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I'm in agreement with their approach. They can't apologize for their service model, because best case they'd dilute their brand and worst case they'd discredit it. The issue is customers are not comfortable with a paradigm shift in the industry, and are venting their frustrations. The approach is also effective, because it speaks to their fans. It engages their target market, while alienating customers who are really seeking "legacy airlines."

15 hours, 45 minutes ago on The Spirit Airlines Hate Campaign is a Win

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@belllindsay @ginidietrich it's ok. You're in my house. I not only support profanity, I encourage it. Swearing makes you more creative :)

16 hours, 9 minutes ago on Gini Dietrich’s Staff Call Her Baby Ugly

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@belllindsay It's fun to see the new Arment Dietrich though. You're making a nice transition from a personal brand (The Gini Dietrich Show) to showcasing the depth of talent across the organization. I also find this surprising for a professional services firm. Too often professional services firms are designed to serve the needs of the Partners, and the staff are treated like billable cogs. I really found your firm's approach refreshing.

16 hours, 39 minutes ago on Gini Dietrich’s Staff Call Her Baby Ugly

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@LauraPetrolino thanks Laura. Since all of the employees are dispersed through North America, does this level of communication help you form tighter bonds with your colleagues?

17 hours, 40 minutes ago on Gini Dietrich’s Staff Call Her Baby Ugly

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Thanks Paul. I agree. There needs to be structure and etiquette for criticism, otherwise it can come across as insubordination.

20 hours, 15 minutes ago on Gini Dietrich’s Staff Call Her Baby Ugly

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My pleasure Gini. More entrepreneurs should follow your lead.

One of the things I didn't fit into the article is you also ask for solutions. It's not a bitch fest. Every criticism has to be backed up with a solution.

22 hours, 34 minutes ago on Gini Dietrich’s Staff Call Her Baby Ugly

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@Danny Rosenberg agreed. It's the people behind the scenes that bring great brands to life.

1 month ago on Great Brands Are About People: Ambitious, Impatient People

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@Danny Rosenberg great quote, "Who would give their credit card number to an untrustworthy platform?"

1 month, 1 week ago on Websites That Sell Are Different

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@Rick Caouette thanks Rick. Do you have any company examples where they have applied it successfully? From my experience running a recruiting agency we found that every company that employed this strategy had very high sales turnover rates. For example, a facilities management firm we worked with churned 67% of their new hires within the first 6 months. We had to fire them as a client, because they could not retain talent.

1 month, 1 week ago on Hunters and Farmers: A Failed Sales Model

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@Danny Rosenberg You raise a good point. That's largely the philosophy behind The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Adapt your strategy and business by listening to your customers, and gathering qualitative customer feedback.

1 month, 1 week ago on FeedBlitz: Clients Will Tell You What They Want

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@phollows my pleasure. You have a great story to share. I find your approach inspirational.

1 month, 1 week ago on FeedBlitz: Clients Will Tell You What They Want

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@JoelUngar that's awesome Joel. I'm sure they'll appreciate the recognition.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Delight Your Customers

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@Opal Gamble Their products are stunning, and all custom. I always seem to drool when I look at their stuff :)

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Walk The Talk. How Cabico Delivers The Human Touch

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@JoelUngar  Thanks Joel and good comparison. You're right. 80% of what a CPA firm does can be purchased at any other CPA firm. The challenge is to isolate the one strength you can own.

2 months ago on Your Strengths May Not Be Sufficient

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@Jimgilbert  Thanks Jim. Wheels & Deals is also a great example of a brand with competitive community. I bet many of your competitors don't even know a large portion of the market is shopping for cars, because the customers only visit your dealership.

2 months, 1 week ago on Competitive Immunity: It’s Hard To Compete Against A Brand

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@bobbeagle  Great point Bob. I love the comparison to a measuring stick. That's a great way to frame the goal. It sounds like your team was focused on the right outcomes.

2 months, 2 weeks ago on Give Your SMART Goals Meaning

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@Aron Elal  maybe the attitude is related to size. A solopreneur may not value this level of marketing. I look at my website as another sales person. Investing $10-15k per year on the site is pretty cheap compared to the cost of hiring human sales person.


