by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
A few months ago I was meeting with a very interesting person whom one of my past clients had suggested I talk to.
Ian has not just one business, but two. He's a full-time chiropractor with an established practice in Santa Cruz, and he's also a marketing coach.
He became such a good marketer of his chiropractic services that some of his patients who were small business owners started to ask him for marketing advice. And before he knew it, he was coaching them in using a similar approach to growing their businesses.
When we met, I didn't know much about him, except on the phone he had an open, friendly quality about him.
In our meeting we each talked about our businesses and before long I got a very good sense of Ian and what he was up to. And in the middle of our conversation a thought popped up. "It would be great to do a project of some sort with Ian."
We had been talking about doing workshops and I dropped a hint, "It would be great to do workshops again, but it's a lot of work to put them on by yourself."
And Ian picked it up immediately, "Well maybe we do some kind of workshop together!" And by the end of lunch we had decided to do an introductory workshop. In a week or so we'd put the plan together and were well on our way. Within a couple of months we has successfuly led the workshop at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
And now Ian and I are working on more plans to do more workshops in the Bay Area.
I later wondered why this had happened so easily and spontaneously. I think it was because we were both tuned into possibilities and making things happen. Our conversation was all about possibilities and growing our businesses in a way that worked both personally and professionally.
If you look more closely at business conversations, most of them don't go this way. They often go the way of posturing, being right, dominating, ego tripping, lecturing, distracting, etc.
Think of the different kinds of conversations we have: Initial meetings, follow-up conversations, discussions about our services, brainstorming meetings, selling conversations, negotiations, etc.
But what's really happening in these conversations?
In truth, most of them could be conversations for possibility, that is, they could all open up pathways to a future beyond what already exists. These conversations aren't about opinions or points of view, but pure explorations.
They are like the conversation I had with Ian: "Here we are with certain talents, abilities, goals and aspirations. Given all of that, what is possible, what could we make happen?"
Here are some ideas regarding conversations for possibilities I found online while researching this article, from an unnamed source:
1. A Conversation for Possibility isn't about deciding on a course of action right away. You want to explore before you decide on anything.
2. It is safe to speculate, to entertain wild ideas, to propose seemingly impractical options, just to see what emerges beyond our normal comfort zones.
3. There is no discussion of the feasibility of the possibilities until after all have been presented. Discussion of implementation comes later, in Conversations for Opportunity and Conversations for Action.
4. Shift conversations that make people and situations right or wrong. Possibilities are neither right nor wrong, and all possibilities are equally valid, as possibilities.
5. Extreme aversion to risk and excessive preoccupation with one’s own situation (to the exclusion of the bigger picture) are warning signs that Conversations for Possibility may be missing.
We're not saying that all conversations can or should be Conversations for Possibilities, but when we see that this kind of conversation can lead us outside our comfort zone to whole news areas of exploration and endeavor, doesn't it make sense to create the intention that they happen more often
What are Conversations for Possibility that you've had in a business or marketing context that have led to new and exciting places? Please share on the blog by clicking on the Comments link below.
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by Robert Middleton - Action Plan Marketing
Think of something that's easy for you to do.
When it's easy, it's also fun, right? There's no stress, little resistance and just flow. But why is it that some things are a lot easier than others?
As I said last week, it's your personal subjective experience, right? So a hard thing objectively, can be relatively easy for us subjectively.
Surfing is pretty hard objectively, but for a talented and experience surfer, it feels relatively easy, if not exhilaring!
And if this in true in all areas of life, it must also be true when it comes to marketing. Objectively, yes, some parts of marketing are pretty hard. There are a lot of steps, and it can take a fair amount of time and energy before you see results.
But there's no reason why marketing and selling can't ultimately feel much easier, dare I say fun, where you approach marketing with a lighter heart and jump into it with the expectation that it will give you the results you want.
Now there are, no doubt, dozens of ways to make marketing seem easier, but I don't what to give you a laundry list; I want to go very deeply into one exercise that is very powerful. You might call it:
The hard way to make something easier
We all know that if we work on something for a long time and gain more experience though hands-on practice, that we become more confident and, finally, it feels easier to us.
But what if you want or need to learn something and don't have the time or patience for it to become easier for you? Isn't that the case for many marketing activities? You need to do it and get it right, but it's no fun for you, so you quit before you can get to that place of ease and success.
What if you turned this formula on its head?
First of all, think of something that's very easy for you and that you mostly succeed at. It could be something you've done a lot such as surfing or cooking. It could be work you do with your clients or any area of expertise where you've grown in confidence over time.
You experience this as easy, even fun. You experience flow when you engage in this activity.
Next, think of something that feels hard to you. Be specific here, not general. Not "all marketing," but "making follow-up calls to those I meet through networking," or a similar marketing activity that seems hard, if not impossible to you.
Now you want to meld the experience of the first with the activity of the second.
