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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

There I was in a restaurant, dishing out servings of my wife’s jasmine rice, garlic spinach and turkey curry to eager customers.

My wife has recently started a part-time catering and home meal service and once a month she joins eight or nine other chefs at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge, each selling and dishing out food from various worldwide cuisines. 

We had a healthy supply of sample spoons, and as each person walked by I asked one very simple question:

“Would you like a taste?”

Guess what? Virtually everyone did. And after tasting, many either ordered immediately or came back after checking out the other food offerings. By the end of the evening, we had pretty much sold out.

The question, “Would you like a taste?” stopped people right in their tracks. And you can too!

Here are five simple asks that get a positive response:

1. On your website: “Would you like my free article, report, or video? Click here. It’s free.”

2. On the phone: “Can you help me?” People actually love to help others. It’s a great conversation starter and puts the person you’re talking to into a helping (not resisting) mindset.

3. In an email. “I have some ideas about X that I think you’ll find valuable. Would you like to explore in a short chat?”

4. From the stage: “I have this report that sums up much of what I talked about today. Who would like a copy? Please raise your hand.” One of my clients’ results: Up to 92% request the report.

5. At the end of an initial conversation: “What I usually do at this point is set up a more in-depth exploratory meeting to see if what you need and what I do are a fit. Shall we set up a time to meet?”

Asking – or what I describe as a call-to-action – needs to be a central part of every conversation you have with prospective clients.

By the way, at the next Food Lounge event, after people have had a taste, we’re going to hand them a coupon that asks: “Like what you tasted? Get $1 off your food order if you redeem within 15 minutes.”

Cheers, Robert

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan.com

If I asked you the purpose of your marketing, what would you say?

Most people I’ve talked to give answers such as:

“To get more exposure for my business," "to get referrals," "to connect with the right people,” or “to build up my list of prospects.”

All of these are worthy goals for your marketing.

But purpose is very different than a goal.

A goal is a destination. Purpose is a direction.

Goals are finite and measurable. Purpose is infinite, never completely realized.

You can set new goals for your marketing each year, month, week and day. And you should.

But creating a purpose for your marketing is usually a one-time event.

A purpose is like the Constitution. All laws must align with the Constitution.

And all goals must align with your purpose. When you are clear about your purpose, it’s easy to see if your goals are aligned or off track.

So, purpose is a BIG thing. It defines the game you are playing, what is important to you, and what goals you want to achieve to continually realize your purpose.

This is why people who do not have a marketing purpose market themselves randomly and inconsistently. They have no direction, no clarity, no way to set appropriate marketing goals and, as a result, don’t get very good marketing results.

The purpose for my marketing is very clear and I’ve had it for years:

“The purpose of my marketing is to consistently attract the most ideal clients to my business, clients that I can make the most difference with.”

Here's another example of a purpose:

"The purpose of my marketing is to become the most sought after leading-edge professional in the arena of leadership in law firms."

What is your marketing purpose?

Cheers, Robert

Please share or comment in the comments section below. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

 

I get a whole lot of email. 

And as a result, I skip reading many of my email newsletters (ezines). 

I’ve been writing More Clients for 20 years now and I’ve tried to keep it to about 750 words.

Well, no more!

From now on, shorter is better. More Clients will now be about 250 words, at the very most 300. A read of one short minute.

This may or may not save me time as it can take longer to write something shorter, but it will save you a little time (and increase the chances of you reading it).

Since this is the very first of my shorter ezines, I thought I’d share the absolutely most important idea about marketing your services as an independent professional:

Take Consistent Marketing Actions. Do a little every day. 

Yeah, that’s it. Really.

And, of course, this is the most important idea if you want to become good at playing the piano, cooking or climbing a mountain. You need to practice consistently. 

You don’t need to do it perfectly or brilliantly or even uniquely. You just need to communicate value that resonates with your ideal clients. 

It may be through some or all of these: Writing an ezine, giving a talk, networking, videos, social media, or reaching out by email and phone. 

You need to be patient to keep at something long enough to get good at it. But you also need to be perceptive enough to realize when something isn’t working and be willing to adjust or try something else. 

Take one marketing action today. And never stop.

Cheers, Robert

Please comment on the Blog below or in Facebook

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
 
 
Imagine attending a lively business seminar where people are having animated interactions between sessions. And you overhear a conversation in a group of three business owners talking about the purpose of a business: 
 
Person 1: What do you think the purpose of a business is?
 
Person 2: The purpose of a business is to make money, period. 
 
