Consultant Marketing Virtual Virtuoso

Professional Speakers are out in front.

I don’t mean on stage but rather in figuring out how to make the most of presenting virtually.

I asked, in a “mastermind” group, “Anyone else finding that you know more about how to make virtual meetings work both in terms of technical and techniques than the folks hiring you and their experts?”

It was like dropping a match into a puddle of gasoline. First the whoosh of the gas and then a long low steady burn. The entire group whooped and then each told a story of woe. I took notes and here’s what I learned:

Live is easy. Virtual ain’t

Half of the group are Certified Speaking Professionals. The rest of us split out between  those, like me, who have been speaking professionally for over 25 years and the youngsters averaging 5 years of experience.

All of us were appearing live across the North America regularly and a few of us have presented in International venues. All of us concluded:

  • Live is easy. Virtual ain’t
  • Live interactivity is not expected
  • Virtual interactivity is a must
  • Live reaction is easily visible
  • Virtual reaction is sometimes unreadable
  • Most Meeting professionals do not comprehend the differences
  • On-site technical experts drafted for Virtual duty are not up to speed on all the capabilities and difficulties of virtual technology

Technology tips

Those of us that have now been presenting virtually since January have used most of the major video conferencing tools. Our experience adheres to the general market share pattern.

  1. Zoom 40.49%
  2. Go to Webinar 19.82%
  3. Cisco Webex 12.31%
  4. ON 24 3.51%
  5. Adobe Connect 3.38%

Each has peculiarities and each makes different demands on the presenter.

Meeting professionals who would never dream of having a keynote speaker say “Next slide please.” don’t understand that is exactly what they are doing when they do not have their technicians cede screen sharing to the speaker.

Those who plan meetings and conferences can no longer use the same sort of scheduling for their events. Sessions must be shorter because the demands on the visual cortex of watching a screen are greater than when you are in a live event. “Shorter is better in a virtual meeting” was our consensus.

To get the most out of the video conferencing platform speakers, especially non-professionals, should have a rehearsal before the event was a suggestion from one of the veterans. All agreed that programs would be more successful with this simple change.

All of us have had to deal with schedule changes. I have cut a one-hour keynote down to 32 minutes while on stage to get a meeting back on schedule. You need to make sure that you, the organizer and the technologists are all on the same page. One of the long-time professionals in our group suffered a change in scheduling that made it impossible to become interactive with an audience seeing her recorded keynote with segments built for that purpose. The technologists used multiple times for the audience to begin viewing without advising her!

Technique Tips

Any event with more than a few people in the room is show time. Virtual makes it more so. The further you can get away from the “Talking head,” the better. Here, in no particular order are suggestions to strengthen your appearance in that virtual meeting:

  • Stand up! Presenting standing up will give you better breath and voice control as well as make you more active in front of the camera.
  • Don’t be afraid to gesture. We, as humans, read body language more easily than we read facial expressions. It takes fewer of the little grey cells to understand what is being said.
  • You can move, the lens can’t. We all want to have visual cues about what is important. Even as a baby we respond to someone who “leans in.” Don’t be afraid to use that knowledge to get your point across.
  • Use hand gestures. Because you and your audience are closer to one another using the kind of gestures you would use across a desk or a table will be more easily understood than the broad gestures you might use on the platform.
  • Share your screen, briefly. That is one way to increase the interactivity and engagement in your message. But, one slide left up for more than a half minute is going to bore the audience to tears in live or virtual. But in virtual they can be gone completely and you will not know it.
  • Get interactive. Use polls, voting via gestures visible to all, having a contest with entry via the chat capability, Q&A using the chat, Breakout rooms with reports on return, team tasks in breakout rooms that may be contest oriented, Try a Karaoke choir to get everyone working together.
  • Record it in video. Yes, Use the capabilities of the platform for record purposes but understand that you want a higher level recording for promotion as the compression algorithms in the platform recording deliver a less than stellar result.

Do not be the weakest link.

Even nine months into the Pandemic there is a huge lack of knowledge in how to use the video conferencing capabilities available to us. Ask what platform is going to be used. Set up a way to communicate any program or timing changes in advance. Question everything. The success of the program depends on you.

And, so it goes.

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

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

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

Brand:        https://brandbraintrust.com

Consultant Marketing Shaping the Quiz

Under the urge

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

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

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

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

The inevitable gap

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

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

Asking is right

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

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

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

The Quiz Funnel

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

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

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

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

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

The categories

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re not alone

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

Sometimes we listen.