First, close your eyes and see yourself doing the first activity and get to the place where you actually FEEL the experience of ease and flow. And then imagine slowly moving into the second activity, bringing the experience of ease and flow with you. Then see yourself carrying out that activity effortlessly with little difficulty or resistance.
Let's walk through this experientially:
I'm imagining coaching a client by phone. I enjoy this activity and find it easy and effortless. I am in the present moment and feel the flow of that experience as fully as possible.
Then I complete the call and pick up the business card of a person to follow up with. I stay with the feeling of ease that was with me during my coaching call.
I pick up the phone and imagine this as just another coaching client with whom it's effortless to speak. I imagine the person on the other end of the line welcoming my call and enjoying speaking with me.
I maintain the feeling of natural ease that was with me on the coaching call and no longer see them as any different. There is just talking, communicating, relating, exploring. And notice that there is no effort to get to ease; it's already there.
What you've done is borrowed the experience of ease from the first activity and transferred it to the second activity.
Now actually DO the activity you've been resisting.
Before you actually do this exercise, you want to remember that a follow-up call is not a sales call, but just an introductory conversation to explore possibilities with this prospect, and you might have an outline of some of the things you want to say and questions you want to ask before you pick up the phone.
Nothing wrong with that kind of preparation as well. That's just learning the basic how-to steps of marketing and some study and preparation to do the actual task. That's the easy part. But it doesn't seem easy because were caught up in the emotional aspect of fear of rejection before we make the call.
Virtually nobody does this kind of emotional preparation before doing an activity that seems hard to us.
But as you can see, it's really very easy. Because we all have past experiences of ease, we can draw on them as a resource. They are right there for us in the activities that are easy for us. All we need to do is make the connection and let the flow happen.
Here area few things to remember when doing this.
1. Be very clear what you want to accomplish and have some understanding of the steps required to implement this action, even if it seems very hard, if not impossible to you.
2. Isolate and focus this action. Be very specific; don't say, "I want to be better at networking." Say instead, "I'll go to a networking meeting, talk to at least 5 people and offer them my article if they show interest."
If this feels very scary to you, you know you're on the right track!
3. Then pick that experience of doing something with natural ease, and follow the exercise as outlined above. Bring in all your senses, in addition to the feeling of ease. Notice what you are seeing and hearing as well as what you are feeling; even notice body sensations.
4. Do this exercise, quietly with no interruptions, with your eyes closed. If it helps to jot down a few things down on paper, do that as well. But go through the exercise one step at a time until you feel the ease from your first activity naturally transfer to the second activity.
5. Make sure that experience of ease is fully embodied in the visualization of the first activity. That is, feel it as fully as you possibly can. You might find yourself smiling and feeling warm and happy. Only then borrow that experience for the second activity.
6. Do the exercise immediately before actually engaging in the second activity. For instance, if you are going to a networking event, do it before you leave and then do it again in your car before you go into the event.
You might say this exercise is a more advanced and gentler way of "psyching yourself up." But by borrowing the experience of ease from another activity, there is no forcing of this feeling; it just comes naturally. It's already fully yours.
Let me know how this exercise has worked for you. Just click on the Comments link below:
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Here's something I've heard from clients over and over:
"Marketing is Hard." And then more specifically, "Getting my marketing message right is hard; writing my website content is hard; networking is hard; giving presentations is hard; selling is hard; and making follow-up calls is really hard."
Apparently everything in marketing is hard and nothing is easy!
But before we talk about the hardness of marketing, let's explore the concept hardness and it's opposite, easiness. What is hard and what is easy?
We'll take an objective look first. Let's say that something we label "hard" has certain attributes. The degree of hardness seems to depend on the degree of Complexity (or the number of steps involved), the Duration (or how long it takes to learn or do something), and Effort (or the amount of energy that needs to be expended in doing something).
A great example is hiking in Yosemite, which I've done several times.
The most popular hike is to Vernal Falls. It's moderately steep and takes about 90 minutes to go up and down. So on our scale, it's relatively easy. I've hiked this many times and so have tens of thousands of others.
Then if you want to hike some more you can continue the trail to Nevada falls. It's considerably harder. The trip from the very bottom to the top takes from 4 to 5 hours. I've done this hike a few times. The crowds at the top are not as dense as at the top of Vernal Falls.
And if you're really brave, you can stay on the same trail upwards and ascend to Half Dome. And the bottom to top round trip takes from 10 to 12 hours. I've never done this hike. Not many people make it all the way to the top.
So this is pretty easy to measure on an objective scale from easy, to harder, to hard.
Now, you can also see this in professions. Becoming a nurse is relatively easier than becoming a doctor. Becoming a paralegal is relatively easier than becoming a lawyer, and becoming a bookkeeper is relative easier than becoming an accountant.
OK, so if we measure Complexity, Duration and Effort we can come up with a more or less objective scale about how hard it is to achieve a certain level of professionalism.
Of course the same is true of marketing yourself.
