By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
I recently received this heartwarming email from a very nice, person, Paul Wilson. I wanted to share it with you:
"I using this opportuntransferity to thank you fgreator effort to our unfinished of fund into your account due to one reason or the other best known to you. Due to your effort, sincerity, courage and trustworthiness you showed at the course of the transaction I want to compensaamte you and show my gratitude to you with the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000.00 USD). I have authorized my Lawyer to issue to you the said amount Via Bank draft."
Now, isn't that just sweet? Of course, I emailed him right back to send me that big fat check. Can't wait!
Well, no, I'm just kidding, I sent him this email back instead:
Dear Esteemed Colleague, Paul Wilson,
"I'm tibbly flabbergasted about your truly auspiciousistic offer to enrich me beyond my piddlington effortful. It truly make my ten toes curleque in circlets. I promissory I'll make fulsome use of this mercuialsome bountiful."
After all, you want to show true appreciation when you get a gift like this, right?
OK, seriously… :-)
I just had to share this with you because it was such a hoot. Every day I get about 200 spam-related emails, many with offers as ridiculous as this, some apparently from serious businesses, not Nigerian money scams like the above.
Here's one I got last week. It was actually a legitimate promotional email from someone I knew.
Hi Robert Middleton,
Do you you teach programs that are highly spiritual
Then you need to see this new video:
<Link to video>
I used to believe that, unless you are a well-known
But this video shows you 4 ways to market personal
It can be very frustrating to KNOW you have
This video can change all of that for you.
<link to video>
Warmly, Online Marketer
Well, the topic was interesting me, so I clicked on the link (I had to go through an opt-in to access it) and I watched it. It was led by a colleague of mine, someone I respect and like, and the quality of the video was good as they're an engaging presenter. It was sincere and it made a few interesting points.
However, it did not deliver on its promise. Not even slightly. It mentioned the four different categories of marketing programs that included spiritual or personal growth topics but there was exactly 0% how-to about anything whatsoever. This video changed nothing for me. I was left with a big "so what?"
I don't want to point out who this was, as I don't want to embarrass this person, but I just wondered, "why all the hype?" It was interesting, but it gave me absolutely nothing. No actionable ideas except that I could offer results-oriented programs and slip in a little personal growth stuff. Hardly ground-breaking.
Now the whole purpose of getting someone to watch the video was to get people to sign up for an upcoming webinar. And I think that's legitimate, but with this lead-in, won't I be expecting more of the same content-free information in the webinar as well? Why would I want to put myself through that?
Oh, well, I guess we can chalk this up to a bad marketing day for my friend.
I don't think I need to wrap this up with a list of things you need to do or not do with your online promotions; I think my points are clear. But remember, if you're sending out something to your list, at minimum, deliver on what you promise.
Now I'm going to sit by my mail box and wait for that big check to arrive!
What email promotions drive you crazy? Please feel free to comment on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the Comments link below:
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
I was on vacation for two weeks and then last week I was "recovering from my vacation" so it's been a few weeks since the last More Clients. Used to be that I'd write More Clients on my vacation and end up missing my vacation!
I actually tried not to think too much about my business when I was away, although ideas popped up that I knew I'd address when I got back.
Perhaps the recurring theme was "dealing with change in my business and life."
As you may or may not know, I decided to take a break from leading the Marketing Mastery Groups that I'd been conducting for the past four years. I sort of thought of it as a sabbatical, but one month into said sabbatical and I decided to make this change permanent - no more Marketing Mastery Program.
So it was now a matter of figuring out what to do with my business and my time. I worked out an initial plan: I intend to stay with the Marketing Club indefinitely and also take on a few individual clients to coach intensively.
But to say that, "now I have a lot of extra time on my hands" is a real understatement! The Marketing Mastery took up about 20 hours of my time each week. My new clients take up maybe 4 hours, so you do the math!
My default position has always been to do more, to keep working harder, be more creative, fill up the time I've got and be super productive.
You know, there's nothing wrong with that at a certain point in one's business, but my 29th business anniversary is coming up in a couple weeks. At some point, one wants to work a little less and kick back a little more.
I'm nowhere near retirement. I'm not sure I'd ever want that (unless it was impossible to work), but seeing one's mortality in the rear view mirror puts a lot of things in perspective.
So here's my half-baked 7-step plan for change in the coming year.
1. Don't feel guilty about getting up late.
2. Work on what I'm inspired to work on, not what I think I need to work on.
3. Pay more attention to appreciating my wife and other friends.
4. Listen to more jazz (rather than collecting more jazz).
5. Take vacations that are less exhausting!
6. Read the things that are transformative, not informative.
7. Spend some time every day just doing nothing.
Well, that's a start, I'll let you know how it goes. This eZine/blog will keep coming out every Tuesday (until it doesn't) but the tone of it just might change - I'm not sure how yet.
In the meantime, I invite you to join me in the Marketing Club and if you'd like to do some intensive marketing work with me, let me know. I have a couple spaces open.
How are you dealing with change? Please feel free to comment on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the comments link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
"He goes after clients like a dog with a bone."
