by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Imagine this scenario:
You want to follow-up with a prospect, Roger, who was a referral from a business associate, Bill. You've done a little research on him and his business, but you're not sure if they need your services or not.
You promised your friend you'd follow-up with this person, but there's one little thing in the way...
You have no idea what to say!
After all, you don't know yet if they're really a prospect. Your friend told you that you could probably help them, but that he hadn't got a clear indication of their actual needs.
So it feels like a lukewarm lead.
There might be a business opportunity there, maybe not.
So how do you turn that lukewarm lead into a hot lead? How do you prepare for that call? What do you say on that call? And how do you move the conversation forward?
A Follow-Up Call Action Plan
1. The Call Preparation
This person is connected to your associate, meaning there's an affiliation. But the more you know about this person, the better. So talk to your friend more about this referral. Find out as much as you possibly can, and I mean everything. Learn about his business, his track record, his industry, his school and degree, his age, his wife, his kids, the car he drives.
I'm not kidding! The more you know, the more closely you'll feel connected to him. And you'll feel more comfortable when you make that call. When you learn about him, you'll discover a number of commonalities to make that connection deeper.
2. The Initial Outreach
When you reach out, remember he's probably crazy-busy like everyone else these days. He might be hard to reach by phone. So practice your phone message and prepare a follow-up email. At the end of the phone message (which is likely in most cases), let him know you'll also send an email.
The phone message:
"Hi, Roger, this is Jason Thorn, 555-9375. Our mutual associate, Bill Alexander suggested I give you a call. I work with companies to help them drive higher profits in the high-tech sector. I don't know if I can help you or not, but I'd be happy to talk. You can reach me at 555-9375. I'll also send you an email with the best times to reach me. I look forward to speaking soon."
Notice the core message here: "I work with companies to help them drive higher profits in the high-tech sector." If you don't have a core message, you're wasting your time.
Then the email:
I just left you a voicemail message where I mentioned that our mutual associate, Bill Alexander, suggested that I give you a call and set up a time to talk.
I work with companies to help them drive higher profits in the high-tech sector. I don't know if I can help you or not, but I'd enjoy having a short conversation.
You can find out more about me on my website:
I also have a report that Bill really found valuable that you might enjoy as well. It's called, "The Five Hidden Drivers for High-Tech Profits." You can get it at this link:
The best times to reach me are afternoons most days after 4 pm. Please let me know what days are best for you. My number is 555-9375.
If I don't hear from you in a few days, I'll reach out again; Bill tells me you're very busy.
All the best,
3. The Conversation
The key to getting a phone meeting is "friendly persistence." It may take many tries by phone and email to get this person on the line. When you do, what do you say?
The first thing to talk about is your connection with your mutual associate, Bill:
"I'm glad we finally we got the chance to talk. Bill has said some great things about you. I also did some research on your company and am impressed by the work you're doing in the ABC field.
"I also know you're developing new products in the XYZ area. Can you tell me a little more about…"
So, show interest in him. Don't talk about you and what you do. The whole purpose of this call is to make a connection, determine needs and see if there are possibilities. The main way you want to talk about you and your services is through client stories.
There are three areas you want to know more about. a) their current situation, b) their goals, c) their challenges/opportunities.
In the very first part of the call, you get into their situations, then you want to transition into goals:
"Bill tells me you have some very ambitious goals in the XYZ sector. Can you tell me a bit about that?"
If you make a good connection, and show real interest, people tend to open up. Don't jump in with your ideas yet; keep finding out more. Wait for him to ask a question before you start talking about you:
"Jason, Bill told me a little about what you did for your clients, can you tell me more?"
"Sure, Roger, I work with high-tech companies like you who want to drive higher profits. Did you get a chance to take a look at that report I sent? Great. The essence of it is that there are five key areas that any high-tech business can optimize, but almost all are missing these areas completely. I helped a recent client uncover opportunities in four of those five areas and in six months profits had increased by 17.3%.
"Which of those five areas do you think are under-optimized in your company?"
Now you're getting into challenges and opportunities. And if they open up and share some of these with you, you know they're a potential candidate for your services.
What you do NOT want to do is jump in with a lot of solutions. However, you may share a few general ideas and perhaps more stories.
4. The Call-to-Action
At a certain point in the call it should be pretty obvious whether there are challenges and opportunities or not. If not, close the call and move on. If there are, suggest a next step:
"Roger I really don't know a lot about all the details of your five possible optimization areas, but I think it would be worth a deeper look. What I usually do is offer a complimentary "Optimization Strategy Session" where we'd look at those five areas in more depth.
"Would you like to take advantage of that? I'll come to your location, of course."
If you've made a great connection in this call, showed real interest and given a solid sense that you know what you're doing and that you have a track record, they are likely to want to meet with you.
5. Attitudes and Mindsets
You need to approach these kind of calls with these attitudes.
a. I have nothing to sell until I know their situation, goals and challenges/opportunities.
b. I need to be more interested in them and ask more questions than trying to be interesting and talk a lot.
c. I need to take the lead on the conversation and ultimately ask them to take the next step, if appropriate.
This approach can be used with virtually any kind of prospect, whether it's a potential coaching client or the CEO of a multi-national corporation. In every case, you're just talking to a human being who has needs and challenges and who wants to be heard.
