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  • Hi Joan, yes this is how it goes so often. We get started and gain some momentum and then we hit a bump. This is when we need to get some support, ide... read more
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by Robet Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

People have very differing ideas about being an entrepreneur. 

Some people think that being an entrepreneur means being the owner of a business, any business. And other people think being an entrepreneur means being a wheeler-dealer who starts and sells a number of companies. 

That's a pretty wide gap. But truly understanding what an entrepreneur is can transform your business. 

This past weekend I was at a marketing workshop with business owners in the online/coaching/information/marketing space. 

I had a conversation with one of the participants (jon Block), who worked with artists who wanted to go beyond being artists to actually serving people as an artist. He drew an overlapping ven diagrams with two circles - Passion and Service and the intersection between the two.

But this seemed very incomplete to me. So I went to work and expanded the diagram and made some important discoveries. 

I created three circles of focus for business owners - Passion - Service - Commerce. And in the process had insights into the keys to entrepreneurship. 

Circle One - Passion

People who identify with this circle are typically artists, musicians, dancers and other very creative people. Mostly they are involved in their art for their own reasons. Their art gives them fulfillment and satisfaction in and of itself. It's a passionate pursuit.

Circle Two - Service

Those who fit best into this circle are those who want to make a difference and help people. They include coaches, therapists and health care practitioners, amongst others. They all get their fulfillment from helping people and making the world a better place through the contributions they make. 

Circle Three - Commerce

This circle is populated by accountants, bankers, real estate agents and others who primarily focus on how to generate money. Their motto is "The purpose of a business is to make money." We often think that these are the real entrepreneurs, but actually they're not. 

Overlapping the Circles. 

When you overlap all the possibilities for two circles you get six additional areas of focus.

Passion + Service

When you merge passion and service you get the artist who is committed to their artistry also make a difference to others though their art. It not just for them anymore, but just as much for others.

Service + Passion

When your main circle is Service, but you overlap it with Passion, you get a coach, trainer or workshop leader who is dedicated to making his or her work into a passionate pursuit. These people don't just help people, they turn that help into an art form. 

Passion + Commerce

If an artist adds to their inward-directed passion, the outward-directed circle of Commerce, you have an artist who markets themselves successfully and makes a lot more money doing what they love. They may become graphic designers, architects and professional musicians. 

Commerce + Passion

If a business person adds Passion to Commerce, they now have a business that makes more than money. They have a business that they love and nurture and that is beautiful in its products, services and management.

Commerce + Service

When you take someone whose expertise is Commerce, and add it to Service, you might have a non-profit organization whose mission is to be a successful entity that provides service to a large number of people. 

Service + Commerce

If Service is one's primary circle, when you add Commerce you emerge with management consultants, online marketers and all kinds of service professionals who are very successful in making a difference for their clients. 

So, from these three circles we get three one-sided pursuits based on either Passion, Service or Commerce

When we overlap all the circles, we get six different two-sided pursuits that are clearly more expansive. 

But what do we get at the nexus of all three circles?

What we get are entrepreneurs. Each is primary focused around one circle, Passion, Service or Commerce, but includes elements of both of the other circles. Since everyone is so different, and percentages of focus on the three circles will always be unique, there are unlimited kinds of entrepreneurs; but here are the primary three: 

Passion + Service + Commerce

These entrepreneurs' primary circle is Passion, and so this includes artists, musicians, dancers, etc, who are also both service and commerce - oriented. These artists are creating at the highest level while making a difference and being very viable in the world. 

Service + Passion + Commerce

These entrepreneurs' primary circle is Service, so they are therapists, coaches, consultants, trainers, and online businesses who also have a passion for their businesses and know how to make good money delivering their services.   

CommercePassion + Service 

These entrepreneurs' primary circle is Commerce. So, as accountants, bankers and investment advisors they are not only interested in money but are passionate about what they do and are committed to the highest levels of excellence and integrity. 

What kind of entrepreneur are you or aspire to be?

Remember, you are not an entrepreneur if you don't have strengths in all three circles. This makes you balanced, flexible and adaptable. With the ability to tap into all three circles, you have great advantages over less expansive business owners. 

What kind of entrepreneur are you? Please feel free to share this article on social media and to comment on the blog. 

Cheers, Robert

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

If there's one thing you need to run a successful business, it's focus.

You might even say that focus is the master skill that drives success, productivity, and the ability to generate new ideas and possibilities. 

When you're truly focused, you're at the top of your game. Great musicians, doctors, actors, lawyers and athletes know this. Without focus, their performances become flawed and mistakes are made, often serious mistakes. 

And the same goes for Independent Professionals. Although we may not be judged so severely as the professions named above, focus is one of the most important skills you can develop if you want to grown your business and make a difference with your clients. 

But how do you develop focus? We don't talk about that enough, but we will here. 

This is something I've studied for many years and my conclusion is that focus is the product of practicing several positive habits on a regular basis. Practicing just a few won't cut it, nor will sheer talent and persistence. How many brilliant, hard-working people do you know that got burned out?

Here they are - "The Focus Formula"

Get Enough Sleep

According to WebMD and a score of other articles (and books) I've read on this topic, the recommended amount for most adults is 8 hrs. Some can get away with a little less and some need a little more. But if you don't get enough sleep, you start the day with a sleep deficit, and as a consequence, decreased focus. 

This has been an issue for me most of my life, but the costs of getting too little sleep are becoming more obvious. However the solution is simple: Go to bed the same time every single night (with some exceptions for weekends). Make this an inviolable habit and I promise you'll experience more focus. 