I got a call from a client today to ask for some advice with a campaign he launched to win a number of large clients. I was a little surprised that all he had done up to this point was make a phone call to his prospects (and left a message), and send a package by email. That's it.
Even by doing only that, he got 5 clients who want to work with him (out of 8-10 who he wants to work with). So that's not bad, but he's been holding back somewhat because he didn't want to be "too obtrusive" (noticeable or prominent in an unwelcome or intrusive way).
So in going after these prospective clients, how can he manage to be that "dog with a bone" and still avoid any "excessive obtrusiveness"?
Look, this is a bigger issue that many realize. For a lot of Independent Professionals. this is THE issue. We know we need to generate some degree of attention, but we don't want to alienate prospective clients at the same time.
After much pacing back and forth, Independent Professionals (or at the least the ones I've worked with) tend to opt for the safer, more unobtrusive approach which comes equipped with the following internal script:
"Yes, I believe I have something of value, but hey, if you're not interested, no problem. Just say the word and I'll skedaddle outta here and never darken your doorway again."
Well, that really takes the pressure off, doesn't it? No possible rejection or the possibility of annoying anyone ever with that "apologetic marketing" approach.
Yes, but it really undermines you as a marketer of your services.
Do you really think your prospects are so sensitive that if you simply reach out and follow up that they'll take immediate offense? No, in fact, in my experience it's just the opposite.
Just imagine The following scenario:
You meet someone at a networking event. You show some interest in their services. You have a god conversation and you exchange cards. Would you prefer:
a) You never hear from that person again.
b) They send you a follow-up email with an article.
Ultimately you get a follow-up phone call from this person to talk about your business and their services. Would you prefer:
a) They told you a few features of their service and asked you to call back if you were interested.
b) Engaged you in a conversation and found out more about your situation, needs, goals and challenges.
You showed interest in their services but were going on vacation soon and wanted to wait until you returned before making a decision to move forward. Would you prefer:
a) You never hear from them again.
b) You got a nice email, a link to some info on their website and some times to talk when you got back from your vacation.
If you really think about it, aren't the "a" answers much more annoying the the "b" answers? We want people to have good conversations, with us, follow-up, show interest and take the initiative to work with us.
Aside from blatant obnoxiousness (which you wouldn't stoop to anyway), don't you appreciate that kind of follow-up?
What we call "a dog with a bone" is really nothing more than "friendly persistence." And this is the missing key in so much marketing. We think that following up means being a pest. More often than not, this kind of interest and follow-up is not obtrusive at all, in fact it is welcomed.
I told my client that he needed to turn on his friendly persistence: Make another call, leave another voice mail message, send another package about your offering. And don't give up until you get a definite: "No, we're not interested right now" or "Yes, we're interested, let me know more."
And this is doubly true for busy business people, executives, and CEOs. They are all crazy-busy, and if you don't turn the friendly persistence up notch or two, you'll never get their attention at all.
Where to do you back down from the friendly persistence approach to marketing because you are afraid of being too obtrusive? Do see how much that is costing you? Get past this one and marketing will become a lot more fun and productive.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to comment on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton
If you watch TV, you'll notice that advertising for junk food is rampant, whether it's for fast food restaurants, kid's breakfast cereals or other non-nutritional garbage, consisting mostly of sugar and fat.
Easily, 80% of what is advertised is either completely unnecessary, frivolous, harmful or based on fear and vanity. So many commercials just leave me scratching my head.
No wonder marketing has a bad name!
And here you are, an honest, upstanding Independent Professional who provides a high-quality service for your clients. But with the current perceptions of marketing and advertising, you may be reluctant to market yourself.
After all, you want to be seen as a professional, not as another person "Hawking their wares" like all those commercials do.
Perhaps we need to forget about marketing as we commonly think of it. Just the idea of marketing brings up feelings of doubts, deception, manipulation and false information.
Instead, we should start looking at how we can build authentic trust with our prospects and clients. I know this is kind of radical, but after being a marketing coach for almost 29 years, I think this is the only solution.
After all, when I ask most people where they get their clients, 80% or more say they get clients from word-of-mouth. And close to 100% say they fail at getting business from any kind of cold-calling or approaching strangers.
Simply put, people like to do business with people they trust.
Marketing Actions That Build Trust
So how can we build authentic trust in an ever-increasingly hyped-up world? Well, I don't think we can just sit back and pray that we get word-of-mouth business without doing anything. We do need to take actions, but actions that build trust instead of erode it.
Here are a few ideas that I know work
1. Get to actually know people. Join organizations and show up personally. Attend conferences. Be known as someone who is a straight shooter, who keeps their word. If you say you'll follow-up, for goodness sake, follow-up.
2. Develop a content-rich website. Share your knowledge on your site through blogging and focusing on helping your prospects, by answering their most pressing questions and concerns. Be generous and transparent with what you share.
3. Keep in touch with a regular eZine. Like me, this may be the same content as your blog. That doesn't matter so much; the key is to share real stuff that is based on your experience, that doesn't have a hidden agenda. And do it frequently.