What's your experience of calls like this? What works and what doesn't? Please feel free to comment on the blog by clicking on the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
I love words. I hate words.
Words can get you attention, develop interest and build trust or they can alienate your prospects, cause confusion and push them away from ever doing business with you.
I'm talking about WORDS today!
Words have impact. They trigger reactions. They stimulate response, they arouse emotions and they initiate either action or avoidance.
Words are tools. Words can be weapons. So we need to be very careful about how we use them. But how do we use words in our marketing in a way that works for us, in a way that gets results?
Well, we need to look at words through the "process/results filter."
Some words describe a process and some words describe a result (there are other kinds of words, of course, but we won't focus on them in this article).
Let's look at the words you might use to promote a program. See if you can tell which paragraph below uses mostly "process words" and which one mostly uses "results words."
This is the opening paragraph of the promotion:
"Attend my webinar on social media marketing and learn more about the key social media tools, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You'll learn many secrets of how to successfully use these tools in your business and your marketing."
"Want to get more response to your marketing? In this special program for self-employed professionals you'll learn about three amazing marketing tools that will generate attention, stimulate interest and explode the response you get to any promotion."
If you haven't guessed yet, the first promotion uses mostly process-oriented words and the second uses mostly results-oriented words. Let's dissect them a bit.
Promo #1 asks you to attend a webinar. Webinar is a process word; it's something you do and there is no inherent benefit in it. Who cares if it's a webinar at this point? You can talk about the format later. Then all the social medial tools are also process words. Again, no inherent benefit in any of them. And learning secrets conveys no direct benefit either, other than that we can use them in our business. The whole paragraph is a big, "So What?"
Promo #2 is a whole different animal. It starts by asking the reader if they want a desirable result - more response to your marketing. Then it targets the audience - self employed professionals and gives three very specific results they can expect from attending this program. This paragraph is the clear winner.
When you look at your words through the process/results filter it seems very obvious, right? But it's still tricky because, after all, in both of these promotions you are offering a webinar and you are focusing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
So you have to mention them, don't you?
No, not in the opening paragraph! Eventually, yes. As you continue with your copy in Promo #2 you might say something like the following:
"The three marketing tools that can give you such great results are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Surprised? You shouldn't be. These three common social media tools are powerhouse promotional tools if you use them the right way. We'll share the secrets that practically nobody is using to spread the word, get positive word-of-mouth, and take all your promotions to the next level."
Now we've taken the social media process words and explained how they can be used to produce desirable results. We realize that there is no inherent value in these words until we add that value with clearly promised results. Notice I didn't even mention the webinar yet. I can put that in later.
Isn't this a program you might be interested in attending?
Of course, but not because it's a webinar about social medial tools, but because it promises you'll learn secrets about using those tools that will give you a clear competitive advantage.
When you write marketing copy for a promotion, such as a teleclass or webinar or talk, put it through the process/results filter and also ask these questions to make sure you've nailed it:
- Is there a clear result or outcome promised? Is it about what you do, vs. what the client gets?
- Am I mostly relying on process and hoping people guess the results I'm offering?
- Would this copy move me into action to find out more, to enroll in the program?
- Am I telling how things work in the copy or promising them results if they take action?
- And finally… So what? If I get that result, so what? What's really in it for me?
Can you think of a promotion you did recently that fell flat? Take another look at it and ask if it was mostly process or mostly results and then take immediate action to make it better and increase its impact.
What do you do to make sure your copy is results, not process-oriented? lease feel free to comment by clicking on the comments link below.
To give you a recent example of a result-orented promotion, read this:
How the Marketing Club helps to Grow Your Business
The purpose of the Marketing Club is to give you the know-how and the tools to help you attract more of your ideal clients.
In the Club you'll learn how to market yourself with impact, develop attention-getting marketing materials, set more appointments, and close more sales with your ideal clients.
And that's just the start.
You'll learn step-by-step marketing strategies to get in front of the right people with the right message and get more attention, interest and response from every promotion.
And that's only the course materials in the Club!
You'll also get hands-on help in putting your marketing into action, ensuring you'll get results, instead of going in circles.
I personally give feedback and support to anyone in the Club who asks for it. Everyday I help Club members get unstuck, move forward and take effective marketing actions.
If marketing has been a struggle for you or if you're not consistently attracting more of your ideal clients, the Marketing Club has what you've always been looking for, all in one place.
Learn more about the Club today:
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
I just spent two very intensive days at the "Social Media Marketing World Conference" in San Diego.
I put off writing More Clients this week so I could report some of what I learned. And I provide links to some very smart people who really impressed me.
First off, I don't think I've ever been to such a great conference. Ever. Not only was it perfectly organized – They had us fully engaged from 7 am breakfast to the close of each day – they had the best, most professional and thought-provoking I've speakers I've ever heard at a business conference.
I went to learn how to better use social media to help build my business. But what I came away with was both surprising and affirming of my approach to marketing.
The social media marketing verdict is in: You get results from social media the same was you do with any other kind of personal marketing: You build relationships by being authentic, responsive, likable and helpful.
