Consultant Marketing List Building

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You snooze, you lose.

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

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

Relational vs Transactional

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

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

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

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

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

The power of the list

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

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

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

Meet them before classifying them.

You can add folks to your list in these ways:

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

Keeping track of them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.


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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Billing Choices

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What’s your hourly rate?

Too often, when the choice is made by an entrepreneur to become a consultant, the decision to bill time for services is made with little or no thought. Prospects assume you will invoice them showing the time spent on each task you addresed.

An hourly rate is not the only option.

You are being paid for your:

  • Knowledge
  • Capability
  • Speed

You would not have been considered for the engagement if you didn’t have one or more of those as assessed by the client. You have what they don’t. You can do what an employee practiced in the art could do if only they had one. You offer a solution to a problem they have which they cannot solve on their own.

Your approach is part of the equation.

Availability is part of the value perceived by the prospect. There are experts in every arena but the more complex and esoteric the field the fewer are available with associated higher rates. The possible approaches range from done for the client to hands on tactical implementation to strategic advice to ongoing counsel.

Results factor in to what you can charge

Never forget that you are helping to sort out a problem and that the results you deliver, the ones you agreed to in your proposal, are how you are going to be judged. That’s why you should shift to value-based proposals as soon as possible using the prospects valuation of the work you propose to do.

Options to consider

  1. Hourly rates Tried and True. Doesn’t have to be explained other than a justification for the rate. When I speak it translates to an hourly rate of at least $7500. Do I charge that for consulting? No. But there are times I could.
  2. Fee for Task is a common way to provide a comparative rate linked to a specific task. Example: Agreement to build a basic web site consisting of a specific number of pages for a specific amount.
  3. Tactical Implementation Management Charge This is commonly used when a combination of coaching, training and oversight is required to get staff in an organization to adopt a new way of doing things. The consultant manages the process and can, to some extent, control the time to results.
  4. Retainer This can work for limited time engagements but is a marvelous way to extend a relationship. It allows a great deal of latitude in proposals and agreements and simplifies invoicing. The best part is that you can set it up to bill in advance.
  5. Commission on Results When you and a client agree on the results you are seeking in the proposal phase you can reach agreement on what part of the results you deliver will be your payment. If the result of your activities generates an additional $100,000 in income for the client, a commission of up to 30% is not untoward.

How do you decide?

First: Wrap your mind around the idea that you are an expert. Now build on that by maintaining your level of knowledge in your specialty. Monitor information online about it (set up Google Alerts). Attend industry conferences. Get involved with educating the industry. Never overlook applications of your industry knowledge in other industries. Over time migrate your expertise to the upper echelons of expertise in the industry,

Second: Never assume that there is only one way to get paid for your work. Think about combining one or more or the options above. Or take payment in another way. I negotiated an agreement once that included a stock award (for time at a specific rate) above a preset monthly contract. That stock was worth $4Million when the company went public.

Third: Simplify your agreements so that you can’t be held hostage by clients. This is why I recommend the retainer and use it as my primary choice. I still consider stock as partial payment in some cases. I will look at commissions on results but now I add a twist either requesting 50% in advance or placing the full commission in an escroll account. The 50% in advance is the easier sale and can be positioned in such a way that it is viewed as a standard engagement agreement based on a value-based proposal where the client generated the “results number.”

Overall stop operating on autopilot.

Look at all the options before you write that proposal and agreement. Be non-traditional but be sure you believe in what you are saying. Be prepared to alter your offer but veer away from collecting minute by minute accounting of what you are delivering. Be prepared to walk away if the prospect demands to be billed in any way that is not what you are proposing.

Make sense? Tell me your favorite compensation approach. If we don’t shake things up, who will?

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

Consultant Marketing Prospect Profile

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Take your revenue stream up a notch

Wouldn’t you be more comfortable if you had an ongoing revenue stream that let you:

  • Serve the kinds of clients you enjoy working with
  • Do the kinds of engagements that are satisfying
  • Have time to enjoy life a little more.

