Latest Blog Comments
  • Thank you for this very informative webinar. I finally was able to listen to it. You definitely hit all the hot buttons for me. I have 13 out of 13 fo... read more
    By Deborah Goldberger

  • Thanks for the awesome post Robert! Like you, I have found the Wisdompreneurs community to be INCREDIBLY helpful. And, the secret is in discerning who... read more
    By Paul Zelizer

  • Thanks for this article about avoiding making mistakes and the value of taking action. I think you are a pretty creative person and that trusting your... read more
    By Nancy Francisco

  • Hi Robert, Thanks for the good article. I would add one more question to quantify the Dollar cost of the problem as well as the value ($) of the solut... read more
    By Bill Cabiro

  • Thanks for your comments, everyone. I guess what I'm ultimately saying in this article that my writing could be better. I don't strive for perfection,... read more
    By Robert Middleton

  • Hello Robert, Interesting article. I thought you might like to know that I've been reading your ezine since 2002. I too, publish an ezine, although no... read more
    By Steve Foster

  • Perfectionism can be the enemy of productivity. I dislike seeing typos or grammar mistakes in items I receive and even more in my own newsletter or bo... read more
    By Hazel Wagner

  • Robert, I think the real lesson from your article is: The most important thing is to write! You don't have to be a great writer to be successful, as l... read more
    By Jocelyn

  • Hi Elizabeth, what a perfect answer. Yes, we have all of those in us. They are natural. And yes, all that crap comes up and seems to negate who we rea... read more
    By Robert Middleton

  • Hi Robert, What a great article. I read each of the 7 traits and found myself saying "yes I have those traits most of the time." I became hopeful but ... read more
    By Elizabeth Hides

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

I was having a great time…

On Sunday afternoon I was playing with my granddaughter, Colette, on her bicycle in her backyard.

She was chasing me with her bike with me running backwards. 

It was a blast until I tripped and went down hard on the concrete. 

Ouch!!! My left hip, shoulder and the toes on my left foot were bruised and battered... but I survived. 

Colette (picture above) was oblivious, as I writhed in pain on the pavement. Note to self: "Stop being a stupid showoff."

After dinner, my wife and I drove the one hour trip back to our home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I was hurting, but I'd be OK.

Then later that evening…

I was in our guest bedroom, looking for a book and bent down to select it from the bottom shelf…

And then, zap! my back went out. An excruciating pain shot though my lower back. I could barely move. With my wife's help I rolled onto the bed, groaning in pain, and fell asleep about an hour later. 

It's Monday now and I'm still hurting, but I can get around at a slow shuffle, and am typing this at my stand-up desk. But I need to take it easy for the rest of the day. 

When things like this happen, the mind goes a little nuts, imagining pathetic scenarios of me in a wheelchair, totally dependent on my wife. Pretty maudlin. 

And then I thought: "Screw this! I have things to do, clients to serve, programs to lead, an eZine to write!"

But I am going to take it easy today. As soon as I send this out I'm back to bed for a few hours. 

Tomorrow I'll give you a final update on the Beyond Stuckness Program that starts next week on April 9. Yes, the program is a go with 21 participants, but we can take a few more: http://theunstuckprocess.com/courses.

Cheers, Robert M. 

If you have comments on this article, or would like to share it on social media, please click on the lkins below.

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

When I want to find out how to do something, I go to the Internet Oracle: Google. It helps me find most of the business answers I need, from finding how to do a specific thing with a piece of software, to looking up organizations to network with. 

But what if you need more than that?

What if you need feedback on your marketing message, ideas on how to deal with a difficult clients, or insights into how to get your clients to move into action? 

Perhaps you'd just like to brainstorm ideas on how to make your service more compelling or get feedback on a new service idea? 

This is when I tap into the Facebook Group, Wisdompreneurs. 

Wisdompreneurs is the brainchild of Paul Zelizer from Santa Fe who used to work for Wisdom 2.0 – "a global community of people dedicated to living with deeper wisdom, compassion and awareness in the digital age."

Paul was in charge of developing the online community for Wisdom 2.0 and some time later he had the idea of an online community for mostly self-employed business owners who wanted to interact with others with a similar worldview. 

And it's grown like mad, with almost 5,000 members.  

I discovered the Wisdompreneurs Facebook Group abut six months ago and have been an active participant ever since.

It's made a huge difference to me and my business. 

As an Independent Professional for more than 30 years, I face the issues of isolation and disconnection like all other self-employed people living in their own "private bubble."

