Three Little Words

Heart in sightsNo, not those three.

The three I have in mind are

  • what,
  • how
    and
  • do.

Putting together a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) program called No Budget Branding over the last few weeks made me think about decisions I’ve made over time and how much I’m like other people.

What

Back in the days when I was up to my eyeballs in a pheromone fog “What” started rattling around my skull. I was lucky. I selected my parents well so the decision for me was delayed until after those halcyon high school days. Friends and acquaintances had to choose due to financial and social situations long before I did. They followed their fathers into the construction trades and the military and their mothers into the careers reserved for women at that time…homemakers, cooks, waitresses and nurses.

Some of us were lucky enough to put that decision off until we went to college. It was called selecting a major. I had my choice between Business, Engineering and Advertising. I took one look at the business school types wearing ties and blazers, the engineers with huge slide rules hanging off their belts and said, “Madison Avenue, here I come!”

It ain’t pretty but that’s how I decided what I was going to do with my life. I could have changed but I stuck with it. I’m still sticking with it a full career later. Yes, I was one of the Mad Men. That TV show was accurate, sort of.

How

I learned a lot in College—mostly that I had a lot to learn.  You see, making a profit on what you do is dependent on knowing how to get it done. If you are working in a trade, your knowledge is what lifts you to a position of expertise. Understanding the how will get you into management, assure you better pay, and sometimes ownership.

What is the way people are intrigued with information on the internet. How is what they are willing to buy.

You can tell people all day long what they need.

You can get them to click on the offer because they want to know how.

Think about that offer which you ”bit on.”  The video on the web site told you how the seller was now making seven figures. The clock on the webpage kept ticking showing how little time was left for you to jump in. The testimonials talked about instant results. The key elements of the formula, what makes it work, were revealed and even offered as part of a downloadable note. Some organizations even showed you how they were improving society as well.

Do

You clicked the orange button, plunked down your credit card, signed up and downloaded the “goodies” to include the promised bonuses. Wow! Talk about instant gratification!

Did you notice the admonition that was the first thing out of the chute? It was something like this:

Step away from your limiting beliefs.

You can do this. Focus on it.

Dedicate your life for the next x weeks to this formula.

Focused action will allow you to accomplish your goals

You will be SUCCESSFUL

That’s because the seller knows a secret.

Most people will not act. Many will not even open the packet of information, digital or traditional.  They are telling you the truth.  They decided or were forced to decide what to do. They learned how (sometimes the hard way). They learned that the only way to make something happen is to do and stick to it.

Will you act?


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­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

 

Your Customer Service is Your Brand

Brand is an expression of Trust.

That means that every contact you or your organization have with an individual can impact how much they trust you and just what they think feel and believe about your brand.

A recent experience with a company demonstrates how to screw this up:

If you are a senior they offer a wonderful service.

They are there when you’ve fallen and can’t get up.

They are there when you need to get to the emergency room now.

You would think they would be there for the relatives after a loved one passes on.

Wrong!

First they call and demand the equipment. Then they dictate how you are going to return it.

Yes, they will have UPS pick it up at no charge.

No, it does not have to be returned from the address of the user. Your business, your home or a neighbor is acceptable as a pick-up point.

Maybe you could leave it on the porch if you can’t be there.

You can’t get a prepaid label sent to you so you can take the equipment to a UPS Store on your own schedule. Explaining that you are in another state 2200 miles away from the equipment and not available to wait for a driver to get around to you does no good.

You must take time out of a wall-to-wall schedule when you are in Mom’s home town because sending you a prepaid label to take to a UPS store “can’t be done.”

Never mind that you’re grieving. You must to do it their way.

I won’t be held hostage by having to wait for an unscheduled pickup.

I won’t accept responsibility or liability for goods left on a porch at their direction.

I will cooperate with a customer service person who listens and tells me the truth. (So far, I’ve spoken to at four and my situation is off their scripts and it is obvious that management has no Trust in their staff.)

I’m done, except for a letter to the Chairman and CEO of the organization.

My letter will detail the multiple telephone discussions and refusals to listen. More importantly I will reiterate some points I’ve made on platforms across the country.

  • Your brand is an expression of Trust.
  • Your brand is a reflection of all the trust points in your organization.
  • Your brand strength requires Trust in yourself, Trust in your company, Trust in your employees, and Trust in your customers.
  • Your brand is the sum-total of all those points of trust. If they diminish your organization will wane and die.

____________________________________________________________________

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

 

Brand vs the Technology Tsunami

TsunamiWhen the client awakens,

Recently, a long-time client quietly announced that he was now going to learn about all this internet stuff because he felt that if he didn’t he might miss out on some “good stuff,”

I applauded his decision and told him so. For years. I’ve been trying to get him to pay a little more attention to all the possibilities, to no avail.

