Gray-Haired Consultants

Want to END Prospecting

FIND OUT HOW TO STOP LEAD-CHASING

Professional consultants and trusted advisors over 45 now have an excellent chance to cut back or completely eliminate LEADS and all that goes with qualifying, nurturing, and selling them! If you haven’t heard about Concierge Marketing yet, visit PMcommunity.org. (more…)

Marketing Managed

Predictable Results Not So Predictable

Online -or- OfflineYOU CONTROL YOUR DESTINY

The vast majority of SMB advisors & consultants don’t hold the function of Marketing in high regard. It goes way beyond Pareto’s 80/20 principle. We’re talking closer to the 95 percentile, that is, those who either hate the prospects of spending money to acquire prospects (pun intended) or those who feel helpless when it comes to controlling things once Marketing is outsourced.

Without a personal track record, Marketing outcomes frequently depend on too many variables to be able to accurately predict what WILL happen.  Once a third party launches a campaign (on or offline) the hope is that the right results will be attained. But it’s really out of your hands. Only history, i.e. hindsight, produces the evidence used to measure success or failure. From there, you can drill down into the analytics as desired. Most of us don’t care WHY, it’s too late. The money, time and effort has already been spent.

  • It would be like crying over split milk if the Marketing bombed out. Suck it up…and learn the lesson (not to use this vendor/campaign again);
  • Alternately, revel in how many new customers/clients/revenues were landed and repeat it again—probably with an even greater expenditure.

The big boys pay big bucks to engage heavy duty advertising firms to do their (marketing) bidding. Often the results are better, seemingly so, and the firm will come back with whatever “spin” puts them in the most favorable light.  If the outcome was satisfactory or better (positive), the milk run will continue. If not, the analytic will demonstrate all the external factors that caused the calamity—surely the messenger can’t be blamed/shot!  Returning to the SMB trenches, we can’t afford the luxury of trial-and-error. And “spin” is like spam, unacceptable in any form at any time. Besides, you’d only be lying to yourself.


UNTIL RECENTLY, MARKETING WAS A ‘CRAPSHOOT’

Stung by Lousy OutsourcersAs an independent solopreneur there are no Marketing staffs, outside agencies, and often not even a clerical to do the work. Marketing falls to you…like every other function in your business/practice.

This is good and bad. GOOD because you control whatever is (not) done/spent on Marketing. BAD because your top line depends first on Marketing then on Sales…unless are constantly selling without pre-positioning. You know, driving to a given area and then spending the entire day cold calling & trial closing. Our grandfathers often did this because they didn’t know better and surely didn’t have the tools we do today!

Bottom Line: That person staring back at you in the mirror is either a HERO or a GOAT when it comes to Marketing.

Whether a mass mailing (expensive offline snail mail) or an online email campaign, the so-called experts claim that results seldom exceed the 2-3% range on average. FYI: Rarely should anyone expect anything close to 15-20%. Yes, that would likely be a full 80+% who weren’t interested at all and 20% who just MAY BE. Let’s reapply Pareto’s 80% and there would be 16 out of a 100 unqualified suspects. And, assuming your stars are aligned, applying Pareto’s 80/20 again, the yield MAY come down to 12 prospects. And for a final calculation, reverse Pareto to arrive at a final outcome of 2-3 new clients. (This hypothetical is bogus but familiar since it’s used so often…by marketers…see the graphic at the left.)

The real point here is that Marketing can be very costly and grossly ineffective. Even Vilfredo Pareto wouldn’t dispute this! Said differently, Marketing is terribly ineffective and highly inefficient. Thus, in the vernacular, it’s only a crapshoot.  But, then along came “Local Channel Marketing™” and the paradigm began to shift. As this unique Marketing concept slowly grew {local prospects discovered before market awareness via all sub-channels of the interdisciplinary advisor community}, it morphed into what is now called “Concierge Marketing.”


YOU START -&- END THE MARKETING FUNCTION

Concierge Marketing isn’t for all professionals. It is exclusively designed for licensed independent trusted advisors of all value-added professions, E.G., accounting, law, financial services, consulting, brokering, marketing, project management, etc. Further, it is not full service Marketing. It is an on-demand service that connects one member who has a needy SMB client with others who are Subject Matter Experts–possessing the precise talents to satisfy the need—expeditiously, efficiently and most cost-effectively! This is all done behind-the-scenes where nobody else can ever find out about all the exclusive new-client business opportunities that members enjoy.

