Your brand is not a logo, image or “differentiation statement.”

Your brand is simply this: The specific problem that you solve and the specific people/companies that you solve it for.

Your logo and image help reinforce your brand, but by themselves are meaningless. If you want your marketing to have impact, to resonate, to mean something to clients and give them a reason to call you first, then focus your attention on communicating the problem that you solve directly to the prospects who most likely have that problem and are willing to invest in a solution.

Even better, start creating content that actually helps your market tackle the problem. Become known as the firm that solves X…one prospect at a time, one reader at a time.

Marketing Speak vs Human Speak

You’re at a party. An attractive, well dressed woman (or man) walks up to you from across the room.

The first words out of her (his) mouth are, “I am the best looking person here. In fact, I am second to none. Why? Because of my commitment to excellence and proprietary approach to personal grooming. My past boyfriends (girlfriends) agree, I really am best in class. Let me tell you about what sets me apart from the other women (men) here.”

Why would this approach be so absurd in real life, and yet remains the status quo for professional services marketing?

Forget the marketing cliches and platitudes, and instead keep in mind that your home page, sales letters and proposals are going to be read by humans.

Six Pack Abs

Reaching the top 1% in your field is a lot like getting six pack abs.

Bear with me…

When you first start out in your business, you’re soft…flabby. And usually extremely motivated.

You work your ass off. You start getting clients. You’re getting into shape. The results are happening fast!

But the further along you get, the less incremental change occurs compared to the work you’re putting in. You start to plateau.

You’re much better off than you were when you started, but still shy of the vision that lit the fire to begin with. The rewards for the last 5%, or the last 5 pounds, don’t seem to be worth all the extra effort.

So you stall. You settle. You’re better than average maybe, but still not great.

Seth Godin calls this point “The Dip.” Maybe it should be called “The Gut.”

Make It About Them

“What do you do?”

“I create lead generation offers to help make it easier to identify, reach and influence new clients.”

Crickets. That phrase might mean a lot to me, but it means almost nothing to almost everyone else. It’s too vague, there’s no context, and they were probably only asking to be polite anyway.

Take 2

“What do you do?”

“Well, you know how in your industry companies will host seminars about _____________ to attract new business? I create similar campaigns for my clients, but instead of live seminars, we use on-demand webinars to reach more people.”


“You know how prospecting by phone and trying to get an appointment is really hard? I help make it easier for my clients to connect with prospects and open a conversation.”

Neither one is the only right answer. The point is to put “what you do” in context, as much as possible, of what they already know and understand. If what you say strikes a chord, they’ll ask more questions and give you the chance to go into more detail about what you do and who you do it for.

At the very least you’ll get fewer blank stares.


On Real Human Connection

Are you feeling a little Analog in a Digital world?

Join the club.

Reading about all the newest and greatest Facebook plug ins and Twitter tricks, one can feel that connecting with other people through anything other than a mobile app will soon be obsolete.

But that’s just it…all of these wonderful new tools exist for one reason; to connect us to others. We need it. After all, we’re social animals.

And when all is said and done, face-to-face connection is still the deepest connection we can have with each other.

So if you’ve never Tweeted in your life, or “liked” anything on Facebook, but can truly connect with others in real life, then breath a sigh of relief. You’re going right to the source.

Right Now…Somewhere…

…Someone’s sitting at their desk pondering the very same problem that you happen to solve.

…Eight decision makers are sitting in a conference room, staring at a revenue graph that’s going the wrong way, and wondering out loud what to do about it.

…Your ideal client is starting a Google search, looking for a thread that may help her solve a very serious challenge that her department is facing.

In other words, there are plenty of people out there who have the problem to which you offer a solution. Erase the picture in your head of the all-knowing, all-powerful decision maker who’s sole mission in life is to avoid your calls.

A Valentine for Prospecting

Has prospecting for new clients broken your heart one too many times? Here’s a cure to mend your relationship with this most fickle of creatures…

  1. Learn how to create an instant connection and grab people’s attention (Hint: It’s about them, not you)
  2. Focus on solving people’s problems, not pitching your services
  3. Use a prospecting approach you’re comfortable with, and do more of it
  4. Focus on long term, multiple contacts, not all-or-nothing one shot attempts
  5. Focus on the person you’re contacting and learn about who they are
  6. Accept that there are abundant prospects and clients out there…you will never run out of people to connect with
  7. Fully prepare for your calls
  8. Let go of the outcome of any one call. You can’t control it anyway. Instead, focus on the things you can control (research, preparation, etc)

Fall in love with reaching out to the people who have the problems you solve, and you’ll never have to worry about attracting clients.

Happy Valentines Day


The problems you solve are important. They cost organizations money, time and maybe even jobs. Fixing them means putting all of your resources and experience to work. The results, if done correctly, will matter to a lot of people.


Serious doesn’t mean boring. Before you can solve the problem, you have to find those who suffer from it.

And in order to find them you have to figure out how to engage them.

And before you can engage them, you had better be able to put some humanity into your approach. Without that, you’re left with meaningless corporate mission statements and platitudes. Few people will care. Fewer people will take the time to watch your webinar, or browse past your homepage, or bother to pick up the phone and start a conversation.

The problems you solve are human problems. Connect with people, engage their senses and emotions, and make it about them…not just you.

Business is Not a Cake

There’s no one perfect recipe for business. You cannot fully plan it before you build it. Life is messy. Business is messy. Trying to map out every detail or foresee every event is just another way we try to control the uncontrollable. It also blinds us to the hidden opportunities that lead to the real breakthroughs.

Be ready to improvise. Besides, the icing’s the best part of the cake anyway.