Like so many of us he just had no time for technology shifts as long as it didn’t directly impact his business.

Do not put your head in the sand.

You and your business cannot stand still. The technology changes, each incrementally small, keep adding up until they are like a tidal wave for those that haven’t heeded the warnings. Your brand is judged by all the interpersonal actions it has with the public. All of them. That includes those that include a technology-based interaction.

Engagement is the only option.

You can’t run far enough or fast enough to avoid the hit. You can, however structure your approach in such away that you maintain pace with the preponderance of your customers. You don’t have to be first to adopt a new technology if your clients aren’t early adopters. Being last in some categories is acceptable if that’s where your clients and prospects cluster.

The key is knowing where the people that pay for your goods and services actually are on the technology adoption schedule. Let them dictate your pace.

Talk to your customers.

  • Literally have conversation with your customers about the technology they use and the ones they recommend to friends.
  • Do a digital survey of a larger block of customers based on those conversations at least once a year
  • Carefully select the technologies that will keep you competitive and satisfy current customers and prospects
  • Implement use of the preferred technologies in your business in time to keep early adopters from jumping ship
  • Do not force the paying public to adopt the technology to do business with you

Don’t go all in.

The services and processes that made you successful should not be sacrificed for new approaches. There are earnest young men and women that will tell you to abandon all the “old ways:,” Don’t. For example, I recently flew in to transport my Mom for eye surgery. It didn’t happen because her blood pressure was in orbit. The reason was she had not taken her morning dose of meds.

In sorting the problem out, I found that the directions she had were not clear, only partially in writing and not in type large enough for a person with cataracts to read. In addition, she did not have written information that identified her daily regimen of medicines and what they were for.  There was an app that you could get but when a person is 95 and does not have a computer or smart phone that doesn’t work.

Give the customer the technology they can use.

If that means pen and paper, so be it. If that means printing things out in larger type, make it possible. If that means taking a little more care in making sure  you have communicated, take the time. You get customers by being approachable. You keep them by being flexible and dependable.

Stay tuned.

Jerry Fletcher ThinkinigJerry Fletcher is a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.

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

 

 

Step Away From That Social Media Suckhole

Social Media SuckholeJim said, “One of my clients was talking about his experience on FaceBook. It seems he has looking for a high-tech app for his company, saw an ad on FaceBook, clicked on it and within 15 minutes someone from the company was calling him.”

He told me that he suggested the CEO turn it around and use it for his own company.

Then he asked the wrong question!

No, I said, you should not be advertising on FaceBook. And you should not think about LinkedIn or Google either. The reason is simple: That is not the right model to build your business.

Until the customer/ client/ patient gets access to your product you don’t have a business.

Service Businesses require someone to provide “hands or minds on” actions. There is direct contact.

Product Businesses make an item that can be used but the company may or may not have direct contact with the end user.

Combination businesses make products and provide services associated with those products usually but not always directly. Their passage or physical distribution may be direct or through several intermediaries.

Distribution businesses provide physical distribution of products to end users or resellers such as retail outlets. The most common are independent distributors and wholesalers. The amount of inventory they carry varies across a full spectrum.

Agent/Broker businesses sell products or services to end users but may not handle physical distribution. Most independent salespersons fall in this category. Frequently they handle several lines that are used in an industry but are not directly competitive.

What is the right model to build your business?

  • Consultants and Professional service providers usually do best when they use tools that generate referrals
  • Business to Business B2B organizations that offer services need a combination of promotion, referrals and a sales force that connects with customers efficiently
  • B2B organizations that offer products at low cost may orient more to advertising and telephone follow up like Jim’s client experienced. The controlling factor is the cost of the products offered. Higher priced products generally require a more knowledgeable sales person and sometimes the best solution is an engineer partnered with a salesperson.
  • Business to Consumer B2C companies have the broadest selection of distribution possibilities that run the gamut from direct sales to distributors, wholesalers and retailers. But here, too, the price of the product being offered will have significant impact on the level of salesperson required.

Do you or a competitor have a way to change an industry?

Examples abound: Amazon, Lyft, Driverless Cars, Disney’s Magic Band access to hotel and park, Airbnb and a host of Internet of Things (IoT) applications that may not have existed last week.

You need to think about how FedEx technology adaption forced UPS to leapfrog them. Can you do something like that? No matter what your product or service, you can, if you think it through, make your offer in such a way that it stands out form the crowd.

That’s when Social Media fits in.

Use the social media platform that gets you the most exposure within your target audience at the lowest cost until you move on to pay per click advertising. Hire a professional organization that makes a living doing that. You will save yourself time, pain and money in the long run. But first, make sure your landing pages and website support your Mission, Position and Value Proposition.


