By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
On August 1, 2014, I started the process of writing and launching an e-book, The Unstuck Process.
I thought you might be interested in everything it took to bring this idea into reality. It took 2 1/2 months of working on it between all my other work with clients and groups. It took many steps, but it's nothing you couldn't do yourself.
The idea for the e-book came to me after taking a course myself that inspired me to take the process I'd been using for years with clients and turn it into a step-by-step book.
Everyone talks about getting unstuck, but very few see it as a step-by-step process that you can apply to any area in your business and life to get unstuck and into action.
There are 12 very focused questions in the book and they revolve around the three major areas of stuckness:
a) Productivity and Accomplishment – Many of us get stuck when it comes to setting a goal and following though successfully to the end. Delay, procrastination, lack of focus and incompletion are all stuckness that results in projects not getting done.
b) Creativity and Self-Expression – This is when you get stuck because you are afraid of making a fool of yourself. This comes up a lot in writing, developing a website, making a video or any other creative act. Perfectionism is a big issue here as well.
c) Attraction and Magnetism - This is when we hold back from putting ourselves out there, being afraid of rejection and playing it small. This shows up in our attempts to communicate about our businesses or persuade anyone to do business with us.
Once these ideas were clear I created a mind-map with all the elements of the plan: writing, designing and launching. Then I broke these down into several project lists with step-by-step actions.
After all of this conceptualizing was done, it was time to start the actual writing.
I did my first burst of writing on a Sunday and completed about half of the book. Then in writing sessions of a few hours each over a month, I completed the manuscript. Because I wanted this book to be an ultra-simple guide, it ended up as only 72 pages.
I ran the first draft by my wife for basic copy editing and then went over it half a dozen times, adding here, subtracting there until I was satisfied.
But then I also hired an editor to take a look at it and suggest improvements. Her ideas uncovered some obvious problems with parts of the book and I made changes based on her insightful recommendations.
Before I designed the book's interior, I hired a book cover designer with the intention of creating a real impact. He developed several ideas, but we ended up with his first design that was based on my original idea of a sunrise behind the title.
I first formatted the book in Word and turned it into a pdf. Again this took several rounds of improving and tweaking. I had originally decided to do only an e-book, but inspired by a client who published his book on Crate Space, decided to go the whole enchilada: e-book, Kindle book and paperback book.
Create space, a division of Amazon, will take your finished book as a pdf and turn it into a paperback book. I laid it out in InDesign. This is not a step I'd recommend to most people, as it's quite technical. Someone on E-lance could do it for you very affordably.
And then I sent the Word version to someone who formatted it for Kindle. This was fast and painless, but again, for both paperback and Kindle versions, it took what felt like endless rounds of fine-tuning and correction.
Everything was done by October 15 and I was ready for the launch.
If writing a book wasn't enough, I decided to also create a complete website to support the book. This is where people opted-in, plus it included the blog, information on courses, etc.
I used a Squarespace web template and hired a company to help me with all the technical issues. I did all the design and text formatting based on images from the same photographer who did the cover for the book.
The website was mostly completed in 2 weeks with endless tinkering and fine-tuning, as usual.
The launch plan was pretty simple. As you may know, I sent a few emails to everyone on my e-list and invited them to get a copy of the e-book for free. A boatload of people opted-in with their name and email address in just a few days.
I didn't plan on making any money from the book itself, but to build a list of interested people. I knew some would be interested in programs I offered on the Unstuck Process early next year. But mostly I just wanted to share these ideas and process freely to as many people as possible. (Tell your friends!)
One of my biggest successes for the launch was making connections on a Facebook Group I frequent. As a result, some of these people posted testimonials about the e-book and hundreds more opted-in to get their free copy.
And my most unexpected result was inviting people from that group to interview me for their podcasts. I did 6 interviews (so far) and these got me even more opt-ins.
So far, about 2,900 people have opted in for the free book. And now I'm sending those people (perhaps you're one) a twice-monthly eZine and blog post on various aspects of getting unstuck.
I'll do promotion for the course after Thanksgiving.
I hope you've found this useful. It should give you a taste of what a successful launch looks like, how many steps it takes and what work is involved.
My total investment on outside services was $1,585
Editing e-book: $250
Cover design: $260
Kindle formatting: $75
Web site development: $1,000
Is this right for you? Well, that depends on your goals. You certainly don't need to do things at this level, but If you go "the whole hog" as I did, it creates a certain momentum that is very powerful.
When I created my first e-book, The Marketing Plan Workbook, way back in 1998, it resulted in a few hundred thousand opt-ins over several years. And that built my business from almost nothing to success beyond my wildest dreams.
Good luck in creating and launching your own e-book! Here's the Unstuck Process e-book if you don't have it yet.
