Brand is a Rainmaker

In times gone by, there were folks that hoped or believed they could get nature to relent and to turn cloudless skies into rain that would wash away a drought if only in one little part of the country.

Some seemed successful. Others, not so much.

Desire doesn’t change.

Each of us want there to be some sort of magic formula to bring new business to us without our having to work for it. We want the gods to smile on us. We’re willing to wear clothing we were wearing when we were successful before. That special tie comes out for the “big pitch.”  The unmatched socks get worn on purpose when we’re going for a new job interview. That railroad watch your Dad gave you gets wound up for the first time in years.  The rabbit’s foot key ring once again settles into your pocket.

The charm is your brand.

  • Sorcery doesn’t deliver potential clients. Staying true to your brand does.
  • Voodoo will not bring a customer to you. A brand that delivers will.
  • Alchemy doesn’t solve customer problems. You do and that is what your brand is based on.

You make the rain.

Although my blog appeared here each Saturday for the last month, I was half a world away from my office. I wrote those weekly comments on Brand before I left on a trans-Atlantic voyage followed by visits to Barcelona, Madrid and Washington, DC. I maintained my work with current clients (when I had internet connections). I wasn’t looking hard for new business. I was taking a vacation and meeting with some folks in person that I enjoyed from internet contacts. I thought I might be of assistance to some of them along the way. Turns out I will be.

Sometime when it rains, it pours.

As initially planned I was going to spend a few days sightseeing in Barcelona and return home. But then internet contacts in Madrid agreed to meet with me for lunch or coffee and so I extended my stay to take a high-speed train to Spain’s capital. Here’s what transpired:

  • I had coffee with the managing director of the largest speaker’s bureau serving Europe, Central and South America. He asked if he could add me to their database 10 minutes into our conversation.
  • I had lunch with the Spanish speaking former employee of a client based in Singapore. Later, because of her new coaching business I introduced her to the speaker’s bureau.
  • The founder of a social media service agreed to have coffee with me. I asked why things had “gone dark” after an initial burst of funding acquisition. He told me, in detail, and then proudly said that they had held the company together and it was now profitable. Then he asked for my consulting help in building the business in the USA.
  • I telephoned a client when I reached DC to find out how his knee surgery had gone. He asked me if I would take on an assignment for an association he is working with. I said, “Of course.”
  • A client “hip-dialed” me yesterday morning. We chatted briefly and then he asked me to meet with a consultant he knows. I agreed and the luncheon meeting is set.
  • This morning I got a message through the social media site that another member of group is as he put it “Looking for a professional speaker that may be interested in assisting to bring a virtual reality product to the market in North America.” We’ve agreed to talk about it.

You can’t control it, but you can influence it.

Just like you can’t control Brand, you can’t control the pace at which new business opportunities come to you. You can however, influence both.  You start by staying true to what you do. You stay honest and forthright. You decline when you have to but you always try to suggest someone else that might be able to help.

Most of all you build Trust. You do it in each conversation. You do it more in your actions.

I didn’t have to introduce Rosa to the speaker’s bureau, but I did.

I wasn’t calling a client about his knee surgery, I was calling a client that over the years has become a friend. Help him with the association? I’ll do that regardless of the fee.

Have lunch with a prospect when one of your best clients asks? Definitely. He knows the prospect will get honest answers and didn’t even think to ask.

Hear out a founder who has come through the valley and has emerged profitable? Accept an assignment? Done, in all humility.

Agree to talk to an engineer about becoming a “product ambassador?”  You bet, because I’m convinced that contact came about because of my conversation with the social media network founder in Madrid.

And, so it goes.


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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

Brand Catch Phrases

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A catch phrase, according to Wikipedia “is a phrase or expression recognized by its repeated utterance. Such phrases often originate in popular culture and the arts. They typically spread through word of mouth and a variety of mass media… Some become the de facto or literal “trademark” or “signature” of the person or character with whom they originated.

Do you have a memorable catch phrase?

tAlthough catch phrases can occur within he context of radio or TV or Film or any public medium, they are noted for being repeated. Often they are heard multiple times in dramas, comedies or dramatic situations and become expected.

Here are just a few drawn from TV from the 1950’s to the present:

  • “Bazinga” Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory
  • “Danger Will Robinson” The Robot in Lost in Space
  • “Now cut that out” Jack Benny, The Jack Benny show
  • “Jane, you ignorant slut” Dan Akroyd to Jane Curtin Weekend Update / Saturday Night Live
  • “Make it so” Captain Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek The Next Generation

And so it goes.