Eat Whole, Not Processed Foods

This seems to be common sense, but sometimes it feels impossible to eat healthy foods on a regular bias. I think part of the problem is that we take processed foods so much for granted, and buy into the advertising for processed foods that we think we're actually eating OK. Well, most of us are not even close. 

I think a good place to start is not with what you do eat, but what you eliminate from your diet. Here's what I focus on: I've eliminated sugar almost completely from my diet, with a special attention on high-fructose corn syrup found not only in soft drinks, but in most processed foods. Food writer, Michael Pollan, said: "If your grandmother (perhaps great-grandmother these days) wouldn't recognize it as food, don't eat it! 

Eat better food and you'll increase focus, stamina and overall wellbeing. And you'll also decrease the sharp energy ups and downs that are triggered by all that sugar you eat. (P.S. Alcohol contains mostly sugar!) 

Take Vitamins Daily

Even if you eat primarily whole foods, that's often not enough to get all the nutrients you need - especially if you are under stress, working long hours and need to focus even more. In addition to a quality multivitamin, most nutritionists recommend fish oils (Omega-3 in capsule form is the easiest), calcium/magnesium tablets or capsules and some form of anti-oxidant. 

Obviously there is more than I can possibly cover here, but do a search on Google for "What vitamins should I take?" You'll find many articles along with a good amount of controversy. Vitamins are not a cure-all, but in most cases they will help you increase focus. Just don't go overboard here!

Drink More Water

I'm hardly ever thirsty, so this has always been a challenge for me. But a recent kidney stone attack, finally got my attention. The number one recommendation to avoid kidney stones is to drink more water. But that's not the only benefit. More water flushes toxins out of your system, hydrates all your cells and yes, when you're drinking more water, you also feel better overall and more focused. 

There's a lot of controversy about how much water you should drink. The oft-repeated "8 glasses a day" doesn't really have much scientific support. So, to start, I'd simply recommend "more than you're drinking now" for most people. Four to six glasses work for me, and one or two don't do the job. Give it a shot and see if you feel more focused or not. 

Exercise 30+ Minutes Every Day

I'm what you'd call and "on-and-off-exerciser" I get into something, do it a lot and increase my intensity, then invariably pull a muscle or hurt myself. Then I stop for a long time. And then I begin again. But I keep coming back, because nothing else improves focus and overall well-being better than exercise. 

You can do stretching, Pilates and yoga. You might try weight-lifting, stretch bands, push-ups and sit-ups. Or you can run - anywhere from a few miles to ultra marathons. Some people do all of these. But I don't think it's so important what you do, but more what you can stick with for a lifetime. And that means moderate, consistent exercise. It will take some trial and error to find your best exercise and routine. 

The one exercise, however, that virtually everyone recommends is walking. A half hour a day can have tremendous impact on your overall health. It's safe, helps you lose weight, maintains flexibility, can be done in a gym or on your neighborhood streets.

Sit Less, Stand More

Most of us are sitting in front of our computers all day and our TVs all evening. I don't know about you, but too much sitting drags down my energy and focus. It makes me feel stiff and lethargic. According to Dr. James Levine, sitting and a sedentary lifestyle is killing us. He coined the phrase, "sitting is the new smoking."

From an article in the Huffington Post: Dr. James Levine, is the director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk. Levine has been studying the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years and has summed up his findings in two sentences: "Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death."

Researches say since sitting reduces circulation, it's harder for "feel good hormones" to make their way to receptors. And if you're not feeling good, you're not focused.

One solution is to stand at our desks. I've recently bought a computer stand that's attached to my desk that slides up and down. It's called the "Egotron" and I got it on Amazon. It's pretty affordable, and it works; I'm standing at it right now! (One version is pictured above.)

Get Organized

I'm not sure if being disorganized leads to a lack of focus or that lack of focus leads to poor organization. It's probably some of both. 

But you know what it's like to walk into your office when things are a mess. Papers are everywhere, it's hard to find anything, your to-do list is in shambles and you are not sure what you need to do today to move your business forward. How do you feel?

When you are organized, the experience is completely different, isn't it? Your desk is clean and papers are filed where you can find them. Even your computer files are organized. You have long-term projects on lists in your computer (or better yet, a binder on your desk for immediate access), you have a weekly list of high- priority items, and a daily list of things you will accomplish each day. 

And that feels amazing. With disorganization, clutter and lack of direction, it's very hard to maintain focus for long. And then, when you add a number of other things from the list above, your lack of focus becomes dangerously low. Things slip through the cracks, your energy is down and your motivation plummets. 

Where do you start?

Overwhelm goes hand-in hand with lack of focus. You have so much to do, but your energy is sub-optimal because of lack of sleep, poor nutrition, little exercise and too much sitting. When this is the case, it can be hard to get organized and on track. 

And here I am I'm telling you that you need to change your lifestyle habits! Yes, but with small steps, one thing at a time. Don't try to be perfect, just slowly work on increasing focus-building activities.

These can be put into a simple, four-step Focus Formula:

1. More sleep, regular sleep schedule

2. Better nutrition, vitamins and water

3. More exercise, less sitting 

4. Get organized, clear clutter

Just a little progress every day with these four and you're going to experience more focus within a week or two. 

What do you do to increase focus? Please feel free to share this article on social media and to comment on the blog. 

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By Robert Middleton

This weekend I was looking at something I was resisting. I had sub-contracted a website design over a year ago. I had paid the web designer, but I still have failed to bill the client. 

