Log in



  • 20-Jul-2020 5:17 PM | Steve Royal (Administrator)

    Submitted by Melanie Watson - Melanie Watson Design

    Creating and maintaining a brand is a lot of work. The last thing you want to do is sabotage all of that work by making a costly mistake. Here are some common mistakes that could hurt your brand.

    4 Branding Mistakes to Avoid

    The word branding is being thrown around a lot lately. But what does it really mean?
    Your brand is more than just your logo or the colors you use. It’s the way you interact with your target audience at every touchpoint. Yes, your brand includes your visuals, but it also encompasses your marketing copy, your social media posts, your website copy, even the language you use in a simple email. It’s your company’s voice; its personality. All of these things together help you make a connection with your audience. It helps differentiate you from your competitors and builds loyalty and trust with your customers.

    Inconsistency across all channels

    Using a consistent voice will build familiarity and, eventually, credibility. If your voice changes every time you interact with your audience, you will confuse them and they won’t trust you.
    A good way to stay consistent is to choose some brand words that describe your company (i.e., honest, playful, educational, etc.). Every time you create anything, look at these words and make sure you’re living up to your brand.
    Another way to be consistent is to put together a basic brand guide to direct your visuals. This would include your logo, chosen brand colors, and specific fonts. It will help you to keep your visuals on brand.
    Everything you do should look and sound like it comes from the same company.

    Creating a brand without any strategy

    Brand decisions should be made based on a strategy. An aesthetically pleasing logo that doesn’t connect with your audience is just a waste of time and money.
    Ask yourself these questions:
    •    Who is your ideal customer?
    •    What problems do they have that you can solve?
    •    What about your competition?
    •    What do they offer?
    •    How are you different?

    Clarifying your mission statement and USP

    What is your mission statement?
    What’s your USP (unique selling proposition)?

    Once you work through these questions, your brand will come together so much more easily.

    Confusing your ideal audience’s aesthetic with your own

    The main goal of branding—and marketing in general—is to appeal to your ideal client. You are not your ideal client. Remember it is not about you, it’s about them. That doesn’t mean that you can’t build your personality into your brand while still connecting with your audience. I have an extreme example that I use all the time. Say you are a female accountant who loves unicorns and glitter. Your ideal client is a 60-year-old male business owner. Should your branding include unicorns and glitter? Of course not! Your client needs to be able to trust you to handle his money, so you need to use your branding to show how trustworthy you are.

     About the Author:

    Melanie Watson, owner of Melanie Watson Design, is at heart a problem solver, working closely with you to become clear on the message you want to convey and the audience you want to reach. She collaborates with you to bring your visual brand identity from concept to reality while helping you to achieve a consistent look-and-feel across all your channels of communication. She can be reached at melanie@melaniewatsondesign.com.

  • 27-May-2020 1:46 PM | Steve Royal (Administrator)

    Submitted by Ruth Balkin - Balkin Information Services

    Today’s business and industry executives face the need to stay competitive and informed. If you want to stay on top of your market, you need accurate and up to date information to make smart business decisions.

    Market Research and Analysis


    Today’s business and industry executives face the need to stay competitive and informed. If you want to stay on top of your market, you need accurate and up to date information to make smart business decisions.

    Market Research

    Market research is a way to meet these needs, and can help you to understand the markets and industries that you service.

    • Who are your competitors?
    • What geographic areas do they cover?
    • Who are their customers?
    • To what trade organizations do they belong?
    • What are your customers’ needs?
    • Are they growing or expanding their service areas?

    This information may help you decide to enter new areas of service, and can help you to differentiate your services from your competition. Understanding and knowing your market can help you identify potential merger and/or acquisition targets. Knowing who your competitors’ customers are can help you identify new potential clients for your company. Strategic planning depends on having the right information.

    Strategic Planning

    Market research and analysis is necessary to make strategic plans for your company. It can help you and your business in a number of ways. You might be considering expanding your company by adding new locations or new product lines. Or you might be considering acquiring a competitor.

