Consultant Marketing Diving In

Are you thinking of bailing out of a full-time job to start a consulting business?

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Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane isn’t a good thing to do on a whim. On the other hand with a little pre-planning it can prove to be exhilarating. I’ve known folks that parachute from airplanes that were airborne in the Military and those that just wanted to check off a thrill on their bucket list.

Both took a lot of precautions. But the bucket listers all enjoyed it more.

What do you need to consider when you are taking that side hustle to full time? How do you get from unknown to memorable. More importantly what does it take to become Credible?

How do you go from Credibility to Cash?  

  • Stay real, honest and authentic
  • Scrupulously avoid individuals and organizations that are not trustworthy.
  • Pay it forward. Practice relational networking not transactional.
  • Never stop adding to your expertise.
  • Tell it like it is (even when your view is different from the “common view”).

People hire consultants, not companies.

Too often this is overlooked. The new consultant is so intent on becoming a branded entity that they overlook this simple fact. Really big companies may hire consultants by their company name but mid-level and below organizations are looking for experts and look for them by name. If you want to have a fancy name and elegant logo that is fine but sooner or later you will find that if prospects remember your company name it will be associated with your name.

In other words, if you are an independent professional of any kind such as a consultant or coach, you might as well append your name to your company name because your clients and prospects are going to do so whether you like it or not. Your name adds credibility and that credibility leads to cash

Trust is the single most important business development attribute.

Having enough in the grouch bag (reserve funds) can help you with this. If you are not extremely concerned with providing for you and yours it is easier to stay on the straight and narrow. You find that you have the ability to say, ”No” to those deals that just don’t smell right. You will be able to be genuine and be plainspoken. Yes, your expertise is important. The connections you generate via networking can lead to being considered for engagements. The folks you add to your CRM (your list) become, in a way, investments. You invest your time and capabilities in them and they return the favor. Over time you will find that who you know is not as important as who trusts you. Your credibility, the trust you have generated leads to cash.

People are like Pearls.

Years ago I wrote a blog that likened the friends, associates and colleagues each of us has to pearls strung together into a magnificent necklace. If you think of your contacts that way you will want to show them off. That is what relational networking is all about. Transactional Networkers tend to look for tit for tat exchanges. They are much more about “What have you done for me lately?”

Relational networkers pay it forward. They refer the experts they know to fill a client or prospect’s needs. They constantly seek out opportunities for those they believe in. It pays off. Their credibility as a referral source leads to more assignments and better cash flow.

Know it all or at least more than others.

It is called lifelong learning in some circles. Continuous learning fuels creativity and innovation, helping the learners use their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways. The more you know about your area of expertise the easier it will be for you to diagnose situations and prescribe courses of action that will get to a positive resolution.

But don’t limit yourself to only your specialty. Explore subjects that are just to the side of it. Look into things that might have no connection at all. Because of the way our brains are wired those seemingly unrelated areas of interest generate connections that lead to creative connections. Challenging the little grey cells can make you more believable and inspire prospects to cash in on your unique abilities.

Controversial gets you seen. Results get you paid.

People respond to what is different. They actively seek out better solutions that are positioned and identified in ways that make them stand out from the crowd. Being controversial in your writings, speeches and other public appearances will get you noticed. A portion of the people that can hire you will listen in depth. Others will not. Both will have become aware of you in a way that is memorable.

Get the outcome stipulated in an engagement and you will earn the testimony of a satisfied client. Do a joint presentation with her or him at an industry gathering and you will generate another circle of admirers. Like dropping a rock in the water you will cause a small wave to press outward leaving a recognition of your knowledge. Each time your insight is touched your credibility increases. The more prospects that hear about your approach, find it ingenious yet plainspoken, the more will engage you.

And so it goes

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.

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

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

Learn more about Credibility to Cash. Subscribe to Jerry’s Newslog.

Consultant Marketing Elite Rage

When you’re that good you expect to be treated with deference.

You get used to people taking your word as the expert.

You won’t admit it but it feels good to have that ego polishing occur.

That expectation may be misinformed.

I work with elite consultants who, if they don’t have a strong sense of humility, can find themselves angry at potential clients who don’t display sufficient acceptance of the thought leader’s elevated position as he or she observes it in the actions of satisfied clients.

Men display this trait more than women.

