Job #1: Confidentiality

PRIVATE MARKETING ORGANIZATION

PMcommunity.org is a relatively small, elite marketing umbrella for LOCAL cross-discipline professionals to serve each others’ clients whenever they are in need of the others’ services.

Unlike any other meeting venue, members only connect when there is a pre-qualified, sales-enabled REFERRAL at hand.  (more…)

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…)

Members Fiduciary Standing

Time-Out!

Setting the Record Straight

FIDUCIARY IN LAW OR IN FACT

Firstly, PMcommunity.org is not an association or any type of public entity. Rather, we are a private, for-profit, marketing organization that serves only qualified members and absolutely no clients. We have no corporate sponsors or hidden agendas. Our members are all independent professional service providers from North America who offer timely consulting, advice, and service to local Small & Midsize Businesses (SMB).  Got it?  Read between the lines:


4 private 4 not non-profit 4 marketing services only 4 members-only 

4 qualified trusted advisors 4 no clients 4 no corporate sponsors 

4 independent trusted advisors 4 local SMBs within US or Canada 


While it is true that members virtually run the Marketing Community (by voting on all important matters including their own annual marketing fees each year), as a condition of admittance into membership, each agrees to abide by the Community Marketing Agreement (CMA) at registration. 

The financial community at large is acutely aware of the great Fiduciary Debate and to whom does this standard apply. For the latest, click here for The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard (July 15, 2015). Our Marketing Community deals with many diverse professions—some requiring licensing, like Attorneys, Accountants, Financial Advisors, etc. as well as other value-added trusted advisors not regulated at this time—Project Managers, Management Consultants, Valuation Experts, etc. Some are commissioned or contingency workers (outsourced project workers) and others are strictly fee-for-service (majority).

MEMBERS FIDUCIARY STANDING

Accordingly, our marketing community does not speak (legally) to the issue of being a fiduciary. Rather, we suggest/recommend that all members, regardless of whether this legal standard applies to them or not, act with their shared clients’ best interest in mind. We do this so that ALL members when making referrals would feel comfortable working in an independent, but collaborate, manner. Note that every member has been qualified and vetted as necessary. This said, since professionals don’t (won’t) share clients with others who can’t meet the measure of being a truly Trusted Advisor, we try to keep everyone on the same page during our transformative marketing cycle.

For a legal perspective, as a third-party marketers, naturally we have no standing. Hence, the term Fiduciary to us, while very important, is used more as a shibboleth but hardly as a buzzword.


ALL INDEPENDENTS ARE ENTREPRENEURS

Looking down the Mkting FunnelDuring this hectic season, we usually don’t find time to catch up on our extraneous reading—with few exceptions. December’s issue of Entrepreneur Magazine has a featured article by Ann Handley (Marketing Profs) entitled “New Year, New Goals.” As usual she is right on point. Her 5 Point Marketing Action Checklist for 2016 starts with…DO LESS MARKETING.

Of course, this recommendation seems paradoxical for a marketing authority, but it goes on to admonishing not to gut your entire marketing effort, just focus on “becoming indispensable” to your target audience. How often have members heard us preach the same thing? We always promulgate that members should periodically (minimum: annually) examine their marketing mix to find the weak/poor returners to eliminate and, as prudent, replace with new & better sources. Obviously, the goal is to look at the proverbial big picture, online and off, to ascertain what’s best for you…not the supplier!

Sorry if this is redundant members: whenever you complete a marketing period, examine your ROMI.

Your Return on Marketing Investment will tell the story, i.e. the truth, assuming you know the metric and its components. Yes, this exercise is common in big business/enterprises but not very common “down of the farm” where SMB advisors toil. Essentially, the idea is to measure your variable expenses closely since advertising & marketing are your biggest culprits. The “New Goals” article concludes with a suggestion for us not to ignore mobile channels like Twitter’s “Buy Now” button.  

FYI-apparently the article didn’t make the online version of Entrepreneur, but for the record, it appears on page pages 28-30 in the actual magazine. You might also check out marketingprofs.com’s superior website since Ann Handley is their Chief Content Officer. It goes without saying that this is a terrific marketing venue for members interested in the latest tips, tricks and trends.  /  BV



Please note that all PMcommunity’s Blogs & FAQ sessions are strictly for informational purposes. They are intended for independent service professionals serving Small & Midsize Business (SMB) clients throughout North America. For the record, PMcommunity.org has no clients (only members), no corporate sponsors, and no hidden agendas. It 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.