After hearing this from everyone about 50 times, it starts to penetrate one's thick skull. Yet all the speakers I heard had their unique spin on what worked best for them. Let me give you some quick summaries. And by the way, all of these people were equally brilliant and practical, people I really learned from. Make sure to check them out.
Jay Baer - convinceandconvert.com
Jay introduced a brilliant approach to social media content. Don't just give people information and ideas, give them something they can actually use. He gave an example of a hospital that created a nifty little app to help choose car baby seats. He called this approach "Youtilitiy" - get it? He's coming out with a book of the same name soon that's on the top of my buy list.
He made me feel validated in creating my Marketing Plan Workbook which is something you can really use, not just skim quickly and toss. What could you give away that was helpful and practical? Would love to hear your ideas on this one, because this may be the most powerful idea that came out of the conference. You need to offer stuff that goes beyond another "10-Tips" article.
Marcus Sheridan - thesaleslion.com
Marcus told the (now famous) story of his swimming pool company in Richmond, VA that almost went bankrupt in 2009 after the financial meltdown. He recovered by blogging and simply answering every question his customers had about swimming pools. Not only did this work, he became the most successful swimming pool retailer and installer in the US! Just by telling the unvarnished truth.
So many of us are careful and low key when we write. Not Marcus. That's why he calls himself the Sales Lion. He roars! He made an amazing case that we need to educate our prospects and clients about everything we possibly can. They have problems and questions. Answer them on your blog. Make sure you get his free ebook on his site. It's amazing.
Chris Brogan - humanbusinessworks.com
Chris may be the most famous blogger in the world. But he's not what you'd think of as a high-powered marketing type. He's low-key, very thoughtful and funny. I got a clear sense that Chris Blogs not to get business, but he gets business because he loves to blog.
Chris made me think more deeply about my mission, my commitment to make a difference, sharing ideas because they excited me and in turn could help other people in the process. He made me think more about settling into my authentic voice; after all, I plan to do this for many years to come.
Pat Flynn - smartpassiveincome.com
Pat's talk might have had more impact on me than anyone else. He absolutely sold me on the power of Podcasts. As a result, I plan to start mine soon - probably in early May.
When I heard that he had a podcast following of 20,000 plus and that, in 2.5 years, over 3,000,000 haves downloaded his podcasts, he really got my attention. And he explained all of this in a low key way, sharing a ton of valuable tips. You can even get his free tutorial on Podcasting from his site. podcastingtutorial.com
There were several other brilliant presenters. The following gave keynotes to the whole conference that brought down the house. You should check these people out:
Larry Benet: sangevents.com - His talk was all about making helping people your highest value. Larry's business is all about connecting people at a higher level.
Sally Hogshead: howtofascinate.com - She's developed a whole new system for identifying your unique archetype and using who you already are to fascinate your audience.
Dave Kerpen: likeablebook.com - Dave has written two great books on being likable in social media and business.
Michael Stelzner - socialmediaexaminer.com - Michael is the founder of SME and the organizer of the conference. A brilliant and caring person who's committed to making a difference. A prince of a man. Check out his amazing site.
I came away from the conference, inspired, motivated and excited to take the next step in my business. It was really beyond social media marketing, it was about making a real and lasting impact to my clients and to the world.
Take a look at the agenda for this year and plan to attend next year: socialmediaexaminer.com/smmworld/agenda
How can social media lead to real business? You might say the purpose of the conference was to answer that question. What resonated most with me from various speakers was: Build relationships; be authentic; don't spam; listen to and respond to your audience; answer your customer's questions through your content; go past offering just content, offer "Youtility" such as practical apps, be likable, etc.
What real-life social media advice do you have that leads to real business? Please feel free to comment by Clicking on the Comments button below.
P.S. Midnight 4/11. Right after the conference on Tuesday evening I bumped into Michael Stelzner and told him how great the conference had been for me. We talked for a few minutes and then he said, "You know I think I know you from somewhere. I think I was on your e-list a long time ago." And then on Wednesday I sent an email and thanked him again and pointed him to this blog post. He got back to me by email and shared this:
"I now recall where I discovered you.
"I purchased one of your courses on teleseminars way back in the day if I am not mistaken. Totally changed the course of my business and ultimately led to my current business! Look me up in your database for fun.
"I am one of your star students. :-)
All I can say, is Wow!"
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
In his most recent book, "To Sell is Human," Dan Pink unravels many of the mysteries of marketing and selling.
In the first part he makes a compelling argument that virtually everyone is involved in some aspect of selling. And yes, self-employed professionals fit into that quite neatly.
In the second part, "How to Be," he makes an equally persuasive argument that our mindsets and attitudes shape our effectiveness as marketers and salespeople more than anything else.
In the last section of the second part, "Clarity," he makes many astute observations, most of which are missed by the average salesperson. He sums it up as follows:
"Clarity is the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn't realize they had."
If there was ever a marketing/sales motto to tattoo on the back of your hand, that might be it! Note that he didn't say to solve problems, but to identify them.
Most of us are expert problem solvers. If someone gives you a problem in your area of expertise, you'll find a way to solve it.
But that's no longer the big issue these days. There are now so many articles, books, bogs, websites and other resources available, that people are solving their problems easier than ever before. The answers to once intractable problems are only a click away.
No, what we need to learn how to do is identify problems for our clients they have no clue are even issues for them.
