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by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Yesterday, in communicating with one client, I was explaining the results another client had just produced. And as I did, I had an ah-ah about the approach we'd used. 

This approach is really the ONLY foolproof marketing strategy. It's the only thing that has ever worked, the only thing that will continue to work and it's the only thing that works right now. And I mean for you!

So you'd think it would be very popular. 

No, quite the contrary, it is not popular at all. Now I know that's insane, but it's the truth. Successful marketers use this approach day-in and day-out, and because of it they keep getting continually better marketing results. 

But not the average Independent Professional, because they simply don't know about it or don't use it. 

Let me tell you about my client who is applying this strategy to the Nth degree. His name is Rajesh Nagjee and he lives in Dubai. He recently created a new high-end program with my help called the "CEO's Business Growth Program."

It's a one-year in-depth training, coaching and masterminding program for medium sized business in Dubai, as well as in Lagos Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya. The fee is $20,000 U.S. per company owner per year. 

We've been working intensively on his sales conversion process.

Rajesh sets up one-day introductory workshops with the help of his business associates in each area. In the past he led the workshop and then set up "group strategy sessions" with those who were interested in the full program. The thing is, his conversion rate was low - 10% or fewer of the attendees signed up for the full program. 

So we went to work to turn that around. I suggested he set up individual strategy sessions, immediately after the intro program, and then give these prospects more written information about the program to study before the strategy session. And we made a few more adjustments and tweaks as we went. 

In a couple weeks he had turned around the results to a 25% conversion rate. That's a 250% improvement!

Quick quiz: What was the strategy he used?

No it wasn't changing from group strategy sessions to individual strategy sessions. That was just one technique amongst many. No this strategy is one you can use with any technique, in any situation, marketing and selling any service or product. 

Perhaps the best name for this strategy is:

"Iterative Optimization"

As I said, it's the only thing that really works, but almost nobody does it. Another more common name for this is, "Continuous Improvement of a Process."  

Let's look at those fancy words:

Iterative means the act of repeating a process with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an "iteration," and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration. 

Optimization: make the best or most effective use of (a situation, opportunity, or resource).

All this takes are some basic observation and measurement skills and some foundational marketing knowledge. 

And the strategy is actually pretty simple. 

1. Record your current processes that impact performance. That is, note the exact processes you are using now (i.e intro workshops and group sessions) and how well they are doing. 

2. Change one step or tactic in the process that has the potential to get a better result than the previous step.

3. If that new steps works, find another step in the process and work to optimize it.  

4. Continue to refine the process until you have maximized the results as far as possible. 

OK, but how is this any different from trial-and-error and fine tuning something? Well, it's quite different. 

First it's not random, but organized; it's based on actual measurement, and the changes made are based on sound marketing and sales principles.

If you don't put all of these into play, it's complete guess-work. 

Let me give you more details of how this actually worked for Rajesh. 

Rajesh told me that the group strategy sessions weren't working because people didn't show up or they didn't enroll. I told him that selling is a very personal interaction and that even though meeting individually was more time-consuming, that time would be justified if the closing rate increased. So we switched to individual strategy sessions and put them right on his calendar immediately after the introductory workshop. 

He did a few individual sessions and said they were working better but that the people were not as prepared as they should have been. So I reminded him that when people are interested in something they always want more information. So Rajesh put together a detailed overview of the full program. 

Then he told me that this worked great for the people who had read it, but some hadn't and were still not prepared. So we created a one-page checklist to give to participants to tell them exactly what to read and what to do before the strategy session. And we had them sign it and confirm verbally that they understood what to do. 

As a result, everyone who set up a strategy session showed up prepared and informed about the full program. And Rajesh's closing rate went up dramatically. For the next intro workshop, 28 attended, 14 signed up for a strategy session, and 7 enrolled in the full program. 

Now with even a little more "iterative optimization," I think he can improve these results even more.  

Why you don't do this in your marketing and why you must.

You don't do this because it seems easier to try things randomly, without a plan. It's not really easier. And it can be a lot more frustrating in the long run. But it does take some dedication and commitment (like anything else worthwhile).

But if you are serious about growing your business, this is the one strategy you must understand and work to implement consistently. If you do, the rewards can be enormous. 

This is why I've had success in helping clients increase their incomes from 50% to 300%. There was no magic in it, unless you think the words "iterative optimization" are magic. 

Perhaps they are!

What are you doing it optimize your marketing? Please feel free to comment on the More Clients Blog at the link below:

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

There you are at your desk trying to figure out what work you should do on your marketing this week. You make a list:

1. Call back a few recent prospects

2. Work on a new version of my free article

3. Check out a new networking group

4. Follow-up on that lead to give a talk

5. Make reservations for a business conference in the fall

All of these things floating around in your head are now on paper and will probably get done. You feel you are making some progress on your marketing and you feel better about yourself. 

Well, making a list and checking them off as you do them is great, but it has very little to do with making progress with your marketing. Sorry, but your marketing is probably mostly reactive and random. 

That is, you're not working from an action plan with definite objectives, benchmarks and step-by-step actions. 