Over about 50 years consulting and coaching I’ve learned to improve your stats you need to do some sort of mundane stuff to make the shift. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Track your current engagement data (time, revenue and costs)You’ll find more at https://www.bebee.com/producer/@jerry-fletcher/consultant-marketing-eye-on-the-money
  2. Target prospects similar to your preferred clients
  3. Take action to be seen, heard, remembered and perceived as a trusted expert.

Yes, it is about the money

Periodically you need to review the time spent and the revenue generated by your activity. That means plotting your actual revenue against what it took to earn it. If you don’t track both, how are you going to know?

Look hard at the clients you like working with that pay their bills on time, provide referrals and you’d like to clone. Before you go charging off after new business be sure you have a complete profile of both the individual prospect and his/her company with a complete comparison to your preferred client/company profile.

The people assessment

This is a process that works for me and has proven to be effective with the elite consultants I work with on three continents. You’ll need a sheet of paper you can work on in landscape orientation. At the top write MY PROSPECT PICK’R. To set up your worksheet drop down a line or two and put in these column headings:

 Client Company      Primary Contact  Repeat?

Step 1.  Jot down your clients for the last 5 years, or if you are new to this, as long as you’ve been in business. Note the client company and the individual you worked with.

Step 2.  To the right of the names, if you’d like to work with them again (regardless of the reasons) write Yes. If not, just line them out but keep your record as we may need to analyze your reasons why and what it would take to put them in the “Yes” column.

Step 3.  Add some facts about your engagement(s) with the “Yes” clients. Specifically under these column headings: Engagement  Length Time Revenue Cost Outcome. The length is the number of weeks/months. Time is the actual time you’ve spent working on the project.

Revenue is the revenue generated by that engagement. Cost is your non-reimbursed expenses associated with that assignment. Outcome is a measurement of the shift in client performance.

Now your worksheet should look like this (with examples):

Step 4.  I have not included the extended data on those I marked “No” even though one was on retainer for $1000 a month in excess of 13 months and the other generated over $50,000 in six months as well as a stock position in the company.

The first was because the client just wouldn’t pull the trigger. The latter was because the venture capitalists proved to be pain where a pill won’t reach.

Now comes the hard part Even if you said “Yes” you need to look at time versus revenue less costs and calculate actual income. Sometimes you like a client so much you don’t charge them for all the time you’re spending. Sometimes the challenge is so fascinating that helping them resolve it is a huge psychological boost.

At the bottom of the worksheet you need to prepare three assessments:

Assessment 1. Client company

Look at size (employees, sales, revenue), industry (size and direction), longevity, management (strengths, weaknesses and intent), ownership. Be clear on where this company is in terms of its development. Is it a start up? Is it struggling to grow? Has the pace of growth caused problems?

Assessment 2. Client Contact

This is the person who hired you and you report to. The higher the level the better. Owner, President and CEO or COO are the titles that have the most clout. Note that in larger organizations Division Managers might be able to hire you. For each of the client contacts look at demographics and psychographics. Look for similarities. Underline them.

Assessment 3. The Ideal Prospect

What is it about those you designated with a “Yes” that caused that gut reaction? Write it down. Now look back at the revenue. Is there cause for you to reject or not chase a similar organization and contact because the income isn’t there? Should you look at your rates or how you charge clients to find a better way?

Can you define the prospect that could become your next ideal client now?

Here’s a word portrait of my ideal client (more at www.JerryFletcher.com):

Entrepreneurs and Singular Consultants
You’re one of the best at what you do but not enough people know that.
You know you need Consultant Marketing and a Brand but are not sure how to take yours up a notch. You know that to be successful you must be remembered. You’re looking for a way to build referrals and operating on a tight budget without a lot of time to put into your marketing. You’re tired of being told what to do and want help with the how.

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

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

Brand is a Rainmaker

In times gone by, there were folks that hoped or believed they could get nature to relent and to turn cloudless skies into rain that would wash away a drought if only in one little part of the country.