And one of the ways to do that is by thinking bigger.
The smaller problems are easier to identify and to solve. And there are a whole lot of other people and resources that can help them solve problems at that level.
A smaller problem is increasing productivity. A bigger problem is hiring the right people who are naturally productive and who can help grow a company for the long-term.
A smaller problem is preparing taxes. A bigger problem is how to plan your taxes so that you save a lot more of your money to put into investments.
A smaller problem is writing a sales letter. A bigger problem is creating a service or program that is so powerful and results-oriented that the sales letter almost writes itself.
Below are summaries of some clients I worked with to turn small problems into big problems and transform their business in the process of identifying these kinds of problems.
Your client wants a resume.
Tammy Kabel of Career Resume Consulting discovered she could only charge so much for a resume in a crowded, competitive field. She realized that what her clients wanted were job offers for their ideal job. She rebranded herself and used the tagline: "Get your next six-figure job in weeks, not months." With this she went way beyond solving the resume problem, and solved two issues clients didn't realize they had: Finding a six-figure job and finding it fast.
Your client wants some leadership training.
Sal Sylvester offered leadership courses, and found his clients shopping around for half-day and full-day leadership workshops. He was earning about $5,000 a day for these programs. But he asked the question of his clients: "What do you really want?" The answer was "dramatically improved leadership skills." Now he's selling in-depth leadership programs at $25K to $35K.
Your clients want to get their book published.
John Eggen had offered book publishing services for years. But what he realized is that his clients needed more than that. They wanted a book that effectively promoted their services and helped them attract more of their ideal clients. Now his one-year book writing, publishing and marketing program has helped hundreds of clients all over the world.
Your client wants some business coaching.
Patrick Summar starting coaching people at $25 per hour in the early 90's. But he realized that people didn't want coaching, they wanted the results that came from coaching. He developed a business coaching service that catered to business owners who wanted to not only succeed, but free up their time to do things that had a lasting impact and left a legacy. Now he coaches clients who pay him $2,500 per month.
All of these people changed their focus from tying to solve problems their clients thought they had and found a bigger problem or challenge they wanted to surmount. And then they positioned themselves as people who could solve these problems.
The exciting thing is that when you identify these bigger problems, you end up attracting better clients who are happy to pay you more and work with you for a longer time.
What's are the bigger problems or challenges you can help your clients identify? This is the path for growth as well as the way to making a bigger contribution in your business.
Please leave your comments on this article in the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
When you're at a networking meeting, you're lucky if you come away with five or six business cards and two or three potential follow-ups, but what if you attend a trade show or business expo?
How do you get the most out of an event like this? You may come away with dozens of business cards and fresh contacts.
In today's article I'd like to share some tips about this as I just attended the Santa Cruz business Fair to promote a marketing workshop I'll be conducting for the Chamber of Commerce.
Your Booth or Table
I was offered a table at the fair at the last minute, so we didn't have a lot of time to prepare. I brought 1-page flyers for the workshop and had two signs and a glass bowl for a drawing for a free workshop attendance.
However, a better booth will have a banner with your business name and identity, perhaps some flowers, and giveaways such as printed pens and business cards. An effective table doesn't need to be fancy, but it should be welcoming. Nice touches are some balloons and a candy tray (always draws me in).
Your Printed Materials
You always want something to hand out at your booth, but you don't want to give away too much. I prefer one-pagers that give an overview of your business and contact information to find out more, including your web address. Discount or special offer flyers are great for some businesses.
The thing to remember is that people collect a lot of information at an expo like this, which more often than not sits in a pile on someone's desk for several days (or weeks) and perhaps never gets looked at again. So don't spend a lot on your giveaways!
Most people at a trade show or expo stand passively behind their tables, with fixed smiles on their faces, hoping someone will approach them with a question. Well, that just doesn't work very well, as people may glance at your display or wander by without you engaging them.
Instead, what I do is stand in front of my table and always ask a question to engage people as they walk by. At the Chamber Fair I asked the question: "Are you self-employed?" If the answer was affirmative, I said, "Then I'd like to invite you to this workshop on marketing your business, put on by the chamber," as I handed them a flyer. Then I said, "If you give me your business card, I'll enter you into a drawing for a free seat at the workshop."
If you use this approach, you engage more people, and get many more cards to follow-up with later. I also went around the hall where the event was held and invited other exhibitors to the workshop and took their cards for the drawing.
Doing a drawing is much like getting visitors to opt-in on your website. If you don't get someone's card, what are the chances you'll ever do business with them? Virtually none. Sure, it's fine to give them some information, but you simply can't expect people to call you. Remember, the ball is always in your court.
A fair or expo is always a lot of fun. This one was like a big party and everyone was in a very positive, upbeat mood, having fun meeting each other. But the day after the event, you may wonder, now what? Where's the new business we wanted to generate from the expo?
The new business is sitting right there in the pile of business cards you collected. Now you need to go into action to contact them all as soon as possible, no longer than a week from the event.
What I did was scan all the cards and send them to my virtual assistant who entered them into a text file so that I could import them into my database. I use a program called MaxBulk Mailer for the Mac; there's a similar program for the PC, Group Mail. Just Google them.