Person 3: No, the purpose of a business is to make a difference, period. 
 
I found this conversation flowing through my brain soon after I woke up this morning. Well, who is right, Person 2 or Person 3?
 
Well, it’s pretty clear to me that the purpose of a business can’t be just to make money or just to make a difference. It’s more complex and nuanced than that. 
 
Then, the famous four-quadrant model popped into my head.
 
Eureka, there are actually four different kinds of businesses! 
 
And I think this model applies pretty well to both very small independent professionals, and to huge enterprises. 
 
Take a look:
 
 
Defining the Four Quadrants
 
On the horizontal axis is “money.” On the vertical axis is “difference.” And that divides businesses into four quadrants. 
 
In quadrant #1 the business is low in making money and also low in making a difference. In other words, neither is very important to this kind of business. Essentially this is a dead business, just limping along, with no great purpose for even being. This business is a “failure." 
 
In quadrant #2 the business is high when it comes to money but low in making a difference. In this case, making money is the prime purpose of this kind of business. This is the stereotypical “soulless enterprise.” If a company is only about making money and cares little for people, it may be quite profitable, but bad for employees, customers, society, and the environment. 
 
In quadrant #3 the business is high concerning difference and low concerning money. When making a difference is the highest priority and making money is not so important, you essentially have a "no profit." Of course, there are real not-for-profits that get funding from sources other than sales, but there are for-profit companies who are so dedicated to making a difference that they struggle with being sustainable.
 
In quadrant #4 the business is high in both areas – in making a profit and in making a difference. This is a company in balance. Making a difference, really caring about people and society, and creating high-quality products and services go hand-in-hand with making a good profit. I’d call this the "entrepreneurial company." 
 
Now, of course, there are endless subtle degrees in each of the quadrants. However, I’ll bet you can identify a number of companies in each of these quadrants.
 
How does this relate to independent professionals like yourself?
 
What would it look like to be in each of these quadrants?
 
Quadrant #1. You’re in business only until you can get a real job. You have skills as an independent professional but you have very little passion or drive. You just get by and hope you can survive. Really, you have no business being in business!
 
Quadrant #2. Status, making money and ego-fulfillment are your primary focus. You work very hard to sell a lot of programs and services but you don’t really care if they make much of an impact. It’s more important to drive a fancy car, live in a beautiful home and be known as a success. 
 
Quadrant #3. You love working with people and making a difference. It’s your obsession, your purpose in life. And when you have clients, you do a great job for them. But you tend to undercharge, depend mostly on referrals and don’t do a whole lot to get out there and land new clients. 
 
Quadrant #4. As an independent professional, you are more balanced with making a difference and making money. Helping your clients is a high priority, but as an entrepreneur, you’re always thinking creatively about how to deliver services and programs that have a real impact while making good money. 
 
In creating this model, I noticed that I work primarily with clients in quadrant #3 who want to move into quadrant #4. It’s hard to move people in quadrant #1 out of their apathy about business in general, and people in quadrant #2 don’t think they need help.
 
I’ve actually run my business from all four quadrants at one time or another. When I started my business and I had no idea what I was doing, and was always on the verge of bailing out and finding a real job. I was stuck in quadrant #1.
 
Then I slowly moved into quadrant #3 where I got really excited about my business and marketing ideas, but still struggled to make a decent living. Then, with my successes on the Internet, I spent some time in the land of quadrant #2 where I made a lot of money and ended up burning out. 
 
Now I live more in quadrant #4 where finding balance is a priority. I’m now working more intensively with individual clients and launching a small group program that is affordable while it makes a big difference. 
 
What quadrant is your business in? Where would you like it to be?
 
Cheers, Robert
 
If you have some comments on this, I'd like to hear from you.
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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

 

 

 
A past client of mine once mentioned that she knew of a store that needed some marketing help. 
 
That captured my interest so I asked her about the store, the owner, and the marketing issues they were experiencing, but she had no more information. 
 
“All I can tell you is that I’m a customer and I know they need help,” she told me. “I was talking to the owner a few days ago about the struggles she was having in attracting enough business. So you should call her.” 
 
I asked if I could use her name. But she declined, saying she didn’t want the owner to know she’d been saying the store was having troubles. 
 
Not much to go on, right? But since I was pretty new in my business and I needed clients, I gave it a shot anyway. 
 
This is what I told the store owner on the phone: 
 
“Hi, my name is Robert Middleton, the owner of Action Plan Marketing. I was talking to one of my clients the other day and she told me about your store. She got the sense that you might need a little help in growing your business.”
 