Some seemed successful. Others, not so much.

Desire doesn’t change.

Each of us want there to be some sort of magic formula to bring new business to us without our having to work for it. We want the gods to smile on us. We’re willing to wear clothing we were wearing when we were successful before. That special tie comes out for the “big pitch.”  The unmatched socks get worn on purpose when we’re going for a new job interview. That railroad watch your Dad gave you gets wound up for the first time in years.  The rabbit’s foot key ring once again settles into your pocket.

The charm is your brand.

  • Sorcery doesn’t deliver potential clients. Staying true to your brand does.
  • Voodoo will not bring a customer to you. A brand that delivers will.
  • Alchemy doesn’t solve customer problems. You do and that is what your brand is based on.

You make the rain.

Although my blog appeared here each Saturday for the last month, I was half a world away from my office. I wrote those weekly comments on Brand before I left on a trans-Atlantic voyage followed by visits to Barcelona, Madrid and Washington, DC. I maintained my work with current clients (when I had internet connections). I wasn’t looking hard for new business. I was taking a vacation and meeting with some folks in person that I enjoyed from internet contacts. I thought I might be of assistance to some of them along the way. Turns out I will be.

Sometime when it rains, it pours.

As initially planned I was going to spend a few days sightseeing in Barcelona and return home. But then internet contacts in Madrid agreed to meet with me for lunch or coffee and so I extended my stay to take a high-speed train to Spain’s capital. Here’s what transpired:

  • I had coffee with the managing director of the largest speaker’s bureau serving Europe, Central and South America. He asked if he could add me to their database 10 minutes into our conversation.
  • I had lunch with the Spanish speaking former employee of a client based in Singapore. Later, because of her new coaching business I introduced her to the speaker’s bureau.
  • The founder of a social media service agreed to have coffee with me. I asked why things had “gone dark” after an initial burst of funding acquisition. He told me, in detail, and then proudly said that they had held the company together and it was now profitable. Then he asked for my consulting help in building the business in the USA.
  • I telephoned a client when I reached DC to find out how his knee surgery had gone. He asked me if I would take on an assignment for an association he is working with. I said, “Of course.”
  • A client “hip-dialed” me yesterday morning. We chatted briefly and then he asked me to meet with a consultant he knows. I agreed and the luncheon meeting is set.
  • This morning I got a message through the social media site that another member of group is as he put it “Looking for a professional speaker that may be interested in assisting to bring a virtual reality product to the market in North America.” We’ve agreed to talk about it.

You can’t control it, but you can influence it.

Just like you can’t control Brand, you can’t control the pace at which new business opportunities come to you. You can however, influence both.  You start by staying true to what you do. You stay honest and forthright. You decline when you have to but you always try to suggest someone else that might be able to help.

Most of all you build Trust. You do it in each conversation. You do it more in your actions.

I didn’t have to introduce Rosa to the speaker’s bureau, but I did.

I wasn’t calling a client about his knee surgery, I was calling a client that over the years has become a friend. Help him with the association? I’ll do that regardless of the fee.

Have lunch with a prospect when one of your best clients asks? Definitely. He knows the prospect will get honest answers and didn’t even think to ask.

Hear out a founder who has come through the valley and has emerged profitable? Accept an assignment? Done, in all humility.

Agree to talk to an engineer about becoming a “product ambassador?”  You bet, because I’m convinced that contact came about because of my conversation with the social media network founder in Madrid.

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 Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

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

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

Arrogance + ignorance is dangerous!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brand Anew

Woman developing marketing mindset

When is it time to rebrand?

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

There are other reasons.

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

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

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

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

I learned the hard way.

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

The original logo

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

A basic rule.

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

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

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

Now you know who built this company

An introduction

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

“I’m Jerry Fletcher, the Brand Poobah.

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

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

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

Multiple Brands

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

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

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

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

Are you ready to brand anew?