Oh, by the way, I didn't get stuck once during this whole project. Yes, this stuff works!
If you'd like to make comments or share on Social Media please do so below:
Guest Article by Audrey Seymour
Since I was out of town at a retreat this past week, I asked my associate and graduate of my advanced marketing program, Audrey Seymour, if she would contribute an article for the eZine and blog this week. It's a great article that builds on last week's article about Marketing Messages. – Robert Middleton
As a change agent you need to express your ideas in a way that inspires others to take heartfelt action, whether purchasing your services, funding your invention or signing a petition to change the way things are done.
How do you touch the hearts and souls of those you are meant to serve, in the midst of the information overload they experience every day? How do you stand out in the crowd while still honoring the integrity of your values?
The answer is to bring forth language and branding that speaks from your soul.
When your marketing speaks soul to soul, it acts as a lighthouse cutting through the fog with a powerful beam, sending your message directly to those who are called to the higher purpose of what you offer.
Without the anchor of your soul, you often find yourself running up and down the beach trying to flag down the passing boats in a race against others with a similar message. Imagine instead the fulfillment of simply beaming your radiance with a homing signal to those who are qualified to receive it.
How do you approach marketing from the soul?
The first step is to be clear on the radiant qualities of your inner essence, the being aspect of your purpose. What transformative qualities do you bring to a room? Does the room get more peaceful, more playful, warmly heartfelt, full of clarity?
These qualities inform a purpose-based brand so that the look and feel of your promotional materials and the tone of your language give others the same experience as if you were right there in the room with them.
One of my clients discovered from her inner wisdom that her essence was "the warm glow of light at dawn." Choosing rosy pinks and golds for her website, she was thrilled that the colors felt just like her. In contrast, consider what someone with the essence of "the clear diamond of truth" might choose.
Though it takes courage to step away from marketing trends and display the essence of who you really are, doing so serves as a powerful screening function. Those who do not resonate with your style will know it right away and not take up your valuable time.
Next, clarify the unique transformational impact your offer or proposal will bring if your audience follows your call to action.
In the second example above, the client with the essence of "the clear diamond of truth" discovered that she has the impact of cutting to the heart of complexity with the light of clarity and truth. This gave new insight into her work with organizations to create clear values and actions that align with these values.
Notice the difference between the following positioning statements:
"We help clients identify core issues and then devise value-added solutions in an efficient and cost-effective manner."
"We cut to the heart of your complex issues and shine light on the core values that align your organization with its greatness."
The first statement is focused on routine problem-solving, and could be said by just about any firm offering values-based consulting. This positions the service as a commodity, where the lowest price is likely to win the contract.
In contrast, the second statement expresses the essence of what my client's values-based consultancy does, with evocative imagery that inspires the bigger why underneath any organization's search for help. And, it's not just any imagery, but a metaphor which describes the unique essence of the consultant.
Putting it all together:
Once you've clarified the essential qualities and the transformational impact of your offering, the last piece is to understand the "before" state and "after" state of the transformation.
The "before" state is the condition, whether a challenge, curiosity or longing, that your audience is experiencing before they've been transformed by what you bring. The "after" state is the condition they experience having been transformed by your offer.
For example, with the consultant we've been following, before her clients work with her they are feeling frustrated, stuck, and out of alignment. It's likely that there are mixed messages circulating in their organization, even competing projects, causing inefficiencies and lack of engagement.
After they've benefited from her work, her clients are operating with not only clarity of vision, alignment and efficiency, they are engaged and inspired by the future as well.
With this information you can speak to the heartfelt condition any prospective client, potential member or investor is living with before finding you. You can then paint the picture for them of how they will enjoy the shifts provided by your result.
Call out to them heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul. Invite them to move from the discomfort of the "before" state and join you in the "after" state of your gifts.
Here are two examples:
Imagine standing in front of any audience, feeling absolutely at ease and enjoying their rapt attention.
Whether you have public speaking anxiety or simply want to express yourself with greater clarity, Relational Presence and Relational Stillness practice at a Speaking Circle® program will guide you in effortless authenticity.
Do you feel called to increase your impact and play an essential part in the global shift that's emerging? If you're like most of us, you also feel a bit daunted at how to tackle this profound task.
Even with success at living your calling, something larger calls you. You won't be satisfied until you embody the truth of your deepest wisdom, boldly touching more lives than you can imagine, and making the full impact that you are here to make. How do you fulfill this vision in the face of all the challenges that stop you?
It's time to heal the wound of separation between your inner truth and your outer expression.
Join with like-minded others at the Gathering for Change Agents, where by sharing a similar mission, we can accomplish much more together than any one of us can alone.
