A Beauty of a Business Card

“It ain’t pretty, Dave, but it works.”

“That’s why I asked you to take a look,” he said.

He had unfolded a black and white rendition of the design on a letterhead-sized sheet of paper tucked in the back of his appointment book and asked these questions:

  1. “How do I get people to read it the way they are supposed to?
  2. What can I do to make it more memorable?”

“The way they’re supposed to?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “A lot of people have the same problem that I did when I first looked at it…instead of reading these parts down they try to read them side to side.”

At that point I waded in saying, “The single most important component of your identity implementation is the ubiquitous business card.

It is the acid test of your entire effort to generate a positive, memorable persona. On that 2” x 3.5 “ bit of pasteboard, your corporate identity must be simple, direct and easy to understand. Here are three ways to be sure it says exactly what you want it to:

  1. Listen to your intuition. Your first look at the design should resonate positively. If it doesn’t, try to put your finger on what is bothering you.
  2. Ask a friend or a professional acquaintance that you trust to take a look and give you an honest opinion. If their concern is the same as yours, you have instant verification. If they find other faults, listen carefully… there may be very useable advice coming your way.
  3. Listen for what they don’t say as well. This is one time you want complete candor but friends zip a lip to keep from hurting you. Probe the silences. Ask them how they interpret the card. Do not give them clues. Make sure they understand your feelings are not going to be hurt by a comment that helps them get profitable business.

As I told Dave, “You can’t control how people read your card, or what they see in it or what they remember. You can increase the odds by understanding how our culture looks at things. Because we are taught to read left to right from top to bottom, we tend to look at any printed object the same way. Breaking our trained-in reading patterns is nearly impossible.

If you want them to read it the same way you do, then design it their way.”

Learn more about Jerry Fletcher and his views on marketing at www.JerryFletcher.com. Need a motivating keynote speaker? Check out www.NetworkingNinja.com  

Get Quality Prospects. Guaranteed.

admit it, I said, “I’m old fashioned.

know the difference between making calls and making sales.”

That’s how I responded when Phil
asked me this morning, “How can I keep my sales team on track? Half of
them won’t get into the contact management software, half don’t pay any attention
to management’s cost concerns and most of them go kiting off across the country
with key staff in tow every time the phone rings. It seems like they’ll chase
anything that moves to meet quota. How can I control this bunch?”

said, “To sell more you have to give them a way to qualify prospects.

they know what makes a quality prospect for your product or service? More
importantly, do they regularly compare prospects to the ideal that you’ve
defined? The better you and everyone in your organization understand what makes
a quality prospect, the better your sales performance will be.

how do you get to Quality Prospects? Start by defining what a prospect is:

Prospect must:

Have a need for your product or service.

Have the funding to pay for it.

Be willing to talk to you.

give each a simple rating:

Rating            Defined

+5                    Legislation or Management says
this project must begin in 30 days

+4                    Project must start in 90

+3                    Project viewed as strategic by

+2                    Project budget is approved
and available

+1                    Your firm meets the vendor
selection criteria     

will get you quality prospects. Guaranteed.”

Learn more about Jerry Fletcher and his approach to marketing at www.JerryFletcher.com  Need a keynote speaker on Marketing or Networking on and off-line? Check out www.NetworkingNinja.com style=”font-size: 16px;” face=”Arial”>

Avoid the Deadly Combination to Succeed

The group of twenty somethings at the next table were having a noisy good time. Judging by their comments, some were in town for the holidays and eager to catch up with their friend’s adventures…to hear in person what they had read about in texts, Tweets and seen pictured on Facebook .

Susan, my wife, whispered, “what gets me is the combination of arrogance and ignorance.”

“You’re right,” I replied, “what they don’t know they don’t know could cripple them.”

But it isn’t just the youngsters that have to watch out for that combination. It can happen regardless of your age, your gender, or any other demographic difference.

For instance, Price Waterhouse once reported results of a survey of CEOs of the 2000 largest companies. These executives were asked if they thought electronic commerce would “significantly change business.” Nearly 60% of them said yes.

Problem is, when asked if e-commerce would “reshape how they do business,” only 20% said, “Yes.” 

