Posts

woman with calendar bookAt 2012 winds down, you (like many of us) are probably looking back at the year and trying to make sense of what worked, what didn’t and why.  That’s good.  I applaud you.

You may also be reviewing all those articles and posts you’ve bookmarked in hopes of getting back to read them.  But you didn’t.  Until now.  Me, too.

In reviewing articles I didn’t get to read earlier, I came across a recent study in MarketingProfs that I was glad I filed so I actually found it when I wanted to read it!  It revealed some very useful insights about what is working for firms in various professional services fields — law, high tech, consulting, etc.

Key Findings
Firms that grew ‘significantly’ (20% or higher for at least 2 consecutive years) used:

  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • White Papers / Content Creation

even more than firms in the ‘Marketing / Communications’ fields which acted as a ‘control’.

growth rate graphicBut I was really impressed to see that firms experiencing “high growth rates” were generating a disproportionate amount of their leads from online sources!

In fact, for all professional services firms, those generating at least 40% of their leads from online sources ALSO experienced the highest median growth rate (53.8%).  That should make you stop and take serious notice!  (It sure did for me!)

That also makes me appreciate all the more the timing of our newest coaching program: Total Online Presence that will be available in January 2013.

Click here to download a Special Report on this program!


KEY POINT:
If you’re a professional services firm and you want to generate significant growth, you’ll do well to figure out how to leverage both digital media and the many opportunities available to you in the online world. 

I just received an email from a dear friend . . . Kathy Vincello who helps smaller business owners manage their finances as a QuickBooks Advisor and VFA (Virtual Financial Assistant).

Whatever you do . . . I hope you realize the IMPACT you have when you exchange value with a fellow business owner.

Here’s what she just sent to me . . . WOW!

When you stop and think about it . . . it’s so true.

I recall a very wise mentor of mine who once said, “If you can infuse the majesty of what you’re doing into the mundane  actions you’re required to do . . . you will never feel you are stuck doing ‘little’ jobs because EVERY job is . . . magnificent!”

Well said, Kathy . . . well said.  ‘-)

By the way, if you (or, someone you know!) ever needs a truly quality individual to handle your virtual bookkeeping needs . . . just call Kathy and you’ll be very glad you did . . .

To me, the word Professional means “Worthy of Trust and Respect”. Without these qualities you’re unlikely to be an effective agent of change and growth in your company.

So here are five (5) qualities that correlate with being a pro . . .

 

1.  Competence
You could call this ‘Knowing Your Stuff’.  And while it’s important to know enough to be competent, it’s also about being confident enough to know what you don’t know and being able to admit that.

In my first job, I felt compelled to ‘have all the answers’ . . . until a senior associate replied to a client, “Y’know that’s a good question.  I don’t have a clue . . . but let me do some digging into it and I’ll get back to you”.  After that, I found it was a ‘strength’ not a ‘weakness’ to accept and acknowledge my limits and commit to learn what I didn’t know but needed to know to grow (what else!) “more professional’ to my clients.

2.  Conviction
As the recent election showed, differences in position or opinion are perfectly acceptable.  If you prefer one candidate over another, it’s because someone had a clear position on what’s important and they didn’t compromise their values to please people or gain a short-term popularity (which you know won’t last!).

3.  Commitment
You know the term, “Keeping your word”?  Well, people do prefer to work with / support / follow people who do what they say.  As one staffer at a client told me, “I may not always agree with or like what ______ says we’re going to do, but I know she’ll do it and back me up if I do the same.  I can rely on her to create ‘no surprises’ and I really find that attractive!”

4.  Transparency
This suggests a lack of pretense and that’s what the famous JOHARI Window reveals — that organizations where people are transparent have the smallest facades and ‘blind-spots’ — two factors that correlate with highly effective organizations where communications and productivity are generally very, very high!

5.  Endorsement
This is what you DO when you ARE someone who endorses others on your staff.  I used to fly with a great pilot — John H. Phillips, USAF.  His greatest compliment to me was, “I’ve got your six”.  That was an endorsement that, if the you-know-what should hit the fan . . . I wouldn’t be alone.  That kind of support would make me march into the gates of Hell for John –– as I knew he’d do for me.   If you can instill that kind of esprit-d-corps in your staff, your competitors won’t be getting much sleep!

