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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

On Saturday a week ago, I noticed I was feeling uneasy about something. I wasn't sure what it was exactly, but then I turned my thoughts to some of the issues my clients were facing. 

Then it hit me: I was taking on the worries, the uncertainties, the fears my clients were experiencing. 

In Eastern teachings this is called, "the teacher taking on the karma of his students." 

In other words, I was assuming the responsibility and burden of what my clients were going though. I guess you could call that being empathetic; I was certainly feeling what they were feeling. 

And I noticed what a big drain this was on my energy and productivity. Instead of focusing on my own issues – the ones I could do something about I was focusing on what I could do nothing about. 

But I obviously believed I could do something. After all, I spend a lot of time every week coaching my clients, giving them ideas, plans and strategies to grow their businesses. I want them to succeed more than I can say. 

But ultimately their success is their business. They can take my ideas and put them into action or not. They will grow at their own rate, not at my rate. 

This insight was a wake-up call for me. I realized it would be smarter to put my focus on other things when not working with clients. After all, I have other projects and things to accomplish that only I can do. 

So I sat down and wrote a long article I had been putting off. I created a detailed action plan for the ongoing More Clients Club and signed up for an advanced marketing workshop. 

Nevertheless, this tendency to take on the struggles of others is a pattern I need to be vigilant about. 

I don't have any answers here except to be aware of the pattern and conditioning that led to it. 

Why is it that I have the need to "save" people?

What is the underlying belief holding that idea in place?

How is that tied up with my self worth?

What does this identification cost me?

Who would I be without those underlying beliefs? 

I hope you can relate to all of this!

I know that self-employed professionals are all about serving people. But how far do you take that? Do we put so much time and attention into our clients and their struggles that we fail to take care of ourselves?

Is there a way to serve clients without being so self-sacrificing? 

Can we give time to ourselves and not feel guilty about it?

Can we transition to empowering clients, rather than saving them?

Is it OK is we don't have ALL the answers and resources?

All food for thought. If you'd like to share your comments or insights, I'd love it if you would share them on the blog comments below (not by email, please).

Cheers, Robert

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Last week I wrote about how many of the processes of marketing can be boring. And when you can accept the boring tasks for what they are – and just get them done – you can produce some very good results. 

However, there are certain aspects of marketing that I personally find very exciting. 

They all have to do with self-expression: Writing, speaking and talking to prospects.

These are exciting to me because they all require focus, thinking, creativity and a demand to be present, in the moment.

Every time I sit down to write my weekly article I never quite know what I'll write about. It's like jumping into a chasm. Where will I land? Will it be any good? Will it inspire my readers to take action?

How can that be boring?

But with excitement comes uncertainty, fear, dread. 

Self expression demands a certain degree of risk, a letting go, a possibility of failure. What if you write something that people ignore or ridicule? What if you bore the audience when you give a presentation? What if you sound stupid when talking to someone about your services?

Personally, I'm scared of a number of things. If an activity has the chance of hurting me physically, I avoid it completely. 

You won't see me mountain biking, parachuting or bungee jumping!

People who do those physically risky things tell of how they feel the most alive when they are on the edge, adrenaline pumping, flying down a muddy pathway on their mountain bike, dodging trees and small animals. 

But those same people might quake in their boots when they think of standing on a stage to deliver a talk to a large audience or following up with a prospect to get an appointment.  

The paradox is obvious. The most fun and exciting things that you can do in your marketing (and that will return the best long-term results) are those things you avoid like the plague. 

So let me ask you a few pithy questions:

What's the worst thing that could happen if you did more writing, speaking and talking to prospects?

If you wrote an article or blog post, is it likely someone would spread it all over social media saying how moronic it was?

If you gave a presentation would everybody stand up and boo, throwing tomatoes at you?

If you followed up with someone from a networking event, would they send out a hit man to take you out? 

Get real. None of this would ever happen. When we disasterize about things like this we are not present in the moment. We are inside our minds manufacturing pictures of failure and rejection. 

Is any of that real? 

Look, I've know a lot of people who have been seriously injured doing risky physical activities, but I have yet to see anyone in my 31+ years of business even slightly damage themselves by writing, speaking or talking to prospects.

It never happens. In fact, engaging in all of these so-called risky marketing activities usually ends up being fun, even exhilarating – not to mention effective. 