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

And so it goes

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

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

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

Brand:        https://brandbraintrust.com

Consultant Marketing Building a List.

It begins.

I’ve stood on stages on three continents and said:

“Your e-mail list is often your single most valuable corporate asset”

That is especially true if you are an Independent Professional, a Consultant, or a Coach or in any profession that requires you to provide a professional service to individuals or organizations.

Analog versus Digital

Everyone thinks the world is all digital now but a hard look behind that internet of things reveals that the digital controllers are fronting for analog sensors. The point is that we keep trying to invent ways to capture and manage data that has a foot in both worlds. For instance, one of my clients, a Certified Financial Planner, has, for years, sent out birthday letters to his clients.

I’m talking actual typed on paper and sent via USPS letters that have a celebratory illustration and a short note that says “Happy Birthday.” He has had clients call him in tears saying he was the only one who remembered.

I cautioned him when he was talking about sending out Anniversary greetings to the couples he works with. My concern was that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and a fair number that don’t still aren’t all sweetness and light.

A brilliant suggestion

That’s when he applied some analog logic suggesting, “How about I send to the husband only but I do it so it arrives about a week before the anniversary date. Face it , guys are always forgetting dates that are important to tier wives and girlfriends! He’s right. Imagine how helpful that would be if you’re guy. Suddenly you could be a hero.

There was a time he would have done it with a rollodex and a tickle file. No more.

Now he’s using a fancy piece of CRM software. Big companies are using Artificial Intelligence to sort through tons of information stored in Contact Relationship Management data bases.

It’s all about the entry data.

Garbage in, Garbage out is still true. Consider what happens when the data in the data base is wrong. Even with all the security precautions now in use some things are nearly impossible to change. It is easy to change a password. But if you’ve upgraded your smart phone you know you may be dragging around contact information that goes back multiple e-mail addresses ago. You need a genius in a bar where you can’t get a drink to begin to get it done!

The Double opt-in will fix it.

Right, and if pigs had wings…

But I’m going to use it. With it I will take my miniscule double opted in list (5) and add those folks who want to see my regular blogs and are interested in getting my Newslog which will include a blog, a video and an audio weekly.

In addition to a number of friends, fans and colleagues who will get personal e-mails telling them what’s up and how to assure their place I’m going to aggressively recruit new subscribers.

I’ll use three methods:

  • A significant increase in social media postings (daily across 4 networks) all with a link to my website that has a pop-up to get their data.
  • A lead magnet that explains how to build a B2B e-mail list using video which will be featured in blogs, and postings in groups. Interested? Click here
  • A Quiz Funnel for people interested in finding out their #1 Consultant Marketing Mistake. That will go live on October 7.  

I have no great expectations. I’ll track the numbers and add to them with product offers in upcoming keynotes. I’ll be happy to end the year in triple digits.

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Tech Trap

It’s great until it isn’t.

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

Change

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

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

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

Logging in

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

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

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

Buying in

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

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

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

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

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

Opting out

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

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

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

Integrating

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing For Startups

You’ve decided you’d like to be a consultant but you’re not sure how long it is going to continue as a side hustle before becoming your full-time gig.

You’ve done some time in the 9 to 5 world and learned how to get some things done.

Could be that you’ve grown comfortable with independence of working from home because of Covid or the outfit you’re working for is beginning to let people go.

Age can matter.

I know. As an Ad Agency CEO dealing with CEOs, Presidents and Fortune 500 senior managers. I was always asked how somebody so young could know so much. The fact was I just looked a lot younger than I actually was. The perception was that I was 20 years younger when I was in my 50s.

If you are young or just look it, people will question your judgement. The higher the value of your advice the more they want you to be grey haired or at least grey at the temples.

On the other hand if your expertise is in technology they want you to be a little younger.

Gender can matter

It shouldn’t, but it does. You will find women that deliver brilliantly in every profession you can imagine. In some cases they do it better than men. But regardless of that there is a known bias toward women in some areas perceived to be more people oriented and away from them in engineering and “hard” science.

So you would probably accept the young lady in the photo as qualified to handle social media but not to specify the concrete for our overpass.

I’m certain of this as my daughter looks like a valley girl but has dual PhDs in Engineering and Microbiology.

Race can matter

I’m of Irish extraction. It has been a couple generations since folks like me were automatically turned down for any white-collar job but I can still remember my grandfather talking about some of the names he was called.