I was looking for a way to end a comment on a social media blog and those words just leapt from my fingers on to the page.

So I used them again.

And again.

And yet again.

They became a kind of signature.

But today as I typed them on yet another comment I questioned where they had come from. I had used those words ending think pieces I publish here as well as under my “Different Slant” business observations and “Personal Notes” that deal with the subject of living in these troubled times.

What is the Genesis?

I asked myself where this catch phrase had come from. That question banged around in the little grey cells for a while and then I turned to Google.  I typed in “Quotes And So it Goes”

In seconds I knew the words “So it goes”

  • Are in the lyrics of a song by Billy Joel
  • Are in the Book of Pi when PI says, “And so it goes with God”
  • Are the title of Kurt Vonnegut’s Biography.

But most importantly the phrase “So it goes” was used continually in Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five” Most reviewers think it was Kurt’s way of punctuating death in this anti-war classic. Others say it is a common phrase heard in Irish households.

My words are an homage to Vonnegut…kinda.

The truth is It has been many years since I read Vonnegut. The phrase did not trigger his name or stories in my conscious computer. But, I figure the unconscious one must have been fired up.

He said, “So it goes.” I could have eliminated my use of “And” but somehow, for me, that seems right. Regardless, I tip my hat to a formidably funny but deep-thinking author that shifted a young man’s way of thinking a lot of years ago.

Do you have closing catch phrase that will stand the test of time like these?

  1. “Good night and good luck” Edward R. Murrow See it Now
  2. “Bon Appetit” Julia Child
  3. “Let’s be careful out there” Sgt Esterhaus Hill Street Bues
  4. “Good night John Boy” The Waltons
  5. “Say good night Gracie” (to which she responded “Good night Gracie”  George Burns The Burns & Allen Show
  6. “Your Fired!” Donald Trump The Apprentice
  7. “And that’s the way it is” Walter Cronkite CBS Evening News

If no less than Walter Cronkite could begin his close with “And” I reckon it’s good enough for me. I must go now. I’m fighting the urge to write a blog composed of noting but catch phrases.

“Resistance is futile”

“The truth is out there”

“Sock it to me!”

“I’ll be back”


.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

Brand and Passive Aggressive Prospects

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Today’s consumers are Passive/Aggressive.

  • 51% research brands via search engines.
  • 27% want brands to improve their knowledge and skills
  • 44% post an online review monthly

Globalwebindex uses those research results and others to claim that the “new consumer” is primarily engaged with on-line media to “find the brands and products that suit them.”

More touchpoints is just that.

Yes, there are more touchpoints on the way to a purchase. That has changed. But the assumption that on-line is pre-eminent is poppycock. Traditional media still plays a role. Their own data proves it:

  • 63% of consumers discover new brands without using search engines.
  • 73% don’t want brands to improve their knowledge and skill
  • 56% don’t post monthly reviews.

Consistency is key

When half of on-line adults block ads on their mobiles and desktops you need to be sure that the media they do see tells your story the same way every time. What does that mean? In simple terms your value proposition needs to be implemented in a recognizable, memorable way across all media. Simple ways you can do that:

  • Use the same logo in all media
  • Use the same key attribute benefit (both verbally and in video animation) across all materials you present to them
  • Personalize your approach based on why the client/consumer/patient wants your product/service
  • Use their language, not yours to describe what you deliver
  • In short: Go where the money is, sell what they want to buy and do it again.

B to C versus B to B Touchpoints

Awareness (A) Research(R) and Preference(P) are requiredin the context of any purchase journey, Business or Consumer. There is a difference. Here’s how it breaks down:

Consumer                            Both                                       Business

                                                Word of Mouth (A)

Traditional Ads (A)              Direct Marketing(A)          Trade shows(A)

Search(R)                              Website(R)                            Search(R)

Social Media(R)                    PR Mentions (R)                   Linked In(R)

Online Reviews(P)                                                              Testimonials(P)

E-Commerce                                                                         Direct sales

Products sell on line, services not so much

The difference is matter of Trust. Don’t get me wrong. Trust is required before a purchase in either category. The difference is in the object of trust. Usually in a consumer business the Trust is in the product. Business requires the buyer to get to trust with the seller—the person who is going to supply the service.