What surprised me was that the store owner was very receptive and booked an appointment with me immediately. 
 
What struck me was that the only thing distinguishing this call from a cold call was that I mentioned my client had asked me to call her. That was enough to get her attention and interest and not treat me like a stranger. 
 
This led to trying out all kinds of things to connect with new prospective clients. One of my most successful ventures was calling San Francisco Chamber of Commerce members. All I said, was, “I’m also a member of the SF Chamber and I was wondering if marketing and attracting more clients is an issue for you right now?”
 
Every single person I called gave me a warm reception and invited me to come and speak to them. Many became some of the best clients I had had up to that point. 
 
The lesson? Affiliations and connections, no matter how weak, count for a lot more than you’d expect. In fact, they make all the difference. 
 
This is why I rarely suggest making cold calls. Instead, find connections and make warm calls. 
 
So, if you have a connection, use it. In fact, make that the foundation of your marketing. But then you need to have successful conversations with these contacts if you hope to turn them into paying client. 
 
These five tips will help you make this kind conversation more successful.
 
1. Make a list of anyone and everyone you know in business and socially. A long list. These are your connections. Of course, some are better than others, but you never know who might become a new client, be a repeat client or lead you to a client. 
 
Then write down your connection’s name, what your connection is, and how you might approach this person. For example:
 
Jon Bloor   
He just attended a talk I gave and indicated an interest in my services. I sent him an article a few days ago. Now I’ll call him to determine his interest and see if he has a real need.  
 
Frances McNulty
She’s a past client with whom I did some great work a few years ago but we’ve lost touch. I’ll give her a call to let her know what I’ve been up to and then set up a more in-depth meeting. 
 
When you make a simple plan like this, the work is half done. You know who to connect with and what to talk about. Now just pick up the phone. (You can also send an email, followed by a call, as that’s usually an easier way to reach someone.) 
 
2. Practice your calls out loud. This is an absolute must. Can you imagine being hired as an actor, reading the script a few times and then going on stage with no rehearsals? Absurd, right? Yet thousands of people do this every day when it comes to making contacts. 
 
Professionals practice. They master the spoken word and make every single word count. They actually write out a script – exactly what they plan to say and practice it out loud several times. 
 
Early in my business I remember making a call to a potential client without practicing. It was a disaster. I was humbled. I started making practice a central part of my outreach.
 
3. Listen more than you talk. Everybody thinks they’re a good listener. In my experience, listening is the marketing secret that everyone knows but few practice. A good listener is a rarity who understands they need to listen even more. 
 
When making a call to a connection, use your script to get attention and interest. And if that interest is there, start to ask questions. But interest is not enough. The question is, do they have a need, a problem or situation that they’re motivated to change? 
 
You’ll only know if you ask very focused questions and spend a lot of time listening. 
 
4. Know when to ask for a meeting. This is not a social conversation, but a business conversation. That doesn’t mean it isn’t friendly and upbeat, but there’s an intention for every call. 
 
It’s rare to make a sale on a first call like this. So, your intention is to use the first conversation to get you to a selling conversation or meeting.  
 
To get meetings, use your script, listen very closely for needs, and suggest a more in-depth meeting only when you are confident you can help them, and when the contact’s level of interest is at its peak. 
 
You know this when they start to ask you questions about how you work, the benefits and outcomes of your work, and what your services cost. This will take a longer conversation, so make a suggestion:
 
“Janet, based on our conversation today, I think there’s a good chance I can help you. But this is going to take a longer conversation. What I offer is a meeting (often called a Strategy Session) from 60 to 90 minutes to explore your situation and goals in more depth and then explain how I might help you. How does that sound?”
 
To most contacts this sounds great. No pressure, and they are happy that someone really wants to listen instead of selling. 
 
5. Relax. Once you understand the structure of an initial call to a contact, have created a script and practiced it, written out your questions and practiced them, scripted your close and practiced it, your confidence will soar. 
 
Again, practice builds confidence. Nothing else even comes close. 
 
Lack of confidence makes you nervous and reluctant to make calls in the first place. But when you know what to say and have practiced the conversation thoroughly, then you can relax and have fun on the call. 
 
You can now make a real connection and build a relationship. And your contact will hear that in your voice, which makes them more comfortable and relaxed as well. 
 
Taking all of these steps will enable you to make the most out of your connections. Good connections are gold; they open the door for you. But if you don’t master the conversation, those connections will lead you nowhere. 
 