I’ve been in the car when a black friend was stopped for no reason.

I’ll never forget telling the proud Hispanic entrepreneur of a wall construction company that the only thing stopping him from getting work in the local high-income bedroom community was not asking. The work he did on that first job is still earning him testimonials.

Religious garb can matter

If you wear a hijab, a Sikh turban or a Jewish Kippah you can expect to be treated differently.

Sometimes that is a good thing. A case in point was a local manufacturer of custom carpets for businesses and boats who answered my question about the hair coverings of the women doing the intricate work in his operation. He replied, “They are from a Russian sect that lives just south of here and even if  I don’t have an immediate contract for them to work on I will hire them because they are twice as productive as anyone else I’ve hired.”

Engagement matters

If you are not completely engaged it can cause mistakes like overcommitment, under-commitment and insufficient study of the industry or problem in question. Often, proposed solutions will go awry due to reasons painfully obvious in hindsight.

Frequently the error is too much talking and too little listening.

That can lead to a reputation of being ineffective. It causes clients to at best give no testimonials and at worst issue a critical review.

Here’s what you can do about it.

  • Learn how to have a conversation with a prospect instead of delivering a commercial.
  • Build a believable self intro
  • Put together the words they can use to refer you
  • Truthfully sell yourself and your capabilities

That is what my 30-Second Marketing Workshop can do for you. You’ll learn those basics plus how to apply all you’ve learned to build a lead generating web site, presentations that stick with prospects and how to move from memorable to unforgettable, to Indispensable and, if you have the knack of changing the way people think, to Legendary.

Join me. Get on the reservation list for the next 30 Second Marketing Workshop

Send an e-mail to Jerry@Z-axisMarketing.com with the subject Workshop and I’ll send you all the details.

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Soundtrack

I have no clue where this idea came from.

Perhaps it was watching the credit roll on an old movie that used rock songs from my misspent youth as the background to everything from chase scenes to tender love scenes and everything in between.

The music of your career.

Consulting careers are usually sorted out into:

  1. Start up
  2. Growth
  3. Established

When I first considered this way of looking at my past I was struck by the urgency of establishing my practice. As a foot ball fan, the Rolling Stones’ song “Start it Up” came to mind. But I couldn’t think of the words to the song just that powerful guitar riff and driving beat.

So I looked it up. The earworm I had of the musical opening to the song was accurate but the title wasn’t. It is actually “Start Me Up” which you don’t hear until about 15 seconds in. Of course, I watched this video. And then I checked out the lyrics that start with:

If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop
You can start me up
You can start me up I’ll never sto
p

I’ve been running hot
You got me ticking going to blow my top
If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop
Never stop, never stop, never stop

You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry

Seems to me there’s a little sexual tension there and if you are really into consulting it has some of those connotations.

What about growth?

That little foray into sensuality got me wondering what the key melody was for all those years I was growing the practice. Nothing came immediately to mind until I started thinking about the years I spent as a journeyman in advertising. Then it came to me. Neil Diamond. Either you’re a fan or you’re not. He recorded a live album at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles called “Hot August Night.” One song in particular that night sort of tells it like it was for me: “Brother Loves Travelin’ Salvation Show”

I discovered that it was used in the movie, “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” I sleuthed out  a video where he explains how the song came about and then sings it. click here  Later versions of the song with an orchestra and a choir backing him are just gilding the lily of this powerful take on a piece of Americana. This may have been when I decided to become a speaker because like Brother Love I’ve always wanted to give back and to spread the word of what works in my world. Listen all the way through. You’ll understand.

Established?

That one came easy. You can’t grow up when I did without knowing about a little town called Detroit. Yes, it was famous as where American cars were manufactured. But it became Motown when music that would sweep the nation began to be recorded there. No, I’m not going to claim a connection to something from Barry Gordy’s bunch.

My guy was Bob Seiger. He and the Silver Bullet Band would tour for years but his songs were made famous by other artists that covered them. He is best known for “Night  Moves,” “Still the Same,” and “Against the Wind.”

But the song for this part of the journey is one he wrote while touring in 1973. Check out this video and remember these words: “Here I am, on the road again. There I am, up on the stage. Here I go, playin’ the star again. There I go, turn the page.”

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Pain Payoff

Numerous coaches in my life have all said, “No pain, no gain.”

They were physical coaches. They were talking about my body. The brain discussion was always about handling or overcoming the pain.