We could quibble about Software As A Service being more of a product sale but unless the provider is a major corporation it always comes down to building trust in the founder/developer/owner and her/his expertise in the industry.

Building Brand based on why

Whether you sell BtoB or BtoC you will be more successful if you understand why your customer needs your help. More importantly you’ll connect with more prospects if you voice their problem or concern that you solve in their language. Use their words and know what makes them consider your option.

The only way to get that knowledge is to go talk to potential clients/patients/customers and listen. I’m constantly amazed when an entrepreneur builds a product or develops a service without ever talking to the people that might buy it!

Listen to them. Write your value proposition based on what they have to say. Name your product or service in terms they might use particularly if you are cash strapped. Pay a professional to develop a logo that connects with your potential purchaser. Be sure it does by asking them. Pu your key benefit attribute out front so it is easily seen and understood. Stick with it across all the ways you can deliver a message on and off-line.


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

What Are the Key Words of Your Brand?

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That sounds simple enough but as my client Brent said over lunch, “Finding key words takes a lot of time and you’re still not certain they match up with your brand.

Search engines are dumb.

Type in a descriptor of what you are looking for.  For example, I’ll use “keynote.”

I mean a major presentation by a professional speaker at a meeting or conference. But that is not what Google served up. All I got initially was a lot of information about an Apple program. It took three pages before I found any item about a professional speaker!

Maybe not so dumb…

I changed the query to “Keynote speaker.” That yielded 62,800,000 possibilities and the first page was all about professional speakers and speakers bureaus.

I started looking at how to get really good key words because “keynote speaker” got a lot of possibilities. Way too many!

Key Words are competitive

As you minimize the competition for your key words you increase the possibility of your web page showing up on the first page of the search engine. That gets you up to 90% more views!

Popular search terms only make up a fraction of all searches performed on the web. In fact, keywords with very high search volumes could draw visitors to your site whose goals don’t match the content your page provides.

Long tail key words may be more valuable

This chart from MOZ shows how key words ranked outside the top ten provide over 80% of the searches.

Test and Reset.

Finding key words that match your brand is an iterative process. Trial and error can get you to a better place. I started with: “Keynote Speaker for Independent professionals”

That generated zero, zip, nada so I tried:

Keynote speaker for Consultants 77,100,000 results
Keynote speaker for Coaches       72,000,000 results
Keynote Speaker for entrepreneurs         20,100,000 results
Keynote speaker for solopreneurs           59,100 results

Get more specific.

Since I speak on multiple areas of business development essential to these kinds of businesses I next tried searching based on those possibilities. The results:

Brand Keynote speaker      30,300,000 results
Brand Keynote Speaker for entrepreneurs         9,550,000 results
Brand Keynote speaker for solopreneurs                        87,000 results Networking keynote speaker          11,700,000 results
Networking Keynote speaker for entrepreneurs 12,700,000 results Networking Keynote speaker for solopreneurs  97,500 results
CRM keynote speaker         801,000 results
CRM Keynote speaker for entrepreneurs           410,000 results
CRM Keynote speaker for solopreneurs            39,800 results
Brand keynote speaker for solopreneur consultants     204,000 results Networking Keynote speaker for solopreneur consultants 136,000 results CRM keynote speaker for solopreneur consultants       28,900 results

Focus

Deciding what to do is damned difficult. Trends say there is more interest in brand than networking and definitely more than in CRM. But, the smaller the niche you approach the easier it is to get high search rankings and hence bookings. It looks to me like I should put more emphasis on my speaking site on CRM or possibly crank up a new site.

What do you think?

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

Brand and the Placebo Effect.

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Go ask Alice

The lyrics to “White Rabbit” written by Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane begin with:

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all…


When it comes to Brand that is correct as far as it goes. Spending to build or maintain a Brand will keep it on track, Cutting marketing to the bone as was done following the merger of Kraft and Heinz reduced the size of the company as well as the shares of all their Brands.

Owners and managers were counting on the placebo effect, that power of the human mind to experience what we expect. Those marketers expected their customers to continue to believe in and buy the brands even if the brands did not reach out to them.

Turns out the customers are on to that trick.

  • You can’t build or maintain share by cost-cutting.
  • You can’t keep customers if you don’t listen to them
  • You can’t convert prospects by solving old problems

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call

To succeed in building or maintaining a Brand you can’t count on where and what you’ve been. The audience is changing. The customer’s methods of evaluating your product or service are changing. The media that reaches them is changing.