It comes up when I’m asked to look at their communications efforts because:

  • “The phone isn’t ringing”
  • “I have concrete results but nobody believes them.”
  • “I’m as good as any Olympic coach but there are no medals for the work we do.”

Elites walk a fine line.

They get used to being the hero and coming up with ways to affect changes in organizations and individuals, changes that literally makeover lives they are touching. They are so engaged In that place of esteem, extreme trust and nearly religious fervor that they forget that strangers don’t see them that way.

Rage is a way to keep an ego from shattering. And it is a way to cope if the rage is directed at getting the disappointment off one’s chest with a coach that understands what is going on. If it is used as a way to begin building humility, all the better.

It is all about them I say.

It is not about you dear elite. It is about the people and companies you can impact with your processes and trainings and ways to change the way your clients think. It is all about them. Marketing is all about finding more of the kinds of folks that are similar to the clients you have worked with. It is all about finding a way to begin a relationship with real potential.

Usually I pull an old ad from my files. Md Graw Hill placed it many times starting in, I believe, 1958. The copy is as powerful and appropriate today as it was then:

”I don’t know who you are.

I don’t know your company.

I don’t Know your company’s product.

I don’t know what your company stands for.

I don’t know your company’s customers.

I don’t know your company’s record.

I don’t know your company’s reputation.

Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?”

They are strangers.

Why expect them to treat you like those you have an ongoing relationship with?

Why would you believe they are already sold on you?

How can you expect then to touch a forelock and bend a knee?

They don’t trust you.

If they don’t find you on Linked In, you don’t exist.

If your web site home page doesn’t position you and your services in 3 seconds, they are gone.

If you don’t publish regularly (written verbal or video) you may not have anything worthy of attention in their view.

If your clients won’t speak up for you should I bother looking into your services?

If you are not willing and actually eager to talk to them they can’t accept the outcomes you claim.

Credibility to Cash

What prospects think, feel and believe about you and your offer begins with you acknowledging that you are strangers. Even though human beings lean toward trust, they are suspicious. So everything you do must add to your cumulative credibility score with them. If you are controversial to get attention, you need to back up your views with cogent arguments. If you are an acknowledged expert in an industry you need to seek out industries with similar problems to work your magic.

Put your ego on hold.

The most important thing is to always remember that you have to help them on the journey from stranger to believer. Every action you take should be done with that in mind. Every action.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.
See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Discovery Meeting

The Dance

where you sit down with a prospect and learn about her/his operation and get to ask questions from which you will develop a proposal.

You need to have this conversation whether you write a simple agreement or an in-depth three tier Value-based proposal. So that we are on the same page, Here’s what I believe should be included in a Value Based Proposal:

  • Statement of the situation
  • Objectives of the engagement
  • Measurement–outcomes that indicate success
  • Value to the prospect
  • Methodology and Options
  • Option 1 Project Advisor
  • Option 2 Market Expansion Advisor
  • Option 3 Trusted Advisor
  • Terms and Conditions

Meeting name

Don’t call it a Discovery meeting or chat or whatever. Put yourself in the position of the  prospect. To her or him, Discovery sounds like a scientific examination. It doesn’t sound friendly at all. Better words will be more neutral. For instance, consider:

  • Informational Get Together
  • Outcomes Conversation
  • Compatibility Chat
  • Get acquainted Discussion

Regardless of what you end up calling it, Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to elicit hard data in the prospect’s terms that will allow you to present three options that have higher outcomes for the prospect’s business as well as increased income for you.

For Starters

Start by determining the primary problem that has caused them to consider your services. I find that it is best to be direct. Ask questions like: What is the problem or concern that caused you to want to talk? In most cases the answer will be that some metric in the sales equation is off. Often this is a narrow view. Be sure to ascertain sufficient background information about the industry and cyclical changes to put the symptom in context. In addition it wise these days to look into disruptions by indirect competitors.

You are preparing a tripe tier Value Based Proposal. You need to have the prospect isolate the out come if this problem is solved. Ask, “What would it mean if we solved this problem?” You need an answer in terms of:

  • Savings
  • Increased Revenues or income
  • Outcome for individual or department or company
  • How it would present to those involved

Becoming unforgettable

Now that you know what would satisfy the primary concern you can probe for data that will help you move from memorable to unforgettable. That happens because you don’t stop with the symptom. You work with the prospect to determine root causes and other problems generated by the primary. You delve into comments you let slide by as they told you about the situation in general. You explore any comment that you believe is causing an unwanted outcome.