Cheers, Robert 
 
P.S. This article is one of a series about direct outreach. The other recent articles in my blog (see below) cover various aspects of the outreach process, including details of exactly what to say on your calls. 
983 views
 

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

When I started marketing my business many, many years ago , I remember a response I got to a follow-up call I made: 

"Robert, I have no idea what you're offering, what it can do for me or why I should talk to you. When you're clearer, you're welcome to call me back!"

This kind of reply can put you off making follow-up calls or doing direct outreach marketing forever. But I didn't give up. Instead I learned how to master this sometimes tricky process. I got really good at it and discovered approaches I've been using and teaching for years.  

You've now read my four recent articles on this topic and you have the hang of it. If you haven't read them yet here are the links:

8 Steps to Creating New Clients

A Marketing Strategy That Works

Reach Out and Touch Someone

The Simple, Consistent Ways to Get More Appointments

In these articles I talked about how to create an outreach plan, what words to use in your emails and calls, and how to implement your plan one day at a time. 

But you're still resisting. You know all you need to do is one outreach minimum per day to get things moving. And you're aware that these are not cold calls, but making connections with past clients, people you're met at networking or through a speaking engagement, etc. 

Here are five things that will help you get into action.  

1. Be clear on your purpose

When you're reaching out to a prospective client, it helps if you are clear on your purpose. It's not to manipulate someone to do business with you, is it? No, it's simply to discover if what you have to offer can be of benefit to your prospect. 

Your purpose is to find a fit and to start or continue a business relationship. When you think of it this way, it takes away the pressure to make a sale. When you're clear on your service it will come across in your voice. You'll sound sincere, caring and interested. 

2. Be honest

You don't want to trick someone into making an appointment with you or be mysterious about your intentions. That only annoys people. It's OK to be direct and straightforward. When I follow up with someone who's attended a talk I say, "I hope you got some valuable tips for your marketing. I'd like to speak with you about how I can assist you in growing your business. Do you have a few minutes to talk?"

There is no mystery, no hidden agenda, no promises I can't keep. It's just a normal conversation between two human beings. After you've done a lot of outreach like this, it actually becomes fun. 

3. Be authentic

You Don't Have to Rehearse to be Yourself, is the title of a book by Steward Emery. As funny as it may seem, many people feel that's exactly what they need to do. We work hard at "making a strong impression" or "dazzling with our brilliance." 

Give me a break. That's just too much work. Of course, you should be prepared to ask questions of your prospect, explain the benefits and details of your services, and have good answers to the questions a prospect asks you. But you can do that naturally, normally without any pretense or effort. 

4. Make the game fun

Vince Lombardi, the football coach for the Green Bay Packers was famous for saying "Winning isn't everything, it's the ONLY thing!" If you play marketing like that, you might end up winning a lot and be very successful. But I doubt you'll be very happy. 

I make it a game to create strategies, reach out to people, communicate effectively, set up conversations and then convert prospects into clients. I love that process. It's fun and it's easy to do as well. Get good at this process and play the game. But don't make it life and death. Instead, make it fun. 

5. Don't listen to your mind

Your mind is a wonderful tool. You use it every day to get the things you want. And intention followed by purposeful action, is a beautiful thing to behold. But, strangely, we also use our minds to keep us from getting what we want. This is the main reason we avoid direct outreach. 

We make up stories about how we might get rejected, sound stupid, do it wrong, or fail completely. Then, we believe those stories and act accordingly. As a result, we avoid talking the necessary actions to achieve the success we want. 

Here's a simple recommendation: Start ignoring those kind of thoughts. Just don't pay any more attention to them. They are lying to you. Their intent is to keep you safe and comfortable. But they are wrong in almost all cases. You are perfectly capable of following and succeeding with my direct outreach approaches. 

Don't even try to process these thoughts or fix them or change them. Simply be aware of them and then thank them for sharing and just get on with it, already!

I hope you've found this article useful. Learning and mastering direct outreach marketing methods can help you attract many more clients – the clients you've always wanted to work with. Go for it!

Cheers, Robert 

1009 views
 

By Robert Middleton – ActionPlan Marketing

Close to twenty years ago I was meeting with a client in my office in Palo Alto California.

We were talking about where he was in the process of attracting a new client. 

I started to spontaneously draw a picture that turned out to be a baseball diamond. It was the first sketch of my Marketing Ball Model. Later that evening I drew a version of it in my computer and have been using it ever since to explain to independent professionals how marketing works.

You go around the baseball diamond base-by-base until you arrive home with a new client. And in-between the bases there are additional steps you need to take. 