Please don't be defensive! I'm just pointing out that getting a lot of stuff done is not the same as making steady progress in the implementation of a real action plan. After all, you can stay busy going in circles but you don't get very far! 

What do I mean by a marketing action plan? Here are a few simple examples. The possibilities are endless.  

1. Developing your website so that prospective clients can better understand what your business stands for and presents the services you offer. 

2. Putting a keep-in-touch marketing plan in place (such as a twice monthly eZine) where you work at building your e-list and sending information to prospects on a regular basis.

3. Creating a speaking plan whereby you get yourself in front of your ideal prospects at professional organizations or conferences to talk about your area of expertise and generate leads. 

All marketing action plans should be about generating qualified leads who could be ideal clients for you. But the thing to get is that if you put together a real plan, your odds of success climb dramatically compared to random marketing activities.

A good action plan will trump inspiration any day of the week.

As I've said many times, an action plan is like a recipe. You select a number of ingredients, mix them in a certain order and then cook at a certain temperature for a certain length of time. 

And like recipes, marketing action plans are not hard to find. They are all over the place online (just search Google), or in books or courses. Some are better than others, but most will outline the steps you need to take to produce a result.

So why do so few people follow action plans vs. defaulting to "reactive, random marketing mode?" 

Well, everyone has their own unique excuse; what's yours?

- I just can't find time to work on my plan

- I'm just not sure it will work for me

- It will take me too long to produce results

- I need to find the best strategy but don't know what it is

- I'd do an eZine but I don't know what to write about

- There are no places to speak in my area

- I have great ideas but I'm not good at follow-through

- My intuition tells me that this isn't a good idea

I promise you, I've heard them all.  

So there's really only one solution to making real progress in your marketing:

Pick an action plan, any action plan that seems like the next logical step in your marketing, and start working on it step-by-step. And if you notice excuses and limiting beliefs tripping you up, get some support. In other words, find a way to make it happen, despite the challenges. 

Look, it's OK, that you get stuck, that's what human beings do. It's easy to get stuck, and it happens to all of us all the time. But the thing that separates those who move forward with their plans and those who don't is that when they get stuck they reach out and get some kind of support. 

Talk to a friend, get a coach, read a how-to book or join the More Clients Club. Any or all of these can work. But stop complaining about how hard marketing is! That won't get you anywhere.  

What do you do to keep your plans in action and get unstuck? Please feel free to comment on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the Comments link below. 

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Over the next three weeks I'll be co-promoting my friend Vrinda Normand's program on online marketing, "Online Sales Secrets," and I recommend you watch her video on the topic at this link:

Then why is my topic this week about "Getting off the Internet"? Well, it's a long story, but let me make it as concise as possible.

My Online Marketing Journey

I started my business in 1984 and created my first website in 1996 and this eZine (now also blog) in 1987. I put a huge amount of time and effort into building my web presence. But I got exactly zero clients from the web in the first year and perhaps one or two in the second year. 

But as my list of subscribers grew and my website improved with my second, third and fourth version, I started to get clients. In fact, by 2,000 I was getting almost all my clients as a result of Internet Marketing.

Those were exciting days. My list was growing exponentially. I the wrote and launched my InfoGuru Marketing Manual and was selling them at the clip of $10,000 a month. All my marketing work had finally paid off. 

In 2002 I bought a house and moved to the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains and decided to change my mode of working with individual clients. I started online group programs: my 3-month "Marketing Action Groups" and ultimately my one-year "Marketing Mastery Program." All were very successful and generated more income monthly than I ever believed possible. 

Now just about every Independent Professional I've spoken to would love to have a one-person business as successful as this. Well, it's certainly possible. 

But I left out an important part of the story. 

In the first years of my business, before the web, I had to learn, practice, struggle with and ultimately master the whole process of marketing. Ultimately, I got pretty good at attracting new clients through networking, and especially through speaking. 

And the thing that made me successful online is that I had a solid marketing foundation. I knew how to talk about and write about my services, products and programs. I knew how to put together the steps of a campaign and I knew how to convert prospects into buyers.

The Internet isn't magic, it's just a powerful medium. But if you don't understand the basics of marketing, your efforts at Internet Marketing are going to flop spectacularly. 

So what should you do?

I'm not telling you to abandon the Internet as a marketing platform, I'm telling you to also learn and hone your marketing skills at the same time. And the place to do that is not through blogging, social media, and sending emails to your list. Yes, they have their place, but they're not great at building your marketing skills.

It's getting out there and talking to prospects, through both networking and speaking. The power of this is that you get immediate feedback. When you use your marketing message, you'll instantly know if people get it or not. When giving a speech, you'll know if you're on track or not by the number of cards you collect afterwards. These kind of activities build your "marketing muscles."

And you can bring back those offline marketing skills into your online marketing efforts. This is exactly what I did, and over the past few years I've generated millions of dollars from online products and programs. 

If you think you do have that foundation, however, I would encourage you to explore successful methods to sell your services, products and programs online. 

