Consultant Marketing Elephant in the Room

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When there’s an elephant in the room, you can’t pretend it isn’t there. My clients and others in the consulting community finally “got that” this week. You may have noticed.

There has been a marked increase in the number of webinars being promoted. One passed through my email that had pricing of $98 for one major speaker $980 for both major speakers and streaming of the whole event and $9880 to be allowed to Q&A with the principal speakers. I have never seen a pricing structure like that for a webinar. I checked with a friend who literally wrote the book about online presentations. He said, “I’ve seen pricing that high and that low but never with that kind of spread for the same event. Of course, the elephant in the room is causing more people to move their events online than ever. We’re going to see even more weirdness”

More weirdness.

Three times this week I’ve done impromptu workshops with a client to give them tips on how to use Zoom without giving a bad impression. Here are the highlights:

  1. Get dressed. You may be comfortable in those sweats but would you wear them to an in-person meeting? Really? Dress to impress. No, you don’t have to suit up, but you should be in unwrinkled business casual at least. Let your clothes say a little about you. Creative? Wear something zingy. All business? Go with a pressed button down collar.
  2. Hair and makeup please. Okay, you guys can skip the makeup but comb your hair and shave. Before this lockdown is over there are going to be a lot of guys with ponytails. I’m already having trouble finding my ears. Women, do not think the camera on your computer is forgiving. It isn’t. Apply the paint, you’re going hunting after all.
  3. Come into the light. Before you opt into the meeting or request an instant meeting, turn on the camera on your computer and look at your face. One of my clients self-described his look as a “sickly cadaver” Turns out his wife’s grow lights for the plants in his office were on! It is good to be lit from the front with natural light say by a window.
  4. Look behind you. Clients who have visited my office know about the stacks of books and boxes of client products. They would think it strange if I appeared and they weren’t there. Dirty dishes in the background is not good. A stack of toys visible over our shoulder is not good. I’m just as averse to background screens. Let me see your home office. After all, most of us are adlibbing here.
  5. Step away from the computer. Too many of us are used to moving forward to convey our sincerity and interest. It doesn’t work when you are using something like Zoom or Skype. Back up. When you move closer to your computer we lose sight of your hands and suddenly it is like you’re  being muted visually. We are so oriented to body language that when we can’t see the hands of the speaker we feel disconnected. You can see yourself on the screen. Make sure your hands are visible.
  6. Have a live video signal. My Virtual Assistant and I regularly use the video chat capabilities of Microsoft Teams. Her husband who is on lockdown was cooking in the kitchen and leaned in to ask if she wanted tea. It’s hot there. All he was wearing was shorts. Startling when you are deep into a database discussion. The point here is that we are all coping with an unusual circumstance. Let your family know when you are live on video. Develop a visual warning sort of like the red “On Air” lights in radio and TV studios.
  7. Bring it! Stop worrying about what you look like and think more about what you have to say. Before the call, make notes about what you want to cover. If that is complex and you want to say things perfectly, put the information in a word document and put it up on your screen for a sort of homemade teleprompter. (Just don’t inadvertently share your screen!) If you are going to be asking questions figure them out before you enter the meeting and don’t be hesitant to record the session if you’re uncomfortable taking notes.
  8. Know how to use the technology. Take the time to watch the video tutorials and then telephone a friend to actually have a meeting. It is easier to make all the mistakes when the person on the other end knows it is a practice call. Be sure to return the favor.
  9. Take a coffee and body break before. Take it from a professional speaker—you don’t want to step on stage without having relieved yourself. A video meeting is just like stepping on stage. (you don’t want to ask to be excused leaving your fellow caller with “dead air.”  I don’t drink coffee on stage but I like to have my morning cup with me if I’m on a call. And I always have a glass of water handy to  quell those frogs that invade my throat. You can be quite comfortable sipping as you pause to make a point or while the other person is talking.
  10. Play to the camera. When someone is talking you inherently want to look at them. That’s okay. But when you are talking look at the camera. It’s that bright white dot centered above your computer screen. That way people will feel you are looking directly at them. In the “real world” we call it eye contact. It is the fastest way to generate feelings of trust.
  11. Get there early and Network. A video group meeting is no different than one in-person in the days before social distancing. Wave. Say Hello. Put on a happy face. Share some non-threatening observations. Small talk is okay until the meeting is called to order. Want to meet privately with someone in the group later? Be up front about it during the networking. Don’t do it while “in session” though, that generates negative feelings unless it is at the behest of the group or group leader.
  12. Say thank you. In one to one meetings a hand-written thank you note has proven to be one of the most powerful branding devices I’ve ever seen. An e-mail thank you to attendees is, in these times, nearly as powerful. This is particularly true if you met one-on-one with a prospect or client.

