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  • Excellent, easy-to-read article that drives its point home nicely: modern tools are useful, but live interaction is still far superior. The photos pul... read more
    By Jim Schibler

  • Great article Robert. Thank you for being there and for doing what you do, it's important and relevant for most of us. I've been following you for may... read more
    By Jorge

  • I like this direction and re-orientation of energy! read more
    By Brett McElhaney

  • Great post! Really makes me think more about the services I'm offering as I build my consulting/training business! Rather than just distribute informa... read more
    By Jeff Hughes

  • We must think alike. I've been having the same thoughts. I've been a freelance writer/copywriter for 32 years, but in the past few weeks have been thi... read more
    By Lisa B. Stockwell

  • Excellent article, Robert! Well said, sage words ... I thank you for the nudge from our often drunken stupor of wanting more and more data to become e... read more
    By Ricky Lien

  • Well said, Robert, as always! A large part of my service offering centers on providing actionable information to my clients but I don't always emphasi... read more
    By Maria S

  • You sent me straight to YouTube to watch Elvis sing the original hit from his 1968 MGM filrm, "Live a Little, Love a Little." Oh yeah... Thanks for th... read more
    By Mia Sherwood Landau

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    By DAVID LOVE

  • The place to start Aryi, when you don't know where to start, is do do an Unstuck Worksheet. And do it as many times as it takes to get unstuck. If you... read more
    By Robert Middleton

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

"Get more at a higher quality for less."

So how does that work for technology companies?

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

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

The value is astounding. The formula works.

But how's that working for Independent Professional services? 

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

But only a very few can afford such fees. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During that four hours we did a lot of things. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://actionplan.com/club

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

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

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

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by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

This past Saturday, after meeting with a friend for lunch in Santa Cruz, I decided to walk around downtown and take some pictures. But what happened was so much more rewarding. 

I wandered down the the Pacific Garden Mall, snapping pictures of people, and soon realized that my best subjects were all the vendors selling their wares on the sidewalk. 

There were many women selling trinkets of some sort, a bearded man who looked like a fortune teller offering "free empathy" sessions. One man was making paper cranes and giving them away for a small donation.

And several were playing music of various sorts - one lone guy on a didgeridoo and an impressive fellow playing some kind of steel drum with his fingers; but most fun were two guys playing blues on guitar and steel guitar - smoking!

And then I started to talk to people. And I kept on talking for an hour or more. 

My first conversation was with a man who was gliding around with a sort of mini version of a Segway. It was smaller, lighter, more maneuverable. It weighed 37 pounds; a Segway weighs over 90. And it costs less than half as much. I learned that he had bought a few at a trade show from a Chinese manufacturer.

He was looking for ways to sell these things and I gave him a few marketing ideas and snapped some pictures. That little girl wanted one!

I met a few people with dogs, took their pictures and asked them about the breeds etc. This guy had two hunting pointers that he was very proud of; the gray one was very exotic with an unpronounceable breed name. 

A very pretty woman was passing out stalks of lavender and told me about a new gift sore around the corner that raised money for the Santa Cruz Homeless Garden Project that she volunteered for. 

Finally, I came across John Hunter, an amazing photographer who took pictures of the ocean, sea animals and other beautiful things on the Santa Cruz and Capitola Coasts. He prints on a metallic paper that made the pictures almost look 3-D. And his most astounding pictures were close-ups of humpback whales just a few yard off the Capitola wharf. I bought his calendar. 

What a fun afternoon. I had talked to several people, gained their trust in only a few seconds, learned some great things and got some pretty good pictures. 

Could you do this? If you could, marketing will be a lot easier for you. One of the biggest fears we have is approaching people we'd like to work with. We're afraid of rejection, getting a negative response, etc. 

But it's really no harder than walking around the street and talking to people. People are not monsters to be feared, they are people who want to be listened to and acknowledged. And some of them you can help. 

Get out from behind your desk and and take some action. Meet the people and make that a high priority of your marketing plan. There's a direct correlation between meetings, conversations and new clients. It sure beats social media. 

It's hard to make a REAL connection if it's not in person. And if it's not in person, try to make it Skype or a phone call. Connecting online gives you visibility to a lot of people, but the connection is short and low-impact. (There are some exceptions that I'll talk about next week.)

The bottom line: Meet the people and have conversations. It can transform your business. 

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

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By Robert Middleton  – Action Plan Marketing

As I pulled my rental car into the very busy parking lot of the Hanalai Bay Beach a few days ago on my Kauai vacation, my wife remarked, "It looks like everyone in Hawaii is at this beach," to which I quipped, "Yeah, we might even find Elvis here."

And at that very moment, the song, "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley began to play on the radio!

A little less conversation, a little more action

All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me

A little more bite and a little less bark

A little less fight and a little more spark

Close your mouth, open up your heart and satisfy me 

It was one of those synchronicity moments, but not just because of my comment and the song playing…

Earlier that day I had started writing this eZine article on "The Information - Action Ratio" and the word "information" is not far away from "conversation." 

Elvis had stated very much what I wanted to say:

A little less information, a little more action

Look, as a consultant, coach, trainer, workshop leader, etc, we spend a lot of time disseminating information. We are also immersed in information and overwhelmed by information. 

Information, once highly valued, has become a very cheap commodity. 

With Google, almost anything we want to know is immediately at our fingertips. Want to know how to write a good article? Type: "Articles (or blogs) about writing articles" in Google and you'll get pages and pages about writing articles. 

The same goes for virtually any topic about marketing our businesses. It's all there and it's all free. The monetary value of information has dropped to near zero!

So, as information businesses, what are we to do? 

Due to the proliferation of information, people have also become addicted to information. It's the drug of choice for almost everyone in business. We stare at our screens 12 hours a day absorbing more and more information. 