They believed that the net would impact business but not their business.

Ignorance and arrogance is the deadly combination. How can you avoid that trap? Here are some controls you need to incorporate into your business planning:

  1. Match your use of the web to your best customers and prospects. They will thank you for your concern and interest. You will have to exceed their knowledge just to stay even but it will be worth it as you maintain the relationship that brought you their business in the first place.
  2. Give your customers the choice between people and technology rather than making that choice yourself. The best example here comes from the financial industries where the specialized advice and information to buy and sell securities that was once the province only of brokers is now available to day traders. Yet, some of the organizations which initially offered their services via the net now find themselves opening brick and mortar offices.
  3. Your audience on the web, not you, will determine what they use… laptop, pad or tablet, smart phone and apps. It is critical to your success that your web site work with the lowest common denominator of software and hardware which your client and prospect base have available. If your customers use Mobile and texting, then make sure your web presence can be accessed that way. If, on the other hand, your customer base is confined to a group of web designers apt to have every plug-in known to man as well as the time and inclination to download your specialized software then offer it to them.
  4. Treat each customer individually. Every interaction on the web is one-to-one. That means that you can and should take the time to learn from them each time they contact you. Only in that way can your relationship grow into the trust that will build a loyal customer base. But be careful. Acquiring information you don’t use is just as bad as not asking at all.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people want to know why you’re asking and how you intend to use the information including whether or not you intend to sell it. Take the time to tell them.

Nothing is as important as getting to trust. To become the constant resource for your customers you need to offer useful content. But the context of the site and the service behind that site are the true value to the customer. In the final analysis, whether you do business on the net or in person this remains the same. Make sure your service rewards loyal behavior and that you maintain their trust by honoring it.

Learn more about Jerry Fletcher and his approach to marketing at www.JerryFletcher.com

Sight and Sites

That’s when I flung these words into the discussion, “It’s
not what you say, it’s what people hear.”

“And see,” Brian piped up. “We’ve been building web
sites for a few years now and I can tell you that great photos are essential to
a good web site. Yes, the words are what the search engines eyeball but
graphics glue human eyes to the site.”

“He’s right,” said Gail and went on to point out, “In really
effective communications fewer words are better than a bunch and simple beats
overblown every time. And there are times when the visual beats them all.”

“I agree,” I said, “When the pictures are powerful and
emotional they override and can completely drown out the words particularly in
video. (video advice) What you have to go for is visuals that reinforce
what you are saying. That will multiply your effectiveness.”

“Yup,” Brian confirmed, “When we use video on a site we have
to be careful that it is on message. I’d like to have a nickel for every time a
client went into this long list of things they felt they just had to stuff into
their web site.

 “What do you mean?” I

“Well, I’ve had to push back on: including the family pet,
the staff singing carols, a walk through the garden and a complete step by step
review of the manufacturing process and even putting in part of a political
speech. You would not believe what some people want!”

Gail chuckled and suggested, “You should put a sign in your conference
room that says: Keep it simple, stupid!”

Spontaneous applause broke out from the three observers that
were helping us tidy up the meeting room.

I summarized, “What the visitor to a web site wants more
than anything is just to have you see it from their viewpoint. Their actions
speak louder than words or pictures. Here’s what the data tells us to do:

·        Keep it simple. Complex sites with poor
navigation get abandoned in seconds

·       Use words that connect. Small words. Simple
words. Words that touch the senses and emotions. Words that help the see what
you mean. Words that show them they can trust you.

·       Put a picture in it. Keep their interest.
Visualize how you can help them. Using video? Keep it short, direct and to the

Be Definite to Turn Contacts into Contracts

George called today to defer
a scheduled meeting for himself and his sales team.

“Why?” I asked.

“Remember,” he
said “how I couldn’t understand why you were so adamant about sending
handwritten thank you notes to the people we met at the trade show? Well, a key
contact from one of those companies has called me now twice…and mentioned my
note both times. I have to fly out, meet with him and his staff and do a
capabilities presentation and so we have to delay.

Before we go, is there a
last minute piece of advice you can give the team?”

I said, “Be definite.