Your Brand is the sum total of perceptions held by contacts, prospects and customers.

  • If you don’t keep up the conversation your Brand will weaken
  • If you don’t use social media to get close your Brand will stagnate
  • If you don’t publicize how you are disrupting the category your Brand will lose share.

Small businesses have the advantage here. You can build a stronger relationship with contacts, prospects and customers. You can personalize your communications meaningfully by going beyond using their name and knowing what it is that caused them to build a relationship with your Brand. Once that bond is reached the placebo effect will work for you. They will defer purchase of a competitive product until your similar product is available. They will become your best salesmen.

When the men on the chessboard get up
And tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow

As soon as you begin to have some success you will be accosted by marketing experts who will want to sell you their advice. Stick with the personal touch. It is the shortcut to Brand. Stick with what has been working.

Yes, you’re busy. Yes, you’re getting more business than ever before. Yes, what they say sounds good.

Take your time. Don’t make any long-term commitments. Test their advice. It is your Brand, after all.

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said

Feed your head, feed your head

The demographics of your market are changing. The psychographics of your market are changing. Find out how. Find out by getting as up close and personal as you can. Listen. Really listen to what is going on with your contacts, prospects and customers. Let them help you innovate and stimulate how you can disrupt the arena your product or service is in.

Your Brand is a living breathing entity. Remember you can influence it but you can’t control it. Complete control rests with those that think, feel and believe what is said about it. But if you don’t support it with ongoing marketing it will fade. You need to feed the way you want it perceived or it will lose its luster for fans.

The placebo effect can add to your Brand.

  • The visual appeal of your product or service can make it more desirable
  • A referral from a trusted friend or advisor creates positive expectations
  • Great reviews or testimonials build Brand prior to use by new customers

Here are all the lyrics:

White Rabbit

Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
To call Alice, when she was just small

When the men on the chessboard get up
And tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice, I think she will know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head

Songwriters: GRACE WING SLICK


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

The Little Guy Brand Advantage

Relationships are the heart of the advantage.

Twice this week I’ve seen research reports that verify what brand experts have been saying for years:

“Small brands have a distinct advantage in gaining the trust and loyalty of consumers.”

Those of us the that work with the “little guys” know it is true. What the research verifies is that the advantage accrues in both the Business to Consumer and the Business to Business World.

Trust is a complication

According to the Edelman 2018 Trust Barometer, Trust in traditional media, search engines and social media varies around the world. Here in the USA, Trust in Traditional media is at best neutral (58%), in search engines at 54% and in social media declining, now at just 30%.

Trust Building: Advantage Little Guy

The bond between brands and people favors small businesses:

  • Customer service is the number one way to the heart of a today’s consumer
  • Direct conversations are considered more truthful than advertising
  • Social media is essential to discovering new brands and building an emotional relationship
  • Brands expected to pressure platforms to address fake news and hate speech
  • Brands are obligated to protect personal data (89% in the USA)

Customer Service

Service to the customer is part and parcel of the small business. Just about anyone in the small operation will help you or point you to someone who can. That is the everyday experience. It can be even more impressive when you have problem.

Small businesses generally can’t afford setting up technology heavy customer service departments. The likelihood that you will talk to a real person without having to go through an interminable automated phone message system is high. The probability that the person you talk to will be able to act on your problem without deferring for an approval is significantly higher than you’ll find dialing into the big guys. Even if the matter must be referred to a supervisor you’ll get a resolution now instead of waiting days.

Direct Conversations

Major brands advertise at you. Small brands build relationships. Would you rather have a conversation or hear a commercial? Small brands, particularly as they are beginning get to know you. As they grow they get to know a lot of folks like you. The thing is, for them a lot is a business. The same number for a big business is a drop in the bucket.

So the little guys tend to talk with you, not at you. They understand why you want to eat the whole half-pint of ice cream or how you like your Latte in a mug not paper without having to ask for it. They have listened when you told them you prefer text or e-mail to learn about special sales or events. They pay attention because they know this relationship is important to both of you.

Social media

All brands must act to:

  • Give customers a better deal for their data
  • Create trusted content on social media
  • Join forces to build trust in social media

Those are not my words.  They are straight out of the Edelman report. 

The deal: What they mean is that the consumers/customers expect their personal data to be kept safe, that policies are clear, and that it is okay to build a relationship using that information.

