Latest Blog Comments

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing 

I sent an email this past Thursday mentioning that I’m doing a co-promotion for Alan Weiss’s “Business Development Program.”

I’ll be sending you details on the program later this week, but in today’s More Clients I want to talk about one of Alan’s most important concepts as it touches on everything in your business and marketing.

That concept is VALUE. The better you understand this concept, the more successful you’ll be in your business.

When you’re communicating about your services or programs to clients they are thinking one thing: “What is the value for me? What do I get that will benefit me, make a difference, make things easier or less difficult?”

That’s where a client’s primary focus is. There may be secondary factors that enable you to deliver that value, but the interest in those things is lower than most of you realize.

Clients are not very interested in:

Your education and degrees

How many years you’ve been in business

The process you use to obtain your results

Your personal philosophy and convictions

But, as strange as it may seem, those are the things most professional service providers talk and write about! 

No wonder marketing feels like a struggle! Nobody cares and nobody is listening.

Clients want answers to these simple questions:

1. Who do you work with (that is, do you understand me and can you help me)?

2. Do you help with X issues, problems and challenges (that is have you worked successfully with others in these areas)?

3. What do I actually get if I work with you (that is, what results, outcomes and changes will I see if I work with you)?

4. Do you have proof that you can help me (that is, do you have success stories and client testimonials)?

When you talk about these things, clients will listen and respond.

Where this all starts is with LANGUAGE.

I’ve heard Alan say the following many times:

Language controls the discussion

The discussion controls the relationship and

The relationship controls the business.

Without clarity in your communication (the language of results and outcomes) the relationship goes nowhere and business doesn’t happen. 

This core idea of expressing value though language is at the heart of everything Alan teaches. But the reason Alan’s work is so powerful is that he models that language in every possible marketing and business situation you can imagine.

On Thursday, I’ll give you a short video of me interviewing Alan with a few samples. But imagine that you knew the actual words to say in the following situations:

Communicating your brand

Business networking events

Getting appointments with prospects

The selling interview

Going for the close

Writing effective proposals

Asking for referrals

Alan has his own unique approach to all of these conversations, but they all come down to infusing these conversations with value, that is, keep coming back to “What’s in it for them?”

Stay posted for my email on Thursday with the video interview of Alan.

Cheers, Robert

637 views
 

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

I clearly remember the earliest disappointment in my life.

I was about four years old and was expecting to go to a party. But then I was informed that I was not invited. And I took it very personally.

That’s all I remember, but as an adult, that same feeling of disappointment arises anytime I have an expectation dashed. When I don’t reach a goal, get what I want or am rebuffed in any way, these ancient familiar feelings pay an unwelcome return visit.

Be aware than in growing your business or in marketing your services you are literally setting yourself up for some degree of disappointment.

Not everyone will love what you have to offer and a great many will show complete indifference. And that kind of rejection, even though it’s rarely personal, can trigger feelings of disappointment, discouragement, and even despair.

The question is, how do you deal with disappointment?

I’ve experienced some disappointment in the past few weeks about not getting a couple clients I really wanted to work with. 

So I’ve been ruminating about the whole issue of disappointment and how to think about it in a way that helps me move on to the next project.

This morning I looked up some quotes about disappointment and I found them very encouraging in their perspective.

“The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.” – Conan O’Brien

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Burning desire to be or do something gives us staying power – a reason to get up every morning or to pick ourselves up and start in again after a disappointment.” – Marsha Sinetar

“Disappointment is a sticky one, because no one can steal contentment, joy, gratitude, or peace – we have to give it away.” – Kristin Armstrong

“As someone who has faced as much disappointment as most people, I've come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way.” – Marianne Williamson

Yes, disappointments will inevitably come, but if we are open to what is, and not let ourselves become mired in the false belief that we deserve success all the time, things will ultimately work out. The sun will rise the next day and new opportunities will reveal themselves.

Cheers, Robert

909 views
 

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

OK, Secretary Powell, but I think there’s a little more to it than that. Here’s what I came up with: Twenty ideas I’ve found that have worked for me in my business for the past 33 years.