It's easier to talk to someone about your services than give a one-hour presentation. It's easier to write an article than it is to write all your web content. And networking is generally easier than implementing a complete speaking plan.
So this is how we objectively measure the degrees of easiness or hardness in an external project or task.
But what about subjective measurements?
A subjective measurement has nothing to do with objective measurement. Easiness or harness is a matter of personal, subjective experience.
So for instance, one person might find it very easy to develop the content for their website. But the same person may find it not only hard, but terrifying to make follow-up calls. And conversely, the person who finds it a breeze to make follow-up calls may freeze up when it comes to writing web content.
Objectivity goes out the door. It becomes meaningless. What is easy for us is easy for us, and what is hard for us is hard for us. Period.
But does objective measurement influence subjective experience? Of course. If everyone tells you that doing such and such a thing is hard because it is more complex, and takes more time and effort, we will naturally expect that thing to be hard. And our experience of it being hard may follow. But not always.
To summarize: Some things are objectively hard, but as far as we're concerned it's only our personal experience that tells us whether it's easy or hard.
I remember years ago being encouraged by a friend to develop a website. And to do that I had to learn html. He told me, "You can do this, here's a book you should read: 'How to Design Your Website in a Week in HTML'."
OK, so I bought the book read it and designed my first website in a week. I never really had the thought that it would be hard; I just knew I wanted to design a website, and believed the promise of the book and took action.
On the other hand, it took me five years of struggle to get to writing and completing my second book!
You've experienced similar things yourself.
So what does objective easiness and hardness have to do with subjective easiness or hardness?
The answer is: Not a lot! Maybe nothing.
It's easy if we believe it's easy and it's hard if we believe it's hard. And if we mix up the objective measurement of easiness and hardness, with the the subjective measurement of easiness and hardness, we are going to be very confused.
End of story, but not quite.
The question we should all have at this point is clear: "How do I shift my belief that something is hard to do, into a belief that it's easy to do?" (After, all, we don't have to worry if something is already easy for us).
How can I make writing feel easy to me? how can I make doing follow-up calls seem easy to me? how can I make presentations seem easy to me? etc.
When you've mastered this, you've accomplished a lot.
Just think, if everything you wanted to do seemed easy to you, and as you did it, no matter how objectively hard it was (Complexity, Duration and Effort), you continued to do it and it never stopped feeling easy. Wouldn't that transform your marketing, your business and your life pretty dramatically?
Think of it: Subjectively nothing would ever seem hard again!
So I'm not going to give you the answer here. I'll continue this next week. But I'd like to hear from you. What would have to happen for everything to seem easy to you?
I mean easy, effortless, fun, fully engaged. How could you get into that place? Is it even possible? What have you already discovered? Have you found the total answer or a partial answer?
So please respond on the blog (not to me personally) and we'll see what people are thinking about this. Remember, this is not an academic exercise. If everything seemed easy to you, imagine what you'd do that you've avoided doing all these years?
Heck, you might even climb Half-Dome!
Please share your answer on the blog by clicking on the Comemnts link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
I'm convinced that so many people have a hard time with their marketing because of their unwillingness and resistance to being where they are right now.
"I don't want to be where I am. I want to be somewhere else. And I want to be there as soon as possible!"
- I want to have a perfect marketing message and branding.
- I want a great, attractive, well-optimized website.
- I want to find the perfect places to meet my potential clients.
- I want to be able to talk to my prospects so they really get it.
- I want a selling process where I close 100% of my prospects.
- I want to be making $500K every year, starting now!
Now, at one level, there is nothing wrong with these. It's a great thing to have goals and go for them. And from one perspective, these are great marketing goals.
But because they're not yet a reality, we are frustrated, anxious, and worried about the future, thinking we'll never get there. So instead of using goals as beacons to move forward, they become a burden, reminding us that we're not there yet.
And since things aren't perfect, we put ourselves and our marketing on hold until we get everything into place. It's kind of like the woman who needs to lose 20 pounds before she starts dating. And of course, only when she's bought the perfect wardrobe and gotten a makeover, will she be ready for dating.
You know how that works out!
I see this tendency with my clients all the time: "Well, when I have my perfect marketing message I'll get out there and use it when I network." And I say, "Well, why don't you get out there and try it out now? And then as you use it you can fine-tune it." And then they say, "Well, I'm not ready yet, give me a few more weeks to get it right!"
Hopeless, right? You don't need to get ready to get into the NOW. It's 100% here, right… NOW!
So the first things to remember about goals, is first you need to be perfectly OK about exactly where you are right now. In this moment, there is nothing you need to change. Be OK with your current marketing message. After all, it's what you have to work with right now.
And then you take the first step. You go to a networking event to talk to people and they ask you what you do. And you tell them what it is you do and they don't get it. Do you see how perfect that is?
Now you have some data to work with!
You try a different message with the next person you speak with. They are mildly interested, but the conversation doesn't really go anywhere.
Perfect again. And you're getting the hang of it.