About Audrey Seymour
Since 2003, Audrey has guided hundreds of mission-based businesses and leaders internationally to greater clarity and efficiency so they can increase their impact in the world.
Audrey brings a diverse background to her coaching and consulting work, with expertise in both analytic and intuitive disciplines. Visit her website at http://clearchangegroup.com
If you have comments on this article, please share on the blog by clicking on the Comments below.
By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Today's ezine article is a little preview of the Virtual Workshop on "Mastering Your Marketing Message" starting on November 5.
I remember clearly when I formulated my first really effective marketing message:
"I work with Independent Professionals who are struggling with their marketing."
It was simple, nothing fancy, but it communicated two things very clearly: who I work with and the reason they needed me.
How did I know it was effective? I knew it because when I used it to answer the question, "What do you do?" people actually responded to me. They wanted to know more. They gave me their cards. They accepted my follow-up calls. In short, my message had enough value that it helped to both initiate the conversation and to continue it.
This simple formula ultimately got named "The Audio Logo."
An audio logo really is that simple.
But that simplicity led to much greater things in my business. It led to focus, clarity, and a foundation for my marketing that was flexible and allowed me to offer a wide variety of services that would help independent professionals get past that struggle and towards increased marketing ease and success.
Unfortunately, too many people make their audio logo too complex, too long and include too much about how they do what they do. We often feel we need to "say everything" in our marketing message and that only weakens it.
For instance, I could easily add to my message:
"I work with Independent Professionals who are struggling with their marketing. I do that through individual consulting, group programs and my membership website, The More Clients Club."
That tells more, obviously, but why does it weaken it?
It's because of the situation in which you use an audio logo. When someone asks you what you do, they are usually a relative stranger. Their mind is busy categorizing and judging.
You don't want to say too much or the person is likely to be confused, or worse, feel that you are pitching them. Notice that my audio logo is not about me. It's about my clients.
And for that reason it gets little resistance.
And at the same time, an audio logo like this is likely to elicit a positive response from someone who can relate to what you're saying. For instance, I've gotten these responses:
"Yes, the marketing part of business is the hard part."
"There's really a need for that."
"How do you help your clients get past the struggle?"
And then the audio logo can turn into a conversation, again, with the focus on the person you're speaking to, not on everything you offer. For instance, I'll usually respond by making a comment and asking a question:
"Yes, it can be hard. What business are you in?"
"Definitely, marketing can be challenging. Are you in business for yourself?"
"I have a step-by-step system that makes marketing easier. What business are you in?"
Where do you go from there?
A conversation like this can go virtually anywhere. You might discover you have nothing to offer this person, or it might become clear you are talking to your ideal client.
If the interest is there, the best, most effective way to talk about your service is not through concepts, but through stories. Notice the difference between these two:
"Tell me more about what you do."
Conceptual: Well, I teach people how to play marketing as a game where you communicate certain things in a certain order until prospects warm up to your message. The three key areas are information, familiarity, and experience.
Story: I worked with a client recently who was stuck in moving his marketing forward. I helped him get out there and book speaking engagements. In a few moths he had booked several and ultimately got many clients that way.
The conceptual overview might be accurate, but more appropriate information for a seminar or workshop. But the story showed how a real person got results from working with me. And that is always more powerful.
Here are the key step in creating a powerful audio logo:
1. Say who it is you work with (your ideal clients).
2. Mention a problem or issue these people are dealing with or…
3. Mention a desirable outcome that they would want (… who want their marketing to be easier and faster).
By the way, sometimes a problem-oriented audio logo works better than an outcome-oriented one, and visa versa.
4. When someone responds, don't say too much. Instead, find out more about them.
5. When someone shows real interest, tell stories instead of talking about concepts.
6. Finally, you can only develop an effective audio logo through practice. Once you think you have a good one, get out there and use it as much as possible. See what the reaction is and fine-tune it until it gets the results you want.
This article conveys a small part of what we'll be exploring in the virtual workshop, "Mastering Your Marketing Message. Find out more at this link:
If you have questions or comments about how to develop a powerful audio logo, please respond on the blog though the Comments below. And, of course, I always appreciate it when you share my articles through social media. Thanks! RM
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Sometime soon after launching my website in 1996 I learned about the concept of giving away "free stuff" to people who visited my website.
I launched my More Clients eZine in 1997 and gave away my "Marketing Plan Workbook" and grew my eZine list to 50,000+ people in about 5 years.
Those people who requested my free stuff then bought my InfoGuru Marketing Manual. And the people who bought the manual signed up for my Marketing Action Groups and many other programs over the following years.
That free stuff has generated millions of dollars in sales and a self-sustaining business that makes a difference to thousands of people.