4. Have high-integrity business practices. Sure, it's easier to cut corners, make promises you can't keep, and give lip service to excellence and quality. But you need to understand that this will only kill your business in the long-term.
5. Give people an experience of what you offer. This is way beyond providing information through websites, blogs or eZines. It's finding ways to engage prospects in a dialog, answering questions and demonstrating how you can help them achieve their goals. This may be through, talks, teleclasses and webinars, or other interactive formats.
6. Understand how to deliver service. My experience with service is that people don't necessarily want every bell and whistle. They want responsiveness, they want help, they want accessibility. Find creative ways to expand this and make it fun and easy for your clients.
7. Leverage Technology. There are no doubt endless ways to do this, but you may start by archiving articles, audios and videos for use by clients. By directing my clients to existing online resources, we both save time, and I can do what I do the best: coaching my clients in the finer points of marketing.
Doing all of these things, and more will build more trust with your prospects and clients. And the truth is, it doesn't feel like marketing, it feels more like educating, informing and being a valuable resource. And wouldn't you prefer to do business with people who do business this way?
I'd like to hear more of your ideas on how to build trust with your prospects and clients. Please feel free to comment on the Action Blog by clicking on the Comemnts link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Attracting clients is simply a process.
To build a solid business where you bring in new clients consistently, takes some time. However many Independent Professionals have the ability to get a handful (or more) of new clients relatively quickly. Then with this foundation you can build your business for the long term.
You might call this the business the "Jump-Start Plan."
I've taught many of my clients this plan with great success and recently used it to attract five new clients in a three-week period. You can do it as well.
There are four main things you need:
1. A well-defined and focused professional service.
2. A write-up of this service on a web page - sometimes called a sales letter.
3. A list of past clients, potential clients and/or people who have opted-in to your e-list.
4. An outline for a selling conversation.
Let me explain the details and how-tos of each of these.
1. Well-Defined Service
You can't just offer "Business Coaching" or "Management Consulting" services. These are too general and offer no specific benefit or outcome. Therefore they won't generate much attention or interest.
Instead, develop an outcome-based title for your service such as "Doubling Your Profits in 6 Months Program" or "Accelerating Employee Productivity Program" or "Growing Your Spiritual Powers Program."
When you create a title like this, you take something that is quite intangible and make it more tangible while increasing its perceived value. Not all services need to be called programs, but I've found that it's one of those words that also increases the sense of tangibility and value.
2. Service Write-Up
Now you expand on your title and write a complete description of your service. This includes 5 parts:
A) Explain the need for the service in a very personal way. What's missing for your prospective client? What's not working or what is experienced as a problem or challenge?
B) What is the desired outcome or solution for your prospect? What do they want things to be like? What changes do they want to see in capabilities, results or inner states? Paint a picture of what this might be like.
C) Now tell about the program or service you've developed to get your prospects from A to B. What is this service all about and what is your promised outcome from this program? What are the many benefits they'll receive? (Bullet points.)
D) Next, give a clear picture of how this program works. Outline what happens step-by-step. Explain what you'll do and what you expect of them to succeed. Be very clear and include all the major points so that all questions are answered (except price - more on that later).
E) Call-To-Action. Now tell them what to do next to explore if this program or service is for them or not. Offer a complimentary meeting by phone. My favorite way is to include a questionnaire to fill out right at the bottom of the page. Get their basic contact info and include a few questions to learn about their situation and goals regarding the results and outcomes they are seeking.
Once they fill out the form, they'll be taken to a confirmation page that tells them you'll be in touch soon to set up a time to talk in depth. You may also choose to mention your fees on this page. This will screen out those who are not serious or who simply can't afford you.
You can see the page for my services here.
3. List of People to Contact
This can be the tricky part and is THE big key to making this plan work. You want to assemble the names of every past client, business contact and possible prospect you know. (Perhaps you have a big collection of business cards in your desk.) You must have 100 or more on your list, and the more the better. You may also have built an e-list from personal contacts or opt-ins from your web site.
Next, you want to send an email to those on your list announcing your program and inviting them to take advantage of a complimentary session to discuss their current situation and goals. You'll include a link to your new web page.
Depending on the size and quality of your list, the current needs of those on the list, and the clarity and persuasiveness of your sales letter, you will get a number of responses by email.
Take a look at the responses, turn down those who are obviously not qualified (that's the purpose of the questionnaire) and respond by phone and email to those who are. Have a short conversation and then set up a time for your complimentary meeting. I personally schedule 90 minutes.
4. The Selling Conversation
The most important part of any selling conversation is asking questions, listening and really getting interested in who thy are, what they're up to and what they want to accomplish.
In last weeks' eZine (The Joy of Selling), I described this in more depth, but let me add a few things here.
Don't try to sell in a selling conversation! It's not about persuading and convincing. Look, if they responded to you, they are already interested. The conversation is more about discovering if you can really help them or not.
As you learn more about them, ask follow-up questions, really get into what's important to them, and get excited about what's possible. They will open up to you and get excited as well.
