My inbox this morning had my “LinkedIn Today” weekly update of a few trending articles from the past week. One of the articles was published in Bloomberg Business Week’s small business section. The article, entitled “Integrated Marketing: If You Knew It, You’d Do It”, was written by Steve McKee, an advertising executive out of Cleveland. In the article, Mr. McKee identifies marketing’s two greatest enemies in today’s noisy world; fragmentation and entropy. He provides some interesting examples from major corporations and his message aligns seamlessly with the theme from my last blog.
The main takeaway I got from McKee’s article was patience, which I emphasize in my blog as well. It takes time to draw all the threads together into a single tapestry of clarity, which is why I referenced a very similar blog I wrote about a year ago in order to provide a comparative baseline. I wanted to demonstrate how integrative (or integrated, as Steve calls it) marketing evolves over time. In just under a year, we’ve gone from self-publishing articles on the internet to being interviewed in the Investor’s Business Daily. We went from self-publishing my book, “The Transformational Entrepreneur”, to having it cited in the peer-reviewed, academic Journal of Economic Literature. We journeyed from local radio interviews to multiple appearances on Jim Blasingame’s nationally syndicated Small Business Advocate® show that also posts as podcasts on the Forbes website. More importantly, however, is how each element of our marketing feeds the next to create a flywheel effect of momentum.
Our message is consistent from one touchpoint to the next; it is about transforming one’s self first, in order to transform one’s value-creating, business relationships. Of migrating from the transactional leadership model of the Industrial Age to a transformational leadership approach that is conducive to today’s multi-generational, multi-cultural, global workplace.We focus on a professional development path that enables leaders to connect, engage and motivate those around them through their congruency, clarity and authenticity. This is the key to creating and sustaining competitive advantage in the 21st century. It is the single most important determining factor in the coming Talent Wars. These attributes resonate powerfully, on a neurological, biochemical, and psychological level, with everyone we touch.
Mr. McKee also spoke about expense and how major companies invest heavily in the process. Did our efforts have an associated cost? Yes, but you’d be surprised at how relatively small our investment has been in order to begin branding our business. How were we able to keep a lid on costs? By leveraging the Core Competencies and Strengths of our team (which we identified during our Strategic Planning process) we were able to accelerate our progress through the focus and application of our in-house talent first, and then outsource the specialization we realized we didn’t have at hand (i.e. our wonderful PR firm, E.M.S.I.). Running a weekly advertisement in the local newspaper would have been several times more expensive than what we’ve invested to bring us to where we are today.
Branding does have a cost associated with it. So too, does not branding.
1. The Book ~ Published 14 months ago, The Transformational Entrepreneur has proven to have legs. It was cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature in March of this year and it also received some really positive, unsolicited reviews. The book continues to be a catalyst for media appearances as well. What’s most gratifying is how well the book is received by those who read it. I see it helping people realize their authentic vision and purpose every day!
2. Blogging ~ I had been blogging, almost exclusively on this site, for five months last July. We had just launched Leadership Development and Team Building. Since then we’ve added Igniting Creativity in Business and have plans to launch four mores blog sites in the coming months. Each is specifically tailored to match the audience with the value proposition we deliver within the market segment. Call it micro-marketing, if you will. Nevertheless, we’ve experienced consistently growing traffic and substantial readership extending to 32 countries. Truly remarkable and I thank you all!
3. Articles ~ I was more engaged in writing for internet article sites during the early days of the blogs. While the sites do drive traffic, and were very important in the early days, we’ve migrated more into mainstream media activities. Just so much time in a day!
4. Videos ~ We continue to use HD video in a variety of ways to build value, both in communications and in content. In our online resource repository, designed for our Accretive Coaching students, we’re using training videos to support the educational process. We continue to document speaking engagements and limited demos as certain workshops are, and should, be private to the group. We will be posting a recent speaking engagement from the Southeast Regional Certified Horsemanship Association’s annual meeting, but its release will be timed to coincide with a new service launch and blog site.
5.Social Media ~ Speaking of just so much time in a day! This can be the proverbial rabbit hole if you’re not disciplined in the time you devote to it. Like everything, I had my own learning curve sorting through it all and identify where, and how, I should leverage social media. If you have something to say and are comfortable writing I highly suggest following some of the bloggers on Forbes’ website. If you say something of value they’ll call out your comment, basically highlighting what you’ve had to say in the discourse. From there people can jump to your profile which can lead them to your site(s). There’s some real thought leaders blogging on Forbes.
The Wall Street Journal still drives traffic the same way, but more from the online article discussion threads. The key is not to be too self promoting…add some value to the conversation! If you pique someone’s interest they can easily follow your profile to your blog. That’s really the point anyways, isn’t it? At least it is in our business.