Concierge Marketing (running through an elite peer-to-peer platform) used to start at $30/mo and top out at $59/mo—once courtesy discounts were applied. But members voted that local pros can now register at N/C (yes, totally GRATIS). | Enough said; any more would be selling…and remember we’re only marketers!

Rate your MarketingOnline Marketing [not]



Please note that all PM Community Blogs & FAQ sessions are strictly for informational purposes. They are intended for independent service professionals serving Small & Midsize Business (SMB) clients throughout North America. PM Community has no clients (only members) and is not affiliated with Project Management Institute (PMI) although we wholeheartedly endorse their principles & practices. | © Copyright 2004-2015 pmCommunity.org. Other trademarks are the exclusive property of their respective owners, as applicable.



LESS Prospecting, MORE New Clients!

Welcome the New Year 2015

Think back to a year ago. If you made any resolutions then, how many did you actually follow through with? How many?! We thought so!


Before Attempting ChangeMOST RESOLUTIONS SELDOM WORK …

The younger you are the more resolutions you may have made. The older you get, the less inclined you become to “resolve” to do better. Once again, observation of human nature is the guide. And, of course, experience.

Take this blog. Most of the folks to whom it’s intended won’t find it … so they won’t read it. ← Time for a lusty Homer Simpson “D’oh!” → But, no matter because “they’re not reading this anyways!” Who are they? The ones we’d like to attract, you know, the logical independent SMB advisors who are busy serving clients.

This year we are changing our marketing strategy a bit. The ole grassroots method isn’t doing its thing well enough. Sure, it’s working here but not there and usually only when a County Coordinator steps up to fill in her/his immediate cluster. This WAS our preferred strategy for the past ten years. In the coming year, we will supplement “their” efforts with more incentives and advertising. Hence, the small bump in marketing fees.

The bad news is that it will cost a bit more to participate in Concierge Marketing. The good news is that everyone’s ROMI should be better with greater participation across the board. We expect to target certain professions as well as make overtures to those associations & groups whose members should know about us and our local presence within their communities.


SHEER INFO OVERLOAD IS OUR BIGGEST ENEMY

Getting Old sellingThe diminishing returns that we experienced via selected e-mail campaigns last year was an eye-opener. While never in the top 3, targeted email fell another 28% in 2014. This demonstrates that our split-tested message never resonated with targets LIKELY due to never having been read! A huge percentage made it to inboxes (not spam) but our read-to-response rate was disappointing. Okay, in some instances, it was plain dismal.

We get it. The amount of traffic trying to squeeze into everyone’s inbox everyday of every week is utterly insane. That’s why we rely on these blogs so much … in addition to WOM in and among local clusters. Fortunately, members are notified in advance of blogs with regards to promotions and special events.

Our new website will appear in mid-late January. Will it be ‘ASTOUNDING’? No. SIMPLIFIED? Yes.  Registration has been streamlined again and much of the intrusive stuff is gone. While it would help us a ton to know what a joining member’s ideal new client would look like, we’ll forgo this at enrollment. Why? Feedback was that it was apparently too personal and, besides, may answers defied intake synopsis & categorization.

Today, we’ll deal with virtually any 3rd-party registered data—with Linkedin leading the way! Facebook & Twitter work as well as email petitioning and our standard faxed enrollment form.

Preferred Members should continued to complete the optional profile update Short Form QUARTERLY, if they’re so inclined. And, the Annual October Survey is now mandatory …. if for no other reason than for rate setting purposes.


Why can't I find the RIGHT Resources?

Why can’t I find the RIGHT Resources?

COUNTY COORDINATORS ‘RULE’ LOCALLY

To answer a perpetual problem squarely, every Local Cluster is designed to have several County Coordinators (CC). Even the least populated cluster has at least 2-3 Coordinators in different disciplines. There is no such thing as a cluster with only one CC.