But giving away Free Stuff was the start of it all.
Over the years I've learned a lot of things about providing this free stuff and I'd like to share some of them with you.
1. Give Away Real Value
You've got to go beyond old formulas and how-to's. People are looking for more. They are looking for transformation, real change, things that will help them take the next leap.
Paul Zelizer, founder of Wisdompreneurs, mentioned this in a post today: When asked about effective marketing in today's economy, Dustin Stout said: "Stop being amazing and start being useful."
You don't need to make outrageous promises; you just need to deliver the goods. When someone reads your report or watches your video, they should say to themselves, "Wow, this is really useful. This is something I should be implementing in my business (or life). I want more of this stuff!"
And the better you know who your clients are and what they are struggling with, the better value you can offer.
2. Be a Real Person
When you offer your articles, reports, videos, etc., connect as a real, authentic person, someone others can easily relate to.
Mark Silver, of Heart of Business, emphasizes connecting to people more deeply. He recommends: Empathy - so people feel seen and witnessed,which is the first step in healing. 2. Education, so people can understand and learn from what we are describing/explaining. 3. Entertainment - often humor - so people can feel a lightness of heart. 4. Inspiration - so people can feel hope.
And being vulnerable and imperfect works better than showing how great you are! I often talk about how much I struggled in starting my business and how many mistakes I made. This actually encourages people, as it demonstrates that nobody starts out successfully, that it always takes hard work and that it's OK to make mistakes.
3. Give People a Real Taste
I recently posted a blog that gave an exercise as the end to apply the lessons I outlined. I just got an email from a reader about how much she appreciated this.
She said: "Loved the LITTLE exercise… that is helping me make BIG changes at this end. More simple “little” exercises like that at the end of your posts, please. Sooooo helpful and utterly do-able! I feel very encouraged."
When you get feedback like that, you know you're connecting and making a difference. When you suggest simple action steps or exercises, some people will actually do them. And these are the people who will become your fans and ultimately end up working with you some time in the future.
Don't be stingy about what you give away. If your free stuff doesn't have much value, your prospective clients will tune out and are unlikely to ever buy something from you.
4. Move the Free Line
This is something I learned from Eban Pagan, a very smart and successful online marketer. He makes the point that everyone is giving away free articles and reports. So, even if your material is good, it's hard to get the attention you want as it may look like everyone else's.
I decided to use his approach when developing my Unstuck Process. I didn't just write another report, I wrote an e-book. I had a cover professionally designed. I hired an editor to make it better. I recorded the complete process as an audio book as well, plus added many other bonuses. And then I designed a completely new website to feature this ebook.
This is the kind of thing that gets attention and has others share it with their friends and associates. Within five days of the launch, about 2,500 people had downloaded the e-book. And thank-you emails keep pouring in. Yes, you can still get your copy if you haven't yet: http://theunstuckprocess.com
Now, what good does this do for me? Well, it's exciting to share this valuable information that could be life-changing for many. That gets me up in the morning! And later on, I'll be offering some in-depth courses on the Unstuck Process that will help even more people. Ultimately new students and clients will come from this as well without the need for a hard-sell.
5. Don't Be Too Self-Serving
I notice something early on in my business: Anytime I tried to do something with the prime agenda of making money, it failed. Yes, it's perfectly fine to make money, even a lot of money, but if making a difference and a contribution isn't the foundation of your business, things will likely backfire.
One way of knowing if your heart is in the right place is by asking the question: "Would I want to do this anyway, even if I didn't get paid?" If you're excited about your work, find it endlessly interesting and feel fulfilled by helping other people, you have a solid foundation to build upon.
If you are creating material, no matter how seemingly valuable, for primarily egoistic ends, sooner or later things are going to crash and burn. Promoting your ego is not sustainable.
6. Get your Free Stuff Channels Set Up
The first free stuff channel is always an opt-in on your website. When people opt-in to get your materials, they'll also get on your ezine list (which they can opt-out of at any time).
Then give more great free stuff through your articles, videos etc. on a regular basis. But don't overdo it! It's not unusual that I download something valuable and then get bombarded by a new email every single day, sometimes more than once a day, for months on end. If you do that, people will tune out quickly.
I recommend sending something anywhere from weekly (as I do) to monthly. Then, when you do the occasional promotion, launching a program or service, people will be more willing to check out what you have to offer.
Then also post your information on your blog, write guest posts for other blogs or for Pulse section of LinkedIn. Get interviewed for podcasts, give teleclasses and webinars. Share your free stuff on social media. Get know for what you know and the difference you make.
Take Action: Start by writing the titles for several articles or reports that you feel would be valuable to your clients. Then do a Google search for similar articles. What can you say that gives a new and valuable spin on this information? Then write an article on that and get it out there. And never stop!