Then all that's left to do is explain the basics of your services, what they need to do to succeed with the program, and invite them to move forward. Discuss the fee and confirm that they can manage to pay you. Then wrap things up.
Using this plan you can convert several potential clients into paying clients in only a few weeks. Now it's time to get started!
What's your experience been of using a similar plan to get clients fast? Any questions about the process? Please add your comments or questions by clicking on the Comments Link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Joy is not usually an emotion that we associate with selling. In fact, most people, even many business people, see selling as a necessary evil, something they do with reluctance, if not with with complete distaste.
And this is because most people completely misunderstand exactly what selling is.
Most of us define selling as "convincing someone to buy something that they don't want." And to that we can add pressure, manipulation, deceit and hucksterism.
We associate selling with used cars, telemarketers and TV pitchmen. And we think that to be successful in selling that we need to emulate those models.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
What I want to tell you is none of that has anything to do with selling professional services. That is NOT selling. Selling is not about pressure, convincing, or manipulation. Yes, these are sometimes things that sales people do, but they don't help much, and in fact even detract from the success of the selling process.
So we need a different way to think about selling. Here's my definition:
"Selling is exploring with a prospect if your service is right for them or not and then coming to a mutual agreement to work together or not."
The key word here is exploring. And in my experience, this explorative approach to selling is a joy. In fact it may be my favorite business activity.
Just think, as a result of your marketing, you get someone interested in knowing more about how you might help them solve a problem, develop a skill or increase their confidence (amongst other positive outcomes).
Then they either contact you, or you follow up with them to conduct an exploratory conversation to see if you can help them or not.
I think if we did away with the word selling entirely and replaced it with exploratory conversation, we'd be a lot further ahead. After all, isn't exploring something fun, exciting, and full of potential discovery? Absolutely!
When you meet with a prospect for this kind of conversation, you set aside a number of things that only screw things up. You set aside your need to get this person as a client. you set aside your bag of persuasive tools and skills.
And then you ask a few choice questions and just listen.
I divide my questions into three broad areas: First, questions about the prospect's current situation, what's working and what's not working? This is where I spend most of my time. Sometimes I think of myself as a doctor diagnosing a patient. I have no agenda other than trying to understand exactly what's going on.
The second type of question doesn't take a long time but is absolutely essential: What are your goals, that is, where do you want to go and what kind of outcomes are important to you? You need to understand this: Prospects want the outcomes you deliver, not the process of your services. So you must know what they want and why they want it.
The third type of question is about challenges. What is preventing your prospects from from moving from where they are now (their situation) to getting where they want to go (their goals)? This is absolutely essential to understand because there is always something in the way, and that always needs to be addressed through the services you offer.
When you are coming from the mindset of: "I want to explore this prospect's situation and discover how we can work together and produce an outcome that will make a substantial difference" then any remnants of the manipulative selling process simply dissolve.
Exploring in this way is a very intimate conversation. You get to know your prospects very well, learning things about them and their businesses that not many others are privy to.
And that is a true joy.
Sometimes the conversation culminates with an agreement to work together, sometimes it doesn't. But the whole experience has been positive and uplifting. It benefits both you and the prospect, no matter what happens.
But the good news is that when you start to approach selling as an exploratory conversation, you create a connection with your prospects that is irresistible. And more prospects will make the choice to work with you.
Prospects don't buy your services just because you have a comprehensive, outcome-based solution to their challenges, (which of course, you should have), they decided to work with you because they want more of that intimate exploration, more of that uplifting experience of connecting with you.
Are you ready to let go of old, constrictive mindsets about selling and embrace a whole new approach based on exploratory conversations where the aim is to make a difference, not make a killing?
Do you have a joyful approach to selling? Tell us about it on the Blog by clicking on the Comemnts link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
I recently got hooked on watching the SyFy Channel series, "Alphas" (on Amazon Instant Video) about people with enhanced abilities and senses.
It's a common theme, of course, from Superman comics that I read as a kid to the TV series, Heroes, and the movies Spiderman, Ironman and a host of others. We've always imagined what it would be like to have super powers.
The thing is, we do. All of us.
No, we can't jump over tall buildings or travel though time, and our superpowers may seem mundane, but without recognizing and exercising the powers we already have, we often feel, well, powerless.
Our super powers are the gifts, talents or abilities that we can tap into to produce amazing results. In Part I I talked about qualities such as Persistence, Creativity, Courage, Confidence, etc. but today I want to talk about actual Marketing Super Powers.
In working with so many clients I've noticed some were naturally more talented in some areas of marketing than others. Here's an inventory of the key Marketing Super Powers:
Conceptualizing a Business Idea. You might call this the ultimate entrepreneurial skill. You can easily imagine creating services, packaging them a certain way, and offering them to a targeted group of potential clients. It all just comes in a flash accompanied by a feeling of exhilaration and energy.
Developing Marketing Messages. You instinctively seem to understand how to convey something in its most interesting, persuasive, and attention-getting way. You know how to take a simple idea and put a spin on it that gets others excited.
