As a speaker and consultant, I occasionally have people contact me for advice in branding. They are taking the leap into working for themselves. They freely tell me they “do what you do.” My response? “Really.”
What often is lacking on their part is any proof. A bit of history…
Way back when I was first starting out, I had done some work for a hotel and some restaurants but nothing was working particularly well.
Then I read about a little coffee roaster battling a second Starbucks scheduled to open just 75 feet from his front door. I knew time was right for me to put up or shut up.
I called on the owner and asked how he was going to battle them and he replied, “I’m going to send them back to Seattle.” I replied, “That’s great how are you going to do that?” To which he took off his glasses, wiped his forehead and said, “I haven’t got a clue.”
I made a bold proposal to essentially takeover his business – no holds barred. We lost all but one of his crew during the first 30 days. I had to learn everything I could about the coffee business. I changed the light bulbs myself, cleaned shelves, swept floors, took apart counters, created ads, wrote training manuals, held meetings, walked the trade area – you name it. I didn’t care what I had to do; I knew that I had to be able to put all the things I knew had to be done to work.
In short…I had to hit it out of the park. Then something amazing happened…
Sales rose 20% within 3 months and 50% over the previous year. As the second year came sales rose 40% over that initial 50% increase.
Then and only then did I court the media. First with the local freebie, next the county freebie, local daily, Los Angeles Times then New York Times. That led to more speeches, my first book You Can Compete and a reputation as the Retail Doctor.
So many times consultants and speakers have no direct relation to what they say they know how to do. This often leads to vague promises that do not deliver results for clients. Hence, no testimonials or bragging rights.
Contrast that weak position to someone who has “hit it out of the park.” They have credibility. They know of what they speak – and can prove it.
My advice is that you find a way, especially if you are starting out, of doing everything necessary that clients can’t help but recommend you. Because what you did worked.
Otherwise, you’ll be saying you’re A-Rod when in reality, you’re the water boy.