Personal Branding – Know Who You Are!

marketing-technology-revolutionize

“I need to see Mr. Big! He is NOT expecting me!”, the loud visitor announced to an appalled administrative assistant. A well-polished gentleman had just exited a downtown high-rise’s elevator and glided toward the reception area. His untucked fitted shirt with gaudy, initialed golden cufflinks, draped over his Levis. His jeans, in turn, perfectly capped his loafers. His ball cap matched nothing! After failing to persuade the man to return with an appointment, the assistant reluctantly calls Mr. Big to announce the peculiar man only using his visual description. She grimaces upon hearing the phone slam without a word. Magically, power- suited Mr. Big appears in the stuffy reception area, bear hugs the visitor, before dragging him back to his suite with an uncharacteristically broad grin! Clearly, that visitor’s brand spoke for him!

Personal
A personal brand has all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of a corporate brand, except that it involves a singular person. As business processes and headcounts streamline, organizations do less with more. Empowering a brand to do more marketing heavy lifting is an efficient means to that end. Teams of internal marketing professionals and outsourced experts polishing campaigns are no longer efficient in fast-paced business environments. Marketing decisions must be made more quickly.

Once upon a time, competitors featured equally weighty departments passing judgment on messaging. Those organizations still exist. But, so do boutiques with great ideas, entrepreneurial spirits and digital mindsets that produce and analyze messaging at unprecedented speed. Fighting marketing battles with yesterday’s battleships is absolutely futile when younger, nimbler competitors wage digital wars. Essentially, a trusted colleague with laser-like focus on the immediate marketplace and this week’s data has an unmatched advantage in launching marketing campaigns that evolve continuously using real-time input from customers and analysts.

Professional
Benefits of the professional, or corporate brand remain relevant. Scale helps. Yet, business is still done person to person. Even committee-led decisions require a leader whose opinion carries disproportionate weight. In many cases the decision-making committee is simply in place to verify the leader’s decision. Either way, the decision’s merits are communicated based on the knowledge, awareness and reputation of the person representing the professional organization.

Since current branding emphasizes messaging as well as multiple delivery channels, identifying trustworthy sources to establish new connections is essential. Outsourced resources help. Furthermore, as customers’ and consumers’ needs evolve into more narrow niches, communication to those specific targets must become more precise. Flexible messaging that communicates consistently via blogs, real-time images, and point-of-sale video inspires purchasing decisions. Likewise, individual influencers are more valuable than ever in directing choices among the masses with the blazing speed of shifting whims. Engaging identified target audiences with the right voice through the right media transforms messaging into purchasing decisions which drive superior revenue.

Takeaway
When consumers or business customers determine whom they trust, that voice becomes more important than the message. With so many messages communicating through so many mediums, a product’s real value quickly drowns out of the conversation. But a trustworthy brand, delivers a credible voice which triggers the necessary engagement to drive enormous sales volume. Marketers, before judging the moral character of the latest internet personality that influences enormous segments of the marketplace, honestly monitor customers to ensure how they receive marketing messages that drive purchasing of your goods and services. Align campaigns and businesses with the proper messaging that communicates the specific persona that targeted customers will trust.Branding is what the product says when business developers are not in the room. Strong branding opens doors. Then, when great brands talk, targeted prospects listen and buy.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships, Leadership Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eccentricity of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are eccentric ranks slightly below elephants are large among obvious observations. The opportunities that they pursue, as well as the businesses that they run, singularly point toward an unconventional world of risk, reward, value, and victory! Essentially, they see the world differently. Whether they pursue niche markets, or unconventional low-cost solutions, their boldness is equally embedded in their DNA and revealed through their actions. They live the value that they communicate and create. Their eccentricity is the pathway to outperforming the status quo, or at least betting their livelihood on the belief that they will.

Create Value
Before entrepreneurial wings take flight, these business’ leaders have a vision. Eventually, an idea, a service, a product, or an advantage surface. The vision actually reflects seeing the unseen. These people fundamentally, leap and learn to fly on the way down. Regardless how brilliant, safe, or guaranteed a particular opportunity appears, staring professional and financial risk in the eye requires a different kind of personality. Eccentricity, more or less describes it. But, once the operation launches quirkiness does not accurately capture the behaviors or emotions.

The successful entrepreneur must singularly focus to create value based on an idea and strong belief. More specifically, the entrepreneur must create more money based on knowledge, instincts, and tenacity that they can grow their initial sum. Value makes the operation sound rational. Frankly, taking a sum of money, working hard doing something new, then creating more money sounds closer to alchemy. However, the alleged magic happens often enough to inspire more dreamers to try for themselves. Only an eccentric can exercise that level of faith. Yet, individuals and teams pursue this path regularly.