Recently I've been drawing diagrams for clients via Zoom video as I work with them, to explain various aspects of the marketing process. 

Now I have a new model. Not one that replaces marketing ball, but one that explains in a more focused way how independent professionals find prospects and turn them into clients. 

It's not an original model; it's as old as the hills: a ladder. But I think you'll find it helpful because it builds on the recent articles I've been writing about direct outreach and marketing conversations. 

The most important thing to understand about this ladder model is "process and sequence." There are certain things you must do in a certain way and in a certain order to reach your desired outcome. Use a different process or sequence and you won't get the desired results. 

With a Ladder Model we start at the bottom. 

1. PLAN - PREPARE

Before you even start connecting with prospective clients you need to plan and prepare your marketing. That means developing a marketing message, and writing marketing materials such as a core-issue article and website. And then you need to figure out ways to get the word out to the right prospective clients. This builds a solid ladder that will support you in your marketing efforts. 

2. REACH OUT

Next, you'll choose a number of ways to reach out to prospective clients, such as by networking, sending emails, making calls, giving presentations to groups and asking for referrals. Your goal here is simple: to connect in such a way that prospective clients are motivated to respond with interest. That's all you want at first; you're still many steps before converting someone into a paying client. 

3. FOLLOW-UP

This is the step that's usually avoided the most. Once you've connected with someone through your outreach marketing, your goal is to have a conversation. Again, the purpose of this conversation is not to sell, but to discover if there is a possible need and want for your services. Your goal here is to agree to a meeting where you can explore in more depth. 

4. INFORM

In my experience, this is the step that almost everyone misses. We often assume that if we connected, followed up and had a conversation, the prospective client already understands what we do. The truth is, they only have a vague idea. This is why, after I set up a meeting, I next send them some detailed information about my services and also a questionnaire for them to fill out. 

5. EXPLORE

Now the prospect has some interest, knows much more about what I do and has shared some information about themselves, the ground is set for an exploratory meeting to discover if what I offer and what they need is a fit. Mostly this meeting includes questions about their situation and challenges, but most importantly, about the outcomes and results they are looking for. 

6. PROPOSE

At the end of this exploratory conversation I'll ask if what I offer feels like a good fit for achieving the results they're looking for. Then we discuss my fees and see if they fit my prospect's budget. If you are selling to a larger company or organization, a written proposal is usually required. This sums up their desired objectives, measures of success and your process for producing results. 

7. NEGOTIATE

Negotiation means finding a match between what the client wants, what you can deliver and what they are able to pay. When it comes to offering professional services, this is usually pretty simple and fast. If you're selling to a large company, it can often be drawn out and complex. You're always going for a win-win where it works well for everyone. 

8. NEW CLIENT

If you've gone through all of these steps and done them well, you'll attract more clients, more consistently. But marketing is never finsihed! Taking care of clients, meeting their needs, keeping them informed and happy is the key to earning favorable testimonials, case studies and referrals. And, of course, this 8-step process never ends, but continues with each prospective client.

How to make this process work for you 

Now you have a workable, proven marketing process. Next, you need to learn all the detailed steps to make it work consistently. 

What you do to reach out, what words and images you use in your communication and how you follow up can mean the difference between a few meetings or many meetings. The information you send and how you conduct your exploratory sessions determines the percentage of prospects who turn into paying clients. 

It's simple, but not necessarily easy. 

If you want to learn how to make this process work for you, a good place to start is the More Clients Club with several marketing courses and tutorials that don't just outline the things you need to do in your marketing, but explains exactly how to do them to get the results you want. 

It took me about 10 years to learn how to market my professional services effectively. With the More Clients Club you can master this process in much less time. Whenever you need more clients, you simply apply the step-by-step processes. 

Just go here to learn more about the Club: http://actionplan.com/fasttrack 

Cheers, Robert 

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By Robert Middleton – Acion Plan Marketing

A couple weeks ago I asked one of my Clients in England (I have two) what he was doing to track his direct outreach marketing activities. 

His answer both surprised and delighted me.

"Well, what I'm doing is keeping track of my direct outreach activities with a simple chart like this:"

It was a monthly calendar with a space for every day of the week. His goal was to do a minimum of one direct outreach activity for each one of those days.

"Even weekends?" I asked. 

"Yes, even weekends," he replied. "On those days I don't make any calls but I'll send out one email per day." 

What my client had realized is that simplicity plus consistency leads to success. And in almost all cases both of these factors are missing when it comes to marketing. 

