Out of the Box Value

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My daughter and I (she works for the Federal Government) were talking about why the best senior managers regardless of sector are extremely valuable. I was telling her about a 3-minute video I just completed that explains why successful elite consultants set the gold standard. See the video at: https://vimeo.com/356539908

Worth their weight in gold

Managers and consultants are all carefully taught to think, feel and believe that if we can define the problem we can find a solution. The rule of thumb is that solutions reduce costs and increase profits regardless of the kind of resources being considered.

That’s true as far as it goes. It’s a nice comfortable little box.

The best think outside the box

Manager or consultant they demand a sit down with the woman or man in charge, a discovery meeting. They start with an open mind, candidly discuss the visible problem identified by the CEO and ask questions to establish the value of the solution. Elite consultants take it one step further. They add recommendations above and beyond the requested solution to add value to their engagement.

The value-based proposal

Top notch consultants take their time in that discovery meeting. They have the CEO estimate the value of a solution to the visible problem and probe for additional concerns and valuations during the discussion. They get concise agreement on the objectives, how they will be measured as well as quantitative and qualitative impacts of the results. The elite consultant’s intent is to be able to base their fee on the outcome of the engagement in the CEO’s terms.

Their proposal will include three options:

  • Option 1 must satisfy the objectives.
  • Option 2 is more comprehensive (and includes option 1)
  • Option 3 incorporates partnering with the firm to include hands on implementation or overseeing the implementation.

Perception, not a problem

A CEOs job is to keep the company ahead of the curve, see into the future and sense the possible disruptions out there. What if she or he just has a niggling feeling about a potential future problem, or better still an opportunity that is on the horizon? That represents a challenge for most managers not to mention consultants. The CEO wants to get a resolution on the uncertainty. She or he wants to quantify it and then look at the actions required to achieve it or defend from it.

The quantification proposal

Once again you must begin with a discovery meeting. Together, you and the CEO must assess the perceived discontinuity. Two concerns drive the selection of the consultant to handle this kind of engagement:

  1. A successful track record with this client (to include a couple flashes of brilliance and out of the box thinking).
  2. Experience in an industry or a credential in science or engineering that is perceived to have knowledge to bring to this research.

If you are in the room you need to verify which reason brought you there. More importantly, you need to let that reason drive how you build your proposal. Your proposal must identify the objectives, how they will be satisfied and a specific time frame to do so. If you believe that expertise you don’t have is required you must explain how you will find it and how you will engage it. To the degree possible, you must provide a statement of how the information obtained will be evaluated. You may also want to consider how to implement or oversee implementation.

A solution, no problem

Working with elite consultants can prove educational. Recently a client challenged my definition of a Prospect:

“A prospect is someone with a problem you can solve, who has the funds to pay you and is willing to talk to you.”

He said, Every CEO or President or business owner wants more profits, right?” I agreed. He went on, “I’ve stumbled onto something in my consulting over the last few years. It is a solution without a problem. I need a way to describe it and a way to convince CEOs to just have a conversation about it.”

Hidden in plain sight

Yes, for me this idea was outside my comfort zone. For starters the urgency of the problem is not inherent in this situation. You don’t even have a niggling possibility causing concern for the CEO. But, as we strove to build a product description more meaningful and to apply the techniques of 30-Second Marketing TM , I reflected on the testimonials I had videotaped from clients where this process was put in place and realized it was proven thinking outside the box that could only be developed by someone with business acumen and experience that had psychological training.

The Shared Passion Proposal

The key to greater profits, even in a down economy, is hidden in plain sight in every company that has employees. Employees, approached properly can in a relatively short time develop a passion for the business that builds profits long term. The essence of that proposal is, for the moment, a trade secret but I’ve interviewed the men and women that have applied the process in their organizations. Greater dollar profits are the tip of the iceberg in the world of the Millenials.

And so it goes.


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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Appointment Setting

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Stop for the count

Before you add that appointment setter to your web site stop and look at the number of times you are asked to set an appointment.