Execute Ideas
In concert with value creation, inhuman tenacity, and wild ideas, the work begins and execution must happen. Remember that the whole process starts with an idea. The idea’s execution becomes the created value! Then, processes start becoming replicated and improved. The eccentricity intervenes at this point because customers and deliverables are both new to each other, and both parties are trying to achieve a sense of normality. Even if the involved individuals are familiar with each other, the environments that they now occupy have changed in respect to each other.

An entrepreneurial venture adopts a new personality for the marketplace regardless of the familiarity of the personnel. Potentially, the personalities can change for the better. However, the uncertainty directly feeds the eccentricity. Something as simple as 30 days payment terms that rounded up to 35 days harmlessly in the previous environment, now creates a cash crunch in the new venture at day 31. Cash crunches in all businesses causes behaviors to change. Still, entrepreneurial operations tends to create a higher sense of urgency than most corporate environments. Fortunately, successful entrepreneurs compensate with better service, less bureaucracy, or superior performance. The ultimate benefit happens when better idea execution means better value creation.

Takeaways
Eccentricity equals genius when it works! Consequently, successful entrepreneurs are rightly celebrated. Creating value is the foundation of capitalism. Having the confidence to find an opportunity, execute the idea, and create value is rare. Successfully performing these steps is even more rare. Creating an entity that sustains its value is more rare still. Successful entrepreneurship is valuable for that very reason. Perhaps these entrepreneurs are called eccentric because they are slightly strange. Or, maybe they are so rare that they simply appear strange when compared to the status quo. Regardless, the eccentricity of entrepreneurship is worth admiring, and for professionals bold enough to build value through risk and execution, it is worth rewarding.

 
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Story-Listening To Sell More

Happy Business People In Meeting

A win-at-all-costs Operations Director summons her business manager into her office. She pointedly explains, “I have just negotiated a budget exception from the vice-president to upgrade our key production equipment. I need you to negotiate the most effective technology solution possible so that we achieve our production goals this year. And, because of this project’s visibility heads will roll if any component of this deployment fails. To be even more clear. If the results underperform to the point that sacrifices must be made, and it comes down to either me or you… it’s going to be you!” The business manager listened. He understood. The selected vendor must be emotionally and strategically aligned with his department’s priorities.

Engagement
In this scenario where multiple solutions will be reviewed and evaluated, the business manager has a clear directive. Consequently, the successful business development professional in this competitive arena must focus on fulfilling the business manager’s strategic wants. Beyond a sales professional’s skills at storytelling to maximize the sales’ value, the seller now must demonstrate Story-Listening. The vendor must listen. He must connect. He must understand. The winning solution will meet the requirements of multiple needs. Not only must the vendor prioritize his own organization’s needs and wants, the successful vendor must craft a solution that maximizes the business manager’s satisfaction. Meeting someone else’s expectations requires intense listening and a higher level of engagement! That special skill’s reward is the privilege of earning increased revenue and satisfying all parties.

Emotion
Effective Story-Listening represents a heightened sensitivity to the counterpart’s position. Nuance, tone of voice, frame of reference are essential pieces of hearing a story, as well as interpreting the literal language. Ignoring non-verbal cues is the opposite of discerning emotion. The superior sales professionals is consistently in tune with language, inflection, and subtlety. The words are important. They indicate features, benefits, and terms. However, to maximize the totality of understanding, literal listening has to transcend to emotional connectivity. The savvy sales professional is equipped to offer faster delivery in exchange for more vendor-friendly financing, if timeliness is the most critical attribute. Story-Listening reveals the implicit communication that reveals true priorities.

Takeaway
Undoubtedly, clever sales professionals with a winning story that connects buyers to benefits have an advantage. Nevertheless, attentive sales professionals focus on listening to the story that the buyer tells in order to meet the explicit needs that the prospect values most! Creating a sales strategy that meets the buyer’s personal needs strikes an emotional chord with the human being purchasing the good, service, or solution. Once the buying professional communicates their priorities, then person-to-person possibilities surface. A buying professional has to be faithful to their employer and their priorities. But, when opportunities emerge where specific desires are available to the buyer without compromising integrity or value, the savvy sales professional will seal a deal between two professionals representing entire enterprises. That deal only emerges when a sales professional hears, understands and delivers in alignment with the buyer’s individual strategic priorities. Story-Listening opens the door for the personal connection to close the transaction.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Selling Experience, Buying Creativity