Each & every Preferred Member is encouraged to become a CC at least once during their tenure with the Community. Their duties are light and the rewards of helping to grow a meaningful resource pool for local SMBs is amazing. Even though we DE-emphasize reward programs [because we feel membership is a privilege] many CC’s enjoy extra comp (that’s #1099 at year’s end).

To reiterate the so-called duties of a CC, [1] help distribute pressing processed referrals, and [2] answer inquiries re: Community & Concierge Marketing. Seldom would any CC ‘work’ more than a couple of hours weekly on their own time (after hours or whenever). A third, unstated, request would be to sound the local alarm about the easiest way to STOP prospecting and START acquiring one’s fair share of incoming referrals.

After a new CC has been ‘on the job’ for at least 3 months, she/he can inquire re: prevailing Comp Recruitment program. (It may vary from one region and cluster to another, per directions of the VP, Membership.) Conducting local “seminars” is optional but can be a great way to introduce a large audience to Concierge Marketing all at once.


LESS Prospecting & MORE New Clients!

We Need YOU!The headline may look strange, but getting more for less is what Concierge Marketing is all about. We refer to the fact that New Client opportunities will be brought to those who participate on either the buy or sell side of the program.

Whenever a marketing project is triggered by a member with a needy client, rest assured, real rainmaking will occur, i.e. MUST HAPPEN, in a matter of days/weeks! Take that to the bank. Our internal policy called “Blackout Period” forces the issue into a collapsed time frame that makes it happen. And, whenever it does, there’ll be “another” satisfied client grateful for finding the precise Subject Matter Expert to change/improve his company.

This is why the Community calls it Rainmaking. It’s not just a marketing buzzword signifying a terrific, lucrative event; but, it has the same characteristics and it happens as often as a member participates in Concierge Marketing. Yes, every single time!

The receiving member (SME) is summoned out of the blue to help a fellow member’s client within her/his cluster and the Rainmaking Process starts anew!

Finishing up, let’s set the record straight. We are not suggesting that every member can STOP prospecting; but, we are recommending that many can now eliminate questionable lead-chasing and replace it with Concierge Marketing. If you must, this is a time management issue that is important to every independent service provider.

Once again, we’ve succeeded in writing about our favorite subject–which probably bores older members–but hopefully is important to newer members (and candidates just finding us!)  Take the next step. Either join as a Preferred or Associate Member on our 60-day, no-risk trial or else become a Standby Member and never have any commitment.

Ed note: there is a one-time $39 processing fee for Standby Members but this is fully refundable at the end of a year or else applied to the prevailing enrollment fee if the candidate decides to “come inside!” 



This blog co-authored by Bob “Veris” Pierce, founder of  PM Community.org  Kindly note that all blogs & FAQ sessions are for informational purpose and do not constitute Community policy. They are intended for independent service professionals serving Small & Midsize Business (SMB) clients throughout North America.   |   © Copyright 2014 pmCommunity.org. All rights reserved. Trademarks and copyrights are the exclusive property of their respective owners.



 

 

Marketing #1 Mistake

Trying Too Hard  ←←

OPINION OF THE FOUNDER OF PM COMMUNITY.ORG

My esteemed colleagues may take exception to this blog, but after more than three decades (going back to the dreaded analog stone ages), here’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


Love-HateMOST SOLO PRACTITIONERS WASTE MONEY

This headline is sad, but true. By far and away, most (as in, the vast majority) of independent professionals in virtually all disciplines spend way too much time (which is money) and money (as in, out-of-pocket expenditure) on marketing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the best known lawyer in town or the most respected CPA (or any other profession for that matter), marketing spend is invariably a “crap shoot” if there’s competition all around. Don’t take offense. Your author has spent a small fortune proving this theory, many times over. It’s endemic in business, especially for the professional service provider at the lowest end of the pecking order.

Okay, now that we’ve stated the obvious, let’s spend the rest of this blog on WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT! For years (decades) the world has tried to build a better mousetrap. The all the advances in technology & communication, you might want to believe a stop-wasteful solution was at hand. Keep dreaming. A solution is as elusive a cure for cancer. Everyone feels it’s getting close, but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe tomorrow … maybe next year or sometime in the [near] future.


