3 Reasons My Business Needs a Super-Villain

Supervillain

Business heroes have become larger than life. Entrepreneurs are either bragging about their latest victory, or someone else is doing it for them. Storytelling has become increasingly important for business success. Branding over-sized personalities is equally impactful as marketing their products and services. Nevertheless, these heroes are empty without a cause to conquer. Even successful business people that strive daily at lower levels, need conflicts to overcome. They need challenging goals to conquer so that they can boldly point to their results. Higher levels of success dictate higher challenges as competition. What they need is a super-villain!

Compete
Results-driven business professionals experience success by establishing targets, executing priorities, measuring progress, and rewarding results. But, to create super performance from a super team, they must rally troops to fight. Identifying an obstacle and supersizing it creates a sense of urgency and adventure for the business. Industry competitors fulfill that need. While Bill’s Auto Emporium fights for customers against Crazy Carl’s Customized Cars, business legends emerge from an Android versus iPhone rivalry. To inspire superior performance, competitors must represent a threat to the protagonist’s worldview. Position each significant competitor as a threat to the customer, industry, and everything good in the economy!

Defeat
Successful entrepreneurs identify the competition, then defeat them in the name of decency and humanity. Successful sales efforts have the weight of protecting each customer’s virtue. Benefits like cost-savings protect assets that will make their world a better place. Assigning the best people to deliver complex solutions secures human decency. Each achieved goal helps humanity. Commissions and profits are merely byproducts of a better world. Meanwhile, the super-villain attacks all that is good. Consequently, successful sales professionals acquire new knowledge, study the market place, and deliver services that protect customers’ prosperity. Furthermore, they constantly connect, deliver knowledge, enhance skills, and create value so that evil empires gain no foothold on the sacred marketplace.

Celebrate
In a competitive business environment, the central conflict is not solved in a 30-minute episode that includes commercials. The hero does not always win. But, with thorough preparation, a transcendent cause, and rallying every available resource, victories result. The fundamentals matter. Prospecting tenaciously, acquiring market intelligence, identifying pain points and delivering measurable solutions consistently results in sales success. Nevertheless, realize that competitors have talent also. Sometimes Superman bleeds, yet he keeps battling. So, when the deal closes and the sales professional has saved the day, include celebration in the process. Ringing the bell in the sales department works for more commodity products. Celebratory dinners are more in line with a high touch consulting success. The point is the satisfaction of success must be expressed explicitly so that the operation is eager and willing to save the day again.

Super-villains represent a common, well-known, easily identified, and recognizable enemy. Respect for adversaries is important. Confidence in ultimately winning is more important! Victory fulfils a moral priority. Sales teams must compete with that moral imperative. Success must be that important. Be sure that the sold solution saves the world for someone! Business accomplishments depend on channeling the inner super-hero that dwells within every successful sales professional. It is essential to better storytelling, superior branding, and ongoing profitability. It feeds the motivation to save the day! Where is your super-villain?

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

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The Juggling Entrepreneur

Juggling businessman

Before arguing which business discipline is most essential to an entrepreneur, recognize that talent conquers many challenges in developing and growing any business. Among the many talents that an entrepreneur needs in their arsenal, juggling is the most essential! As a business expands to embrace more people, personalities and disciplines, the entrepreneurial leader assembles multiple elements into a coherent performance. Juggling is the skill that makes it all work.

Priorities
Every entrepreneur must determine what to do first. For the business, coordinating other leaders, subordinates, and contributors into a cohesive group is a fool’s errand without establishing primary goals, then secondary ones, and so on. Establish priorities early and clearly so that the entire organization can execute decisions that fit the leader’s vision. By establishing and communicating priorities in statement and action, the entrepreneur has a legitimate opportunity to sustain progress toward strategic and tactical goals.

