Consultant Marketing Brand Building

.

Andy asked me to sit in on his Brand Marketing Summit over the weekend in Los Angeles.

As one participant summed it up:

“This was a successful young guy translating traditional branding for Millenials.”

I can verify that.

I was one of the “Mad Men” working in advertising in New York in the 1960s when branding first surfaced in the national lexicon. Trout and Reis would later coin the phrase Positioning that came at it from a different direction. They wrote several books on the subject.

No matter what you call it, the masters of advertising in that halcyon era preached the gospel of differentiation to make companies, products and services stand out from the crowd.

Everything new is old again

No, I didn’t mistype that. Here’s the model presented in the workshop.

Although the process from discovery to sale is presented here in the form of a funnel it harks back to all the theories of how mass advertising works developed before there was Daarpa’s darling daughter, the Internet.

Those were simpler times

Back then the big kahuna of awareness was TV. Everybody wanted to be number one in the consumer mass market. You could buy TV time on networks (there were only three!) or locally. So, Tony the Tiger told kids about Frosted Flakes on the network kid shows while Jack’s Autobody told adults who to call about that fender bender.

There were business magazines and consumer magazines, not to mention Radio and Direct Mail and Outdoor.

Attraction, in the day, came to be called preference. What that meant was that of the brands available you, the customer, liked one better than another.

Brands we knew incorporated Appreciation, Respect, Credibility and Certainty in Awareness and Preference. Throughout the heartland of the USA whole towns were dominated by Chevy or Ford. You would be considered a traitor if you bought the other brand. Coke was the champ. Pepsi was the challenger. That Mean Joe Greene commercial for Coke ran in 1979.

That was the way it was for about thirty years (1960 to 1990). The funny thing is we’re being told that mass market awareness is the key to sales success in today’s world. Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford a local TV commercial much less enough network spots to begin to build awareness.

Not to worry, the internet proponents say.

The internet is under 30. Social media are teenagers.

The world wide web did not exist until 1992. Google, founded in 1998, might be considered a very young adult. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are all teenagers. Yet, social media is being promoted as the new way to achieve mass market awareness.

Notoriety can be achieved but individuals pay more in time and personal space than many are willing to give up. You can generate mass market awareness. Here’s what it takes:

  1. Have a memorable “hook,” a way that people can put your name and a relevant word picture of you in their mind when you introduce yourself in person, in print and on-line.
  2. Use their words to speak to their problems. Forget those fifty cent words you want to use to impress. Speak simply in the words they use to talk about why they need help. Their words are appreciated because you show respect when you use them.
  3. Use your client’s experiences to tell them what you can do. Your credibility goes up when someone else speaks for you. Concrete examples of the outcomes you and a client have achieved will move a prospect one step closer to engaging you.
  4. Stick to your value proposition. One. Do not try to shift your approach for each audience and individual. Consistency is what builds trust. Be honest, direct and tell the story the same way every time.
  5. Be in as many places as you can particularly the ones that your clients may also frequent. Mass market awareness should always begin with the places you might find an ideal client and go on from there.

The attention span of a goldfish.

Microsoft apparently did the research to verify that the human attention span these days without additional stimuli is that long (8 seconds).

There are additional studies that tell us that you have just 3 seconds to get remembered when you meet someone in person, in print or on-line. Just 3 seconds.

To begin a relationship that might end in a sale you need the right words.

The right words is why 30-Second Marketing TM works.

You think through the conversation before it happens so you can find the right words.

You don’t have to come up with something on the fly.

Connect

You can truly connect with people by using the right words.

The right words… Can make you memorable in a heartbeat.

The right words…can generate trust as you introduce yourself

The right words…allow people to sort themselves into prospect or referral sources

The right words…can establish a brand in the time it takes to speak them

Find your right words.

View this video: https://vimeo.com/393362328/97e414e6a6

Then call me.


.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Baggage

.

In an hour or so I’m headed for the airport.

Packed this morning.

The usual. Essential electronic components in a computer sized wheeled carry-on and a small, good for up to three days, carry on case.