If you have questions or comments about how to give away free stuff successfully, please respond on Comments below:
by Robert Middleton
Making your marketing flow is something most Independent Professionals would welcome. We’d all like our marketing to result in a flow of new clients. But exactly what would that marketing flow look like?
You’d have no resistance to marketing, no fears, no avoidance, no stuckness. You’d come up with creative ideas and plans and you’d find ways to implement them without a lot of struggle or effort.
You wouldn’t be discouraged by things that didn’t work that well, because that would be all part of the flow. You’d go back to the drawing board, analyze, study, and try something else. You’d persist and have fun and experience joy at the same time. And ultimately you’d get great results from your marketing, attract your ideal clients and make good money.
Is there a secret to finding flow in your marketing?
Yes, but it’s not what you think it is. There is nothing you have to do to achieve flow. Things are already flowing. You are the flow itself.
When we think of flow, we think of a river. A river just flows without effort, steadily, continuously, elegantly – you know, like Ol’ Man River.
Can anything impede the flow of a river? Yes, a dam or obstruction can impede the flow. If a river is blocked, it will back up, it will slow down, and the water in the river will stagnate.
Now, it’s just the same in your marketing. The flow is already there. You can’t add to the flow; it already flows perfectly. But you can certainly dam the flow, block the flow, obstruct the flow and resist the flow.
And this is exactly what we do. We don’t let our marketing flow because we dam it and block it, not in reality, but though our limiting, constrictive beliefs.
Here are 5 beliefs that block the flow of marketing:
1. You believe it has to be done right or perfectly or according to a “correct formula.” You have to know exactly what to do before you get started. This removes all creativity, spontaneity, and flow from your marketing.
2. You believe that marketing leads to rejection and humiliation. Yes, just letting your marketing flow seems dangerous and risky. So you become very careful, very held back, very cautious. And the flow stops.
3. You believe that you don’t have anything of real value to offer your clients. So you never really put it out there. Instead, you hold back and avoid sharing your value and the difference you can make. You put a cork in the flow.
4. You believe you don’t have the time to engage in marketing. So you make excuses, and engage in delay tactics and avoidance behaviors. You fail to see that flow doesn’t take any time; your schedule naturally fills with productive activities when the belief in time scarcity drops.
5. You believe that marketing is an interruption, that it annoys and pressures people. So you hold back, act timidly and unconfident, not ruffling any feathers. When you’re in the flow of marketing, you become naturally attractive, compelling, and magnetic.
These five beliefs (and many more like them) are all impeding the natural flow of your marketing. Fears, doubts, uncertainly, worry, scarcity, small thinking and stress all act as dams or blocks to the flow of marketing.
You don’t have to add to the flow, pump yourself up for more flow, repeat flow-based affirmations, focus intently on the flow, or think positive flow-thoughts. Flow (also know as life) doesn’t need any of that.
It flows just fine by itself. Always has, always will.
But how do you remove the blocks from the flow?
The main thing you do is explore them; notice what they are doing, ask what the cost and payoff of holding onto them is, and realize that they are largely imaginary.
I've found that the best way is to ask some "pithy and powerful questions."
1. What am I believing that is impeding the flow?
2. Is that belief true and is it working for me?
3. What’s it costing me to hold onto that belief? (Lack of results, avoidance, self-esteem, etc.)
4. What’s the payoff of identifying with that belief? (Staying comfortable and avoiding any discomfort.)
5. What possibilities (flow) might open up for me if I could no longer hold onto that belief?
What we imagine might happen if we opened to the flow of marketing, in my experience, is much, much worse than anything that ever actually happens. In fact, it’s usually the exact opposite. When we are open to flow, our marketing works out just fine. And you may realize…
1. You can never do anything perfectly. But you can do the best you can with what you’ve got.
2. Rejection is rarely personal – people may just not be interested right now, which makes space for other people.
3. You are inherently valuable. That’s what people are attracted to, not some inauthentic façade.
4. When you notice all the time you spend wasting time, you’ll start to find all the time you need.
5. Marketing isn’t an interruption; it’s an opportunity to connect authentically. That’s exactly what people want.
Keep questioning these limiting beliefs that are stopping your marketing flow and they’ll start to drop away. You’ll start to experience that the natural flow of marketing will take you on a wonderful and exciting journey.
What happens when your marketing flows is that your clients get YOU. What a gift!
by Robert Middleton
In my recent Marketing Mastery Conference I had one of my former students, Sharon Rich, give a presentation about networking.
And I think I got more from that one session that anything else in the conference. I'd like to share two big takeaways.
