Getting In Synch With Your Clients—How To Build Trust

A client—let’s call him Thomas—asked me to re-purpose an old marketing piece for a niche audience he was targeting—and then create a spiffy PDF his new readers could download.

It was a quick exercise. He already had a clear brand voice and message we’d built for him and his firm, so editing was a breeze. Thomas approved the first draft, and I handed it over to my partner-in-crime to re-imagine the visual layout.

She knows both the client’s brand AND how I like to push visual design when it makes sense. The first—and final—draft bowled me over. She took my words and made them visually stunning and perfectly in-tune with his audience (and him). Continue reading

Engagement: Can You Reach Your Tribe Without It?

Engagement: can you reach your tribe without it?

Well, that depends.

Social media started it—this fascination with “engagement” as the gold standard for how well you’re positioning yourself with your digital tribe. Continue reading

How To Get The Best (Free) Advice

Sometimes, you just need some quick, actionable and yes—free—advice.

As a consulting business + brand expert, I get asked for “free” all the time.

I’ve been asked to read and comment on entire manuscripts. To spend a half-day driving to/from and lunching with a casual acquaintance to pick my brain. To analyze a big idea and critique a launch plan.

Sure, I do these as a prelude to preparing a proposal for potential clients.

But when it’s more in the favor territory, I pick and choose. Continue reading

I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me

I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.

Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.

His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. Continue reading

What Are You Building Right Now That Will Be Here in 40 Years?

Tucked away inside Parade Magazine’s annual “What People Earn” list was a celebrity earning an estimated $27 million in 2016.

The only quirk was that he hadn’t done a single thing in 40 years—because he died in 1977.

And yet Elvis—the King—is still out-earning most of his modern-day peers (only Michael Jackson earns more posthumously). Continue reading

Why Is Your Brand As A Consultant Important?

I learned the true value of a distinct consultant brand AFTER I left one of the global giants to build my first firm.

We positioned ourselves as the funkier alternative to the big boys: filled with mastered degreed refugees who’d fled the big firms, jonesing for more flexibility and creativity. When The Wall St Journal called us mavericks and outliers, we were thrilled.

Not everyone loved us, but no one ever forgot us. Continue reading

How To Get Your Swagger On

Do you ever hesitate before hitting the real (or metaphorical) send button on something you know will put you smack in the bulls-eye for criticism?

Maybe it’s a risky new program that is a big dream of yours, a controversial blog post or even a push-back to a client who’s gone down the rabbit hole.

There is that inhale where you pause—for a moment or a few days—thinking that you’d be better off staying silent. Playing small. Continue reading

The Difference Between A Professional And A Hack

If Turning Pro author Steven Pressfield were whispering in my ear giving advice on two recent projects, I’m pretty sure he’d have said: hire the pro—not the amateur—and never EVER the hack.

We got it half right.

Guy #1: The client needed to hire a “cheap” resource to shoot and edit a quick turn-around, 30-minute talking head interview video. None of my usual local resources was available or within his budget. So he went with an amateur recommended by a pal of his. We knew it could go bad—and he’d need to be closely managed—but the client wanted fast, local and cheap and pulled the trigger. Continue reading

Being The Right Amount Of Social

Getting social media right for your business is a bit like driving a stick shift—you have to find the right balance of clutch and gas or you’ll stall out.

That balance is different for every car—a Prius doesn’t handle like a Ferrari—and every business.

The key to being the right amount of social for you—not too much and not too little—is to be unfailingly strategic in your choices. Continue reading

Your Marketing Doesn’t Have To Be A Life Sentence

Your brand is the promise—implied and explicit—you make to your ideal clients and buyers.

It’s the essential truth of your firm, your services and products and, well, you.

It’s the emotional tug to your sweet-spot audience that creates evangelists to your big idea.

Marketing is digging for your clients and buyers and letting them know you exist. Continue reading