    You will want to conduct an overview of the field and get information about market size or market growth trends. Market research can also help you to identify and find out about potential competitors.

    You will want to learn about demographic trends within your market segment. Before adding new product lines, market research can help you to discover technological trends and obsolescence risks.

    Market research can also be conducted to determine customer satisfaction levels, or for business development to locate and qualify new customers.

    Here’s an example of how you might help your company conduct a market research project. Imagine you’re a manufacturing firm who is considering a new product launch. Working with your research and development team, you would conduct research to identify current suppliers of similar products, and find out their distribution channels and average pricing. Next, look for competitors’ patent documents. Market share and forecasting data can help your firm make an informed decision before you decide to take a risk and launch the new product.

    Businesses also conduct competitive intelligence. Competitive intelligence is legal, ethical and essential for a smart company’s survival. Competitive intelligence is not corporate spying. It doesn’t involve the bugging of phones or stealing other people’s inventions or ideas. Competitive intelligence is more like the work of a good journalist than a spy. It keeps you informed of new developments or trends within your industry. Competitive intelligence can let you know how you and your competitors are perceived by your customers and potential customers. Competitive intelligence can help you understand and develop “best practices” for your company.

    Competitive intelligence consists of several steps. Information can be collected from any number of different sources. Some data can be collected from searching databases or subscribing to news groups. Your salespeople can be a great source of competitor information. Primary research, which involves interviewing customers or vendors, can provide you with important insights into how you and your competitors are perceived.

    Next, compile the data or information into a cohesive, organized format. Finally you need to analyze the information. Remember – “information” only becomes “intelligence” once it can be acted upon.

    There are other examples of how Market Research can help you and your business succeed. We will cover that information in a future blog.

    About the Author

    Ruth Balkin is President of Balkin Information Services. You may contact Ruth at Fax: (585) 654-5235, Phone: (585) 482-1506, or rbalkin@balkininfo.com . Ruth’s website is: www.balkininfo.com and her blog can be accessed at: http://balkininfo.blogs.com

  • 18-Aug-2012 4:45 PM | Steve Royal (Administrator)

    Submitted by Steve Royal

    Several years ago, a member of RPCN presented the results of an actual scientific study of the effectiveness of “elevator” speeches. I found the results astounding and would like to share them with other consultants.

    Your 30 Second Elevator Speech

    Your 30 Second Elevator Speech

    Consultants who attend RPCN events are usually asked to provide the other participants with their “30 second elevator speech.” As facilitator of the Technical Forum, I have found that the “30 second” speeches take from 10 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the person. Some people just offer who they are and what they do. period. Others, intentionally or not, often go on and on (blah, blah, blah?) about their businesses, etc., and finish long after the rest of the group has become bored and stops listening.

    Several years ago, a member of RPCN presented the results of an actual scientific study of the effectiveness of “elevator” speeches. I found the results astounding and would like to share them with other consultants.

    The results of this study are below. Note that they provide information on 15 second speeches instead of the usual 30 second speech. This is because the study showed that you actually have only 15 seconds for your elevator speech before the listener begins to lose interest.

    Understanding this can be of great benefit to a consultant. It says that the real purpose of an elevator speech is to say almost nothing about your own business, but rather to ask questions about the other person’s business in order to find out if they have any problems that you can help solve. The message here: prospects don’t want to hear about your business nearly as much as they want to talk about their own business.

    15 seconds -- that’s all you have and that’s all you should use for your elevator speech.

    This is science talking, not just me.

    Here are the facts:

    Do the Elevator Speech Math!

    • A normal speaking rate is about 125 words per minute.
    • You have 15 seconds for your “elevator” speech.
    • 15 seconds is ¼ minute, so ¼ of 125 words means you have
    31 words for your ENTIRE elevator speech!

    Subtract 15 words to say your name and company. That leaves

    16 WORDS

    to describe what you do and ask about their business.