Analyzing-Brainstorming-Businessmen

“Relationships drive business!”, according to the crusty sales veteran! The young sales leader rolls her eyes. The old fundamentals are true to the point that buyers acquire goods and services form sources that they like and trust. Nevertheless, in an environment where business transactions are consummated in the time that it used to take to order another round for the purchasing team, individual relationships reflect only one factor. However, the trust is less on the individual, and more on the selling team delivering on the solutions that they claim. Results matter like never before! Growth-oriented vendors sell performance and experiences that buyers demand for their specific internal reasons; whatever they are!

Experience
Traditionally, knowledge-based sales require a representative who knows the marketplace, competition and intelligence associated with the goods and/ or service that they must sell. However, in a time where many buying decisions are remotely consummated at the same time that shipping processes initiate, successful sales are based on conveying experience to perform at such levels of expectation. Selling experience equates to selling trust. Customers buy when they are confident that transactions will execute properly. A competitive vendor is easier to find when executed standards are unmet.

Another way that successful sellers transact experiences is with modern iterations of lagniappe. The traditional extra pastry with the purchase of a dozen is less impressive with maturing buyers being attentive to their waistlines. But, the purchasing experience still needs to be memorable and personalized to truly create stickier customers. What result will the customer value to make its experience easier to engage the seller again? Epic experiences must engage emotional connectivity! So, how does a sales pro create an emotional bond for a buyer acquiring 15 tons of organic cotton to create high end apparel? Sharing a genuine and common love affair with protecting the environment and serving fiercely loyal customers is a great start!

Creativity
Nevertheless, with so much selling based on aligned experiences, how do sellers truly determine buyers’ loyalty? First, loyalty must be clearly defined and identified by both parties. With certain exceptions, buyers do not demand exclusivity for certain goods. Service exceptions can be slightly more prevalent because sellers who provide unmatched experiences to customers have stickier buyers. Nevertheless, unmatched is a tough threshold. The key to delivering exclusive creativity comes down to conveying unique benefits that the seller delivers either through past experience or combining product and service functionality in a singular way. Nevertheless, to maximize value, as well as price, the creative solution must be singularly delivered. Consider selling a conference to a business group with a line-up of luminaries that had never previously assembled together.

Other ways to maximize value, and subsequent revenue, is to create a service environment that cannot be easily replicated by a competitor. For example, in an environment where product development becomes a significant differentiator, additional value can be created by developing faster processes to satisfy manufacturing requirements. Manufacturers who have efficiently incorporated 3D printing in their product development processes have manifested a measurable advantage to begin manufacturing highly specific components for demanding customers. Consequently, customers along this specific supply chain create technological advantages that can be incorporated into better storytelling, more productive assembly and increased sales to benefit the seller.

Takeaway
Ultimately, highly valued solutions appeal to a customer’s ability to deliver excellence to their customers and end users. With regards to strategic and financial value, old incumbents often can only sell on their past history of success. Newer organizations sell based on their innovation, relevance, and comprehension of newer trends. These advantages directly impact customers who value being more flexible and can leverage an advantage in servicing fast moving markets. Ultimately, the customer prevails. If they want to buy creativity, then sell them creativity. Maximizing business development depends on knowing the target, their values, and their ultimate point of satisfaction.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Second Mover Advantage

man in gray suit playing chess

The first rat gets the trap. The second rat gets the cheese. While entrepreneurs love touting their success when deploying first mover advantages, they typically overlook the established foundation that permitted early success. Before establishing a business relationship, responsible parties on both sides of the transaction typically learn about each other. This activity is called intelligence for a reason. Advantages surface by knowing more about the other side.

By understanding the other side at the beginning, savvy competitors already have begun their education. Branding delivers the first lesson. Effective branding announces benefits, attributes, and expectations before relationships formally start. Branding is the calling card that accelerates initial introductions. By the time both parties actually connect, an effective brand has already began communicating its foundation. The first vendor may be able to identify needs and introduce solutions to a prospect. But, the second mover with superior branding enters the competition knowing that their reputation has already initiated progress toward a solution. Reputations pave the way. Then, the winning relationship can flourish based on the foundational needs and terms established by the eager first mover.

Modern Pioneers
Pioneers once described an individual or group that entered a new frontier looking to establish rights to new wealth. More modern pioneers are innovators and professionals who discover new value through progressing into unknown territories and finding previously unidentified market opportunities. For example, who really needed sales pipeline software more than 25 years ago? After specific pioneers benefitted from technology that facilitated successful growth by tracking success traits in the sales process, today’s question is who can maximize sales without it?