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

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

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

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

Brilliance on a Napkin

How often have you been in conversation over lunch with business associates and watched as they reached for a napkin to sketch a concept?

Not often I bet unless you are lucky enough to enjoy a meal with a “thought leader.”

Amygdala hijack

Concepts are hard to come by and harder to present in a way that is understandable. Often, years of experience and research come to frustration as the paper blotches and smears you’re carefully contrived graph or sketch. Even when all involved share similar experiences and background it can prove to be truly challenging.

The effort is what Laurie Buxton, the Neuro-humorist describes as an amygdala hijacking. That’s a surge of neurons in your vestigial lizard brain that brings you joy, frustration and sometimes laughter.

Sketchy but beautiful

These ideas when drawn on the porous paper bleed every which way. The lines may be ragged but the intent is quickly obvious from the accompanying explanation. Positive ROI follows when you put them to work. That’s because the narrative is so rich in the vocabulary of first-hand experience.

Brilliance on a napkin

I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to a powerful concept illustrated on a napkin a number of times:

  • The Brand/Direct Scale, invented by a former client and his partner to show the difference in ROI dependent on the percentage of direct marketing versus Brand use in ads.
  • The Consultant Value Jump developed by the Alan Weiss Community and shaped like a ski jump seen from the side that portrays how fees can be increased as engagement time decreases.
  • The Promotional Whirl from the heart of my own Brand Gyro that uses over-lapping circles to make both the new Trust tools and traditional Spin Tools understandable.
  • The Brand Introduction Curve a Marketing director and I put together for a training session with the divisional directors of a Fortune 500 company. The major difference we incorporated was using a full cross-hairs X-Y axis and showing all the time and costs in development before the product was introduced and began (with luck) to generate ROI
  • The Brand Disruption Curve used by a management consultant friend from Toronto to convince clients to begin considering the mortality of their brands and how to be prepared for the shift.

Less is more

Using a napkin as your art board means you must strip away all the extras and get to the heart of your concept. Space can be a concern. Multi-faceted symbols can prove difficult to render. Writing can yield pathetic results. Less is more in napkin conditions.

Radiance

I was rattling on about this over Thai food with a friend. She put down her chop sticks, picked up her purse, searched out a pen and then picked up a paper napkin. The waiter removed our dishes and she put the napkin in the middle of the table between us saying, “All those things about presenting an idea on a napkin you said are true but it also gives you one thing that is less expected.  It makes your imagination a part of the concept. Let me show you.

With that she drew a small box about a quarter inch square to one side of the napkin. Three inches to the right of it she drew another. This one she filled in. Then she said, “Most people see decisions this way…black or white. A few have been taught that there are many greys that separate them.

But I tell my clients to imagine the colors of the rainbow filling that space in the middle. Not only do we have more than two ways to go we have infinite choices, all of which can bring new light into our lives.”

Imagine your rainbow.


Jerry Fletcher­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jerry 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

3-Second Branding

You can’t control brand but you can influence it.

Brand has been part of the expertise I’ve offered for going on fifty years.

I stumbled into this: the only time you have really powerful influence on brand is when the slate is clean.

If you’re an independent professional—a consultant, coach, financial planner, accountant, insurance agent, realtor, IT specialist (to name a few) this little tidbit is for you.

You’ve got 3 seconds.

How you identify yourself in that first few seconds will determine whether or not you will be remembered. What you say is the “hook.” Prospects will hang all their knowledge of you going forward on your initial utterance. Memorable words will get you a place in their mind and possibly their heart.

The “hook” has been an integral part of 30-Second Marketing since I came up with it to replace that tired old “elevator speech”

The hook, by itself, can establish a Brand. Whichever kind of hook you select, it can do that job.

What are your choices?

There are three that I know work. Each answers the question, “What do you do?” if you work in North America. They work but are less comfortable in other parts of the world.

