Move Over Boomers …


Millennials are Charging Forward!

As us older professional service providers yield to encroaching age, a newer generation is charging (barging?) into the market. Unlike us, they are extremely tech-savvy and grew up on the internet. They aren’t just struggling to get a foothold in OUR markets as we had to do. They are able to eliminate “dues-paying” by rushing full-speed to gobble up new clients at an alarming and unheard of rate.

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DOL: Client-First Mandate

Financial Advisors Must Be Fiduciaries

Long-debated and finally rendered, the DOL Fiduciary Standard is official. According to a Bill Bachrach article in this month’s FA Mag, (Disruption #7 ) “Our government believes consumer are being taken advantage of by our [FA] industry…They believe the solution is absolute transparency, full disclosure and the elimination of conflicts of interest.”

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We Do NOT Serve Clients

We Only Do Members‘ Marketing Projects

NOW HEAR THIS

Immediately dispel the myth that PMcommunity.org does deals/projects for members’ clients!  We never have. We never will. (To do so would make us compete against our very own members!)

To set the record straight, our Community is strictly a Professional Marketing Organization. We only do marketing, i.e. facilitate positioning for buyers (members) -and- sellers (members). Yes, we serve both sides of the MARKETING equation, not the selling equation. The latter belongs to our matched members alone. Confused? (more…)

Marketing Rights of Refusal

Major Point of Differentiation

99+% of marketing firms, agencies ,and organizations work for their paying clients. They don’t offer “RIGHTS.” as in. entitlements. Instead they are engaged to perform acts that assist with promotion of their paying clients’ businesses.

PMcommunity.org has no clients. It doesn’t not sell their clients’ products or services in the traditional sense. If it did, it might automatically position one ‘client’ against another. In other words, every ‘client’ may be competing against another. The winner would surely be the highest bidder/payer. Seems about right, doesn’t it? Yes, in the conventional marketing setting.

PMcommunity is anything but conventional. As mentioned, it has no clients—only members. Up until last year, it had only two CLASSES of members, chocolate & vanilla or medium & high. I.E. Associate & Preferred by any other name. The former got the exact same entitlements as the latter…except with regard to timing. Associate Members received the opportunity of engaging a new client on a SECONDARY basis—after Preferred Members. Preferreds typically pay about twice as much as Associates; not for a higher or better type of offering, but to receive the opportunity on a primary basis. This is the FIRST Right of Refusal (or Right of First Refusal for purists).

Note that last October, members voted to allow a THIRD class of “members” called STANDBY. In point of fact, this class has no entitlements because it is not actually membership. It is for member-candidates who are not ready to commit or formally pay to join the Community. They are allowed to view certain activities & events, but cannot actively participate in Concierge Marketing that brings exclusive opportunities directly to them.



RIGHTS BRING ENTITLEMENTS

Non-paying Standby Members get exactly what they DON’T pay for (nada). Similarly, paying members get exactly what they for, first or second/next rights of refusal (of new incoming referrals). Observers should, by now, have figured out that our membership is not one giant pool of professionals. It is not one gigantic group of homogeneous single-niche (profession) pros either. It is a small, eclectic heterogeneous group of LOCAL professionals–grouped to service & share a large audience of Small & Midsize Businesses in the same geographic locale.

These local marketplaces are called “Clusters” and they do not have borders or boundaries.

Members, regardless of profession or trade, are positioned together so that each Cluster has at least two (and possibly a few more) of the same discipline. In others words, at least two CPAs, attorneys, insurance pros, project managers, M&A intermediaries, management consultants, ETC. are contained within each cluster. They are not “locked” into a single cluster. In fact, depending on composition & market need, one member may be positioned into 2-3-4 contiguous clusters.

Members have no idea what cluster(s) they may belong to at any given time. This is a logistics problem for the Office of VP Membership…who must operate under the Community’s Fairness Doctrine. Essentially, this means that ALL members in EACH class must be treated equitably and no one member can be favored or excluded within any given cluster she/he is placed with regards to access to newly matched referrals. (In the vernacular, every one gets a fair shot within their class & discipline.)

Fortunately, all this is done in the proverbial vacuum, behind closed doors. The Community is aware that human nature cannot be taken out of the equation. To preclude the possibility of arguments or dissent, joining members pledge to support our neutral operations posture and “fairness policies” from the onset, that is, at time of enrollment.

Summing up, Cluster formations work exceptionally well when like-minded professionals agree that their #1 priority is to help existing clients within their cluster. It is an unwritten quid pro quo that multiple referrals are made between & among members—with and without Community support.  (Once known to each other, members go directly to one another. There is simply no need to involve the Community.)