If they didn’t give you a long-term goal, get one now. If they were uncomfortable talking about any part of the operation, now is the time to ask. With many people once they have told you the big problem in their view, they will relax. Here is a string of questions that allow you to go deeper:

  1. How did you get started?
  2. Have things changed much since then?
  3. How does that impact the company today?
  4. What about in the future?
  5. What are you doing about it?
  6. How have the costs shifted because of that?
  7. What would it be worth to you if we could solve that?

The information that battery of questions generates will give you what you need to write Option 2 as well as have greater clarity for the situation, objectives, Measurement and Value.

Headed for indispensable

Each of us learn in the course of an engagement. We naturally become more conditioned to the client’s business. We acquire additional expertise in the industry and markets in which the client participates. That knowledge plus the intimate knowledge gained of the client business combined with your capability to see the patterns and think outside the box make it easy to become an ongoing advisor, planner and implementer.

That, unless deeper problems or concerns surface, is the essence of the third tier proposal which makes the consultant a member of the team on an ongoing basis.

Are there other questions? Of course. This is a conversation where you are gathering information.

Do not sell.

You can comment that you have worked with similar situations. You can agree to tell all about those but at a later date. You can admit if something is new but always suggest it sounds similar to something in your experience.

This interview is about getting as much information as you can from the prospect as possible. Often, the astuteness of your question will bring the client to the point they want to get started.

Resist the urge to give them a quote on the spot. Tell them that you want to really step back and look at what they have told you. Tell them they will have your proposal shortly and it will have your best thinking on how to proceed.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Pillow Talk

If you’re lucky.

Not everyone has a partner outside the business they can talk to candidly about how it is going. For the majority of consultants who are solopreneurs the only chance they have is when they are comfortably esconced in bed with that special person. If married the mate can be the sounding board. In a long term relationship you can share with the one you’re with.

Triumphs and tragedies

The need to share the triumphs and the tragedies can grab hold of you at any time. The desire to take someone else along on the journey can be overwhelming.  We don’t want to be alone.  Our egos are always looking for praise. That causes problems.

Hitches, glitches and snags

  1. The loner brain dump       This occurs when an expert consultant happens to be a solo in her/his practice, home life and social life.  The need to vent or share a victory builds up until without warning the brain dump begins. It can ruin a date or dinner with friends or a special occasion like a wedding. If the one unloading their latest client experience is lucky they will be considered merely offensive.
  2. The honey pot         If you are into spy fiction or reality this one is obvious. In order to perform industrial espionage a person of the consultant’s sexual partner preference is introduced. They practice their sexual wiles on the unwitting counselor becoming the willing listener to all the woes, trials tribulations and triumphs in order to get the secret to the client’s success. It ain’t pretty but it has been working for eons. The more solo the consultant the more effective this approach can be.
  3. The one for the road         Our ill-fated expert advisor puts a real hitch into his or her git-a-long by agreeing to just one more drink before heading off to a well-deserved rest. After that conviviality she or he “opens up” and the next thing you know a trademarked process is drawn and annotated on the closest napkin. It happens. And the worst part is our guide may not recall blurting out the methodology or special ingredient or whatever secret should have remained so.
  4. Another Client’s shoulder           This is possibly the worst. The need to share engages when our erstwhile expert is engaged with another client. It doesn’t matter whether the information being shared is positive, negative, secret or common knowledge. The problem is the effect on the client receiving the remarks. How would you feel about someone sharing private information with you? Would you be concerned about what you have provided the consultant in confidence?
  5. Ego boosting events         These can take on many guises. The common denominator is the combination of public attention and a bit of ego massage. For instance, the interviewer in a pod cast asks how you accomplished a turnaround for a client or what process was used to save multiple clients. You overlook confidentiality because it feels good. It feels good when a reporter seem intrigued by your answer so you add more details. A national outlet calls you to get confirmation for a story they are working on but you go further than a yes or no in your answer.  You see the public aspect as good advertising and your ego appreciates being preened so you stick around to get groomed a little more.