    15 SECONDS -- 31 WORDS

    Welcome to REALITY!

    Steve Royal

    Information courtesy of
    Linda Pratt
    Learning by Heart

  • 29-Apr-2010 10:35 PM | Deleted user

    by Mary Anne Shew

    How to Get Business via Professional, Business, and Trade Organizations

    A common strategy used by businesses to attract clients and customers is to join groups such as chambers of commerce, trade associations, and professional organizations. Yet I have met many people who have been substantially disappointed with the results they have gained from belonging to such groups.

    Getting clients from a business group is very different from attracting clients via other kinds of marketing efforts. Certainly any financial commitments you make in terms of advertisements in group publications or event sponsorships gains you the organization’s gratitude and some publicity. But that isn’t enough. The biggest difference is that personal involvement is required to gain the reputation that attracts business.

    As you have probably heard and experienced for yourself, people do business with people they know, they like, and they trust. The kicker is it takes time for that to happen, lots of time, as well as active involvement. Often people leave a group just as they begin to become known and liked, unaware that they are leaving just as it might appear their efforts may start to pay off.

    Choose Your Groups Wisely

    This may sound basic, but you must choose a group in which members of your target audience are active participants, not just listed on the member list. Check out the group’s web site, attend a couple of meetings as a guest, and talk to other members to get a sense of who is active and whether they are a match for your business.

    Are you passionate about the group’s mission? If not, it will be difficult to build and maintain momentum for a long enough period of time with the group to attract potential clients.

    I am not advocating that you walk in and start selling. Instead, initially focus on simply getting acquainted with a few people and gaining a sense of the people who are attracted to the organization. Call a member of the organization’s board (or the staff, if there are any) and ask to meet for coffee to talk about the group.

    Find out how the group operates, who runs the committees, and who gets things done. Decide on what you want out of involvement in addition to the relationships that may bring you business. Do you want a way to contribute via the skills and knowledge you already have? Do you want to learn something new? Decide on the answers before joining and approaching anyone about volunteering.

    Act as a Host

    There are lots of other resources that will tell you how to work a room and network at all types of events and activities, so feel free to Google those phrases for those ideas. My favorite way is to act as a host for the organization when at an event, even if I’m not involved in running it.

    I watch for people standing alone and walk over to introduce myself. When in conversation with someone, I’ll ask if they had any particular goal in attending such as someone they wanted to meet. If so, I’ll try to find a way to bring them together.

    Get Involved

    Trite as this advice is, it’s required to build the reputation necessary for others to know they can rely on you. For example, I rarely recommend someone’s services based solely on their reputation. My own reputation rides on the performance of those whom I recommend. Therefore I prefer to have had some level of contact that tells me about them, builds their trustworthiness in my eyes, and familiarizes me with their business.

    Whatever your skills or interests, there is at least one group and probably several who would welcome your involvement and commitment with open arms. Volunteer groups always need a steady stream of incoming talent to replace those who have moved on to other interests.

    The key is not quantity of time spent with the group but quality. Even if you only have one hour a month to contribute, yet you do it without fail, and your output or results contributes to the organization, you will be valued.

    Invest for the Long Haul

    Here is a list of the activities that helped me earn paying clients when involved in business organizations:

    • Regularly attending the group’s main meeting for at least one year, PLUS
    • Circulating a lot at those meetings to meet people and get to know their businesses, PLUS
    • Participating on a committee that meets regularly (not just attending meetings but taking on assignments), PLUS
    • Taking on a board position, PLUS
    • Getting on the organization’s program schedule in that first year or as soon as possible, and giving an informative, high-value presentation, not a sales pitch.

    This strategy has worked in groups as diverse as:

    Do Unto Others

    Of course, when it comes to doing business, it works both ways. When looking to purchase products or services, do you give first consideration to others you trust in the group?

    Consider referring the relevant members of your group to friends or associates who need their products or services. In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdini discusses the rule for reciprocation: When you give something to someone else, it causes a sense of indebtedness in the recipient. Dr. Ivan Misner built a multi-million-dollar company, BNI, completely based on this rule.