UNIQUE PLATFORM + A PROPRIETARY PROGRAM

PM Community (pmCommunity.orgis on record as NOT having intended anything. What we’ve done is to create a unique platform of like-minded, highly skilled LOCAL professionals (aka MEMBERS, all trusted advisors to Small & Midsize Businesses (SMB) who have agreed to support & help other members’ clients in need…on demand…or at the very least, just in time to solve a problem or satisfy a pressing need.

  • The platform was the easy part. Every successful SMB advisor is always tuned into helping others in need, especially if there just happens to be a WIIFM involved. (Yes, the good ole What’s In It For Me?)

  • The program was (a lot) more difficult. With so many marketing choices available today, it’s mind-boggling to tell the difference between the good-bad-ugly. And, let the record show that the Internet has promoted a gazillion of UGLY marketing venues, approaches, techniques, strategies, systems in as many flavors as there are people selling them! Seriously, everyone’s an expert—just ask them!

Prospecting is for amateursWe labored almost three years to finally bring Local Channel Marketing to market back in 2007. We didn’t call it that back then because we were still piloting it and trying to get the bugs (objections) out. It didn’t deserve the moniker and promotion until 2010. (We submit this as a prima facie example of how wasteful & expensive marketing can be! We prefer “R&D”) It took an additional three years to reach perfection in the form of Concierge Marketing. Yes, it was worthy of a name change. Why? Because if you study it, it really is a Game Changer!


RE-INVENTED WHEEL? NO, A TRUE GAME CHANGER

There are some who throw stones at our Community and its Concierge Marketing program.

I know, tough to believe, right? This is because “they” don’t/can’t understand it until & unless they participate in it. It’s that simple. So, any sour grapes are from folks whose agenda is flawed or perhaps because they couldn’t qualify to join their local peers & colleagues. Whatever the reason, we hope that the reader will take a(nother) look at what has evolved & is enjoyed by solopreneurs throughout North America.

  • So, what makes it so special?!? This is the first self-proclaimed End-Stage Marketing program to hit the market. Why, end-stage? Because this is the absolute last & final point where the Marketing function can exist. Beyond it is only Sales. In other words, Concierge Marketing takes the buyer (needy client) as far as he can go, i.e. right up to the proverbial door (of the seller solution provider) that, if opened, immediately becomes the selling process. You can’t get any closer than this!

  • So, why the distinction? People often confuse Marketing & Sales—usually because Marketing is “useless” without Sales. As academics will attest, there is a huge difference in the fact that one’s function is to attract interest & position/persuade buying instincts (transformative) while the other is to create the sale (transactional) and exchange consideration.

Concierge Marketing is performed by & between TRUSTED ADVISORS exclusively, i.e. each must be a member of our Community. We have NO clients, only members, who are positioned to be either BUYERS or SELLERS, and at times interchangeably!.  I.E. The buyer is the professional with SMB clients in need of services to change their present (“as is”) state…by either outsourcing a pressing need or engaging a subject matter expert to assist in a possible growth or M&A event.  The seller is the professional with the precise skill set/talent and AVAILABILITY to assist in the solution or satisfaction required in a timely manner.


Treat Him FairlyDUPLICATION & MORE THE SAME?

County Coordinators are often asked “what’s the big deal? I can go to my local Chamber & find all the experts I need for my clients? Why would I need to join another group?”

The fallacy here is that our Members are well publicized and known to each other as specialists who can help their needy clients…on demand. WAIT! Won’t a couple of phone calls do the trick? Here’s where the “marketing waste” problem/dilemma comes in.

While there are tons of “lead” meetings, groups & sources available up-and-down Main St as well as in cyberspace, the issue isn’t whether the right professional exists, it’s whether she/he is specialist with the precise capacity/ability & availability to do the client’s job in a cost-effective, confidential, and timely manner?

  • This is exactly where our Community adds its VALUE. All members have been pre-screened, qualified & agreed in writing to only add value & expert service when called upon by a fellow member to collaborate in the best interest of the client, always with full scope in mind, on-time and on-budget. Oh, and as a fellow Community member, while acting independently, this professional well understands the true meaning of being COLLEGIAL, as well as the unstated quid pro quo of watching the other’s back at all times.