Forewarned is forearmed

Some of us are inherently close mouthed, have solid ethics and just cannot comprehend behaving in such a way. But not all of us. That’s why the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) has a 15 point code of ethics.

This discussion deals with item 5.0 which is:

I will treat appropriately all confidential client information that is not public knowledge, take reasonable steps to prevent it from access by unauthorized people, and will not take advantage of proprietary or privileged information, either for use by myself, the client’s firm, or another client, without the client’s permission.

Notice that it provides you with a way to be able to share the data with client permission.

Here are some ways you can make that wok to everyone’s advantage:

  • Joint presentation at an industry event.
  • Joint appearance on a panel at a conference
  • Joint interview by a media outlet
  • Publish a case history or success story approved by the client
  • Record a video testimonial from your client and put it on your website
  • Invite your client to lunch with a prospect and allow him/her to present the particulars of the engagement.
  • Make that client’s story an approved part of your next book

Losses count, too.

And don’t forget the losses. Many times those are just as important as the wins. When a client demands a process or procedure or approach you know won’t work based on your experience it is a significantly more powerful argument to try another way if you can cite an example that refutes the prospects preference.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Trust Factor

I’ve been asked to speak on Trust 4 times between now and the end of April.

I’ll be sharing information that has remained timeless along with research findings being updated now.

A Fortune Cookie

I speak on Trust because of a Fortune Cookie. After a successful morning presentation, the promoter and I decided to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant nearby. After the meal they brough us fortune cookies.

My fortune was: “The wise man knows everything, the shrewd one, everyone.”

Michael pushed his glasses down his nose. Looked over them and said, “That’s good as far as it goes.”

I’ve never forgotten his next words:

“What you know is important, who you know can make a difference…but the single most important thing in building a business is who trusts you.”

Who do you trust?

Like many business owners you immediately think of your professional advisors:

  • Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Bookkeeper

Like Michael said, “That’s good as far as it goes.” But like so many things it shows that we are oriented to who we trust rather than who trusts us. It’s natural. It’s human. But it is not the foundation of your business.

Who trusts you?

Over the years, I’ve found that there are four folks that must trust you in order for you to be successful. Here they are in order of importance in the New Normal.

  1. Yourself. Second guessing yourself all the time will get you nowhere. Listening to that little voice that whispers doubt in your ear will keep you from getting things done. Trust yourself to figure things out. Trust yourself to make a plan. Trust yourself to take action.
  2. Your Team. If you’re a manager that means both the management team you are a part of and your direct reports. Not a manager? It is the group of folks you work with all the time which may or may not be designated as a team. Your team includes all the folks that get credit when the job is done, the objective reached, or the product is delivered.
  3. Your Company.  Own it? Trust is essential. Just a hired hand? Trust improves outcomes. Trust lowers your stress and makes you more productive. (Stay tuned for hard numbers)
  4. Your Customer. No business can succeed without customer trust. That is true whether the business is a product, a service or a combination of the two. Customers will go the extra mile for you event to the point of not purchasing a competitive product to wait for yours with the same capabilities. 

In today’s world of social media positive comments can maintain a reputation over time. Customer trust can give a company momentum like never before. Public reviews can turn an unknown organization into a rising star overnight.

Business Trust Statistics

85% of Americans are likely to stick with a business during a brand crisis if it has a history of being transparent.

67% Agree, “A good reputation may get me to try a product, but unless I come to trust the company behind the product, I will stop buying it.”

64% of consumers globally are belief driven buyers. This means they are willing to buy or boycott a brand because of its position on social or political issues.

The bottom line.

I was fortunate enough to meet Tony Simons of Cornell University just as his book, The Integrity Dividend was being published. In it he describes how he conducted interviews with the staff at 76 different locations of a hotel chain. Tony had the staff rate managers on six different trust factors. He found that where managers were rated highest the increase in revenue was $250,000 a year. 

The oxytocin kicker.