Make it easy on yourself. Look at the last week or month. Compile four lists: Clients, Prospects, Referral Sources, Trusted Advisors and Unknowns:

  • Clients—These are the folks you are working with now. You have a key contact in each organization. There may be others in the organization that want to meet with you but if you have no relationship as yet they are not a client. They could be a Prospect, a Referral Source and infrequently a Trusted Advisor. Until you clarify their status they are Unknown.
  • Prospects – are the people you have identified as someone who can hire you, has the funds to pay you and has a problem they believe you can solve. If they don’t meet those requirements the probability of an engagement is nil. It is possible they could be a referral source or a trusted advisor but in truth they are a unknown until you talk to them.
  • Referral Sources – can come from a meeting, speech or publication. But if you are like most consultants the Pareto rule is in full effect. Eighty percent of your referrals come from 20% of your clients, client alumni or known referral sources.
  • Trusted Advisors —are the professionals you refer to clients or prospects. You trust them to deliver their capabilities for you and whoever you steer to them. These are folks that will call you for a meeting.
  • Unknowns —are just that. You need to clarify their status in your connections hierarchy before you decide what to do.

Direct versus Digital

I’ve yet to meet an elite consultant or one that wants to be that has sufficient inbound interest to need a Digital appointment setter. The only number from the above count that matters is Prospects. There are independent professional practices that could use an appointment setter. Possibilities include Financial Planners, Insurance providers, Real Estate agents, Dentists and so on. But in the B2B world that is not a problem.

Prospect age is a factor

Younger people (under 35) prefer to keep a digital distance from suppliers. They tend to be transaction rather than relation oriented. They are uncomfortable telephoning to set a meeting preferring instead to text or use an appointment setter on a web site. They will defer direct contact as long as possible.

Position makes a difference

If you are targeting the C-suite, you need to put yourself in the place of that corporate officer. Their normal journey to come to the conclusion to talk to you looks like this:

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Why senior officers follow that path.

It’s lonely at the top. Often there is no one on the staff that is thinking far enough in advance to see the problems that a CEO may identify. She or he may have colleagues in similar positions or in the same industry that are considering what is coming. They may have suggestions as to who might be able to help. That CEO can learn a great deal about you by reviewing your web site. If what they see intrigues them they may request more information. They will review what you provide, vet your testimonials and the results. Then, because they don’t waste time they will call you. In smaller companies they will call you direct. Larger firms my have an assistant call to set an appointment at your convenience. The point is they will call you. They will not go back to your web site to use an appointment setter.

The missed connection argument is not valid

Providers of the appointment software will tell you that you are missing opportunities. That is true for organizations that target transactional appointments but is not valid if your business is dependent on the relationships you establish and engagements that may extend over years.

Keep your calendar at hand

Answer every call and be prepared to make that discovery appointment. You’ll spend less on software and get significantly better results.

And so it goes…

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

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

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com this,t)}}

Consultant Marketing List Building

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You snooze, you lose.

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

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

Relational vs Transactional

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

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

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

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

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

The power of the list

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

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

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

Meet them before classifying them.

You can add folks to your list in these ways:

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

Keeping track of them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.


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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Billing Choices

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What’s your hourly rate?

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

An hourly rate is not the only option.

You are being paid for your:

  • Knowledge
  • Capability
  • Speed

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

Your approach is part of the equation.

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

Results factor in to what you can charge

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

Options to consider

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

How do you decide?

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

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

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

Overall stop operating on autopilot.

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

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

And so it goes.


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

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

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

Consultant Marketing Prospect Profile

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Take your revenue stream up a notch

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

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

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

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

Yes, it is about the money

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

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

The people assessment

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

 Client Company      Primary Contact  Repeat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assessment 1. Client company

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

Assessment 2. Client Contact

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

Assessment 3. The Ideal Prospect

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.


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

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

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

The Pivot

Divorced, downsized and still dedicated

Other than my daughter, my consulting practice has been the single on-going relationship in my life. Yes, clients have come and gone but the tenets of marketing I discovered on this journey, added to the knowledge imparted by 25 years prior in the advertising trade have stood me in good stead.

