Brand is About Being More

Thanksgiving dinner is not a good metaphor for a Brand-building customer experience.

Sliced hamClients and customers want more. Every interaction gives you the chance to make your band more memorable to them. But there is good memorable and not-so-good memorable.

Thanksgiving dinners with their great expectations are like Brand development. Both are fraught with potential disaster if we don’t know the journey of the participants.

Are your customers coming “over the river and through the woods?”  Are they flying in? How often do they come by? Can you remember their preferences? Do they mind waiting? What could you do to make their time with you memorable? How can you impress them? What would make this Thanksgiving more remarkable for aunt Hepzibah?

Every Brand is built with experiences. You must craft those experiences, just the way granny put together those wondrous Thanksgiving dinners. Yes, the meal is important and a great cook is essential to serving up the bird, stuffing and cranberry relish or the ham, collard greens and home-made biscuits.

But what goes on before the feast and the conversations around the table are what we remember far longer. Brand development is like that. Too often we’re worried about the logo and the corporate colors when we should be concerned about how easy we make it to buy. We hyperventilate about what we say on our web site when we should be concerning ourselves with real conversations with clients and prospects.  (see the video for Shell Tain on for straight talk that works)

This Thanksgiving when you’re expressing gratitude, make sure you include all the folks that personally interface with the folks your brand impacts— everyone from the janitor to your CEO. The truth is, they are your product or service in the eyes of your customers.

Thank you for being part of our tribe.


Jerry Fletcher is the founder of  His consulting practice, now in its 26th year, is known for Brand Development, Positioning and business development on and off-line.


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Speak to Me!

Jean asked, “Should I hire a receptionist or a phone answering service?”

“What did you tell her?” said Gail.

“It depends.” Speak to Me!

“Hold on theah, Slippery, thas your answer to just about anything it seems to me,” said Rob, our loveable branding behemoth from the peach state. “Just what does it depend on if you please?”

Kate jumped in before I could say word. She said, “I can tell you what he’s going to say, Bubba, because I’ve had this discussion with him a couple years ago. I can’t swear to the statistics but he made a pretty good case for having a human on the phone, particularly for a small business like mine. As I recall

  • Somewhere north of 75% of all callers that get an answering machine hang up.
  • Nine out of ten customers that get a machine in business hours think you are too small to do business with.
  • About two thirds of people will immediately call a competitor if a human doesn’t answer.

I said, “You didn’t tell them the most important reason to have someone answering the phone…you can’t afford to miss a call, especially if you look at the average value of your proposals.”

Chris pointed out, “You didn’t really answer Jean’s question: Should she hire a receptionist or an answering service?”

“True,” I responded. “A start-up should definitely look at hiring an answering service. Later, when they can hire a receptionist, assuming there are other clerical activities that person can perform you should look at keeping the answering service on.”

“Wait a minute,” Chris said. “Did you say keep them on?”

“Yes,” I said. “the fact is that if you operate like Kate and a number of consultants I’ve worked with, you will have people calling in anywhere up to three hours ahead or behind the local time zone you operate in because you work with clients or prospects across the USA. In addition, if you are connected on multiple continents you need to worry about what day it is as well as what time.

Over 85% of the times someone might call are outside the time a receptionist is in the office! The beauty of an answering service, a good one, is that you can get coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On top of that, if you need to gather data for a form or other information a good service can handle it. There are even services that can set telephone appointments for you when someone calls in.

I did a little on-line research to be sure I gave Jean today’s facts. The numbers Kate quoted are still true. Here are a couple others I found that make it a good idea to work with a telephone answering service that is human:

  • 80% of callers that get a machine will not call back (and that percentage is increasing).
  • 73% of callers answered by a human will not call a competitor (but you have less than two minutes to have someone knowledgeable on the line to handle their questions or arrange for someone to call them back).
  • A study from the UK indicated that a human answering every call could increase sales by 25%.

So I believe that it is a worthwhile experiment to try using a human based answering service and carefully monitoring the change in acquisition of new business and retention of current business. The probabilities are: up to a 25% increase in acquisition and assuring between 60 and 70% retention.”


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 Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue.

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

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




Why Tech is Wonky

Gail slammed her purse down and said, “I tell you all I am sick and tired of just getting to understand a piece of software and they up and change it!

Interface frustration“Now what?” said Chris, our digital director.

“My assistant simply clicked yes to an upgrade on the blog software and it went all wonky. There is no way to edit new posts on it now,“ Gail replied. She continued, “I write and I edit and I always review the post before we publish it. Fat chance at the moment.”

“Thas not the only thing goin’ on at the moment said Rob, the Georgia peach of branding. I understand that the new Google change is driving people that understand this SEO thing kinda crazy, too.”

“You’ve got a point Bubba,” I chimed in. “But not everything is worse because of changes. I upgraded to a new I-phone and I have to tell you the interface is a whole lot easier to use. But I still think they should give you some sort of instructions with the darn things. Those of us that haven’t grown up using them to take photos and e-mail them plus push those apps around could use some help. Besides, I’ve got big thumbs.”

Kate our sales specialist smiled and asked, “Can I join this pity party?”

“Jump in,” said Bubba.

“The thing that gets me is how different all the contact managers I run into are,” Kate continued. “They’ve been around since the 90s and you would think that how to make them easy to use would have been figured out by now. Every time I go into a company to tune up their sales operations it seems like I’m dealing with a new way of doing the same thing. It starts with trying to upload a list of contacts and goes downhill from there.”

“I can tell you part of the problem,” said Rick who runs a world class direct marketing operation. “A lot of software is written by folks in new companies. They try to make theirs look and operate differently from the competition. There is no previous version to narrow their approach and there is no best practices to look at. On top of that they are engineers who seldom if ever try to think like an end user. The result is that we users have to adapt continually to the bizarre solutions they come up with.”

“All y’all got that right. Every time I get told about an upgrade I know I’m gonna be outa kilter for a while, said Bubba.

“The thing is,” I said, “there’s a whole science to this stuff that nobody ever seems to look at. It’s called User Interface Design. It all comes down to the fact that users just want to be able to solve their problem quickly and easily in the same way from software to software. They want engineers to stop thinking they are creative geniuses and start building stuff that is easy to use.”

You and me and all of us should think about that as we develop our trainings and products. If we stop reinventing the wheel we might get there faster.

The Takeaway:

Truly great user interfaces are the ones that are engineered to stay out of the way.

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and an unruly mob of business development professionals. They discuss what’s new, what’s old, what’s good, bad and ugly plus creative thinking to find what works. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue.

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

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