Paul Zak, Neuroscientist, is the author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies. He identified these eight key management behaviors that stimulate Oxytocin production and generate Trust:

  1. Recognize Excellence
  2. Induce “challenge stress” to intensify focus and strengthen social connections
  3. Give people discretion in how they do their work. After they are trained, allow them to execute projects in their own way.
  4. Enable job crafting (choice of projects by the employee)
  5. Share information broadly (corporate goals, strategies and tactics)
  6. Intentionally build relationships (for everyone involved)
  7. Facilitate whole person growth
  8. Show vulnerability (asking for help is the sign of a secure leader)

High trust versus low trust

Here’s what Zak and his researchers found:

Work performance High=106% more energy 76% more engaged 50% more productive

Loyalty High= 50% more will stay a year, 88% more recommend as a place to work

Job Satisfaction High= 60% more enjoyed job, 70% more were aligned with the company purpose 40% less burnout reported

Overall, high trust companies have employees that are more productive and innovative.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Focus

I was in the Army. I should have learned then. I didn’t.

I volunteered.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t done it before. That was years ago for the organization. A whole new set of officers had come and gone for the local chapter of a national organization. The only one I knew from before is the current chapter president. They had no one in the Marketing director slot and I could tell from the communications that the President was drowning.

I said I would build a strategic marketing plan and supervise the tactical implementation on the agreement that my Virtual assistant would be paid for the work I would ask her to do to get the organization on a scheduled basis.

A simple question

I asked in an e-mail, “Do we have a web site, an e-mail service and a way to register people for events and any social media that the chapter uses?”

Sounds simple, right? Should take a yes or no and if yes than a time to connect in a phone call to convey the username and password.

Should is the operative word. There was no website so I was asked to join the President on a Zoom call. I listened as he connected with GoDaddy to get a cheap web site that would be sufficient to the chapter’s needs. That took two hours between explaining why a personal site would not work, waiting for a connection to GoDaddy and his exploration of how to save money by using personal credits.

Stop writing in code!

He agreed to send me the connection details (User name and Password) for the new web site, Mail Chimp and EventBrite accounts as well as the social media accounts. I agreed to take part of my Sunday evening to begin work on the web site. I could not get into the site to begin the design process.  The information he had sent was minus one letter in the password. Rather than call him after 10:00 PM on a Sunday I sent an e-mail stating the problem.

The following morning he sent an entirely different password. That didn’t work either. I decided to call him, request the data and try it while I had him on the phone. He insisted on sending me e-mails in a kind of code and then talking me through how to decode the information to get into the applications. Two hours later I had the basic information I needed. Then we started on the same merry go round for social media. Somehow he set up a new twitter account while we working through decoding how to get into the Linked In and Facebook accounts.

Can I hire you?

He asked me that as we were wrapping up Having spent nearly a day’s time total just getting to the point where I can begin to try to straighten things out, You can understand why I was hesitant to respond.

I queried his reasons for asking. His practice has declined and he has lost some clients and some he was assisting in succession/buyout were slowed because of the Covid.Pandemic.

He noted that his volunteer position in the chapter was eating a lot of his time.

There was a long silence when I told him my absolute minimum fee and noted that I worked only with a handful of elite consultants on a retainer basis.

Focus I said.

  1. “You let me worry about marketing the chapter. Forget it until you get a plan from me to evaluate.
  2. Shift your attention to assuring your paying clients are getting the service they expect and then some.
  3. Pick up the phone and call past satisfied clients. The script you should use is:
  4. I’m just checking in to make sure you have your plans in place as we go into 2021
  5. If not, you know I understand your busines from our past work together. I may be able to help you get to answers more quickly.
  6. Glad all is going well. I have some time available right now. Is there anyone you know that I could help? I’d appreciate a referral.
  7. Sounds like an interesting situation. Why don’t you invite them to lunch on me with the two of us or a joint Zoom call if we can’t get together because of Covid regulations.
  8. Let your former client talk about how you deal with the kind of problems the referral has.
  9. When he or she has made it clear you can handle the situation, suggest that you meet with the referral source at his/her office to gather the information it will take for you to put together a value-based proposal

Focus

Never forget consulting is a business. No matter how much you want to help people. No matter how much you want to change the world. No matter how good volunteering makes you feel. You still have to pay the bills. You still have to get results. The outcome of your efforts needs to be a net gain in revenues as well as social capital.

If you’re time isn’t sellin’ out your practice is shellin’ out..

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Synchronicity

It is Friday the 13th as I write this.

That has always been a lucky day for me. And this week has proven positive as well.

Monday, I attended my local NSA chapter monthly meeting. Virtually, of course.