Jerry Fletcher ThinkinigJerry Fletcher is a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.

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

Brand Isn’t Blind Like Justice

Sccales of JusticeI agreed to be a mock juror last weekend.

Six attorneys gave abbreviated versions of their openings for real cases.

I can’t discuss the cases but I can tell you a little of what I learned.

What I learned was a little scary.

  • The American system of civil justice does not include a way to stop a professional from continuing to practice.
  • The American system of civil law only includes one way to punish an individual or a company for a wrongdoing.
  • The American system of civil case law can’t force the fix of a product problem.

Being sued can cost you a bundle but you can keep your license.

You can’t take a doctor or other professional to court to cancel their license. The licensing body is the only one that can do that and they tend to protect their own. So your civil suit is about money.

It’s all about the money.

One thing attorneys were practicing in this mock jury presentation was how to explain that the only recompense available was money. One young man stood before us and put his hands out to his sides like the scales. As he put it, “Here in my left hand is all the things I’ve told you happened to my client,” he said, lowering that hand while his right crept upward.

His left hand continued to descend as he said, “My client’s life has been changed forever. The years without will add to that pain and suffering. The only thing we can put on the other side of the scale is money. How much will it take to bring those scales level? That will be your decision.”

The better the lawyer is at getting a client’s case across to a jury the higher the monetary award can be to balance the scales.

Justice is blind.

She can’t see what you put into the compensation side of the scale (or the other for that matter). Whether you call the money reimbursement for a loss or damages or an additional award for pain and suffering it is one and the same to Justice. She just wants the scales to balance.

With Brand, money is only part of it.

Your brand is how your customers see you. If you screw up badly it will be reflected immediately. Your income will go down. Repeat purchase will diminish. New customers will slow to a crawl. Referrals will cease to exist. Your reputation will be in the toilet. Negative word of mouth will increase and because of human nature could become viral. The value of your organization will be depressed.

Brand depends on trust.

The more your clients, customers and patients trust you the easier it is to overcome a single event. If you  are constantly seeking and posting testimonials and positive reviews the better off you will be. Every time you deliver beyond expectations you are building your account to balance the scales. Don’t wait. Start adding to your brand value today.


Jerry SpeakingJerry Fletcher is a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.

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

 

Lazy Man’s Day

man being lazy

This would be me today.

At least this afternoon.

Seriously. There comes a time in entrepreneur’s life when he or she is allowed to take off part of the day.

Those days are few and far between but you have to make time for them.

Birthdays are such a time. As my mother put it so eloquently in her card which I received today:

“It’s your birthday and it’s all about you today! So enjoy it…

Because tomorrow it goes back to being all about me.”

So this afternoon it is all about me.

I’m knocking off early. I’m going out to dinner in a sit down white table cloth, “is everything to your satisfaction, sir” kind of place. I am not going to count calories or avoid the beef and I might even eat some bread.

There is one thing I will not overlook: a piece of chocolate cake served ala mode.
Slice of cakeI intend to enjoy it.

All of it.

Not wading through the Friday afternoon pile of e-mails.

Not writing the proposal for the new business contact I met with this morning.

Not writing my usual new entry for Brand Brain Trust.

Just not doing anything work related.

I intend to enjoy it.

Today.


Jerry Fletcher is a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.

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

Brand is About Being More

Thanksgiving dinner is not a good metaphor for a Brand-building customer experience.

Sliced hamClients and customers want more. Every interaction gives you the chance to make your band more memorable to them. But there is good memorable and not-so-good memorable.

Thanksgiving dinners with their great expectations are like Brand development. Both are fraught with potential disaster if we don’t know the journey of the participants.

Are your customers coming “over the river and through the woods?”  Are they flying in? How often do they come by? Can you remember their preferences? Do they mind waiting? What could you do to make their time with you memorable? How can you impress them? What would make this Thanksgiving more remarkable for aunt Hepzibah?

Every Brand is built with experiences. You must craft those experiences, just the way granny put together those wondrous Thanksgiving dinners. Yes, the meal is important and a great cook is essential to serving up the bird, stuffing and cranberry relish or the ham, collard greens and home-made biscuits.

But what goes on before the feast and the conversations around the table are what we remember far longer. Brand development is like that. Too often we’re worried about the logo and the corporate colors when we should be concerned about how easy we make it to buy. We hyperventilate about what we say on our web site when we should be concerning ourselves with real conversations with clients and prospects.  (see the video for Shell Tain on www.BrandBrainTrust.com for straight talk that works)

This Thanksgiving when you’re expressing gratitude, make sure you include all the folks that personally interface with the folks your brand impacts— everyone from the janitor to your CEO. The truth is, they are your product or service in the eyes of your customers.

