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 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 The Essence

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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 Crafting Identity

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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

Stir Crazy

I had lunch with a client yesterday.

Neither of us could stand being at home alone for another day. We did sit on opposite sides of the conference table which is just by chance about 6 feet across. The food was ordered and paid for online. He told me that when he picked it up the only people in the restaurant were a cook and a waitress. She put the bag with his order on the counter then stepped back saying, “Here’s your order. Thank you.”

Lockdown is unhealthy

While we ate we talked about the impact on our lives the lockdown for COVID-19 is having. Both of us are used to going to the gym daily during the week, He’s been at it much longer than me and the forced abandonment of the daily routine is depressing him. Me, I just find it impossible to sit still. Legs jitter. I can’t focus on a task.

Both of us have resorted to walking in our neighborhoods as a way around the suffocating requirement to stay at home. I’ve now built a nodding acquaintance with more of my neighbors than in the last year. The hardest part for both of us has been foregoing petting the many dogs being walked that have befriended us.

We are social creatures

Both of us remarked on the discomfort of not being able to have a conversation with people we’ve never met before. We’re used to talking to everybody like the barber, the mail carrier, a person in line at the store, small business owners at a chamber meeting, the clerk at the bank, you name it.

A part of us winds up feeling unfulfilled and I, for one, believe it drags me down. Phone calls to friends and acquaintances are not the same. Zoom meetings with some new folks can help but it is not the same as being up close and personal.

Trillions won’t help.

I heard the Senate had passed a bill providing a couple trillion-dollar stimulus package to keep the country going when businesses are shuttered and employees are without income. I understand the reasoning. And I understand why one element is trying to get the government to allow the country to go back to work as soon as possible.

I believe the damage has already been done. For too long the people of this country have operated without a emergency fund as part of their individual or family budget. If the shelter at home order were lifted today we would still have to deal with massive numbers of people out of work again. I agree with the experts that say it will take months to get back to a “new normal.”

Fear is clingy

One of my clients had to postpone two speaking engagements. One was for a new product/service he was about to introduce which we were looking at rolling out to the entire west coast. The other was for a proven program that he offers with a Mergers and Acquisitions attorney and an Investment Banker.

So far, my speaking schedule has not been impacted. I’m confirmed for a keynote in Los Angeles in July as well as Las Vegas and San Diego in November. But I’ve suspended my marketing efforts while I put a new practice running piece of software in place and finalize hiring a virtual assistant. That should be wrapped up next week.

Associations and businesses have all stopped talking to speakers, trainers and consultants. Fear of putting a meeting of more than 10 people together has brought planning to a standstill. Venues are closed. Catering is not available. Transportation and housing are shut down.

Golfers may have an out.

My inventor client who has a product in the golf market is continuing to sell his putting device as it can be used indoors even in a lockdown and since it is delivered by mail he can get it to those who order.

As part of his involvement with the sport he monitors what golf clubs are doing. They are still very much in business. He tells me they responded to the lockdown with these actions:

  • Renting carts to individuals only unless the two people are from the same family
  • Removing all items from the course like ball washers that people might touch
  • No longer providing rakes for the sand traps
  • Changed rules so that the pin (flag stick) is never touched
  • Added a cylinder of spongy material to the base of the flag stick so balls can be easily retrieved

Courses are, of course, maintaining the six-foot distance in pro shops and recommending that players schedule and pay on-line.

Amazon and Netflix score big

My buddy Bill, a recovering attorney, as he puts it called this morning to ask if I was stir crazy yet. I allowed as how I was coping but not as well as would have liked. He noted that in order to escape their apartment, he and his wife had started taking walks daily.

And he admitted that Amazon and Netflix had allowed them to keep their sanity by streaming all sorts of programming but their favorites were the old TV series. He admitted binge watching both old variety shows and series that were indulgent pleasures of the past.

He’s not the first I’ve heard that from. Some other friends have reported signing up for those two streaming services (and others) just to have an intelligent choice of TV watching

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 unique 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

Pride goes before

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I thought this quote from the King James Bible was, “Pride goeth before a fall”

The actual quote is: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

It characterizes the attitude prevalent in Washington DC and adherents of the current resident of the white house.

Agent Orange and his minions turned a deaf ear when the CDC warned of COVID-19.

The President of the United States lied and then did not retract his comments when confronted directly by knowledgeable health officials in the same briefing. He should be ashamed and apologize.

The President of the United States said this pandemic was caused by the Chinese. That blatant racist comment was picked up and repeated by media that fawns on his stupidity. He should be ashamed and apologize.

The President of the United States repeatedly said his administration was in control and responding to every need of the citizens of this country. He should be ashamed and apologize.

I pray that those words are not prophetic.

The initial lack of action may have led to the destruction of many innocent lives. The total ineptitude of a congress hamstrung by partisan politics and the limited intelligence of some members, particularly the republicans that put religion before science, will destroy our economy as well as lives that could have been saved by simply listening.

All of it can be laid at the doorstep of the haughty spirit of partisanship.