As competition heats up and business proceeds at full speed, priorities shift positions quickly. Entrepreneurs must continuously juggle the newest priorities. The best tactic is to expect and prepare for this reality. Consequently, keep communication lines open throughout the organization. Disseminate instructions and information with the speed of expected performance. Juggling priorities demands continuous awareness of which activity is most important at all time. Business decisions constantly shift in the leader’s hands. Successful entrepreneurial cultures acknowledge and embrace quick changes in direction, so that the team accepts the expectation of responding accordingly.

Initiatives
The byproduct of rapidly changing priorities is key initiatives shifting quickly, as well. As focus routinely changes from sales growth, to production, to training, to cost control, to the crisis of the day, team members needs clarity for their roles. The juggling entrepreneur knows that these objectives are subject to quick transitions. Insecurely hoarding information is destructive. Avoid dropping any commitment, or corresponding initiatives, to provide ongoing success an honest chance. Consequently, regularly communicating initiatives, as well as corresponding specific roles in performing them, starts at the top. Also, install incentives to move information downstream quickly.

Considering that each initiative must fit into the overall strategy, successful entrepreneurs continually juggle their activities so that the required tools are available for the correct contributor. For example, introducing a new product requires coordinating marketing, sales and procurement before producing results. Furthermore, human resources contributes training to ensure successful execution. The juggling entrepreneur becomes increasingly responsible that no business element hits the ground, while trusting the hierarchy to execute flawlessly every initiative.

Takeaways
Vision and strategy for early-stage business success starts with the leadership and that means the entrepreneur. The juggling entrepreneur accurately depicts leaders successfully growing their enterprise. Skillfully sustaining progress among multiple elements is the essence of business success. Priorities are fluid and require constant attention. Initiatives are merely ideas until they are executed. Monitoring key milestones resulting in success is the essence of the juggling routine. It is difficult by definition. More items are controlled than hands are available. However, if it was easy, then everyone would do it and where is the fun in that?

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

 

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Spray and Pray Kills Sales Momentum

Spray and Pray

Entrepreneurs demanding sales growth is business as usual. Achieving that growth presents the challenge. While a specific marketing plan is a good strategic start, results depends on actually connecting with prospects and converting them to customers. Targeting customers who pay is a clever figure of speech and a lousy strategy. Launching sales initiatives broadly into the marketplace is slightly better. Identifying niches where the business has experienced success integrates concepts and tools that have a legitimate chance of delivering. Coordinating marketing and sales activities with consistent messaging, targeted criteria and measurable benchmarks pave the way to sustainable growth. But how?

Process
Preparing for success means planning with a clear path to executing the best available tactics. First, incorporate market research to understand who wants the product or service, and why. Be thorough and be quick in identifying opportunities. Fully expect the target to evolve. Prospects appear more clearly once the selling starts and new users come out of the target market’s crevices. Next, connect with known and desired prospects. Selling is a numbers game. Prospect with a quantity-driven mindset.

A broadly quoted sales truth states, “Nothing happens until someone sells something”. Consequently, prepare for success. Successful entrepreneurs anticipate their reality. In establishing growth processes, the ability to deliver the product or service must have integrity. Businesses do not want to outsell their capacity. That damages their brand. Consistent storytelling, coordinated collateral, operational capacity are essential to successful growth campaigns. Ultimately, the successful process nails marketing, prospecting, selling, fulfilling, and measuring.

Results
Measurement extends beyond sales planning and activities to include results. “What gets measured gets managed” is an old business cliché. Often clichés endure because they are true! Beyond measuring dollars spent on social media, collateral, market reports and advertising, track prospect feedback identifying successful and unsuccessful tactics. Spend money on activities that produce results. Stop spending money on activities that do not produce results. It is not as easy, nor obvious as it sounds.

Upon achieving results, repeat. Achieving success and repeating winning tactics establishes business momentum. Key targets to track include understanding costs associated with incremental sales. Margins matter. Catalog anecdotal intelligence that reveal success. While these activities use financial and time resources, ignoring them ultimately wastes financial and time resources by continually reinventing success characteristics. Spray and pray may lead to blowing away immediate sales targets when opportunities are fertile. But when the marketplace demands competitive selling, then measuring and analyzing results with surgical precision is the only way to sustain growth.