Forest thru the Trees

Marketing Management Heresy

Passive Marketing, On-Demand …

Let the record show that Passive Marketing (literally done-for you) has arrived and it now happens On Demand (just-in-time)!  But, instead of being available to the public, it has only been designed for independent service professionals working the Small & Midsize Business (SMB) space in North America!  Before the Old Guard comes out to debunk such nonsense, take a look under the hood …


(more…)

You Can’t Handle the Truth

Are Trusted Advisors Up to the Task?

Jack Nicholson’s pronouncement rings true in so many instances—especially when delivered with the fiery venom he spewed at Tom Cruise. The TRUTH was spoken despite the consequences! And, so it must be for professional advisors & consultants when working with their SMB clients.


You Can't Handle the TruthLOOKING OUTSIDE YOUR DISCIPLINE

Back in the day [sans internet] it was professionally sound & correct behavior NOT to work with clients beyond one’s professional expertise. If the matter was legal, let a competent attorney handle the matter. If a tough tax problem, call in a CPA, Tax Attorney, Financial Planner or whatever.

Staying within your own field of expertise was safe and proper!

Today, it’s a changed world. Everyone has access to everything (data, not knowledge) with the click of a mouse. Putting one’s head in the sand could get you into trouble. Putting blinders on might hurt your client irreparably. The point here is that one has an obligation to be observant when working with a client…like an SMB whose resources are often quite limited or one with noted deficiency.

Colonel Jessup’s outburst in A Few Good Men was priceless. The entire movie pivoted on that rant which was so perfect. In spite of certain doom, he set the record straight and explained why. In a similar but less passionate way, Trusted Advisors must have courage enough help clients find the truth … when it matters most!

A troubled/needy client could pursue a solution WITH A STRANGER or else he could be transported to a screened Subject Matter Expert who’d be able to impartially access the circumstances and steer him toward green harbors.


FIDUCIARY OR NOT FIDUCIARY, SAME RESULTS!

The great debate is over. Many professions hold onto the fact that their industry’s designation is sacrosanct. There is no other way to act legally except as with fiducial responsibility: the client’s interest must be first above all.

Other professions don’t have such a legal duty (especially captive agents and other who pledge allegiance to their company or themselves!). This said, being a member of PM Community.org and participating in our Concierge Marketing program, doesn’t mean that any member is legally bound to be a FIDUCIARY. Rather, it is expected that, wherever & whenever possible, our members would embrace the client’ best interest FIRST.

  • Ours is a Marketing Service-based Organization. We are not an association, nor other type of entity that forces members behavior beyond our guidelines. We are informally self-governed by members. Our fiduciary-like mandate has no legal standing, but it certainly does have moral implications for everyone. Members rely on members. It would patently unfair to hold one group to a higher standard while another has no standard of behavior.

  • Consequently, in the spirit of honesty & fair play, we advise all members to ACT as FIDUCIARIES whether they are bound by their profession or not. This “guideline” is important so that each & every member feels comfortable collaborating, knowing that their client’s BEST INTEREST would always be served.

Educate them!Trust (Trustworthiness) is our middle Member Standard.  Ask yourself, “who would want to do business any other way?!?” Our membership is unique because everyone understands that the first order of business is to ADD VALUE in an orderly & timely manner. The best way to do this is to eliminate hidden agendas and work on the same premise of being client-centric to the completion of any project entered into.


HONOR, CODE, LOYALTY 

High sounding words are empty when either message is flawed -or- the messenger is insincere.

From October’s Members’ Survey we learned that many members felt our longer-winded blogs were, well, too long winded! We hear you…and we will get even. (Just kidding, of course.) Accordingly, we will be changing the blog/format next year to reflect a “more eclectic” message. Actually, this was going to be done anyway in the form of Admin v. Local v. Promo formats as discussed previously.

  • The Admin blog will continue to rant & rave re: Community Affairs and matters that concern members AND would-be members. The new Stand-by Membership makes this imperative.

  • The Local blog will be from either a Regional Director or, more likely, County Coordinator.  News will be more focused on state, county & cluster areas. This will be password protected for targeted members within the geographic boundaries.

  • The Promo blog will be specifically targeted to “first timers” and others just finding out about us. Naturally, it will consist of more marketing than news with the intent of stimulating the reader to dive more deeply into our PLATFORM (Community) and/or PROGRAM (Concierge Marketing). Not surprisingly, we will be dividing between the two.

Selected member feedback will appear (anonymously) in one or more blogs as deemed appropriate. Remember, this is a marketing-members org that is run by/for/with members doing all the heavy lifting. Members rely on members. Referrals are Rainmakingper our Concierge Marketing program. To members, Honor, Code & Loyalty are from mere buzzwords!