First, she divided us into 4 groups. Then each group got separate instructions for how to interact as if we were at a networking event, meeting and connecting with each other.
Each group took on a particular mindset. They were:
1. Trying to get referrals and business from everyone.
2. Trying to give referrals and business to everyone.
3. Just enjoying yourself and having fun.
4. Trying to find ways to create collaborations.
I was in group 2 and I had great fun. I just listened to everyone closely and thought of ways I could provide them with referrals and valuable connections.
Group #1 tended to alienate everyone with their incessant request for referrals and connections.
Group #3 had fun but really didn't make any valuable connections one way or the other.
Group #4 made some headway, but they were always trying to set up meetings, perhaps before they really knew much about the person they were talking to.
My personal insight is that in networking I drift towards #1 and worry if the people I'm talking to are potential clients or not. So I do a lot of prejudging and don't talk to a lot of people.
I'm a little rusty with in-person networking.
I realized the most powerful place to be was #2 where I can just get to know the person I'm talking to and see if I can provide ideas, connections, resources etc. But that doesn't mean I can't also send them an article and get them on my list or even follow-up if there's a potential connection.
The Purpose of Networking
To end the session, Sharon challenged us with the question, "What is the purpose of networking?"
Most people shared some good things such as making valuable connections, developing relationships, being a resource, increasing visibility and credibility, etc. But Sharon had something else in mind.
Then pow, it hit me. I got it.
The purpose of networking is to grow your network!
And within that purpose you can do all of those other things. But now you are looking beyond your one-to-one connections. You are looking at creating, building and nurturing a network for the long term, a network that can help sustain your business.
As Independent Professionals, we tend to be isolated. We are on our own, doing almost everything by ourselves. If we want real success, we need a network we can rely on for support, connections, referrals, ideas and resources.
And to grow your network you need to do more than attend networking meetings. You can do so much more.
Everyone is at the center of their own network, even if you belong to various networking groups. Build that network. Introduce people in your network to others. Support your network, nurture it. Reward it. Have fun with it.
Now think about what you'd do differently if you really got that the purpose of networking is to build your network? I'll bet it's bigger and more exciting than how you usually think of networking!
When I started my business in San Francisco, I went to a lot of networking events with organizations like the SF Chamber of Commerce, professional associations, etc.
But I also built my own network. I held networking lunches at my office, held twice-a-month business brainstorming meetings, put on large networking events with partners, etc. As a result I got a lot of word-of-mouth business because I was visible and making a contribution.
Later, when my business moved mostly online, I built a big e-mailing list and continued to stay in front of people with my weekly eZine. And then with the More Clients Club, we have a very active online forum where people connect, ask questions and share resources.
The possibilities for growing your network are everywhere.
Now I'm interested in building a stronger in-person network here in the Santa Cruz area. Nothing really substitutes for meeting with people face-to-face (as I was reminded at the Conference).
The question for you is, what can you do to build your network? And think long term more than short term. Who do you want to get to know? Who should know about what you're doing? What can you do to get people together and connecting?
I encourage you to share your ideas on the blog by entering your comments. Also, please share this far and wide to your network via social media!
By Robert Middleton
This week I'm going to share an article by my colleague, Tad Hargrave. Tad is one of the most perceptive, tuned in marketers out there. And this article, which I read for the first time last week, kind of blew my mind!
I'm going to be sharing more articles by other people on More Clients going forward as there are so many other powerful voices out there who I think you'll really appreciate. In those cases, I'll post just the first part of the article in the eZine and blog with a link back to the original article.
Polarize by Tad Hargrave
I want to share something that might forever change the way you relate to marketing.
There are only three types of potential clients you will ever experience: responsive, neutral and unresponsive.
• Responsive people will come across your work and light up. They’ll get excited and want to sign up and hire you after learning a little bit about you. They’ll be curious, want to know more and ask you a lot of questions. These people are a ‘yes’ to what you’re up to in your business.
• Neutral people will listen to what you have to say but they won’t react much. They’ll sit there in your workshop politely and take it in. But they won’t sign up for much. They may be cordial and listen respectfully but they for sure won’t seem ‘into it’ like the responsive people do. These people are a ‘maybe’ to what you’re up to in your business.
• Unresponsive people will actively pull away, show disinterest, might even be rude. These people are a ‘no’ to what you’re up to in your business.
And how you deal with each of these three people is different.
The article continues here: Polarize by Tad Hargrave
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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
In Rolf Dobelli's amazing book, "The Art of Thinking Clearly" he enumerates 99 thinking mistakes we all make and how they affect our lives.
But it wasn't until the Epilog that I grasped an idea that could change your marketing forever. Dobelli states:
"We cannot say what brings us success; we can only pin down what blocks or obliterates success. Eliminate the downside, the thinking errors, and the upside will take care of itself. This is all we need to know."