Marketing Rights of Refusal. #5857. This blog is written by members and monitored by our Executive Committee. It is intended exclusively for members or candidates-for-membership. Contents of all blogs and FAQ sessions are subject to change & correction and do not constitute community policy. At all times, the executed Community Marketing Agreement (CMA) alone determines prevailing policy & practices, as amended.  |  (C) Copyright 2004-2016 PMcommunity.org; all rights reserved. Depicted graphics are the exclusive property of PM Community and all others belong to their respective owners or record. 


 

Is PMcommunity.org worth It?

Why Pay $49/month or $99/month?

BECAUSE IT’S WELL WORTH IT!

The argument about price is always a concern. But, when it’s about value (received) it’s never a problem.

PMcommunity.org started back in 2004 and was clueless about what to charge potential clients. Trial-and-error soon gave way to “no charge” for the early adopters. Of course they bought in–and got the benefit of what they weren’t charged for. But, when we tried to go back to a pricing model that seemed reasonable, we fell flat on our face! That market (rebounding from the dot.com catastrophe) felt our marketing services were terrific—but only when paid in arrears!

Our business model had real people performing real services THAT NEEDED TO BE PAID along the way. The Community was not contingency or commission based!  HELLO!  Deliver your very attractive new service, secure new clients ready to engage me, and THEN I’ll pay you. (Never gonna happen.)

We admit it. We screwed up. We were so worried about making good on our Value Proposition that our pricing & collection model failed miserably. We also learned that trying to please all people was a disaster. We even offered FREE leads and $50/month for new-client-REFERRALS would be delivered ready-to-engage. Result: yes to the free leads (that’s what internet businesses did) and no to the Referrals except on commission! Yes, it was a tough audience!

We thought we had our act together when we closed our doors! “Sorry, we don’t want your business UNLESS you can qualify.” Voila! Attention came with this new take-away service. Our Value Proposition changed from we’ll do marketing for you, to we’ll bring fully sales-enabled new clients exclusively to your door. Hooray! People got it … but our delivery “system” was, um, problematic. It cost us more than what we took in! Oops! The members-only platform was quite secure, i.e. PMcommunity.org. But, our program was sloppy and tough to “expedite” when internal folks were scrambling all about. Happily, Local Channel Marketing™ arrived and once again there was order in the universe. But membership was slow.

Our founders were never looking to make a fortune the the Community and its marketing program. The goal was to overcome inertia, slow/steady growth via grassroots, and gradually expand.  Profits would be nominal after paying for overhead and sustaining desired growth. We were not a non-profit, just a restrictive cost-plus model designed to quietly grow at its own pace.



AMAZINGLY, 2016 PRICING SAME AS 2007 

When Concierge Marketing was introduced in 2013, membership was chugging along. Candidly, it was decent in some (few) areas but highly fragmented in others. No one was terribly concerned since bills were being paid and services delivered reasonably well (read: no complaints). The Community learned that our growth was predicated upon the quality of local members, naturally–since recommendations were the keep. Local County Coordinators were still “volunteers” who didn’t do much but were “ready” when called upon.

Associate Members–for 2nd Right of Refusal pay $49 (almost always discounted to $30/month) and Preferred Members--for 1st Right of Refusal seldom pay $99 (just $59/month). Interestingly, members keep voting that these prices to remain constant year after year.  FYI—every October, the Annual Members Survey is taken and members decide/vote on important matter impacting themselves!)  It’s not a coincidence that all this discounting goes on (read: is allowed).

Candidates must either be invited or referred…and there’s always a code that chops prices down!

To clarify for the uninitiated, ASSOCIATE Members get the exact same service as PREFERRED Members. Only the timing of delivery is different. I.E., if/when there is no SME available, Associates get the 2nd call (Right of Refusal) for the referral opportunity at hand. Depending on the cluster/area/demand, this may happen from as low as 29% on up to 77% … but it’s always highly unpredictable. [Members are always free to move up (when not busy enough) or down (when too busy) at any time, status would change on the following month after request.]

So, it boils down to VALUE received. What’s a new-client opportunity personally delivered to your door actual worth to you? If only $30/month for this exclusive opportunity, that’s the price! If $59/month (with 2 months free), that’s your price! Here’s the kicker: services are guaranteed to yield! The first 60-days are always FREE via opt-out and 100% refund of investment. Thereafter, members are free to opt-out at any time and receive a full rebate of any unused, prepaid marketing fees. READ: we must add value, or else!