One of our speakers was talking about interactive activities that could be used working virtually and taking advantage of the breakout room capability available in Zoom and other virtual meeting tools.

Rant, he said.

And rant a couple of us did. The exercise is to have someone in the meeting rant for one minute, uninterrupted, about a subject of their choice. If you haven’t thought about the subject, I guarantee you will run out of things to say quickly.

On the other hand, if you are really into a subject, if you are passionate about it, you can go on for quite a while. And you will find that you can expand on the key elements of your beliefs quite easily.

The exercise is intended to open up a closer understanding of the people “in the room” and to build engagement. It works. But more importantly it is a way for you to determine just how “into” a subject you are. It is way to fix powerful emotions on an issue in your mind. Your fervor will make you more convincing. Every time.

What Is Your Soapbox Stand?

That was the title of a blog from a Canadian Consultant friend, Charlene Norman. In it she discussed her reaction to finding a would-be local politician behind the knock on her door. She asked him, “Why should I consider you?“

That simple phrase means a lot more. It is precisely the same string of questions each one of us must answer every time we bump into a prospect:

  • Are you like me? 
  • Are your values close to mine? 
  • Are you going to fix MY problem or make MY life better? 
  • Can I trust that you will do what you say? 
  • How long will it take you to deliver what you say?
  • How much of my time do you expect from me?

Hang on. Here comes the synchronicity.

As Charlene says, “One superb way to hold attention is to take a stand.  What is the one thing you could spend hours talking about on a soapbox in a public square?  (I am not expecting you to actually do it.  I am hoping you can imagine ‘what if I could.’)

I very much doubt you can talk all day about the product or service you sell.  I highly doubt you can wax poetic for more than 10 minutes about all the ways you deliver fantastic customer service.  And I know you can’t fill more than maybe an hour with tales about your experience, your years of service and your fabulous team.”

“Every consultant has a branding problem…You gotta move
from Nobody to Somebody and do it in just 3 seconds!”
 

To be memorable you take a stand.

Taking a stand makes you both more vulnerable and more respected. The immediate change is that you have a brand impact in 3 seconds or less. Your opening words in a self-introduction can make all the difference! You stand out from your competition. And people want to engage you in conversation if they think you have a point. You also, very quickly, determine if you and the prospect are compatible.

If you are any kind of independent professional taking a stand will pay dividends for you. Clients searching for trusted advisors gravitate to truth tellers. Elite clients want to work with thought leaders.

The truth of the matter is:

“Controversial gets you heard… Proof gets you hired.”

It is all a matter of being seen, heard and, in the final analysis, trusted. We trust those who are consistent and make us think. We find them unforgettable and consider them indispensable.

And so it goes.

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

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

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com   Sign up here for the Newslog!
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Virtual Virtuoso

Professional Speakers are out in front.

I don’t mean on stage but rather in figuring out how to make the most of presenting virtually.

I asked, in a “mastermind” group, “Anyone else finding that you know more about how to make virtual meetings work both in terms of technical and techniques than the folks hiring you and their experts?”

It was like dropping a match into a puddle of gasoline. First the whoosh of the gas and then a long low steady burn. The entire group whooped and then each told a story of woe. I took notes and here’s what I learned:

Live is easy. Virtual ain’t

Half of the group are Certified Speaking Professionals. The rest of us split out between  those, like me, who have been speaking professionally for over 25 years and the youngsters averaging 5 years of experience.

All of us were appearing live across the North America regularly and a few of us have presented in International venues. All of us concluded:

  • Live is easy. Virtual ain’t
  • Live interactivity is not expected
  • Virtual interactivity is a must
  • Live reaction is easily visible
  • Virtual reaction is sometimes unreadable
  • Most Meeting professionals do not comprehend the differences
  • On-site technical experts drafted for Virtual duty are not up to speed on all the capabilities and difficulties of virtual technology

Technology tips

Those of us that have now been presenting virtually since January have used most of the major video conferencing tools. Our experience adheres to the general market share pattern.

  1. Zoom 40.49%
  2. Go to Webinar 19.82%
  3. Cisco Webex 12.31%
  4. ON 24 3.51%
  5. Adobe Connect 3.38%

Each has peculiarities and each makes different demands on the presenter.

Meeting professionals who would never dream of having a keynote speaker say “Next slide please.” don’t understand that is exactly what they are doing when they do not have their technicians cede screen sharing to the speaker.