The other valued companion is LinkedIn. This too has short learning curve. Be sure to ask yourself if you’re talking to your peers/competitors or to your potential prospects. It’s easy to catch yourself singing to the choir at first…think it through and look into the group membership, professional demographics. I’ve met some fantastic colleagues and customers on Linkedin and some of the discussion groups are simply enjoyable!
6. Public Relations ~ The big coup, at least for me personally, was recently being interviewed in The Investor’s Business Daily. We’ve been focused on migrating our work into the mainstream for more than two years and the IBD is right on target with a circulation exceeding 600,000 readers. Fun paper to read, too, I’ve read it for years. They run a daily section on leadership that is intriguing. We also were invited back to appear on Jim Blasingame’s program, The Small Business Advocate® and have a spot in Jim’s Brain Trust. What’s really nice is all of my interviews with Jim are hosted on the Forbes website. While all of this supports SEO, it really contributes to credibility. The key is to keep chipping away at it and good things will happen.
For example, last month, during a one week period while we were working in Missouri we were in the IBD, the local paper (above) twice, and appeared (via tape delay…do they still call it that?) on the nationally syndicated, terrestrial radio show, The Career Clinic. So much of this is due to the wonderful team at our PR firm, EMSI. They truly deliver, have incredible talent on board, and employ a unique, pay-for-performance business model worthy of a look.
7. Trade Shows ~ I’ve wondered how effective exhibiting at trade shows has really been since the late 1990s. If your prospect is a senior executive or business leader, chances are you wont find them wandering the corridors of a trade show floor. Speaking engagements at conferences are proving to be much more effective at delivering our message and reaching our target audience. We most recently presented at the Certified Horsemanship AssociationSoutheast Regional Conference (video to post shortly) and at a private event with the VA and local Sheriff’s office in Missouri.
Just as I said nearly a year ago, each one of these initiatives supports the next. It’s circular and builds momentum like a fly-wheel. Please keep in mind, this was all done on a shoestring, meaning you can do it too! The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be firing on all cylinders!
Key Concept ~ A few months ago I posted a blog entitled, “Building Your Market Presence Brick-by-Brick”. The process is one defined by persistence, and in my opinion, authentic intention. By putting your firm out there, to generously provide your products or services for the parts of our community that are in need or at risk, good things can happen. Not only for the community, but for your firm as well. By bringing our pro bono Warriors in Transition program, which we began back in 2009, to Hawaii last October, we found ourselves in a feature article of ONE+, the professional journal of Meeting Planners International. Positive intention, not from the ego but from the heart, resonates with others. In expressing our intention to support combat veterans and their families, we found our message in the hands of 30,000 professional meeting planners we may have never reached in any other way.
Here’s our press release discussing the article in the MPI Meeting Planners Guide to Hawaii.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Performance Transformation, LLC™ (Venice, FL) announced today their founder and Managing Partner, Terry Murray, is to be featured in February’s edition of MPI’s Meeting Guide to Hawaii. The professional journal ONE+ has monthly circulation of 30,000 professional meeting planners. The article, written by Elaine Pofeldt, focuses on the value of revisiting Hawaii as a viable and economical option for professional meeting events.
“We were really excited to receive the call from Elaine to be interviewed for her article,” commented Terry Murray. ”The series of workshops we conducted last October in Hawaii couldn’t have been more successful.”
In the article, Terry is quoted as saying, “Hawaii is a perfect setting for our programs. Our developmental approach focuses on building competencies in emotional intelligence to improve leadership and team cohesion. So, for us, the Aloha Spirit reflects and aligns with our philosophy and approach.”
The root meaning of Aloha comes from three Polynesian words. Alo,which means sharing in the present moment. Oha, which means joyous affection. And Ha, which means the life energy of the breath. The traditional greeting of Hawaiians involves an exhale of breath with each other to emphasize the Aloha Spirit.
“The traditional approaches towards leadership development and team building are no longer delivering the results our rapidly changing, multi-cultural business world demands, ” comments Terry. ”Our evidence-based programs are designed to build presence, rapport and authentic empathy in our next generation of leaders. These are the keys to inspiring teams of knowledge workers, to creating genuine engagement Cultivating competencies the embrace inclusion and ignite cohesion are the keys to unleashing human creativity, the key driver of value creation in the 21st century economy.”
Performance Transformation was brought to Oahu by the nonprofit Palmarie Community Transformational Alliance to provide leadership development and team building workshops for their leadership team and launch Performance Transformation’s award-winning “Warriors in Transition” program. The program is designed to assist active duty military personal, veterans, and their families successfully navigate the stress of the deployment cycle and eventual transition back to civilian life. The program received a formal commendation by General David Petraeus in 2010 for “helping to create emotionally resilient families.”