Clients Yr-End SummaryCLIENT-CENTRIC OR SELF-CENTERED

If you’re a captive agent and forced to sell only one line of products, by default, you represent yourself & your company…not your client. Granted, there are many instances where you actually have the “best” product/service even at the right price; but, you still cannot have the client’s best interest at heart. Despite NCIS Gibbs Rule that there are no coincidences, this would be the exception.

Members know that they do not have to be a fiduciary agent in the strict legal sense. But, they MUST be in the actual (in fact) sense to be a member who participates in Concierge Marketing. This is another unwritten Community rule.

The rationale behind this so-called rule is axiomatic. Seriously, do you know of anyone who would knowingly entrust their client’s future with someone who’s not a fiduciary agent?

This may seem to create a dilemma to those who aren’t bound by the (legal & accounting) fiduciary standard. Not so. Rather, it would be a mute issue as long as the member professed to be working in the referred client’s best behalf. The only person who NEEDS TO KNOW this from the onset is the referring member….who wouldn’t allow her/his client to be serve by anyone less than a true fiduciary.

Like we said at the onset, YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH…unless you collaborate with a fellow member to serve your (now-common) client’s best interest. Folks, there’s no equivocation here. Until & unless you are on the same-side, i.e. the client’s side exclusively, the Community’s position is that you should never, ever accept a Community-generated assignment/project.



This blog was co-authored by Bob Veris, founder of  PM Community.org.  Kindly note that all blogs & FAQ sessions are for informational purpose and do not constitute Community policy. They’re intended for independent service professionals who serve Small & Midsize Business (SMB) clients throughout North America. Content should never be construed as legal or accounting advice; due diligence is recommended where applicable.   |   © Copyright 2014 pmCommunity.org; all rights reserved. Trademarks & copyrights are the exclusive property of their respective owners.



960x100.jpg

 

Courage is Willful & Intentional

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

This is not another blog about leadership−although it very well could be. Members, without exception, must be client-centric and act as fiduciaries for their clients. No, this is not a written requirement to join PM Community (pmCommunity.org). It is just assumed that if you become an INSIDER, you’ve got what it takes…or you wouldn’t have gotten past our assigned gatekeeper, E.G. Lexis-Nexis, truDiligence, et al.


Baby ApplicationNOW THAT WE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION 

Today’s blog will be briefer than usual (um, do I hear some members clapping?). The topic is re: willful and intentional activity performed behind-the-scenes. Frankly, this is how we roll-out of the sight of the public & competition. After joining our Community if you really expect to get your so-called fair share of referrals, it’s a lot easier than you might think. But, let’s dispel the notion that some have when joining, that is, do nothing–just get in! This is a classic half-truth that would make even Dilbert® happy, but it’s not accurate!  It is true there is NOTHING any member can do to pro-actively to enhance the quantity of referrals that she/he might get. However, the rest of the story lies in PARTICIPATION

You must be willing to participate by causing/creating/initiating an exclusive Marketing Project on your own–as a trusted advisor on behalf of one of your needy clients. Confused? You shouldn’t be. Our Community is 100% demand-based which means that NOTHING gets done unless & until one member lights the “proverbial match” by informing us that she has an SMB owner [in trouble] that needs outside assistance in the form of a SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT (like a local lawyer, CPA, insurance pro, financial planner, business broker/i-banker, consultant, etc.). Newcomers may think, what’s the big deal? Just go to the Internet or contact the local Chamber. Honestly, that’s always an option, but not the best (first) venue usually.


CONFIDENTIALITY IS THE NAME OF THE GAME

As we’d postulated ad naseum in this space, SMBs are the opposite of their Big Business counterparts when it comes to major company changes and ownership transfers. The fewer the people know what could be going on, the better. Conversely, when it come to major changes or transfers, the more  people who (think they) know what is happening, the worse for the company and its owner. Rumors abound and misinformation surrounds the company unsettling employees, customers, creditors, landlords, and others who have no business knowing anything…prematurely. There a number of folks who voice that this reasoning is bull. They subscribe to the theory that the more who know there is a potential play afoot, the better. The reason this leads to more potential bidders and competition–which can only drive the price up. Members and non-member professionals know this is nonsense. If anything there is a directly correlation between value-attainment and those in-the-know. The fewer of the RIGHT people who are privy to the truth [at the right time]  the more likely the business is better served.

Community policy is to market NEEDS (not names) to genuine candidates only.

In other words, when a trusted advisor petitions the Community to start a Marketing Project, it is done anonymously (the client’s identity is not divulged). Our policy is that this is a matter between members–without a middleman. So, the watchword: WILLFUL relates to initiating a search/research for the best Subject Matter Expert available…with never a chance of breaching confidentiality!