Face to Face Communications. It's not so much what you say, or even how you say it, but how you communicate emotionally with your listener. You're a great listener, you empathize, and you're someone that people just like to be with.
Written Communication. You can take any idea and effortlessly explain what it's about, why it's important and how someone can apply this idea in a practical way. You know how to make anything interesting and keep the reader reading. Sometimes called the "master marketing skill" you can apply this power to almost everything in your marketing, from blogs to presentations.
Speaking to a Group. This power combines the ability to create a presentation (writing) and face-to-face communication, but it's a completely different animal. If you have this power, you feel very comfortable on a stage or behind a podium. You love an audience and thrive on positive feedback.
Implementing a Plan. When presented with a good idea, you know how to break it down into a step-by-step action plan and put it into action efficiently and effortlessly. This power thrives on getting things done and making it happen.
Organizational Ability. You know how to manage multiple projects, ideas and things. You never get overwhelmed because, as something crosses your path, your power helps you prioritize, categorize and file it for later use.
Selling Ability. Bring conversations to closure is your super power. You know what to ask next, what to say next and what to suggest as the next step. You know how to keep the ball in your court and move it steadily towards the goal line, an agreement with a new client to work with you.
Which is your dominant Super Power?
Of course, all of these superpowers are very useful, and in the course of learning and mastering the discipline of marketing, you'll improve your skill in all of them.
But you want to recognize which of these super powers comes most naturally to you and find ways to emphasize them.
For instance, some people, and I'm one of them, find it more difficult communicating face-to-face than I do communicating by writing. I'd almost always prefer to send an email than talk on the phone. And others are the exact opposite.
So it makes sense for me to spend more time writing this eZine, fine tuning my website, blogging, and writing presentations and video scripts than it does attending networking events and conferences.
When you look at the list above, which one of the eight resonated with you the most?
If it was Organizational Ability, you can really use that as a competitive advantage. You can collect and organize useful information to send to your prospects, you'd be great at building, segmenting and leveraging your e-list. You'd have facts, strategies and tactics at your fingertips to implement when the opportunity arose.
Believe, me a lot of people would be envious of that Super Power!
If Selling was your Superpower, you'd want to spend more of your time connecting with and following up with prospects. You know your strength is the persuasive process, so you might avoid marketing activities such as writing and marketing planing and put most of your marketing time into actual selling activities.
The thing to understand is that when you utilize a Super Power it becomes the key to achieving your marketing goals, even if your powers in other areas are just average. And, in many cases, you can delegate those things to others who have different super powers than you do.
What are your Marketing Super Powers? How can you emphasize them to achieve your marketing goals? And are there any other Marketing Super Powers that I didn't mention? Please feel free to comment on the blog by clicking on the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Today I thought I'd share with you a little of what a mostly online marketing coach (me) actually does with his time.
I thought you might be interested to know what it is that I do to help keep my clients, Club Members and More Clients subscribers happy.
Two weeks ago is I was in a retreat in Northern California to clean out my spiritual pipes. The schedule wasn't heavy, so it gave me time to think about things, including my business, during the breaks between sessions.
I came up with an idea for a new service and wrote it out in longhand. This often happens. Great ideas always come to me when I'm at workshop or retreat.
April 27-May 3
As soon as I returned home, I cracked open my notes and developed the new service completely and put it on my website. I'll be launching this in a week or so, so I won't give you any hints right now.
I had written my eZine for the week before I went on the retreat and posted it for Tuesday delivery. Because I had that time free, I worked on a new webinar presentation in Keynote on my Mac. I'm trying to do new things with Keynote, so there's a learning curve.
I had a final meeting with one of my Marketing Mastery participants in New York and did more work on my new service. On Friday morning I met with my mastermind partner George Huang to brainstorm ideas for the coming two weeks.
Wrote a very long article about marketing mindsets and posted it on my site in the Free Stuff Section. I liked it enough that I repurposed it for my eZine. Perhaps the longest eZine article I've ever done - almost 2400 words.
On Tuesday I had a meeting with a new potential client and later that day I led one of the Coaching Calls for the Club on "Creating a Digital Download." We have 100 people signed up for this series within the Club.
On Wednesday, Carolyn Potts visited my house in the redwoods and did a photo shoot with me for a new headshot. Haven't seen the results yet. And then I put the finishing touches on the webinar presentation.
I also sent out a promotional email on Wednesday for the webinar and 300 people signed up, which was a nice outcome.
On Thursday I had another final meeting with one of my Marketing Mastery program participants who lives in Bharain and then led the webinar at noon with a couple hundred in attendance. Yes, even I don't get everyone who signs up to show up!
Made an offer for the Marketing Club and over 24 hours about 30 new people signed up. Yay!
Finally, on Thursday I interviewed Kris Gilbertson on Podcasting which will be an interview in the Marketing Club, and also made arrangements with her to do a free webinar for my whole list next week on the 23rd. See above.