So, despite what you may have read or been told, this blog is your proof that the OLD PRICES remain in effect–for those qualifying to join. 

The Bottom Line: “We didn’t invent Professional Marketing; we simply perfected for our members.”  |  BV



Is PMcommunity.org worth it? #5848. This blog is written by members and monitored by our Executive Committee. It is intended exclusively for members or candidates-for-membership. Contents of all blogs and FAQ sessions are subject to change & correction and do not constitute community policy. The executed Community Marketing Agreement (CMA) determines prevailing policy & practices, as amended.  |  (C) Copyright 2004-2016 PMcommunity.org; all rights reserved. Depicted graphics are the exclusive property of PM Community and all others belong to their respective owners or record. 



Answer: BETTER MARKETING

QUESTION: WHAT CAN PM COMMUNITY DO?

LOCAL CLUSTERS NEED MORE VARIETY

Insiders know that our Community’s biggest problem is perpetual and self-created!  Who’s idea was it to operate under a “cluster” format anyway?

Firstly, lets be honest. The founders chose CLUSTERS over concentric-circles, territories or areas of concentration because they were the most ‘pliable’ and adaptable form in local markets. One could change them on the fly (think: hockey) without disrupting play. One could substitute or be substituted without any interference with current activity. Whole gangs of folks could be moved around without any complaining or anyone the wiser! Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Out in the field, it is! Behind the scenes where all the internal affairs are happening, it’s anything but orderly or systemic. Okay, it’s a frightful bloody nightmare! Thankfully, this falls under the purview of the Vice President of Membership. With so many people/members coming (and never going) clusters must be formed, reformed (again & again), almost non-stop.

At any given time, one member could be “in” a single cluster or many others concurrently. Sometimes, depending on composition (professions), a member is often added to other clusters and moved to yet another within hours. The overriding principle here is the Community’s Fairness Doctrine! No member can be willfully positioned at the expense of any other. This forces creation of more clusters whenever they tend to become “top-heavy.”  Too many in one profession/discipline forces realignment or else formation of a whole new cluster. Note: there are no boundaries. There are no territories. There are no restrictions.

Every cluster is unique. There is no ONE set model.

At any time, a given cluster could have too few lawyers or coaches [temporarily]. In such cases, those in the scarce professions would be ‘shared’ or distributed across two or more proximate clusters. Goal: make it work! When clusters have too many of one certain discipline, that cluster may be split between others abutting/closest to the local market as possible. Happily, this is never a problem “in the field.” (It’s just a giant headache for staff trying to keep up internally!)



LOCAL CLUSTERS NEED TO BE BALANCED

Our members have no idea of how even or equitable their own chosen cluster is—at any given point in time. Nor should they! Ideally, all should be busy serving clients and doing/using whatever other marketing floats their boat. After all, Concierge Marketing is complementary in nature. There’s a presumption that every member has, or should have, a reasonable practice/book-of-business. With a minimum of 5 years in service (and more likely 15-20), it is assumed that each has cultivated their market(s) already. They are well established in the local area.

The notable exception is when one is new to the locale, and accordingly, is starting over. The other possible exception is when the practitioner is working on a contingency…with substantial paydays. FYI—those working for short dollars need volume to sustain themselves. Our platform is NOT a good fit. Commission-hounds selling commodity services should stick to lead houses, network meetings, and whatever else works for them.

The rule of thumb (and we HATE them) is that every client-need submitted should be substantial enough to yield at least a $1,000 or more. (After all, at $250/hr that’s just 4 hours.) Typically, SIMPLE Projects are referred to ONE other member/SME who can best get the job done completely. The referring member would STAY involved insofar as her/his relationship with the client is unaffected. 

COMPLEX Projects, on the other hand, are those known from the onset to need more than one SME to bring about the overall desired result. Invariably, there will be several members collaborating INDEPENDENTLY-but orchestrated & controlled by a project manager (member) to ensure a successfully delivered/completed project. (Parenthetically, could you imagine a major (COMPLEX) project without a seasoned PM in charge? (Perhaps this could happen back in the 1980s-1990s but surely not in 2000s-2010s–when millions of dollars may be at stake!)

Unlike Network Groups, the Community never has ONE person representing ONE trade or profession in any ONE cluster. The fallacy of this model is demonstrated by asking “what if the ONE is sick, too busy, not available, on vacation, etc.” Since all Community projects start with analysis and end with a matched SME, every cluster has at least TWO or more backups in the event the first is not available for any reason. This said, “overloads” are atypical because of diligent monitoring by the office of VP-Membership.