Takeaways
Spray and pray kills bugs and sales momentum! Planning is essential. So, is effort. The process takes time on the front end. Ignoring planning wastes time throughout the process. Launching new initiatives stokes competitive fires and creates enthusiasm. Nevertheless, use marketing intelligence. Coordinate messaging for better storytelling. People still buy emotionally and justify with logic. Prepare, then execute niche driven growth initiatives. Sustain winning processes, which includes regular setbacks. They ultimately drive superior results. Market for quality, then sell for quantity! Focused efforts will deliver results. Repeat success tactics. Build momentum. Slaughter the goals!

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

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Connective Marketing – We All Get More

Kids Fun Run

Marketing data and analytics are amazing! They provide better decision making. They quantify processes and results leading to business success. Except it ignores the human element. Emotional connection drives business development. People buy from people. Clearly, branding helps. However, recognize that branding is assigning human characteristics to products, services, and organizations. Think about it. Do you count a brand, or like a brand? Essentially to grow a business, it needs a personality. That personality must be appealing, or at least truly likeable. Collaborating with appealing partners goes a long way toward sustaining communal growth.

Coordinated Partnership
Building a mutually beneficial voice in the marketplace is the core of Connective Marketing. Beyond finding a partner who agrees to share goodwill, this tactic coordinates joint values and resources to present to the marketplace. Connective Marketing is a strategy that links organizations through intentional relationship and partnership. As a matter of fact, partnerships between non-profit and for-profit organizations are particularly positioned to maximize this benefit.

For example, a program that provides Social-Emotional Learning tools to troubled students collaborates with a business that provides learning supplies to secondary students. Their common message is the holistic development of successful students. Cross-marketing opportunities focus on community events and websites that target over-indulgent parents looking to provide their children education tools. The comprehensive message is developing students with the intelligence, aptitude and social skills for ongoing success. Between events and multi-media content, the combined entities can attract customers to their cooperative services and tools for more successful students. As an extra bonus, the combined delivery results in more happy and satisfied parents.

Aligned Brands
To build momentum regarding both organizations, strategies must be deployed that connects both entities’ offerings. Considering that a brand is what the customer experiences as opposed to what the seller claims, coordinated images, verbiage and intent requires uniform presentation. Using the same branding methods and images is too simplistic. The coordinated messages must be in alignment across channels and audiences. Beyond claiming marketing synergy among the partners, the organizations must be very conspicuous in synchronizing messages.

While synergy is essential, results emerge because the partners intentionally coordinate their messages to leverage cooperative benefits. Both organizations benefit because they share a common target audience and provide a complementary benefit. A running club partnering with an athletic apparel retailer meets that objective. Both entities pursue a healthy, communal clientele. They both target prospects with personal characteristics emphasizing attractiveness and achievement. Intentionally aligning brands through coordinated messages and channels easily results in synergistic and cost-effective marketing to their audience.

Takeaways
Beyond typical measurements of effective marketing, the impact to prospects and customers must be central to all tactics. Coordinating joint benefits to the target market is critical to the relationship. Furthermore, leveraging individual reach and audience must include both partners’ resources. Their storytelling must be coordinated such that all constituencies contribute and benefit from the same narrative. Connective Marketing becomes a significant part of their branding. Besides, who does not want to connect with a group who already demonstrates their ability to deliver more for their partners?

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

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Fail Your Way to Success

Churchill image with V

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” according to Sir Winston Churchill, a masterful statesman. He might as well have been a masterful salesman considering how he convinced supporters and skeptics to accept his solutions for a sustainable Great Britain during World War II! Tenacity, persistence, execution are all sales characteristics that Churchill brought to his national stage. He engaged every interaction with friends and foes alike as if it were his last. Considering the high stakes of international politics, and a world at war, each interaction may have been his last. Not to equate every sales interaction with the future of the free world, the fact remains that his mindset led to his success. Sell like your future depends on it!