Yesterday I was back working on Keynote for a new introductory webinar presentation that I intend to put up on the website as a video for new subscribers. Worked on it from 11 am to about 7 p.m. with a short break or two. Almost done. Hopefully will have it up before the end of the week.
Had a long talk with my wonderful VA, Jayne, who's husband passed away a week or so ago. She's doing really well, but it came very unexpectedly. Send her prayers.
That takes me to right now, 9:40 pm on Monday, completing this eZine. Can't wait to finish that webinar tomorrow. I have a ton of other projects on my list.
You're welcome to make comments below by Clicking on the Comments link.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Last week in the eZine and blog I challenged your beliefs about nutrition, to demonstrate how attached we are to what we believe.
And I told you that this week would be about limiting marketing beliefs. I'm not talking about myths about writing or marketing messages or giving talks. Important perhaps, but not a big deal. The limiting beliefs we have about marketing are disguised as attitudes and mindsets about marketing that we think are normal reactions to external circumstances.
Here's the thing about a belief: If we hold it as true, then everything in our lives falls in line with that belief. We believe it, we think it, we feel it and we act on it. It's not a belief to us, it's the truth.
What I explore today are the beliefs that hold people back from successfully marketing their business. This comes from my experience of working with hundreds of clients over a 28-year period. It was never the how-to part of marketing that was the issue, but their limiting beliefs and attitudes. When you're stuck in a mindset, it's hard to take action, hard to move forward, hard to get things done. See if you can identify these mindsets in yourself. And most importantly, what's driving each of these mindsets/beliefs?
The attitude/feeling is listed first, followed by the belief.
Ambition - I must succeed, no matter what
If you must succeed, then you can't fail. That is, it's not in any way OK if you fail. Ambition, is a tricky one because it does have a positive side, it tends to drive you and put you into action. But in being driven, you block other things out, other people, other important things. You always feel right and justified in what you do. So in marketing, you can easily fall into unethical practices. And then the means justifies the ends. You've seen a lot of marketing like this online. But ultimately it breaks down or backfires.
The best way to handle ambition is to think of your business and your marketing as a game. Yes, you want to win, get more clients, and make more money. But you can play in a less driven way that is all about fun and engagement and building relationships and making a real difference. When you do this, the money will follow. This leaves you with the feeling of true accomplishment and growth, where you celebrate your wins and include others in that celebration. (Think Bernie Madoff vs. Richard Branson.)
Confusion - I don't know what to do
Confusion is very common when you start on any enterprise. You soon learn that there are so many components, so many moving parts, and that it's hard to know what to do first or where to start. Many people get stuck in confusion and feel that they'll never get beyond it. The first impulse is to try harder, the final impulse is to just quit. Confusion seems to be innocent, but it's not, because it arises out of thinking you should know more than you do. Confusion is a lie.
To combat confusion, you need to be humble. Admit what you don't know and let it be OK that you don't know. You need to research and learn from others and discover what really works. Study by reading books, searching on Google, making lists and plans, and getting the advice or coaching from others can get you out of confusion. When you are no longer in confusion, it doesn't mean you know everything, it means you know what you don't know and what you need to learn next to succeed.
Frustration - This is just not working
Frustration is a cousin of confusion in that you know what to do but aren't getting results yet. Confusion is like casting around in the darkness; frustration is banging into walls over and over again, thinking you should see some light by now. Frustration can also lead to quitting. It's like fishing without ever catching any fish. But the source is the same as confusion - believing you should have the answer, even when you don't.
To get out of frustration you need more than general directions, you need a guide who has been there before. You might find a guide in books or other instructional materials, but usually you need someone who has figured out how to make something work and can give you specific directions. A guide may be a consultant, coach or mentor. Realize that the investment you make in a guide will pay off many times over by helping you reach your destination more quickly and with fewer costly mistakes.
Impatience - Things are not going fast enough
Impatience is a lot like frustration but has a sharper edge. Not only are you frustrated that things aren't working, you are impatient and perhaps a little angry that they aren't working. And this makes you do stupid things. You follow-up with someone with an impatient tone in your voice: "Why the hell can't you get back to me and set up a time to talk?" When we're impatient, we feel that people owe us something, that they should respond faster and differently. It's not a lot of fun to do business with impatient people. They are fighting against what is.
To get past impatience you need to realize that you're not entitled. The world owes you nothing, and neither do your potential clients. You need to find time to be still, to be calm, to meditate. I'm not kidding. Impatience is a very agitated state of mind. You're not only impatient, you're impatient that you're impatient! Take walks, go to the seashore or the woods and contemplate how long those trees took to grow. Cultivate patience. It's so much more powerful than impatience. It's facing reality just as it is.
Disappointment - I'm not getting what I want
You feel disappointed when you seem to have done everything right but still don't get the results you want. You've spent a lot of time and have traveled a long way. Is it time to give up and try something new? Sometimes it is. But not always. Have you really tried everything? Have you read the books, listened to the experts, gotten some coaching? Or perhaps you've set your goals so high that it's unrealistic to achieve them in the time you've set. Yes, you can make a million dollars; but probably not in a year.