  1. The Unforgettable Title
    This is a simple way to identify your expertise. Some examples:
  • Captain Crunch (A Certified Public Accountant)
  • Business Defogger (A top-notch Management Consultant)
  • Brand Poobah (A Professional Speaker –moi)
  1. The Beloved Benefit
    This one comes from knowing and understanding the desires of your target audience. It is specific about what you deliver for them in memorable language that comes from their vernacular. Examples:
  • We remove the paperwork from clean water.” (A client company that is bringing digital approaches to water testing record keeping)
  • We reboot employee mindsets to unleash their potential.” ( A client partnership that has developed, tested and guarantees their ability to help individuals find balance, eliminate stress and overcome addictions)
  • We build websites that make rain.” (I used this one in the years that websites were key to new consulting engagements for me.)
  1. The Shock Style Connector
    Sometimes to stand out from the crowd you have to be a little shocking. This approach moves from shock to service and gains credibility along the way.
  • I’m a Marketing Whore” (A possibility offered in a workshop by a woman who explained that she was looking for a job, had many years experience in multiple companies and had many “satisfied customers” along the way. She got a round of applause for her effort plus two job offers)
  • “I traffic in human flesh.” (An adoption attorney during a 30 Second Marketing workshop. She said it was the intro she used at cocktail parties to “break the ice.” It worked. Two workshop attendees asked for her help.)
  • I’m a pick-pocket.” (A professional fund raiser who goes on to explain how he identifies donors and how to make them make charitable contributions. The non-profits that hire him never forget him and keep asking for his help)

Think about it.

None of those hooks take more than 3 seconds to set. None of them are easily released. None of them are easily associated with someone else once used.

Most importantly, when you are just wading in they give you memorability that might not come your way for years in any other way.

What is your Instant Brand?


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

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

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

 

Do you Look Your Brand?

Your logo is the least of it.

Part of my job as a consultant and speaker is to help independent professionals and small businesses see how important every graphic, photo and video is to their brand.

Adults relate to people not symbols.

It is easier for grocery shoppers to pick Newman’s over a host of competitors. Which do you lean toward, General Mills or Betty Crocker? Given the choice so you opt for coffee grown, picked and shipped by Juan or one of the raft of others on the shelves?

Animals come in second.

Can you believe a Super Bowl with no commercials featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales? When it comes to batteries do you want the Energizer Bunny ones or the other guys.

Cartoon Personalities come next, particularly with kids.

Four out of the top five cereals are hyped by a cartoon character (Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, Captain Crunch and Fruity Pebbles). Ever wonder the King Kong of movie production in the last few years is Marvel?

Here’s how that impacts you and your business.

  • If you are an independent professional, your name and your image should be part of every way you promote your brand. For example, recently I decided to do more speaking. My new card reflects that in the visual which is a photo taken during a keynote. If you’ve ever been to a conference the impression is that this is a keynoter.If you can manage it, use a photo that allows the person viewing to make eye contact with you. Spend the money to have a professional photographer capture your essence. Selfie’s just don’t get it!
  • If your business is a separate entity providing a product or service not tied to your name or professional capabilities consider using an animal. I’ve known a very successful writing instructor that built her identity around her Newfoundland Retriever. At one point one of the most successful speakers I know had a blog “written” by his dog.

Be careful how you choose. Not everyone likes insects, or snakes or a mélange of other critters. Usually you need to stay away from the scary ones but sometimes the fear factor can make you more memorable. Or, you can do a switch up by using a comforting story or image. One of the highest readership blogs I’ve ever written was about a Mama Raccoon.

  • If you like cartoons, consider the expense. There are a lot of low cost logos that are cartoons. The problem is we are trained very carefully from youth to expect cartoons to be animated. Full scale animation is costly in terms of both time and money. Some amazing things have been done recently in software that may help you overcome this difficulty. Check into it before you walk away from the potential.

The key is to keep it consistent.

Every time you produce anything that will be seen by your customers, prospects, connections and referral sources make sure the visual reflects the image you want to present to them. That includes looking in the mirror as you leave your lair. Even if you are just running out to get an item at your local grocery, you need to look your brand.

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

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

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