Don't go casting around aimlessly, learn from a real professional like Vrinda. Her clarity, step-by-step approach and inspiring way of teaching just might be for you. And it doesn't cost anything to watch her first video entitled, "What to Sell Online."

What's your experience of marketing offline vs. marketing online?   Please feel free to comment on the More Clients Blog at the link below:

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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I was on an online forum yesterday where someone posted this: How to be Happy:

As they say, "If I didn't laugh, I'd cry."

This was a pretty accurate picture of me when I started my business. I needed to succeed in my business because I wasn't employable. I wanted to do things my way, but I really didn't know how to do anything. I'd sit in my home office and creatively avoid doing all the things I knew I needed to do. I'd watch TV, sleep and eat. Didn't have the sense that this person had to just go outside! 

I was a master of making longs lists and writing down goals and never achieving them - never getting close to achieving them, because I was either too lazy or stupid or unconscious to take the first step. I had figured it all out in my head, but reality was a different matter. 

I wish I could share the "breakthrough formula" that made this all change for me, but change came slowly. I was in desperate financial straits for several years. So even though I didn't know what to do or how to do it, I kept reading books, did networking, got a Mac Plus (in 1986) and started to write a newsletter and figured out how to give talks. 

When clients come to me today, struggling to get their business off the ground, learning how to market and attract clients, I'm actually impressed how far beyond me they are than I was when I started. Heck, I wouldn't take on somebody like me as a client now. It would be too much work!

The good news is, if you don't give up, there's a good chance you'll learn what you need to do and ultimately you'll actually do it. And yeah, lists are a good thing. But make them smaller and break them down into bite sized pieces. My to-do lists these days are just two or three items. And I actually get them done - most of the time. 


by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Everybody talks about authentic marketing, but what is it really? Is it just another buzzword to convince people that you and your services are a good choice?

I also see a lot of terms these days like "spiritual marketing," "soul-based marketing" and "conscious marketing." 

The trouble with words like these is that they sound nice, but what do they really mean? Is this something you should use in your marketing or is it best to stay away from these terms?

Some people, you'll notice, have purposefully built these concepts into their brand. Things like "Marketing and Soul,"  "Conscious Business Coaching," or "Authentic Leadership."

Well, ultimately you have to use some set of words to communicate a sense of what you're about, but if those words can be changed on a dime only for the purpose of convincing people to work with you, there isn't much substance or authenticity, is there? 

Defining your Terms

If you find a company using these kind of terms that can have a host of definitions for different people, look on their website for how they define these terms. If they never do, well, they really don't mean anything!

On my website in the write-up about my Marketing Club, I recently added a section about "Authentic Marketing." I say the following:

"Marketing, to be truly effective, needs to be authentic. That is, it needs to be based on who you are without any pretension. It's not about pretending to be someone else, adopting outworn marketing and selling stereotypes or, on the other hand, be something you avoid and retreat from. Ultimately it's about building real relationships with real people.

"So it's not just what you communicate or how you communicate, but where that communication comes from. You want to be naturally genuine, sincere and enthusiastic about what you're offering and the possibility to make a difference for your clients. This isn't something you have to add to your personality. It's already there.

"What many people discover when they learn this approach to marketing is that it feels very comfortable, very natural and unforced. And this is often the opposite of what they think they need to be like to market themselves. So it's a great relief to just communicate authentically about your business."

So that's what I personally mean by Authentic Marketing. I define it so that people actually know what I'm talking about.

The same goes for any term that you use prominently in your business. The trouble with many words is that people will define them in several ways, often ways that are the opposite of what you intend. The result is misunderstanding and confusion. 

So if you call yourself the "Soul-Based Veterinarian," some people might assume that it has something to do with animals having souls. Others may think that you're a very caring veterinarian, and others might be turned off (or turned on) because they think you're an Evangelical Christian.

Your business cards, brochures, website, etc. should express very clearly what you mean. Then this brand or identity can be very effective at communicating the essence of what you're about, and attract the right kind of clients to you. And that is, by my definition, authentic marketing. 

We need to remember that words are very powerful. One word can contain a world of meaning. So make sure that the meaning is clear or you'll run into marketing problems, and perhaps even get negative reactions and bad word-of-mouth.

And, by the way, this goes for a host of other business buzz words that are just as pervasive, such as leadership, teamwork, and collaboration. Again, what you mean may not be what your prospective clients understand you to mean.  

How do you clearly communicate what your business is about, especially when you're using these loaded words?  Please feel free to comment on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the Comments link below:

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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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
in nature or that focus heavily on personal growth?

Then you need to see this new video:

<Link to video>

I used to believe that, unless you are a well-known
guru, you'll always struggle to sell spiritual or personal
growth programs.

But this video shows you 4 ways to market personal
growth content so that people will eat it up and
will want to work with you!

It can be very frustrating to KNOW you have
powerful ideas to share but people aren't buying.

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:

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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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. 

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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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.

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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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. 

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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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.

Free: More Clients Marketing Sampler for Independent Professionals. Get this free sampler of marketing tutorials, recordings, resources and exercises, designed to help you be a better marketer of your professional services. 


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