I trust this helps explain more about Local Clusters and clustering in general. If more info is still needed, jump inside the website or contact a local County Coordinator.  Thanks for ‘listening.’  |  BMR



Answer: BETTER MARKETING #5845.  This blog is written by members and monitored by our Executive Committee. It is intended exclusively for members or candidates-for-membership. Contents of all blogs and FAQ sessions are subject to change & correction and do not constitute community policy. The executed Community Marketing Agreement (CMA) determines prevailing policy & practices, as amended.  |  (C) Copyright 2004-2016 PMcommunity.org; all rights reserved. Depicted graphics are the exclusive property of PM Community and all others belong to their respective owners or record.



 

 

The Problem with Marketing Today

There are TOO many Solutions & Marketers

WAY TOO MANY SOLUTIONS TODAY!

The internet is a crazy place. Things proliferate at the speed of a keyboard click. There’s a new program, a new platform, a new something that will change status quo. This, dear reader, is being played out on every PC & MAC that’s turned on throughout the globe. There’s no stopping, pausing or waiting for whatever’s coming. Just when you’ve selected a terrific new-whatever, within days it’s obsolete or a better, brighter, shinier whatever is available and it’s cheaper, faster and does why more than the last whatever.

Hyperbole? Hardly. If you’re cybercitizen—making your living online—you know this could even be an understatement!

There are startup companies worldwide that extremely busy investing countless of hours, money & energies trying to bring you the next whatever. We’re talking about millions of people, billions of dollars and unfathomable sweat. Technology is the culprit when put in the hands of the ambitious. In 1975 Moore’s Law claimed that everything technical would double in speed every 24 months, remember? Then it was revised to 18 months. 40 years later, Gordon Moore predicted that saturation is almost here. “I see Moore’s law dying in the next decade or so.”

What does all this mean to professionals who are marketing up-and-down Main Street? Nothing, if one is complacent with status quo. Something, if one can afford the time to stay abreast and compete with latest technology. Everything, if one is a younger Millennial or born before 1994. The latter group was wean on the types of ‘tools’ that Boomers today are clueless about.

Thanks to search engines led by Google, there are over 125,000,000 “marketing solutions” rendered in less than 1 second. What does that tell you? Yes, it speaks volumes. So, let’s dig a little deep. Again using Google, let’s search for “marketing solutions for service professionals in USA.” In 1/3 of a second, 3,740,000 results were delivered. And so on. I rest your case.



WAY TOO MANY MARKETERS TODAY!

When we introduced PMcommunity.org to the SMB advisory community back in 2004, we asked ourselves very seriously, “does the average service professional on Main St USA really need another marketing venue?” Without belaboring academia, we truly felt it boiled down to Product Differentiation and Market Segmentation. If we were ‘just another choice’ in an already crowded field, the answer is obviously no-way.

Today, such distinction and targeted audience has become virtually (pun intended) irrelevant. Everyone is offering everything to everybody. It’s insane! Who could have time to analyze even a few of the better marketers–who, BTW, are being replaced tomorrow by yet another expert reviewer. Is it really that bad? NO, it’s worse.

As of Friday, March 18th, worldwidewebsize.com reports there are 4.64 billion pages.  Reuter reports that the number of websites on the internet is now 550,000,000,000.  Who’s right? It doesn’t matter, All those 0’s are way above our paygrade. And besides, we’re only interested in PMcommunity.org, its members and followers. The point here is that the chance that WE, YOU or any other individual being recognized or singled out via a generic SEO internet search are less than negligible. Good like with that!

This is precisely why our Community is in THAT league, i.e. is not cyberbased. We are an OFFLINE marketer working exclusively in local markets. Yes, we have flesh in the game (inside project managers and business analysts). We have boots on the ground (members and County Coordinators). We do not let the latest algorithm to do our work for us nor do we have a magic solution that works for everyone! We do things the OLE FASHIONED WAY as John Houseman used to say. (If you don’t know who that is, you may be too young/inexperience to join?!?)

Folks, we don’t advertise nor try to compete with anyone. We really are that different. Chances are excellent that you probably have never hears of us before. That’s because 2 years ago members voted to restrict enrollment to [1] qualified candidates who are RECOMMENDED by current members, or else [2] INVITED by our Admin during open enrollment periods. We are proud to grow locally, organically, and most of all, profitably.  |  TW



The Problem with Marketing Today: #5833.  This blog is written by members and monitored by our Executive Committee. It is intended exclusively for members or candidates-for-membership. Contents of all blogs and FAQ sessions are subject to change & correction and do not constitute community policy. The executed Community Marketing Agreement (CMA) determines prevailing policy & practices, as amended.  |  (C) Copyright 2004-2016 PMcommunity.org; all rights reserved. Depicted graphics are the exclusive property of PM Community and all others belong to their respective owners or record.