Packing is a matter of minutes for me these days. There is a mental checklist firmly in place right down to managing the pharmacy that comes along with age.

That checklist thing got me to thinking.

All of us have baggage.

There are two kinds:

  • The layers of detritus that we squirrel away in our homes and offices
  • The layers of mental mothballing we engage in

Each connects with the other in ways that must be put under a microscope to even begin to fathom. Some of it is good. Some bad. Part is positive mirrored by negative. Every element clings to us. Each is a small component of our experiences both in physical and psychic space.

No two of us is alike.

Your baggage is different from mine and from everyone else’s. Sure, there are similarities. The physical stuff tends to be analyzed on a community level. The stuff in our heads is, to me, more intriguing. And, it may be more malleable than we think.

There is no operating manual.

As much as we hear about brain studies and research on what goes on when a stimuli impinges on one of our senses there is still no definitive repeatable system for controlling what we take in, store and carry around with us. It is not like the physical bags we lug aboard an aircraft. We can’t change them at will. In fact, it takes a great deal of commitment to make a change, any change. We don’t need research to tell us how difficult stopping patterns of behavior can be. Dieting ain’t easy. Starting an exercise regimen is difficult. Giving up addictions requires help.

Problem solving help

People claim to want this. And, that is why Consultants, Coaches, Head Doctors and Healers of all kinds can make a living. That is their job. Each of us knows, deep down that at some point we need help either because we have no experience with the problem to be solved or we’ve come up against a bit of our own baggage that is blocking our way forward.

Regardless of the reason we tend to spin up like a kid’s whirligig if the concern is allowed to get hold of our ego.Therein lies the dilemma. We need to allow ourselves to accept assistance but we want to believe we can handle just about anything on our own. Or we listen to that little voice that whispers in our ear that we’re just not good enough to do anything. And sometimes we do both at the same time!

On your own.

You might be surprised at how far you can go on your own. Yes, this is advice from a consultant but you have to execute and you have to judge the results and you have to do it alone. Here are some things that have proven to work for me, my clients and coaches I know

Challenge your assumptions. You may not even know you are making them. When you are having an interior monologue about a problem or concern you are addressing, watch for comments like:

“that won’t work because…”

There’s no evidence that…”

“I don’t have enough time to implement an approach like that since…”

Consider the opposite For example, most people think about brand as some mystical identity that only a big budget and a lot of time can generate. What if you thought of it as something accomplished one individual at a time. Would that change how you think about becoming memorable, trusted and branded? Would it give you a reason to go a step further and become unforgettable.

Add some baggage. I know that sounds counterintuitive but often our baggage is just the empty bags that we have assembled over time. So open your mind. Read from sources that provide proofs. Look at research. Talk to people that have been there, done that and maybe originated the T-shirt. In other words get some experience vicariously.

Success is changing thought patterns

A consultant can’t be considered successful unless and until they manage to change the thought and behavior patterns of clients. That is what changes outcomes. That is what gets expected results. That is the way to become Unforgettable.

But it is not enough to make you Legendary. That takes another level of commitment, skill and desire. You must find a way to help the client learn to think differently. Your mission is to bring out the talent hidden in every entrepreneur, every business founder and every successful business owner that wants to take their company, staff, clients and themselves up a notch.Your mission whether or not you choose to accept it.

And so it goes.

______________________________________________________________________________

Jerry Fletcher is a master of consultant marketing, a sought-after International Speaker, and a  beBee ambassador.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for crafting unique trust-based marketing strategies that build businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing It’s Not the App

.

I’ve been doing testimonial videos for a client this week.

I’m not a video production expert. My equipment is rudimentary. I use Camtasia to edit. But the quality is sufficient for web sites and the candor I can evoke in the interviewee comes across powerfully because it is not puffery.

My interest is in what they have to say.

The questions I ask are about the concerns they had before and after engaging with the coaches and consultants I work with. I delve into their feelings before, during and after the engagement. I query for concrete results and outcomes.