And it wasn't a tiny amount. It was $3,000.

So why in the world would I not bill the client? I looked a little deeper and I saw that it was all about asking. And even deeper, I saw a pattern around this kind of asking. It has to do with some kind of shame or embarrassment. 

Do you do have these feelings as well about asking for money? 

And it doesn't have to be only about asking for money. It could be about asking for anything. It could be about asking a prospect for some time to talk, or asking for a one-to-one appointment, and of course, asking for the project itself.

One thing that's built into all kinds of asking is the possibility of being rejected. And then it's easy to take that one or two steps further. I notice that I start to imagine the person rejecting me. And then I turn that into a imaginary scenario:

Me: I need to bill you for some web work that C.C. did for you over a year ago. It's $3,000.

Client: Hmm, I don't recall that work. Can you send me the details?

Me: Oh, sure, here's the site he worked on. It was completed on this date. 

Client: Well, since he did the work such a long time ago, I'm not sure I want pay it.

Me: (Thinking, Oh, crap, what do I do now.) Er, well, uh, why don't we just forget it then?

Of course, it's easy to forget that I just made up this scenario. It certainly doesn't need to go that way. In fact isn't it just as (if not more) likely that she'll say something like: "Oh, glad to hear from you. I completely forgot about that. Why don't you send me an invoice?"

What are some asks you need or want to make, and instead, create an imaginary scenario where you are rebuffed? Notice the fear, reluctance or shame.

But where does that all come from? 

In researching about this topic on Google, I found a wonderful article by Kim Klein about the fear of asking for donations for non-profits ,and the fears are exactly the same. Let me summarize some of her best points below:

1. Children have no fear of asking, they ask and ask until they get what they want! They are bold and fearless! But by the age of 10 the ability to ask for what we want seems to be trained out of us. 

2. One of the most taboo topics of our society is talking about money with other people. It's not something we do because we were admonished not to do it since we were children. "Don't talk about money, it's rude." This all becomes ingrained into us. 

3. So asking for money, by association, is felt as shameful. And then, again by association, asking for anything else can feel embarrassing. It feels like we're breaking a taboo - and we are!

4. Start examining your attitudes and beliefs about money. You may find many of them are based on fears, passed on by your parents. What are these fears costing you? What do they stop you from doing?

5. Ask yourself what's the worst thing that would happen if you asked for money (or anything else). Perhaps you imagine a scenario similar to mine; but ask yourself honestly, what is the absolute worst thing that could happen? 

6. Now work though these things and see which ones may possibly happen and ones that are completely unlikely to happen. Can you deal with possible rejection without taking it personally and can you let go of scenarios that are largely imaginary?

The intent of all these points is that it really makes a difference to become more aware, more conscious about our fears and reactions about asking for money. Keep exploring; you may discover that money is just money, a tool for exchange. 

It's something you can ask for without it being a traumatic incident in your life!

I highly recommend the more in-depth article by Kim Klein. You can download it here.

And yes, I'm going to ask for that $3,000. After all, what's the worst that could happen?

What do you do to get over your resistance to asking for money?  Please feel free to share this article on social media and to comment on the blog. 

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By Robert Middleton

In a teleclass program last week someone asked me how I create momentum in my marketing. 

That's a good question because a lot of success depends on momentum. Momentum is defined as: "The impetus gained by a moving object."

And the object that is moving is YOU! As you work on something, the energy and power tends to increase to your full capacity if it's not stopped for some reason. We'll talk about the stuff that stops the momentum later, but first let's explore momentum itself. 

I - Momentum Starts With a Good Idea

Bad ideas, unworkable ideas, ideals that are currently beyond your experience and capacity, and stuck ideas or beliefs prevent momentum from even getting off the ground. 

So you need a good idea that you are passionate and excited about. You need to see some possibility in this idea - an idea for launching a program, building something creative, making a difference, etc. 

So start thinking! What is it you want to create? What is your driving purpose, aim and goal? In my experience, having your big idea be about making money doesn't work well for most people. Money is an important element of most projects, but it shouldn't be a prime mover.  

OK, now once you have a clear idea and direction, what's next?

II - Create A Plan

This is something architects, movie directors and entrepreneurs really understand. Now that you have an idea, a direction and an ideal of an ultimate outcome, you need to add the structure of a plan to take it beyond the idea stage. 

A plan includes the following elements:

1. A written description of the idea, the purpose and what you want things to look like when you're done.

2. A list of the big steps that need to be accomplished to move forward, such as getting the money together, hiring people, putting together the details for stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3, etc. 

3. Finalizing the details and the step-by-step actions, and then launching. 

Many people get stopped at this stage because they don't know exactly what to do or how to do it. That takes us to…

III - Research and Study

With a complex project you've never done before, you need to find both the know-how and develop the necessary skills and/or people to implement those skills. 

Every big step of the project will usually take many steps, from dozens to thousands. If you're launching a particular service or program, it's relatively easy. You can research and gain the skills for some steps, but you may need outside expertise such as writing and design skills.

Once you have your information and skills in place, the momentum starts to build and transitions to…

IV - Massive Action

This is where you gear-up and start working with a certain amount of intensity. You follow your basic plan and work on one-step at a time. This is where the rubber meets the road. And it's just a matter of continuing the momentum, completing one-step at a time until you're complete. 

The work takes on a certain momentum of it's own at this stage, but how do you keep the momentum going and avoid getting stuck? What do you need for that?