Before you get dragged down by disappointment, look at your goals and your expectations. Were they too high? Look at the efforts you put in. Did you really go the extra mile? Look at the information you used. Was it the best information available? Look at the support you got. Did you really use the support to its fullest extent? Now, after looking at all of that, set a new goal, and make a new plan. Get some input from others, and set up a support system that you'll stick to; then go into action.
Arrogance - I know what to do
People who are arrogant will rarely admit they are confused or frustrated. After all, they think they know what to do. Many arrogant people are intelligent and resourceful and have had many successes. But success in some areas doesn't guarantee success in others. For instance, very successful people in business often think being self-employed will be a breeze. It's a rude awakening and a blow to their egos when they realize they have no idea how to attract clients in any kind of consistent way. I've worked with people who have masters degrees in marketing but can't attract clients themselves!
The cure for arrogance is to simply admit you don't know - at least in the area you are struggling with. So be humble, ask for help, read a lot, find a guide, and use your intelligence to learn more and learn faster than the average person. Hopefully that won't lead you to more arrogance, however. Become a mentor and coach yourself and give back.
Overwhelm - I have too much to do
Overwhelm comes from believing you should be able to handle every thing, every idea, every detail without effort. Again, it's a false idea that we have about ourselves, that we must be perfect and handle everything. When we are faced with a multitude of options and choices, we don't handle it well. Quitting is a frequent reaction, but simply engaging in avoidance behavior is more common.
To get past overwhelm you need to realize you can only do one thing at a time - the thing in front of you right now. Sure, it's looks like a million things, but it rarely is. All those items on your to-do list, or the pile of papers in your in-basket, or the hundreds unanswered emails are completely neutral. They are not doing anything to you. Organization helps overwhelm greatly. Creating systems for email, files, paper and actions, puts things where they are easy to access and get to when you need them. Think of what you can accomplish just for today, and then think of what you can accomplish right now. Then start.
Unworthiness - I'm not worthy to succeed
Now we're getting into deeper, darker territory where we doubt our intrinsic value. When we don't feel smart enough, good enough or talented enough, we doubt our ability help the clients we have, let alone attract new clients. This is the place of low self-esteem, and sometimes self-loathing. To quit at this point is common, but we can carry this around like a cross for a very long time, being a victim of our perceived inadequacies.
It's easy to find reasons for our unworthiness, but this is the the lazy way of avoiding success. Instead we need to build arguments for our worthiness. What have we succeeded at, no matter how modest? What are we good at? What do we love to do? What do people praise us for? To ignore these obvious abilities and accomplishments is to undermine the truth of our potential. Build on what you have, not on what you think you should have. Make a simple plan and get support in moving forward one step at a time.
Impostor - I feel like a fake, a pretender
When you feel like an impostor, it's as if you're puling the wool over everyone's eyes. You believe you don't have the skills, the experience, the track record or the know-how to pull things off. But nevertheless, people trust you to get the job done. But what will happen when your clients discover you were faking it all along? When they do, won't that mean the end of your life and business as you know it? Those who feel like impostors are similar to those who feel unworthy, but who take action anyway.
The recurring pattern for all of these mindsets is that "things shouldn't be the way they are." Well, in case you didn't realize it, things are exactly the way they are. You should know exactly how much you know, you should be able to do exactly what you do, and you should have exactly what you have. That's reality. And if people trust you to get a job done, they see something in you that you may not see. So you're not an impostor, just someone doing the best job you can. Get over it. Take the acknowledgement and recognition and work at doing things even better.
Fear - I'll be hurt or rejected if I take action
This is a big one in marketing because nobody likes to be rejected. We are always waiting for something bad to happen - but it usually doesn't. We put off making follow-up calls because we think we'll be rejected. We don't write that article because we worry we'll be ridiculed. Or we avoid trying to get speaking engagements because we'd only make a fool of ourselves. Fear puts our marking on "play it safe mode." We rarely take a risk because we just can't face the imagined consequences.
The way to conquer fear is by making a commitment to finding the truth. Will you really be rejected, ridiculed or make a fool of yourself? What's your proof; what's your evidence? When it comes to making that follow-up call, ask how bad could it really be? Will the person you're calling send a hit man to take you out? No, not likely! What if they are simply not interested right now? Can you live with that and move on? Of course, you can. Fear is based on the belief that everyone should like you and accept you. Is that true? Sounds narcissistic to me! So tell the truth about your fear and take one action at a time. Take that scary next step.
Shame - Others will think I'm trying to con them
If fear is bad, shame is worse. It stops so many capable people from marketing themselves. "What if they think I'm trying to pressure them? What if they think I'm like a sleazy car salesperson if I promote my services? What if they lump me in with con men whom people despise?" Thoughts and beliefs like that will stop your marketing cold. Your marking plan will look something like this: "I'll do the best for my current clients and I'll pray every night that they send me referrals."