But pain isn’t always physical.

Brain Pain

Your clients may exhibit this phenomenon. If they don’t you may not be doing your job as well as you should. Yes, I know that your intent is to lessen their pain by solving their problem. But sometimes you need to give them some pain to provide a longer-term solution.

The path to Legendary

There is a path every consultant must walk. The stepping-stones are:

  • Memorable
  • Unforgettable
  • Indispensable
  • Legendary

Memorable

In today’s world awareness of who you are is critical to staying engaged with clients. One client, plus another and yet another until you have an ongoing string of them. How you identify yourself, the words you use to tell strangers what you do are critical to your success. The more unique your identity, the more memorable you can be. Sometimes it pays to be controversial. A little pain can connect you to potential gain.

            “Controversial gets you seen.

                        Results gets you paid.”

Unforgettable

This second stepping-stone is directly linked to what you deliver. Every step of your interaction with a contact from initial meeting to agreeing to work together to fulfilling the promise of the engagement is judged by what you bring to the partnership. Everything you bring.

The style you show whether chic, understated elegance, or casual competence all get linked to outcomes.

Your way of speaking whether it is “cut to the chase” or a meandering walk through the maze of the difficulty becomes a part of how you are regarded.  

How you interpret data, analyze it and compare it to best practices becomes part and parcel of your persona.

The relationship you build with contacts, prospects, clients and referral sources become an immutable part of how they position you in their recommendations.

“Controversial gets you seen.

                        Results gets you paid.

                                    Relationships get you referred”

Indispensable

One step further occurs when an engagement turns into an ongoing, often retainer-based, agreement to take on the role of continuing advisor for the client. This may range from on-call to regular hours or attendance at specific scheduled meetings.

You are indispensable when you deliver desired brain pain. It may be the sting of sweeping current analytics aside. It could be the twinge of long-term weakness revealed by analysis. It might be the agony of finding a new way of doing business in the face of an unexpected pandemic.

The point is: you are supplying a way of thinking that is not currently available in the organization.

“Controversial gets you seen.

                        Results gets you paid.

                                    Relationships get you referred

                                                A different slant makes you a star”

Legendary

The singular difference of a Legendary Consultant is that they change the way their clients think. The consultant’s way of approaching a problem becomes the standard for client executives. Your practices become best practices for that organization and its leadership.

Based on publication of your results and what underpins them a broader audience adopts your approach and puts you in this category reserved for only a few.

“Controversial gets you seen.

                        Results gets you paid.

                                    Relationships get you referred

                                                A different slant makes you a star

                                                                                    Imbuing wisdom gets renown.”

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing The Essence

.

Time is of the essence

.It is.

Contracts for consulting may include this phrase followed by specific goals that must be met by a certain time.

BUT Time is of the essence in multiple ways for a consultant. Here are a few:

  • Billable hours
  • Task schedules
  • Appointment setting
  • Completion agreement date
  • Available hours

Let’s take those one at a time starting with the last.

Available Hours

As a consultant, running your own business, you can determine how many days a week you are gong to work and how long each day. You may be willing to put in a lot of time to become successful. That’s okay if you don’t have a life outside your business. But, over time you will find that a life of joy is doing the work you love at a tempo that is comfortable and allows you to pursue other interests.

Let’s figure out how many hours are actually available.

Days in a year                                                           365 Days

Total hours in a year (24/day)                                8760 Hours

Actual Working weeks per year 52 less
Federal  holidays (20 days or 3 weeks,
2 wk vacation(10 days)
and 5 sick days (1 week)                                        48 Weeks

Standard working hours in USA @ 40Hrs/wk     1920 Hours

Billable Hours        

Here is a dose of reality. None of us deliver work for all the standard working hours. Even expecting to average 8 hours a day is not viable. You need to eat lunch or your capabilities tank. You are not plugged in every minute of the rest of the day. A bathroom break or two is essential. Just like warming up that cup of coffee. Not to mention the administrivia of running a company (which I’m not going to subtract here) Here are the numbers:

Real working hours in week
less lunch 1 hour and Admin 1 hours/day           30

Actual available billable time at 5 hours/day       1440  

Doubt me? Here’s away to figure out reality.