V - A Community of Support

Yes, you can do everything by yourself, but it really doesn't make sense does it? You can find many competent professionals on elance such as web design, writing and editing, and technical skills. Doing everything yourself is a false economy and also slows down your momentum.

But support should go beyond that. Join a mastermind group, hire a coach, get alignment with your family and friends. And be supportable. I'm always asking for opinions and feedback and getting "reality checks" from those in my network.

VI - Getting Unstuck

Stuckness can stop you in your tracks for an endless number of reasons, from being resistant and afraid, to just plain doubt and uncertainty. I've talked enough about stuckness in the eZine that I won't cover the details here. 

But it's important to realize that everyone, even you, get stuck once in awhile (and sometimes often). And stuckness can derail a project quickly. Just a thought, a trigger from the outside or a circumstance can reactivate old fears and resistance. So discover your own path to unstuckness. And you can always try the Unstuck Process: http://TheUnstuckprocess.com

Well that's it, a simple formula for creating momentum

It's a simple approach, but not necessarily an easy one. It takes focus, intention, a plan and hard work. It takes getting past external and internal obstacles. Perhaps, most of all, it takes clarity about where you're going and why. 

People who have mastered maintaining momentum are virtually unstoppable. 

Please feel free to share this article on social media and to comment on the blog. What do you do to maintain momentum?

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing


Last week, Jeff Walker, the developer of the "Product Launch Formula" sent me this short (but powerful) video on how we tend to have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) tendencies when it comes to online activities. 

Walker, probably the best teacher of online marketing, shares how we all get ensnared by online activites that kill productivity. And then he shares 3 powerful ways for increasing your productivity. 

Watching this video may be the most productive thing you do today!

By the way, this video is pure hands-on content with no promotion. Check it out now.

 


I hope you enjoy and get as much out of this video as I did!

Cheers, Robert
 

Some Tools to Help Your Online Productivity

These are my favorite online services. I couldn't live without these services! So I thought I'd share them with you. 

AWeber - List building and management tool

Are you sending out an eZine (email newsletter) yet? I've been sending out More Clients since 1997 and I've used what I think is the best and easiest-to-use email management system out here: AWeber. An AWeber form on your website collects leads and keeps them organized for you, letting you easily send out your eZine and other messages and promotions to your e-list.

Aweber offers a trial one-month subscription for $1 at this link:

http://aweber.com

PayPal

Almost everyone already uses PayPal, but did you know you can quickly set up Paypal to take payments online? It's a quick solution if you want to have clients pay for your services with a credit card, or sell your products or services online. I've found that more and more customers want to pay with PayPal. And you can do this with no set-up fee or merchant account. Find out more at this link:

https://www.paypal.com/

Maestro Conference

These days, so many people do teleconference sessions with their prospects and clients. The thing that sets Maestro apart from all the other teleconference services is that you can break your attendees into private conference rooms where they can share, role play and interact with each other. This has made my teleconference sessions so much more productive and fun for the participants. Also, the first month is free for you to try it out. 

http://www.maestroconference.com

Deposit Photos

Need good photos and illustrations for your website or blog? This is the best online service I've found. Each images is about $1 each. And the quality of the images is excellent. Finally: quality, affordable images for the rest of us. 

http://depositphotos.com

My eCover Maker

Ever want to turn a 2D images of a report or book into a professional looking 3D image? Ecover can do this for you for $4.95 per image. Easy to use and great looking results.

http://myecovermaker.com

Toner Refill Kits

Are toner and ink cartridges costing you too much? You can save a bundle on their remanufactured toner and inkjet cartridges. I've used them for years and save a ton of money. You can even get toner to refill your existing cartridges and save even more. Plus they have the best service ever. They even call you by phone to confirm your order. Who else does that?!

http://www.tonerrefillkits.com

If you would like to share this video and online resources, plase use the social media links below and/or make your comments below:

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

On August 1, 2014, I started the process of writing and launching an e-book, The Unstuck Process. 

I thought you might be interested in everything it took to bring this idea into reality. It took 2 1/2 months of working on it between all my other work with clients and groups. It took many steps, but it's nothing you couldn't do yourself.

1. Conception

The idea for the e-book came to me after taking a course myself that inspired me to take the process I'd been using for years with clients and turn it into a step-by-step book. 

Everyone talks about getting unstuck, but very few see it as a step-by-step process that you can apply to any area in your business and life to get unstuck and into action. 

There are 12 very focused questions in the book and they revolve around the three major areas of stuckness: 

a) Productivity and Accomplishment – Many of us get stuck when it comes to setting a goal and following though successfully to the end. Delay, procrastination, lack of focus and incompletion are all stuckness that results in projects not getting done. 

b) Creativity and Self-Expression – This is when you get stuck because you are afraid of making a fool of yourself. This comes up a lot in writing, developing a website, making a video or any other creative act. Perfectionism is a big issue here as well. 

c) Attraction and Magnetism - This is when we hold back from putting ourselves out there, being afraid of rejection and playing it small. This shows up in our attempts to communicate about our businesses or persuade anyone to do business with us. 

Once these ideas were clear I created a mind-map with all the elements of the plan: writing, designing and launching. Then I broke these down into several project lists with step-by-step actions. 

After all of this conceptualizing was done, it was time to start the actual writing. 

2. Writing

I did my first burst of writing on a Sunday and completed about half of the book. Then in writing sessions of a few hours each over a month, I completed the manuscript. Because I wanted this book to be an ultra-simple guide, it ended up as only 72 pages. 