Iterate
Every prospect and pitch are not greeted with resounding success. Failure is a heavy burden that all sales professionals must bear. For professionals who dislike the word “fail”, options abound. Don’t fail. Iterate. Create a vocabulary and habit of constant innovation and trial. Approach every prospect with the expectation of success. Bring your best market intelligence and sales pitch. Question insightfully. Then, adjust your reasoning, until a resolution is reached.

When using a strategy of iteration, the process is critical to success. Bring as many tools and tactics to each engagement as possible to ensure success. One pitch should feature several fact gathering questions to reveal prospects’ critical issues. The next interaction should feature sharing market intelligence to reinforce expertise that helps solve targets’ burning issues. To further move prospects closer to a relationship, share endorsements from other satisfied clients. Such level of detail requires preparation and persistence. But, what successful campaign does not?

Advance
Going from failure to failure is indistinguishable from try, try, again. Success is a process. Business development clearly embraces that process, otherwise it would be called business done! Each step, technique, and connection serves the goal of moving closer to generating revenue. Upon encountering resistance or even denial, learn the challenge’s lesson and deploy the increased knowledge toward the next opportunity. Recognize this tactic as advancement toward the desired goal. That goal is business development results.

No statesman wins every debate. No sales professional closes every deal. In all cases, success happens by winning the ones that count! Advance relies on the unyielding desire to win. Setbacks are part of the process. Take resources, relationships, and lessons from each engagement; apply them toward the next success. Advance toward the next and subsequent victories! Successful sales and future growth directly result from building professional skills and knowledge so that solutions and client satisfaction continually improves. Use every interaction as an improvement opportunity that leads to advancement, and then goal achievement.

Takeaways
Trust strategies that emphasize abandoning unsuccessful processes and evolving successful ones. Simultaneously, maintain salvageable intelligence and techniques to be applied toward future success. Iteration proves that successful opportunities remain ahead. Advancement means continuing to progress toward ultimate success. Neither iteration, nor advancement are ultimate goals. Revenue generation is the ultimate goal! Results are the fuel that keeps the statesman and the sales professional going. New threats present new opportunities. Solving those conflicts, winning those skirmishes, achieving results repeatedly sustains successful efforts. Business results demonstrate earned victories. Keep your enthusiasm for results!

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

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Engaging Your Audience

Audience Engagement

Once upon a time… is the classic opening to a story. Anticipation builds for a conflict between good and evil. That process is how storytelling works. Unfortunately, in business separating heroes from villains can be very tricky. Resolutions have unforeseen consequences. It’s all fun and games until the animal rights group starts picketing Little Red Riding Hood’s Apparel Shop because her supply chain unfairly abused the wolf. So, she puts on her marketing hood, and quickly determines a communication strategy to maintain customer loyalty. She must figure out what to tell her audience, when to tell them, and how to tell them.

When To Tell?
Early and often is a good communications strategy. Effective marketing quickly moves to correct situations when priorities or events change. Furthermore, effective marketing engages the audience, instead of broadcasts to an audience. Messaging must be bilateral. The marketplace requires a conversation, not a sermon. Optimally, marketing communicates solutions to prospects who are ready to take action. And, prospects act quickly! Aligning promises and execution when customers experience the seller is essential. The widget must work. When it does not, the seller must quickly tell the customer why and when it will work. Bad news travels fast. Great marketing must travel faster!

Clever messages are good for generating trial. To generate new clients, referrals are more effective with memorable messages. Repeat customers generate more revenue as a result of memorable execution. Whether the product requires delivery, or an experience, it must meet growing expectations. Effective marketers consistently deliver on these expanding promises. And, when does that promised experience have to be recreated? It must happen every single time!