The other side of this discussion is quarterly maintenance and updates are designed to improve performance, not design. You may make some tweaks to the design, but largely the template stays intact. In my case I made major content changes and added new graphics to the Speaker and Services sections in March, but I didn't change my WordPress template. We worked within the confines of the design template.


I agree with your premise though. This concept of ongoing development of your website is a new concept for many organizations. Only the ones who value performance are going to make this level of investment.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on Your Website: The Set It And Forget It Trap

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@bobbeagle  agreed. Your website is as important as your best sales person, but few companies give it the time or attention it deserves.

2 months, 4 weeks ago on Your Website: The Set It And Forget It Trap

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@bobbeagle  Great point Bob. The incremental accomplishments are great morale boosters for the team. It demonstrates the hard work they are doing is paying off.

3 months, 1 week ago on Break Through Revenue Plateaus, One Goal At A time

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@Jimgilbert  thanks Jim. I love your story. There's so much to talk about, but only 500 words for an article :)

3 months, 2 weeks ago on Wheels and Deals: 20 Year Overnight Success

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@JoelUngar  The interesting part is a niche, in terms of the accounting industry, doesn't have to be a service category or vertical. It could be a point of view. As you point out, every accounting brand is cut from the same cloth. They all have a similar look and feel, and the popular presentation is to use pictures of your people. The imagery is tired and cliche. If a firm created a bold visual identity and led with a strong point of view, they too could create a niche simply by deviating from the pack.

3 months, 3 weeks ago on When everyone looks the same, who do you refer?

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@MelodyMeld  neat. Congratulations. It's a fun journey building your platform. Where are you gaining the most traction so far?

3 months, 3 weeks ago on Platforms Don’t Grow Themselves

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@bobbeagle  Great insights Bob. Thank you. I really like your mantra. Companies with sticky brands view relationships as strategic assets to their business. The strong relationship with frequent communication can not only generate new opportunities, it can provide the necessary insights to get better. In your organization did you have a structured methodology for capturing and analyzing the messages coming back from your fundraisers and alumni relations?

3 months, 4 weeks ago on Scalar: Sales Driven Cultures Build Brands

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@Brisebear  I encourage you to spam my stuff. I'm special :)

4 months, 1 week ago on LinkedIn Groups: Cans of Spam

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@Brisebear  Brian, you raise 2 very good points. First, LinkedIn actually encourages content sharing over engagement. Their logic is sound, because they're trying to create as many hooks as possible to keep users active in their site. For the Sticky Branding Group we have over 30,000 members. When we didn't moderate the link sharing the group became overwhelmed in content, and discussions plummeted. Link sharing may make sense for small groups with less than 5,000 members, because they have yet achieved a large enough critical mass to sustain conversations. For larger groups, the blatant "dump and run" behavior is obnoxious. Your second point, re: group owners capitalizing on the group, is another story. They're not creating communities, they're advertising. A strong group is not about the owner, it's about everyone else.

4 months, 1 week ago on LinkedIn Groups: Cans of Spam

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@oneimaginginc  It's a process Shirley. Keep playing and testing, and I'm sure you'll find the one that sticks.

4 months, 1 week ago on Macadamian: Finding A Brand Name That Sticks

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@kenowens  thanks Ken. I agree. It's counterintuitive that we have to write about this. Also, I really like your line, "empathetic listening." It's a great way to describe the kind of listening that's required to influence behaviors.

4 months, 2 weeks ago on Stop Shouting! Listen. Build Your Brand Listening

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Absolutely Joel. It's an excellent book on strategy with a very useful strategy development framework.

4 months, 2 weeks ago on Tilt The Odds: Choose A Niche To Win

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@PaulChato  ha! Thanks Paul. I write in fear of you unsubscribing :) Glad to hear it resonated. This is one of my mantras for 2014.

5 months, 1 week ago on Stop Marketing, Start Selling

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@JoelUngar Domenic said their customers have the same reaction. At first they can't believe their getting the call, but once they overcome the shock they're very open with their impressions. The program has been so successful their outbound call center is growing rapidly (which is very unusual for a pizza chain to even have an outbound call center.)

5 months, 1 week ago on Pizza Nova: Always About Quality

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@JoelUngar  agreed. Pizza Nova has a very focused approach. My favorite part is the feedback loop. It's one thing to say you're delivering quality, but it's another thing to have it verified. The feedback loop is a powerful innovation.