However, what you don't want to do is put them all into your permanent eZine list and start sending them a lot of stuff. That feels like spam to most people and will do the opposite of endearing you to them.
But it's not a problem to send a few personalized emails that reference the expo and reiterate your offer. Nobody will take offense to that.
All I did was send an email to everyone mentioning the workshop and sending them to a link on my site. Closer to the event I'll send another email as a reminder. And perhaps my final email will be to offer them my new Marketing Plan Workbook and opt-in to my e-list.
More Personal Follow-Up
Of course, at the expo you may have had more in-depth conversations with some people who identified themselves as potential clients. You may enter them in your drawing as well, but more importantly, write some notes on the back of their cards and get back to them immediately after the expo, by both email and phone. Don't wait a week or two; strike while the iron is hot!
Ultimately a business expo is like a big networking event. The main difference is that you'll meet more people, make a more powerful impression, and collect a lot more business cards. Yet the key to success with a business expo is follow-up.
And, sorry to say, but many others will fail to follow up. And that will only make your emails and calls stand out from the crowd.
Do you have some tips about how to make business expos an effective marketing tool? Comment on the blog by clicking the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
I'd like to put a marketing myth to rest forever: That in these hyper-fast days, nobody will read anything.
Here's proof against that myth.
I was perusing a juicer on Amazon. To be more exact, a "Breville, JEXL Juice Fountain Elite 1000 Watt Juice Extractor" that sells for $299. It's just a juicer, right?
Apparently a lot of people take juicing seriously. There are 922 Amazon reviews about that one juicer. And that's not even the interesting part.
What got my attention is that the top-rated review is 2,679 words long! That's more than twice the length of this article. And according to the Amazon stats, 3,841 people read the review and 3,762 like it! Wow.
Ultimately, Robert Thomas, who wrote this review, did a pretty great job of promoting this juicer for Breville. Robert clearly became the top content marketer for this juicer. And they sold a whole boatload of those suckers.
Then why is it that when you write a description of a report you want to give away on your website, you write about 20 measly words:
"Get my free report on how you to can be a financial genius in ten easy steps. Click here."
Maybe you should hire Robert Thomas to write a review for your report! Because that puny slice of copy has exactly zero persuasive power. Sure they'll read it, but they won't act on it because it says exactly nothing to motivate anyone to take action.
There are a few, hopefully salient points, I want to make in this article, and the first one is this: People will read more than you can ever imagine about something, if they are interested in the topic. Like Breville Juicers. And a million other things.
People want to be motivated to take action!
Marcus Sheridan of the Sales Lion, is also the owner of an "In-ground fiberglass swimming pool company." He writes a very fun and colorful bog about swimming pools. Long articles, detailed articles, and very interesting and involved articles for anyone looking to buy that kind of pool.
Marcus did some testing and discovered that if a prospective client reads 30 or more of his blogs and then gives him a call for an estimate, they do not call anybody else. In other words, lots of solid information sells. It convinces, it persuades, it works.
Now this is a simple concept to grasp, but it seems to be a very difficult concept for most Independent Professionals to actually implement in any consistent way.
Even I have a problem with it!!
One thing you and every other Independent Professional should have on their website is an article, report, white paper, ebook or workbook of some sort to give away. This is what helps to build your list.
They see the blurb for your report and then give you their name and email address which gets added to your list, which then enables you to send emails to them with more valuable material and a sales pitch or two.
You do this on your site, right?
Well, actually, there's a very good chance you don't even have such a report to give away yet, but before you get cracking to write one, let me give you a hint:
Make it longer, deeper and wider! Give them more. Not less.
As I said, I've been giving out articles, reports and workbooks since mid 1997. It's resulted in tens of thousands of people signing up for this eZine on my website and generating millions of dollars in sales of manuals, teleclasses, programs, workshops, and marketing club memberships.
But I still sometimes forget that "More is More."
For a long time I gave away my Marketing Plan Workbook on my site and it worked very well indeed. It was a simple outline of my main marketing principles and had exercises and forms you could fill out when you printed it.
People liked it quite a bit and over the years people downloaded 100,000 or more copies.
And then I got tired of it. So I wrote another report, and I've done several others over the past few years. And all were shorter, and less in-depth than the Marketing Plan Workbook.
Don't ask me why. I'm an idiot.
This is my second salient point: You will get tired of your marketing a lot sooner than your prospects will. But I forgot that and created all those other reports which didn't get as many subscribers.
But I'm getting smarter in my old age.
I resurrected my Marketing Plan Workbook. I redesigned it, re-wrote it, put in forms that you can fill in right in the pdf (which is super-cool) and made it about 20 times spiffier than the previous workbook. It actually has color and a nicer font and stuff like that. And I created a cool graphic of the workbook cover.
And then I posted the new workbook on my site.
And guess what? My subscription rates have more than tripled (from 5% to 15%)!
People want more. They don't want less. They want more useful information that will help them be more successful in one way or another.
And the great news is you have that information. It's just that you're stingy about it. You're hoarding all your best stuff. These days nobody wants a measly 5-page report on "How to Stop Making Seven Common Investment Mistakes."
Who needs that anymore? Yawn!
You can find 20 articles similar to that on Google in about ten seconds. What you used to sell, you need to now offer as bait. So instead, create an in-depth eBook on the "Twenty Critical Factors that Lead to Wealth for Baby Boomers and the Seven Strategies That Ensure it's Not Too Late."