Pioneers that really strike it rich are the ones that solve new problems. The initial pioneer merely discovers the new problem. Whether the environment is oil drilling or e-commerce solutions, the entity who proves to the marketplace that they can deliver significant benefits will win. The modern pioneer focuses more on the value-add, than the value-chain. Ultimately, the organization that connects enough value-adds eventually dominates the value chain. CGI (computer-generated imagery) dominated the movie business once the technology enhanced the storytelling. Early adopters simply paved technological paths for more sensational images. Giving great actors and directors, incredible stories and technology that propelled the entertainment experience, ultimately paved the way to billion-dollar movie releases.

Better Beats First
Regardless of a product’s or solution’s brilliance, its adaptability ultimately delivers dominance. For example, video conferencing has rapidly improved in functionality and ubiquity. While various forms of video conferencing have existed for decades, who really remembers who delivered that functionality first. Its ubiquity has surged in the last decade. Consequently, the advancement in features and price competitive has likewise escalated. Better does not mean the most feature rich option, but rather the most value-rich alternative. Price, reputation, functionality, accessibility, and service all contribute to value-richness.

Whether a personal favorite is Zoom, Skype, Go-To-Meeting, or another provider, purchasing is a byproduct of individually prioritized feature sets, price, and reputation. Whether the functionality is sold to solo-preneurs, entrepreneurial enterprises, or multi-national organizations, first has quickly become irrelevant. While personal recommendations and effective branding influence decisions, the best choice for the individual entity’s specific needs closes the deal. Each subsequent mover crafts a message that may resonate with any individual customer. The established brand explicitly secured confidence which resulted in the purchase.

Takeaways
Innovation across industries continues to accelerate. Furthermore, value chains rapidly morph as retailers compete on delivery, and software providers compete on flexibility. Nowadays pioneers are rapidly passed like a station wagon with a trailer heading across the heartland next to a Mercedes speeding down the Interstate expecting to beat FedEx Freight to their next home before their worldly possessions arrive. Best beats first. Second mover advantage routinely surpasses innovation on new benefits that are constantly being discovered. To stay ahead of the competition, businesses with better branding prevail with trust and proven performance. Now, I need to hurry home to get my package when the drone delivers it!!

 

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grinding Again, or Still?

man holding mug in front of laptop

Back to the Grind delivers out-of-the-box inspiration and great coffee in Riverside, CA. Creative people visit because the atmosphere facilitates great storytelling. Likewise, the bistro projects a brand that encourages eclectic coffee drinkers to congregate and nurture new ideas. With minimal marketing, the place grinds away promoting a diverse, intellectual, counter-cultural environment that happens to serve awesome coffee. This establishment enjoys success because it is completely faithful to its vibe, moreso than its audience. True to its name, Back to the Grind routinely produces fresh ideas, and unexpected results for customers. This relationship works because it predictably delivers to its regulars unexpected outcomes every visit.

Storytelling
Ramping up meaningful business growth requires several steps. Building an inviting story is a good start. This step requires creativity, then tenacity. Creativity drives curiosity leading to sampling new experiences. Tenacity pushes necessary effort to capture attention, which then drives buying decisions. Effort is never a singular event. Consequently, marketing tactics demand trying different actions until one or more works. Stories, in turn, create the emotional connection for outcomes to be memorable. For example, Tab had to tailspin into oblivion before Diet Coke emerged with brand clarity, paving the way for diet cola to be sexy.

Optimally, raving fans connect with stories about the products that they eventually love. It once was called word-of-mouth. Now, it is called influencer marketing. Regardless, consumers adopt stories which become drivers for new products, services, and experiences that capture imaginations resulting in the next star brand. Marketers who seek the next mandatory possession inevitably endure mistakes and missteps. Yet, marketers who keep grinding toward a product or service with an irresistible story ultimately win. Amazon bled cash until its story evolved from online book seller, into mind-numbingly easy shopping for everything through technology. Business success is delivering a story that customers want to hear, understand and share!

Branding
While telling a great story launches interest and excitement. Creating a story that begins to tell itself is the key to legendary results! Great brands speak clearly for their products and businesses in their absence. Stopping at Starbucks with the risk of being late to work is one story. Standing in line, outside Krispy Kreme, after midnight, because you absolutely believe its hypnotic red light is shining just for you, is a different story altogether. Obviously trading hot, Original Glazed donuts for an hour of sleep is a reasonable sacrifice for Krispy Kreme’s raving fans. More importantly, the customer will repeat the late-night-run story to others.