5 months, 1 week ago on Pizza Nova: Always About Quality

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@JoelUngar  glad to hear the article resonated Joel. I agree, the story is in the results.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Another Way To Say “One Stop Shop”

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@Raleigh Leslie  Thanks for sharing Raleigh. I have found with clear guidelines and strict moderation the spam issue can be managed. We have significantly curbed the Sticky Branding group's spam problem since I wrote this article. Yes, the group still receives a lot of blog submissions, but they're all filtered into the promotions tab. The engaged users have noticed the change, and adhere to the policy. Other users have modified their behavior, and the problem users get whittled out of the group. I'm largely of the opinion that the LinkedIn Spam issues fall to the group owners. It's their choice whether it's going to be a problem or not.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on LinkedIn Groups: Cans of Spam

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@JoelUngar Thanks Joel. I was drinking from the referral Kool Aid forever too, but an analysis of a client's business showed me the underside. They're not achieving their potential, because they're not reaching beyond a select audience of referrals. It was an eye opener.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on The Downside of Word of Mouth Marketing

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@Complex2Clear thanks Paul! Happy New Year to you too. Building an effective metrics system takes time and discipline. Capturing the data is one thing, but using it is where the rubber hits the road. Choose one to three metrics to start with and work to institutionalize them. Once you're gaining value from those metrics you can add or adjust them.

6 months, 3 weeks ago on 6 Brand Metrics To Drive Sales

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@Opal Gamble thanks Opal! It will save me a cold call :)

7 months, 1 week ago on I Hate Cold Calling, But I Still Do It

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@Complex2Clear Thanks Paul. Great point. You can't grow a brand without focus and sacrifice.

7 months, 2 weeks ago on Alpha Poly Packaging: Easy In, Impossible Out

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@Janet Huey it's a techie phrase, but it fits :)

8 months, 2 weeks ago on Skura Corporation: Overcoming A Paradigm Shift

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@Paul Emond Thanks Paul. You have a great story to share, and it's impressive to see how Versature is growing. Vonage demonstrated that slick marketing isn't enough. It takes a company with a clear commitment to the technology, customer service and owning the category to win. Great job.

9 months, 2 weeks ago on Versature: Challenging Giants

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@Complex2Clear Thanks Paul. Good think the Sticky Branding Stories are for mid-market, private companies vs. the faceless monoliths :)

You raise a very valid point. The way a mid-market grows a brand and a big company maintains a brand are very different. A business owner has to make purposeful investments to challenge the status quo to stand out and differentiate the company. Where as a big brand works to control input costs and maintain the status quo as the market leader.

Mike's approach to staffing is inline with a mid-market company challenging the faceless brand model of the big box retailers. And it works so well that the big boxes avoid entering his territory, because he has such a strong presence and community engagement.

10 months, 1 week ago on The Personal Touch Counts

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@Debbie Ouellet Thanks Debbie. That's a great question. It can lead in so many directions. Do you have a favourite story you've received from the question?

10 months, 2 weeks ago on Purdy’s Chocolates: A Culture Of Curiosity

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@Complex2Clear Thanks Paul. I definitely agree with your second point. I focus on 4-5 streams at a time. I can't handle much more than that. Since time and budget is limited, I have to be very selective where I invest my time to deliver the best lead generation results.

10 months, 2 weeks ago on 100 Ways To Generate 1 Customer

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 @PaulChato every company has the ability to differentiate and create a unique brand. The company may not be able to differentiate on the products/services they sell, but they can differentiate on their personality and point of view.

 

An interesting Toronto example in the news right now is Honest Ed's. You can get the same products at any Wal-Mart or Dollar Store, but Honest Ed's is an experience unto iteself. From the gaudiness of the storefront, to their turkey drive, to how their founder was a showman.

 

Growing a unique brand is a choice. Some companies make that choice and take the necessary risks, and other's don't and wind up being zombies (brains!!!)

1 year ago on Showcase Your Brand Personality

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 @Complex2Clear thanks Paul. You raise an interesting point. It's like companies are getting caught up in perpetual navel gazing, and losing sight of what's really important -- their customers.