Be definite about who you are and what you do.  You need to
know with complete certainty what your company can do for folks like this
prospect. In a crunch, you need to be able to sum it up in 30 seconds or less
in their terms.

If this is a big sale in terms of dollars or
emotional content or both you need to spend the time to learn everything you
can about them and why they’ve agreed to meet with you.

2.      Be definite
about their problem.
Big sales solve
big problems. The better you understand this one and how it impacts the
prospect’s organization and budget, the more apt you are to be considered for
the contract which will solve it.

one step further than simply gathering the data. Try to see it from the prospect’s
viewpoint. What does this situation mean in terms of staff, output, budget,
timing, any and everything that working with you may directly and indirectly

3.      Be definite
about the implications.
The more
completely you demonstrate your understanding of the prospect’s real needs and
the hidden factors that cause resource concerns the closer you will come to
that contract.

more time with implications and ask more questions about them and you’ll walk
in the footsteps of the most successful salespeople. Continuing studies show
that the top performing high value salespeople all  use this simple technique.

4.      Be definite
about the payoff the prospect sees.
to what is being said.  Hear the meaning
and the words. Comprehend their needs. Grasp their perceptions. Understand
their view of the benefits your product or service offers. Their views are more
persuasive to them than any you will ever be able to offer.

conversation with the prospect take the strength of your product or
service  that you would normally tell the
prospect about but instead of telling, ask three kinds of questions:

if the benefit can help the prospect

the importance of the benefit to the prospect’s need

Extend the
prospect’s perception of the benefit.

Be definite about closing. Ask for the order. Do it at the end. Do it once and
once only.

is a growing body of evidence that asking for the order too early or too often
(especially in high dollar or highly emotional sales) can demolish your
chances.  In one test, salespeople who
did not attempt a close had more sales than those who tried three or four. A single
close, properly done, is still the most powerful.

Be definite about next steps.  Never leave a
sales presentation without one of three things:        

A definite No
A definite Yes
A definite Plan
often, both professional salespeople or professionals that sell accept a delay
or deferral or a “Come see me next time you’re in town” as a
successful sales call.


successful sales call leads to next steps that inexorably bring you closer to making
the sale or getting the contract.

7.      Be definite
about following up.
Send a
handwritten thank you note. Call to confirm next steps. Immediately respond
with the data requested. Live up to your commitments. Get to trust.

is the way you change contacts into contracts.

sales begin in doubt. You must be definite to lead them to certainty.

Why Hire a Marketing Consultant?

Phil caught me off-guard

He asked, “Do you have any
books or articles on file that would help convince our owner and the management
team to bring in a strategic marketing consultant to help get the company more
on track? It’s a simple question,” he said, “Why hire a

Later, I checked my shelves
and found just two books that I felt might help. There was nothing in my clip
files. So I jumped on to the internet. There was a plethora of observations, articles
and blogs. this observation from a consultant’s site was the most direct answer
I found:

world is and always has been a complicated, dangerous and uncertain place.
Consultants offer hope at a price…With some luck you are buying into
relevant experience and judgment, and just as important, personal

Hope may be the underlying
reason to hire a consultant but how do you respond when someone on the
executive committee says, “Seems to me we’ve got enough smart people
around here to get that done without going outside the company.”

As a middle manager and even
as a VP I must admit that I had a similar attitude but it takes a very short
stretch with the letters CEO or President or Executive VP tacked on to your
name to come to the opposite conclusion.

Why would I hire a
consultant? Here’s what I told Phil:

“There are three reasons:

1.      An
objective viewpoint
. Only an
outsider can see the company “without blinders.” An outsider can get
straighter answers from customers or clients and prospects as well as employees
about what is right and wrong with the company. An independent counselor can
“tell it like it is” without fear of retribution.

many business owners “can’t see the forest for the trees.” They are not
able to listen to customers and prospects and come to conclusions that are a
measurable shift from where they began. That viewpoint is the primary reason
that businesses fail.

makes all the difference. Those businesses which continually strive to learn
succeed. Those convinced that they already know it all tend to fail.