"When I followed up with participants who had attended my talks, I was afraid I'd be rejected. The opposite was the case; they were friendly and open, willing to meet and talk with me." – Ross Blake (a current client) 

Ready for excitement? Write. Speak. Interact. 

Cheers, Robert 

If you resist putting yourself out there, afraid of what might happen if you express yourself, you probably have friends who are experiencing exactly the same thing. Please pass on this article to them. They'll appreciate it. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

I just started working again with a former client who has has signed on as an Investment Director of a Private Equity Firm. He's looking for established businesses who want to grow through the acquisition of other companies. 

We figured out the best method for marketing was to approach potential clients cold via LinkedIn. Other associates in his organization have done this very successfully. 

For every client he gets, the returns can be quite substantial. 

The steps are simple: 

1. Do research on LinkedIn to find the right kind of companies who might be open to this kind of help in their business. 

2. Write a rather low-key email letter that introduces them to the concept and asks them to reply.

3. Set up meetings by phone to explain in more detail how the business works and then proceed slowly but surely. 

This is what I call a Direct Outreach Marketing Method. And because it doesn't entail direct phone calls, it's not so brutal. Nevertheless, it takes many contacts and conversations to end up with a great client. 

But a lot of people shy away from this marketing method. 

Why? Because it takes an unusual amount of persistence and determination. It's a little like fishing. You show up at the fishing hole every day, spend an hour or two, and keep coming back day after day after day until you finally land "the big one." 

And many people give up on this kind of marketing after a few weeks for several reasons: 

1. The outreach is repetitive and somewhat boring. 

2. The percentage response is not high - perhaps 10% for the initial effort.

3. It takes the right message sent to the right people. 

But when it comes down to it, most marketing methods have the same chalenges. Whether you do networking, speaking or email marketing, all these methods take time, persistence and the right messages. 

The good news is that all of these methods can work if you have a complete, end-to-end system that has been tested and proven to work — if you follow the system. 

I know, this is so damn boring! It is not exciting at all.

What we want to do it just the opposite. We want to implement some magical kind of marketing juju and get a huge number of clients knocking on our doors, ready to work with us. 

I've been in business for almost 32 years, and I've never seen it happen. 

Yes, I've seen promises, magic formulas and silver bullets. What people usually want when they respond to pitches for these magic marketing formulas is very little work for a high return. 

The hype rarely matches the reality. When it comes down to it, all of these approaches to marketing take more time than you realize, are technically complex and are quite difficult to implement. 

I help my clients in a very different way. We identify the marking methods that will work best for them, turn them into turn-key systems and then support them in implementing them — one boring step at a time. 

But when that marketing method ends up doubling or tripling someone's business in a year or two, it doesn't seem so boring after all. 

Here's what I suggest you do: 

Study some reliable hands-on methods for marketing your professional services. Turn those methods into repeatable systems and persist until you get results. You may find the More Clients Club a good place to start. 

Cheers, Robert 

Do you have some friends in business who have been trying magic formulas with little results? I invite you to turn them onto my work. It's all commonsense stuff that actually works. This past week I received a book in the mail from one of my followers, Brian Bauder. He said: "Thanks again for your work. You are like a silent partner/coach. Following you has made the difference for me."

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

The answer to this question is Yes and NO.

One way to talk about this is to compare marketing to getting fit. Right now I'm doing a daily strengthening routine.  

I use high-tension resistance bands instead of free weights. Every morning I do a series of eight simple (but strenuous) exercises that work the main muscle groups of my body. 

And today I noticed that the exercises were getting a little too easy. So I added another band to increase the tension. And now the exercises feel about has hard as they did a month ago. 

Wouldn't it be great if we could just keep exercising at the same level forever but keep getting stronger and stronger? 

Unfortunately life doesn't work that way. 

And the principle is exactly the same with marketing.

Right now, I'm putting the members of my Marketing Mastery Program through the paces: more writing, developing and practicing messages, reaching out and making connections. 

And although they've been in the program for only a month, it seems more like six months! Everyone is exercising marketing muscles that haven't moved much in a long time. 

A few months from now they will be doing more challenging things such as giving talks, setting up more selling conversations, writing their website content and more. 

And these actions won't seem as hard as the actions they're taking now. 

I have to be careful not to be too easy on them or their marketing muscles will begin to atrophy and they'll find themselves avoiding marketing activities that are essential to their marketing growth.