Simplicity gives way to complexity: Charts with several columns, or numbering and scoring systems are confusing and hard to track. 

I've tried multiple systems like this, both for my own marketing and for my clients. None of us stuck with them for long. 

Consistency gives ways to inconsistency: One day certain actions are taken, the next day, none. Missed activity goals lead to guilt and more avoidance. Marketing turns into a dreaded chore. 

But when you combine simplicity with consistency, what you set out to do is relatively easy and the daily routine takes very little time.

By the way, my other English client showed me the exact same direct outreach system only a week later! Must be the climate. 

A Few Direct Outreach Guidelines

In two of my recent More Clients eZines I talked about direct outreach marketing: Reach Out and Touch Someone and Six Steps to Turning Prospects into Paying Clients. These cover the nuts and bolts of direct outreach and selling conversations. 

The simple and consistent outreach plan I explain in this article is the missing link that helps you to implement those ideas.

Your overall goal with direct outreach is to make more connections with prospective clients, get more meetings or appointments with them and covert more of them into great paying clients who get great value in working with you. 

Let me give you a few guidelines by answering some questions. 

Can I only do outreach once a day?

No, of course, you can do more if you have the time, and especially if you have a lot of prospective clients in your pipeline (or, as I say, marketing game).

But this is the most important. You cannot do less. Even if you send several outreach emails or make many calls in a day, these do not substitute for the other days of the week. Make a minimum of one outreach per day. Period. By the way, doing this five days a week is fine, but no less. 

What marketing activities are actually direct outreach?

Here are the most common ones:

Following up by email or phone with someone you met recently at an event, a conference, or even socially. If you feel they have the potential to be a client or lead you to a client, you need to connect with them.

Personalized emails (and follow-up calls) to past clients, associates or other valuable connections who can lead you to new clients. Emails or calls to ask for referrals. 

Follow-up on leads you've received. Calls or emails to organizations for speaking, interview, and writing opportunities.

Connections on LinkedIn. The more personal you make your messages, the better. If you have a first-level connection (whom you do know), explain why you want to connect with their connection (whom they know). Cookie cutter emails won't work here. 

By the way, another way to define direct outreach is, "Taking action to connect when you know you're avoiding connecting!"

Also remember, direct outreach is not cold calling. It is reaching out to those with whom you already have a connection. My experience has shown that cold calling for professional services is very difficult to succeed with. 

What do I say in my emails?

1. Say something to acknowledge or praise your receiver. Make it authentic and simple. "It was great to connect with you at the conference. Your ideas about management really got me thinking." A two- to four-sentence paragraph is enough. 

2. The reason you are contacting them. Make it clear and benefit or outcome-oriented. For example, you might offer an idea for reducing costs, increasing income or improving management – or anything else that might possibly help your prospect. Keep it short but compelling.

3. A call to action. This really depends on your relationships, but what you want to request is a "short chat" not a long meeting. Short chats lead to longer meetings. I also suggest you propose a few times that will work for you so they don't have to send an extra email to find out. 

By the way, the more personal the better. One of my clients gets an almost immediate response to most of the emails she sends to past contacts because of her relationships with them.

Sometimes an email is enough to get a response. But you may have to make a number of follow-up emails or calls to finally connect. Friendly persistence is the key.   

How do I prepare for these calls?

Scripting. Think seriously about what you want to say, write it down and read it aloud. Make it simple and direct. Don't waste time with idle chit chat. Here's an example.

"Hi, this is James, we met at the Management Conference last week. I'd sent an email but wanted to follow up. Is this a good time to talk for just a minute?

"Great, I really appreciated some of the ideas you shared at the conference. You really got me thinking about how much better management and leadership can be. 

"We also shared some ideas about how to attract more high-end clients to your business. I'd love to chat for a few minutes about those ideas. Is now a good time or is another time better?"

When you are reaching out to someone, you are "on stage in your business." Be prepared, don't wing it. This goes for both emails and phone calls.

Won't people feel that these emails and calls are an interruption?

Perhaps, but so what? If you write good emails and make effective calls, you won't get much resistance. If you fear resistance and rejection, you're more likely to get them. 

I helped a client create a very successful speaking plan. First, he called a number of organizations and then sent his speaker's kit. If he hadn't reached out he wouldn't have gotten any talks. 

Then he got cards from attendees at teh talks and determined their interest before he followed up with them. He landed appointments and ultimately earned himself many new clients. 

He told me, "Robert, I was actually very surprised that people were happy to hear from me and willing to talk. I didn't expect that at all." 

When you commit to doing it, it's easier than you may think.