2.      The wisdom
of experience
. We accept the need to
train staff on software programs. There is no honor lost when we bring in a
specialist group to handle the networking of our computers. Even our officers
see the value in an occasional executive seminar.

don’t let our ego get in the way in the operational parts of our business. But
when it comes to growing the business we just can’t seem to disengage.

where experience pays off. The accomplished strategic consultant will tell you
that you cannot withdraw from the process.

consultant knows full well that he/she is a temporary member of your team, not
your replacement.

strength is in knowledge of your industry, the change you are trying to affect
and the perspective required to simplify the transition from where you are to
the next level.

consultant who has “been there, done that and got the tee shirt” is
more adept than any employee at spotting the potholes in the road leading to
your company’s future.

knowledge conveyed in books and articles and on the net is fine but only
someone who has been intimately involved in such change can claim the wisdom of

3.      Investment
in results
. You want solid solutions
rather than quick fixes. You understand that they take more time, sacrifice and
discipline plus an incredible investment in foresight and patience.  You understand that the difference is between
investing in the future and mortgaging it.

manage as if tomorrow matters without ignoring the short run. You find the
trade-off between today’s profits and tomorrow’s growth but you never overlook
rewarding solid solutions because they are so hard to come by.

invest in results.

you use all the resources at your command, including consultants, to get the
results you’re seeking.

That’s how I answered that
simple question.”


Does Your Home Page Qualify?

It started with a complaint.

Over lunch Tim asked, “Why
do web site designers make it so difficult to find out what you want to know
about a company?”

Jon muttered something just
loud enough that everyone could hear him but none of us was quite sure what he
said. I asked him to repeat himself.

“It’s because they’re like
every immature or novice salesman you’ve ever met. They are so sure that what
they have to say to you and show you is more interesting than any question you
might have. They are going to do this sales pitch whether you want to see it or

“Boy is that the truth,”
chimed in Anna. “It’s bad enough that they all want to use this medium to show their
coding skills or graphic viewpoint and lecture at us but then they turn around and bury any way to get
to what you really want to find out until you’ve gone through thirteen layers
of gee-whiz  download.”

I asked, “So what are we
going to do about it?”

Tim sniffed, “You mean other
than gripe?”

“Let’s start a society, “I
said. You all know how I collect business cards. Well lately I’ve been saving
web sites the same way. The best web site home pages are like the best business

“So they give you an insight
into the company…most of what is needed in one place without confusing you and
making you search for it like buried treasure,” said Anna.

“I like it,” said Tim “so
anyone that designs their home page according to the rules becomes a member of
the Home Page Winner’s Society.”


For membership in the
Page Winner’s Society

(carefully reconstructed from notes take on a table

1.      The home page must load quickly and not occupy more
than a single screen without distracting movement or rotating photos.

2.      The logotype and name of the company must be clearly

3.      A positioning statement that cites the unique
difference the company brings to the industry or area is clearly presented.

4.      Site navigation is straightforward and easy to

5.      Ways to find out more about the company or to connect
with them are clearly presented.

Jon put down his sandwich,
dabbed at his moustache with his napkin and said, “I agreed to go along with
this because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’ve got a couple of

For starters, you didn’t
include anything about the site theme and establishing a graphic presence that
reflects the nature and direction of the company.”

Mike responded, “The web has
been too graphically driven. Customers want information and they want it now.
The thing that drives them crazy is having to scroll to the floor to get to
what they’re looking for”

“Guys,” I jumped in, “That’s
why logotypes were invented. They are quick visual identifiers that help us
remember companies. Not using them makes it harder for folks to identify you …
whether they know you or not. Imagine Shell or Coke or Mercedes not using their
logo. Yours is just as valuable… to you and your customers.”

“And you can add more visuals
if they download quickly,” said Anna. “Fletch’s web site has a picture of his
smiling face as well as his company logo. www.JerryFletcher.com

It all fits in a single screen
and includes a video that tells you what he’s about in just one minute.”

“But Anna,” I replied, “I
don’t have a way to connect on the home page.”

“And so you don’t qualify
for your own society,” said Mike.

“Not now,” I said, “but I

How about you?

The Great Pretender

Susan wasn’t home so the
call was recorded.

Later, she suggested, “Listen
to this and tell me what you think.”