“By the time our involvement in the the wars in the Afghanistan and Iraq finally wind down approximately two million of our fellow citizens will have been deployed in these combat zones,” adds Terry. “The VA is simply overwhelmed by the needs of so many of our veterans that are returning home with PTSD, or with the poly-traumatic effects of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. It’s up the community to step up and lend a hand to help these brave Americans transition home and find their way back to living successful and fulfilling lives. To be able to once again enjoy the things their service has enabled us to enjoy, undisturbed these past eleven years.”
The VA estimates the rate of PTSD to be somewhere between 18% to 24% with OEF/OIF combat veterans. Additional research indicates combat stress is impacting spouses and family members as well. Performance Transformation’s innovate approach partners with licensed therapist to conduct Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy. The approach enables Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to be conducted in real time, and with horses, instead of a traditional office setting.
“We discovered the CBT benefits during our presentation at the 18th Annual Military and Civilian Combat Stress Conference in L.A. in 2010,” adds Mr. Murray. “Most recently, we’re discovering our approach to working with horses also aligns seamlessly with Gestalt Therapy as well. It’s an exciting time to be involved in Equine Facilitated Learning and in support of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy.”
The concentration of the military in Hawaii presents unique challenges in the community. It is estimated that 40% of Hawaii’s homeless population is comprised of veterans. During their visit, Performance Transformation had the opportunity to introduce their approach to Councilman Tom Berg, who is working diligently in support of the islands veteran community.
“To come to the islands with such positive intention, and to have felt the Aloha Spirit directly in support of our work truly resonated with us all,” said Terry. “Last year we conducted various professional development workshops in Florida, Montana, and Colorado, but Hawaii was truly special. The fact that we were able to conduct our programs at Equine808, the islands’ first and only horse rescue organization in support their mission added to our Aloha Spirit experience.”
You’re welcome to click hereto learn more about Performance Transformation’s leadership development and team building workshops they conducted in Hawaii with a sequence of photographs of their approach with the horses.
Key Concept ~ Staying atop where your articles, blog entries, and online content flows throughout the internet is something you may want to consider doing on a regular basis. If you write long enough, this practice will inevitably lead you to plagiarist…and not the academic kind, but criminals looking to steal identities, financial information, and commit fraud.
One of the best ways for an aspiring entrepreneur to market themselves is through article writing, blogging, and leverage social media as part of their overall marketing strategy. We also employ a PR firm, conduct radio and print interviews, and guest blog for select companies and sites. Every once and a while, I will run a variety of searches on the various engines, playing around with different key words to see what comes up. Working for more than a decade as an Executive Strategist for investor-driven startups, I learned that I could often find cogent, current research, often conducted by federal government agencies (i.e. the Dept. of Commerce) deep into a search. Not six or seven pages in, where most casual searchers rarely tread, but twenty-five to forty pages into the search. I could often find fantastic, public data that research companies would have charged thousands of dollars for if I had not been so tenacious. It was worth the time.
With this propensity in mind, from time to time, I will do the same thing, dig deep, to see where my registered, copyrighted materials wind up. You’d be amazed at how consistent content creation and electronic publication can metastasize around the world! Which is the point, right? But only if you are cited as the originating author and a link is provided back to your site. Last night was one of those nights when I wandered into the search engine forest.
“And what to by amazing eyes did appear”* but my registered, copyrighted articles appearing on dubious websites. Websites that have comment boxes that are always awaiting mediation before publishing, or no comment area at all. These sites also had no way to contact the originator, webmaster, or company. And each one claimed direct credit for the post. Here’s the really dangerous part, they were business credit related websites, and one can’t help but assume they’re phishing for personal, financial information in order to commit fraud. As an accomplished business writer and published author, my content gives their sites a feeling of knowledge and credibility as a veil for fraud.
What I’ve learned through all this is there are two laws that may apply, and it can be a bit confusing.
One blatant thief has a site called Swannwebsite “DOT” info (I won’t give them the satisfaction of providing a live link). At the bottom of this litany of stolen content (without proper citations for every article posted, including my own) is the phrase, “Proudly Hosted By WordPress”. Not sure if that’s true, but I’ve reported it to WordPress to find out. Because my content was unadulterated or altered, it is allowed under the Fair Use Doctrine of the DMCA of 1998. I’ve been told this law is open to interpretation, which enables these scoundrels to steal our work and post it as their own. By the way, the “person” claiming authorship is listed as “keshav12″. Apparently Google is aware of them, and I highly doubt they are hosted by WordPress either. This fraudulent site has over 1,000 pages of indexed content with no back links. Pathetic.