Those who plan meetings and conferences can no longer use the same sort of scheduling for their events. Sessions must be shorter because the demands on the visual cortex of watching a screen are greater than when you are in a live event. “Shorter is better in a virtual meeting” was our consensus.

To get the most out of the video conferencing platform speakers, especially non-professionals, should have a rehearsal before the event was a suggestion from one of the veterans. All agreed that programs would be more successful with this simple change.

All of us have had to deal with schedule changes. I have cut a one-hour keynote down to 32 minutes while on stage to get a meeting back on schedule. You need to make sure that you, the organizer and the technologists are all on the same page. One of the long-time professionals in our group suffered a change in scheduling that made it impossible to become interactive with an audience seeing her recorded keynote with segments built for that purpose. The technologists used multiple times for the audience to begin viewing without advising her!

Technique Tips

Any event with more than a few people in the room is show time. Virtual makes it more so. The further you can get away from the “Talking head,” the better. Here, in no particular order are suggestions to strengthen your appearance in that virtual meeting:

  • Stand up! Presenting standing up will give you better breath and voice control as well as make you more active in front of the camera.
  • Don’t be afraid to gesture. We, as humans, read body language more easily than we read facial expressions. It takes fewer of the little grey cells to understand what is being said.
  • You can move, the lens can’t. We all want to have visual cues about what is important. Even as a baby we respond to someone who “leans in.” Don’t be afraid to use that knowledge to get your point across.
  • Use hand gestures. Because you and your audience are closer to one another using the kind of gestures you would use across a desk or a table will be more easily understood than the broad gestures you might use on the platform.
  • Share your screen, briefly. That is one way to increase the interactivity and engagement in your message. But, one slide left up for more than a half minute is going to bore the audience to tears in live or virtual. But in virtual they can be gone completely and you will not know it.
  • Get interactive. Use polls, voting via gestures visible to all, having a contest with entry via the chat capability, Q&A using the chat, Breakout rooms with reports on return, team tasks in breakout rooms that may be contest oriented, Try a Karaoke choir to get everyone working together.
  • Record it in video. Yes, Use the capabilities of the platform for record purposes but understand that you want a higher level recording for promotion as the compression algorithms in the platform recording deliver a less than stellar result.

Do not be the weakest link.

Even nine months into the Pandemic there is a huge lack of knowledge in how to use the video conferencing capabilities available to us. Ask what platform is going to be used. Set up a way to communicate any program or timing changes in advance. Question everything. The success of the program depends on you.

And, so it goes.

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

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

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

Brand:        https://brandbraintrust.com

Consultant Marketing Building a List.

It begins.

I’ve stood on stages on three continents and said:

“Your e-mail list is often your single most valuable corporate asset”

That is especially true if you are an Independent Professional, a Consultant, or a Coach or in any profession that requires you to provide a professional service to individuals or organizations.

Analog versus Digital

Everyone thinks the world is all digital now but a hard look behind that internet of things reveals that the digital controllers are fronting for analog sensors. The point is that we keep trying to invent ways to capture and manage data that has a foot in both worlds. For instance, one of my clients, a Certified Financial Planner, has, for years, sent out birthday letters to his clients.

I’m talking actual typed on paper and sent via USPS letters that have a celebratory illustration and a short note that says “Happy Birthday.” He has had clients call him in tears saying he was the only one who remembered.

I cautioned him when he was talking about sending out Anniversary greetings to the couples he works with. My concern was that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and a fair number that don’t still aren’t all sweetness and light.

A brilliant suggestion

That’s when he applied some analog logic suggesting, “How about I send to the husband only but I do it so it arrives about a week before the anniversary date. Face it , guys are always forgetting dates that are important to tier wives and girlfriends! He’s right. Imagine how helpful that would be if you’re guy. Suddenly you could be a hero.

There was a time he would have done it with a rollodex and a tickle file. No more.

Now he’s using a fancy piece of CRM software. Big companies are using Artificial Intelligence to sort through tons of information stored in Contact Relationship Management data bases.

It’s all about the entry data.

Garbage in, Garbage out is still true. Consider what happens when the data in the data base is wrong. Even with all the security precautions now in use some things are nearly impossible to change. It is easy to change a password. But if you’ve upgraded your smart phone you know you may be dragging around contact information that goes back multiple e-mail addresses ago. You need a genius in a bar where you can’t get a drink to begin to get it done!