I said, “It’s obvious that the caller
was using contact management or sales force automation software. She recalled
our visit to the home development she represents and our interest in a
particular model.

She asked if I’ve been
speaking in or out of town recently and how my wife’s new book is coming along
(Susan is published by Simon
& Schuster,
New York. Her web site is www.SusanFletcher.com ).

Up until then it was a great
act. Then her chatty, friendly approach was revealed for what it actually is… a
charade, all form and no substance.”

What turned a potential
partner into a pariah? How did she go from making points to being thrown out of
the league? How did she become the Great Pretender? Where did she go wrong?

Her mistake was talking
about my daughter Kelly as if she knew her and citing her upcoming graduation.
Unfortunately for her, Kelly was getting her PhD.

I told Charlie about my
reaction saying, “One mistake can ruin
all your hard work.
That one simple error destroyed all the trust that had
been built up over a handwritten thank you and multiple letters. She had taken
good notes on our preferences and intimations, put them in the software and
then dutifully executed the planned actions. Someone had helped with
well-conceived letters that took advantage of both the information in the
system and the news at the project. But you’re only as good as the information
you use.”

Charlie, who optimizes CRM
systems for a living, put it this way, “You
can’t pretend and get away with it.
You can and should record information
about your clients and prospects in a contact management database. You should
use the database to help you remember people and all the various and sundry
things you learn about them. Recording only what you really know is the
best way to assure long term precision.”

I’m telling you, “Record data accurately… for now and when
you need it
. She wrongly recorded education data. Instead of not
commenting, she elected to fit an assumption into her telephone script. Any
comment about not being sure and we might have given her the benefit of the
doubt. But feigning knowledge from inaccurate facts cost her us as prospects as
well as the three other couples we might have sent her way.

The beauty of the computer
is that it can help you remember. But it will only remember what you tell it.
Before you act on data, be sure it is accurate. That way leads to satisfaction.”

Charlie is right. Mark my words: “True satisfaction
increases trust, sales and referrals
Loyal customers will overlook errors on your part. They believe that you will
always act in their best interest. They will give you latitude if they have
been consistently satisfied over time.

Loyal customers and prospects are nobody’s

 Great Pretenders fool only


Touch Hearts to Get Action

John, a hypnotherapist, asked me, “Is there some way I can
get more people to come to my free seminar? I’ve had this message out there for
four days and there are only two sign-ups”

Gail chimed in, “Make ‘em pay for it!”

I had to agree. Even a small investment generates more commitment.

 Gail continued, “I could not believe a networking event in a
bar downtown the other night. When I signed up on line there were only a dozen
seats left. Later that day I got an e-mail that said 300 people had registered!
And when I went, it was wall to wall people! And no I don’t think I got any
good leads but if you are looking for some youngsters about to get out of

“Hold on for second” I said, “Lets find out what John was doing
to get folks to come.”

“I put the notice on the Meet up site and I decided to let
some folks know about it with a personal e-mail,” John responded.

Gail rolled her eyes and said, “You start.”

My advice was this:

“Use every possibility you can think of to reach out to
people such as

  • The Meet
    up site
  • Your email
  • Your
    wife’s e-mail list
  • Any
    friend’s email list (if they are willing)
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Linked
  • Mention
    it in your blog
  • Have friends
    mention it in their blogs

Gail asked the inevitable question for a copywriter, “What
were you saying?”

John sheepishly pulled out a print out of his Meet up message.

She asked, “Why did you start it with 16 questions?”

 “I wanted to cover all the reasons they might come,” he

 She grabbed him by the ears and looked straight into his
eyes and said, “Focus.

There is one overriding reason that people will come. They need
to believe that you can solve a problem they have. Being specific about one of
these problems you’ve listed here might work but given the fact we have only a
few days we need to shift the message to those few things that everyone can see
in their lives that need fixing.”

“But first,” I said, “we need to straighten out this subject
line. Do you really believe people are going to open a message with the subject:
Life Improvement 101?

What you say and what people hear are two different things
particularly when we’re talking about hopes and dreams. Touch their hearts to
get them to act

 Lose the word ‘Improvement’ Make the subject line Life
Change 101. Improvement is incremental and sounds like a process that will take
a lot of time. Change is what these prospects want. They want to break a habit
or have a breakthrough. They want to believe you can help them do it.”