1 year ago on The Central Group: It’s Not What You Sell. It’s What You Deliver

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 @jbarnet thanks Jim. A big part of DECO's success is location. Alberta has the 2nd highest incidents per capita of windshield damage in North America. They are only slightly behind Denver. In Ontario a driver may go years without a chip or cracked windshield, but in Alberta you're lucky to go 3 months unscathed.

 

This high frequency of incidents means consumers in Western Canada value convenience. I spoke with a colleague in Edmonton, and she loved that she could get her windshield repaired while grocery shopping.

 

As you point out, it's about servicing your ideal customer (and knowing what your ideal customer needs).

1 year ago on DECO Windshield Repair: First They Ignore You, Then You Win

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@Colin Joseph thanks Colin

1 year ago on DECO Windshield Repair: First They Ignore You, Then You Win

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 @Ed Ross thanks Ed. You raise a very valid point. Education builds upon itself, and we definitely don't forget the history.

 

Are you finding any institutions or researchers that are re-evaluating the sales reserach, and updating it for 2013? I am seeing some activity from Cranfiled School of Management in the UK, which was featured in the Harvard Business Review in 2010.

 

But in general, the research seems stunted and slow to adapt to the major structural forces brought on by the major advances in globalization, telecommunications and social media over the past decade.

1 year, 1 month ago on Sales Training Programs Are Outdated

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 @jbarnet I dunno Jim. I'm pretty sure T-Rex is a raspberry aficionado. Those short arms and big mouth made it genetically predisposed to raspberry greatness.

 

I agree with you. Brand trumps distribution. If a sales person doesn't have the right value proposition, it doesn't matter how they introduce their services.

 

I also think you're pointing out the heart of the cold calling debate. The firms that are drawn to this form of lead generation are lacking a well defined value proposition. They need to get in front of a prospect and pontificate, because nothing else is working.

 

So I claim, "voice of reason." :)

1 year, 1 month ago on Cold Calling Is Still Dead

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 @Alberto Gonzalez MBA thanks Alberto. I will work to post some more content on demand generation over the coming weeks.

 

There are fundamentally 2 parts to demand generation:

 

1. Path of Search: be in the right place and the right time when your clients are looking for services. (Usually driven by search marketing or referral marketing.)

2. First Call Advantage: build and scale relationships so you are your clients' first call when they're ready to buy. (Usually a content marketing and database process.)

 

It depends on the industry, but choose the tools and programs that best fit your business and your clients.

1 year, 1 month ago on Cold Calling Is Still Dead

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 @kwlinc you are nailing it. The difference is the brand. If you have a compelling brand it's a lot easier to capture a prospect's attention, and engage them in a conversation.

 

Your comments all resonate with advice I give to rookie sales people, "choose brand." The best products to sell are the ones with a well defined brand, positioning and value proposition.

1 year, 1 month ago on Cold Calling Is Still Dead

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 @MichaelTingle great point Michael. If the sales process is driven by a trigger event cold calling will be very challenging. I like your mention of warm calling. Sometimes a call is that required tool to take a lead from the digital realm to the real world.

1 year, 1 month ago on Cold Calling Is Still Dead

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 @isitjust1 You've got a tough challenge Oscar, and I'm not in a position to advise you. I suggest you speak with people you know and trust, and solicit an external perspective on your opportunity.

The challenge I hear in your message is "make or break." I would be wary of any opportunity that could put you into a serious financial predicament. You hold all the risk, and there MAY be an upside IF all the stars align in your favor.

1 year, 1 month ago on What Motivates You? Pay, Prestige or Process?

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 @Complex2Clear Thanks Paul. I'm finding a degree of social media fatigue. Even B2C companies jumped into social media without a clear strategy. For example, the average Facebook Page posts is seen by less than 20% of the followers. The only way to cut through is to use sponsored posts. As soon as you start paying to distribute content it changes the reason to use these platforms.

 

Whether B2B or B2C I find ROI of social media is derived from the application of a strategy.

1 year, 2 months ago on Social Media Is Boring

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 @phone services I agree price is an important factor to business, but a distinct issue in branding and brand strategy.

 

If your prices are too high because the company is inefficient or not keeping pace with the competition, it won't win in marketing. The value proposition for the offer compared to price won't be in line with alternative products/services.