I’m still standin’

Z-axis Marketing was incorporated in 1990. It has been my primary business since then and was profitable enough to help put a daughter through college as well as put food on the table, a roof over head and an SUV in the driveway.

That is still the case.

Getting back on track

My marketing has changed over the years responding to on one hand the whims of the moment but on the other to constant monitoring of results. If I had to cite one book that put me on this path it would be Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising. It provided the inspiration for this mantra:

Test, Measure, Reset…Test, Measure, Reset Ad Infinitum
Jerry Fletcher

Long ago and not so far away

I identified myself as a Consultant and Speaker as far back as 1993.

That’s when I helped found the National Speakers Association chapter in Portland, Oregon. Speaking, as I now coach the consultants I work with, is a superior way to reach more prospects and get to trust more quickly than any other way I’ve found.

The key to getting booked to speak is to provide information of interest that will help audience members take skills away with them that can help build their business. Networking was what I centered my speaking on back then.  After waiting 7 years to scoop it up, I owned the Networking Ninja URL, built my speaking web site and, overtime, updated it several times.

Because my one-on-one consulting practice kept getting bigger I reprinted the cards with the consulting identity on one side and Networking Ninja on the other.

That’s when this phrase first appeared:

“Trust-based strategic marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy…on and off line.”

Confused, cross and convalescent

I was speaking internationally by now but a health problem, later diagnosed as Thyroid snuck up on me and sapped my energy. Airports, traveling to speaking engagements, became for me a version of the Bataan death march. I stopped promoting myself as a speaker and coped with having to rest after just a couple hours of work. Finally, I subjected myself to a battery of tests that required drawing six vials of blood. Both my oncologist and my regular doctor reached the same conclusion. I had a thyroid problem.

Now, I take a pill the size of a baby aspirin each day and I’m in the gym daily during the work week. It took a little over a year to get back to normal. 

Google Trends

I decided to, once again, go back to speaking. A fellow speaker suggested I check topics on Google Trends to determine what folks were interested in these days versus the past.

I did.

It wasn’t pretty. The younger generations are not relationship oriented. For them, networking knowledge is not something they covet. Brand, particularly personal brand was trending up. That was about a year ago. I switched to identifying myself as the Brand Poobah. The story is here: http://jerryfletcher.net/2018/12/brand-anew/

SEO to success

I received my copy of the book Choose from Ryan Levesque, who is the founder of The Ask Method. I proceeded to read it and then over Independence Day follow the advice between the covers.

My assumptions regarding the search terms that would profit me most were only partially true. The approach I had taken is here: http://jerryfletcher.net/2019/04/what-are-the-key-words-of-your-brand/

Choose lays out how to decide what your keywords should be if you want to sell education and expertise on line. The advice is straightforward and the tests easily accomplished in a day at your computer after some initial brainstorming.

Power in a pickle label

I generated over 50 possible keywords and proceeded to test them with the process Ryan had developed.

My selections didn’t even get through the first round unscathed. I stepped back and tried again. On the third try I put in two phrases copywriters would call “pickle labels.”

Both met the test requirements…all of them. That’s why my consulting website has been rewritten. That’s why my profiles on social media have been updated. That’s why the ID at the bottom of the page is changing.

The moral of the story

I’m not getting any younger. I still like speaking because I can see the lights go on in solopreneur’s minds when my advice hits home. I still like one-on-one consulting and I’ll continue to do it. The thing is, clients and others keep asking me to put some of my advice on line and to provide ways I can work with more folks.

I can do that best by concentrating my efforts in one thing: Consultant Marketing. That’s why I bought the URL and a new website is on the way.

And so it goes.


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

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

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

How Your Brand Can Win Customers Over

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It isn’t automatic.