These days I don't do live networking much anymore; I just haven't found the right group in the Santa Cruz area, so Wisdompreneurs helps to fill that gap. The longer you belong, the more you get to know people, and the deeper the connections grow. 

Wisdompreneurs is great because it's so active. If you post something, you can expect a response in one to ten minutes. 

The main ways I participate in Wisdompreneurs:

1. I take a look at the group every morning and see if there are any interesting conversations going on. Then I'll often comment on the ones where I feel I can provide an idea or resource.

2. If I want to run an idea by the group, get some feedback or find a resource, I start a conversation and then check in during the day to read any comments and respond to them. In fact, today while writing this article, I asked for feedback on topics for a new marketing course I'm developing. 

3. Sometimes I just bring up a random idea I've been thinking about and often get a lively discussion going. This gets me thinking and inspired with new ideas and possibilities. 

4. Wisdompreneurs also enables me to do instant market research, invite others to participate in something (I just signed up six members to be Guest Experts in the More Clients Club), find places to be interviewed for podcasts, etc. 

Wisdompreneurs, however, is not a place to directly promote your services to other group members.

Paul, in his wisdom, has banned "article spamming." That's when you join a group but all you see are pictures and links that point back to someone's website or blog articles. 

When that happens, conversation stops and a real community never develops. It's just the opposite in Wisdompreneurs.

However as an outlet to get the word out, each Wednesday Paul posts a thread where you can promote your services, insert a link to your blog etc. 

And, of course, you can connect with people in other ways such as private messages and develop connections that may turn into new business, partnering on projects, etc. 

I invite you to check out Wisdompreneurs. It might be the online community you've been looking for. And I'll see you there online! 

Go here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/wisdompreneurs/

But a quick warning: Join Wisdompreneurs and you'll be exposed to more interesting and relevant business ideas than you have in months. Then you need to figure out what to do with them all!

Just click on Join Group at the top right of the page and you'll be approved in an hour or two. 

Cheers, Robert

If you have comments on this article, or would like to share it on social media, please click on the links below. 

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This week I want to share a special Webinar Recording with you. 

It's a detailed look at how we're stuck and what we need to do to get unstuck. If you have experienced any of the following kinds of stuckness in the past week related to your marketing or anyting else, I think you'll find it quite enlightening. 

Procrastination • Second-guessing yourself • Lack of Confidence • Perfectionism • Feeling not good enough • Avoiding risks • Not completing things • Feeling unworthy • Feeling Overwhelm • Disorganization • Feeling you don't know enough • Poor time management • Doing everything yourself • Always having to be right • Justification and excuses • Lack of direction

Please note that this is not a long promotion for the Beyond Stuckness Program. We only mention the program for a few minutes at the end of the webinar. This is a hands-on program to help you really understand and use the Unstuck Process. Click here to get an Unstuck Worksheet to use during the webinar. 

 

If you'd like to know more about the program or make a reservation,
just click here:
The Beyond Stuckness Program.

The Program is offered on a "Pay-What-You-Can" basis.  

Please feel free to comment on this webinar or share it at the links below. 

Cheers, Robert

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

A Short Play in 2 Acts

Act I - Scene 1

Scenario: My wife (Saroj) and I (Robert) were in Carmel last Thursday evening for my birthday weekend, looking for the restaurant to which we had a Groupon coupon. 

Me: Where's the restaurant?

Saroj: It's just down here on 5th St. There it is. 

Me: OK, let's go in. 

The restaurant is nice, but nothing special. My wife chose this restaurant because the reviews were very good and we can order 2 appetizers and 2 main courses with the $42 coupon.

Nobody is at reception. There are two parties in the restaurant. After about 5 minutes, the waitress appears with a dish for one of the parties and asks us to sit anywhere we want. We do and she comes over to our table. 

Me: I just want you to know before we order, that we have a Groupon for dinner tonight. 

Waitress: Sorry, but we can only honor that coupon if you've made a reservation. 

Me: I can understand that if the restaurant was full, but you only have six people here and about 30 empty tables. 

Waitress: It's our policy. 

Me (becoming incredulous): OK, but you have nobody here, what difference does a reservation make? We're ready to spend our money here. 

Waitress: Sorry, it's our policy, I'd get in trouble if I did it and the owner is not here. 

Me: OK, thanks but we'll find a different restaurant. 

Act I - Scene 2

We get up from our table, somewhat bewildered, and head out to find a new restaurant. We soon see Giovanni's Bistro around the corner.

Me: Why don't we go to Giovanni's? We went there a few years ago and it was very good. 

Saroj: OK, let's try it. 

We step inside the restaurant which is about one-quarter full. The place has a wonderful old-world charm. Paintings of rural scenes from Italy decorate the walls. Amazing aromas waft from the kitchen. We take our seats. 

We are greeted by our waiter who is warm and friendly. We strike up a conversation as our orders are taken and served. 

We ask him where he's from and he tells us Lebanon. We talk about Lebanon, his family, wine and wineries and many other topics. By the end of the night he feels like an old friend. 

Saroj has has crab ravioli with cream sauce; I have coq au vin. Both are delicious. We order a Zinfandel wine and bread pudding with ice cream for dessert. Our wonderful waiter brings us complimentary glasses of port. The tab, with tip, comes to $142. We are very satisfied.

When we leave, a handful of customers remain.  

Act I - Scene 3

We wander around Carmel after 9 p.m. to do window shopping and come across another restaurant, Dametra Cafe - which is still crowded with people. 

We ask a man at the front of the restaurant about the place. He let's us know he's a waiter and opens the door for us to have a look. It appears as an ornate Middle Eastern bazaar. 

Me: Wow, this is very nice, how long have you been around? 

Waiter: 7 years. 

Me: I'm amazed we missed this as we've been to Carmel many times. We were surprised to see how many people are here at this hour. 

Waiter: We're probably the most popular restaurant in town.

Saroj: We should make a reservation for tomorrow! 

Waiter: Sure, let me look at my reservations. We can fit you in at 5:30.

Me: No later?

Waiter: No, we are mostly booked up for tomorrow. 

Saroj: OK, let's make the reservation, this place looks wonderful.  

Act II

We arrive at Dametra around 5:30. The place is packed but they seat us very quickly. The interior is amazing; all the walls are painted in a Middle Eastern theme. There's a mural on the ceiling and Greek columns at the entranceway. The whole place is like a work of art.

My wife orders a Middle Eastern vegetarian plate and I order halibut with potatoes au gratin. 

We strike up a conversation with the family at the table next to us as we wait for about 30 minutes for our dinner to be served.

And then…

The owner of the restaurant strolls into the middle of the room with a broad smile on his face and a oud (a middle astern type of guitar) cradled in his arms. He calls for one of his cooks who joins him among the tables. The atmosphere is electric.

The owner begins to play and the cook begins to sign. First, they perform a Spanish song, and then several waiters and busboys join in on hand-drums. They build up to a frenzy of wildly danceable music, and then most of the women at the central table get up and start dancing. 


Everyone in the restaurant is grinning ear-to-ear, including us. 

Our dinner is served after the performance as we bathe in the charged atmosphere of the restaurant. The guests, the staff and the world seem to be vibrating at a higher frequency. We haven't just had dinner, we've had an experience!

Restaurant #1 would get an F. Restaurant 2 would get an A+, but restaurant #3 was simply off the charts. 

I briefly talked to the owner at the end of our meal as he roamed around the dining room. 

Me: Your restaurant is wonderful!

Owner: Well, I like to think of this as my living room and everyone as my close friends. I want everyone to have a wonderful time and leave happy and fulfilled. 

He certainly accomplished that. 

My old friend Mariana Nunes had a saying: "You don't want to satisfy your clients, you want to give them an experience they'll never forget." 

How can you do this in your business? Let me tell you, after our restaurant experience on Friday, that was all I could think about. 

Cheers, Robert

If you have comments on this article, or would like to share it on social media, please link below. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Recently I've been experimenting with support options for the More Clients Club. I'd been doing a live "Coaching Call" every other Tuesday afternoon for about 6 years years.

But one day a few weeks ago I decided to switch things up a bit.

I put on my creativity hat and slept on it. 

When I woke up the next morning I knew what to do. I would hold calls not twice monthly, but weekly. Not only that, I would expand the length of the calls to three hours and do a combination of coaching (mostly Q&A) and a 90-minute session with a Guest Expert. And I changed the day from Tuesday to Friday. 

Let's see, that was a total of four pretty major changes. 

And the new system started off swimmingly. Until attendance and participation started to wane and I began to burn out. A three-hour session doesn't seem like much on paper, but in reality… whew!

OK, back to the drawing board. 

What had I missed?

I had missed asking the Club members what they wanted. What would work for them? After all, I was doing it for them in the first place.

How about a simple "Survey Monkey" survey? That's easy!

Yesterday, In less than an hour, I'd designed the survey and sent it out to Club members, giving them several options and asking which one would work best for them. 

A few hours later I had a clear winner: Do a weekly call (now called Action Calls) but alternate between a Q&A Coaching Session and an interview with a Guest Expert. Perfect.

And back to a manageable 90-minutes. 

What has this little exercise taught me?

That I'm a hard-headed, know-it-all with a strong creative and impulsive streak who wants to win at everything he tries. 

But I knew that already. 

And, to tell the truth, that personality has served me well in many situations in my life and business. I make decisions quickly, more often than not the right ones. I don't second guess myself much and I'm willing to take calculated risks. 

But this one was kind of a bomb. 

OK, lesson learned. Get more feedback. Be willing to be wrong. Embrace input from others. Correct course and move on. 

So, how do you deal with similar situations? 

What do you do when something's not working in your business?  Do you hold back and avoid mistakes or do you jump in and give something a try, damn the consequences?

I see businesspeople do the following: 

• Staying frozen, with indecision and worry.

• Making an organized plan and choosing the best option. 

• Waiting until they get a lot of feedback before moving.

• Choosing what feels good at the time and just going for it. (Me)

• Doing a lot of research, reading, etc. before taking action.

Other than the first strategy, all of these can work.

But whatever you do, you must realize that you'll make some mistakes along the way. You'll blow it like I did. The thing is, will you make mistakes because of inaction or because of action?

I often remind my clients that although Babe Ruth was the home run champion, he was also the leader in strikeouts. His lifetime home run record of 714 wasn't broken for 39 years. And his strikeout record of 1330 took 29 years to break.

Note that his strikeout record was about twice his home run record. He was a risk-taker, going for it every single game. 

If you're holding back, playing carefully, not taking chances and worrying about mistakes, the chances are good that you won't have too many home runs… or strikeouts either. 

Are You Ready to Adapt?

In the More Clients Club Forum, a member recently asked me why I had changed the free report I gave away on my site. He was about to create a four-report package as I had done - my "Marketing Starter Kit." He thought that was the "right thing to do."

I told him that my goal was to get as many opt-ins for new eZine subscribers as possible. I was always trying something new to see if it worked better than the previous give-away. 

As a result of this kind of testing, hundreds of thousands of people have requested my reports over the past 17 years. And those new subscribers have become my clients, program participants and Club members. 

As Alan Deustchman says, "Change or Die!" (In this excellent book of the same name.)

By the way, since you're already a subscriber, let me give you a free copy of the new report" "The 7 Big Reasons Your Marketing Isn't Working." 

Get your report by clicking here.

And while you're at it, if you know someone who could get value from the report, please send them to: http://actionplan.com where they can get it too. I also have a completely redesigned home page that I put together last week. Check it out at the link above. 

Cheers, Robert

If you have comments on this article, or would like to share it on social media, I'd certainly apreciate it. See the links below. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

I took a long journey on the Internet this past week. 

I had discovered something new, something exciting, something potentialy life-changing. 

And I wanted to know as much about it as I possible could before jumping in and taking action. 

It wasn't about marketing or business or getting unstuck or jazz or any of my other common obsessions.  

Before I tell you what it is, let me tell you more about the journey. 

I first learned about this on Amazon and read a number of reviews about something that really intrigued me. Then I looked at other places on Amazon for different versions of this thing, and read more reviews. 

Then I went to Google and did some searching. The volume of information on this thing was vast and overwhelming. Hundreds of articles, websites, and YouTube videos. I selected the ones that seemed the most credible.

After about 15 hours of reading and searching online over about a week, I made a choice about what I thought would be the best variety of thing for me and I bought some of it. 

And boy, I'm glad I did!

Sorry to keep you in suspense. Here's the thing I found

However this article isn't about the thing I found, but the search to find that thing, to understand that thing, to see the application of that thing to myself and to utilize that thing to its maximum advantage. 

I don't know about you, but I find that very interesting.

What compels us to learn about something in such depth?

Isn't it all about something that will fulfill us, provide a real benefit or something that will provide relief, mitigate or eliminate a pain, discomfort or problem? 

In my case it was the latter. 

And why is this even important to talk about? 

Since More Clients is about marketing to and attracting clients, what could possibly be be more important than knowing what would motivate someone to search for, become interested in and learn about the services you are offering to the marketplace?

What is it that generates this degree of interest?

Well, it can't be something trivial, can it? It can't be something your prospective clients can't relate to. It must be something that fills a real need or alleviates a real pain. 

What will make it so valuable and compelling that someone would pay good money for it? 

You need to look at your professional services closely, from the point of view of the prospect, to discover these answers for yourself. And then you must articulate that value clearly, in plain language that is easy to relate to. 

Here are some questions you could and should ask about your services, becasue, I promise you, your prospects are asking these questions. 

What needs do your services fill?

What exactly is that need about?

How important is that need?

What difference will it make to fulfill that need?

If that need is fulfilled, what will happen next?

Is there a pain or problem that your service alleviates?

How bad is the pain and how long has it been going on?

How long can your prospects tolerate this pain?

What will make them take action sooner? 

Can you give evidence that you can remove this pain?

Who else has used your service and what results did they get?

How easy or hard is it to apply your solution? 

How long will it take?

Is there a chance it won't work at all? 

What does your solution cost? 

What will it cost over time? 

Is your service a good investment overall?

When I was searching for this something online, these were exactly the questions I was asking. I wanted to know as much as possible before I pulled out my wallet and paid for this something. 

And when your potential clients are looking at using your service, these are exactly the questions they'll ask as well. 

So you'd better know the answers! You'd better be able to answer verbally, in the written materials on your website, in your articles, on your blog, in social media and from the stage. 

Yes, I know this takes some time, some thinking and a certain amount of effort. But if you want to attract more clients and grow your business, what could possibly be more important than having the answers to those questions?

If you have comments on this article, or would like to share it on social media, please go to the links below. 

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Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

I have a confession. 

I'm way too arrogant about my writing skills. 

I've been writing articles for this ezine/blog for about 17 years; that's close to 700 article in total. But it doesn't necessarily mean that my articles are always well-written. 

In fact, many times they're not!

At the end of the year I received an email newsletter from Daphne Gray-Grant, one of the few newsletters I read regularly. Her topic is on writing better and more effectively.

This particular article was interesting, intriguing, fun to read and  really made me think about the quality of my own writing. 

You can read her blog here: http://www.publicationcoach.com/blog/ and to find the article I read that day, enter the word "satisfice" in her search box. 

What her article did for me is trigger "writing envy." You know, thoughts like, "I wish I could write this well, why is she such a good writer compared to me, why are all her articles so interesting and fun to read?"

Well, that didn't lead to any kind of expansive thinking, so instead I emailed her and asked her to be my writing coach. I sent her several of my articles and told her to "pick them apart without mercy."

And she did. 

It was a humbling experience to read all of her feedback. 

I made lots of common grammar errors. I weakened my articles with too many concepts and not enough stories. I generalized things that needed to be more specific. I used "jargony" terms that I understood but others might not, etc. 

It was mortifying and cleansing at the same time. 

I sent her another email and asked her to be my ezine/blog editor until I'd improved my writing significantly.

I don't know about you, but assuming our marketing is OK, can be a huge (often expensive) mistake. Our thinking and perceptions are too one-sided. We don't know what we don't know and we likely make errors over and over again that are quite preventable. 

The reason I've been writing these articles for so long is that I want to help your marketing be more effective and attract more clients, but if my writing isn't as good as it could possibly be, I'm not "walking my talk."

No more!

P.S. I promised Part 2 of my topic from last week on Marketing Breakthroughs, but let me give you a rain check on that one and I'll send it soon. 

If you have comments on this article, or would like to share it on social media, please click on the links below. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

If you really think about it, wouldn't you love to have a marketing breakthrough? 

A breakthrough might start with one good idea or insight that ultimately turned into strategies and plans that, when implemented, attracted lots of your ideal clients and a substantial increase in income. You'd be making more of a difference and you'd be having a great time. 

Who wouldn't want that?

I've had a lot of breakthroughs in my business that have led to exactly that, many times over the years. 

The More Clients eZine

The InfoGuru Marketing Manual

The Marketing Action Groups

The Marketing Mastery Program

The More Clients Club

The Unstuck Process Book and Courses

All of these breakthroughs, in the form of marketing activities and programs, have led to several millions in revenue over the last several years, plus making a difference for thousands of people.

The question is how? What did I do, what did I know to produce those results consistently for years on end? 

One might guess that I had the right information and that I took action on that information. Some might think the information was more important, and others might say it was mostly about taking action. 

But today I want to suggest something else. Although information and action had important roles in those marketing breakthroughs, they were not the most essential things. 

A few weeks ago I emphasized that "a little less information and a little more action" as a key formula for success. 

I was only half right. 

After all, others may have absorbed as much or more information and taken as much action as I did. I've certainly talked to many people where this was the case. It hasn't been for lack or information or action that they didn't produce breakthrough results.

Well, could it be that I am more cognizant of certain marketing principles than many others? I doubt this is true either, although it certainly doesn't hurt to understand certain principles when undertaking a project.  

However, there are a whole lot of other people who have ongoing, consistent breakthroughs in their marketing and business (and lives). I know quite a few of them and I've studied their approaches, and methods. They also apply certain information and take consistent action. 

But is there something else about them that is very different than those who are not having consistent breakthroughs?

Yes, there are! They tend to embody several of the following "Breakthrough Traits."

The 7 Breakthrough Traits

1. They have a clear vision or direction for where they want to go and what they want to make happen.

2. They have focused intention. They are able to move towards their goals with relatively little struggle or effort. 

3. They are completely OK with not knowing. They are open channels for learning and discovery. 

4. They are expansive and creative. They see new possibilities and opportunities everywhere.  

5. They are relatively fearless, that is, nothing they approach feels inherently risky or dangerous. 

6. They are resilient. They bounce back quickly from setbacks and disappointments

7. They live much more in the present, the NOW, than they do the past or the future. 

Notice that none of these have much to do with information or taking action. However, they are the natural precursors for absorbing the information they need and taking the action required to produce breakthrough results.

If you can accept these traits at face value, then the next question is obvious: "How do I learn and master these traits?"

The answer to this may seem like a paradox. 

Yes, although it does take a certain amount of effort and time to absorb the necessary information and to take the actions required to produce a breakthrough, these traits are timeless; you can't actually learn them.

You have to have them inside you already. If you don't already have these traits, your chances for real breakthroughs are slim to none. 

That's the bad news. Here's the good news: 

Everyone, without exception, already possess these traits. You have all you need, perhaps more than you need! These traits come with the human package called "You." They are natural to everyone. They do not take time, information and expertise to develop. 

The mystery is that although we all have these traits, they are mostly hidden or covered over. We all have them, but don't realize we have them. We simply need to realize that we already have these traits in great abundance. 

But how do we do that?

I'll complete this article with Part 2 next week, but for now, I want you to look around and see if you can find the people who already have these traits (as we all do), but in their case they are not hidden or covered over. 

There are over 600 million of them around the world!

You may even have one in your family. Who are these people? 

Let me know on the blog if you think you know. What insights do you get from this?

If you have comments on this article, or would like to share it on social media, please click on the links below:

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By Robert Middleton – Actionplan.com

This Blog is a conversation conducted on the Wisdomprenuers Facebook Page on Monday:

Robert Middleton: One of my eZine subscribers has been using my "Marketing Plan Workbook" (which he got free on my site some time ago), with his current non-profit clients and teaching them my marketing principles. He emailed me and asked if I could change "Independent Professionals" to "Non-Profits" on the workbook. The thing is, this person has never paid a dime for any of my products or services ever, and is now asking me to customize a report for him! I told him that copying and giving this report to his clients was copyright infringement and asked him to pay me for the use of the report. 

Don't know what he'll do, but what do you think? What would you do?

Denise Michaels: Back when I started working for Robert G. Allen (mega-bestselling author) he showed me a couple people ripping him off. I meekly replied, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?" He shot back, "Well I guess I've been flattered a lot." These people think you should feel honored because they've never dreamed up their own ideas or created their own intellectual property.

RM: Chasing people around who are using one's materials like this is impossible. And I don't mind people using my ideas in their businesses. That's what I'm in business for! To be fair, if someone uses my stuff with their clients, they are usually a big fan of my stuff, so it's tricky. The question is where to draw the line?

Michael Stratford: What still stuns me in the Personal Development industry is the almost ridiculous lack of integrity with respect to IP... BTW Robert, I wonder how he'll feel when someone gets something of his for free and then begins to market it under their name

Denise Michaels: Of course the reason why you offer your info is so people can take the strategies and figure out how to tweak them and make them work for their own business. But when someone is presenting themselves as a marketing consultant and basically is saying, "These are my ideas." I dunno. Is this person making copies of your stuff and selling it to clients as his own? That sounds like you're being ripped off, if I understand you correctly.

RM: No, he's not doing that. He's giving copies of my report, with my name on them, to his clients. Then he is offering consulting, using the workbook as a marketing guide. 

Audrey Seymour: One of the things that come to mind is clarifying use of the free ebook. Just to check, did you specify use in one of the header pages that you can point to? – such as, "Enjoy this for your own use; if you're interested in using this workbook with your clients, contact me and I'll be happy to work out an arrangement." I think people are getting looser about using other people's material, and there aren't clear conventions any more. But if you are clear, then you can point to where it's specified.

RM: Good point, Audrey! You may notice that in my eZine I let anyone use my articles as long as there is attribution and a link back to my list. That's good for my visibility and credibility. But I don't like the idea of people using my reports and materials as the foundation of training others without some compensation.

Audrey Seymour: I'm thinking that the loosening of standards does allow us each to bring forth our own unique model of how we want to handle IP rights. And it forces us to be clear, ask for what we want, and enforce boundaries. Isn't there something parallel to copyright now that's called copyleft or...?

RM: What does not work in all of this is any kind of anger, resentment, retribution, etc. If I went there, I'd go nuts. In 2000 I jump-started the whole industry of marketing for Independent Professionals with my InfoGuru Marketing Manual. Virtually all the Marketing Gurus out there started with that manual! So I created a LOT of competition for myself. So that's my karma.

Denise Michaels: I own your InfoGuru Manual from back in the day.

RM: Denise, exactly. I sold about 9,000 copies. And integrating those ideas into your business is cool. God knows, I read hundreds of books on marketing myself, tested out the ideas and taught them to my clients. But if you took the InfoGuru Manual and used it as the foundation of a course you're teaching, that wouldn't be so cool!

Audrey Seymour: I'm another InfoGuru Manual owner! It was fabulous; I used it for myself and in a partnership I had at the time.

RM: About the Manual: Gald you liked it! I'm no longer selling it but offer it as a bonus in my More Clients Club.

Kathy Mallary: This gave me pause for thought, Robert, because I've used your excellent Web Site Toolkit with many of my clients. But I always send them over to your site to buy the Toolkit directly from you. They are responsible for reading/following the steps in the toolkit; I simply coach them on their signature coaching message and help them edit their copy & stay on track with their project timeline, etc. (I don't think that steps on your IP rights, but let me know if it causes you any concern!)

Re: the person who wants to use your free workbook with their clients -- seems like the problem is he's copying and giving them the workbook himself, and that means you're losing out on subscribers. You could ask that he send people to your website to get the workbook directly from you.

RM: Kathy, no problem with using the Website ToolKit that way. And yes, I'd prefer that people get their own copy of my reports and opt-in to my list, but I'm not offering that workbook anymore. In any case, my next report will include my new guidelines about how that report can be used! (Thanks, Audrey.)

Elisa Joy Shames: With regards to your Marketing Plan Workbook. Well… The person is using the work that you put down on paper. And then they’re teaching using their own experience? With just the workbook... wouldn't they have to use their own time, energy and knowledge to teach?

I can understand the dilemma. If you want the work attributed to you… then having content in there related back to you somehow is a great idea.

Mark Silver: This has been really thought-provoking. My take is that the guy doesn't mean harm, so there's no reason to go after him with a bulldozer.

What I like to do in these cases, and I have had quite a few of them myself, is to let them know that it is my material, and that the correct way to share the material is to send them to my website to download the free workbook.

I would also tell him that you don't work with nonprofit clients, so no customization is possible. That's my take- people are usually pretty cool if they are given a legal and easy way to do the same thing they are doing now.

Jonathan Bender: I'd have a phone chat with him, and explain things, and see what you come up with.

Michele Pariza Wacek: I agree with Jonathan Bender and have a phone chat with him. I also agree with Audrey and using this experience to really shore up your own boundaries on how your content should be used and not used. I think the fact you gave this out for free puts it in murky waters -- is he sending over your report with your name and contact info in it or did he repurpose it somehow? (It sounds like he's just sending over the report itself otherwise he would probably just make that change to non-profits). So, the only thing you didn't really get out of it is all of his clients email addresses.

Alyson Miller-Greenfield: The naiveté of your subscriber seems almost touching. He admires your work and took you at what he understood to be your word - to use your "free" material to help expand his practice. Even IP law has not kept pace with our SHARE to be known, open-source everything, web-culture. No wonder there is [GASP!] confusion in the marketplace! I'd give him a call, have a nice chat, let him use whatever you feel comfortable with him using - and then tap this experience to clarify your IP policies on ALL OF YOUR MATERIALS and your website!

RM: Thank you everyone for you wisdom, ideas and perspective!

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

When my wife and I discovered Trader Joe's amazing food many years ago, one of the most awesome products were their Pound Plus (18 oz) Belgian Chocolate bars.

Not only are they huge, but they're some of the best chocolate I've ever tasted. My favorite is the dark chocolate with 72% cacao. But perhaps the most amazing of all was the price: $4.99 per bar. 

Do the math: $4.99 divided by 18 oz. = 28¢ per oz. 

Compare that to a Hershey bar. Now at $1.39 for 1.44 oz it's 96¢ per oz. And the quality can't even compare. Meanwhile Hershey keeps cutting costs and reducing the chocolate content in their candy bars. 

This marketing formula of higher quality for a lower price is incredibly compelling and has always worked to build consumer acceptance and word-of-mouth:

"Get more at a higher quality for less."

So how does that work for technology companies?

Let's see - Google is free to everyone, answers just about every question you could possibly have, and is free. And they've had the brilliance to turn that into a multi-billion dollar company. 

I bought my first Apple Plus with a plastic case, tiny hard drive and screen in 1986 for about $2500. You can now buy an all-aluminum iMac for $2499 with a 27" Screen and a 1 Terrabyte hard drive! Same price, off-the-charts value.  

The value is astounding. The formula works.

But how's that working for Independent Professional services? 

The price per hour or per project for personalized coaching or consulting services is only going up. You can't easily make a living on $50 or even $100 per hour. Some consultants and coaches are charging $500 and more per session.

But only a very few can afford such fees. 

If our clients happen to be small business owners, or solopreneurs, those kind of fees just aren't going to fly. Our clients need information and support, but they are also looking for the best bang for their marketing buck. 

Starting around 2,000 I met that need with group programs that were both affordable and valuable. For the past 14 years or so I've offered programs at various price points, depending on the depth of information and personal coaching provided. I've filled every program. 

In 2009 I launched The Marketing Club (Now the More Clients Club), included a ton of marketing information in the form of written and recorded tutorials and 3 hours of group coaching a month. I priced the Club membership at $29 per month and the price hasn't gone up in 6 years. 

With my epiphany at the start of the year: "A little less information and a little more action." I realized I had to make some major changes in the Club that would increase the hands-on support to help people take more effective action. 

I woke up one morning on my Hawaii vacation with the answer: 

All the information in the Club would remain the same, but I'd dramatically increase the amount and accessibility of the support I provided in the Club. 

I used to offer twice monthly 90-minute Coaching Calls. Actually, a pretty good deal, if you think about it, but I decided to make a big leap. I increase the calls from twice monthly to weekly and I expanded the time from 90 minutes to 4 hours. 

I was waiting to announce this to my eZine subscribers and blog readers until I'd held my first group "Action Call," which I did on Friday. And the results exceeded my wildest expectations. 

During that four hours we did a lot of things. 

1. Gave answers and coaching to questions on virtually any marketing topic. In that 4 hours we covered 19 topics, many in depth. 

2. Encouraged people to make a commitment to take action and then go to work on it. One person went and spent three hours upgrading her website and then came back to the call and reported her progress. 

3. Point to marketing resources, from online to professional services. The calls now include Screen Sharing, so I can not only tell participants where to go, but show them right on their computer screens.  

Due to the great reception - we had 54 people total on the call - I'll be continuing this as long as Club Members are interested. 

If you think this is a great deal: Access to $6,000 worth of written and recorded marketing tutorials and programs, plus up to 16 hours of the weekly Action Calls per month for only $29 per month…

Then I invite you to try a one-month trial membership for $29. See the details on this page:

http://actionplan.com/club

In any case, that was my solution to offering more value for the same amount of money. I challenge you to discover more ways to offer incredible value to your clients in 2015.

And remember, these days value needs to go beyond more information. People need more support in taking action.          

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Robert Middleton, the owner of Action Plan Marketing, has for 30 years, been helping Self-Employed Professionals attract more of their ideal clients.  He offers the online membership site, The More Clients Club, a group marketing coaching program called the Marketing Action Groups, and individual coaching and consulting through his Marketing Action Coaching. If this is your first visit to the More Clients blog, make sure to get a copy of the More Clients Starter Kit