sold themselves.”

That brings us back to erasing self-doubt. One of the best ways I know is to keep track of your successes. Prepare a case history https://vimeo.com/352835268 or success story after each engagement. Note the key outcomes. Review those files on a regular basis. If you are going into discussions in a similar industry you’ll have the facts at the ready should you need them. More importantly you’ll get the self-confidence boost you need to overcome any residual impostor syndrome. About to step into the unknown? If you follow my direction on your success stories you’ll find that your regular reviews will give you buoyant assurance in your abilities in your chosen field.  

Being at the top is a matter of mind over matter.

If you trust yourself, it shows. If you’re certain you have the experience, it becomes apparent. If you assert your convictions you will garner respect. The confident get the contract. Those with self-assurance do it again. And again, And 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 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

Let ’em Buy Consultant Marketing

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The e-mail from someone I’d never met pushed for the sale with the first words.

Fresh Meat

If you’re further up the food chain that e-mail was an open invitation to line up a new client. Cold calling with a hard over sales approach does not work if you are selling consulting, particularly high-end.

On line or in person any time you use direct communication you need to already have a connection or be in the process of activating one. That hard sell e-mail is, for me, a cry for help.

Let ‘em buy

The most successful sales people and consultants I have ever met gave me the same advice:

“You can’t sell anything if they don’t want to buy.”

“Stop closing! The less you close, the more successful you’ll be.”

“People buy when they’re ready not when you tell ‘em to”

“Your job is to stay connected while giving them all the info they need including the purchase agreement when they’re ready.”

“They come to your website looking for information. Give ‘em the content they’re looking for but help them buy into you as well as your approach.

Time and energy

In most cases a prospect must meet three conditions:

  • They have a problem you can solve
  • They can pay for your services
  • They are willing to talk to you

Being upfront about your rates after you’ve heard about their problem will pay you dividends both short and long term. I offer a one-hour meeting at no charge so that we can “See if we are comfortable with each other and I can get a better idea what problem they are confronting.” I usually tell them that if I can’t help I’ll recommend someone that might be of help.

Generally, the higher your fee the more you will be expected to meet at no cost. Some organizations will expect you to provide a proposal at no charge as well. Elite consultants are willing to do that if they can have at least an hour of the senior officer’s time and agreement to candidly discuss the perceived problem and the value of a solution to the company

Going retail

Smaller problems, ones that can be solved in a telephone or Zoom session or two need a slightly different approach. It is more retail oriented. Your offering can be presented in a website that is filled with information that is infused with your viewpoint. Including video of you delivering some of your advice is a positive approach.

You may want to have them pay for a session with an established hourly fee paid in advance. But you must make it as easy as possible for them to set an appointment and pay online. There are apps available that easily integrate with your web site.

If the web site visitor is interested in your services they will find your pricing page. Linking pricing and appointment apps on the same page will pay dividends.

Price Points

The price for the service offered is where consultants often go astray. It is not unusual, even in B2B negotiations for the consultant to be asked for his/her hourly rates. Consider this increasing price/value/meeting scale:

Price              Value                           Meeting description

$200/hr          Instant answers         Meeting via appointment, phone or Zoom

$200-500/hr  Report issued              In person or zoom based on geography

$1000/hr        Strategic Planning     Reports & Timelines agreed to in advance

Fixed Fee      Plan & Implement     Time required to reach solution agreed to.

Fee +Comm   Plan/Implement        Agreed solution plus additional impacts

Variables

Your kind of consulting practice will impact how you approach the market. You may tend to maintain a client relationship for months or years. In those situations, a retainer may be the better option. Or, you may be available at a specific rate just to assist in defining the problems that come up over time. Of course, engagement rates would be set separately. Top notch consultants have all kinds of inventive pricing schemes. The most inventive are lined to long-term client relationships.

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

Out of the Box Value

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My daughter and I (she works for the Federal Government) were talking about why the best senior managers regardless of sector are extremely valuable. I was telling her about a 3-minute video I just completed that explains why successful elite consultants set the gold standard. See the video at: https://vimeo.com/356539908

Worth their weight in gold

Managers and consultants are all carefully taught to think, feel and believe that if we can define the problem we can find a solution. The rule of thumb is that solutions reduce costs and increase profits regardless of the kind of resources being considered.

That’s true as far as it goes. It’s a nice comfortable little box.

The best think outside the box

Manager or consultant they demand a sit down with the woman or man in charge, a discovery meeting. They start with an open mind, candidly discuss the visible problem identified by the CEO and ask questions to establish the value of the solution. Elite consultants take it one step further. They add recommendations above and beyond the requested solution to add value to their engagement.

The value-based proposal

Top notch consultants take their time in that discovery meeting. They have the CEO estimate the value of a solution to the visible problem and probe for additional concerns and valuations during the discussion. They get concise agreement on the objectives, how they will be measured as well as quantitative and qualitative impacts of the results. The elite consultant’s intent is to be able to base their fee on the outcome of the engagement in the CEO’s terms.

Their proposal will include three options:

  • Option 1 must satisfy the objectives.
  • Option 2 is more comprehensive (and includes option 1)
  • Option 3 incorporates partnering with the firm to include hands on implementation or overseeing the implementation.

Perception, not a problem

A CEOs job is to keep the company ahead of the curve, see into the future and sense the possible disruptions out there. What if she or he just has a niggling feeling about a potential future problem, or better still an opportunity that is on the horizon? That represents a challenge for most managers not to mention consultants. The CEO wants to get a resolution on the uncertainty. She or he wants to quantify it and then look at the actions required to achieve it or defend from it.

The quantification proposal

Once again you must begin with a discovery meeting. Together, you and the CEO must assess the perceived discontinuity. Two concerns drive the selection of the consultant to handle this kind of engagement:

  1. A successful track record with this client (to include a couple flashes of brilliance and out of the box thinking).
  2. Experience in an industry or a credential in science or engineering that is perceived to have knowledge to bring to this research.

If you are in the room you need to verify which reason brought you there. More importantly, you need to let that reason drive how you build your proposal. Your proposal must identify the objectives, how they will be satisfied and a specific time frame to do so. If you believe that expertise you don’t have is required you must explain how you will find it and how you will engage it. To the degree possible, you must provide a statement of how the information obtained will be evaluated. You may also want to consider how to implement or oversee implementation.

A solution, no problem

Working with elite consultants can prove educational. Recently a client challenged my definition of a Prospect:

“A prospect is someone with a problem you can solve, who has the funds to pay you and is willing to talk to you.”

He said, Every CEO or President or business owner wants more profits, right?” I agreed. He went on, “I’ve stumbled onto something in my consulting over the last few years. It is a solution without a problem. I need a way to describe it and a way to convince CEOs to just have a conversation about it.”

Hidden in plain sight

Yes, for me this idea was outside my comfort zone. For starters the urgency of the problem is not inherent in this situation. You don’t even have a niggling possibility causing concern for the CEO. But, as we strove to build a product description more meaningful and to apply the techniques of 30-Second Marketing TM , I reflected on the testimonials I had videotaped from clients where this process was put in place and realized it was proven thinking outside the box that could only be developed by someone with business acumen and experience that had psychological training.

The Shared Passion Proposal

The key to greater profits, even in a down economy, is hidden in plain sight in every company that has employees. Employees, approached properly can in a relatively short time develop a passion for the business that builds profits long term. The essence of that proposal is, for the moment, a trade secret but I’ve interviewed the men and women that have applied the process in their organizations. Greater dollar profits are the tip of the iceberg in the world of the Millenials.

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