 

But if your prices are low because your overhead and infrastructure is well managed, what do you communicate to your market and your customers? Do you lead with price, or something else?

1 year, 2 months ago on There Is Only One Low-Cost Brand

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 @RebeccaTodd I follow the mantra, "Your customers won't buy from you unless they LIKE you, TRUST you, and find you CREDIBLE." Like and Trust are essential in any purchase. If someone jeopardizes them, it's unlikely they'll win the deal.

1 year, 4 months ago on Sales Quotas Aren’t Hit On The Golf Course

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 @RebeccaTodd I like it. Your personal brand enhances the products and services you sell.

1 year, 4 months ago on Sales Training Programs Are Outdated

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 @RebeccaTodd I like that, "Don't jump to provide." That is an excellent selling mantra. I agree with your approach. Problem solving trumps selling. Do you find the small issues your resolve create trust and rapport to work on bigger problems?

1 year, 4 months ago on Sales Training Programs Are Outdated

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 @Paul Copcutt Thanks Paul. I'm sure we've all made mistakes. A big part of my post was to spark both awareness and conversation so we can come to best practices.

 

In terms of sending your blog through LinkedIn messaging, I would find it spammy but you should ask your connections. You may find some of the users would prefer receiving your content that way, and you could send the post to them directly.

 

There's a lot of grey areas when engaging your audience, and one rule doesn't necessarily apply to all. I find asking your audience for input is always the best approach.

1 year, 4 months ago on LinkedIn Groups: Cans of Spam

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 @Darrell Ellens Thanks Darrel. The bulk of the content I read come from blogs that I subscribe to in Google Reader. These are the blogs I am most likely to comment on, and I comment directly on the blog itself.

 

I am acutely aware of every post that is shared on the Sticky Branding group. I scan every article that is shared. My goal in my LinkedIn Group is a little different. My goal is to purposefully engage with my members, and support their discussions. When I comment on an article shared on LinkedIn I am responding to the person who shared it first, and the content of the link is secondary.

1 year, 4 months ago on A Community Starts With 1,000 Members

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 @MattLBrennan Thanks Matt. It's strange when people think the content stops with publishing. It's only the beginning. But as a content creator, I do find promoting my work unnatural. I find it challenging to ask people to read my content and push it. But logic has to trump, because without readers the content is valueless.

1 year, 4 months ago on Market Your Marketing

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 @JimStewart Thanks for sharing Jim. I like the SMART acronym. That's very effective.

1 year, 5 months ago on Shoot Higher: Is Your Strategy Big Enough?

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 @wgmccoll It always pays to ask. At this time I'm not running guests posts on the blog. It's my soapbox, and I'm not sure how I feel about sharing right now :) If I change my approach, I will be sure to let you know.

1 year, 7 months ago on The 3R’s of Prospecting: Relationships, Referrals, Results

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 @wgmccoll Thanks Bill. I recommend focusing on both online and offline networking activities. For online, identify new places you can contribute and share your content. For example, write guest posts for targeted websites to reach new audiences. For offline, join a BNI corporate chapter or other networking group.

 

I try to develop prospecting habits that will grow in value over time. I commit to process for 6 - 12 months, and focus on some tangible goals. This could be blogging, guest posts, a networking group or some other activity.

 

I find activities that grow relationships are ideal for developing referrals.

1 year, 7 months ago on The 3R’s of Prospecting: Relationships, Referrals, Results

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 @pmayze you could have a halloween party where all costumes are welcome :)

 

In my ebook, (http://www.stickybranding.com/nobody-likes-to-dance-alone), I talk about the Point of Sharing in a community. This is the connective glue of your community. Your users could be coming to Howwwl for the diversity of content. I see a community connected on the ideas of blogging and content, and that shared interest could be your Point of Sharing.

 

When you define your Point of Sharing it becomes a lot easier to define the theme of your party.

1 year, 7 months ago on How to Get Your Social Community Dancing

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 @KenMueller thanks Ken. How about a hipster? :) I need to work on finding a gender neutral metaphor.