The other example I came across was not considered actual plagiarism because they had rewritten portions of it, and poorly, attributing it to me, and thus risking my reputation and eroding my competitive differentiation in the marketplace. This is blatant copyright infringement. This site is called business-credit DOT com, and they are hosted by a highly dubious company called 1&1 Internet. I tried to call them, and you get a message and can’t leave a message. That’s a major red flag. Upon a little more investigation, I found that the company is located in Chesterbrook, PA and actually tries to pass off a stock photo of their headquarters on their site as well as a stock photo of the supposed owner. How can I tell? I really doubt the beautiful glass edifice surrounded by palm trees is actually in Pennsylvania!
Key Concept ~ Getting your value proposition into the market is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Creating a mindful communication strategy is just the start. Sticking with it, and executing with authentic intention and persistence can create a groundswell of visibility in a relatively short period of time.
As we turn the bend into the last quarter of 2011, we find the strategic planning season once again falling upon us like the colorful leaves of autumn. It is a time of retrospection and reflection of what strategies are working well and those that may be best left behind. Let’s face it, as intrinsically motivated entrepreneurs that are continuously looking forward, we often don’t take the time to fully appreciate what we’ve accomplished in the recent past and how these accomplishments are building our visibility and momentum going forward.
We at Performance Transformation, LLC™ began the year with the publication of my book, “The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging the Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success”. This was no small feat, representing the culmination of more than two decades of real-world experience that took nearly three years to write and publish. One must take into account, even the most highly publicized and promoted book can take upwards of nine months to gain traction in the book market. And that’s what we’re starting to see. Approximately six months after publication, we’re beginning to see how the cornerstone of our communications strategy is resonating strongly with its intended audience. Entrepreneurs are embracing the book’s lessons and experiencing how, when these lessons are applied, their own success is accelerating at an unprecedented rate!
Here’s a synopsis of what we’ve experienced in just the past six months as a result of executing on our communications strategy:
We presented at the annual American Society for Training and Development Conference in May.
We’ve conducted nine interviews on both local and syndicated radio programs around the nation. We’re about to schedule an additional eleven in the coming months.
Our value proposition has appeared inForbes, on MSNBC, on The Investor Business Daily’s site, and on NewsBlaze.com, venues that have approximately 40 million views per month! Our work has also been picked up by literally dozens of other local, business oriented websites around the country and the world.
Our articles are being published by larger and larger internet venues, most recently on AOL Jobs, which has nearly 4 million views per month.
“The Transformational Entrepreneur” is beginning to receive unsolicited book reviews, and positive ones at that (you should know, traditional publishers pay book reviewers and book reviewing companies to hawk their titles…it is a subtle manipulation of public opinion to drive book sales…most reviews are not independent, they’re paid for)! The book reviews are beginning to be picked up by other sites as well.
In just a little over six months, our blog postings, press releases (which we employ judiciously), and published articles have enjoyed tens of thousands of unique views. The top three sources of our traffic are Linkedin, The Wall Street Journal Online, and Google. And we don’t even invest in Google Adwords or pay to be on any “lead development sites”! Our search engine optimization is organic, based upon our cumulative activity on the web.
In just the past three months, we’ve been on the road a solid two months, conducting our workshops and programs in Florida, Colorado, Montana, and Hawaii. We’re also forging partnerships with additional organizations in Florida, Missouri, Illinois, and New England for next year.
My point is, you can do this too! And for a lot less money than you may think. The world is changing in unprecedented ways and your communications strategy must reflect this new environment. The key is to hone your value proposition and execute from a position of discipline and structure while still being nimble in your thinking. You’re welcome to drop us a line and we’d be happy to explore how our approach can help accelerate your market presence and resulting market traction as well.
Key Concept ~ Today’s marketplace is noisy and cluttered, with millions of entrepreneurs vying for attention, 24/7. How do you cut through the noise and reach your target prospects? Leveraging your marketing mix between traditional media and new, social media can drive your brand presence and lift your voice above the din.
Back on April 20th, I wrote a blog that shared our branding toolbox. It detailed our multi-dimensional approach for marketing and differentiating our firm, Performance Transformation, LLC, in our marketplace. It’s been about 90 days since that post, and I’d like to share with you how these activities are coming together for us as an example of how you can do the same things for your business!
1.) I Wrote a Book.The Transformational Entrepreneur walks the reader through our entire process; of aligning leadership, strategy, and culture for breakthrough performance. The book is providing us value on several levels.