Zoom and Skype and other kinds of video calls have replaced face-to-face meetings for the moment. It is truly the elephant in the room but not one to be afraid of. Acknowledge it and have fun learning to ride it.

Sorry, I’ve got to run. I have a video meeting coming up and I have some files I’m going to want to share and I need to refill my coffee and comb this unruly mop. Barbers are going to be really busy once the all clear sounds!


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 Video Up!

I admit it.

I’m a techno laggard at times.

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

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

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

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

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

She texted back with an animated video emoji.

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

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

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

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

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

Read your body language

Hear your tone of voice

Engage with all the layers of your message

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

Understand you at both an emotional and logical level

Accurately assess your sincerity or conviction about your message 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other follow-up possibilities:

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

And so it goes

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

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

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

Brand Video Hacks

Video is not a magic tonic for a brand.

Yes, it is powerful when used properly.

Yes, it can put an emotional stamp on what you’re selling.

Yes, it will deepen your product or service identification.

Video only works to brand when it is consistent.

Keep your visuals, verbals and vision as much the same as you can regardless of where in the sales funnel the video will be used. Your initial video should obviously be the same message as the landing page and the one on the website. Yes they can have variations but since we know we are dealing with limited attention spans, consistency and repetition are essential to build your brand.

The eyes have it.

The secret to powerful testimonials and any presentation on video, no matter what level of equipment you are recording with is being able to see the eyes of the presenter. They should be looking directly at you. My way of getting that to happen is to speak to the person on video from just next to the camera. In looking past the camera at me they give the impression they are looking directly at the viewer.

A tip of the hat to a video of Michael Caine teaching a master’s acting class for that tidbit.

Be careful to avoid shadowy eyes. Seating the subject in the light from a window will give them a healthy and flattering glow.

Seeing the eyes builds trust. It is that simple. Ever notice that meetings that use jumbotron projectors with operators that concentrate on capturing the presenter’s upper body and face provide a deeper confidence in the speaker and the message?

You also see with your ears.

We’ve grown up on audio that just keeps getting better and better. Our expectations are for a full rich sound on a video. You can’t get that recording in a sound swamp. Nor can you get great sound without putting a microphone in close proximity to the presenter.

You can get an adapter for your smart phone or DSL camera that will increase the capability immensely. Or, you can take a note from my playbook and get yourself a video camera that is ported for a microphone. My sound set up uses a lavaliere microphone remoted to a unit that pipes the sound straight into the recorder.

The key here is that you can improve your video quality significantly for less than a hundred bucks!

Steady as she goes.

One last simple but impressive hack.

Use a tripod.

There is nothing worse than trying to understand a video shot hand-held. Yes, the Blair Witch Project was shot hand held. It helped give it that quirky look. Thing is, when you’re pitching yourself, your product or your service you don’t want quirky. You want steady, sure, comfortable.


Jerry Fletcher ThinkinigJerry Fletcher is 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 on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.

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

 

3 Tricks to Take Face Time From Awkward to Zoftique

3 Face Time TricksAbout mid afternoon, my brother in law pulled out his cell phone and then his pad computer and announced, “It’s time for some face time.”

I thought, “Do I have to?”

Today there are a myriad of ways to use technology to see who we’re having a conversation with. The results run the gamut from awkward to zoftique.

You can use:
An app on your Smart Phone
An app on your Pad Computer
Your Laptop or Desktop computer via Skype or meeting software.

Is there a device that doesn’t have a camera and microphone on it anymore?

Here are some things to consider before you opt to call or receive a call using “Face Time”

No matter what device you are reading this on, I want you to turn around and look at what is behind you. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

  • Would you be comfortable with an unannounced visitor seeing that?
  • Does the view of you and your surroundings convince people of your expertise?
  • Will the prospect have a better impression of you?
  • Will they remember you or your background images?
  • Most importantly, does the background meet their expectations about you?

Face Time used to mean an in-person meeting. You knew it was going to happen. You dressed for it. You got ready for it, reviewing information and honing your observations and questions.

