My passion is rooted in teenaged experiences gained from my afternoon newspaper route. Serving a circular neighborhood provided opportunities to see and talk with my customers each day. I learned how seemingly simple actions often deliver outsized results.
I've learned a lot in the ensuing years. Four lessons stand out:
Relationships matter even more than we think.
The full impact professionals have on their clients often extends well beyond the task for which they were hired.
Bringing this "overlooked impact" to the surface will connect a firm's marketing with it's overall business and operations, leading to shorter sales cycles and higher profits while enriching essential relationships with their best clients.
Successful and highly credentialed professionals are hard to change. The most reliable path to lasting change uses appropriate research into their own clients to alter perspective and focus. Done well, this leads to a virtuous cycle that cements long-term improvement.
Wisdom is the result of experience. Below is more detail on my journey.
Relationships matter. My daily interactions delivering newspapers as a teen cemented relationships that remained memorable decades later (and earned me a lot of tips at the time). Over the years, my relatives were asked many times if they're related to "Bruce La Fetra, our old paperboy?" The most recent encounter was nearly 30 years after I left the newspaper delivery business.
The biggest impact isn't always what we think. Early in my career, I got to build channel and developer programs for several market-leading companies. Tasked with getting software developers (ISVs) to support my employer's proprietary hardware, I learned that intent doesn't equal action, and companies partner (or refer you) for their benefit, not yours.
If you want to drive real change, alter perspectives. My journey led to my Strategic Marketing 3.0 process. It provides a framework for transforming the marketing and business development of professional services firms hungry to build a stronger and more robust firm. Instead of talking to a few customers to validate a one-size-fits-all solution, I start by going deep with a firm's best clients to uncover the real and often unstated reasons they select that firm over other options. What results is a firm-wide focus on being a better choice rather than basking in self-perceived "differentness."
I haven't always been a consultant. Although many of my classmates signed on with McKinsey, Bain, and other A-list consulting firms, I set my roots in industry. I know how hard it is thinking and acting strategically while holding down a "day job" managing tactical priorities. Successfully changing behavior means changing thinking, and if I can make it "your idea," change will come much faster. You can check out my full background on LinkedIn or my backgrounder.
I'm well aware that firms have lots of options when it comes to building their business. My clients choose to work with me rather than an agency or another consultant because I'm an advisor rather than a vendor. I'm tactic and technology agnostic, so your agenda is my agenda. The focus stays on the big picture of your overall business, not just your marketing activities.
My thinking is featured in print articles in The Pricing Advisor, Pragmatic Marketing Magazine, and Soft-Letter, and online at MarketingProfs, Sandhill.com and Sales & Marketing Management—and, of course, in my blog Looking Up. A list of articles can be found at the Thinking tab.
I am regularly asked to share my perspective as a speaker for a variety of groups and associations. Explore some of my presentations at the Speaking tab.
I work with clients to create a collaborative relationship in which responsibility is shared, skills and best practices are transferred, and dependence is diminished over time so the client can continue to achieve amazing results on their own.
Business results. At the end of the day, you only serve the needs of your employees, investors and customers by being successful.
Recognize patterns. Years of experience working across many companies and industries equips me to spot useful patterns and gain insights from what is present, and what is missing.
Trust. Striving for transparency at all times with a process predicated on best practices and solid fundamentals.
Collaboration. You know your business better than anyone, but I'll help you see connections and insights that will boost you to the next level.
Create self-sufficiency. Fundamentally, I'm in the knowledge business. Your team's ability to sustain and grow the value of your customer interactions is the key metric of all success.
Outside of my consulting work, I give back to the community I live in by contributing time and expertise as a pro bono consultant and project manager for the Taproot Foundation, volunteering as a team leader with Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley, founding a program for blind Veterans at the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation, and serving in leadership roles with the Northwest YMCA and a decade of managing the 50-tree apricot orchard at my church.