~ The book is resonating with its intended audience. The feedback has been outstanding and it is beginning to spiderweb out in multiple directions! It is communicating credibility.
~ We’ve employed the detailed process from the book with several recent clients and have experienced exceptional results. After a former client from two years ago read the book, they’ve come back and engaged us once again!
~ It has opened the door for partnering with other businesses. We’re now a “preferred resource” and listed on other companies’ websites.
~ People are buying it! The book is being picked up by all the major internet book retailers (we only started with Amazon, the rest happened organically and without effort) and it is spreading around the world (Australia, India, England, and Canada). It is also being picked up by independent retail bookstores.
~ The book is the driver behind our public relations campaign. Since July 5th, we’ve been booked for nine radio interviews all over the country and dramatically increased our presence on the internet and in print (see below).
2.) Blogging. If you’re reading this, it must be working on some level, right?
~ In less than five months, and without any advertising, this blog began receiving enough traffic that WordPress began placing advertisements on it! We upgraded to eliminate the ads, as we don’t have control over their content and these ads don’t necessarily serve you, our readers. It does, however, indicate the growth of our readership had reached a point that the hosting company could begin to generate revenue from it. We’re growing in subscriptions, too, and without using free giveaways, landing pages, or gimmicks to grab email addresses!
~ In June we launched a second blog site on Leadership Development and Team Building to specifically address a focused, target market segment. While this blog is not nearly as active as The Transformational Entrepreneur, it still receives traffic every day and that traffic is growing over time.
~ We’ve also been invited to begin guest blogging on other blog sites, expanding our reach to people that normally wouldn’t hear our message.
3.) Article Writing. We consistently write and freely distribute articles on the internet based upon our areas of expertise.
~ One of our recent articles on Biznik was read by more than 1,650 people in a week. All together, on a variety of free article sites, we’ve reached approximately 10,000 readers in a few, short months.
4.) Videos. Did you know that more than 90% of communication is non-verbal? It’s true. The use of videos, video podcasts, and the placement of videos on sites like YouTube enables us to communicate on this non-verbal dimension. People can see us, see what we do, and get a sense of whether or not we may be a good fit for their needs. Television changed the world…online videos can help change yours.
~ Our YouTube Channelenables us to deliver “demos” of our professional develop programs that are highly conceptual. What we do will not go “viral”, but we’ve had more than 1,500 views (and YouTube has told us their counter system has not been logging all views lately) of our programs. This summer, we’ll be greatly expanding our video programming for entrepreneurs as well.
5.) Social Media. Here’s what we’ve learned about social media:
~ We’ve figured out what works for us and want doesn’t. What’s interesting is our second largest generator of traffic is The Wall Street Journal’s website. This has emerged simply by commenting on articles that align with our content.
~ All of our traffic from social media has been driven by discussion thread participation and joining a few, select groups. We have yet to start “connecting” with large numbers of people.
~ Our largest prospect opportunity for the year so far has came through social media.
6.) Public Relations. We just launched a radio and print campaign with a P.R. company(E.M.S.I.)that understands our message and aligns with our philosophy.
~ Initially, we started getting the word out using a free press release service earlier in the year. We are judicious with this platform, only issuing a release when we have something substantial to announce. With just a handful of free releases we’ve generated approximately 4,000 views, all at no cost.
~ We launched our formal PR campaign on July 5th, just 14 business days ago, and in the middle of vacation season. Since that time we’ve been booked for interviews on nine radio shows around the country, including major markets and nationally syndicated programs. Here’s my most recent interview that was conducted with syndicated radio host Frankie Boyer on the Lifestyle Radio Network:
~ Our print campaign (which includes the internet outlets of magazines and newspapers) has already hit more than 150,000 impressions! We will reach 10 million impressions by the time this cycle is completed.
7.) Trade Shows. Yes, we attended an old fashioned trade show, The American Society for Training and Development conference in May. I also had an opportunity to speak at the exhibit.
~ We video taped my presentation and have used it in a variety of ways…
~ The leads generated have us in conversation with major biotech companies, medical device companies, large law firms, potential partners, and universities around the country. We’re also in play internationally as well. It has already led to us conducting a workshop earlier this month.
The key is to approach your use of traditional and new media to deliver a multi-faceted approach for driving traction in your target markets. In just a few months, we estimate our message has reached a minimum of 250,000 potential prospects at a relatively low cost! In addition, depending on various key word searches, this integrated activity has delivered exceptional visibility on search engine results. Experimenting with a highly targeted key word search (one that demonstrated the breadth of our presence) brought up results that dominated the first 17 pages of a Google® search!
All of these tools are out there, and readily accessible to aspiring entrepreneurs. The point is, you can do this too!