This post was inspired by a great post by Sharlyn Lauber  AKA the “HR Bartender”

KEY POINT:
Being a ‘professional’ isn’t what you say you are, it’s something you DO . . . and these 5 qualities are useful benchmarks to judge how well you’re doing it.

If you know me, you know I believe that how you operate your business is as important as how you promote awareness of your business or professional practice.

The Secret of a Great Team?  Communication!
I just read a fascinating article in HBR on The New Science of Building Great Teams.  

In it, Alex Pentland, a professor at MIT and the director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, and the chairman of Sociometric Solutions, shared a fascinating insight — the more team members interact (i.e. communicate) with one another, the more productive and effective they are.

Professor Pentland created a ‘tech-tool’ that, worn by team members, collected data about:

1.  who people talked with,
2.  how much intensity (energy) they used, and
3.  how often they interacted with other members of their team or work-group

Net result:
The more team members actually communicated, the more effective and productive they were.

The ‘Bee’ Among The Flowers is Not Only Busy but Increases Productivity, As Well
Pentland noted (around 3:30 sec into his 6 min video in the article) that some team members are ‘above-average’ at getting to know and share awareness of special skills and abilities of their team with others on a team.  They’re the people who are always seeking out people to meet, asking them to ‘Tell me more about how you . . .” and then connecting these people into parts of a project on an ‘as needed’ basis.

The more of these ‘bees’ you have in your ‘hive’ . . . the sweeter the honey . . . the greater the success of the team, overall.

KEY POINT:
Productivity is attractive in marketing your business.  Facilitating communication — quality and quantity of it — among your staff or team-members may be one of your best ‘marketing’ secrets. 

I’m often asked about the ‘funny’ name of the marketing organization that I represent —
Duct Tape Marketing.

There’s a great story behind HOW the name came to be but … I digress.  ‘-)

What is more important, is why Duct Tape Marketing exists and why, in 2005, I become affiliate with this fine organization of people that began in Kansas City, MO and now has over 80 of my colleagues in every part of the world.

Enjoy . . .

After a week of being out of computer due to a myriad of mundane mistakes that produced a major disruption in my life, I’m back.  Thankfully.

Learning What Motivates Clients
Today, I want to recognize an insight prompted by a Duct Tape Marketing Colleague of mine in Davenport, IA — AJ Perisho.  (Check out his potent post right here!)

A Simple Three Prong Approach
AJ recently conducted a survey of his target audience — i.e. small business owners — about how they feel about ‘marketing’.  Specifically, AJ asked people for three (3) things:  “With respect to ‘marketing’, what are your biggest FEARS . . . FRUSTRATIONS . . . DESIRES?”

That’s a powerful question that YOU can use to learn more about what moves your prospective (and, existing!) clients to act on your value proposition.

People Act for Their Reasons, Not Ours
A wise person one told me, People tend to maintain the status quo more than they are inclined to take actions and make changes”.  I tend to agree.  What I’ve also learned, however, is that changes are made when the need to do so is clearly understood . . . in a context defined by the person him or herself.

THAT . . . is why knowing what makes someone feel ‘less OK’ than they like . . . may hold the key to helping them take action with you.

KEY POINT:
If people do things for their reasons, LEARN THEM . . . and use them to help them take actions that make their lives better! 

 

Emil Brolick, the new CEO of the fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s,  has some excellent observations on his new position and the challenges he’ll be facing as the CEO.

Vision . . . is Always a ‘Good Start’ 
“A leader has to bring a vision to an organization . . .” Agreed.  But you also need the strategies to achieve the vision or your vision won’t happen and your staff will feel disengaged very quickly.

Keep Your People Focused and Involved 
I’m fond of saying, “The difference between your people and your profit is their performance.” Management is often defined as, “Getting things done through other people”.  Those ‘other people’ are your staff.

Communicate Your Expectations
If other people are to help you carry out your strategies, they must ‘buy in’ to your vision. They must also understand — and that’s your responsibility — what their roles require and how they support the achievement of the strategic vision you have created for your business.