Their actions speak louder than their words.

One thing comes through in all the interviews I’ve done over the last couple of years. Every single successful entrepreneur, CEO, President and corporate officer turned their phones off for the taping without being asked to do so.

I asked why.

The answer was that they did not want to be interrupted and that the phone simply being on could impede their concentration. Simply being on.

Their success speaks volumes.

These are men and women who recognize the focus a coach or consultant can help bring to their operations. They understand that clarity is the key to taking their organization up a notch and that human interactions are the fundamental driver of business success. 

They are not tied to technology other that to use it as a tool.

They are not addicted to their cell phones.  

They turn them off in order to concentrate.

Several of them noted that they have kept older, land line phone service so that an assistant can handle calls. They tell very few people their direct line.

Rapport generates honesty

Asking questions about both the emotional and literal results of working with someone tends to build rapport between the questioner and the respondent. Often that allows me to get honest answers to infrequently asked questions.

Ever ask someone why they are successful?

It started out as conversation to maintain the rapport while I broke down the video equipment, reclaimed the lapel mike and bundled everything into an old Case Logic video transport that I’ve converted for making sure I have all the gear in one place

Now it has become a standard operating procedure. These days I ask it in many ways:

  • Is there some reason you believe your business is successful?
  • What one thing do you think is why your company is doing well?
  • Does technology make you successful or something else?

Technology is just a tool

Founders of small companies, owners and managers of mid-size companies, C-suite officers both product and service companies agree. Technology is not the reason they are successful. Using it when a competitor doesn’t sometimes gives you an edge. But, by the time it is affordable for smaller companies, the idea of disrupting an industry or even competition in a geographic area just isn’t going to happen. That is their assessment, not mine.

“You do well when you do it good”

He wasn’t the kind of CEO that is dressed for success. His jacket was casually thrown over a side chair. He did the video interview in shirt sleeves with his tie askew saying, “Anybody who knows me wouldn’t believe me if I got all gussied up, and folks like me wouldn’t either.” 

When I asked why he thought his company was doing well he said, “This business is not rocket science. We’re distributors. We take orders on the phone and now online and we transport the product to your location. In this kind of business you do well when you do it good. There are two other companies that can handle your business around here. We have a reputation for doing what we say we are going to do. Been that way since I was drivin’ the only truck we had. Everybody that works here from the gal on the front desk to the mechanics that keep our rigs runnin’ gets it. We tell our customers we’ll get them what they need when then need it.

We keep our promises.”

Out of the mouths of babes

She was a definitely not a slouch. My client had told me about her MBA and how she had climbed the ranks in the financial industry and figured out a specialty service she could start with limited capital. She looked every bit the successful entrepreneur as she finished a phone call and gestured to a seat across from her desk. She put down the phone, clipped an earring back on her ear and asked if seated at her desk was okay for the video.

In the interview she was completely candid noting that she was working on her management skills as her organization had gone from zero to 7 figures in a year and was at the point where she was going to have to start handing off both responsibility and authority.

I asked, “Why do you think you are so successful?” Her response surprised me:

“A few years ago I thought I had it all figured out. I was the top producer in my firm, on the management track with a rosy future. But then the firm was sold. I hadn’t seen it coming. I’d gotten complacent. So I decided that the only sure thing was something I controlled. I’d had an inkling about this service but not the guts to go for it. Even faced with an uncertain future I wasn’t sure. I asked my pre-teen daughter if she would be worried if I started a business.

My darling daughter said, Go for it Mom. Try it. You always tell me to never stop learning. Since I opened the doors I’ve followed her advice. I hired your client to help me with leadership skills. I got what I paid for. We use a lot of technology but that keeps changing and I have to make sure my people are willing to keep learning. Knowing more about the law and how to run the numbers to our client’s advantage is what keeps us ahead of the curve. They trust us to know it better… to never stop learning. That’s why we’re successful.

Success is a matter of trust.

Trust in your judgement.

Trust in your staff

Trust in your customers

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 strategies that build businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing in the Beginning

.