Thank you for being part of our tribe.

_____________________________________________________________________

Jerry Fletcher is the founder of www.BrandBrainTrust.com  His consulting practice, now in its 26th year, is known for Brand Development, Positioning and business development on and off-line.

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

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

The Gift of Memory

Welcome back! It is good to see all of you again. How were the holidays?

Memory helpers for Consultants

Gail said, “We had a wonderful time. My son managed to get back for a few days and his kids connected at our place so it was quiet but filled with warm memories.”

Chris jumped in saying, “I finally had some time to work on my house and I’m now ready for the new year.”

Rob said, I ‘member how the holidays were such a big thing at home when I was growing up and how y’all just kicked back and got into Granny’s pies and the gatherings with cousins and aunts and uncles and everybody. Wasn’t so much that way this year. Getting everybody to fly back home gets harder and harder.”

“I know what you mean,” I said. “My daughter and her husband came for Thanksgiving but for Christmas they took their annual sunshine vacation and went diving in Central America.”

“We went to Phoenix’” said Kate, “and I only made two sales calls.”

“New York for us,” put in Rick our Direct marketing master.

“I got back to work with a bang. A client who will remain nameless was having a heck of a time uploading some videos we had put together for her blog and other purposes. I was so frustrated by trying to solve the problem via telephone that I made a house call. She’s a Mac user and does everything from her desktop, doesn’t use the filing system on the computer and doesn’t know how to access it.”

I suggested to her that she should learn how to access the filing system and keep everything there. She told me she wouldn’t be able to find it if she did. The simple answer I gave her was to date every file to take advantage of how the computer reads file names. It reads from left to right, numbers first then alphabetical. So to be able to find a file I date it with 2 digits for the year, 2 for the month and two for the day. So the file for this blog will be 160109 Gift of Memory. The visual will be 160109 Gift of Memory Visual. I can always find a file if I know when I was working on it.”

Rick, our Digital Director said, “You know that the computer puts a date and time stamp on each time you open a file, right?”

“Yup, but it doesn’t keep the original date just the most recent time the file was modified, I replied.

Kate said, “Knowing that saved me a bundle of time in organizing my files. For years I kept them based on the kind of program like Power Point and Word with no client information except in the titles. Had to hire an intern to sort everything out by client. That made one heck of a difference. Now I can find stuff. I’m still figuring out how to find my desk.”

Laughing, Rick said, One of the most difficult lessons I learned early on was that you need to not only put dates on things but you also need to organize by client and project. When we opened we had no idea of how to keep track of things so we just had one list of project numbers. Client A Project 1 would get a number and then Client B’s project would get the next number and so on. Imagine what it was like trying to find anything in the real world much less on a computer. The way we solved it was to designate each client with a three letter code, each project with a number that was assigned serially that included the year and a letter for each version. You wind up with a file name like ABC 16-001 A. Works like a charm.

“You just made my day,” said Chris. “We’re at the point where we have so many projects we’re having difficulty keeping track of them. We can put that in place right now and I can put the new intern to work sorting out last year’s stuff that we may want to access for this year.”

Gail cleared her throat and said, I’m old fashioned. I like paper. I used to have a tough time finding my desk, too. Then I discovered colored file folders. You can get them in a bunch of colors. The key is to designate a color for each major part of your business. Like you guys I speak and consult so I color code this way:

Outreach      Purple

Speaking      Green

Travel           Blue

Business
Development Yellow

Prospect       Orange

Client            Red

Personal       Blue Green

Use your own code to make it work for you.”

Kate said, “Now I have to stop at Office Depot!”

“And don’t forget to put a CRM system in place in your business,” I said. That will save you more time than you can imagine. You simply can’t maintain good files without it…there is a reasonably priced system that will work for you. As you know, I recommend integrated systems so you have the capability to use digital marketing.”

Rick injected, “And it is good idea to make sure you can sync all your devices. That, and the security it provides is a good reason to look into Office 365 from Microsoft even if you use Apple products.”

I replied, “Good addition. That will also get you more cloud storage than you can imagine for a small consultancy and new capabilities to connect with others on your team and clients.

Bubba, our Buddha of Brand clapped his chubby hands drawing everyone’s attention. He said, “Y’all are talkin’ about all this inside stuff. H.G. Wells understood that is only part of your business. What he said was:

We all have our Time Machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.

Don’t forget about branding. Build on the memory of your brand. Make your dream memorable in 2016.

The Takeaway: The better organized you are the easier it is going to be to serve clients with imagination and innovation to make your brand memorable. Always find a way to be able to recover documents, graphics, presentations, etc. a year or two from now.

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue. Sign up for the blog and other publications at: www.JerryFletcher.com/Profit.html

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com