There are some basic reasons your product or service will even be considered. Here are the results from a survey conducted by InfoGroup. What customers want from a brand:

  • Excellent product or service—58.2%
  • Meaningful Content—15.4%
  • Relevant ads/messaging—11%
  • Funny Marketing—10.9%
  • Flashy Packaging—3.3%
  • Celebrity Endorsement—1.2%

It’s close to Pareto.

The first three categories above add up to over 80%. The Pareto Rule of thumb is that in any group 80% will hold similar opinions. Another corollary is that 80% of your purchases will come from 20% of the audience.

The online corollary continues.

Research reported by Bynder tells us that the number of brands followed online breaks down this way:

  • 1 to 9 brands followed—67.6%
  • 10 to 19 brands followed—22.6%
  • 20 to 29 brands followed—5.9%
  • 30+ brands followed—3.9%

Over 90% follow up to 19 brands. That 90% number is common for a significant series of analytics on the internet. Sales is the most commonly cited with 90% of sales being generated by 10% of the followers that engage with a brand.

How do you engage for greatest impact?

There are no surprises here. Nearly 60% of prospects prefer a visual approach using photographic images and videos. Another 16% want your online content to be interactive. Another 12 % stated that they didn’t want to be “sold at” and preferred a conversational format (to include chatbots and forums). If they are truly interested in what you have to offer they will read blogs and articles of length.

In fact, over 50% of them cite articles, blog posts and social media as the reason they will try something new.

Once you have their interest…

Don’t betray their trust. Make it as easy as possible for them to buy. They measure the convenience you offer from the git-go. Will you customize the product or service? Tell them. Can package offerings or packaging be customized? Consider it. About 10% are looking for that kind of consideration.

The more they orient to working with you on line the more you need to have a firm grasp of their pet peeves and how to avoid them. The more you can personalize the content you serve up, the better off you’ll be. Just as importantly, the better you know what they think, feel and believe the more singular the information you provide to them can be. Being the same as “everybody else” will make 34+% of them lose faith in you. Whatever you do, make sure the data you provide is appropriate for the platform on which you serve it up.

Communication is not a two-way street.

The way customers want to be contacted is not the same as they want to use to contact you. Here are how the differences stack up:

Technology               To Customer             From Customer

E-mail                         70.8%                         59.4%

Phone                        7.2 %                          23.1%

Direct Messages
on Social Media        4.5%                           5.9%

Text                             6.1%                           3.7%

Direct Mail                 7.5%                           2.6%

In summary:

  1. Offer a good product or service that you explain in a meaningful, relevant way.
  2. Treat loyal customers with respect.
  3. Don’t betray their trust
  4. Be as easy and convenient as possible
  5. Personalize your approach down to how you communicate with them.

What will you change in your approach?


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

Bad Actor Branding

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It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is deadly.

The internet and social media have given a great deal of power to the public. Like most changes it presents good sides and bad sides. If folks like what you’re purveying and say so it is that wonderful positive feedback loop of great reviews and unsolicited testimonials.

But, on the other side of the equation…

The bad side hijacks your good ship lollipop.

Your brand sinks in a quagmire of negativity. Multiple bad actors add to the pool of despair with comments and reviews that water down all your hard work. If you, as an independent professional, are targeted, your brand and your reputation can be jeopardized. The trust you’ve built over time begins to wash away.

You may not know you’ve offended them until it is too late.

Just like a cocktail party, social media is subject to becoming a jungle of gossip. The juiciest tidbits are always negative. It is just the way human minds work. Ever notice how there are always just a few people that seem to garner all the attention? Disagree with just a few that share a viewpoint and they gang up on you.

When they decide to attack it is with all the positive aspects of social media up ended. At the least, a storm of innuendo rains down on you. At the worst, you can be subjected to boycotts or petitions that prompt attention from the media.

Their strength is their weakness.

They can’t really use social media against you unless and until they have a group of people with the same perceptions. It takes a crowd to build a movement and to make an attack go viral. The only way they can influence customers about your brand is if there are a slew of them all taking action.

Get ahead of the jackals

There is only one way to know if you are in the sights of these adversaries. You need to monitor what is being said about you.