When direct outreach emails and calls lead to selling conversations, what do I do next? 

Well, one thing that almost everyone misses is sending some detailed information about your services before you meet with a prospective client. And also find out as much about them as possible before you meet. 

This way, selling conversations go faster because you're already up to speed with each other. I've also found that you close business faster if you do this. 

What are the biggest challenges or obstacles to doing direct outreach marketing?

1. Fear of resistance or rejection. Everyone seems to have this built in. You need to clearly see that this fear is mostly imaginary.

2. Not preparing. You need to get organized, think this through, create lists of people to contact, script what you'll say, and practice. There's a big return from this kind of activity. 

3. Indifference. If you are motivated to grow your business you'll find this a whole lot easier. If being comfortable is more important than succeeding, you simply won't take the steps required. 

Where do I start?

Read over this article a few times and Start Now!

Cheers, Robert 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Have you ever found yourself trying to explain your business to a potential client, but you're not getting through?

First you start with concepts: "We use a proprietary process to optimize your management priorities for maximum buy-in." Well, it might mean something to you, but probably not a lot to your listener. So, you try again. 

"We work with companies to turn their leadership upside down and put the investors and customers in charge."

OK, a little better, but people still won't get it.  

After struggling with the "perfect words" to explain your business, with little result, you realize that concepts alone aren't going to work; they are hard to relate to and you've missed the outcome. 

So you use a story or example instead: "We worked with a company that was struggling because their top-down leader approach was getting a lot of resistance. By shifting to a servant leadership model, productivity and sales went up."

OK, that's a lot better; the main idea of shifting from a top-down approach to a servant leadership approach is more interesting. And talking about outcomes also helps. 

But do prospects really understand this? Do they know how it works? What exactly is servant leadership? How are those outcomes achieved?

Here's the problem:

All marketing is communication. So all of these are attempts to communicate some value that you offer clients. We're discovering that concepts are limited and that examples or stories are better. 

But we leave out the most important thing of all. Visual communication. A picture is worth a thousand words. 

But what most small business don't realize is that if you create a visual model for your business, your communication will start to connect in a whole new way. 

Let me show you: The Top Down Leadership Model: 

And then let me tell you: As you can see in this diagram, the leader is at the top and the customers are at the bottom. In this model, leadership is expected to know everything and then direct those below to take action. But this model has a lot of problems. It stifles feedback and participation, and productivity and morale suffer as a result. 

That makes sense, right? But notice how the image makes it so much clearer. 

Let me show you another one. The Servant Leadership Model:

Let me tell you more: With this inverted pyramid, the shareholders, customers and employees are at the top. They are offering ideas, feedback and resources that the leader takes and works to develop, implement and support. The leader sees him or herself as a servant, not a dictator. 

Pretty cool, right?

This is how having and using a model helps communicate much more powerfully how you help your clients. Your prospective clients will get it faster, see the benefits and be interested in learning more. 

Of course, we learned this valuable lesson in "show-and-tell" in grade school, but then we grew up, became more sophisticated and relied more on concepts. Big mistake!

Here's a model For Financial Planning Services:

Financial planning can be seen as complex and scary to many. "What if I do the wrong thing, don't make the right investments, or save enough for a secure retirement?" 

This model simplifies things. We all understand the concept of a road map and we know we can use it to figure out how to move from one place to another. 

"On the way to a secure retirement are certain benchmarks which you need to understand and take certain actions. As a Certified Financial Planner, I've helped guide many people along this road map and I can guide you as well." 

That's a pretty good explanation, but when you show the actual model as an image, it becomes even clearer and looks much more achievable.

The Marketing Ball Model:

I developed this model about sixteen years ago and have been using it ever since. It's much like the road map model, except that I also add the dimension of a game. 

"All you need to do is go around the bases and take actions between the bases to ensure you get solidly on each base. Each base represents where your prospects are in your marketing process. When you take a prospect around all the bases you end up with a new client."

I also use this model when coaching my clients on how to play Marketing Ball. When they finally see it as a game, they start playing more enthusiastically and winning many more new clients. 

What is your Business Model?

You might start with the process you actually use with your clients, the process that helps your clients get the results they desire. 

Maybe this process is not too organized yet or all the pieces of the puzzle aren't quite clear (a puzzle is a popular model, by the way), but with that start, you can begin fleshing out your model and ultimately turning it into some kind of a diagram. 