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!
Well, we’re back from a bit of a hiatus, as we were exhibiting at the American Society for Training and Development conference. We’ll have a video posted of my presentation during a demonstration from the conference later this week, but let’s get back to our blog series.
Key Concepts ~ In this blog series, we’re exploring the twenty-five critical questions our Sales and Marketing Plan needs to answer to accelerate our success. Let’s pick up with the eighteenth key question…
18.) Have you created a detailed marketing plan and marketing budget? Sounds fundamental, right? You’d be surprised, however, to see how many startups struggle with this concept. First of all, don’t mistake advertising for marketing, it is a subset of marketing. Marketing is about crunching the numbers and doing one’s homework…in that I mean speaking with potential, targeted prospects. The second part is the creation of a viable budget. Without these two elements in place it is impossible to measure your return on investment, which should be the critical measurement to help guide the calibration and fine tuning of your execution going forward.
Example: Want to see brilliant, integrated marketing? Look to Apple. They’ve thoroughly coordinated the experience of their products with their placement, promoting them in their own particular style, in order to extract a premium price.
19.) Have you defined your marketing communications strategy and prepared the appropriate collaterals? Once you’ve defined your value proposition, targeted your prospects, priced your product or service, and positioned yourself for success, how are you going to communicate it? This plan should resonate with your brand strategy in which every touch point a prospect or customer has with your firm must be consistent in its message and feel. Calibrate it to how your prospects consume information.
Example: My firm, Performance Transformation, LLC, employs a variety of collaterals to communicate our message, which is consistent across every media. I wrote a book, write this blog, publish articles, produce targeted videos, employ seven targeted websites, leverage social media, have companion workbooks for every program, printed associated brochures, attend trade shows, and speak to groups. As you can see, we use a variety of “collaterals”, but our message is consistent regardless of the vehicle.
20.) Have you developed and conducted sales training? This may sound like it applies primarily to larger organizations (i.e. those that have a sales force), but it really applies to all of us. Sole entrepreneurs that don’t like to sell or who have never held a sales position are well served by realizing someone’s going to have to sell their value proposition. If you feel like you may need some basic sales training, get some. At the very least, contemplate the services of a coach to help guide you through the process and hold you accountable. We all gravitate to our comfort zones, and if sales isn’t in that zone, somebody will need to prompt you into it.
Example: Sales training should ideally integrate your collaterals from your marketing communication plan along with a database of targeted, validated prospects. If you’re not a “natural sales rep”, you may find some value in my earlier blog series, Conscious Selling.
We’re coming down the home stretch on this series. I know it has been a bit long, but these are truly crucial questions, that, if answered well, will greatly facilitate your path. We’ll pick it up next time with an exploration of your channel strategy, compensation of the channel, and sales support.
We began this blog series talking about the importance of engaging our prospects on both a cognitive and emotional level. In fact, The Gallup Company® conducted a study that identified companies that engage both their customers and associates on an emotional level enjoy a 240% improvement in financial performance (if you’d like to read the original report published in the Harvard Business Review, drop me a line and I’ll point you to the link). We shared our brand-building tools and also provided an example of how we integrate and employ all of the tools in unison. Now, let’s talk about how to ignite those tools with the power that builds a meaningful and resonant brand; authenticity.
There are three primary definitions for authenticity in the dictionary; the quality of being authentic, trustworthy or genuine, and the displaying of undisputed credibility. The quality of being authentic begins with being true to one’s self. This quality emerges through self reflection and inner exploration and infers an active awareness of one’s consciousness. The complete spectrum of who we are physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. To quote Carl Jung, “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart … Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” It is obvious that your brand must communicate your vision, but more importantly, your brand will undoubtably communicate your intention as well. Your prospects cannot know who you are until you know yourself. At the end of the day, your customers will feel whether or not you are benefiting them and placing their needs at the top of your priority list. This first step in building authenticity begins with two simple questions: Who are we and how can we serve?
We can draw an interesting parallel to the world of quantum physics. Quantum physics has identified the fact that everything in our universe is, at the most fundamental level, comprised of energy and information. The sub-atomic energy of a tree is guided by the information to be a tree. Our perceptions of the tree actually influence the reality we experience (please Google “Schroedinger’s Cat Theorem” for a fascinating example of this phenomena). My point is, your vision is information, but your intention is the energy that will carry this information into the world. Everything we experience in this world is an interaction between the observer and the observed. This is why there is so much attention being paid to social media today. It is interactive, allowing the observer and the observed to change roles, again and again. This creates a dynamic, energetic (or emotional, if you will) connection between marketers and the market. This only happens when people sense positive intention.