Shame can be overcome by looking at others who market themselves successfully and with integrity. Sure, you can think of the unsavory types out there, but think of the ones who are great communicators, the ones who listen, the ones who care, the ones who make you, the buyer, feel comfortable. You don't resist or hate these people do you? Of course not, you admire and appreciate them. Find someone who is a model of high-integrity marketing and selling. Get to know them; take them out to lunch. Learn about their mindsets and you'll discover a whole new, shame-free way of doing business.
Blame - It's someone else's fault.
Blame is the ultimate cop out. It's not your fault that you didn't succeed, it's not your fault that things didn't work out. It was the advice you got, it was the market conditions, it was your partner, it was whatever conveniently comes to mind. What's the belief that underlies blame? The same as most beliefs: Things should be different than they are. And, of course, if they had been different, I would have succeeded. This is a sad and tragic place to get to.
To get past blame you have to turn your attention to yourself. But the trick is, it can be easy to blame yourself as well. And that's just as bad, if not worse. Instead, you want to take responsibility. If something didn't come out the way you wanted, you had something to do with it. That's all. After all, if you had succeeded, you'd take responsibility, wouldn't you? Of course! You'd look at all the things you did to make things work, and you'd work to repeat them. Now, having failed, you need to do the same thing in reverse. Look dispassionately at what you did that made things turn out the way they did. Then create a new plan to do things differently. Keep moving on, it's the only real choice you have.
Which of these limiting mindsets and beliefs hold you back? Or do you have a different one that stops you from moving forward? Remember, all limiting beliefs like this are based on a completely false premise: "things should not be the way they are" or "things should be the way I want them to be." Please comment or share by clicking on the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
One of my hobbies is nutrition. My first business, somewhere around 1970, was a health food store in Calgary, Alberta.
And once in awhile I get hooked by the latest information on nutrition and study up. In the past week I've read three books and seen one movie on the topic. They really opened my eyes.
Let me give you a quick quiz. Five questions - True or False:
1. A complex carbohydrate diet is better than a hight fat diet
2. You're better off drinking whole fat milk instead of orange juice
3. Eating carbohydrates makes you fat
4. A low-fat diet is the best way to loose weight
5. Cholesterol causes heart disease
Here are the answers:
1. False, 2. True, 3. True, 4. False, 5. False
But those answers are pretty much against everything you believe about nutrition, right? But the science proves otherwise. The bottom line is that fat, especially saturated fat, is GOOD for you, and carbohydrates, especially refined ones, make you fat.
Did you just read that? Yes, you did!
Here's the most interesting thing I learned from all these books: When faced with the results from innumerable studies proving these facts, many scientists, holding the opposite beliefs, simply disregarded the findings. They didn't even argue against them; they simply ignored them.
The overwhelming evidence, in hundreds of studies, proved people lost weight more quickly and without feeling deprived, by eating high fat and protein diets, with very low carbohydrates.
If you want to be convinced, read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes, or if you want a more entertaining take on the same topic, watch the movie "Fat Head" by Tom Naughton. You can get it on Netflix or instant play on Amazon. Not only is it educational, it's a real hoot.
The thing is, our beliefs about this are so fixed that even if we believe that refined carbohydrates are bad, we still try to eat low fat food when on a diet. No wonder we can't stick to our diets, because we're hungry all the time!
You'd feel guilty eating chicken with the skin on, as much cheese as you wanted, whole milk and full-fat yogurt, wouldn't you?
I mean, it sounds absolutely sacrilegious.
Oh yeah, and cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease and statin drugs may lower cholesterol but don't decrease heart attacks.
How could this be, you say? If what I'm saying is true, then virtually everything you've heard about what to eat to stay healthy (and thin) has been wrong.
There's a lot of blame to go around. Mostly scientists who got hooked on a belief with scant evidence and then convinced a lot of politicians that they were right. Hence, the food pyramid that emphasizes grains and starches - just the opposite of what we should be eating.
In fact, with the increase of refined carbohydrates in our diets, we are growing fatter than ever!
Now in the this eZine I don't have enough space to make a convincing argument, so do your own research. Read the books and watch the movie. Then decide for yourelf. Read Gary Taub's article in the New York Times for a good summary of his ideas.
The point I want to make in the eZine this week is that beliefs often trump facts. If we believe a thing is true, we will only pay attention to the evidence that fits our beliefs.
This eZine is really a set-up for next week's eZine about false beliefs we have about marketing and selling. If you think we have false beliefs about nutrition, wait untill I tell you all the false beliefs you have about attracting clients!
By the way, please don't bombard me with information about nutrition. This eZine is not about nutrition, it's about beliefs. Notice if you feel outraged, indignant and offended by what I wrote about today and are compelled to send me nasty emails.
Also notice if you feel justified, validated and pleased by what I wrote today and want to send me congratulatory emails.
Please don't waste your time.
In either case, you are just reinforcing your existing beliefs!
I'm not asking that you belief anything I wrote today. What I am saying is to notice your beliefs. Your beliefs shape your thinking, your feelings, your actions and your life. And don't believe that either! Take a look and see if it's true.
What unquestioned beliefs have you held in the past that you finally discovered were completely untrue? Share on the blog by clicking on the Comments section below.
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