One of the biggest struggles people have when they really get into marketing is how long things seem to take. 

Writing articles or other marketing content can take hours and hours spread over several weeks. And the quality, for the most part, is just average. 

At this point, many people just want to give up. "After all, what's the use? This is just too damn hard!"

And then they hand someone an article they've written, and it really resonates with that person. A meeting follows and then there's a more in-depth conversation. 

And then, before they know it, they land a new client (at a higher rate than they've ever charged before). 

And it hits just like the results of exercising hit me. "I'm getting stronger. I'm more flexible. My back doesn't hurt as much."

Sure there are ups and downs, but the progress is real. 

If you don't have a plan and don't take action you can expect your marketing results to be pretty much what they've always been. In fact, you'll get weaker, not stronger. 

But if you take your intention to grow your business and add a regular marketing routine, slowly but surely you'll have solid evidence that marketing does in fact work.

Are you ready to take the first step? It's often the biggest one. 

Cheers, Robert 

If you're serious about developing a marketing routine and building your marketing muscles, often the first step is to gain the information so that you're working on the right marketing exercises. Until you know what to do it can be hard to make the commitment to take action. Check out the More Clients Club that contains everything you need to get your marketing going in the right direction.

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By Robert Middleton - Action Plan Marketing

Studs Terkel was the "Great American Interviewer." 

He wrote dozens of books about the American experience, such as Hard Times an Oral History of the Great Depression, and Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.

These weren't his ruminations and opinions about people. They were all one-to-one conversations. 

In Working, he interviews 128 people, from farmers and policemen, to actors and secretaries. And all are very forthcoming, sharing what they do and how they feel about it. 

I wondred how he did it. In an interview of Terkel, I found the answer:

"They’ve got to believe you’re interested," he said. "If it’s a writer of a book, you’ve got to have read his book thoroughly. Or a person who is just an anonymous person—say for one of my books, say this guy is a carpenter—I’ll ask him about his life and as he’s talking I’m listening. I don’t have written questions. It’s a conversation, not an interview. “And then what did you do?” No! “Just tell me about…"—and you start, sort of like you’re having a cup of coffee or a drink, so it’s informal and very easy. Out of that things are revealed." 

Perhaps what Terkel did't know (but I wouldn't put it past him), is that this is exactly how you talk to prospective clients. This is how you sell. 

Sure you have some questions prepared before meeting with a prospective client to explore working with him or her. Preparation is important. You want to give some thought to what you'll talk about.

But you don't ask your questions by rote. You talk to your prospect as Studs Terkel would have. You get interested. And I don't mean faking interest. I mean genuine interest.

I want to know about a prospective client's business, but I also want to know how they got into business (people love to tell their stories), what they're passionate about, what they struggle with and where they want to go.

Ultimately I want to be inspired by them, moved by them, intrigued by them. I want to get to know who they are, what drives them and what stops them.

At a certain point in a "selling interview" I get a very strong feeling that I want to work with this person. I want to help them and show them what's possible in their business and what they could achieve.

This is a turning point. I never feel a need to convince them or persuade them. They get that I'm sincere, interested and passionate about working with them.

I don't even tell them much about my services or how I work — they've already received detailed information about my services before we talk — I simply ask if they have any questions.

I answer all their questions in as much detail as possible. I respect them and use this time to explain anything that's unclear or confusing about how we'll work together.

When we're done, I ask them if they think my service or program is something they feel they could succeed with.

They usually say yes. Not because I use any brilliant selling or closing techniques, but because I've talked to them like Suds Terkel would have, person-to-person.

And the exciting thing is, this is just the first conversation. Over the next few months, we'll have lots of in-depth conversations where they discover whole new worlds about their marketing and the amazing places it can take them. 

If Studs Terkel interviewed me, he'd be very clear that I love my job!

Cheers, Robert

Do you know someone who struggles with their selling? This is such a big issue for so many people. They try to do it "right" and "perfect" as if that were possible. No, just get really interested in your prospective clients and let the questions flow naturally. Please feel free to forward this or share it with someone you know who's ready for selling to be easy and fun.

Listen to a Studs Terkel Interview here

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

At the end of 2012, I freaked out for about a day.

I had set something in motion that could have dire financial consequences in my business and life.

I had decided to stop holding my Marketing Mastery Groups for a time. I’d put so much hard work into these groups for four years and was feeling a little burnt out.