I ran the first draft by my wife for basic copy editing and then went over it half a dozen times, adding here, subtracting there until I was satisfied. 

But then I also hired an editor to take a look at it and suggest improvements. Her ideas uncovered some obvious problems with parts of the book and I made changes based on her insightful recommendations. 

3. Formatting

Before I designed the book's interior, I hired a book cover designer with the intention of creating a real impact. He developed several ideas, but we ended up with his first design that was based on my original idea of a sunrise behind the title.

I first formatted the book in Word and turned it into a pdf. Again this took several rounds of improving and tweaking. I had originally decided to do only an e-book, but inspired by a client who published his book on Crate Space, decided to go the whole enchilada: e-book, Kindle book and paperback book.

Create space, a division of Amazon, will take your finished book as a pdf and turn it into a paperback book. I laid it out in InDesign. This is not a step I'd recommend to most people, as it's quite technical. Someone on E-lance could do it for you very affordably. 

And then I sent the Word version to someone who formatted it for Kindle. This was fast and painless, but again, for both paperback and Kindle versions, it took what felt like endless rounds of fine-tuning and correction. 

Everything was done by October 15 and I was ready for the launch. 

4. Website

If writing a book wasn't enough, I decided to also create a complete website to support the book. This is where people opted-in, plus it included the blog, information on courses, etc. 

I used a Squarespace web template and hired a company to help me with all the technical issues. I did all the design and text formatting based on images from the same photographer who did the cover for the book. 

The website was mostly completed in 2 weeks with endless tinkering and fine-tuning, as usual.   

5. Launching

The launch plan was pretty simple. As you may know, I sent a few emails to everyone on my e-list and invited them to get a copy of the e-book for free. A boatload of people opted-in with their name and email address in just a few days.  

I didn't plan on making any money from the book itself, but to build a list of interested people. I knew some would be interested in programs I offered on the Unstuck Process early next year. But mostly I just wanted to share these ideas and process freely to as many people as possible. (Tell your friends!)

One of my biggest successes for the launch was making connections on a Facebook Group I frequent. As a result, some of these people posted testimonials about the e-book and hundreds more opted-in to get their free copy. 

And my most unexpected result was inviting people from that group to interview me for their podcasts. I did 6 interviews (so far) and these got me even more opt-ins.  

So far, about 2,900 people have opted in for the free book. And now I'm sending those people (perhaps you're one) a twice-monthly eZine and blog post on various aspects of getting unstuck.

I'll do promotion for the course after Thanksgiving. 

6. Conclusion

I hope you've found this useful. It should give you a taste of what a successful launch looks like, how many steps it takes and what work is involved.

My total investment on outside services was $1,585

Editing e-book: $250

Cover design: $260

Kindle formatting: $75

Web site development: $1,000

Is this right for you? Well, that depends on your goals. You certainly don't need to do things at this level, but If you go "the whole hog" as I did, it creates a certain momentum that is very powerful. 

When I created my first e-book, The Marketing Plan Workbook, way back in 1998, it resulted in a few hundred thousand opt-ins over several years. And that built my business from almost nothing to success beyond my wildest dreams.

Good luck in creating and launching your own e-book! Here's the Unstuck Process e-book if you don't have it yet.

Oh, by the way, I didn't get stuck once during this whole project. Yes, this stuff works!

If you'd like to make comments or share on Social Media please do so below:

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Guest Article by Audrey Seymour

Since I was out of town at a retreat this past week, I asked my associate and graduate of my advanced marketing program, Audrey Seymour, if she would contribute an article for the eZine and blog this week. It's a great article that builds on last week's article about Marketing Messages. – Robert Middleton 

As a change agent you need to express your ideas in a way that inspires others to take heartfelt action, whether purchasing your services, funding your invention or signing a petition to change the way things are done.

How do you touch the hearts and souls of those you are meant to serve, in the midst of the information overload they experience every day? How do you stand out in the crowd while still honoring the integrity of your values?

The answer is to bring forth language and branding that speaks from your soul.

When your marketing speaks soul to soul, it acts as a lighthouse cutting through the fog with a powerful beam, sending your message directly to those who are called to the higher purpose of what you offer.  

Without the anchor of your soul, you often find yourself running up and down the beach trying to flag down the passing boats in a race against others with a similar message. Imagine instead the fulfillment of simply beaming your radiance with a homing signal to those who are qualified to receive it.

How do you approach marketing from the soul?

The first step is to be clear on the radiant qualities of your inner essence, the being aspect of your purpose. What transformative qualities do you bring to a room? Does the room get more peaceful, more playful, warmly heartfelt, full of clarity?

These qualities inform a purpose-based brand so that the look and feel of your promotional materials and the tone of your language give others the same experience as if you were right there in the room with them.

One of my clients discovered from her inner wisdom that her essence was "the warm glow of light at dawn." Choosing rosy pinks and golds for her website, she was thrilled that the colors felt just like her. In contrast, consider what someone with the essence of "the clear diamond of truth" might choose.

Though it takes courage to step away from marketing trends and display the essence of who you really are, doing so serves as a powerful screening function. Those who do not resonate with your style will know it right away and not take up your valuable time.

Next, clarify the unique transformational impact your offer or proposal will bring if your audience follows your call to action.

In the second example above, the client with the essence of "the clear diamond of truth" discovered that she has the impact of cutting to the heart of complexity with the light of clarity and truth. This gave new insight into her work with organizations to create clear values and actions that align with these values.