1 year, 7 months ago on How to Get Your Social Community Dancing

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 @MattLBrennan Thanks Matt

1 year, 9 months ago on A-B-C: Always Be Connecting

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 @Debbie Ouellet Agreed. And I really like how you built on the metaphor with "stormy times." Excellent comparison.

1 year, 9 months ago on Ignore Your Values, Crash Your Brand

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 @GFMorris Thanks Geoff. Your line "take a breath re-focus, reload" reminded me of "Keep calm, carry on".

1 year, 9 months ago on Overcoming Sales Objections

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 @jbarnet Great points Jim. You accurately point out the nuances of building a niche market. I especially like your last point. I am a firm believer that the most effective niche strategies are built on the core skills and assets of the firm. The things you're uniquely capable of delivering is the most powerful differentiator of them all.

1 year, 10 months ago on Picking The Right Niche

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 @henry97071 great point. I especially like your last line, "The most productive thing a small business can do for itself is to clearly define a business model that can be successful, not just try to define how they can make money." Very true. The business model is the foundation.

1 year, 10 months ago on Differentiate With Your Business Model

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 @DinaEisenberg Great point Dina. I like your comparison to dating. Everything has its time and place. And I like your connection to curiosity. Being curious and asking questions IS an excellent way to demonstrate how you're different.

1 year, 10 months ago on Premature Price Conversations

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 @JessieScheunemann Awesome! Close the Briefcase is a two-sided tactic. Buyers can use it as effectively as sellers.

 

It's an interesting tactic, because no one likes to hear "no." It triggers an irrational emotional response by creating a competition. The turned down party starts to work to "win" the deal often at their detriment.

1 year, 11 months ago on Close The Briefcase: The Most Powerful Sales Tactic

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 @DanEng Interesting question Dan. I think the core concept still holds true: there's always an alternative to you, so what do you do the best? Employers aren't looking for generalists, they're looking for specialists that can solve real world problems. Individuals have core skills: invest in them; own them.; market them. That'll keep them gainfully employed.

2 years ago on Differentiate With Your Business Model

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 @jbarnet interesting question Jim. A trojan horse isn't always the right tactic. And it strikes me your example is a good example where the tool isn't working.

 

When you look at the story of the Trojan Horse you'll see there are 3 key aspects to the strategy:

 

1. A great show of defeat. The Greeks staged a retreat to make the Trojans think they won the siege.

2. A decoy in the form of a horse. The horse provided a tool to get an elite group inside the city's walls to lay the ground work for the rest of the army to enter.

3. A salesman. The Greeks left one man behind to convince the Trojans to accept the gift, and bring it into the city as their trophy.

 

The salesman was probably the most crucial piece of the strategy, because if he failed to close the deal he would be killed by the Trojans. Talk about pressure.

 

But the Greeks could use this strategy, because they had a very targeted outcome and nothing to lose. It was a last resort.

 

Buyers are skeptical of trojan horses like white papers and free gifts. It's time for marketers to consider new strategies that build relationships versus "generating leads."

2 years ago on Strategies Versus Tactics: Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts

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 @Ed Brophy "Subtlety is a mark of confidence." That's a great quote. Thank you.

 

I agree. You're hitting on the artistry of great storytelling, it's an experience. A name, a description or a metaphor are all ways to draw in the user and convey meaning. I like your fish analogy. It's so accurate. If the fish sees the hook it won't bite, and if a customer sees a hook they won't buy.

2 years ago on What’s Your Brand’s Hook?

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 @Sheila Patterson we do a bit of both. We use our branding and business development methodologies on ourselves. It's hard to advise clients on strategies when you don't use them. We also work with an external strategy consultant. He facilitates our annual strategic planning process, and guides us through the implementation through the year. I am a big believer in using external advisers, because they accelerate the growth process.

 

From a design context I designed the Sticky Branding identity. I really enjoy the naming and identity building process, and it wasn't something I wanted to delegate or outsource. For everything else, such as this website, we use external designers. We are management consultancy, and do not do design. I'm still looking for the right illustrator to help me on the next stage of Sticky Branding's identity. I plan to create a series of illustrations to build our identity similar to what we did in our sister company http://www.LEAPJob.com.