Instead, I decided to work only with individual clients for a couple years (it ended up being three), which meant my income would decrease substantially.

When I realized what I had done, I freaked out a bit. For me, freaking out looks like obsessive worrying, feeling desperate, and blaming myself for doing the wrong thing.

You know, you've been there.

But it was more like a short bout of the flu. After a day it was gone as I'd returned to my imperturbable center, the place that, no matter the circumstances, is always calm.

Ultimately I knew, without doubt, that I'd be OK.

But how do you find that place in tough times when your cash flow is a mess, you can't attract clients and you feel as though you've run out of options?

I think the first thing to realize is that circumstances have no power to upset us, freak us out or get us off track.

It's only the thinking about the circumstances that sets us off. Think of it this way: If some undersirable event takes place we are not upset if we don't know about it. Once we know about it, we get upset. So it is never the event that is inherently upsetting. It's our thinking about the event. 

For instance, we're feeling happy and contented, and then we realize our bank account is almost empty and the rent is due in a week, with no prospects in sight. Those are the facts.

But the facts, in and of themselves, are not upsetting. No, it's our thinking about the facts that upsets us.  

And in my case, decreasing my income by six figures in the coming year wasn't upsetting either. It was what it was.

Our minds, however think and feel quite differently about these kind of situations. Our minds go into reaction or panic mode, desperately trying to find a way to change the situation and survive.

For less dire problems, we ultimately find a solution pretty quickly, but when the problem is serious, apparently insolvable, one or two things happen.

We start to generate a whole list of unworkable solutions. "I know, I'll sell cookies on the street!" (Ultimately these kinds of solutions go nowhere.)

Or we go into breakdown mode.

Breakdown mode is completely giving up. We go a little crazy and all the solutions the mind was generating just shut down. Some people call this "surrendering to the situation." 

What happens after the breakdown and surrender, is a new kind of clarity, not more thinking and solutions. This happens outside your mind and outside of time.

You may suddenly realize you're completely OK, that whether you survive or not is no longer the issue. You don’t see the situation as a problem anymore. The situation is no more significant than any common occurrence, from the music playing on the stereo to the play of light on your desk.

Your situation just is. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is what happened to me after freaking out about my cash flow situation. I just let it happen. Until my mind stopped.

Then, I enjoyed a feeling of freedom and release. "I'm going to be OK. In fact, I've always been OK." My worrisome situation and frantic thoughts dropped into the background. And that which never changes stepped into the foreground.

And in that space, the clarity of what to do wasn't any more difficult or challenging than any routine task I had faced thousands of times in my life.

Ultimately we did just fine for three years with much less income and I put my focus on other things that were more important to me.

Look, I'm big on strategies and action plans, as you know. But sometimes that just isn't enough.

Instead, you have to welcome the breakdown, the utter despair of things not working in order to have the breakthrough that reveals who you really are. 

Cheers, Robert

Do you know someone who's in dire straits? This article might help. In any case, it might be a reminder that our conditioned, reactive minds are not always the solution to our problems. When we have the good luck to step outside of our reasoning minds, there just might be something much more powerful in the background, ready to step forward.

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Quick, what's the best marketing thing to do right now?

No idea right?

Well, today I'm going to share a simple "recipe plan" to help you know what marketing to work on each week.

But first, a little bit about my culinary habits...

For quite some time, my wife and I have had erratic dinner habits.

Often when I emerged from my home office at about 6 pm, I discovered my wife had already eaten. Because we hadn't agreed on dinner, we mostly ended up on our own.

So I'd go to the fridge, grab a hunk of chicken and heat it up and eat it. Vegetables, salad?! I didn't worry about that stuff. No big deal, right?

Yes, until is was. A couple weeks ago I told my wife that I was sick of our eating habits and that I had an idea for change. I'd just found a pretty cool looking cookbook online with simple, healthy, dinner recipes for two.

She was up for it and we embarked on a new way of eating. We planned ahead and bought the ingredients we needed. And every evening we cooked one of those meals.

And boy, we've had some great meals. Tasty, not too filling. Just right. And now we're both eating together every evening and feeling both virtuous and healthier.

That cookbook was a simple and powerful solution we could implement almost immediately with tangible benefits.  

I thought, "Why not share some effective marketing recipes people could do just as easily and quickly?" Well, here they are:

Marketing Recipe Book for Stuck Marketers

First of all, I'm going to assume you have your basic marketing stuff together. You have a website, social media accounts and perhaps an email list, plus a marketing message that gets attention when you use it.