You are really learning now and having fun. So you remember what I told you about talking about challenges that your clients deal with, and you try a new message. And wow, you really connect with someone who has that exact challenge. And they ask you to send them your article and that they'd like to talk more.
Also perfect. But not any more perfect than where you were before.
In every step of the process you were exactly where you needed to be. You were not focused on a "perfect future me" where you sashayed into a networking event with 100% confidence and connected with every person you talked to, walking out with ten solid leads.
That's a fantasy, by the way.
Sure, you might aspire to that, but now that you've set your goals, take your mind off of them, and especially off how you think you should be as far as your marketing skills and results go, and just focus on the NOW.
This goes for everything in your marketing: Your message, your website, your marketing activities, your conversations, your selling process.
There's one thing for certain for everyone reading this: All of those things in your marketing are exactly where they should be right now. You have the skills you have right now; you have the connections you have right now; and you're exactly who you are right now.
Perfect. How could anything possibly be missing?
And that's the only place you can really work from. No apologies to anyone, no voices in the back of your head telling you that you should be somewhere else, no beating yourself up. Just being where you are right now.
And from that place of NOW, you can produce marketing miracles.
My friend and coach, Fred Davis, knows a lot about being in the here and now and having fun with it. In the video below his topic is, "Oneness 101." It's a reminder we can all use in both our marketing and our life.
Warning: Fred is a genuine hoot. But listen closely, as he has a very powerful message that will give you genuine insights and have you laughing at the same time.
You can visit Fred on the web at Awakening Clarity.
How do you stay in the here and now in your marketing? I invite you to share your ideas and experiences on the Action Blog by clicking on the Comemtns link below.
by Robert Middleton - Action Plan Marketing
This past Saturday I got on Email from Duane Colette that said: I'm going through your Fast Track program in the Marketing Club and I'm sensing an underlying theme: losing the old self and creating a new one."
That's right Duane, we cannot approach marketing from the old self that resists marketing. We won't find time for it, or we'll find ways to creatively avoid it. This is why I've stated many times that Marketing Mindset is the most important part of my work.
How does your Marketing Mindset impact your Marketing Plans?
It impacts it totally. If you don't take your Marketing Mindset into account it will undermine and sabotage your Marketing Plans. But only every time.
A good way to illustrate this is through creating a Marketing Action Plan for the next year. So let's work on three of the most important marketing principles and activities - Marketing Message, Marketing Strategies and the Selling Process - and integrate Marketing Mindset into them.
Your Marketing Messages, both verbal and written, are the foundation of your marketing. Since marketing is 100% communication, if you're not communicating clearly about the value of what you have to offer, you weaken everything else in your marketing.
There's nothing overly complicated here. You simply answer these questions: Who are my ideal clients? What are their biggest challenges? What do my clients get if they work with me? How are my services structured?
If you can answer these four questions clearly, you can get the attention and interest of just about any qualified prospect. You can expand on these answers through articles, web copy, and presentations, but at their core they all communicate the same thing: "This the value I offer to my clients."
But in practice, this can be challenging, not because the formula is complicated, but because of mindset issues. Simply put, our limited thinking and beliefs get in the way:
- They won't be interested
- What if I say the wrong thing?
- Who am I to promise these results?
- My message needs more impact
- What if I have the wrong service"
Then we put more focus on these thoughts and beliefs than our marketing message and find ourselves caught in confusion, doubt, worry, uncertainty and lack of confidence.
And your marketing efforts go down the drain.
The solution is not to try harder but to question those thoughts and beliefs. You need to undermine them by asking if they are true, what it's costing you to think them and literally strip them bare for the nonsense they really are.
More on working on your mindset in the next two sections.
One you have a marketing message, you need a vehicle or vehicles for these messages. Networking, Speaking, Teleclasses/Webinars, Keep-in-Touch Marketing (including eZines and Social Media), Email Marketing, etc.
None of these are particularly difficult; they are all step-by-step processes. They are something you can learn with a little study and patience by starting small and working towards bigger things, such as with networking.
But guess what? Implementing these marketing activities are often hijacked, not by circumstances or lack of time, but by the same kind of constrictive thinking and beliefs. We often defeat ourself before we start.
- I can't find places to network
- I don't know what to say to people (see above)
- Everybody's selling, nobody's buying
- I'll only get rejected (again)
- This is a waste of my time and energy
I promise you that effective networking will be impossible if you cloud your mind with this kind of thinking.
I was talking to a participant in my Mastery Program (a building contractor) a week ago and he was telling me similar things about networking. Then he made a confessions. "A couple years ago I followed your advice and did some networking and met two architects. Ultimately they sent business my way worth $1.2 Million!"
When we explored why he hadn't continued, it became clear that he had got caught up into those old beliefs again, and stopped, despite the absolute evidence that it worked.
Once you've really questioned your limiting beliefs, and revealed them for what they really are: ploys to avoid rejection, you need to look in the other direction:
If it was impossible to believe those thoughts anymore, who would you be and what would you do? Isn't it obvious that you'd move into action with less fear and hesitation?