2 years, 1 month ago on Differentiate With Your Business Model

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 @Sheila Patterson thanks Sheila. Yep, it's way harder to brand, market or even sell yourself. You're too close to yourself, and it's hard to see the forest for the trees. Often you need a 3rd party that can ask questions, share back what they hear, and validate or reject opinions. One of the reasons why you deliver great work to your clients is you act as the 3rd party to draw out, distil and package what makes them remarkable.

2 years, 1 month ago on Differentiate With Your Business Model

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 @Promod Sharma Thanks Promod. Good suggestion. Engaging your clients and connections for feedback is also useful, because you'll hear them describe your services in their own words. That way you can start to communicate in the language of your customers.

2 years, 1 month ago on Differentiate With Your Business Model

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 @PGJamesSmith glad to hear it. That sounds like a good mission

2 years, 1 month ago on How To Grow A LinkedIn Group

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 @PGJamesSmith congrats. Do you have a strategy to break 1,000 members? That's the magic # for a LinkedIn Group to start becoming self-sustaining and have enough members to carry on conversations beyond what the moderators post.

2 years, 1 month ago on How To Grow A LinkedIn Group

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 @Ed Van Hooydonk great points Ed. They pick up on a post I wrote a couple weeks ago (http://www.stickybranding.com/sales-quotas-arent-hit-on-the-golf-course).

 

Professor Ryals found that 63% of sales people don't hit quota consistently, because they were too busy 'selling.' The third of reps who hit quota were doing what you described: building relationships, finding opportunities, solving problems and adding value. She described these people as Experts and Consultants.

2 years, 1 month ago on Sales Training Programs Are Outdated

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 @jbarnet Great point Jim. I completely agree. Do you find companies profile and figure out their 'ideal client' early on, or are they pulled there because they've signed one to many bad clients?

2 years, 1 month ago on When To Fire A Client

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 @colehour Great points Cathleen. I like your quote, "There is no more "push"--all growth efforts today must be "pull" driven, which means that now all businesses are driven by marketing strategy."

 

But I'm challenged by the time investment of some relationship building activities. I think it depends on where you are on the business development cycle.

 

If you're launching a new product or service, developing a new niche or entering a new territory, I agree. The relationship building process is a key component of education and networking. Its an effective way to identify trigger events and test value propositions.

 

But if it's a mature product/service and demand exists, relationship building can be detrimental. It slows down the buying process and diverts precious sales resources.

 

As with any guidance or rule of thumb it comes down to context. Strategies and tactics have to be adapted to the situation.

2 years, 2 months ago on Sales Quotas Aren’t Hit On The Golf Course

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 @jbarnet Great point Jim. Agreed. Expertise is highly contextual. What makes a sales person an Expert in one company does not make them an Expert in another. It's their ability to contextualize the competitive differentiator, and link it with the relevant buyers.

 

The challenge is educating the Executive team to understand this dynamic, and appropriately invest in their sales people and brand differentiators to drive the buying process.

2 years, 2 months ago on Sales Quotas Aren’t Hit On The Golf Course

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 @Complex2Clear Great point Paul. It doesn't matter how the academics profile sales people. I love this quote, "you need to have the experience and strategic smarts to pull this off. Otherwise you're providing no added value." Customers want experts and the profiles and sales techniques follow after that.

2 years, 2 months ago on Sales Quotas Aren’t Hit On The Golf Course

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 @victoria rozario Golf, lunches or going to a basketball game can help initiate a relationship, but these activities aren't 'selling.' They're socializing. And the biggest problem of socializing with prospects is it slows down the buying cycle. A 90 minute lunch or a 4 hour golf game is not productive, because it isn't logically moving the sale forward. It's actually elongating the sales process by that amount of time.

 

Socializing is better focused on developing centers of influence, or rewarding existing client relationships. In these contexts you can get more value of developing a personal connection and understanding of each other.

 

To your second question, moving from a socializer to a consultant is a choice. It's the transition from being an extravert who is interested in people to a professional helping customers solve problems. Consultants are facilitators. They're good listeners, they ask perceptive questions, they get to the heart of the business issue, and they help their clients come up with logical solutions (based on their own products and services) for the issue. They facilitate the buying process versus simply building a relationship.