The problem is, you're not getting out there. You're sitting at your desk, meeting most clients virtually and when you have a break, you're doing social media like playing a video game.

Kind of addictive, but it goes nowhere.

So I'm putting you on a special marketing diet that consists of one marketing recipe a day — five different ones each week.

Monday: Call a past client or associate and set up a time to talk. You can talk in person or via phone, Skype, etc. When you get on the call (it might be that week or sometime later) talk about what you're up to now, and ask them what they are up to.

Just talking, brainstorming, and connecting like this limbers up your imagination and you'll come up with some ideas you can use.

Tuesday: Call up a current or past client and set up a time to talk (other than your paid time with that client). When you meet you're going to talk about referrals. You'll say, something like: "John, I know you've been happy in our work together. Who do you know, someone like you, who should know about the work I'm doing? And can you connect me with them?"

You won't bat 1,000 with this, but sooner or later you'll make a base hit or a run.

Wednesday: Connect with someone on social media who you've had some exchanges with but don't really know. Let this person know you'd like to chat with them briefly. Find a time to talk, and in this talk, just take a few minutes to find out more about what they do and tell them what you do.

And then, after you chat, see if you can give this person an idea, resource or something else of value after you talk. That's it.

Thursday: Reach out to your network and ask for something. You could do this with a limited email blast, or a post on Facebook or Linked In. What this does is open you to being contributed to. Since people love to contribute, you'd be surprised at the response.

What you ask for should be something more than what you could easily find on Google. You have a whole week to think something up, and I expect you'll find it pretty easy. 

Friday: Sit down and write something about your business. I don't care if it's a couple of paragraphs or a whole article. Make it sincere and as interesting as you can make it, perhaps the kind of ideas you share with your clients. Then post it on your blog.

Look, this is how blogs start. You don't need a huge plan. Just write something and get it posted. Don't have a blog page yet? Well, if you have a Wordpress site, a blog can be added simply, quickly and affordably by any web tech (see Thursday).

Variations on these recipes: Mix them up in any order you like. Once in awhile, skip one — but make it a different one each week.

What will happen: These are all recipes for getting out there. The first three result in conversations. And I've discovered that conversations lead you to places, often unexpected places. The only way you'll know is by reaching out and having them.

The last two are about asking for a contribution and making a contribution. These are powerful exercises that flex your marketing muscles and build your marketing strength.

Don't do any of these marketing recipes to get a specific result. Just be open to what happens.

As the telephone company used to say: Reach out and touch someone!

Cheers, Robert 

Do you have a friend who's on a lousy marketing diet? Could they use a few recipes to get them back on track? then please share this bog with them and invite them to join the More Clients eZine (and get the cool free Marketing Plan Workbook as a bonus!)  See the upper left corner of this page.

And while you're here, you might be interested in my Complete Marketing Cookbook, the More Clients Club, with dozens of in-depth marketing recipes. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Imagine this common scenario:

You are scrambling around like a mad fiend, completing that blog post, fine-tuning your website, returning a call from a potential client and sending out an email blast to your subscribers.

All at the same time. 

It may feel like there are dozens, hundreds, even thousands of things to do in your marketing. It can be hard to keep them all balanced and in action. And you're starting to feel overwhelmed and worried that nothing is working. 

OK, slow down for a moment. Breathe. 

You can gain some sense of control with your marketing if you realize that there are two kinds of marketing: Proactive and Passive. 

Proactive marketing is about actively promoting your business and services. Passive marketing is about building and maintaining an informational and social foundation for your marketing. 

When you understand which is which, it's much easier to balance these two different kind of marketing activities. And it also results in more effective marketing overall. 

Let's start with Proactive Marketing

Proactive marketing is about doing a specific promotion for a program or service. 

Proactive Marketing consists of three well-defined steps: 

1. Sending marketing communications that appeal to what your prospective clients are looking for. This message may be verbal, by email, or through a talk or other medium. 

So you'd better be absolutely clear about whether or not your communication will appeal to your audience and generate enough attention and interest to get positive responses. 

2. You next need to have an audience to convey your message to. It might be readers of your blog, people on your email list or a group of people attending a talk sponsored by a group or association. The people are out there, you just need to find them. 

