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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

This past week I conducted a wrap-up session for the Marketing Action Group I've been conducting for five months. We did a questions and answer session where I asked the participants 20 questions about marketing and they gave the answers. We then discussed each question in some depth.

These 20 questions and answers cover the most important marketing principles for independent Professionals, so I thought I'd share them with you here.

Essentially, this outlines the process for attracting clients I've used for over 20 years for myself and my clients with great success. This is very concentrated information, so I suggest you read it a few times. 

1. What is the Purpose of marketing?

To get selling conversations. Everything you do needs to be oriented towards this goal of getting meetings with qualified prospects who are ready to explore working with you. Once you have these meetings, the selling process starts. But first, you need to understand the steps that lead to Selling Conversations.

2. What is the primary way to get Selling Conversations?

By developing and implementing various marketing strategies. Prospects will not appear out of the ether. You need to launch strategies to get in front of prospective clients, and generate enough interest that they want to know more. But how do you generate that interest?

3. What is the substance of all Marketing Strategies?

Communicating your value. Value is helping a client either solve a problem or achieve a goal. Value is expressed as specific outcomes such as "more income, productivity or success." You cannot assume prospects will understand your value so you need to clearly spell it out. All marketing strategies start with a Marketing Message. 

4. What are the three most important elements of a Marketing Message?

They are: 1. Who your ideal clients are, 2. what your clients need and 3. what results you can produce for them. This message must permeate every aspect of your marketing and your business. And you need to communicate it with impact and clarity both verbally and in writing over and over and over again! Ultimately this leads to Selling Conversations. 

5. What is the purpose of Selling Conversations?

To convert prospects into a paying clients. When you sit down with a prospective client, you need to structure that conversation so that you fully understand their situation, goals and challenges. Then you need to present a solution that will help them get exactly what they want. It's simple, but not always easy!

6. What's the difference between a Marketing Conversation and a Selling Conversation?

A Marketing conversation is an exploration where the prospect learns more about you and you learn more about them. Only when you feel there is a real need and interest in your services should you set up a selling conversation. Selling conversations are with qualified prospects who are sincerely interested in exploring working with you. 

Once you understand the purpose of Marketing, Marketing Strategies, Marketing Communication, Marketing Messages and Selling Conversations you need to work at developing your specific Marketing and Selling Strategies:

7. What is the purpose of Business Networking?

Networking is more than attending meetings with strangers exchanging cards. Networking is about building long-term business relationships with people you like and trust. These networking contacts result in referrals, resources and support as you grow your business. 

8. What is the purpose of a Website?

To engage a prospect and stimulate them to take action. Your website should answer all the questions a prospect might have about your business: What do you do? Who do you work with? How do you work? What services do you offer? Who has worked with you? Who are you? How do I reach you and start working with you? Do you have any free information for me? Writing all your website content takes time and focus

9. What is the purpose of an Email Newsletter?

To make sure you are never forgotten and stay top-of-mind. I call this keep-in-touch marketing. If a website is a car, the email newsletter (or eZine) is the gas. I use my website to gather leads. Then I use my email list to promote my services and programs. Ultimately you may discover that your most important marketing asset is your e-list. 

10. What is the purpose of doing Speaking Engagements?

To give prospects an experience of what you do – whether it's a talk or presentation, a teleconference or webinar. Nothing is more powerful than giving prospects a taste of what you know and how you can help them with their challenges. 

11. What must you do when you get a Qualified Lead?

Follow-up. This is the most avoided activity in marketing; everybody avoids it. But it's the key that connects marketing strategies and selling conversations. Those who get past their fears and resistance to follow-up will grow their businesses much faster and easier. They become fearless marketers.

12. Once you get an Appointment with a prospect, what do you do next?

Send more information and a questionnaire. You want your prospect to know more about you and you want to know more about them before a selling conversation happens. Send prospects to your website and have them read the details about your professional services. Then ask them to fill out a questionnaire that lets you know if they are the kind of person or business you can make a difference with. 

13. When do you provide a Proposal to a prospective client?

After the selling conversation is concluded. Too many independent professionals send proposals too early in the process. In fact, sometimes the selling process is skipped altogether and a proposal is requested and sent. Proposals sent too early rarely get accepted. By the way, if you are selling services to individuals, you rarely need a proposal – for larger businesses, you do. 

14. What is the biggest Challenge in marketing?

Managing your mindset. If you had no resistance, fears, doubts, avoidance, etc. marketing would be easy. After all, it's simply learning and implementing a number of processes, some fairly easy to do and some more complex. But marketing comes with the baggage of beliefs about being accepted, being rejected, being good enough, etc. You need to get over yourself to market effectively. This is the biggest challenge for most. 

15. What should you Charge for your services?

Whatever the market will bear. And it's important to notice that the majority of independent professionals undercharge for their services. They either think their clients can't afford them or that they don't see the value. This is both a communication and self-esteem issue. Know your value without a doubt and your resistance to raising your fees will evaporate. 

16. Who is Responsible for your marketing success?

You are. Not your knowledge, education, circumstances or the people you know. We all have things working for us and things working against us. But when it becomes clear that you alone are responsible, your marketing will find a way.

17. Could I hire a Marketing Person to promote me?

Yes, but how would you pay them? A good marketing/sales person has much bigger opportunities working for a larger company. So the chances are you'll find someone who is not very good. Sometimes a partnership with a strong front-end person who does the marketing and selling and the back-end person who does the client work can be a possible solution.

18. Is there anyone who I can Hire to help me?

Yes, several services can make a real difference. A website designer, a graphic designer, an editor and a marketing coach, I think are the most important. You'll use the web designer to design and update your site, a graphic designer for all other marketing materials, an editor for your written content and a coach to help you develop and implement your strategies and get unstuck. The cost of hiring these people is minuscule compared to the return.  

19. What do you need to Do Next to succeed in your marketing?

Take the next most logical action. We are always faced with a long list of opportunities and projects. The first thing to do is to take care of your existing clients and go the extra mile. The second is to develop and implement marketing strategies. To do that successfully, you must study, plan, write and implement. Marketing is so much easier if you are organized and persistent. If not, you need a coach more than ever. 

20. What will ensure my Marketing Success? 

First, understand everything on this list. All are essential and will save you time and grief. You'll do what works, avoid mistakes, increase your confidence and be more effective. To understand the ideas on this page, you'll need further study of reliable, time-tested systems and get support to keep you on track.

Right now I'm wrapping up my Marketing Mastery Program for 2016. I won't be doing a Mastery Program in 2017 but I'll be working with individual clients in my Marketing Coaching Program. This gives both me and the participants a little more flexibility and the ability to customize our work together. 

If you'd like to know more about this program, please click on the link below and then fill out the questionnaire if you'd like to talk to me about participating. 

http://actionplan.com/mastery-sessions/mastery-sessions/

Cheers, Robert

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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, 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 Marketing Plan Workbook and join the Marketing Club Forum for free.