Is this what one would get at another “competing” Marketing choice? We think not! Only our members understand & appreciate how different and important we are as a behind-the-scene Community of Trusted Advisors who serve the greater good of all Small & Midsize Businesses in North America. More than a platitude, it is the spirit of who & what we are. We don’t/CAN’T waste members’ Marketing spend. Why? Because every time we are called upon (ON-DEMAND) we utilize a platform/program that is unlike other marketing venues operating today.

  • Our members don’t chase leads, they collaborate on projects referred to one another whenever clients have need.


This blog was written by Bob Pierce (“Veris”), founder & Managing Partner of  PM Community.org  Kindly note blogs & FAQ sessions are strictly for informational purpose and do not constitute policy. They are intended for a specific niche audience, namely, independent service professionals who serve Small & Midsize Business (SMB) clients throughout North America. Content should not be construed as legal or accounting advice. Lastly, due diligence is always recommended prior to spending any money.   |   © Copyright 2014 pmCommunity.org. All rights reserved. Trademarks and copyrights are the exclusive property of their respective owners.



2014 banner 

Challenge to SMB Advisors

“Are You In?”

This is the new “battle cry” PM Community’s County Coordinators will use through 12/31/2012. Are You In? Our Community doors remain wide open to anyone who is inclined to enter … absolutely risk free. Why accept this challenge? Because it is actually an INVITATION of sorts to better serve your clients. Find out what other SMB advisors and consultants already know…when you can START at the bottom of the famous Sales Funnel.

There no magic or secrets here … at least not to serious-minded, client-centric professionals who DEMAND to be positioned to do business with Cross-Discipline peers & colleagues … on a confidential and exclusive basis … that our members enjoy. Let’s be specific and clear, we are a relationship marketing organization that facilitates connections with/between/among professionals in multiple disciplines. We have “only” two benefits—which are:

  1. To better serve your existing clients by gaining access to a large talent pool in the local market

  2. To more easily acquire new clients in need of your services from your local Peers & Colleagues.

The exciting part of our proprietary service is that members deal with other members directly. Yes, there is no middleman interference or related costs of any kind. No fee sharing or splits or commission … ever.  And, members are free to accept or reject any assignment/project they don’t want. Everything is strictly confidential and not even the Community knows any clients identities—because they don’t need to know. Members control the action from the onset and then at the finish. What happens in the middle is where PM Community adds its value … which is …

Totally behind the scenes, we elicit requirements/needs from a Referring Member (say, in the legal profession) and then assigned Business Relation Managers utilize agile workflow processes into proper trade channels to eventually select the best suited solution provider, aka the Receiving Member (say, in the insurance profession). Once demand (of member’s client)—meets supply (precise talent), fulfillment is imminent.  Community notification is made and the Referring Member decides whether/how to proceed. ||  Note: marketing is completed. Probable sales transaction to follow (or not). 

Obviously, this synopsis doesn’t do justice to our Local Channel Marketing program, but should be enough for the reader to see how professionals in different professions could comfortably & confidentially come together (working on the same side, independently) without hassle or fear. One member refers, one member receives … and, the next time, our Community isn’t involved because members continue to deal with other members as often as THEY decide.

PM Community is what academics would call a transformational marketing intermediary … that stays completely out of members’ clients business! 

Granted, this might be difficult to understand at first; but, spend a few minutes more in our website, especially on our Marketing Breakthrough page. Frankly, if you don’t know that PUSH marketing is dead, you may not be able to accept our challenge. But, if you grasp the current state of marketing (PULL), you will be hard pressed to find a stronger ROMI (Return of Marketing Investment) on the street (or in cyberspace) today. FYI—in the vernacular, “for very short money you may land a whale (HNW client).”

Bottom line: We’ll let you do the math. Preferred Members pay just $50/month (for what used to cost $99/mo last year) to be positioned to receive first-call on incoming new-business opportunities in their field.  Associate Members pay $25/mo and would get second-call whenever Preferred Members are too busy or not available to accept the project at hand.  

Whatever you decide, we wish you well. Hopefully, however, we’ve stimulated you to explore and investigate our unique community further; if so, welcome “inside.”