This one is a little tricker than the first one, but with some research and trial and error you can find your audience.

If you do #1 and #2 well you will get some response from qualified prospects who want to know more, and are willing to explore possibly working with you. The next step is:

3. Engage your prospects in conversations to discover if you have what they want and then find a way to work together that is mutually beneficial. This is generally called selling, (but that's a nasty word we'd rather avoid).  

This is, by far, the easiest part of the whole process. You meet, talk and explore until you come up with a way to work together that makes sense and looks fun and profitable.

OK, that's three steps. Is it that simple? 

Well sure, there's a lot of thinking, planning and action that go into those three steps, but yes, it's pretty simple. I'll talk about it a little more below. 

You can think of proactive marketing as doing a focused campaign or promotion for a particular program or service. I do proactive marketing for both small and big programs.

Now let's look at Passive Marketing

Blogging, ezines, web content and social media are Passive Marketing. Passive marketing puts your name and message out there but it's not direct promotion that requires a response.

Passive marketing doesn't need to be as urgent and as focused as proactive marketing. It just kinds sits there! You post a blog, improve your website, send out a regular eZine, or respond to someone on LinkedIn.

Don't try to do Proactive marketing with Passive marketing tools. 

I see a lot of people doing this. They send email after email, post on their blog three times a day, and are constantly posting articles, links and resources on Facebook or LinkedIn and every other social media platform in existence. 

But they are frustrated because they aren't getting the results they hoped for. That's because Passive marketing isn't designed for response but to provide information, and build familiarity and trust. 

So, relax and have fun with passive marketing. Sure, make your website better, write some great articles, and build your list by giving a report away on your website. Chat with your contacts on social media. Fit it in when you can. But don't obsess about it.

And yes, once in awhile people will contact you as a result of your Passive marketing. Consider that a bonus.    

Balance your Proactive and Passive Marketing

Things don't feel so urgent and crazy when you put passive marketing and proactive marketing in their right places.

My passive marketing consists of writing this ezine/blog once a week. I do it each Monday and it takes a few hours. Then when I can fit it in I post on social media, update my website, etc. 

My proactive marketing is planned well ahead of time. I write emails and sales letters and schedule talks and/or webinars. I put everything on a timeline and execute with precision. 

But I only do proactive marketing occasionally these days. For the Mastery Program it will be annually, for smaller programs I may do it a little more frequently, although I'm cutting back on those. 

And, with this approach, it lets me put my time where it's most important: Working with my clients.  

Balance your Passive and Proactive marketing and you'll have a winning combination and less stress.

Cheers, Robert,

By the way, if you happen to know someone who is struggling to differentiate proactive and passive marketing, please forward this. I'm sure they'll appreciate it. Social media links below. 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Is marketing inherently stressful? 

Given all the comments I've heard from clients over the years, you would think it was. 

I regularly hear comments like:

Marketing is overwhelming 

It takes too much time 

It doesn't work, I'll just be rejected 

I can't fit it into my schedule

Asking for referrals is like begging 

At a certain point the stress becomes too much and the solution seems obvious: Stop any marketing activity immediately, in fact, stop even thinking about marketing!

That works for about five minutes until you realize again that if you aren't marketing, you won't have any new clients.

This is the "marketing vicious circle" where you feel stressed about marketing no matter what you're doing (or not doing).

Then how do you handle marketing stress? Is there a way you can reduce stress, actually do some effective marketing and make some progress?

Of course it's possible… 

It's possible, but it does take some thinking. The question to ask is: "Am I ready to replace much of my stress by doing some thinking right now?"

Of course, you are, so let's get started!

How would you be if you weren't experiencing stress? 

Wouldn't you be resourceful? Resourcefulness is always there. It's part of your natural state of being. It includes being creative, intelligent, inventive and enterprising.

Notice that children are amazingly resourceful. It's not something they learned; it came with the package called "human being."

Stress is simply the reaction you have to thoughts that tell you that whatever is happening is wrong or insufficient. 

It's often expressed as, "I should be able to do this," and, "If I'm not able to do this it's not OK, I'm not good enough."

But why should you be able to do something you've had very little experience doing? 

Think about that for a minute. You're stressed out about doing something (marketing activities) that you know very little about and in which you've had virtually no training or experience. 

The only problem is that you think it should be easy, that since you're successful in other areas, you should be immediately successful with marketing.