And as a result, we become deluded that we need even more information, despite evidence to the contrary. Consider the ratio of information to action - the amount of information we take in vs. the action we take on that information. 

Nobody knows the actual ratio, but let's say 20 years ago (at the very beginning of the web), the ratio was 100 to 1.  

Now with the web, Google, social media and portable devices, the ratio is closer to 1000 to 1. That means for every 1000 pieces of information we absorb, we only implement one piece of that information. 

Someday, someone will calculate the actual ratio, but that's not too important. But Elvis knew the simple solution. We need a little less information and a little more action. 

And that's where the huge opportunity in our businesses reside.

Because there's such a huge gap between information and action, our clients need services that will narrow that gap and get more of them moving into action.  

We need to provide services that support the implementation of information. Yes, we've all been doing that to some degree, but now it becomes more essential than ever. It's not what you know, it's how you can effectively facilitate the implementation of that knowledge. 

So coaching, mentoring, consulting and programs that are more oriented to moving our clients into action will become more valuable than ever before. 

The questions we should be thinking about are:

- How do we shift our services to be more action-based, and less information-based?

- What are the best, most effective and affordable ways to provide services that accomplish that?

- How do we engage clients, build accountability, track progress and increase results? 

- How do we get the best information to our clients, waste less time, and move them into to action more quickly?

- How do we deliver on the promise of results with new systems and methodologies for coaching, consulting and training?  

- How do we get our clients unstuck from information addiction and support them in making effective action a priority?

- And how will we market these services? What do we need to communicate powerfully to our prospective clients about how we can help them with this approach?

This is going to be the focus for my business in 2015.

It means a complete re-thinking of how I both market and deliver my services. I'll be making dramatic changes to the way I work with clients, leverage the information I already have available to them, price my services for accessibility, and engage clients in action-oriented conversations that lead to breakthrough results. 

I hope to make Elvis proud. 

If you'd like to share this article on social media or make comments, please click below. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing


Near the end of each year, I start worrying about my goals for the upcoming year. I suppose this is better than being oblivious about my goals, but this process tends to generate a lot of stress, at least for a week or two. 

"I have so many options; which is best? How much money do I need to make this year; will my plan generate enough? If I start a new program will anyone sign up for it? Should I expand what I offer in the Club; will it make a difference?"

Thoughts like this actually kept me awake much of last night. 

But that phase doesn't last long. I have a secret weapon. 

When I think back to late 2008, the stock market had fallen and things looked bleak. People weren't spending much money, and my business was at a turning point. I had decided to discontinue my previous program and wasn't sure what to do next. 

So I thought, "What have I got to lose? Why not create something I've been thinking about for years, a membership program? And then another thought: "While I'm at it, how about a high-end group program?"

And then I went to work - intensively and relentlessly. I wrote, designed and organized everything over a 3-month period and emerged with both programs ready to go. 

By early 2009 I had launched both the Marketing Club (now the More Clients Club) and the Marketing Mastery Program. Within a few months there were about 300 Club members and 15 people in the Mastery Program. And that year my business grew while many others were struggling. 

Both the Club and the Mastery Program went full speed ahead for 4 years. Then I slowed things down a bit, worked with a number of individual clients for two years and did a less intensive program, the Marketing Action Group. The Club is still going full steam ahead. 

Now I'm about to launch my programs for 2015. 

Why Those Programs Succeeded

If I look back to the time in 2008 when I launched both programs, I can see only one reason why they succeeded:

Once I got started, I never seriously nurtured a thought that they wouldn't succeed.

And when you're left with no (or at least very few), doubtful, fearful thoughts, all that's left are thoughts about what's next, what to do, how to make it work, how to find the right resources, how to make these programs the best they could possibly be.

Without limiting thoughts, virtually anything is possible.  

You might be thinking: "Yeah, but you'd had a lot of success before that and you knew a lot about marketing."

And I'd reply: "Do you see that you just stated a limiting, fearful thought?" One of the most common ones, in fact:

"You could do it, but I never could." That one stops you cold!

What I've accomplished wasn't because of my experience, but because I mastered the process of getting unstuck.  

So, instead of comparing, start thinking about what you want to create. It will be completely different than my projects. It may be something you've been thinking about for a long time, but for one reason or another you haven't moved forward.

And the ONLY thing that's stopping you is a THOUGHT. 

What Will You Accomplish This Year?

Here's a simple process you can follow:

1. Write down the idea for your project as concisely as possible.

2. Expand that idea into a detailed, written plan.

3. Create lists of all the things you need to do for the parts of the plan.

4. Have a daily list of things to do to move the project forward.

No big revelations here, but this simple approach can get you started TODAY with the first item on your list. 

But as soon as you start, those limiting thoughts may start to pop up with all the reasons it won't work. If that happens, fill out an Unstuck Worksheet. Make it a cornerstone of your planning: http://actionplan.com/up/Unstuck_Process.doc

As I start my plans for the New Year, you can bet I'll be using that worksheet as much as I need it. I don't need anymore sleepless nights!

The Beyond Stuckness Program

If you are hesitating, if you have doubts, if you are stuck in moving forward with your plans for the New Year, I invite you to go deeper and master the Unstuck Process so that limiting and fearful beliefs are no longer a big issue for you. 

Details here: http://theunstuckprocess.com/courses

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

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Saroj, my wife, and Colette, our granddaughter

 

From Robert Middleton

Wishing you a...

 

Happy Holidays


Merry Christmas 


Happy Chanukah


Happy New Year

 

For you, my wish for the New year is...

 

Great Success

 

Inspired Marketing

 

Making a Difference

 

And, of course...

 

Staying Unstuck!
 

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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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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