I was interviewed on a Podcast last night.

I had approached the interviewer because of a post she had put in a group I’d been asked to join on Facebook. Usually I don’t engage on that platform but there she was, right up front when I clicked a link to the group.

We had chatted briefly on the phone, set a date for the interview and she said she would send me all the particulars.

When she called a little after dinner she was concerned that I had not responded to her e-mail.

I immediately searched my e-mail files and found zip, nada, nothing. She did the same and discovered that it was in her draft folder and had not been sent!

She asked if I could talk now to record her blog.

I said, “Certainly.”

She clarified a few points and then proceeded with the introduction.

Our connection is an event promoter who is launching a nationwide tour in March. I’ll be one of two keynoters in San Diego in November. He wanted me to keynote in multiple cities in the west but I no longer get a kick out of being in an all-day event, flying at night to the next city and doing it all again the next day. So I passed on Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Then I was asked to introduce myself.

Here’s what I said:

“My name is Jerry Fletcher, I’m a master of consultant marketing. You know how everybody tells you that you have to have to be memorable but nobody tells you how to do it? Well what I do is help consultants, coaches and entrepreneurs craft a unique trust-based marketing strategy to build a business, a brand and a life of joy.”

Memorable? She asked

“You have three seconds to use words face-to-face or on-line to get someone’s attention. Three seconds to say something or register or a strong headline to get through the armor we all have on our minds to open the way to further conversation. In the next ten seconds you must give them a reason to want to talk to you.

A commercial is not going to get it. People would rather have a conversation than listen to a commercial.”

Nobody is legendary right out of the box.

What you say in that first three seconds must give them a way to recall you. It should include your name and a memorable hook. That is the beginning of what I call 30-Second Marketing TM. Over time you will move through a series of steps that bring you closer and closer to that client/customer. Here’s the progression:

Memorable

            Trusted

                        Branded

                                    Employed

                                                Unforgettable

And for a few elites: Legendary

For her, it is the beginning.

Her questions revealed that she is moving from a full-time job in healthcare to coaching. She is fired up. She has taken the training and is now certified but like all indpendent professionals, consultants, coaches and solopreneurs she is having difficulties figuring out how to market her services.

I explained that the marketing that works in the beginning is not the same as she will use as her business grows and will change yet again when she is established. Of course, I have the benefit of the consultant marketing research studies I’ve done over the last 16 years.

Companies are built one contact at a time.

One gem of a contact plus another and yet another until you have a string of them like a lustrous string of pearls. In time, with trust some become clients, some become referral sources and some become both. Networking will always be a part of the successful firm’s marketing strategy. It will diminish in relative importance over time but will always be there. Along with direct sales activities, no matter what the business entails it is what the new entrepreneur must count on in order to pay the bills.

Speaking puts more targets in your sights.

I didn’t discover this fact of life. L learned about it by interviewing a consultant that had authored a book. Because of her I signed up for a newly formed group that I helped become the local chapter of the National Speakers Association. I’ve been a professional member of the National and the Local since 1993

If you have a process or viewpoint that can help solve a problem for individuals you can take that same information and build it into a speech crafted with signature stories and incidents along with content that will change the lives of  those in the audience. In doing so you will generate memorability, trust and brand. You will bring a part of that audience to the point that they want to work with you. You will be able to close the deal to work with them. And, assuming you deliver as promised, you will make yourself unforgettable.

Walk away from the podium.

Get your first appearances in places like your local Rotary. You won’t get paid by them or other small local groups that would like to hear your message. That is okay. You will need the practice and to learn what people really want to hear.

Slowly but surely you will develop the skill to speak without notes and to roam a stage finding positions that will help you make your point. Later when you are pursuing an appearance at a larger organization you will be asked, “What is your fee?” It will happen and from that day on you will be a professional speaker. Just remember, “It’s not about you. It’s about them.” Make sure your audiences always leave with information they can put to work immediately and that you have a way to continue the relationship.

Between those who come up to speak with you when you finish and those that provide you with their contact information your business and your referrals will continue to grow.