This advice is for any and every independent professional who wants to succeed and make a difference but is not sure they can make it happen. 


1. Set goals and get excited about them. Create a vision for your future that’s compelling enough to get you thinking about achieving your goals and living your purpose all the time.

2. Research incessantly. You may have a great goal but that doesn’t mean you know the steps to take or exactly how to achieve it. Hint: almost all the basic answers about how to achieve your goals can be found on Google or Youtube.

3. Go for a goal as if you’re playing a game to win. A game is simply when you make something more important than something else. You made it up. Now play it. With that attitude you’ll have fun growing your business.

4. Take bold, decisive action on your goals from day one. In racing, you start as fast as you can and look straight ahead. You want to create momentum right off the starting blocks. Worry about pacing yourself later.

5. Work long and hard. You cannot shuffle your way to victory. Stay up late, miss meals, work your fingers to the bone, especially in the early stages. Don’t worry about mistakes or imperfections, just get stuff done.

6. Write a lot. Plan a lot. Do a lot. When starting on a project, I often fill notebooks with ideas, write articles on the topic, discuss it with my colleagues, and make plans and models until the complete strategy comes into clear focus.

7. Avoid perfection like the plague. Write crappy first drafts, without judging yourself. Don’t think about how imperfect things are right now; understand that as you progress things will get better and better.

8. Give up complaining. Yeah, we know it’s hard, we know it takes time, we know it’s a mess right now, we know you’ll hit obstacle after obstacle. Big deal. Keep your eye on the prize.

9. Get feedback from people who are more successful than you. Not for them to validate your ideas and progress, but to kick you in the butt and press you to do it better, and take it farther than you’ve taken it before.

10. Get inspired. Going for big goals can take its toll on your mind and body. I’m inspired by reading books written by people who have traveled the path before me. A good alternative is Medium.com a site that publishes hundreds of articles that inspire and motivate.

11. Eat less, exercise more. You have to be in shape to achieve big goals. If you’re tired and stressed you won’t do your best work no matter how much you try. But be careful here – no extremes such as starving yourself and exercising like a maniac!

12. Be in or create a support/mastermind group. When you’re an independent professional, it gets lonely. When your only feedback is your own mind, you can miss a lot of important ideas and information! Find a small group of peers, meet regularly, and hash ideas out until your next step is clear.

13. Come back to basics every day: You want: A service or program that will make a profound difference to your clients. Messages and materials that communicate powerfully. Strategies to get you out there, get attention, and result in conversations. A foolproof process to close the business.

14. Think bigger. Much bigger. Double your fees and then find a way to make those services worth even more. Yes, there are limits, but believe me, you are playing far short of those limits most of the time.

15. Get out of your comfort zone. The comfort zone is your payoff for playing small. But do you really want to be comfortable and safe? Do you want your tombstone to read: “Played small. Died anyway.”

16. Love people. Love your clients, your associates, and anyone connected to your business. Get interested in them, go out of your way for them. Be like the professional who does great work for you and whose praises you sing.

17. Take the lumps with the rewards. You’re human and you’ll make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. Make amends and move on. Don’t dwell on past failures or missed targets. Keep focused on the big picture – on the difference you’re making.

18. Don’t blame. Everyone runs into people who do stupid things, lie or even try to hurt you. Do your best to forgive, forget, and move on. Realize that you’ve done your share of things you’re not proud of as well.

19. Tap into your genius and magnificence. It’s already there inside you, ready and wiling to do great things. The internal self-critical voices are lying to you. The fears and self-doubts are deceiving you.

20. Celebrate your victories. And I don’t mean by partying or getting drunk! Take a moment to go deep inside yourself and feel your greatness, your power, your unlimited life force. That’s who you are, your essential self, your real self. 

Print this out and read it until it starts to permeate your mind and dissolve your resistance, doubts, and fears. When that happens, success is assured.