Great brands are always on the grind, because their customers continuously work hard for them. Whether a business calls their best customers a tribe, followers, or fans, their influence on a product’s success ties directly into the brands ability to communicate value. Operating with integrity and consistency is essential to any brand’s success story. Literally, great brands take no days off. They must repeatedly deliver on promises and expectations, or customers will find a substitute that demonstrates more fidelity. The grind only matters if standards are high, and only survives if execution is consistent.

Takeaway
Businesses grind so that their brands can demonstrate their superiority. Superior performance leads to growth. Growth opens doors to scaled profitability. Repeating the process results in success. Why should a successful business continue to grind? Grinding engages the marketplace’s unyielding appetite for superior performance and kept promises. Legendary results emerge when engaging the business’ audience, then communicating its success. Household brands still grind because customers actually want to continue aligning with superior performers and proclaim their success. The brand is bigger than any individual. Customers enjoy the social benefits associated with brands’ performance results. The business enjoys the financial benefits. That is the purpose.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

 

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Plant A Strong Brand

Plant A Brand (2)

One planted acorn grows into an enormous oak tree, in the same way a clever campaign can grow into a business empire! Just think, Netflix started out as a lazy alternative to standing in line at Blockbuster. No late fees and home delivery for videos evidently created enough of a distinction to birth an iconic brand. The result has redefined how a media hungry public consumes entertainment. Fundamentally, branding communicates business benefits and images. Well executed, targeted branding can clearly result in superior business growth. However, bad branding leads to failure faster than this season’s infested crops! Yet, good planning, then effective execution overcomes potential devastation. So, how does a single plant eventually grow, then dominate an entire landscape?

Nurture
Recognizing that a brand speaks on a business’ behalf, strong messaging must flourish continually. A seed does not grow because someone buried it. The seed grows, then a harvest results because the seed is nurtured, pruned, and weeded in fertile soil. The process delivers the abundance. Similarly, the brand begins the story that successful enterprises ultimately communicate. Then, the marketplace provides feedback which contributes to the brand’s growing personality. Specifically, in current, dynamic marketing environments, cultivating the story and spreading the responses yields success.

A simple social media ad can appear on a website, then based on feedback a different iteration of the same ad can quickly appear. The ongoing communication between business and the marketplace makes brands memorable and effective. Tactics to nurture the brand require both internal and external communication. Likewise, messaging must be consistent and authentic. The tools that establish deliberate, meaningful and profitable dialogue within the marketplace, empowers brands to own their narrative and keep promises. When effective brands claim next-day delivery, the package appears at the doorstep tomorrow, every time.

Harvest
As the business’ story evolves and the market accepts the consistent vision, the business earns the right to harvest, i.e. engage customers in relationships. One simple sale based on a good brand experience, does not create a relationship. Businesses thrive by cultivating ongoing relationships. Even when products represent an occasional sale, like a car, the utility and overall experience continues to deliver value with every drive. A new Tesla does not stop communicating style and eco-friendliness when the owner accepts ownership. That vehicle continues to deliver value every time the vehicle hovers through traffic, or the singular driver speeds in the express lane.

Success demands planting, harvesting, selling, and planting again. The ongoing cycle creates enduring value. Consequently, messaging must be dynamic because it serves as the seed. Static advertisements may be part of the seller’s marketing mix, but effective images must also be delivered in dynamic environments. A celebrity spokesperson that appears in a magazine advertisement, also needs to be incorporated into social media clips. Personal appearances and events also contribute to the virtual connection between the product and celebrity. Fundamentally, coordinating marketing elements so that brand messaging cultivates individual connections provide the most profitable harvests.

Takeaway
Memorable brands constantly evolve. Likewise, productive campaigns regularly experiment. Establishing communication between buyer and seller must be based on trust and execution. In building a brand, trust in the planting process only starts activity. The ability to harvest, sell, deliver, and satisfy keeps the cycle going. For results-driven branding, growth and production cycles must be established, then allowed to iterate toward progress. If a campaign fails, then try again. Perpetuate the brand’s growth cycle through creative trial, performance improvement, and measurable results. Let meaningful storytelling inspire customers to return eagerly for more. Repeat planting, reaping, and harvesting. Nature has clearly proven that this process produces abundance. For businesses, the same process produces an abundance of profits!

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment