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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

In a recent post on Wisdompreneurs I outlined my basic system for growing your business faster. Here it is:

1. Work on developing a really good marketing message that embodies how you help your clients. Make it clear and easy to understand and that makes them ask, "Tell me more about that." Some people struggle with this for years. Make it a priority to nail it down as soon as possible and use it as a theme that permeates your marketing.

2. Put together a very good, well-written and professional-looking website. It may be one of the biggest investments in your business, but it will pay off many times over. It's the doorway to your business.

3. Work on building your e-list. One way is to offer a valuable free report on the homepage of your website. It's harder to grow your list than it used to be, but if you make it a top priority it will pay off. 

4. Do some kind of systematic keep-in-touch marketing such as a regular email newsletter and blog. And strive to make yours the very best in your industry. The better it is, the more your list will grow due to referrals.

5. Meet as many people as you possibly can, especially in the early years of your business, through networking and speaking. This is also a good way to build your list. Collect a lot of cards, offer your report and ask if you can add them to your e-list.

6. Use appropriate, no-hype email promotions to send to people from your e-list to your website for your offerings. I've promoted my coaching services, marketing tutorials, group programs and other classes this way with great success.

7. Master the selling process. Selling is not about manipulation, but about sharing value, learning what someone needs and getting agreement. There is an art to selling but it's something you can learn

8. Make your inner work as important as the outer work of building your business. For me it's been about transforming my relationship to my fearful, limiting thoughts and beliefs. 

If you work at mastering all of these, you will build your business faster, often much faster. And yes, it takes a lot of work to learn to do all of these things, but it's the very best use of your time.

A few other people added to this post and I'll list some of their comments here:

Michael Stratford: http://www.michaelstratford.com/

I want to mention a few 'intangibles' and then a couple tangibles I've found useful, not mandatory, but useful

First, I'd like to reference a mentor....Thomas Leonard – who said to me and others "If you want to grow your business grow yourself"

That's a big one...doing the inner landscape work that cleans up any leftover garbage, and toxic waste spills goes a long way toward making better decisions and taking smarter actions so that you don't have to use up time recovering from missteps...you can proceed easier without having constant spill cleanups.

Second is seemingly contradictory...I've often said to clients "Slower + smoother = faster"...taking the time to put things in place so you can run well, run long and run easily at the beginning allows you to pick up the pace fairly quickly. 

Third is simplicity. The simpler things are, the easier things flow, because there are fewer things to "go wrong" with them and if something does, it's easier to adjust.

Fourth is systems...the more stuff you don't have to put your attention on the more personal R.A.M. you have to put on the places where ONLY you are required.. this means tech, support, whatever you might deem a system that operates fairly automatically without much attention...even having a boilerplate proposal works, and autoresponders are a tech example, an accountant is a personal example

Fifth, Outsourcing when possible, and Crowdsourcing when needed. Giving jobs away and getting others involved, builds your team. More is almost always accomplished quicker with team than without. 

While taking the time to get clarity from others about what they want and are willing to buy is really helpful and saves a lot of recalibration time...it's easy to test stuff, it's more costly to make a huge launch, then find out you have no market for it and then have to completely re-tool.

Sixth, play… lightness is a big factor in acceleration, it's just flat-out more attractive...after all, who wants to be working with someone who is so serious you want to have a drink after the session?

Seventh and last for me is trust yourself and your instincts...you may have an intuition that doesn't necessarily make logical sense but feels right...often that's your inner GPS telling you to take a detour that's of great benefit.

Kathy Mallary - http://www.spiritspring.com/

I would add "Do not expect your new biz to pay your salary." A start-up does not typically make money – let alone a profit – overnight. Make sure you have some means of paying your personal bills SEPARATE from your business for at least the first 1-2 years, so that any money generated by your business can be invested right back into the business. Having unrealistic expectations about this can really mess with your mindset and derail your growth.

When you depend on your new biz to pay your bills too soon, it actually slows you down. It's not the right mindset; you end up saying yes to things you shouldn't and no to things you really should say yes to.

For instance, I often hear new biz owners say they can't afford to spend $10-20/mo for AWeber or MailChimp, although it's probably less than what they're spending at Starbucks in one WEEK. So they skimp along with the free email package for as long as possible, trying to build a mailing list while at the same time in the back of their mind, saying "I can't afford to have too many subscribers..." 

If your focus is on "how am I going to pay the rent" instead of "how can I serve" – your attention is not in the right place, and you're probably not making the best decisions.

Want to add your ideas to the discussion? Just click on the link below and make your comments. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Tom was frozen in his marketing. 

After he'd left the corporate world about three years ago and started his own consulting practice, he found it very difficult to attract enough clients. "It's not that I haven't been doing marketing activities," he told me. "It's just that they're not getting results. And I'm wondering if I'm doing the right things."

I went on to explain to Tom that there were two main areas of marketing and that he needed to understand the difference and find a balance between the two. 

These two marketing areas are long and short-term marketing. Each of these areas consist of several different activities. The long-term activities set you up for visibility and credibility and short-term activities will get you appointments with qualified prospects. 

Long-Term Marketing Activities

I explained to Tom that there were five long-term marketing activities that were especially important for Independent Professionals and that these long-term activities would build a solid marketing foundation and then maintain the structure of that foundation. Here they are:

Create a Great Marketing Message

Essentially, you need a powerful message that hits a nerve when someone asks you what you do. Say who you work with and the key issues and challenges you address – "I work with emerging leaders who are frustrated that they aren't progressing fast enough."

But make sure your message stays relevant. My marketing messaged transitioned from "I'm a small business consultant," (in 1984) to "I help Independent Professionals get their marketing unstuck and into action." (2015)

Develop a Great Website

Your website needs to be more than "good." It should be great. It needs exceptional design, messages that talk about the issues and challenges you help your clients with, in-depth descriptions of your services and case studies of your most successful clients.

And remember that your home page has only two purposes: To introduce you and your business with impact and to exchange a free report for the names and email addresses of your web visitors.

Focus on Building a List

When I put up my first website in 1997 and started studying the web experts, I learned that giving something away on my site in exchange for names and emails was the key. And things haven't changed in 18 years. Building your e-list in the long-term gives enables you to promote your services directly to that list This is one of the short-term activities I'll talk about below. 

Do Keep-in-Touch Marketing

Once you have a list (I started with 50), start sending valuable information on your area of expertise. Make a list of 12 of the most common challenges your clients face and start with articles on how to resolve those challenges. 

And then also place those articles from your email newsletter on your blog. At minimum, write an article every month, more often if you can manage it. I do mine weekly. 

Engage in Social Media

Social media keeps your name out there. But too many people rely on social media for short-term marketing. In my experience, it doesn't work too well for that. Social media is far more useful as a place for bouncing ideas around and for sharing and learning about resources. The Wisdompreneurs Facebook group I mentioned a few weeks ago is great for this. Check it out here.

I pointed out to Tom that putting these long-term marketing activities into place would take time and effort, but without this foundation his marketing would not have the solidity he wanted. 

"OK," said Tom. "But once this marketing foundation is in place, what else do I need to do? And how exactly are long and short-term marketing different?"

"What makes them different, I said, "is that long term marketing  is more passive, while short-term marketing is very proactive. 

"I sometimes think of long-term marketing as the great shows that are aired by public broadcasting. Short-term marketing is like the pledge breaks where they ask for your money!

"So now, let's look at those short-term marketing activities." 

Short-Term Marketing Activities

You can engage in the following activities as soon as possible, even while you're building your long-term foundation, but the more solid your foundation, the better results you'll see. 

Do In-Person Networking

Meeting someone in-person has a hundred times the impact of a social media connection. Find organizations that contain potential clients or that can connect you with potential clients. Attend events regularly, get involved, practice your message, offer your report and get them on your list.

It's not unusual that you'll meet with someone at a meeting, follow up and have a selling conversation within a week or two. It's happened to me many times. And, of course, the more you get to know people, the better results you'll get.  

Do Speaking, Webinars or TeleClasses

If you don't have much of a list to start, you won't get much traction with webinars and teleclasses, however there are more opportunities than ever for live speaking. Professional groups, business associations, chambers of commerce, even Meet-Up groups can be great places to position yourself as the expert. 

Right now one of my clients has been very successful in setting up talks for local SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) chapters. He collects cards from those who attend and follows up with them. He's never had more qualified leads. 

Generate Referrals

Most people pray for referrals. That doesn't work. Instead, Ask for referrals and educate your clients on how to make connections for you. Say something like: "If you happen to have a conversation with someone who is having the same challenges you were having before you worked with me, can you give me a call and let me know? Then you can tell me more about them and share the best way to reach out to them." 

This certainly works better than, "If you know anyone who can use my services, tell them to call me."

Promote to Your E-List

If you've been on my list for any time, you know I promote various programs to those on my list. I do my best not to overdo it by sending no more than one promotional email a week. I usually do less. 

But direct email promotion really gets results. With just three or four emails, over two or three weeks, I fill most of the programs I promote. But, of course, to do that you need to have a list of 1,000 or more. My e-list promotions have generated millions in sales of programs and coaching over years. Make list-building a big priority if you want similar results. 

Balancing Long and Short-Term Marketing

Tom had another question about balancing long and short-term marketing activities: "Do I need to get all the long-term pieces into place before I start my short-term marketing activities?"

"Not at all," I answered. "Once you nail down your marketing message, get out there and start networking immediately. As you get responses, you'll be able to fine-tune your message on the spot. The best marketing training you can get is face-to-face interactions with prospective clients."

I also pointed out to him that he may want to get his website up soon, so he could point people to it, but that he didn't have to have every single piece completed before he launched it. 

I also reminded him that I was getting a lot of speaking engagements years before I even had a website. 

"It sounds like a lot of work," said Tom. "How do you manage it all?"

"It's not so hard if you have a good organizational system. You may have a list of a dozen things to learn about and put into action, but you can only do so much in one day or a week. I break things down into long and short-term lists. Before long, everything gets done without too much struggle."

Then I pointed him to an article I'd written recently on how to manage a lot of things without getting overwhelmed. You can read it here: Lists That Will Help You Manage Overwhelm

Cheers, Robert M.

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

This past week I found myself in a difficult spot. Not only did my fall last week slow things down quite a bit (what with lots of naps and TV-watching), I found myself overwhelmed by all the things I had committed to do but couldn't manage.

But along with being able to work only a few hours each day, I happened to be "blessed" with a flood of new ideas and possible projects that made me feel even more overwhelmed.

On top of that I had to get my taxes filed and catch up on emails. Yikes! What do do? 

I heard my inner voice tell me over and over again, "You need to get organized, set priorities and only do what it necessary right now." 

So I went back to my tried-and-true planing system and dug myself out. 

My system is all about lists... but what kind of lists? Let me show you. 

Aspirations, Commitments, Time and Lists

At any given time we are swimming in a world of possibilities when it comes to getting things done. There are things to get done now… things to get done later... and things to get someday. It's those someday things that can be the real problem, which I'll explain later. 

Current Priorities List

This is a list of things you need to accomplish in the next month or so. They are projects you've already committed to or have set in motion, such as putting together a webinar, changing your website home page or keeping a promise to a colleague to give them feedback on a project.

The thing about current priorities is that they need to get done relatively soon, but probably not today or even this week. But the mind has a hard time sorting things this way. It wants to do everything NOW! But putting these items and projects on a Current Priorities List, you can reassure yourself you won't forget about them. But you don't need to take action until the time is right.

Weekly List

These are items and projects that come from you Priorities List. This list is at the core of planning and organizing. Once a week you take a look at this shorter time period and ask, "What things on my Priorities List need to get done this week?" If you're leading a workshop next week, it would make sense to prepare for it this week and avoid getting behind.

The key to a successful Weekly List is not to make it too long. You're not naming small things, but important things – things that make a difference to the forward movement of your business. So you need to select a few key items (from 5 to 10) that you absolutely commit to getting done this week. 

Daily List

This list includes one or two items from your Weekly list and also a number of small things that need to get done that day such as respond to certain emails, errands etc. And of course, how much you commit to getting done that day will also depend on the number of appointments you have with clients or prospects.

I have a simple game I play every day It's called, "Get Everything Done on My Daily List." It's not always possible, but when I set that intention, I usually succeed. Remember, it's not about getting a few dozen things done but getting the most important things done. 

Project Ideas List

This new list is my secret weapon for productivity; it collects all the good ideas I come up with and then put aside for now to ripen. This is the area many of us find so challenging. 

You know the situation: You come up with a great idea and you start working on it immediately. After all, that's where the energy is, right? Well, yes, but working on this new idea completely sidelines your priorities. 

Even worse, a few days down the road you realize that this idea is not really viable or it's something better done a few months from now. So you've put in all that time, distracted yourself from your priorities, and are now behind on important projects. Result: You feel overwhelmed.

That's where the Project Ideas List comes in. Whenever a brilliant business idea (or an idea about any other area of your life) pops into your head, go to your Project Ideas List, write it down and get back to your current priorities for the day. You can review it later, think about it and let it ripen until you feel ready to put it on your Current Priorities List. 

Lists as a Filter for Ideas and Actions

One way to look at lists is as a filter for all the ideas that pop into your head. And you can use all your lists for that: 

• You recall that you promised your wife you'd pick up a roast chicken from Costco. That goes on your daily list for after work.

• You remember your taxes are coming up in a couple weeks; you write it down on your weekly list and look at the times you could spend a few hours this week. 

• And as you peruse your Project Ideas at the end of the week, you decide to upgrade a project to your Current Priorities list. 

You now have things organized for today, weekly, monthly and for the indefinite future. After a little practice, you start to relax feel less overwhelmed. After all, the only things you really need to focus on are what you've committed to doing today. And if your list is a reasonable length, there's no need panic; you can get it done.

Project Pages

This is another important page for breaking down the things on your Priority Lists. Most priorities or project consist of a series of action steps, sometimes a few sometimes many. When you're ready to get moving on that priority, pull out a Project Page and start listing all the action steps. 

There's an art itself to breaking projects into action steps, but the famous saying, "You can't eat and elephant in one bite, but you can chop in into pieces and eat it one step at a time," applies here. 

Putting It All Together 

This system for organizing all your projects and ideas is simple and powerful, but it can seem a little complex. After all, you have six lists here. How do you manage all of them?

This can be done a few ways, but this is what works for me: 

First of all, I create forms for all these lists. This can be done in Word using tables. My lists have the title and space for the date at the top. There's a narrow column on the right for numbering the items and two narrow columns at the right for dates dues and to check things off. 

Here's a generic form you can use. (just click to download)

Then I put all of these forms into a binder with a few divider tabs. 

Tab One - Current Priorities. I use a three-hole punch and put the holes on the right side of the page and place those pages on the left side of the binder. And then on the right side of the binder I put the Weekly List, with holes on the left side. 

So what you have are the Current Priorities List and the Weekly Lists facing each other. I keep the binder open on my desk at all times to easily check my priorities.

Tab Two - Project Ideas. Left hole punch on the right side of the binder. Just flip to that page when you have a new idea, and write it down. 

Tab Three - Project Plans. I'll put a few pages here with current plans that come from items on my Current Priorities. Once these projects get completed, I just file or toss the page. 

Tab Four - Copy a number of each of the forms and place them under Tab Four at the back of the binder for easy access.

That's it for the binder. The key to keeping up with all your lists it to do a short planning session at the end of each week. Look at all your lists, move items, forward them or remove them. When a page is full (with a lot of completed items) simply create a new page. And start with a new Weekly List every week. 

How About Your Daily List?

My daily list goes onto a daily page in my At-A-Glance Appointment Book. It may seem a little cumbersome, but I work mostly from my office, and work with clients by phone, email and Skype. I don't need to carry this stuff around. 

Can you do this on a mobile device or computer?

Yes you can. I've tried this more times than I can count. And although I do virtually everything on my computer, I could just never make time management and organization work for me on a computer. But it may be essential for your situation. 

One of the best systems for this is Evernote. The basic version that can handle all of this is free and is simple to use. For a few more features it's $5 per month. Simply create Notes for each of these List Pages, including unlimited Project Pages. Plus, you can import documents and attach them to that note or page, which would be very useful for projects.

And other one that my editor mentioned to me is Wunderlist that she finds even easier to use. So check out both of them! 

I hope this has been useful. OK, ready to start on the path of getting past feeling overwhelmed by everything you have to do? You now have everything you need.

Cheers, Robert 

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

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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

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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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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