Your Selling Process
This is one of your most high-leverage marketing activities ever. If you've used your marketing messages while implementing your marketing activities, ultimately you'll connect with qualified prospects.
When this happens, invite them to meet with you in a "Strategy Session" to explore how you might help them.
A Strategy Session consists of four main parts, the first three are in question format: learning about the current situation of your prospect, learning about their goals and vision, learning about their challenges. Then the fourth part is telling them how you can help them, the value of your services, how you structure your services, etc. Oh yes, and you need to ask them if they'd like to work with you!
Sounds simple, and it is, however, there are many subtle skills to the selling process and it takes time to study and practice them. If you do, you'll find your close rate goes way up and that the majority of prospective clients will agree to work with you.
But of course, your old Marketing Mindset can be just as destructive here as anywhere else in the marketing process. Here are a few limiting thoughts and beliefs you may be familiar with:
- They won't want to meet with me
- I don't want to be pushy
- Those questions seem too intrusive
- I'd rather just explain my services and have them decide
- I feel too awkward closing
Seeing a pattern here? All of these limiting thoughts and beliefs have a similar tone and taste. They are fear-based. They are about avoidance of any possibility of rejection. And if you believe them, they stop you cold.
If you are ever going to be successful at marketing and selling your services, you can't just learn the basic strategies and tactics of marketing. You'll keep bumping into these limiting thoughts and beliefs without even realizing it and then make up reasons why your marketing isn't producing results.
Instead, you need to take your Marketing Mindsets into account and confront them directly. Before long you'll discover: They aren't really true, believing them is costing you a lot, their payoff is staying in your comfort zone, and if you are willing to look what might be possible without attachments to these beliefs, you'll discover a world that was invisible to you before.
Opposing Marketing MindsetS are just a part of marketing. Take them into account and work with them just as you work at developing your messages, your marketing strategies and your selling process.
It's the New Year and great time to get moving on your marketing. Let us know what you're going to make happen in your marketing in 2013. I invite you to share them on the blog by clicking on the Comments link below.
If you think California is always sunny, think again! Here are a few pictures from Sunday that prove otherwise, although it's still beatiful.
From the back of our house as the river rises with the rains.
A view of the back of our house. My office at left. Kitchen in the center.
The same river at the bottom of the mountain in Santa Cruz.
Saroj, my wife, on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.
The ocean from West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.
Home and cozy at last.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Last week I found a list that I'd created on my iPad called: "10 Marketing Things You Already Know - But May Not be Acting Upon."
These might fall into the category of "Pithy Sayings" that teach essential truths. I'm no Confucius, but I've been involved in marketing so long, that I can assure you, the following lessons are amongst the most important you can learn if you want to attract more of your ideal clients.
1. If not even your family understands fully what you do, how do you expect your prospective clients to understand?
We want everyone else to understand us, but that takes patient communication. We can't assume people understand us, and if they don't we only have ourselves to blame. Keep communicating; sooner or later the message will get through.
2. In networking, make it your main job to follow-up. Above all else, follow-through with friendly persistence.
The ball is always in your court and it's always your move, no matter what the prospect does. If someone doesn't get back to you, it doesn't mean they aren't interested; it usually only means they're busy. So patiently try again; it will usually pay off.
3. In speaking, people don't want to be bored, they want to be informed and entertained.
Yeah, it's your job, once again, to take responsibility for communicating powerfully so that your prospects really see the value of your services. The good news is that you can always make it more fun and interesting.
4. Nobody's going to buy from you unless they know what's it it for them.
It's not about you; it's about them. Always. So make it your calling to understand what your prospects need and want. What are their issues, their challenges and their aspirations? And how can you make it easier for them? It's a never-ending pursuit.
5. In selling, nobody likes to be pressured. They like to be listened to.
Everyone gives lip-service to listening, but few of us practice it religiously. What you need to notice is that as soon as you stop listening, the pressure and manipulation starts. Amazingly, you can listen yourself into a sale better than proving that your service is right for someone.
6. When talking about your services, tell stories to make things absolutely clear.
This simplest concept is harder to relate to than the most complex story. And here I am giving you concepts! Mea-culpa! Yes, when you use stories, people put themselves inside the scene you are telling and relate completely.
7. Nobody's going to remember you or think about you if you don't stay in touch with them.
Don't be so arrogant to think people will remember you after one or two contacts. How many emails do you get a day? How many commercials do you hear or see? How many details do you have to handle? No wonder people forget. So stay in touch.
8. Over-communicating can be just as bad as under-communicating, especially if every communication is a pitch.
Instead, give people better information, valuable stories and examples, something they can use. This will endear you to people and when you have something to promote, they'll listen because you've gained their respect and attention.