  1. Print out a week’s calendar pages from your CRM, one day per page. Usually they will be marked in 30-minute increments and are easy to schedule meetings starting on the hour or half hour.
  2. Starting Monday morning record what you are doing in 15 minute increments. All of it. The coffee break. The trip to the bathroom. Going out to the mail box. Doing a report for a client. Doing a proposal. Whatever.
  3. Do it for the week.
  4. Now go through the week and highlight the activities you could bill a client for.
  5. Total up the numbers day by day and for the week.

Most of us bill only about half our time at best.

Task Schedules

As secondary benefit of the above exercise is seeing how long it takes you to accomplish a task. Suppositions are fine in fiction but you’re building a business based on getting results. Your profit, or lack thereof, is directly linked to your ability to estimate the time it is going to take to accomplish a task versus what you can bill the client for the work.

All of us think we can get things done faster. It just doesn’t happen that way. At best we’ are off by a factor of 1.5 to 3.5.In other words, if you put 10 hours to do something in a proposal  and it takes 15, 25 or 35 hours to do it you could be out the difference, particularly if you use project pricing.

Appointment Setting

You schedule a Zoom meeting inside your Outlook or other software calendar. It asks you for a start and an end time. That lunch you can finally have with a client as Covid restriction ease get put into your calendar. You carefully note the place and the time. If you are writing it in you don’t note and end time. Noting the occasion in your phone forces you to put in an end time.

End time. What a concept. Meetings of all sorts start late and drag on when a stake in the heart is the most reasonable thing to do.

In order to be at the restaurant on time you need to leave early. The end time is set to precede your next meeting or task but travel time eats into that. When you set an appointment look at the time it takes you to get there and get back. Every appointment needs a realistic start and end time. Unless it is directly client related it is not billable.

Completion Agreement Date

You can’t dodge this bullet. Your job is to deliver the results you promised when you promised them. Earlier if possible

Time is of the essence:

  • The time you estimate to solve the problem
  • The time it actually takes
  • The time you can bill for it
  • The time you spend getting to, in, and getting back from appointments
  • The timely delivery of what you promised

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Listen or Lead?

The popular press was crowing about how populism was sweeping the earth because social media had given everyone a voice.

Then a pandemic got in the way.

Suddenly marketing gals and guys are debating whether to listen or lead and how the pandemic reaction will affect that going forward.

Consultant Marketing is different…or is it?

We know from 17 years of research that Consultant Marketing is not like traditional product marketing. It is not like the standard marketing required for a service either. Has the mainstream idea of the customer dictating the marketing of the product impacted on Consulting?

Yes and no.

 The length of time a consultancy has been operating makes a difference as does the size of client.

  • Start-ups are too busy trying to find their next engagement to do a lot of listening to populist viewpoints. They are out there pitching on and off-line. They’ve taken up virtual networking and speaking on Zoom to get in front of prospects. To get speaking bookings they have to present on an area of expertise.
  • Growing firms have established an expertise. They are expected to bring that proficiency to bear on client’s problems that fit nicely into their knowledge base. They tend to be seen as “thought leaders” and are expected to lead the discussion. Those that have the greatest revenues do so, on stages, in boardrooms and in interviews. Their clients generally are middle market B2B and not subject to the opinions of the multitudes except if they are targeted by an anti-elitist group.

  • Established Firms Still may include individual front-runners. that got where they are on the corporate ladder by championing a singular opinion. But close observation reveals that they are now prone to carefully weighing their stance against the opinions of client customers.  Those clients tend to be larger and B2C oriented. Then, too, the staff in such organizations is always larger and tend to be filled up with youngsters that are charged with understanding how the client company operates.

Ask and Choose

There will be a “New Normal.” The world will change. People will have different expectations.

The mark of a good consultant will continue to be the ability to listen. The need to assess the situation in conference with a CEO will not go away. The requirement to understand a prospect’s operations will continue. The impact of customers on the  client’s business will still have to be assessed.

Consultant Marketing will, I believe, begin heavier use of two tools.

Ask As simple as it sounds this way of going about things will, I believe, see expanded use in the future. Many are reticent to use this means of getting to what matters. It can be as simple as saying, “oh” repeatedly to get the speaker to examine their contention. Or, you might employ a quiz to determine which of your areas of expertise are what is expected or dated or needed.

You will need to query in a way you can get useable, verifiable information. Make your questions ones that can guide you in selecting products, services and approaches. Whether your clients work in B2B or B2C you can be more effective the more you know.