DATING SERVICE WE ARE NOT

11-10-13  SUPPLY chain--SAP-15For years we have heard the criticism that we are only a glorified Dating Service. We’re used to comparisons to good old Match.com−which is laughable since our marketing is performed OFFLINE by professional project managers (yes, boots on the ground) and we eliminate “almost matches” as non-starters so that members don’t have to get involved with each other UNTIL there is a solid match (read: probable engagement) at hand.

By acting with such diligence, excessive energy & exposure is eliminated. Members don’t get to know/connect with each other unless orchestrated by our assigned Business Relation Manager. For those unfamiliar, every Marketing Project is orchestrated by an assigned BRM charged with delivering the best outcome possible with the time constraint scheduled. (This is project parlance for completing a connection within the Blackout Period.)  If you don’t know what this is, review our FAQs.

What if a referring member who submitted the need, doesn’t like (or feel comfortable with) the BRM’s choice as “best available SME?” No problem! No harm! No foul!  The (mis)matched member is told “we’ll be in touch,” and the referring member simply get back in touch with the BRM to request another candidate. Another search/research will be initiated & completed in total confidence within a matter of hours. Easy-simple-no hassle!

In case you were wondering if members can connect with each other without Community involvement, the answer is YES. Any time members know each other or wish to go any place else, it’s their prerogative. The Community need not be notified or told about connections…this is members’ business. There is one (and only one) exception known affectionately as our “Inviolate Rule.”  Again, we would suggested a quick visit to our FAQs. This falls into the INTENTIONAL category, and, it happens to be the one unforgivable transgression!


Next Blog: PRIME MOVER or LOSER 



PMCOMMUNITY.ORG: Hidden Resource

PRIVACY Stunts Growth!

Readers, here’s another not-so-well known truth divulged about us: independent professional service providers join us FULLY EXPECTING that we’ll continue our policy of NOT advertising, promoting or disclosing the identities of who they are, anything to do with their clients, or to do with marketing projects, i.e. especially when they are “in play.” While this may be “usual & customary” for all fiducial practices, it is decidedly NOT the case for marketing companies. You know, those who make their livelihoods by usually broadcasting, promoting and advertising.


Can Your Marketing Do This?

Can Your Marketing Do This?

PM COMMUNITY GOES AGAINST THE GRAIN

Our closed, members-only marketing organization is unique insofar as we resist what others in our genre embrace. In our 10-year history we have never advertised in the classic sense for one reason: CONFIDENTIALITY is OUR BENCHMARK. To this end, we deliberately have no membership directory, no self-service online search facility, no membership manual (rigid rules) and thus should not be considered a mere Referral Service. Folks, there are enough of these other types up & down the internet.
We are niche marketing consultants with “skin in the game.” Every request for service (RFS) made to us by members is considered special and handled by skilled professionals (BRMs) who must verify qualifications (i.e. authenticate the project) before search/research utilizing our proprietary marketing system. Operationally, we treat every RFS as a unique project (with a fixed beginning & proposed end date).
Kindly note that our project databases are not shared with others nor are they maintained online. Usually, they are purged after 180 days from the date of last contact. This may seem perplexing to outsiders. Doing this is “old school” in a digital world! That is, everything is now supposed to be open & transparent; but not when SMBs are “in play. We trust that YOU get this. And, hopefully, now you understand why the Community so strongly resists Social Media and other “temptations” that could lead to possible breaches of confidentiality.

Folks, privacy is taken very seriously, We cannot allow our growing community to get ‘hacked’ or have the possibility of a member inadvertently leaking an identity or info that would harm another member’s client. To this end, as part of our ‘fail-safe’ protection, even our internal processing [of members’ clients’ information] is done anonymously. We’re proud to declare that no one, repeat nobody, is more scrupulous when it comes to matters of security & safety.


CONFIDENTIALITY ABOVE ALL ELSE!

Everyone knows that the internet was/is the ultimate Game Changer. Now, 20 years later and virtually nothing is the same except how to treat confidential & highly sensitive data when a Small or Medium Sized Business [privately owned] is “in play.” You know, whenever SMB-owners contemplate or initiate a Major Change* undertaking.

Absent the deep pockets of public companies, SMBs must rely on and engage outside resources [outsourced contractors] to work in/on their businesses. Without exaggeration, this is the time when private companies* are most vulnerable. Larger projects, aka planned major changes, bring with them considerable risk–perhaps none greater than the fact that businesses in transition are irreparably altered. (Hopefully for the better). Anticipating future results is not risk-adverse. There should be little wiggle-room room for miscalculation. Accordingly, change management should be set firmly in place from the onset. There will be no do-overs.