 

Experts use the same sales process as Consultants, but they have far more industry expertise, product knowledge and experience selling their services. They approach the customer as a subject matter expert, and leverage their domain knowledge to move the customer towards a clear buying decision. Their knowledge and expertise make them more efficient and effective in the sales process compared to Consultants.

 

Consultants can become Experts through on the job training, mentoring and investing in their own learning and development. The more knowledge and expertise they can acquire, the better they can serve their clients.

2 years, 2 months ago on Sales Quotas Aren’t Hit On The Golf Course

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 @WilliamMadill Too funny. I wonder what he thought he was doing? I like your comment 'focus.' Too often lunches, coffees, golf games and other forms of socializing are called sales calls. They're not. They're social calls.

2 years, 2 months ago on Sales Quotas Aren’t Hit On The Golf Course

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 @joncogan Thanks Jon. I know it's shocking. Brands wonder why no one is engaging with them on social networks, and then you see stats like this. Your post is strong too. For others interested you can find it at http://www.joncogan.com/2012/04/big-brands-dont-seem-to-get-facebook.html

2 years, 3 months ago on Stop Shouting! Listen. Build Your Brand Listening

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 @Lisa Shepherd  @mezzlisa Thanks Lisa. I agree with your point. Humor, whimsy and silliness is definitely not for everyone. I can't imagine marketing medical equipment, jet engines or critical illness insurance with the irreverence of Jim Henson.

 

But passion can come through in many ways -- regardless of the age of the company. If a company isn't willing or able to draw out its authentic personality, it'll likely default to feature-benefit selling. I keep wrestling with the notion that we need to push B2B companies to share more of themselves. Features and benefits can be copied in a blink of an eye, but passion, values and points of view are defendable brand attributes. And the young B2B brands have a much easier time drawing this brand strategy out then the big, established players in an industry.

2 years, 3 months ago on Passionately Differentiate Your Business

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 @Promod Sharma Not surprising. It's a shame more companies don't consider the cultural implications of their policies. The policy gets tied to 'risk' and 'security,' but usually creates far reaching unexpected consequences.

2 years, 3 months ago on Trust Starts at the Top: What Social Media Policies Reveal

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 @Promod Sharma How did the company justify locking down its systems? And to follow that, could the employees have advised management on a different approach to achieve the same objectives?

2 years, 3 months ago on Trust Starts at the Top: What Social Media Policies Reveal

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 @JessieScheunemann Agreed. Trust allows you to feel comfortable and secure to do your best. Lack of trust ... well, I can't imagine employee retention is very high in a culture that lacks trust.

2 years, 3 months ago on Trust Starts at the Top: What Social Media Policies Reveal

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 @JimStewart Great point Jim. Balance is essential, and as we all know there aren't many silver bullets (even though I desperately wish there were).

 

From your experience, do you find business owners know why their companies get stuck and their options for how to move forward, or is strategy development/implementation more organic?

2 years, 4 months ago on Pivot or Persevere

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@Promod Sharma Great point Promod. I also find it interesting to see how old links make the site look equally stale. What do you think when you see AddThis or worse still connections to their MySpace page.

2 years, 5 months ago on Brands Have a Shelf Life

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@Brp305 that's great Brenda. I wish you many new successes in your new venture. It sounds like it's really captured your imagination.

2 years, 5 months ago on What Motivates You? Pay, Prestige or Process?

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@Brp305 Thanks. I agree with the philosophy. If you can stay committed to the work the results will come.

But is that always what drives you? I find the work is important, but some days it's not what keeps me going. Somedays I am motivated to focus on the process, because I like to see the results that are being achieved. The 2 ideas are linked. It's just the nuance of your personal drivers at any given time.

Jeremy

2 years, 5 months ago on What Motivates You? Pay, Prestige or Process?

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@ginidietrich the big brother comment is interesting, because right now many are comfortable with Google and its ethics. We buy into their mantra, "You can make money without doing evil." The problem is companies change. Larry Page and Sergey Brin won't be leading the company forever, and we can't predict how future leaders may shift the culture and use and exploit the data they are capturing. It gets me thinking about how Steve Scully derailed Apple in the '80's. We may not be Google's customers, but we love their services and we love that they're free. I don't think I'll change my behaviours yet, but the comments did get me to pause and wonder

2 years, 5 months ago on Meet my new personal assistant

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