Notice the difference between the following positioning statements:

"We help clients identify core issues and then devise value-added solutions in an efficient and cost-effective manner."

"We cut to the heart of your complex issues and shine light on the core values that align your organization with its greatness."

The first statement is focused on routine problem-solving, and could be said by just about any firm offering values-based consulting. This positions the service as a commodity, where the lowest price is likely to win the contract.

In contrast, the second statement expresses the essence of what my client's values-based consultancy does, with evocative imagery that inspires the bigger why underneath any organization's search for help. And, it's not just any imagery, but a metaphor which describes the unique essence of the consultant.

Putting it all together:

Once you've clarified the essential qualities and the transformational impact of your offering, the last piece is to understand the "before" state and "after" state of the transformation.

The "before" state is the condition, whether a challenge, curiosity or longing, that your audience is experiencing before they've been transformed by what you bring. The "after" state is the condition they experience having been transformed by your offer.

For example, with the consultant we've been following, before her clients work with her they are feeling frustrated, stuck, and out of alignment. It's likely that there are mixed messages circulating in their organization, even competing projects, causing inefficiencies and lack of engagement.

After they've benefited from her work, her clients are operating with not only clarity of vision, alignment and efficiency, they are engaged and inspired by the future as well.

With this information you can speak to the heartfelt condition any prospective client, potential member or investor is living with before finding you. You can then paint the picture for them of how they will enjoy the shifts provided by your result.

Call out to them heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul. Invite them to move from the discomfort of the "before" state and join you in the "after" state of your gifts.

Here are two examples:

Public speaking with ease and impact in front of any group:

Imagine standing in front of any audience, feeling absolutely at ease and enjoying their rapt attention.  