Death by Prospecting

Stop the InsanityMarketing is Dangerous to Your Health!

Most members are aware that we started banging this sentiment home a few years ago … when Local Channel Marketing™ went live.  Our premise was (is) that prospecting (lead form of marketing, pun intended) often is annoying, frustrating and bound to raise your blood pressure when lead-chasing goes sour! Let’s face it, we’ve all been there!

It starts out with a supposed solid lead–maybe even deemed hot by the giver.  (It could have even been solid as a referral, ready to buy/engage!). In any event, in good faith you set the appointment the day before and proceed on your way before 8am the following day. Drive time was between 1/2 and 3/4 hour. Happily, the prospect didn’t keep you waiting. No fumbling on your part—you know that your service rocks, it’s just a question of ensuring that the target is qualified and ready to buy. So you start with innocent probing questions and proceed into the usual pitch re: features & benefits. At this stage, price is totally irrelevant.

After about 20-30 minutes, you move toward trial closing since all is going well. The customer seems sincere and quite interested in you (must be your winsome manner). There is every indication a sale is about to be consummated as you pull out the contract. Flash! All of sudden, despite your ‘non-sell/just educate’ presentation, the prospect balks. Apparently he/she/they are not ready to commit today. You go on to answer all the objections successfully, and the reasons (typical excuses) come out. You’re smart enough to stop, but, internally you’re fuming or at least greatly disappointed.

The drive home, back to the office, or onto the next prospect, is anything but pleasant.  It’s not that you couldn’t close the deal as much as it was the knowledge of wasted time. Of course you beat yourself up for not pressing harder when setting the appointment in the first place.

As a seasoned practitioner, you are acutely aware of wasted time during business hours.  You’re keenly alert to the value of unrecoverable Lost Opportunity time. Either because of the inclement weather you’re driving through or because maybe sales have been slow, for some reason this failed lead has struck you as a particularly painful lesson learned…again!  (So what if it’s endemic in the business. You’re still pissed and feel emotionally drained.)


 

Marketing is Dangerous to Your Wealth!

Too Few Good (NHW) Clients!

 Too Few Good (NHW) Clients!

Every independent professional aka ‘solopreneur knows they are in a Time Management business, i.e., earnings are predicated upon the productive use of time. Conversely, income shrinks when marketing proves unproductive or useless. 

CRM programs like Salesforce can be good in the long run but no more holds their breath for instant or near-term results. Further, with so many sources banging the drum, SEO/SEM is now way more promise than result. Social media, for the most part fits nicely in this time-killing category. Yes, there are exceptions. For instance, email marketing still has a valid play. But this too can be time consuming as well quite expensive. And, if you happen to be into WordPress plugins, there’s a ton to examine ‘cuz shiny new objects (plugins) are being offered everyday. (Your author knows firsthand that it’s impossible to keep up with them and still maintain a thriving business practice.)

A recent survey showed that many solo-pros are forgoing external sourcing in favor of organic marketing. Instead of tearing up the phone lines or burning a lot of shoe leather like Dad did in his day, today’s practitioners going-it-alone are big on recycling email lists. Many like to periodically “touch base” with their existing clientele to announce what’s treading in the industry. Others like to give clients plenty of notice regarding price increases -and- reminding them that value always wins out. Besides relationships and best grade of service are already at hand.

As a final point, there are well over 80 trillion (yes, with a T) webpages on the surface web (source: Google). Amazingly, there may be twice this amount down in the deep/dark web. Why mention this? Because all that money everyone is spending on online marketing–and updating websites–can well be a giant waste of money, that is, unless there’s lots of marketing-driven traffic that converts into sales.

Members know that there are untold millions of eager marketers lusting after anyone/everyone’s budget. Each one of these marketers purports to be a “guru” with testimonials out the wazoo. They declare that confusion is for sissies—since they have all the ‘secrets.’ For this reason, and all the pain you’ve already experienced, we submit that marketing can also be very dangerous to your wealth!



Death by Prospecting: #5243  This blog is monitored by our Executive Committee and is intended exclusively for members or candidates for membership. Contents of all blogs and FAQ sessions are subject to change & correction and do not constitute community policy. The executed Community Marketing Agreement (CMA) determines prevailing policy & practices, as amended.  |  (C) Copyright 2004-2015 pmCommunity.org; all rights reserved. Depicted graphics are the exclusive property of PM Community and all others belong to their respective owners or record.