The Double opt-in will fix it.

Right, and if pigs had wings…

But I’m going to use it. With it I will take my miniscule double opted in list (5) and add those folks who want to see my regular blogs and are interested in getting my Newslog which will include a blog, a video and an audio weekly.

In addition to a number of friends, fans and colleagues who will get personal e-mails telling them what’s up and how to assure their place I’m going to aggressively recruit new subscribers.

I’ll use three methods:

  • A significant increase in social media postings (daily across 4 networks) all with a link to my website that has a pop-up to get their data.
  • A lead magnet that explains how to build a B2B e-mail list using video which will be featured in blogs, and postings in groups. Interested? Click here
  • A Quiz Funnel for people interested in finding out their #1 Consultant Marketing Mistake. That will go live on October 7.  

I have no great expectations. I’ll track the numbers and add to them with product offers in upcoming keynotes. I’ll be happy to end the year in triple digits.

And so it goes.

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

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

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

Consultant Marketing For Startups

You’ve decided you’d like to be a consultant but you’re not sure how long it is going to continue as a side hustle before becoming your full-time gig.

You’ve done some time in the 9 to 5 world and learned how to get some things done.

Could be that you’ve grown comfortable with independence of working from home because of Covid or the outfit you’re working for is beginning to let people go.

Age can matter.

I know. As an Ad Agency CEO dealing with CEOs, Presidents and Fortune 500 senior managers. I was always asked how somebody so young could know so much. The fact was I just looked a lot younger than I actually was. The perception was that I was 20 years younger when I was in my 50s.

If you are young or just look it, people will question your judgement. The higher the value of your advice the more they want you to be grey haired or at least grey at the temples.

On the other hand if your expertise is in technology they want you to be a little younger.

Gender can matter

It shouldn’t, but it does. You will find women that deliver brilliantly in every profession you can imagine. In some cases they do it better than men. But regardless of that there is a known bias toward women in some areas perceived to be more people oriented and away from them in engineering and “hard” science.

So you would probably accept the young lady in the photo as qualified to handle social media but not to specify the concrete for our overpass.

I’m certain of this as my daughter looks like a valley girl but has dual PhDs in Engineering and Microbiology.

Race can matter

I’m of Irish extraction. It has been a couple generations since folks like me were automatically turned down for any white-collar job but I can still remember my grandfather talking about some of the names he was called.

I’ve been in the car when a black friend was stopped for no reason.

I’ll never forget telling the proud Hispanic entrepreneur of a wall construction company that the only thing stopping him from getting work in the local high-income bedroom community was not asking. The work he did on that first job is still earning him testimonials.

Religious garb can matter

If you wear a hijab, a Sikh turban or a Jewish Kippah you can expect to be treated differently.

Sometimes that is a good thing. A case in point was a local manufacturer of custom carpets for businesses and boats who answered my question about the hair coverings of the women doing the intricate work in his operation. He replied, “They are from a Russian sect that lives just south of here and even if  I don’t have an immediate contract for them to work on I will hire them because they are twice as productive as anyone else I’ve hired.”

Engagement matters

If you are not completely engaged it can cause mistakes like overcommitment, under-commitment and insufficient study of the industry or problem in question. Often, proposed solutions will go awry due to reasons painfully obvious in hindsight.

Frequently the error is too much talking and too little listening.

That can lead to a reputation of being ineffective. It causes clients to at best give no testimonials and at worst issue a critical review.

Here’s what you can do about it.

  • Learn how to have a conversation with a prospect instead of delivering a commercial.
  • Build a believable self intro
  • Put together the words they can use to refer you
  • Truthfully sell yourself and your capabilities

That is what my 30-Second Marketing Workshop can do for you. You’ll learn those basics plus how to apply all you’ve learned to build a lead generating web site, presentations that stick with prospects and how to move from memorable to unforgettable, to Indispensable and, if you have the knack of changing the way people think, to Legendary.

Join me. Get on the reservation list for the next 30 Second Marketing Workshop

Send an e-mail to Jerry@Z-axisMarketing.com with the subject Workshop and I’ll send you all the details.

And so it goes.

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

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

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