Whether you have public speaking anxiety or simply want to express yourself with greater clarity, Relational Presence and Relational Stillness practice at a Speaking Circle® program will guide you in effortless authenticity.

~~~~~

Do you feel called to increase your impact and play an essential part in the global shift that's emerging? If you're like most of us, you also feel a bit daunted at how to tackle this profound task.

Even with success at living your calling, something larger calls you. You won't be satisfied until you embody the truth of your deepest wisdom, boldly touching more lives than you can imagine, and making the full impact that you are here to make. How do you fulfill this vision in the face of all the challenges that stop you?

It's time to heal the wound of separation between your inner truth and your outer expression.

Join with like-minded others at the Gathering for Change Agents, where by sharing a similar mission, we can accomplish much more together than any one of us can alone.

About Audrey Seymour

Since 2003, Audrey has guided hundreds of mission-based businesses and leaders internationally to greater clarity and efficiency so they can increase their impact in the world.

Audrey brings a diverse background to her coaching and consulting work, with expertise in both analytic and intuitive disciplines. Visit her website at http://clearchangegroup.com

If you have comments on this article, please share on the blog by clicking on the Comments below.

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Today's ezine article is a little preview of the Virtual Workshop on "Mastering Your Marketing Message" starting on November 5.

I remember clearly when I formulated my first really effective marketing message: 

"I work with Independent Professionals who are struggling with their marketing."

It was simple, nothing fancy, but it communicated two things very clearly: who I work with and the reason they needed me. 

How did I know it was effective? I knew it because when I used it to answer the question, "What do you do?" people actually responded to me. They wanted to know more. They gave me their cards. They accepted my follow-up calls. In short, my message had enough value that it helped to both initiate the conversation and to continue it. 

This simple formula ultimately got named "The Audio Logo." 

An audio logo really is that simple. 

But that simplicity led to much greater things in my business. It led to focus, clarity, and a foundation for my marketing that was flexible and allowed me to offer a wide variety of services that would help independent professionals get past that struggle and towards increased marketing ease and success. 

Unfortunately, too many people make their audio logo too complex, too long and include too much about how they do what they do. We often feel we need to "say everything" in our marketing message and that only weakens it. 

For instance, I could easily add to my message:

"I work with Independent Professionals who are struggling with their marketing. I do that through individual consulting, group programs and my membership website, The More Clients Club."

That tells more, obviously, but why does it weaken it? 

It's because of the situation in which you use an audio logo. When someone asks you what you do, they are usually a relative stranger. Their mind is busy categorizing and judging. 

You don't want to say too much or the person is likely to be confused, or worse, feel that you are pitching them. Notice that my audio logo is not about me. It's about my clients. 

And for that reason it gets little resistance.

And at the same time, an audio logo like this is likely to elicit a positive response from someone who can relate to what you're saying. For instance, I've gotten these responses:

"Yes, the marketing part of business is the hard part."

"There's really a need for that."

"How do you help your clients get past the struggle?"

And then the audio logo can turn into a conversation, again, with the focus on the person you're speaking to, not on everything you offer. For instance, I'll usually respond by making a comment and asking a question:

"Yes, it can be hard. What business are you in?"

"Definitely, marketing can be challenging. Are you in business for yourself?"

"I have a step-by-step system that makes marketing easier. What business are you in?"

Where do you go from there?

A conversation like this can go virtually anywhere. You might discover you have nothing to offer this person, or it might become clear you are talking to your ideal client. 

If the interest is there, the best, most effective way to talk about your service is not through concepts, but through stories. Notice the difference between these two:

"Tell me more about what you do."

Conceptual: Well, I teach people how to play marketing as a game where you communicate certain things in a certain order until prospects warm up to your message. The three key areas are information, familiarity, and experience. 

Story: I worked with a client recently who was stuck in moving his marketing forward. I helped him get out there and book speaking engagements. In a few moths he had booked several and ultimately got many clients that way. 

The conceptual overview might be accurate, but more appropriate information for a seminar or workshop. But the story showed how a real person got results from working with me. And that is always more powerful. 

Here are the key step in creating a powerful audio logo:

1. Say who it is you work with (your ideal clients). 

2. Mention a problem or issue these people are dealing with or…

3. Mention a desirable outcome that they would want (… who want their marketing to be easier and faster).

By the way, sometimes a problem-oriented audio logo works better than an outcome-oriented one, and visa versa.

4. When someone responds, don't say too much. Instead, find out more about them. 

5. When someone shows real interest, tell stories instead of talking about concepts. 

6. Finally, you can only develop an effective audio logo through practice. Once you think you have a good one, get out there and use it as much as possible. See what the reaction is and fine-tune it until it gets the results you want. 

This article conveys a small part of what we'll be exploring in the virtual workshop, "Mastering Your Marketing Message. Find out more at this link:

http://actionplan.com/mas-mkt-msg

If you have questions or comments about how to develop a powerful audio logo, please respond on the blog though the Comments below. And, of course, I always appreciate it when you share my articles through social media. Thanks! RM

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by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Sometime soon after launching my website in 1996 I learned about the concept of giving away "free stuff" to people who visited my website.

I launched my More Clients eZine in 1997 and gave away my "Marketing Plan Workbook" and grew my eZine list to 50,000+ people in about 5 years. 

Those people who requested my free stuff then bought my InfoGuru Marketing Manual. And the people who bought the manual signed up for my Marketing Action Groups and many other programs over the following years.

That free stuff has generated millions of dollars in sales and a self-sustaining business that makes a difference to thousands of people.  

But giving away Free Stuff was the start of it all. 

Over the years I've learned a lot of things about providing this free stuff and I'd like to share some of them with you. 

1. Give Away Real Value

You've got to go beyond old formulas and how-to's. People are looking for more. They are looking for transformation, real change, things that will help them take the next leap. 

Paul Zelizer, founder of Wisdompreneurs, mentioned this in a post today: When asked about effective marketing in today's economy, Dustin Stout said: "Stop being amazing and start being useful."

You don't need to make outrageous promises; you just need to deliver the goods. When someone reads your report or watches your video, they should say to themselves, "Wow, this is really useful. This is something I should be implementing in my business (or life). I want more of this stuff!"

And the better you know who your clients are and what they are struggling with, the better value you can offer. 

2. Be a Real Person

When you offer your articles, reports, videos, etc., connect as a real, authentic person, someone others can easily relate to. 

Mark Silver, of Heart of Business, emphasizes connecting to people more deeply. He recommends: Empathy - so people feel seen and witnessed,which is the first step in healing. 2. Education, so people can understand and learn from what we are describing/explaining. 3. Entertainment - often humor - so people can feel a lightness of heart. 4. Inspiration - so people can feel hope. 

And being vulnerable and imperfect works better than showing how great you are! I often talk about how much I struggled in starting my business and how many mistakes I made. This actually encourages people, as it demonstrates that nobody starts out successfully, that it always takes hard work and that it's OK to make mistakes. 

3. Give People a Real Taste

I recently posted a blog that gave an exercise as the end to apply the lessons I outlined. I just got an email from a reader about how much she appreciated this.