Choose First you ask the right questions. Next you focus on verifying the salient qualities of the choice. Does it sell? Will they buy again? Can we layer other sales on top of it? Are ancillary products or services wanted? Is it trending up or down?  How does it compare to known successes? Is there competition or is it a unicorn? (You want a competitor).

Involving folks in both the client organization and their customer base will often provide you with insights you would not get any other way. It will save you and your client time as well as give you an edge on success.

Make it personal

Testing your assumptions will give you a competitive edge. Knowing which of the services you offer are most important to your ideal clients will allow you to be more certain in your approach. Determining what customers for your clients really want will make your advice produce revenue faster. Shifting your communications to the area that interests prospects and using their words will make you more successful. When you take the stage and provide he advice they are looking for, more of them will hang on your words, in the meeting, in the hallway, in their boardrooms and in their offices.

Be a real thought leader

Here are three thoughts generated by the most recent Consultant marketing Survey:

  • “Speaking is the new magic weapon for building a practice…
    If the right stages can be booked and the follow up is in place.”

                                                                                          Jerry Fletcher

  • “Every consultant has a branding problem…You gotta move
    from Nobody to Somebody and do it in just 3 seconds!”

                                                                                                      Jerry Fletcher

  • “Controversial gets you heard...
    Proof gets you hired.”

                              Jerry Fletcher

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Crafting Identity

.

SEO is only part of the equation.

I agreed to sit on a panel after a presentation on SEO the other day.

The presentation was well done if a little lumpy because the presenters were not used to using Zoom.

I learned some things about how SEO works which I’ll put to good use.

But, the most important thing I learned was that key words are worth nothing if the web site doesn’t communicate on a personal level.

The right words.

As the presenters put it, SEO is for the AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the search engines. The words speak to the humans visiting the site. The more personal and to the point the words are the better your chances of getting the visitor to take the action you want them to take.

An example from a consulting web site rewrite:

Before:

These men and women feel they are being reactive rather than proactive and want to exert more analytically supported control over the business. Often, they feel that they are running just to catch up. They are certain that with the right plan in place with assurance the have right managers on the job they will be able to handle any crisis.

After:

Do you often feel that you are running just to catch up? Tired of being reactive rather than proactive? Want to exert more insight driven control over your business?

Our clients are certain that with the right plan in place and the right managers on the job they can handle any crisis.

The Before is talking about someone. The After talks to someone. Questions move this to a conversation instead of a description. Notice the increase in connection and the impression of a personal exchange in the After.

Empathy counts

Shifting the “Running to catch up” to the first position says to the busy executives you are addressing that you understand the situation they are confronted with daily. Too often, CEOs and other senior officers must concentrate on finding a fix for what is going wrong rather than concentrating on getting things right for the long term. The sentence beginning, “Tired of being reactive…” standing alone reemphasizes the empathy and clicks into their desires. “Insight driven control” suggests an attainable way to reach the better management goal.

Graphic cues

Separating the last sentence provides a visual cue that there is a change in the  discussion. That is accentuated by opening the sentence with the words, “Our clients.”

Typography offers multiple ways help our minds picture the conversation:

  • Bolds
  • Italics
  • Underlines
  • Strike throughs
  • Initial Caps
  • Punctuation
  • Bullets
  • Copy Centered
  • Copy Left
  • Copy Right
  • Copy Justified
  • Numbered lists
    • Indents

We are a graphically oriented bunch. I’ve been told that spelling, so difficult for many, is visually oriented rather than verbal. So, instead of sounding out words it may pay greater dividends to eyeball them out!

Page or Screen

These graphic elements work in print and on your computer screen. You can do so much with words that some e-mail experts in Business to Business (B2B) situations prefer all text to templates full of color and photos and illustrations. But in the Business to Consumer (B2C) world the colorful piece in print or digital form wins the day.

Strangely enough when you follow-up with print matter after an initial digital presentation the preference is contrary. In B2B color brochures are preferred whereas In B2C one or 2 colors is well accepted for transmittal.

Video  

Recently I was reviewing some web sites and one had a video that was silent. I thought my computer sound had crashed. A couple minutes in I understood what the video was about. The silence had become a hook, a way to intrigue me. It was a kind of sound punctuation. It made me remember the site well after I had any use for the service offered.

Video literally grabs your eyeballs but without words to go with it the story may not come through. Words supered on screen can make a powerful point . Music can enhance it all.

But without the words in the voice over and those imprinted on the image you have a failure to communicate and there goes your identity.

And so it goes.

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

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

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