Cheers, Robert

840 views
 

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

In my new Marketing Action Group, I’ve been wracking my brain about how to find new and better ideas to share with the group.

Yesterday I wrote a long article for the group about How to Turn Results into Ideas, but that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to write here.

I wanted to get at the essence of what it took to generate ideas and then make those ideas real.

But just before I started to write, I got my daily Medium Digest by email.

And the first article was by Mike Sturm, one of my favorite Medium authors.

And Mike wrote the article I wanted to write!

He nailed it. I can’t do it better this week, so, I’m sending you the link to his article on Medium.

It’s thoughtful, insightful and valuable. I love it and I hope you will to.

Link here to read.

Cheers, Robert 

787 views
 

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

We’ve all been duped about genius.

We see the genius as a brilliant intellectual who comes up with ground-breaking ideas and discoveries.

We think of Leonardo, Einstein, Goodall, Hawkins, Jobs, and Musk.

Most of us can’t imagine ourselves being in the company of such people.

While it’s true that all geniuses are smart people, but we believe that genius is innate, something they were born with.

That is absolutely false.

A genius is someone who applies their smarts to discover new things, write groundbreakings books, invent new products and produce great works of art.

Smarts and talent are totally over-rated. They lead to genius only with hard work and application.

A genius is someone who goes beyond dogma, fears, and convention to come up with a whole new way of seeing something or making something work.

Anyone with reasonable intelligence, a burning interest or passion for something, and a willingness to go beyond their comfort zone, can become a genius.

You for instance.

You are actually built for genius. You are built for greatness.

The only enemy of genius is fear.

Fear that others will disapprove of you, that you’ll be rejected, that you’ll do it wrong, that you’re not good enough, that you won’t be perfect.

Many people realize, at some point in their lives, that fear is the only real obstacle to their genius. When they break out of that self-imposed comfort zone they discover their real genius.

Are you ready to be a genius?

1. Connect with your vision of creating something truly great in your life.

2. Work relentlessly to dispel the hypnotic trance of fear that’s holding you back.

3. Have fun doing what you love to do with the commitment to fearlessly doing the very best you possibly can.

Cheers, Robert

See other quotes about genius on Brainy Quotes.

840 views
 

By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

I’ll get right to the point. I’ve developed a model for direct outreach marketing that shows you how to get more conversations and meetings with prospective clients by turning cold calls into hot calls.

In marketing, there are two very important factors that get more response to your outreach: Affiliation (they know you through some connection) and Information (they are familiar with your ideas).

If you reach out to people you’re affiliated with and if you provide good information, you have a better than even chance of getting meetings and landing new clients. 

Here’s the model:

Cool, right? The vertical axis is information and the horizontal axis is affiliation.

Quadrant 1: Cold Calls. When you have weak affiliation and little information it’s hard to get anyone to pay attention to you; it’s even harder to turn them into a client. You’re a complete stranger, and there’s zero trust or warmth. This is the land of very chilly cold calls. And in my opinion, it’s a total waste of your time.

Quadrant 2: Warm Calls. Here you have some affiliation. You belong to an organization, know people from networking, or have subscribers on your e-list. These people are much easier to connect with because of that affiliation. Now you’re in the land of warm calls, and suddenly you stop getting rejected.

Quadrant 3: Intro Calls. In this place, your prospective clients have some information from you. Perhaps they visited your website and opted-in. Or they attended a talk or saw your video on YouTube. When prospects have this information it’s a lot easier to reach out and introduce yourself personally.

Quadrant 4. Hot Calls. Now you’re firing on all cylinders. This is when you’re affiliated and also provide information. Trust and liking are elevated. When you reach out, prospective clients are very open to speaking with you. Your calls are hot and meetings are easy to get.

The one thing to remember, however, that many people conveniently forget, is that you still have to reach out. You still have to ask for conversations and appointments. Learn how to do that and you’ll get more meetings that turn into more clients.

Cheers, Robert

752 views
 

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

1101 views
 

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. 

1640 views
 

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

1043 views
 
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.
1158 views
 
More Blog Posts...
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.