So, in marketing, what are the prime thinking errors? I can find two major ones that greatly impact marketing effectiveness.
1. We believe our thoughts that tell us that marketing is hard or unpleasant and will lead to rejection.
2. We do not prepare our opening and closings to marketing communications, and since we are unclear what to say, we avoid saying anything.
The first one I've been addressing for years: Confront and inquire into those limiting, fearful beliefs and you'll ultimately find there is nothing really there. Nothing is stopping you except your thoughts, and what your thoughts are telling you are not real about 98% of the time.
The second is just as profound. All marketing is communication. But why do we have such a problem with communicating about our services when everyday communication is easy for most of us?
It's because we're afraid we'll say or write the wrong thing. The error we make is not paying attention to the openings and closing of marketing communication. If we get those right, the rest of the communication is relatively easy.
We can stop worrying about getting it ALL right. We never will get it perfect, but we can still get our marketing to work if we concentrate on those openings and closings.
Let's look at these in various areas of marketing
In-person marketing conversations
All you need to do is to say something interesting enough to get a response. You don't need to say everything about your business when someone asks you what you do. I've shared this formula many times:
"I work with these kind of people/companies who have this issue or want this result."
Take some time to develop that simple message and make sure you are grounded in it, that every word means something. Then when they respond, you can explain in more depth. Don't worry about explaining everything perfectly, just don't blow your opening line!
And if the other person is showing some interest, learn how to close the conversation by asking if you can give them something:
"I've written an article on this topic. Can I send you a copy?"
Almost everyone will say yes and you've set up the conversation to lead to a follow-up call.
Can you learn and master these openings and closings? Of course you can. And if you do, the rest of the conversation will flow more easily than you think.
Making Follow-up calls
OK, now that you've met someone (either through this in-person meeting), or after a talk or a referral from a client, etc., it's your job to follow up. Everyone resists this. Why? Because they don't know what to say to open the conversation. Try this:
"Hi, this is James Hudson, we talked a couple days ago at the Chamber of Commerce meeting and I sent you an article. I wanted to find out more about your business. Is this a good time to talk?"
The rest is relatively easy: Ask them some questions about their business or their situation. Get a sense of whether they have a need and an interest in your professional services. If no, thank them and move on. If yes, suggest a next meeting:
"From everything we've talked about, it sounds like I could help you get better results with X. I'd like to talk with you in more depth. Can I suggest a more in-depth strategy session to learn more about your situation, goals and challenges? How does that sound to you?"
Writing marketing materials and articles
When faced with a blank screen, it can be hard to know where to start. Always start with your target market and an issue they are familiar with. This gets immediate attention and interest.
"If you manage a team, you know the challenges of pointing everyone in the right direction and getting things done. But what do you do when one or more team members are not cooperating?"
By setting up a scenario like this that is familiar to them, your readers will be instantly drawn in. Then write more about the challenges before you outline your tactics to getting their teams aligned.
To close the article, summarize the key points and invite the reader to find out more and get your report on your website.
Giving a talk, teleclass or webinar
You can open a talk, class or webinar in much the same way. Open with an issue that is troubling your audience. Build immediate rapport by talking about their situation and challenges and then make the bulk of your presentation about what they can do to overcome those challenges.
In your closing, ask for the participants' cards and follow up with more information after the talk.
Interacting on Social media
If you join a group on social media such as Facebook or linked in, don't start posting a lot of information and directing people to your website. This just feels like spam. Instead, jump into discussions and offer your perspective and resources. Start threads that will get conversations going.
Ultimately this can lead to valuable connections that can actually go somewhere, because you've built a favorable impression and a degree of trust.
Create, deliver and fine-tune your openings and closings
Again, where I see Independent Professionals making the most mistakes is with their openings and closings. They are unclear about what to say and are worried about being judged or rejected.
Think about how you'd like to be approached. Wouldn't you want direct and simple communication that had no hidden agendas?
The first step is to sit down and actually script out these openings. Practice them out loud until they come naturally and easily. Get some feedback from a friend or associate. Don't worry about being perfect!
Before long, you'll start seeing marketing as an opportunity to make connections that turn into real opportunities for new business.
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By Robert Middleton - Action Plan Marketing
It can be a lot of work to get the attention and interest of a prospective client. It takes time and effort to put out the word about your services, to say nothing of getting a qualified lead.
The purpose of all your networking, speaking, social media and content marketing is to generate qualified leads, people who may pay us for our professional services.
The truth is, when many Independent Professionals get a lead through all their marketing labors they don't know what to do with that lead. If you are successful at consistently converting leads into paying clients, you are in the minority.