Look, marketing is complex. It can be challenging. It takes time. That's just the way it is. 

Just get that you're currently lousy at marketing. And that's OK. Everyone is lousy at just about everything until they get a certain amount of education and experience. 

Feeling a little less stressed yet?  

Back to young kids. They are lousy at everything they first try, but they're full of resourcefulness, creativity and inventiveness. This is why they learn at an astonishing rate. 

But as kids get older and turn into adults, we judge every action we take. We become cautious, fearful and wary of being judged for not doing things well. And that's stressful.  

This is what stress-free marketing looks like: Doing a lousy job at marketing and being 100% OK with that. And then tapping into your natural resourcefulness and just taking the next step.  

Here's what people do when they tap into their resourcefulness (instead of identifying with their stress):

They do a lot of research to learn what works and what doesn't. (Wish I'd had Google when I started my business!)

They mastermind with others to explore various marketing approaches, strategies and tactics, learning from the experience of others. 

They seek out authors, coaches, consultants, workshops and videos that teach hands-on practices that work.

As they explore and test certain ideas, they discover principles and systems that do work, and then make them best practices.

To sum it all up:

You get stressed about not being good at marketing your business. 

You realize it's your thoughts of not being good enough that trigger the stress. 

When you understand that it's OK to be lousy at something, you can relax and just start to learn. 

The more you realize that you are OK just the way you are, your resourcefulness kicks in and learning accelerates. 

Actions taken without self-judgment and fear produce results at a more consistent and higher level than when stressed. 

Get it? 

OK, then get on with it!

Cheers, Robert

Do you know anyone who gets stressed out by marketing? If you do, will you please forward this blog article to them via the social media links at the bottom. 

And if you're ready to give up stress and do something resourceful to get your marketing unstuck and into action, here's a super affordable and comprehensive resource that thousands of self-employed professionals have used to help them take the next step. Just click here:

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Every year at the end of the year, the same thing always happens….

I don't schedule any client meetings, I check my email a few times and then I start to become overwhelmed about everything I have to do beginning in January.

Today my wife taped this quote onto my computer:

What

screws

us up the most 

in life

is the picture

in our head

of how it's

supposed

to be.

 

Ain't that the truth!

How it's "supposed to be" at the end of the year is that I will relax without a worry, listen to a lot of music, go to a few movies, eat out, and become refreshed and ready to hit the New Year hard because I am relaxed, rested and ready to go.

Well, I did do a lot of that stuff, but I kept churning over and over what I needed to get done as soon as the holidays were over. The more I relaxed, the more the pressure built.

When I hit the, "I think I'm going a little nuts," breaking point, I snuck into my office and wrote down my main plans and projects that I wanted to work on for the first month of the year, the main tasks I wanted to accomplish the first week of the year and then wrote down the few things I planned to do on Monday.

What seemed like 50 things was only about half a dozen.

And the whirling in my head stopped.

Then on Sunday night when I went to bed, a new marketing idea flowed easily and slowly into my brain. Because everything else was taken care of, I had room for this new idea.

And, in fact, as soon as I stepped into my office on Monday morning (about a six-foot commute from the kitchen), I jumped onto my computer and spent several hours putting this new idea into action.

It was a new plan for the More Clients Club for 2016. But I'll tell you about that another day.

Once a very wise person told me this:

"The dullest pencil has a better memory than the sharpest mind."

In other words, get it out of your head and down on paper.

But whenever I forget that, I immediately become overwhelmed trying to keep all those ideas, projects and possibilities rattling around my cramped cranium.

And it's amazing how much relief I feel when those ideas get written on lists that I can access in a moment.

As the week and each day proceed, I no longer have a million things to think about, but just one: the project, the letter, the email I'm working on right NOW.

In this light, “overwhelm” becomes an illusion. Lots of things to do don't cause overwhelm. But they do trigger the thoughts that lead to feeling overwhelmed. Clean up and organize those things and overwhelm evaporates like fog in the morning.

My advice for you in the coming year:

Write down you ideas and plans. Create a monthly list, a weekly list and a daily list and you will accomplish more than you ever thought possible. Without overwhelm.

Now I just need to remember this when the holidays roll around next year.

Cheers, Robert Middleton

If you have some ideas about how you get more done without overwhelm, please share them below in the comments section.

Do you have a friend who gets overwhelmed by too much to do? Then please pass this along with the social media links 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, 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.