9. If you don't ask for what you want, you're not likely to get it, in life or in business.
Yes, it's terrifying to ask. And yes, you just might get rejected if you ask. But isn't that better knowing one way or the other if they want to take the next step than never asking and living in uncertainty? Ask, get an answer, and move on.
10 Nobody wants to buy from an arrogant jerk; they want to buy from a nice person whom they can trust.
Marketing and selling sometimes does funny things to people. They can turn you into a pushy person who always has the right answer. Cultivate humility in marketing and selling. Your prospect will tell you if you have the right answer or not.
Do you have some "Pithy Sayings" about marketing and selling you'd like to share with the subscribers of More Clients? If so, I invite you to share them on the blog. Just click on the Commetns link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
When you sit down at a restaurant, what's the very first thing you look at? You look at a "model" of what the restaurant is offering, otherwise known as a menu.
A model is a representation of something else.
The menu in the restaurant is a representation of the food that the restaurant serves, but it certainly isn't the food itself.
Nevertheless, it's very useful in helping you decide what to order. And without a menu, you'd have to depend on a different model - the words your waiter uses to describe the food. Some Japanese restaurants use plastic models of the actual dishes!
Models are everywhere. They are so pervasive that we hardly notice them. Models are guides to what actually exists in reality.
Here are a few familiar models:
Your iTunes playlist - a model representing the actual music
Molecule diagram - representing the structure of matter
Sports scoreboards - representing the activity in the game
An anatomy chart - representing the parts of the body
Maslow's hierarchy - representing man's needs and aspirations
The Marketing Ball Model - representing the game of marketing
In business, including professional service businesses, marketing models are very useful. They help to represent how one's services actually work to produce results for your clients. They organize things in a logical, simple way that makes sense and is easy to follow.
When you're talking to a prospect about your business, you can fall back on your model to explain how things work, how they are interconnected, what their significance is and what they mean to your clients in terms of outcomes.
In many cases, a model can result in an ah-ha for a prospect.
"Yes, Now I see what you're getting at… marketing is a game where you have to do a certain number of things in a certain order in order to turn a prospect into a client. I can see that one of my prospects is almost on second base (selling conversation) but that I need to follow-up to get them there."
The question for you is, what is the marketing model for your business?
Not only what is your model, but how do you go about creating one? Is there an approve format or structure that works best? Do I have to use some kind of a diagram or are words OK? Where should I start and how long does it take?
Well, a model can be created pretty quickly. My Marketing Ball Model came in a flash and then I fine tuned it over several months. But where you start is with your key concepts.
You might say, a key concept is an idea that you apply practically to your clients when working with them. So let's take the example of a management consultant. What are the key concepts that he or she consistently applies to their clients's projects?
Communication - Measurement - Coaching
Leadership - Engagement - Teamwork
So here we have six rather random concepts. However, as a management consultant, these are the concepts and principles that you're always talking to your clients about. You notice that when you talk about these principles and teach them how they work, you get results. Your client's situation improves.
A model implies some kind of order. Just as in a menu, you don't see the names of the dishes scattered randomly over the page - there is a system: appetizers, soups and salads, main courses, desserts and drinks. So it makes it easy to find what you want.
If you tell your client that you instill all the above six principles into their business, it's rather confusing. Where do you start, what happens and what do all these concepts mean? How are they interconnected?
So you think it though and make it more organized:
We have a six-part "Management Breakthrough Model" that takes your company from where it is now to where you want is to be.
This model has six components, delivered in this order:
Measurement - We want to know all your key metrics, from your profit and loss to how productive each of your employees is. We use these first measurements as a benchmark. And then we keep measuring and make adjustments as we go.
Communication - We get the whole company on the same page as to what your goals, objectives and benchmarks are, and communicate this deeply into the company so that everyone is on the same page and heading in the right direction.
Leadership - We work with the top management team to define roles and responsibilities as well as to develop key leadership skills that will reinforce achievement of the company's goals
Teamwork - We clearly define teams and accountabilities. Who is doing what and how will they measure success? Also, how will they communicate with other teams for maximum productivity?
Engagement - We work company-wide to instill a culture of engagement that encompasses commitment, truth-telling, feedback, acknowledgment and rewards. Our goal is to have a workplace that is exciting, productive and fun.
Coaching - We train all leaders, managers and supervisors in the skills of "coaching for results" which is the main communication and management methodology for producing results with minimal conflict and maximum productivity.
OK, now those six random words actually mean something. Now they are organized in a particular order and there is a clear meaning and purpose for each one. There is now a model or system by which the management consultant can approach work with his or her clients and get superior results.
By the way, this is a pretty big, all-encompassing model. Many consultants would use just one of these main concepts (such as leadership) and then divide it into several key concepts.
What a Model can do for You
When you are clear on the foundational marketing model for you business, you can leverage it in many ways to improve the overall effectiveness of your business and marketing, not to mention the results of your clients. For instance…
Models can be the foundation of written materials such as articles, reports, white papers, web content, emails, blogs, etc.