    For Extra Credit

    Additional activities that can help raise awareness about your company include underwriting events or other needs within the group such as covering the cost of newsletter or web site development. Hosting an event at your company (including refreshments) can be a great way to support the group and familiarize people with what your company does.

    The Bottom Line

    Demonstrate a commitment to the organization and its members, and give other members a variety of ways to get to know you. The rewards will be more than you imagine.
  • 29-Apr-2010 9:15 PM | Deleted user

    by Mike Krause, Sales Sense Solutions

    How to Handle a Referral

    According to a Rain Today survey of over 200 businesses that hire service providers, "referrals from trusted sources" were the most important factor in a hiring decision. Ironically, handling referrals correctly is an often overlooked portion of business etiquette.

    Always Remember This: A referral is a vote of confidence. You have impressed someone (e.g., a friend, colleague, client) enough with your services to the point where they feel compelled to recommend you to someone else. They are giving up their time to pass your name along in order to help you. This is an act of kindness and should always be thanked. Furthermore, the way you handle the referral will reflect on their reputation and yours.

    Here is a 3-step process on how to handle referral communications and results:

    1. Thank the person calling with the referral and ask, "How would you like to be involved in this process?"
    2. Maintain open communications throughout the process.
    3. Operate in the moment. This may sound a bit Zen-like but it simply means don't wait too long to follow through with your actions.

    A Referral Scenario: Act I: Your phone rings and it's a familiar client.

    Client: Hi, this is Jane from XYZ Company, how are you?

    You: I'm great and you?

    Client: Doing well. I have a referral for you. You've been a tremendous help so I was telling a colleague about you and she wanted me to give you her contact information.

    You: Thank you. I enjoyed working with your company and the highest compliment any client can give is a referral. I've also been passing your name around in the community. (Obviously, only say this if it's true.) What's her contact information?

    Client: It's Jim Great at 123 Main St., 123-4567. Here's his e- mail and you should know he's in the medical industry.

    You: Thank you. How did you leave it with Jim on how I would contact him?

    Client: I said you'd call or e- mail.

    You: Perfect! I'll call him right now. Let me ask you, how would you like to be involved in this process?

    Client: Just send me an e-mail and let me know how it works out.

    You: You got it! Anything else I should know?

    Client: Yes. He has 3 school age kids and he's hard to reach after 3 p.m.

    You: Thanks again, I'll act on it (insert when you know you'll follow through).

    A Referral Scenario: Act II: Hang up and call or e-mail Jim.

    You: Hello, Jim Great? This is (your name) from (your business) and I was referred from Jane to speak with you about (your services).

    Jim: Yes, I spoke with Jane and your name came up.

    You: Yes, Jane is an excellent client and we had a great relationship. I'd like to know what you need help with, but first, let me ask you, "Do you have a few free minutes to talk?"

    Jim: Well, we are having problems with (listen carefully)!

    You: Would you like to set up a time to discuss your needs in more detail? I find it best to meet you at your location and learn about your business. How is next Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.?

    Jim: Great. See you then.

    Act III: The Grand Finale: So far so good? You're not done yet. After hanging up with Jim you need to do the following:

    • Send Jim an e-mail confirming the face-to-face or phone meeting.
    • Immediately call Jane back and update her. Thank her again, and ask her one more time how she'd like to be involved.
    • Send Jane a thank you card. If it's a big client, consider including a small gift certificate for coffee or to a restaurant.

    Follow this basic format for all your referrals and feel confident that your business and referral etiquette is as good as…gold? No. It's as good as your improved bottom line and reputation which is even better.

    Mike Krause is the Chief Sales Architect and owner of Sales Sense Solutions where he helps business owners stay four steps ahead of the competition with stellar sales and high performance sales assessments, strategies and practical advice.



© Rochester Professional Consultants Network | All Rights Reserved
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software