Or something like that.
Deep, pithy, incisive, relevant, essential. And more. At least as much as that 2,679 word review on that Breville juicer by the now famous, Robert Thomas, may he live in infamy.
So go write that report. It will take a long time and will take a lot of thinking and work. And it will blow people away and they'll come back and want more. And they'll you pay for it.
P.S. if you'd like a copy, you can get it here:
What are you doing to give your prospects MORE? Comment by clicking on the Comment tab below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
In a linkedIn discussion group I posed the following question:
"If you're a consultant, (management, technical or any other), business coach, or offer any other professional or business service, what has been your most effective overall proactive strategy for attracting new clients?"
The most interesting response I got was from Joel Alpert:
"Robert, I've thought about your question before, and the mysterious answer for me is "I just show up." It could be at a marketing or business association meeting, or a cookout. Somehow when the conversation shifts to business, I "make sense," in the words of one client, I seem to "connect the dots," with specific and integrated skills and they say, "come see me." Now I know that's not very "scaleable" (yikes!) but those are where most clients have come from."
And my response was:
"Joel, The skill to "just show up" is actually a very advanced one. I call it "Marketing Conversations." It includes saying something attention-getting, or insightful and then asking good questions and giving good answers. If a lot of people ask if you can "come and see me" you've refined this to a high level. It's sure beats asking them! If this approach could be bottled, may people would buy a few gallons!"
But perhaps the most important thing to get is that "showing up" is a skill that Ron developed in his own unique way. Maybe he learned it from his Dad or from his first job as a salesperson.
But that skill would certainly be hard to bottle!
I like to systematize things, to organize things, to create step-by-step processes for things, to find something that works and learn the model that this method was based on.
But this approach can have its limitations.
Ultimately we all play the same game of marketing to our prospects. If we stumble upon the marketing ball model that gives structure to that game, then great. But the model itself is not responsible for your success within that structure.
If we go back to my baseball analogy, every ball player plays the same game of baseball with the same rules, but the game can be played very ineptly by a 10-year old, or with mastery by a major league player.
What I notice is that so many people are looking for the "ultimate system or strategy" to attract a ton of clients, forgetting that any system, even the best one, takes time, effort and persistence to ultimately succeed with at a high level.
So just "showing up" as a strategy can only get you so far.
I've known people who showed up a lot and networked their butts off but still had very few people ask them to set up a meeting.
That's a bit like showing up for a baseball game and then just going though the motions. No, you have to be a student of the game, to watch the best players and learn from them, to try new things outside of your comfort zone, to go for it 100%.
If you want to get substantial results from "just showing up" join a group, get involved, and watch the master networkers closely. Take them out to lunch, try to learn their secrets (which they know but might not even know they know), until some of it rubs off on you. And then practice it over and over again until is comes naturally to you.
Let's start a conversation about this. Once you know the basics of something, I.e., "just showing up" what do you do to take it deeper and farther until it really starts to produce results for you? Juast click on the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
I'm coming to the end of my Marketing Mastery Program for 2012-2013 and a new crop of graduates are about to complete the program at the end of March.
These 14 Independent Professionals have worked very hard to build their businesses in the past year, despite a slow economy and innumerable challenges. I wanted to acknowledge them for all their hard work and successes and introduce them to my subscribers.
Most have rebranded their business with new websites, created new high-end programs, launched new marketing initiatives and attracted new clients. They are now solidly positioned to move their businesses forward and upwards in the coming years. I invite you to check them out at their (mostly new) websites and connect with them if you feel you have any common business interests.
Owner of Inside Change, an experienced organisational development consultant, Jill established her business in Bahrain after moving from England. She's had to be very resourceful to establish her business over the last couple of years with all the economic problems and social unrest causing additional challenges for a new business. She has had some success with her new program called 'Wake UP the Workplace', which focuses on engagement, as well as with HR consulting projects, executive coaching and facilitation work.
Denise, based in the SF Bay Area, is a management consultant and owner of Empowered Business. After a long sabbatical due to health challenges, Denise meticulously created a new website and is in the process of recontacting past contacts and clients for her in-depth transformational business programs.
Richard, of Mind Muscles, has been working intensively to develop an online business dedicated to training stock traders on how to trade more effectively. He's developing an interactive, video-based membership site with an emphasis on building the "Mind Muscles" necessary to trade in a disciplined way.
Owner of Hay Research in Toronto Canada, Al brings years of professionalism in marketing research to companies in Canada and the U.S. He's currently involved in "switching studies" with banks and financial institutions to learn why clients switch from one organization to another.
A video producer in Portland, Oregon and owner of Four + One Productions. Since the program started, Jacob created a whole new website featuring his portfolio of videos and has been involved in numerous exciting video projects that feature his trademark storytelling approach.
Tammy runs Career Resume Consulting in Kansas City. Tammy, the quintessential go-getter has developed career search packages at a whole new level, opened up an office, updated her website, hired staff and created a "Six-Figure Job Club." Her promise is to "Find a 6-figure job in weeks, not months." And she delivers!
