argument-silhouetteAuthenticity.  It’s a common word that many people know and use.  But, what does it mean to marketers? Dictionary.com defines it as the quality of being authentic; genuineness.  That’s great but, again, what does it mean to marketers, specifically professional services marketers.

When you are in the business of marketing professional services rather than a product, the only way to truly gauge if a person is authentic is to observe their words and their actions and make a determination.  Does the person do what they say they will? Are they genuine in their interactions with colleagues, prospects and clients? Are they honest and open? These are the types of questions that I ask of myself when interacting with others. Do I do what I say I will? Am I genuine, do I treat others with respect and honesty?  In many ways it comes down to are you credible?

If you can’t answer yes to those questions about yourself then you’re probably not being authentic. Same goes for questions of those you work and interact with every day.

So, why is authenticity important? For those of us in the professional services marketing world, it’s pretty much all we have. When we talk with prospective clients we need to make sure we are honest about what we can and cannot do. We have to be honest about the types of experience we have. We have to hold to any timelines or deadlines we make about getting more information or even a proposal to them. If not, we damage our credibility and our authenticity. And we all know once that damage has been done it’s awfully hard to get it back. Once that prospective client becomes an actual client you still have to be authentic. You need to be honest with timelines and other deliverables. You need to be honest and open with feedback and advice, even if it might not be what the client wants to hear. Over time, your authenticity will become the foundation of your brand.

The same goes for our interactions with colleagues.  Are you honest in your conversations? Do you accomplish what you said you were going to accomplish? Did you get it done on time? Do you respect them for who they are and what they’ve accomplished in their career?

My observation is that more often than not, people are not all that authentic when interacting with colleagues. They tend to stick to their own agenda and try to manipulate or coerce others into doing what they want in order to achieve some outcome. This leads to a lot more office politics and road blocks than necessary.

When was the last time you listened to your colleague? Not to respond but to truly hear and understand their position. When was the last time you were honest with a colleague and told him or her that you did not agree with their opinion or idea? Not to put them down or belittle them but to move the discussion forward and come to the best win-win outcome for the organization as possible.

If we can move our corporate or organizational culture more toward authenticity,  perhaps many of the negatives associated with the current culture will disappear. It’s okay to disagree on business (or personal) activities. The key is to be open and honest and keep the ultimate goal of moving the firm forward at the forefront of any discussion. Remember, not all of the ideas and opinions you have are the right ones so you need to be open to that feedback knowing that the other person is coming from a perspective of what’s best for the organization. You might even call it compromise. Plus, being challenged in your thinking is a good thing.

On the flip side, not everything others throw out there is the greatest and best. You need to be confident enough in yourself and your experience to be able to challenge thoughts of others in a non-derogatory way. And, remember, just because you challenge someone else’s thoughts or opinions does not make yours right either.

 


As we sit on the edge of 2015 staring at 2016 I have to ask, what have you done?

This is as good of time as any to reflect on the prior year and take inventory of all you’ve done and not done.  Then, take the not done list and make it your to-do list.

Simple, right?  It sounds simple but the devil is always in the details.  But, if you start the year with those tasks/goals that were not accomplished (or done) then you will almost guarantee yourself that you will get them done.

Happy New Year!Happy-New-Year

 


hustle-bustleWow, it’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since I posted anything to Brandcraft.  But, to be fair, it’s been a really crazy year.

As we countdown to the end of 2015, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year that was.  Back in January I started a new job with Rubino & Company in Bethesda, MD.  It was a tough decision to leave WebsterRogers and the relative “safety” of the job and the firm.  But, personally I needed a new challenge and Rubino has certainly provided that for me.

It’s a great firm with many great people and expertise.  What they didn’t have was any marketing support.  So, in many ways I went back to the beginning of my career again and was forced to do many of the things an entry level marketing coordinator would do.  I was creating collateral, preparing proposals, running webinars, etc.  It was very beneficial for me to go back to the basics and see what needed to be done and do it.  So many times, as we progress in our career, we forget the more mundane tasks and how important they really are to the success of the firm.

Don’t get me wrong, I spend a lot of time on strategy and coaching as well. It’s been challenging keeping all of the different balls in the air but I think I have done pretty well.

So, as you take time to reflect on your year and prepare for 2016, don’t let life get in the way of living.

 


highway-in-the-night-830840-mIt’s been awhile since I had the time to write a new blog entry.  Ya, I know.  So sue me.  I sit here in early December wondering what happened to the other 11 months of 2014.  This year has flown by very quickly.  As I reflect on the year I am reminded of some of the great things we were able to accomplish in my firm; new service offerings, greater industry focus, more thought leadership.

I am also reminded of how easy it is to get wrapped up in the everyday tasks and responsibilities and forget to take a moment to step back and take stock.  Luckily, I have a moment to do that today.

You see, many times professional service marketers get so absorbed in the next campaign or editing the next whitepaper that we forget to take the time to evaluate our activities and think strategically.  Doing “stuff” is great if it’s part of a greater, more strategic plan.  However, doing “stuff” to just be doing stuff or to be busy can be a recipe for disaster for a firm’s marketing.

As things tend to slow down over the holidays, I am challenging you to do some quiet reflection on your accomplishments for this year and also on the missed opportunities or unfinished business you didn’t get to.  Taking the time to do this will help you become a better, more strategic marketer.


hourglassAs I sit to write this blog post I realize that it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve been here in South Carolina and at my current firm. That is amazing to me because it seems like only yesterday that I packed up and moved south from the frozen tundra of Wisconsin.  It’s also coming up on a year since my last blog post.  Where has the time gone?

I feel that my team and I have been able to make significant improvements in the Firm’s marketing activities and culture during this time. Everything from a new website to a new industry-based marketing focus. However, it never moves as fast as I would like. I always feel like we need to have a revolution in our marketing and business development efforts when I know deep down it’s more of an evolution.

Therein lies the key for me. As long as we continue to move forward and make noticeable progress toward our goals I should be happy. Some things we can change or implement quickly, others will take time. As a professional services marketer you need to understand this and pick your battles.