How To Tell?
Whether customers align with a product through social media, or by displaying a specific lifestyle, customers want to be part of sellers’ story. A hungry customer wants to eat according to promised expectations. Fast food can be mediocre, but it can never be slow! Likewise, cute shoes better create envy among customers’ peer groups. Clearly, customers want honesty. But, to separate from the competition, sellers must provide memorable transactions. Vivid visual and verbal images tell winning stories that are repeated. Then, customers return.

Presently, prospects and customers want to participate in the marketing and sales experience. Furthermore, they want recognition as part of the brand. Apparel brands continue to become more audacious, because consumers want to be clear in their brand identification. Technology brands are so eager to communicate innovation they no longer count straight. Version nine has become a relic of a landline era. To engage audiences to rush to become customers, anticipating trends means sellers are too late. In apparel and technology, giving customers tools to design the brand’s future creates engagement, and the only shot at customer longevity.

Takeaways
Successful marketing relies strongly on timing and effective channels. Messaging must go out timely to connect with the audience such that the audience is willing and able to receive it. Then, successful vendors listen. Effective marketing engages audiences to take action by purchasing, then contributing to the branding. Winning sellers communicate verbally, technologically, and experientially such that brand storytelling is now a cooperative effort with customers. Engaging an audience is a two-way street connected by trust. Sell to the marketplace accordingly.

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

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Delivering Your Brand Daily

Business Delivery Service

“Creating enduring value happens one interaction at a time. One person, one referral, one organization, one community, one interaction at a time!” ~Glenn W Hunter. This quote concludes Day One of my branding seminar. Despite the multitude of branding definitions, this one emphasizes the singularly delivering consistently great customer expectation and execution. Delivering such experiences on a daily basis reflects successful brands, and consequently successful businesses. Storytelling then simply features reporting the facts. Large, small, or in the middle businesses that consistently deliver to their audience ultimately win. They earn the privilege to tell a fundamentally true, great story!

Saying While Absent
According to Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Regardless, how much money a business throws at its branding efforts, the marketplace ultimately determines its true success. Either the business delivers honestly, or it does not. Fail to live up to its marketing claims, and the brand immediately defaults to being untrustworthy. Marketers still must craft the image. But, the marketplace will reveal the authenticity of the claims. The truth will emerge!

To articulate a palatable message, operations must demonstrate consistency with the brand’s claims. Authenticity becomes the currency of the marketplace. Customers may be fooled once. However, a business model based on ongoing trickery will ultimately be the butt of the joke. Consequently, as a brand brings its message to the marketplace, consider what the customer will say when they are alone with the product. More than ever, customers share their impressions. Then brands crash and burn once their image no longer can stand to the marketplace’s truth.

Activate Influencers
So, who is really telling the truth? If only effective branding consisted of the great comments that people made. But, brands reflect both positive and negative comments made in the marketplace. Consequently, be intentional about having an audience that willingly makes positive statements. These statements are not the results of payments or arm-twisting. These statements must reflect authenticity. The sentiments must be true! These influencers must demonstrate authenticity for the brand to flourish, or risk their own reputations.

Upon courting influencers, the brand must create a positive experience. And, the best way to guarantee positive experiences for targeted influencers is to deliver a positive experience for all users! Create a positive experience in every single interaction. Accomplish this feat with operational consistency. Grow the accomplishment by sharing positive images and anecdotes that easily circulate. To activate influencers, deliver superior experiences to your audience, then ask them to share their story.

Takeaways
Branding and Storytelling are inextricably linked. They are forever connected. While any vendor can establish a story. It takes listeners that repeat it to create enduring value. Consequently, businesses and professionals needs to develop a story worth telling. Consistent integrity in business interactions is still rare enough to be viewed with distinction. Including other parties in the story is important in building a following that will emotionally invest in a successful brand that keeps its promises. Organizations, their leaders and stakeholders must genuinely and consistently contribute to the message. Fundamentally, “say what you mean and mean what you say” results in a successful enterprise. Effective branding and storytelling simply justify the marketing guys hanging around and helping!

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

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