The states and cities have had to take the lead. They found the ways to coordinate the efforts to segregate those infected. The federal government initially said a lot and did damn little. Yes, they have picked up the pace but now are threatening to go too far and in part that is caused by the left putting too great a value on government control. That could lead to a fall none of us wants.

Yes, there is a pandemic.

People are going to die. The government in the USA is playing catch up. We have no swabs to do testing because they are not manufactured here but have been ordered from Italy. Last I looked, Italy had significant virus problems of their own. But, as reported this morning they may have found a way to significantly reduce new infections. I doubt that the US Government will learn from them.

We can avert some of the health problems.

The advice to hunker down, avoid crowds, use good medical hygiene and monitor yourself for symptoms is all helpful and just might slow the infection rate. But until everyone can be tested to assure that those who have it can be isolated, it is a crapshoot.

We cannot avoid the economic disaster.

The entertainment industry, restaurants, bars, theaters, museums, libraries, exhibits of all kinds may never recover. The travel industry will come back but how long can the skills necessary to make all the elements function continue without practice? Most of us are jesting now over TV and radio shows being done without audiences. But as a professional speaker I can tell you that the audience is a part of every performance and very quickly we will find the attempts to entertain in this unconventional way will prove wanting.

Our government is on the brink of sending out checks. Who will pay for them? The apparent expectation is that the people out of work will be able to “get back to normal” within 6 months. I will not hold my breath regarding that eventuality.

We will be faced with a new world

This happened around the world not just in the USA. Others felt the full impact before we did here in the USA. We didn’t help and for that we should all be ashamed. Perhaps it will help all of us to understand that this is one world and though we have differences we are all connected.

I detested this phrase when I first heard it, but I believe as a result of this pandemic that it will be fitting as we go into 2021: Welcome to the new normal.

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 It’s Not the App

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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

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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 Video Up!

I admit it.

I’m a techno laggard at times.

Yesterday I was telling my twenty-something trainer at the gym about the difficulty I was having finding the take and bake bread I liked at the supermarket. (It is always out when I can shop)

All she said was, “Have you tried looking for it on line?”

I had never thought of that. Searching for distribution of a product on the internet for me is like swatting flies with an elephant but I’m nothing if not game.

I clicked into Google when I got home and found the bread of my desire was available at five major outlets in my neck of the woods!

I texted her about my success (I’m slow to try tech but when forced…)

She texted back with an animated video emoji.

Startled, I responded with a text that expressed wonder and delight.

Technology morphs so fast we can get left behind and not know it. That’s not okay if you are in the consulting business. Video is the wave of the future.

Video e-mail is something I believe every consultant should be aware of. I’ve learned a little about it and had a chance to analyze over the last few months as I, once again, reinvent myself.

My conclusion: Video e-mail can be the single most important arrow in the consultant marketing quiver. Here’s why:

Connecting with suspects, prospects, clients, referral sources and anyone you want to build a trust-based relationship with is more intimate in video. Through video, people can:

Read your body language

Hear your tone of voice

Engage with all the layers of your message

Get a feeling of what it would be like to work with you

Understand you at both an emotional and logical level

Accurately assess your sincerity or conviction about your message 

Becoming memorable is easier to accomplish when I can see you and hear you and not just read your words. All of us are more genuine when we’re having a conversation not delivering a commercial. A study cited in the Harvard Business Review determined that “face-to-face requests were 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than emails.”

If a video e-mail only gets you half-way there it is worth it because the message you’re delivering isn’t just about your words. It’s also about all the wonderfully subtle ways we communicate as social creatures. 

  • Holding interest over time with video e-mail can generate more business, more quickly than all the referrals you’re waiting for. Video e-mail is how you can take that content filled funnel everyone says you need in today’s digital world that is taking forever to produce results and make something happen now. Target selectively. Use proactive personalized video e-mail and stack up a pile of new business possibilities just waiting to be cashed in. This is one of the secrets of getting on more stages if you speak to build your practice.
  • Powering up your pitch by making it more cogent. E-mail video forces you to cut to the chase, inject emotion and stop hiding behind the numbers, logic and slides. Yes, you can still present a value-based proposal in person. But imagine the difference in impact when you ask for the in-person meeting in a video e-mail quoting their perceived values and as taste of how you are going to deliver them.

Statistics tell us that we open 77% of work email and 59% of personal email.

Video e-mail can make yours stand out from the crowd show that you are authentic and get to trust more quickly.

  • Trust building follow-up is quickly and easily accomplished for everything. It brings the client into the equation in greater depth and builds on a personal conversation.

One of my Oregon clients uses a web consultant located in Toronto, Canada. Each time a change is made in the client’s web site the consultant sends a screen capture video of the work he has done commenting as the actual changes appear. The work is done faster and with fewer repeat requests.

Other follow-up possibilities:

  • A simple thank you (Gratitude for any positive action)
  • A referralor recommendation
  • Introductions
  • Apologies
  • Status reports

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

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Little things can mean a lot.

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

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

One notch better

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

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

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

A signature item

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

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

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

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

Graphic consistency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.

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

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

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