The second definition of authenticity is “trustworthy or genuine”. Trust is an energy that flows in a circular orbit. It cannot move in one direction without returning to whence it came. Some people allow themselves to trust more readily than others, but once trust has been broached it is often nearly impossible to mend. So, how does a brand communicate trust? Well, just look at Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder®. What just came to your mind? What came to your heart? How did J&J build this level of trust with our most precious beings? By consistently delivering on the third definition of authenticity; the displaying of undisputed credibility. We trust J&J because of their positive intention (go look at their value statements on their corporate website to see what I mean). This company has never misled us or tried to take advantage of our own good will. This currency if you will, is brand equity. It has very real and tangible value in the marketplace.
Now, what do these brands communicate to you? Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs. More importantly, how do they make you feel? I know they certainly trigger an emotional response in me, but not one of connection and engagement! Why, because their intention is painfully clear. They are (and in some cases now, were) only in service to themselves, the rest of us on Main Street be damned. Remember their commercials prior to the financial crisis? What they said, trust us with your dreams, was totally incongruent with what they were doing. These are broken brands that represent broken institutions and corrupt leadership. Regardless of what they say, ever again, we now know, and unfortunately, many of us have felt, their intention
My takeaway from this series is this…
Be of Service!
If you follow these three simple guidelines your brand will resonate with your customers, associates, partners, and constituents. It may take some time, but keep chipping away and your brand will unfold before you!
In my last blog I spoke about the six tools we use, in unison, to help build our brand in the marketplace. Here is an example of how we are using five out of the six tools (and eventually the sixth) to communicate our intention, vision, and mission with our customers:
1.) We’re promoting my book, which speaks to the core of our values, vision, and reason for being with our customers.
2.) We’re using video to promote the book (they actually call it a “book trailer”).
3.) We’re blogging about the video.
4.) We will announce the new video is appearing on the blog site on our social media sites and, where appropriate, within our discussion groups.
5.) We will release a Press Release this morning announcing the new video is available. We’re cautious not to overuse press releases, but it is a part of our P.R. strategy. The video is also publicly available on YouTube for greater visibility.
Once this blog series on branding is complete, we will compress the highlights from it into an article and distribute that on the internet as well. Because we’ve invested in a comprehensive branding platform we’re able to quickly and efficiently toggle all of the levers placing the platform into motion. Everything you see here (short of writing the book, of course) was accomplished in less than one working day! That’s the power of building a vibrant platform. We’ve created a system that draws upon all of our core competencies to build brand awareness in a way that is congruent with our philosophy.
Building a strong, meaningful brand, like anything of significant and lasting value, takes time. Unless you’re sitting on the next Google, trying to explode onto the scene will most likely leave you, your company, and your brand in tatters. Remember what I mentioned in the last blog? Effective brands engage people on both an emotional and cognitive level. In order to fully engage your prospects you must first connect with them in a way that is meaningful to them, and then, and only then, can you begin to gain their trust. We’ll talk more about aligning your vision and intention with your customers’ needs as we go along, but first, I’d like to talk a little bit about the tools we have available to us to help build a distinct brand in our markets.
Our company, Performance Transformation, LLC (http://www.performtransform.com) uses six, highly coordinated tools to communicate our intention, vision, and value proposition to the marketplace. As a professional coaching and strategic development company, it is imperative we fully engage our prospects. Without full engagement, our process cannot take root. Our clients mustcome to us and be willing to fully trust in us and our process. We cannot change anyone…the change must come from within for it to be effective and lasting. We provide insights, education, structure, and hold the space for a shift in perspective to occur. For our business, our brand must resonate with our prospects, so we spend significant time tending and cultivating it. Here’s what we do:
1.) I Wrote a Book.The Transformational Entrepreneur walks the reader through our entire process; of aligning leadership, strategy, and culture for breakthrough performance. We have a very distinct business philosophy that embraces the importance of human beings as spiritual, emotional, and cognitive beings. The book created a wonderful tool for communicating our philosophy, expertise, experience, and methodologies for driving success.
2.) Blogging. If you’re reading this, it must be working on some level, right? Blogging keeps us in touch with our prospects, customers, and the world at large. Traditional websites are very flat in today’s interactive world. They are online brochures, which serve a purpose, but they do not create community! That’s the key, blogs are interactive , engaging your prospects and clients in a two way conversation that builds relationship.
3.) Article Writing. We consistently write and freely distribute articles on the internet based upon our areas of expertise. Do you hate cold calling? Yeah, who doesn’t. Well, our firm actually receives phone calls from prospects that have read one or more of our articles. One CEO of an investor-driven startup recently sought us out and told me that after reading one of our articles he felt in his gut that he needed to be doing business with us. That speaks volumes to the fact that we are not just communicating our expertise, but we’re also clearly communicating our intention as well. He feels he should be working with us. That’s emotional connection!