Appreciate Your Employees
As the leader of your firm you want to recognize your staff as the essential asset they are. Also, make sure they know that the performance of the business reflects their collective performance. “All for one and one for all” is very true.

KEY POINT:
Brolick says it well . . . “A leader has to define reality and give hope”.  Amen, Emil! 

As I allowed in my earlier posts: “Reason #1-3”, despite the potential benefits that working with a marketing advisor offers you, you might not benefit from working with one for several reasons. Here’s Reason #4 . . .

Reason #4:  You Don’t Have a Business Worthy of Marketing
No kidding.  Sometimes we find a business that, quite honestly, isn’t being operated very effectively.  In short, the customers, clients or patients aren’t having a truly ‘positive’ experience with the business or practice.

This is not to say that people don’t need or want what you offer. They probably do. It’s just that they feel ‘less than ideal’ when they seek to get it from your firm.

In this case, any promotional activity will only put you on the ‘Superhighway of Marketing Hell’.  The negative ‘word-of-mouth’ that a ‘negative’ experience with your business can cause will never be as compelling as any kind of marketing promotion you might run.

You Need Solid Management MORE Than You Need Good Marketing
The real foundation of any successful business is not marketing.  It’s good management.  Management that understands what attracts — and keeps — someone coming back to your firm for more of what they came for in the first place.  So sometimes, an advisor needs to help you assess and tighten up the operation before they ever help you promote awareness of your business to prospective clients.

KEY POINT:
No marketing can overcome poor management!

As I allowed in my earlier posts: “Reason #1-2”, despite the potential benefits that working with a marketing advisor offers you, you might not benefit from working with one for several reasons. Here’s Reason #3 . . .

Reason #3:  You Don’t Understand What a Marketing Advisor Does
This is problematic for two reasons.  First, if you don’t know what an advisor is supposed to do, how can you judge if you’re getting what you should be?  Second, if you believe you know what a marketing advisor is supposed to do, you’ll probably tell him (or, her) what you expect them to do. Sadly, that’s like using a gun butt for a hammer.  Technically you can do it but it’s not the best way to use the weapon.

A Marketing Advisor . . . ADVISES!
An advisor helps you formulate a marketing strategy and identifies factors that may limit your ability to generate interest in what you do and put revenues in your bank if you don’t.  An advisor is not going to design / update your website, copywrite your direct mail letters, manage your email autoresponders, print your tri-fold brochures, build a tradeshow booth, etc..  An advisor will, however, make darned sure you know which, why (and, how!) any of these actions is going to increase your revenues — or waste your money.

Think of it this way.  A Marketing Advisor helps you know WHAT you must do, WHY, HOW and may even arrange WHO and WHERE you can go to get these things done.  But an advisor will not do these things for you.

KEY POINT:
Understand what a marketing advisor really does . . . and choose yours accordingly! 

As I allowed in my earlier post: “Reason #1”, despite the potential benefits that working with a marketing advisor offers you, you might not benefit from working with one for several reasons. Here’s Reason #2 . . .

Reason #2:  You’re Not Ready, Willing or Able To Invest in One
You know the expression, “It takes money to make money”?  Obviously there are other factors.  But investing in your business is a key factor in making your business successful. You may invest money in your office, a website, a flight to attend a conference, taking prospects to lunch, etc..

All Expenses Are Not Investments
While the IRS may allow most expenses you incur as ‘business-related’ for deduction purposes, MOST . . . are not investments.  The difference?  An investment is money you spend that is likely to generate a ‘return’ not only of but on that money.  An expense may be necessary but lacks the potential ROI to be considered a business ‘investment’.

A Marketing Consultant is an Investment
Good marketing consultants ‘earn their keep’ by helping you generate revenues and profits many times over whatever you pay them.  If they don’t, FIRE THEM.  In fact, if they won’t offer you a GUARANTEE of some kind, RUN LIKE HELL!

KEY POINT:
Marketing Consultants are supposed to make you money . . . if you don’t understand or believe that about someone, find someone you can!