Carleton, of McHenry Capital in Austin Texas has completely repackaged his services, his website and selling process since joining Marketing Mastery. Carleton is working at marketing and selling plans that target high-end clients, including doctors in the Austin and Houston Area.
Rajesh, turned over the operation of his landscaping company in Dubai to his wife and started a Management consulting and coaching business focused on mastering coaching and other business skills. He's starting a group program in Dubai in the next month and other programs in Nairobi, Africa.
Chris runs a business in Auckland New Zealand, dedicated to improve the performance of websites. Working together we've worked to optimize his follow-up and sales process, increase the engagement of his new prospects while building more solid relationships with his current clients.
Jeri is a trainer, coach and management consultant in NYC. Jeri rebranded her business Driving Improved Results with a new website and programs. An amazing networker, Jeri is building her contacts while she attracts new clients looking to take their business to the next level.
Joseph is an image consultant in the SF Bay Area. He has transformed himself and his business in the course of the Mastery Program, attracting and working with some of the best clients of his career. Joseph brings an attitude of excitement and commitment to everything he does.
After a very successful career as a business manager and turnaround expert, Norman launched a new consulting business last year with the focus on "gaining growth" for midsize companies near Nottingham England. During Marketing Mastery, Norman created a new website and is actively reaching out to past business associates and new prospects.
Clemens Von Reitzenstein
Clemens completely rebranded his construction and renovation company in NYC, with a new website and the tagline: "We're the Construction and Renovation Company who Actually Keeps Our Promises." Clemens is actively pursuing relationships with Architects in the city as he manages high-end renovations.
I've now facilitated four Marketing Mastery Programs in a row but am taking a sabbatical from Marketing Mastery in 2013 to grow the Marketing Club and offer Intensive Workshops.
One of the biggest focuses of the Mastery Program was working on Marketing Mindsets in order to get past limiting beliefs and "marketing stuckness."
In May I'm offering a three-day Intensive workshop that gathers together all the tools and exercises I've employed to create marketing breakthroughs for the Mastery Participants. And you can learn all of them in one weekend.
by Robert Middlewton – Action Plan Marketing
In the Marketing Club we have a brand new Marketing Discussion Forum where members get to ask questions and interact with other members, sharing ideas and resources.
Each week I'm posting a "discussion of the week" and yesterday's post said: "What is your biggest marketing challenge and what are you doing to surmount it?"
The response was varied in terms of topics, but one thing stood out: Everyone was struggling to find the time to take action on their challenging marketing priorities.
One kept avoiding writing her weekly eZine, another found it hard to get things done systematically, and one more found she was distracted by the "shiny red object syndrome" instead of doing the marketing activities she already knows work.
Here was my response to everyone:
One big solution to all of the above issues is weekly planning.
Every week look at your BIG TO DO LIST (you have one, right?) and then, looking at your already scheduled appointments and client projects, list the PRIORITY THINGS you will get done that week. Don't just jot them down, think seriously about when you can fit them in that week.
For an eZine, schedule it on a specific day of the week (i.e. Monday), for follow-up calls, pick a coupe times in the upcoming week, etc.
The thing to notice is that if these things don't get on your calendar, they simply don't get done. This may be my biggest advantage; I simply get things done, no excuses! It can be your advantage as well. Commit to it and make it happen.
Now let me expand on these ideas below...
Not many people pay a lot of attention to "just getting my priorities done." It's not very sexy or exciting and everyone knows they should do it.
Then why is it that this is the biggest issue of all?
There are a lot of reasons for this, which I'll outline here.
1. The mind equates thinking about something to actually doing something. "Oh, yes, I must attend to those priorities." And just saying that to ourselves puts us in a kind of a trance. We feel good that we noticed it, and believe we'll get to it soon, yet this pattern is repeated day-after-day, month-after-month, year-after year.
So let's be clear, thinking about it is useless. It gets you nothing, not even Brownie Points. All it results in are your priorities not getting done.
2. When thinking of an important marketing activity to do, the mind immediately pops up with an unpleasant image related to that activity. "Ooh, follow-up calls, writing my eZine, those doesn't sound like any fun. Now I don't feel so good. OK, no problem, I'll just get around to it when I feel better.
3. When a priority comes into our awareness we realize we need to do that thing but we also realize that we have no time on our schedule to get it done right now because of client meetings or other urgent commitments. Again, we push it to the back of our minds, hoping to get to it later.
Notice that all of these avoidance tactics have one thing in common: our automatic patterns of thought.
I have bad news for you. These patterns will not go away. Perhaps never. No, you are saddled with them for life. You think about getting a priority done (especially a long-term priority) and the old mind kicks in, determined to keep you safe and comfortable.
So, yeah, it's hopeless.
Well, except for these cool little tool called SYSTEMS.
A system for getting stuff done is necessary because we are ensnared by the spells of the mind. So, if you stop relying on the mind, and more on these systems, you'll get more done.
Simple as that.
To reiterate what I said to my Club members:
1. Have a binder with a page that contains your BIG LIST. This is anything and everything that pops into your head that feels important to you at the time. "Oh, wow, I should hire a plane to fly around the city with my business name on a banner!"
2. Then you have a WEEKLY LIST that you look at every single week, usually at the end of each week. What you do is transfer items from your BIG LIST to this WEEKLY LIST, but only things you are really committed to do, the priorities we've been talking about.