4.) Videos. Did you know that more than 90% of communication is non-verbal? It’s true. Think about a leader you admire. Do they command presence when they enter a room? Are they able to engage, inspire, and motivate others simply by their proximity? The use of videos, video podcasts, and the placement of videos on sites like YouTube enables us to communicate in this non-verbal dimension. People can see us, see what we do, and get a sense of whether or not we may be a good fit for their needs. Television changed the world…online videos can help change yours.
5.) Social Media. Here’s what we’ve learned about social media: Choose wisely, and engage fully. Be careful not to dilute your efforts across social media sites that do not align with your mission and vision. When you do find the right fit, engage! Participate in the discussion groups for a few days and see what starts to happen. Networking isn’t sales, it’s helping other people connect in ways that will serve them. The vacuous affiliate marketing characters quickly reveal themselves in discussion groups and, from what I’ve seen, are dismissed as background noise fairly quickly. Be authentic, be of service, and be prepared for some interesting results!
6.) Public Relations. Over the course of my career I’ve been fairly underwhelmed by most P.R. firms. If you find a good one, they’re worth their weight in gold! We’re about to launch a radio, print, and television campaign with a P.R. company (E.M.S.I.) that understands our message and aligns with our philosophy. You may have noticed I’ve left this tool for last. Why? Because it was critical that we had all the prior elements in place prior to making this investment. Now, when someone hears about us through the media we have a presence on the web to support our expertise and capabilities. If you Google my name with the name of our firm we dominate the first seven pages of the search! That took time and it is a result of the foundation the first five elements delivered.
Notice I didn’t mention Search Engine Optimization? Rather than hire a SEO company to help us, we chose to do it organically. We felt this approach aligned more closely with our intention. SEO, as a discipline, can be an attempt to manipulate the search algorithms. (Years ago I actually took on a client project to write 50, 500 word articles peppered with key words. They didn’t have to really say anything, as the articles placed on their website were only visible to the search engines. It was the worst project I ever did, but it did drive their search results). We help leaders and entrepreneurs motivate their associates and prospects without dominating or coercive behavior. For us, hiring someone for SEO was not authentic, and by employing the tools we’ve discussed, we’ve worked our way up the search engine sphere on our own accord.
We also dabble a bit with Adwords, but more on an experimental level rather than a core element of our branding strategy.
That’s it. Those are the tools we use for building our brand presence in the marketplace. Please note, there’s no single, magic bullet to building your brand. It is a multi-pronged approach that consistently communicates who we are and what we stand for in the market.
In the next blog, I’ll speak to the most critical aspect of your branding: Authenticity.
"You are really a dynamo! The Leadership Training you conducted in Hawaii was a very profound experience that created a breakthrough in my business and personal life. As a result, a whole new level of creativity and productivity entered my life. I was able to find the precious time and energy necessary to move ahead and launch The Hollywood Hawaii Media Alliance - a dream job opportunity. This would not have occurred without your leadership guidance and in depth workshop content which opened my heart and mind to new possibilities. I feel you have touched my life on a very deep level and am very grateful for you and the excellent work you do."
~ Monica Roberts, President, MediaStar Hawaii
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~ Scott M., Entrepreneur.
“Throughout our 8 month Coaching and Business Consulting relationship, working with Terry inspired me to keep striving in spite of ongoing challenges during the start up of my Non Profit corporation. We developed a Strategic Plan that keeps me focused, maximizes my time and energy and builds the cultural foundation necessary to keep our Mission alive and at the heart of everything we do. Terry's insight sets him apart from everyone else in his field and true to his aim, transforms performance on every level of human endeavor.”
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“Terry's integrity and attention to ethical standards of practice is evident in all areas of his commitments and work; The Epona Approach™, Epona Quest Foundation and with his own business, Performance Transformation LLC™. Terry Murray's inspired Business and Leadership Training programmes are rich in content. They affirm and elicit the very best of an individuals valuable contributions and abilities, thereby creating a cycle of consistently successful outcomes for both employees and employers. I worked with Terry as a group facilitator, over a year long training programme and observed his dedication and natural enthusiasm for team work and his flare for achieving successful outcomes - what ever the odds. His inclusive beliefs in the values of the Epona Approach methodology and the time he dedicates to co-initiating projects such as The Epona Quest Foundation and Warriors in Transition project are testament to the fact that he is an outstanding person - or a 'jolly good egg' as we might say here in England!”
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