Models are almost always used as the foundation for books. In fact, you'll often see "model" or "system" in the subtitle.
Models can be turned into presentations, talks, teleclasses and webinars.
Models can be incorporated into your verbal message or "Audio Logo" and can be the center point of any conversation about your business.
Models can be used in your selling conversations when it comes to presenting your services. You simply outline your model and explain how it is implemented in a company.
Once you've settled on a model, it becomes the center point and foundation of all your marketing. There is no point where you don't refer back to your model and its principles to explain what you do, why you do it, and how you do it.
Do you need a Model Diagram?
It's nice to have, but not an absolute necessity. But it can certainly be useful and make your model easier to remember and apply. For instance, we all know models bases on triangles such as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the Nutrition Pyramid.
We've seen models in the shape of circles such as the Coaching Wheel, the Enneagram and various process diagrams.
If you want to see a few of these, take a look at these various business models in Google Images.
Every once in awhile the image comes to mind first, followed by the components of that image or diagram. But most often you want to look at the various concepts, principles, and practices that you already use in your business and organize them as I did above. Then that organization may suggest a particular diagram.
Remember that models can grow and evolve. At some point you may realize that your model is outmoded and needs to be redesigned to more accurately represent what your business is about. I've done a lot of tweaking of the Marketing Ball Model over the years, but it's proven to be very robust and practical for those who want to master their marketing.
The next thing to do is start to make a list of those concepts, principles and practices that are key to how you produce results for your clients. Don't have too many; a model with 27 elements is just going to confuse people. Have a core of no more than ten elements (7 is a favorite) and then deepen the concepts for each of these elements.
I'd love to hear of how you've created a model for your business. What are the components and how do they all fit together? Please feel free to share them on the blog.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Has anybody ever asked you to do something that you weren't sure how to do, so you declined to do it?
Have you ever wanted to do something in your marketing but didn't know where to start so you never got started?
Have you ever spoken to a prospect about your services and they didn't commit to working with you because they weren't sure they could succeed?
All of these are examples of commitment and learning.
I remember years ago I was doing volunteer work for a personal growth organization. We were always pressed to go beyond our limits and our "reasonableness."
I was asked to produce a certain result on a project, but I was completely unsure that I could make it happen. I didn't want to make a promise that I couldn't keep, so I hesitated.
The person working with told me something that changed my life.
She said, "Robert, you've got it backwards. It's no big deal to promise to do something that you already know how to do. Where real growth happens is when you promise to do something that you don't know how to do. Then you'll learn what you need to know to do it."
So, then and there I made the commitment.
I can't even remember the project anymore or how well I did at it. But I do remember that after making the commitment, the fear disappeared and I just went into action. I learned what I need to learn and did the best I could possibly do.
And I remember a new sense of freedom and power in making the commitment that has carried over to other areas of my life. I doubt I'd have experienced 28 years of success in my business if I hadn't embodied that lesson.
Now this isn't even an issue for me anymore. I think of something I'd like to make happen in my business, I make a commitment to do it, and then I learn how to do it, make a plan and put that plan into action.
A Website in One Week
I remember back in 1995 when my friend, Jeffrey, told me that the future was they web and that I needed to have a web site. He invited me over to his office and showed me what software he was using to put together websites.
My mind was going a mile a minute, as I had no idea how to use this software and build a site. But in my mind, I committed: "I'm going to do this," I thought. "If he can do it I can do it." The next day I purchased a book, "How to Create Your Own Website in a Week with HTML."
I took the book at its word and followed it to the letter. One chapter a day and many hours trying to apply it with the new html software I had also purchased. I remember one night reading the chapter on building tables, literally feeling my brain expand as I struggled to understand.
A week later I had a website. No, not a great website, that's for sure, but it was start. But of course, since then, I've made millions of dollars through my website.
Commit and learn, not learn and commit.
When we are stopped by obstacles in our business and marketing, we need to get into this habit of committing first and learning later. But it's not the way most of us do things.
Why the usual approach to learning and then committing actually undermines our success:
When you commit to making something happen first, before you know how you'll do it, your mindset shifts from impossibility to possibility. And a "possibility mindset" is more alive, more expansive, more willing to risk. You think and feel completely differently than before you made the commitment. Then your learning comes faster, more easily, with less effort.
Whereas many people decide to go to school or take a course, or even read a book with no clear end in mind. They are learning what they need to learn, but without the "possibility mindset" in place, they have no direction, no drive. They are playing it safe and doubting themselves as they learn. And without a clear commitment, results come slowly, if at all.
Commit to a Big Goal
What's an important goal for you in your business? Perhaps it's a financial goal that's linked to the number and quality of clients you want to attract.
For instance: "My goal is to attract 4 new clients who each pay me $30,000 or more this year."
Now think about that goal. Think what it would mean to you. Think about the difference it would make both to you and those clients. Imagine working with those clients and producing breakthrough results. What would that feel like?