  • Look up your name on Google and read the trending comments on Facebook and Twitter
  • Look up your business and check the trending comments there.
  • Is your product or service reviewed? Read ‘em!

Rethink your approach to subjects that cause people to choose sides.

You can probably get away with having a favorite sports team. That sort of disagreement comes with the territory but opening a bar named for the primary rival across the street from the home town team’s arena…not such a good idea.

Politics was once a refined conversational topic. Not so much anymore. The gold standard was important once but not these days. Religion. Careful. It can depend on where you are and what you are wearing. But sticking to the higher demands of you persuasion sometimes earns a cautious respect.

Announce your beliefs in a sincere but unthreatening way that acknowledges the law.

  • You can say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”
  • You can’t say, “If you’re queer don’t come in here.”
  • Try: ”We provide a personal service and believe the agreement to work together must be mutual”
  • Use the phrase: Not all our clients (customers, patients) agree with our personal opinions but none dispute our professional capabilities.
  • Help prospects to accept your approach with these words: Part of our approach is to provide a contrarian look at your business. You must accept that if we are going to work together.

 In other words. Check the situation. Step back. Look at the areas that you might conflict with an influential group. Be careful when and where you open up about your opinions and be sure to disconnect them from your business acumen.

That should help.

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

Personal Brand Memorability

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Anna Liotta gave us a glimpse of her expertise in “Generational Codes.” It was obvious from the amount of information she conveyed in a limited time that the years she had devoted to studying and interpreting this phenomenon had not been in vain.

A wake-up call

The trouble is, she made me rethink Brand in terms of how the collection of cohorts now co-existing on this planet each think feel and believe about the most important element in marketing products, services, concepts and even individuals.

There is sufficient difference in how each of the groups she cites think and behave to suggest that they may deal with a complex notion like brand in distinctive ways. That is why I purchased her book, Unlocking Generational Codes this morning.

The generations in her terms:

  • Traditionalists, born from 1927 to 1945
  • Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964
  • Xers, born 1965 to 1977
  • Millenials (Gen Y), born 1978 to 1999
  • Globals (Gen Z) born 2000 to 2016

What makes them tick and what ticks them off (as she puts it)

Her analysis of how the generations differ, their codes, is broken down in these elements:

  1. Communication–the preferred style of communicating and interacting.
  2. Orientation—the way they view themselves in relation to other generations, people and the world.
  3. Discipline—how they interact with authoritarian figures
  4. Environment—the behavior they exhibit dealing with the environment including how they gather information, make decisions and relate to the world.
  5. Success—how they measure it. What drives them and gives meaning to their lives?

Comparison to a Millenial Daughter

Because she was born on the cusp between generation X and the Millenials my daughter displays attributes of each but generally falls into the Millenial category. Like an Xer she is very much an individual but she exhibits the Millenial trait of taking things to extremes becoming an Ironman, participating in ultra-running and swimming across Chesapeake Bay when there were small craft warnings.

When it comes to technology she can squeeze more out of a cell phone than I can comprehend. She would rather text than talk if it is a matter of data or a photo. The internet is, for her, a playground. But she doesn’t own a TV.

Her relationships stay strong regardless of distance due to the acceptance of digital connections. That crosses over to the business possibilities for her. She has gravitated to seats of power and because of acquaintances made in those positions enjoys entrée to extremely senior level options in both industry and government. She sees herself as both a nomad (Generation X) and a hero (Millenial).