She said: "Loved the LITTLE exercise… that is helping me make BIG changes at this end. More simple “little” exercises like that at the end of your posts, please. Sooooo helpful and utterly do-able! I feel very encouraged."

When you get feedback like that, you know you're connecting and making a difference. When you suggest simple action steps or exercises, some people will actually do them. And these are the people who will become your fans and ultimately end up working with you some time in the future. 

Don't be stingy about what you give away. If your free stuff doesn't have much value, your prospective clients will tune out and are unlikely to ever buy something from you. 

4. Move the Free Line

This is something I learned from Eban Pagan, a very smart and successful online marketer. He makes the point that everyone is giving away free articles and reports. So, even if your material is good, it's hard to get the attention you want as it may look like everyone else's. 

I decided to use his approach when developing my Unstuck Process. I didn't just write another report, I wrote an e-book. I had a cover professionally designed. I hired an editor to make it better. I recorded the complete process as an audio book as well, plus added many other bonuses. And then I designed a completely new website to feature this ebook. 

This is the kind of thing that gets attention and has others share it with their friends and associates. Within five days of the launch, about 2,500 people had downloaded the e-book. And thank-you emails keep pouring in. Yes, you can still get your copy if you haven't yet: http://theunstuckprocess.com

Now, what good does this do for me? Well, it's exciting to share this valuable information that could be life-changing for many. That gets me up in the morning! And later on, I'll be offering some in-depth courses on the Unstuck Process that will help even more people. Ultimately new students and clients will come from this as well without the need for a hard-sell. 

5. Don't Be Too Self-Serving

I notice something early on in my business: Anytime I tried to do something with the prime agenda of making money, it failed. Yes, it's perfectly fine to make money, even a lot of money, but if making a difference and a contribution isn't the foundation of your business, things will likely backfire. 

One way of knowing if your heart is in the right place is by asking the question: "Would I want to do this anyway, even if I didn't get paid?" If you're excited about your work, find it endlessly interesting and feel fulfilled by helping other people, you have a solid foundation to build upon. 

If you are creating material, no matter how seemingly valuable, for primarily egoistic ends, sooner or later things are going to crash and burn. Promoting your ego is not sustainable. 

6. Get your Free Stuff Channels Set Up

The first free stuff channel is always an opt-in on your website. When people opt-in to get your materials, they'll also get on your ezine list (which they can opt-out of at any time).

Then give more great free stuff through your articles, videos etc. on a regular basis. But don't overdo it! It's not unusual that I download something valuable and then get bombarded by a new email every single day, sometimes more than once a day, for months on end. If you do that, people will tune out quickly. 

I recommend sending something anywhere from weekly (as I do) to monthly. Then, when you do the occasional promotion, launching a program or service, people will be more willing to check out what you have to offer. 

Then also post your information on your blog, write guest posts for other blogs or for Pulse section of LinkedIn. Get interviewed for podcasts, give teleclasses and webinars. Share your free stuff on social media. Get know for what you know and the difference you make. 

Take Action: Start by writing the titles for several articles or reports that you feel would be valuable to your clients. Then do a Google search for similar articles. What can you say that gives a new and valuable spin on this information? Then write an article on that and get it out there. And never stop!

If you have questions or comments about how to give away free stuff successfully, please respond on Comments below:

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by Robert Middleton

Making your marketing flow is something most Independent Professionals would welcome. We’d all like our marketing to result in a flow of new clients. But exactly what would that marketing flow look like?

You’d have no resistance to marketing, no fears, no avoidance, no stuckness. You’d come up with creative ideas and plans and you’d find ways to implement them without a lot of struggle or effort.

You wouldn’t be discouraged by things that didn’t work that well, because that would be all part of the flow. You’d go back to the drawing board, analyze, study, and try something else. You’d persist and have fun and experience joy at the same time. And ultimately you’d get great results from your marketing, attract your ideal clients and make good money.

Is there a secret to finding flow in your marketing?

 Yes, but it’s not what you think it is. There is nothing you have to do to achieve flow. Things are already flowing. You are the flow itself.

When we think of flow, we think of a river. A river just flows without effort, steadily, continuously, elegantly – you know, like Ol’ Man River.

Can anything impede the flow of a river? Yes, a dam or obstruction can impede the flow. If a river is blocked, it will back up, it will slow down, and the water in the river will stagnate.

Now, it’s just the same in your marketing. The flow is already there. You can’t add to the flow; it already flows perfectly. But you can certainly dam the flow, block the flow, obstruct the flow and resist the flow.

And this is exactly what we do. We don’t let our marketing flow because we dam it and block it, not in reality, but though our limiting, constrictive beliefs.

Here are 5 beliefs that block the flow of marketing:

1. You believe it has to be done right or perfectly or according to a “correct formula.” You have to know exactly what to do before you get started. This removes all creativity, spontaneity, and flow from your marketing.

2. You believe that marketing leads to rejection and humiliation. Yes, just letting your marketing flow seems dangerous and risky. So you become very careful, very held back, very cautious. And the flow stops.  

3. You believe that you don’t have anything of real value to offer your clients. So you never really put it out there. Instead, you hold back and avoid sharing your value and the difference you can make. You put a cork in the flow.

4. You believe you don’t have the time to engage in marketing. So you make excuses, and engage in delay tactics and avoidance behaviors. You fail to see that flow doesn’t take any time; your schedule naturally fills with productive activities when the belief in time scarcity drops.  

5. You believe that marketing is an interruption, that it annoys and pressures people. So you hold back, act timidly and unconfident, not ruffling any feathers. When you’re in the flow of marketing, you become naturally attractive, compelling, and magnetic.

These five beliefs (and many more like them) are all impeding the natural flow of your marketing. Fears, doubts, uncertainly, worry, scarcity, small thinking and stress all act as dams or blocks to the flow of marketing.

You don’t have to add to the flow, pump yourself up for more flow, repeat flow-based affirmations, focus intently on the flow, or think positive flow-thoughts. Flow (also know as life) doesn’t need any of that.

It flows just fine by itself. Always has, always will.

But how do you remove the blocks from the flow?

The main thing you do is explore them; notice what they are doing, ask what the cost and payoff of holding onto them is, and realize that they are largely imaginary.

I've found that the best way is to ask some "pithy and powerful questions." 

1. What am I believing that is impeding the flow?

2. Is that belief true and is it working for me?

3. What’s it costing me to hold onto that belief? (Lack of results, avoidance, self-esteem, etc.) 

4. What’s the payoff of identifying with that belief? (Staying comfortable and avoiding any discomfort.)

5. What possibilities (flow) might open up for me if I could no longer hold onto that belief?

What we imagine might happen if we opened to the flow of marketing, in my experience, is much, much worse than anything that ever actually happens. In fact, it’s usually the exact opposite. When we are open to flow, our marketing works out just fine. And you may realize…

1. You can never do anything perfectly. But you can do the best you can with what you’ve got.

2. Rejection is rarely personal – people may just not be interested right now, which makes space for other people.

3. You are inherently valuable. That’s what people are attracted to, not some inauthentic façade.

4. When you notice all the time you spend wasting time, you’ll start to find all the time you need.

5. Marketing isn’t an interruption; it’s an opportunity to connect authentically. That’s exactly what people want.

Keep questioning these limiting beliefs that are stopping your marketing flow and they’ll start to drop away. You’ll start to experience that the natural flow of marketing will take you on a wonderful and exciting journey.

What happens when your marketing flows is that your clients get YOU. What a gift!

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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