Now commit to making it happen, understanding that you don't necessarily know how to make it happen.
What you'll find is all kinds of things start to fall into place such as meeting a person, or finding a resource, or reading a book or discovering a marketing strategy.
And notice the energy, the focus, the fun you're having as you go for it with 100% commitment.
Do you have a story of committing to a project you didn't know how to make happen, but made it happen anyway? Please post on the blog by clicking on the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Rose is a talented and determined consultant and coach who works with medical professionals to help them become more balanced in their work and their lives, overcoming stress and burnout so common to the medical profession.
She's worked with a number of doctors who have completely transformed their practices, along with their degree of fulfillment and satisfaction as medical professionals.
When Rose came to me she had some good written marketing materials but her website needed a lot of work, and she needed to re-package her services to be more comprehensive.
I gave her directions to improve her website and packaging and before long she was presenting her business powerfully both though articles and on her website.
Rose had the kind of clients who were not easy to reach through networking or giving speaking engagements. She was getting calls from her website, but we determined that a good approach for her would be to call hospitals directly and talk to program directors, send her materials, and follow up for meetings.
With her impressive track record, Powerful message, quality materials, and numerous case studies, I felt that this would be an excellent way to connect with her prospects directly. And in the past she had been called by these same program directors who in turn referred her to their burned-out doctors.
And then she hit a wall.
I now call this wall, "The Terror of Asking." And if you're self-employed you've probably experienced it as well.
Marketing activities are fine as long as they are passive: developing messages, writing materials, putting together presentations, improving websites, and networking in non-threatening environments.
But as soon as marketing changes from passive to proactive, resistance rears its ugly head. Whenever faced with asking for something from a prospect, the fear of rejection and inadequacy, present themselves front and center.
Here are some of the symptoms that Rose faced.
1. Over Preparation
We developed approaches, calling scripts and ways to get the attention of the program directors. But week-after week, she kept tweaking these strategies but failed to pick up the phone.
2. Creative Avoidance
When she determined she was finally ready to make the outreach calls, something else got in the way: her husband's business, her health, or some other priority always seems to push taking action into the future.
Even after running out of excuses, she started to argue that this approach really wasn't sound and that another approach would probably work better. But she really couldn't find a simpler, more direct way to reach these program directors.
If these symptoms sounds familiar, it's because they are alarmingly common amongst self-employed professionals. Just the thought of reaching out to someone we don't know strikes terror into our hearts. We imagine the worst of outcomes, the possibility of humiliation and rejection beyond contemplation.
Over the years I've learned techniques to get my clients past this abject terror of asking, and I'll talk about two of them today.
The Cost of Inaction
Reaching out to those you don't know and asking for something can definitely bring up fear in many people. One way to get past this fear is to look at what it's costing you. However, the cost has to be much bigger than the fear.
I explore this by asking: "What is likely to happen to your business if you don't get past this fear and take action? Please look honestly and tell me what this will actually cost you to continue with your avoidance."
Ultimately the cost is failure, not succeeding at your business and not achieving your dreams. And this cost is not imaginary. Self-employed professionals pay that cost every day. They simply don't make it and have to return to an unfulfilling job and give up the dream of independence that was once so important to them.
The realization of this cost has to go deep. The emotional impact of it must be much stronger than the fear of asking.
The Payoff of Inaction
When I ask clients what their payoff of giving into fear is, they often don't understand the question. They don't see that they are getting something highly beneficial from succumbbing to their fear. But it's so innocuous that it's easy to miss.
The payoff of avoiding to ask is staying in one's comfort zone. You see, in the comfort zone their is no rejection, no pain, no risk, no problem, no change, no nothing.
And the comfort zone is the sate the mind prefers. After all, if you can avoid asking, you avoid rejection and humiliation. And to the mind, that's a good thing! So we'll stay in the comfort zone forever if need be, no matter the cost.
And again, the only way to get beyond the comfort zone is to look even more deeply into the cost of staying there. Believe me, this is not comfortable work! It's very confronting.
On the other side of terror
It took many conversations of this kind for Rose to eventualy come around. With a lot of support she started making those calls and often got a very favorable reception. She started to realize that her fear of asking wasn't based on any real proof. They were actually glad to hear from her and get her materials!
And it's this kind of breakthrough that changes everything. You realize that your fear was completely unfounded, that the kind of rejection you expected rarely happened and that asking didn't lead to humiliation after all.
Rose has moved on and her business is growing. She's attracting the kind of clients she loves and whom she can serve with all her expertise, talents and abilities.
I hope this story about "the terror of asking" has rung a bell with you as well. I assure you that it's the most common fear experienced by self-employed professionals. The good news is that it can be confronted with honesty and courage.
And when you get past "the terror of asking" you'll start to see your business as the amazing opportunity it is to make a difference with your clients and in the world.
Do you have a story about "the terror of asking" and how you got through it? Please tell your story on the blog. It may help others who are struggling with this as well. Just click on the Comments section below.
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