The content: Builds credibility through quality, well designed material that is transparent as to author and sponsorship. Allows opt in/opt out. Stays consistent using the same message across media.

The trust: Brands, along with government and help from consumers are expected to be proactive about data and privacy, create and champion quality content, act with integrity, transparency and humanity.

Brand Obligations

The most recent hate speech reaction of note was from one of the big guys. Nike supported Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the national anthem. Initially the reaction was disbelief. But among the Nike customers the reaction was extremely positive. Nike had a solid relationship which made the decision an obvious one.

Protecting your personal data is not an easy task for the little guy. True, they may have less information and it may be in human memory initially but sooner or later it will wind up in a contact relationship management database.  Even then, it may be easier to preserve as it is too small for hackers to go after it. But, the availability of highly secure cloud storage may partially solve that problem.

Little guy? Build your relationship with clients and customers.

You’ll generate trust and loyalty to build your business and the joy in your life.

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 00

What’s Next for Brand?

A creative montage of a side profile silhouette of a man wearing glasses and colorful artistic accents inside of his mind and body.

It started out being a person to person in person thing.

Names and Symbols came to represent it. Behaviors, ways of doing business, were associated. It varied only slightly due to geography and political affiliations.  Capitalists reveled in it. Communists considered it propaganda and mastered a political version.

But even as it morphed as the size of some businesses increased and crossed borders at the heart it still represented a perception of being a person to person in person thing.

It continued to be seen as person to person but in person got lost somewhere along the way. Lost but not forgotten.

Brand is a shared perception.

The way people who are aware of your brand think, feel and believe about it is the way we approach it today. Masters of branding do everything they can to keep a singular vision of the product or service at the fore. They change only reluctantly to maintain share of mind and market.

What happens when perceptions are individual?

Big data could give sellers and advertisers a way to unlock the connections to a brand person by person. You could find yourself not only retargeted in your e-mail and on-line activities but in a way that gets at the heart of your relationship with the product or service.

You may see a brand as a world shift in how others see your body. But only you believe this shift is taking place. You could use a service because for you it is way to reflect your outgoing personality. But is it? Perhaps for others it is only a way to obfuscate.

Granted, those reactions are similar to what happens today. The thing to think about is how, as we are locked tighter and tighter in a digital embrace, our brand relationships now have a software filter.

What happens to individuals?

We are just beginning to see the impacts of digital culture. A family sits down for dinner at a restaurant. Mother, father and both children must interrupt their use of their smart phones to give their order. They immediately return to their phones. When dinner is served there is no conversation. They look at phones frequently as they eat. There is no person to person connection in person.

BUT there is a connection on line. Each of them is extending their relationship through a digital filter. One is texting an on-line friend. One is posting photos of the meal on Facebook. One elects to write a review of the meal. In simple terms, their relationships are not direct. They are filtered through the internet.

“Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

It is happening today. The internet has already become a surrogate. People vote with their wallets. A friend, exploring how people who buy on line see their relationships with sellers found that purchase behavior is frequently undertaken to win approval from the seller. It is a kind of “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

The receipt of a simple “thank you” e-mail after you give a brand your name and e-mail address is just the beginning. Whatever you were interested in, they are going to personalize messages to you about similar products. They will exploit your emotional connection without a second thought.

Bending the brand

The more the seller knows about you, the more the brand will be bent to be just for you. Yes, the appeal of most brands is pretty much the same for about 80% of their target audience but research I’ve conducted over the last 25 years shows that there are three reasons most folks buy. The secondary reason gets about 12 to 15% The third gets most of the rest.

Imagine if you were one of the second or third group. What if the digitally information served up to you was personalized to make that the primary way you were encouraged to see the brand? Would you want to get the approval of the brand that knew your heart’s desires? Would you go out of your way to keep that brand in the way you showed the world who you are?

The reality of brand automation

We are not there yet. We are well on the way. Human nature may yet find a way to sidestep the tsunami of surrogacy. This is just the latest revelation about brand. Research done 25 years ago verified the power of brand in the marketplace and predicted the growth of “tribes.”

What is old may yet be new again. 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

Brand Consequences

Brand can disintegrate if you don’t have the right team in placc.

Jim asked me to build a campaign to lure millionaire business CEOs and owners to a seminar hosted by a business bank, a major law firm, an investment banking firm and an expert on leadership as well as succession.