By definition, *Major Change involves multiple outsourced Subject Matter Experts doing projects that cost over 7 figures. All stakeholders must work in unison in order to deliver the best planned results possible. This fact alone necessitates confidential treatment to protect the SMB-client from potential harm. No where is this more true than when the major change happens to be an M&A event. This is the point in time where SMBs are most vulnerable. FMV attainment is often in direct proportion to this “confidentiality factor.”


Forget You! bigSeveral months (even years) prior to actually implementing a major change, strategic planning is vital. At the very least, the creation of a sound business case (justification to change) and/or a formal business valuation to determine authoritative prevailing-market parameters should be recommended to your clients.

Word of caution: Trying to short-cut the process, like charging forward with a commission-hungry entity before change/project due diligence, could bring about undesirable results and/or severely & needlessly limiting your business client’s options.

This is when members earn their Trusted Advisor’s badge! Being smart enough to help clients with shaping their future … DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE CHANGE is outside of his area of expertise. As a Community Member, you have direct & immediate access to a vast local talent pool of every discipline under the sun! For your client’s sake, use it … before your competition steers him in another direction.


PRIVACY IS THE OPPOSITE OF TRANSPARENCY

Summing up, it should come as no surprise that PMcommunity.org is not well known in the social media world. We like it that way. In truth, we’ve never embraced it [except LINKEDIN} as a serious BUSINESS matter/tool. Once again, we really do think it is terrific for all things PERSONAL and perhaps for SOME business activities. But viewing all the hacking & stealing in cyberspace, our admin feels that it is the worst case scenario waiting-to-happen for SMB’s-in-transition or transfer.

And, now you, too, know the rest of the story. [RIP Paul Harvey]




YOU -versus- CLIENTS

Fiduciaries Know the Score

If you’re in a profession that mandates that you must be a fiduciary for your clients (putting their interests above everyone else including you own), you already know this can be a bit of challenge. One that you can’t compromise on!

Attorneys and Registered Investment Advisers are among those who can’t be a little bit pregnant. ESQs and RIAs are prime examples of those who are obligated to serve clients’ interests above all others. Regardless of situation or circumstance, they are duty bound to protect clients from harm on the downside and optimize their upside positions. Okay … and the reality is sometimes problematic especially when their are factors beyond their control.  yada yada, yada.

Our Community is not licensed or mandated to be a fiduciary in fact. Hence we are not legally obligated to put clients first, but, since we don’t have any clients?!? [only members] how does this principle apply? Without equivocation, PM Community is honor-bound to help members maintain their fiduciary standing—even for those members who don’t have the mandate! Don’t misunderstand this sentiment, i.e. we don’t make members into something they’re not, only attempt to facilitate a higher standard of performance wherever possible. More than just a noble objective, we strive to see that every need processed through our LCM program rises to the optimum level of [collaborative] professional service. 

The Community never represents any member’s client.

We endeavor to serve each member’s performance by attempting to connect her/him with the “best available” solution-providing member possible for the other’s client.

Look, we’re a marketing organization in the first, and last, instance. We assist one member (with a client needing “y” service) by searching and cross-matching the processed need [aka DEMAND] with the finest service/solution provider [other member] available [aka SUPPLY].  That’s our function simply stated.

We do no more, and, we do no less. Thus, every member served is on one side or the other. Member-to-Member. Granted, we are in the middle FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL purposes, converting a member’s client-need into a bona fide referral that becomes another member’s new assignment to satisfy/fulfill. Got it so far?  Now, it is incumbent upon each member [a] giving the need to be serviced and [b] receiving the need to solve/satisfy] to make the connection if they elect.  Assuming willingness on both sides, a TRANSACTION then occurs without the Community’s involvement or consent.

In other words, members, acting alone, make the decision whether a connection would be in the best interest of their existing client (of the referring member) and their new client (the receiving member).  They conclude a transaction with a meeting of the minds to go forward and to collaborate for the mutual purpose of optimizing their now common client’s best interest.

In closing, [1] if they’re both duty-bound to be fiduciaries, terrific!  [2] If one is a true fiduciary and the other not; by default, they BOTH become common fiduciaries in purpose when deciding to collaborate.  [3] If neither is a fiduciary, they BOTH become such in fact when they collaborate in/for the common client’s best interest—each in their respective disciplines.

The obligatory disclaimer: our Community is not an attorney and has no legal standing with our membership at large nor between our members who decide to act in concert.  Accordingly, we do not render legal advice.  Notwithstanding, parties would always be bound by a court of competent jurisdiction.