And those nutty ideas can be left behind and eliminated from your list later on after you realize they're not so practical.
3. Then you have a DAILY LIST where you only write down priority items that you WILL do today. There will never be a lot of items on that list, ONLY HIGH PRIORITY ITEMS, maybe just one or two.
You have to put some time into this to master it as a system, until you start to realize how ridiculously unproductive you were without these lists.
If you stick at this for about three weeks, something amazing will happen. You'll find you're actually getting to those priorities, you're finally getting stuff done and your mind isn't getting in the way so often.
Look, I'd like to give you something free, copies of these forms I've used with my Marketing Mastery Participants. You can download them here:
Let me know how this works for you, but be patient and give it time. If you do, you'll see your productivity soar. Feel free to make comments about this on the Action Blog by clicking on the Comments link below.
by Robert Middleton - Action Plan Marketing
I met someone at a networking event last week who has a very interesting investment company. After learning more about his service, I asked him how he marketed it.
His response, surprised me, "Oh, we can't market this service, there are too many regulations that prevent us from doing so."
Well, it's true that you can't do certain kinds of advertising and you can't make claims about returns, but he could do a lot more than just occasional networking. He could do talks and webinars, give away articles on his website, have a blog and eZine, etc.
This conversation reminded me of so many other conversations with Independent professionals I've had over the years.
The general thrust goes something like this: "I can't do that because… (and fill in your reasonable excuse here.)
At some point, when reading this eZine or hearing about a certain marketing approach somewhere, you probably had a similar response: "Oh, that sounds like a good idea, but…"
And then you talked yourself out of taking action.
The funny thing is, we don't really think we have any resistance to doing a particular marketing activity; we simply find some very reasonable ways to avoid it, then we justify the avoidance.
Just think of all the things you've talked yourself out of…
- Getting involved in a higher-level professional group that could grow our business connections.
- Improving your website and working to get more opt-ins for your e-list by offering a free report.
- Starting a regular eZine that enabled you to keep in touch with those who requested your report on your website.
- Getting yourself booked to speak at conferences to increase your credibility and to reach a wider audience.
- Developing more relationships with partners who could refer you to more of your ideal clients.
All of these are powerful, long-term marketing strategies that can give you tremendous marketing leverage and help you take your marketing to a whole new level.
So why don't we do them (or do them half-heartedly)?
Well, a lot of reasons: They take effort and know-how. They just might not work for us. They'd probably take up a lot of our time and energy. The motivation just isn't there.
So we rarely commit to taking on these marketing projects because the effort to do them seems much bigger than the potential return from these efforts.
Is there a way to increase that motivation? After all, if you don't, you'll find yourself in exactly the same situation a month from now, a year from now.
For myself, I've had two primary marketing motivations since I can remember:
1. I wanted to make a lot more money.
2. I wanted to make a difference and a contribution.
I think I stumbled on a good formula there. I had discovered that if my only motivation was money, that it never worked for me. And believe me, I tried a lot of things. And if I only focused on making a difference, without taking the business realities into account, things didn't work either.
So if your marketing is stuck in neutral, I'd recommend working on both of those until they converge in a meaningful way. You can start with either one - making money or making a difference, but you need to have some passion for both.
Let's talk about money first.
How much money would you like to make each year? If you made that much, how would it impact your life? What would you be able to do and have that can't do and have now? Would it give you some freedom from worry, enable you to have a secure retirement, travel more, or live in a nicer home?
You need to let yourself imagine and visualize a lifestyle where you have a much larger income and it's working for you so much better than where you are now. What if you never had to worry about debts or buying something for yourself without guilt?
This happened to me about 10 years ago when my income increased dramatically. Like Sophie Tucker said: "I've been poor and I've been rich. Believe me, honey, rich is better!"
Now let's talk about making a difference.
Imagine when you retire several years from now. And then look back at your life and your business. Have you achieved what you wanted to achieve? Did you help people and make their burdens lighter? In your business did your services make a measurable difference and a contribution that you are proud of?
Did you serve as many people as you could at the highest level possible? Did you give your very best and take every opportunity to make your services available to those who could most take advantage of them?
One day, many years ago, I made this commitment. I wanted to help as many people as I possibly could to share their gifts through their business services by helping them attract more of their ideal clients. And I've never forgotten that commitment.
How to Create a Marketing Shift
I promise that when you get very clear about these two areas - money and making a difference, that your motivation to become a better marketer of your services will automatically increase.
Do some serious thinking about this and let me know what you come up with on the Action Blog: Just click on the Comemnts link below.
- It's the Results, Stupid!
- Conversations for Possiblities
- An Exercise to Make Your Marketing Easier
- Marketing: Easy or Hard?
- Marketing Here and Now
- Losing the Old Marketing Self
- Sunny California at Christmastime
- Pithy Marketing and Selling Sayings
- What's Your Marketing Model?
- How Commitment Trumps Learning
- The Terror of Asking
- Joint Ventures - Value or Hype?
- Secrets of the Three-Part Close
- How do You Choose?
- How to Write a Client-Attracting Article
- Where Do I Start?
- Integrated Marketing
- Sal's Big Marketing Secret
- Marketing Creativity
- Becoming a Marketing Athlete