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 strategies that build businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing Getting Ready to Get Ready

.

I offered a free 3-Day Challenge.

Two thirds of the room signed up.

I figured it was a good way to build trust while working out some of the kinks in the first of a series of new experiential products with a small group.

What I learned.

I knew that most informational products sold okay but the purchasers didn’t implement the actions recommended. The research shows that 80% don’t even open the item after they have paid for it and downloaded it! And of the 20% who do open it up only a handful (20 to 25%) ever finish and implement!

In other words gamification techniques must be applied in order to get the purchasers to put the training to work.

Expectations versus reality

I wanted to be sure that this proven process got implemented. I carefully set things up so the perceived value was greater than the stated price ($197) the product included:

  1. A bonus video demonstrating the 30-Second Marketing self intro technique
  2. Module 1:
  3. An overview video for the course.
  4. A graphic roadmap of the course
  5. Trial Hook worksheets in writeable PDF form
  6. A zoom coaching call with all participants to share their work (and build community)
  7. Module 2:
  8. Hook’em worksheet with tips on resources to help craft creative breakthroughs
  9. Directions on how to come up with more memorable hooks
  10. A Higher recall worksheet (writeable PDF)
  11. Challenge Winners worksheet (with segment for recording the groups suggestions)
  12. A 30-Second Marketing Briefing
  13. A zoom coaching call to share their progress and provide feedback

 It worked but not as well as I had hoped. I was targeting 80% of those who signed up completing the course. Shifting the goal to actual use of the material being developed makes a difference. No longer is the measure of success a simple sales metric. Now it is a true measure…whether or not the purchaser got their money’s worth.

The numbers

The entire pitch was 3 minutes out of a 2-hour presentation. It was a small group, just 12. Eight of them signed up. Three completed the first worksheets. The same 3 showed up for the Zoom coaching calls. None of them completed the Module 2 worksheets. (1 did a day later)

BUT, all of them felt the product was worthwhile and all said they had learned a great deal about how to present themselves and their offering in a new way that they believed would pay off.

Mission Accomplished.

Along the way we helped one participant figure out how to expand his potential market and how to change up another’s presentation to get her unique difference across more quickly.

Shifting these individuals from doing a commercial to having a conversation was what I had set out to do. That got done. Will they be more memorable in the future? Probably.

An epiphany

One of the participants, after hearing the group agree with her friend’s suggestion about how to identify herself said,

Hmmmm… interesting.  Seems that would let me tailor what I say next based on whether I’m talking with an executive, business owner, manager or staff person.

That made it all worth while

The lesson for us all

I’ve been doing one-on-one consulting with consultants long enough to know that getting ready to get ready is a common failing. We all do it. We bite off more than we can chew. We sign up for a course, then get busy and figure, “well I can always come back to it.” We procrastinate.

There is a solution. As one of my clients puts it:

“Define the three things you believe will change your business for the better.

Pick one.

Do it.

Rinse and repeat.”

Stay tuned. More to come on putting more positive experience into the products it takes to build a business, a brand and a life of joy.

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 strategies that build businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing and a Life of Joy

.

When people ask what I do I answer:

“I’m a master of consultant marketing.

You know how everybody tells you how you have to be memorable but nobody tells you how to do it?

What I do is guide independent professionals to a unique trust-based strategy to build their business, their brand and a life of joy”

What is a life of joy?

The entrepreneur, just starting out sees it one way, the guy or gal with some time in the trenches another. The elation with the job when you are new to the business will fade over time but if you are really cut out to be a sage advisor the delight of finding hidden profit and revealing ways to solve problems will stick with you.

One life is all you’ve got.

Joy comes not only in the work but also in the rest of your day, week, month or year. You have only one schedule. You need to look at building your days and your calendar so that there is time to smell the roses, play a round of golf, take a hike, coach some kids and give back to the community. There is more to life than work.

I was a workaholic when I was in the corporate world. I figured that if you run a company you damn well better set the standard. I was in before 8 and seldom left before 6 each day and then usually with a full briefcase. Saturday was the day for catch up. Sunday was for resting up for the coming week.