To stimulate your creativity, do a Google search such as "wellness model of health" – "personal growth model" – "online marketing model" or "business communication model." (click to see the various models)

Don't copy these models; use them for inspiration and to gain clarity. You need to understand how your model works, inside and out, and then test it to make sure it's valid. 

I created the Marketing Ball model while meeting with a client. The idea spontaneously popped into my head. So, don't force your model. Write down some ideas and research existing models. 

Then start using your model in your marketing to assist you in explaining how and why this model can help them get the results they desire. 

Image of Model + Explanation of Model = Persuasion

You just may find that communicating about what you do and how you help your clients is easier than ever before. 

Cheers, Robert 

P.S. I work individually with a wide variety of independent professionals using the Marketing Ball Game to help them attract more clients. If you'd like to know more, just visit this page

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

When I was a kid, I loved to read Superman comics. For several years I was up-to-date on everything related to this comic book hero. And I liked to imagine that I was infused with super powers. 

Of course, that dream quickly faded over time as reality set in. I was clearly just an ordinary person. 

But later in life, when I started my own business I discovered it was actuality possible to develop superpowers – Marketing Superpowers. 

With these superpowers I was able to accomplish the following:

Consistently got the attention of complete strangers

Met with many prospects with only a letter and a phone call

Got business cards from 80% of those who attended talks I gave

Grew a worldwide email list of 50,000 self-employed people

Wrote close to 1,000 articles over a 20-year period

Sold $600K worth of InfoGuru Manuals through my website

Filled one-year programs with just three or four emails

Earned $20K to $35K monthly several years straight

Now maintain a over-full marketing coaching practice

These marketing superpowers led to a lot of success in my business. It was amazing to me because only a few years earlier I had been struggling to make ends meet. 

There are a few things you should know about marketing superpowers. 

First of all, anyone can develop certain superpowers and use them to grow their business – but few can develop all superpowers. 

You'll have more success in developing superpowers where you already have some powers that are not yet fully developed. 

The main impediment to developing marketing superpowers is the belief that you are not capable or worthy of doing so. 

All marketing superpowers are based on communication. 

These include the superpowers of writing, networking, speaking to groups, growing a list, developing services and programs, etc. 

In the early days of my business, I spent most of my energy developing the superpowers of writing and speaking to groups. But I always struggled with networking and it took me a long time to develop packaging, selling and pricing superpowers. 

Remember, superpowers are not magic or mystical or unusual. They are simply underdeveloped in most people. 

How do you develop marketing superpowers? 

Study, practice, experiment, repeat, fail (a little), fine-tune and apply large doses of patience. 

Books, videos, courses, articles, and working with a coach are all included in the learning habits of most independent professionals who want to accelerate their marketing superpowers.

One thing is for sure – superpowers don't come accidentally. They come from knowledge, intention and hard work.   

Is there one "master" marketing superpower? 

That is, is there one key superpower that will help you build other marketing superpowers? For instance, Superman's key superpower is his strength; everything else comes out of that. 

For marketers, the key superpower is WRITING.

If you develop this superpower, you'll be able to write emails, articles, web content, sales letters, presentations, services and courses that result in more clients buying your services.

And that is a LOT of marketing power.  

In working with some clients I've noticed they can already write fairly coherently. They can communicate clearly and their voice is already authentic. All they need is some structure and guidelines to turn their existing writing ability into a client-attracting superpower. 

Some people struggle with writing. 

It can be an effort to write a single sentence, let alone a coherent paragraph. Often I'll suggest to these clients that they put more attention on networking and connecting personally through talks and videos. 

The good news is that everyone can discover and develop their own marketing superpowers. 

It starts with intention. I remember declaring that I wanted to be the go-to person in the SF Bay Area for self-employed people who needed help with attracting more clients. Five years later that was true. 

It continues with education. I'm a do-it-yourself kind of person. I read a whole lot of books and took a number of courses on marketing. I was always learning. In a few years I had enough knowledge, insight and success to write my own marketing book.

It ends with application. Every time I studied something that looked feasible, I gave it a try, from developing my marketing message to launching high-end group programs. Ultimately I ended up working with a full load of clients. 

Here's my question for you. In what areas are you already a strong communicator? And what marketing superpower would you like to develop to build on that existing strength?

I would like to hear from you. 

Please share your thoughts in the comments section on the blog. Describe your strengths and desired superpowers. Put your intention out there. You can think about this forever and never move into action or you can take a stand and commit to being a marketing superhero. 

Cheers, Robert 

P.S. I work individually with a wide variety of independent professionals to help them grow their own marketing superpower. If you'd like to know more, just visit this page

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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.