Focus
One of the reasons those men and women have become millionaires is that they succeeded in business. Starting a business is hard. Building it is harder still. Succeeding in building personal wealth at that level can be a herculean task.

In most cases what got them through is the ability to focus on picking one thing at a time and giving it their full attention for a minute or month.  A solid brand is the consequence.

The other side of the coin
When you focus and things turn out as hoped it can pile up ego. You can begin to believe there’s nothing you can’t do. Entrepreneurs that try to do it again quickly learn the need for resilience. Business owners that have been in their position over years lose some of the flexibility that made them winners in the early days.

The ego consequence
Because I consult with advisors like Jim and others that negotiate mergers and acquisitions and manage personal investments I hear the tales of woe that make me want to reach out and grab these millionaires by their lapels, shake them and tell them in a hit man’s quiet tones to stop believing they can do everything.

The real scorecard
Their egos can cost owners millions. That is millions before, during and after the sale of their company:

  • You can lose a third of the value cited in the letter of intent on the appraisal alone.
  • You could make assumptions on the value of your brand and not have the ongoing customers to back it up
  • You might not consider actions of the company you no longer run impacting the payout.

Without expert professionals on your team to sell your company you can count on making mistakes you won’t even be aware of making. You will see it on the scorecard—the price you get for this thing you gave our life to build. You will get a lot fewer dollars for all the blood, sweat and tears that went into building that brand. It can seem like your brand is disintegrating a pixel at a time.

What is your brand worth?
Entrepreneurial brands are built on individual and team knowhow. Innovative brands may profit from public offerings. No one tries to go that alone. Few empire builders have had the time or the inclination to carve out expertise in the arena of mergers and acquisitions. Why would you assume what got you here will take care of you there?

Do you want full value? Is it worth swallowing a bit of pride? Is it important enough to ask for help from experts?

The right team
You can build a company and a brand but usually it takes a team to take it to its greatest heights.

Selling a company is also a team sport. Selling what took you the better part of a life-time to build requires another lineup. You need experts:

  • A lawyer that has real experience in buying and selling companies
  • Investment bankers skilled in preparing a company for sale and for the inevitable appraisal
  • A management consultant who can help you build the leadership team that will continue to make the company profitable

That is the team at a bare minimum. You will also need accountants and a professional negotiator.

Brand Consequences
If the sale is managed properly your brand will go forward as strong as it ever was. If you’re lucky it will be like Craftsman Tools formerly offered exclusively by Sears but now available at Lowe’s.

Your personal brand is another matter. If you get significantly less for the company than the market perceives is the worth it will be ascribed to your ineptitude. If you strike a great deal (even if the brand is absorbed by the purchasing organization} it will be reported positively in the business press and you will get the credit.

Like Brand it takes time
You can believe the buyer (the opposition) will have the best team money can buy. Your lineup must be just as strong.

You can’t get top dollar jumping in at the last minute. You must plan this just like the most important thing you’ve ever done to build the firm. If you want to sell in five years you need to start now. First, establish who would make up the best team in town. Meet with them. Start building a relationship. Determine if you can trust them. Ask their advice before you start. You can hire them later. Right now you want to know what you can do on your own. You need to know what you don’t know.

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­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 9

Brand Edge On

A friend once described the Platte river (near Denver, Colorado) as a mile wide and an inch deep.

Your brand might be like that.

You have a choice to make:

  • Maintain your broad coverage
  • Dive deep into a select audience segment.
  • Try a little of both

The broad brush

Your target may be portrayed in broad brush strokes at the beginning. Most entrepreneurs believe that broad appeal will get them the most customers.

Maybe.

More often the broad appeal helps those who will become their best customers/clients find the company, product or service. That gives the appearance of a brand that works. But if you don’t regularly probe the information your customers/clients are willing to give you the profiles of your best purchasers will not be revealed.

Edge on

How can you tell? The rule of thumb is that the more niched you are, the better off you’ll be. Generally, that is true. To evaluate your situation, look at the depth of what you know about your client base, the percentage of your sales that cluster in one group, initial and repeat purchases as well as the estimated life time value (LTV) of the individuals as well as where you want to take the business.

The more carefully you describe your avatars, verify them with market research and, over time, add details to their portraits the better you will understand the kind of people that can make you successful. If you’re well-funded, that research can be done by a specialist firm. If you’re little guy, under-funded, or a start-up you may have to do personal interviews to get a handle on that better picture.