The Deloitte Research presents another picture

The opening statement is:

Millenials are the most diverse cohort in US history

Black, Latino and Asian ethnic groups make up 44% or the Millenial cohort.  In the Baby boomer generation just 25% was non-white. The research shows that a more complete view of the dynamic consumer includes these factors:

  • The cost of education eats into discretionary funds.
  • People are getting married later or never
  • Home ownership is no longer a part of the American dream
  • There is a deepening divide between the top 20% of wage earners and the rest of the population
  • Millenials, overall are financially worse off than previous cohorts with a 34% decrease in their net worth since 1996.
  • Additional spending on experience-based categories is driven more by income than by age

The impact on Personal Brand

If you are in the top 20% of income (across all cohorts) you already have a brand. Your position in an organization, the reason you met someone, and where you made an acquaintance all contribute to their perception of you. Can you significantly add nuance to that perception? Of course. And if you are conversant with social media and offer a consistent image across the platforms you select you can easily build on what began on a positive note. Interestingly, you can limit your exposure on social media without adverse effect on your brand.

Not on top the income pyramid? You still need to be consistent across the social media spectrum. And, because you may have fewer first-hand meetings that build relationships with influencers you will have to strive to become known to them. How? Take the time to learn who they are and then follow them. Comment at some point and if they engage let them see the “real you.” Never pass up a chance to begin a conversation. And never overlook a direct or indirect request for more information that will put you in front of their “tribe.”

Personal brand is built one connection at a time. One gem of a connection plus another and another until you have a string of them…like a string of pearls.

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

Formula for Creative Brand Marketing

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Some advertising wag once said:

“It ain’t creative unless it sells”

But most of us are standing here on the other side of that evaluation trying to come up with something creative that will sell our brand, product, concept or service. We need a way to figure out what will convince a large enough group of folks to lay down their cash so that we can make a profit.

Building a brand that sells

You can work all the magic of words and graphics on anything but when you bring them to bear on something with a real difference they become unstoppable. A truly unique product or service is much easier to position, promote and sell.

How do you make your concept unique? How do you develop it so it inherently has the differentiation that makes it saleable? What do you need to do to make your offering singular?

Here are three things you can do that will help you innovate:

  1. Act like a child

The sad truth is that our education, though not designed to do so, removes the marvelous questioning and experimentation that we have as primary behaviors when we are children. Do you recall losing track of time as you delved into some simple thing? Have you ever gone back to that ‘anything is possible” set of beliefs? Therein lies one of the most powerful tools available to you.

Experiment. Get your hands dirty playing with the possibilities. Try anything and everything, the less orthodox the better. Keep track of what you find out. The insights you reach could prove valuable.

2. Make new friends

Scientific studies tell us that we are most creative when we see connections across unrelated fields. People with different ideas and perspectives can help you see those connections, questions, problems and ideas.

Network in organizations or groups that are outside your “comfort zone” to gather distinctive new thoughts. Allow those new relationships to direct your reading. Ask the questions that challenge their status quo. Apply their answers to your view of the world. Find a way to merge the two. Test the new “common wisdom.”

3. Renew industry acquaintances

Take along look at the behavior of customers, suppliers and competitors to identify how they do things. Just because it has “always been done that way” doesn’t mean it must continue unchanged.

Borrow ideas from other industries. Try them on and think through how they could change your product or service and the industry in which your firm is doing business. Play out the “what if” scenario alone or with your partners. See what might happen form an operational and an income viewpoint.

We live in a time of disruption.

Join the party.

Apply Sir Richard Branson’s mantra:

A-B-C-D Always Be Connecting the Dots

Here are some what ifs that I’ve been thinking about which you may find stimulating:

Cosmetics

What if you could use DNA testing to develop formulations for foundation makeup for women that was healthy for their skin and offer it in tones that matched their complexion by race?

Commuting

What if you had AI driven vertical take off and landing one or two passenger vehicles which you sold as a subscription service. Think about pricing. Peak and off-peak utilization. Would suburbs expand or contract? How would you control traffic particularly altitude changes in the flow?

Distribution

What if you could find a way to replace trucks as the primary physical distribution vehicles. It wasn’t so long ago that the intermodal revolution swept this industry. That change brought about containers that could be moved on the high seas, via rail, air and finally via truck.

Initially, if you had drones to carry single truckloads you might operate at specific heights above the current freeway system. But what do you do about delivery at the destination. How would existing loading docks affect your transport design? Do you have operators either in each unit or at a distance or do you use AI?

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