First of all, why is this? and second, what do you need to do to more consistently convert leads into paying clients?
The first reason we don't convert more leads into paying clients is because we are taken over by irrational fears that something bad will happen to us if we stoop so low as to convince or persuade someone to do something! We might be rejected or say the wrong thing and make a fool of ourselves.
We don't want to be seen as pushy or manipulative. So instead, we go into "passive mode" where we expect the lead to contact us, ready and willing to pay us their hard-earned money without any effort on our part.
This isn't speculation, but comes from observation of hundreds of clients I've worked with over the years. They are so petrified of asking for a prospect to do something, that they wait for the prospect to ask them!
So, relax, it's not all that bad. In fact, it's pretty easy if you know what to do and follow a process. This helps reduce those fears and builds confidence.
In a nutshell here are the things you want to do when you get a lead. The lead can come from almost anywhere, from a contact at a networking event, from a speaking engagement, from someone responding to your website or social media, or from a referral.
This is what I've been coaching my clients to do for years and it works very well.
1. Contact the person as quickly as possible. That day or the next day, if you can. Obviously not a problem if they contact you, but often you're the one with the card, the name and the email.
This is not a sales call. You are following up to see if the lead is real and qualified. I'll often call, and then if these person is not in, I'll leave both a voicemail message and an email message to cover all the bases.
Suggest a few times you could talk. Make it easy for them to say yes to one of those times instead of them having to get back to you with times. And keep trying until you ultimately get a response.
When do you give up? Well after trying 5 or 6 times and they don't get back to you, you should get the hint they aren't interested. But definitely try a few times. Everyone is busy, and fitting in a conversation with you may not be their highest priority that day. Don't take it personally!
2. When you get the person on the phone let them know why you are calling.
"Hi Jonathan, we connected at the ABC Business Conference last week and you showed some interest in my services. Is this a good time to talk for a few minutes?"
"The thing we talked about was the issue of giving feedback to employees and how doing it more effectively can lead to great gains in productivity. How much are bad feedback practices an issue in your company?"
Mostly, you want to ask questions and avoid pitching your services. After all, you don't know exactly how you can help them yet. But if the conversation goes well, and they are showing interest and have a need, you want to suggest another meeting.
3. What I usually recommend is making a suggestion like the following:
"Jonathan, from what you've told me, the issues around employee feedback could really be hurting your productivity. What I'd suggest at this point would be a more in-depth conversation that I call a 'Productivity Strategy Session.'
"In this session I'd like to find out more about your situation, your goals and your challenges and then if I think I can help you, I'll let you know more about how my services work. How does that sound?"
If the initial conversation has gone well, there's a very good chance they'll set up a strategy session. A strategy session is also called a selling conversation.
4. Next, you want to give the prospect some information and something to do before your meeting.
I suggest that you send some materials about your services, either in the form of a pdf or a page on your website. The point is that you want them to know something about you and how you work and help your clients before that meeting. This tends to make the meeting shorter and speeds up the sales cycle.
Ask them to read this material before you meet and also ask them to fill out a short questionnaire. The material about you educates them about you, the questionnaire educates you about them.
On the questionnaire (which can be online, or sent as an attachment or in the body of the email), ask the questions that would help you know if this was an ideal client or not. Don't make it too long or complex or they won't fill it out. But try to get some ideas about the challenges they are facing in the areas you help your clients with.
5. Finally, send a reminder email a day or two before the meeting and remind them to both read the material you sent and to send back the questionnaire. If they fail to do both, consider pushing the appointment day forward. Some people will set up a meeting out of politeness, not from interest. If that happens, you probably rushed the first appointment and didn't connect as well as you could have.
That's it! The next part is the strategy session itself. I've covered that before in this space and will no doubt cover it again in the future.
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by Kim Nicol
This guest article by Kim Nicol was originally posted on LinkedIn. I asked her permission to post it. Kim is a meditation teacher in Silicon Valley and you can find her website here.
As an introvert, the idea of networking is about as appealing as getting a root canal. In fact, a root canal would be better because I wouldn't have to talk to anyone. Superficial chit-chat, the sense of being sized up and evaluated, and the weird transactional feeling that I've experienced at networking events is unpalatable to me. It's no surprise I struggled with networking for years.
And then things changed. It happened while reading The Education of Millionaires, by Michael Ellsberg. He's a wonderful story teller, and in the course of reading his book it became clear that he was also masterful at building relationships with remarkable people. At some point as I was reading his book, a tiny light switch flipped in my mind:
Oh, so instead of networking, I can just build relationships with people?
Please feel free to comment on the article here or on LinkedIn. Thanks for a great article, Kim!
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