What works? I’ve been successful with all three of the choices. More successful with a deep dive. Most successful with the combination and carefully watching the metrics.

Deep Art

The more detailed portrayal of your ideal customer/client the greater the probability of enhanced profits. True, there may be fewer. But each will be worth more in most cases. Repeat purchases are the primary reason as well as a tendency to accept higher prices. The fact that you have found them and are personalizing your approach establishes a large emotional difference from competitors. It makes your brand unique.

Detailed knowledge of two or three groups can not only add to your profits, it can extend the life of your business. A financial planner might open the doors and quickly find that her primary customers are Baby Boomers but that they are referring their children who are in the cohort known as Boomers II or Generation Jones born between 1955 and 1965. They, too, refer other youngsters, born between 1966 and 1976 (Generation X).

The planner may find that Generation X is significantly different from the older clients. But her only way to build the business long term is to understand the differences, speak their language and make the picture familiar to them.

The cohorts are often put into “Buckets.” You could easily identify the three noted above. But the Brand oriented planner will take it a step further using automation software that allows you to “tag” each contact with a full array of ways to sort them into segments within the groups. Here are just a few:

  • Demographics (Age, sex, income, education, housing etc.)
  • Psychographics (Observable personal behavior)
  • Engagement (The degree they respond to your offers)
  • Purchase Behavior (purchases, repeat purchases frequency, recency)
  • Satisfaction (Reviews and testimonials)

Wade in

Keep track of what you learn about your customers/clients. The depth of your knowledge will impact the value of your business every single day.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jerry Fletcher ThinkinigJerry 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

Brand is the Path to Joy

These days when people ask me what I do, I respond:

I’m a Brand Poobah.

You know how everyone tells you that you need to have a brand but nobody tells you how to do it?

What I do is work with independent professionals to craft a unique trust-based brand they can use to build a business, a career and a life of joy.

If you are interested, I’ll give you brand examples and hard data on the transformations we have achieved.

But today I want to focus on the word Joy. A life of Joy has been part of my promise to clients for while now, but I didn’t always think that way. A dentist and his wife changed my ways.

I’ve never forgotten the lesson Mark and Maria taught me.

I had agreed to meet with them at their home after the practice had closed for the day and both of them were free to talk. I’ve always started with a straightforward assessment of what folks wanted to get from my strategic marketing assistance. I asked them to write down their three objectives without letting the other know. They did and passed their notes across the kitchen table to me.

I opened each in turn and then said, “You don’t need me now. You two need to talk to one another.” With that said, I picked up my notebook and handed each the other’s note. As their tears welled up I let myself out.

He had written:

  1. Schedule more hours including evenings every day we are open.
  2. Build the business to $000,000/year
  3. Get an assistant so Maria doesn’t have to spend every day in the office.

She noted:

  1. Make the business successful
  2. Be able to spend more time with Mark at home.
  3. Have a baby.

Our second meeting was full of joy.

Joy that they now had a joint view of what a successful business would look like for them.

Joy that both were more concerned about loving each other.

Joy that a child was being planned for.

Joy that their Brand idea changed.

They moved from being a dentist and office manager trapped in a practice that would count on extended hours to reach for a number that allowed no intimacy to becoming a dentist and his wife who had a life, a family and a Brand to share with the world.

Love ain’t work.

You know you are going to have a brand whether you work at it or not. Everything you do impacts it. Imagine the difference if you are doing what you love. You will quickly realize that if you are doing what you love you are not working. But it can be different for those closest to you.

Step back. Have a candid conversation with your team, the ones in the business and out of it. Is there a change that you could make that would bring everyone the delight you enjoy? That’s a better brand.

Too often we look at the income we want to generate and proceed to build plans to accomplish that goal without counting the time we will have to put into it and the impact that plan will have on everyone involved.

A better brand…guaranteed.

You cannot do it alone. Solopreneurs sooner or later feel lost and alone. But they don’t have to be. They can make friends, become a member of a meetup group or, with luck, find that special someone. I’ve been on both sides of that equation and having others in your life and your business is the better way. And it leads to a better Brand, guaranteed.

Mark, Maria and Michaela are a joy!

Michaela is now a teenager. The dental practice is doing well. Maria still does the books and supervises the office staff. We positioned the practice with a huge smile wearing corrective braces and the words “The Mark of Fine Dentistry”. Mark specializes which allows him to keep the hours he and Maria like, make the income he wants and cheer Michaela on the soccer field.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­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