Today, you could be face to face in a heartbeat. Here’s how to be ready:

  1. Plan for these calls. If you know it is going to happen you can be ready. If you plan for it you can better control what is going on around you. You won’t wind up talking from the back of cab on our way to a costume party which is where we connected with my nephew.
  2. Be aware of the background. In your office take the look suggested above. In the field, try to find a quiet place with a neutral background and a low probability of people wandering through it.
  3. Look at yourself before you answer and make sure to disconnect. Too often people that work from home simply forget where they are and the fact they are in their pajamas (or less). Then, too you can stay online with some technologies and not know it. Just disconnect if someone forgets to do so. You probably don’t want to know what you might see or overhear.

As Humphrey Bogart would say, “Here’s lookin’ at you kid.”


Jerry FletcherJerry Fletcher is 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 on and off-line. He is also a sought-after International Speaker.

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

 

How Good Does A Video Have To Be?

I introduced Jim to the group at the Friday Marketing lunch bunch meeting saying, “So we came across each other working on a Chamber committee together. Jim is a video consultant. He provides all the services you need to do personal, product and service videos for use on line or in trade shows or any other way you want to use them.”How good does a video have to be?

I thought you would all like to meet him and might have referrals for him.

Let’s order and then you can start lobbing questions at him.”

Chris apologized for catching Jim with his mouth full and then waved off his words. He said, “I do the digital marketing for a training company. We already produce digital training videos and edit those produced by others for our market. Is there something different we should be doing for product marketing?”

Jim responded, “There is a difference. The rules you apply in a training video are different from those you put to work for you in a product selling video. For starters I’ll bet you want to sell product groupings rather than individual videos. That alone means you have to show or demonstrate how you cover the full range on a subject. More importantly you have to think carefully about who the buyer is. It isn’t the same person you are editing the series of videos for. It is the person that has to manage staff training.”

“Tha’s making sure you’re talkin’ to the right persona,” said Rob, brand guru that hails from the deep south. “And y’all got to understand that when you get the right approach to the Persona they really like your peaches and they want to shake your tree.”

Noting Jim’s confused look Kate, our sales specialist, pushed her dreds back over one ear and said, “Allow me to translate. Bubba mystifies a lot of folks but once you get used to his down home way of pointing out the obvious you can learn from his experience. What he’s trying to say in his grits and syrup style is that if you have a good idea of the person you are talking to you can capture their interest and get them to respond.”

“And that,” said Rick, “is what it is all about. At least that is what I tell my clients as I advise them on their direct marketing needs. I have to admit that video is not something that has been in our wheelhouse until lately. It seems like everyone wants a video approach and I’m beginning to think it is a big part of the answer. It is particularly important in the on line retail arena. But you know me, I’m always looking for statistics. This is what I discovered the other day getting ready for a presentation:

  • Retailers who provide online product videos to report that the products with video sell a lot more than products with no video—90% of ’em!
  • 75% of business execs in a Forbes survey said they watch a business video on line once a week.
  • 80% of folks that viewed a video in an ad remembered it but more importantly over half took action–26% looked for more information — 22% visited the website named in the ad–15% visited the company represented in the video ad–and best of all–12% purchased the product!”

Gail cleared her throat and all of us focused on our writer/editor friend. She said, “What I want to know is how good does an on line video have to be? Do I have to have network quality or will the camera on my Apple computer or phone do? Do I have to have flashy animations and overlays and that kind of stuff? Is there a web site that gives me answers? I could go on but let’s start with those questions.”

Jim looked around the table, took sip of coffee and began, “For starters, stop looking in the rear view mirror. Get a video done! There is no single answer that fits every situation. If you are selling product, you want the best quality you can get for the price.

A little bit of imagination goes a long way like the manual turntable one of my clients came up with to do a walk around of boots and other gear from their outdoor shop. We even did reach in’s to show the soles of the shoes and how a camp stove opened.

Individuals do videos that go viral all the time with their computers. Sure it is mostly talking heads but you can use screen capture programs like Camtasia to make simple Power point animations and then incorporate them with live recording using free editing software. There are a lot of consultants that use that approach, some of whom have been professional editors. There are some folks that say using the video capability of a 35 mm camera gives you the look of broadcast at a much lower cost.

There are two things you need to really think about:

  1. Sound—you need to get sound that is close up and personal if you use any handheld video recording device.
  2. Lighting–You need to have good light. A couple lights with umbrella reflectors for shooting inside and at least a reflector panel for outdoors.

If you’ll give me your cards with other questions noted I promise to answer them all… and include them in my Blog.”


Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry, sometimes called The Consultant’s Communication Consultant, is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue. Sign up for the blog and other publications at: www.JerryFletcher.com/Profit.html

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com