Revenue is not what it is all about.

As the CEO of a thriving ad agency billing over 50 Million I had a full complement of folks to do the work necessary to maintain a reputation that caused high tech start-ups to seek us out. There was always more work. But there never seemed to be time for my family and friends. I couldn’t pull back, fearing a loss in revenues for the business and in personal income.

An involuntary step off the treadmill

Then came the day my board and I agreed to disagree and they asked me to leave. I became a solopreneur. I found out what its like to have to do everything. I learned Word and Excel and Power Point to stay in business. I found a program called Quatro Pro that was the first to make it possible to link spread sheets. I wrote my own accounting system using it. And then a client needed a better way to assess potential sales given data available for every major city they served. No one had ever looked at it that way before.

Technology can set you free.

If you did annual projections manually, you could save days doing the same job and still more days when you had to revise the data. Those days saved became opportunities I’d never considered before.

For starters I got my Saturday’s back. I’d go play golf in the morning and spend the afternoons at my daughter’s soccer games. We’d go hiking on Sunday afternoons after attending services at the church we helped found. The time just naturally became available to volunteer at the metro chamber of commerce. Along with a handful of others we formed the local chapter of the National Speakers Association. I was asked and accepted the position of marketing chair for the local chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants. I began speaking and taught at two local universities.

None of that would have been possible if I had clung to a corporate ladder either here in Portland or in another city.

Technology gave me time. A mindset shift gave me joy.

These are the memories that stand out:

  • “Wow, Dad I didn’t know you could do that!” the first time my daughter saw me step up on the platform and deliver.
  • “I really appreciate you driving me up here to Seattle for this book fair and being there in the front row for my reading. Its so much better than when you were always working.” The Dragon Lady, my ex-wife who wrote books about dragons.
  • When my Mom said, “It’s so nice of you to fly all this way to have Thanksgiving with us.”
  • The comment that came from friend introducing me, “Jerry tells me that the reason he has products as a speaker is that folks just want to take piece of you home with them.”
  • Being stopped just five minutes into a get acquainted meeting with the Managing Director of a four continent event planning company so he could ask, “Would it be all right with you if we added you to our list of speakers we promote?”

A door made me a family man.

When you office in your home the tendency is to work at all hours. Going back to your desk for “just a few minutes” after dinner can become much too regular. So, I set hours like any business. I said I was going to be open for business from 9 AM to 5PM.

The trick was putting the computer to sleep at 5 PM getting up from the desk and closing the door of the office. That gave me some time n the kitchen to catch up on everyone’s day, get the schedule for the next day and get to know a wife and daughter better than before.

The choice is yours.

You can build a business, a brand and a life of joy.

They are not mutually exclusive.

Each has its own place.

Each contributes to the other.

The mix is up to 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 and Brand development advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing Visual Cues

.

Little things can mean a lot.

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

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

One notch better

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

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

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

A signature item

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

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

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

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

Graphic consistency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

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

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.

______________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Credo

.

Normally I don’t do this.

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

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

A choice

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

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

‘Midst the Graffiti

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

Sometimes it ain’t pretty.

Sometimes clarity is concerning for everyone involved.

Sometimes the choices are confusing.

A Compass

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

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

A Balance

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

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

Or is there a better way to say it?

Or is there more to be said?

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

A credo—the first half

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

They didn’t.

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

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

Change occurs when you solve problems.

Change is the only way to avoid lunacy.

Change is inevitable but it can be merciful.

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

The other side

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

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

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

Working Credo

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

Advise with care. Take no shit.

.

And so it goes


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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Well Spent Weekend

.

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

The Crucible

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

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

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

Late Arrival

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

Why did I go?

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

Old Acquaintances

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

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

AI, AGI and ASI

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

Serendipity is a strange thing.

New Acquaintances

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

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

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

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

The attention span of a gold fish

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


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

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

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

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

And so it goes.
_____________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

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.


.

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