Gail picked up there and said, “The copy has to be short but
full of promise. Sometimes when I have this kind of requirement I write the
bold leads first. Here is what I’d suggest for this message:

            You can change your life.

The secret is within you.

You know it.

You can get that one thing that is stopping you out of the way

John will help you get to your “ah-ha” moment.  

You’ll go from good to excellent to outstanding

            Learn to be a new you.

That last line is followed by a direct request that they register

 And they did. In the next four days 18 more people signed


Singularity and Success

Jim’s “Business Transition
Defogger blogs” give me pause at least once a week.

 Enid’s business card proclaims “Copywriter, rock star,
human” in the title slot and then at the bottom in italics says, “Okay, so I’m
not a rock star, but I once had a Janis Joplin lunchbox.” The sheer moxie of it
blows me away each time I read it!

 Tom Peterson’s, “and free is
a very good price!” was quintessentially Tom.

 Each stands out from the
crowd. Each is successful. Each, in their own way, is a leader and somehow
different from the masses.

 Shell calls it, “Charisma.” That
is unless she thinks it is too brazen. Then she says, “It’s chutzpah.”

In business it comes from
congruity…taking a position and sticking to it.

It is that one thing that
separates you from the pack.

I call it, “Singularity.”

Each of us has some, but
like athletic skill and intelligence and all the other complex characteristics
of being human it’s not evenly distributed. Yet each of us, undeniably, has a
quality, strength or viewpoint that endows us with a oneness. It is what makes
a person unique, a company identifiable and gives products or services an
impetus to succeed.

Can you find your
singularity, build on it and add to your success?

You bet! There are three
easy steps:

1. Become an expert. Devote at least one hour each day for a year to the subject or area of
your choice. Read about it. Do it. Experiment in it. Take a course in it.
Immerse yourself and follow the side paths that open to you. Mastery of nearly
any subject can be yours…if you’ll do the work.

 Also set aside at least 30
minutes each day to consider completely disconnected subjects. How? Pick up a
magazine at the bookstore…one you’ve never read before. Stop into a museum or
library or other public information venue and browse. Surf the net on a subject
chosen by opening the dictionary and selecting a word at random.

Integrate what you’ve seen
and heard into your area of expertise. You’ll find that you’ll now be able to
talk more comfortably with a larger array of people about the subjects that are
of interest to them while more easily connecting your expertise to theirs.
You’ll listen a little more carefully as your connections broaden. That will
add to your allure.

Charisma can be built
through confidence in your self, your expertise, true interest in others and a
desire to really communicate.

2. Risk being different. Some of us already are. Most of us
are shorter, taller, faster, slower, thinner, fatter, balder or hairier or some
other “er”. Rejoice if you have one of those obvious “ers” and can use it to
your benefit. People remember people with any of them.

Some of us aren’t that
lucky. We have to find a way to become memorable. For one salesman I’ve been
told it was literally changing his hat…to a homburg which wasn’t in style at
the time.  Me, well I grew a Vandyke
beard and moustache over thirty years ago and have worn it ever since.

Changes in dress and
appearance are only part of the equation though. People need more than a visual
reference. We judge and are judged on looks, words and deeds.

Your words, as an expert,
must make it easy for people to understand and connect your expertise to their
experience. Don’t fall into the jargon trap. If someone can’t understand what
it is that you or your company do, the fault is yours, not theirs.

You will be remembered for
showing understanding but referred on the basis of what you do. Actions still
speak louder than words. The guys in Schwab tire stores run to get to your car.
Nordstrom clerks send thank you cards.

I still answer the phone, “How
can I help you?…and mean it”

As my former client Bryan would say in his British accent, “Be a
little cheeky.”

People remember audacity. They forget timidity. Build a little
chutzpah into your approach to life.

3. Stick to it. It takes time for people to see the “new you.” It
takes time to convince people that you and your company are really experts.Develop charisma, add a
little chutzpah and stick to it. That’s the way to singularity.

It takes time. But it is
definitely worth it.