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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

You know what it's like when you're trying your best to put your marketing into action.

You're calling to book speaking engagements, networking at your local Chamber of Commerce and putting together a webinar with help from a few JV partners. 

But haven't you found, that despite your best efforts to work on these marketing activities, that your results are coming up short?

People simply aren't responding in the numbers you'd hoped for and you're not turning as many prospects into paying clients as you'd like.

What's missing? Is it your message, your website, the promotion itself or perhaps the wrong offer?

It's the Glue

When I talk to new clients, I discover, even though they've  invested so much in their marketing, one thing seems to be missing…

It's Effective Follow Up. And follow-up is the glue that keeps your marketing moving forward. For independent professionals, it's often the one ingredient that makes the difference between marketing success or failure. 

Let's look at a few common marketing scenarios.

Speaking: You give a talk at a conference and communicate valuable ideas that stimulate your audience. You collect a number of cards at the end from a few people who you think would be ideal clients. But nothing happens. 

Networking: You meet someone at that same conference and get a sense that you could help them. You exchange business cards and ask them to take a look at your website and some articles with your core ideas. You never hear back. 

Webinar or Teleclass: You manage to get 30 or 40 people to a teleclass promoting your new program. You prepare for hours and do the best presentation. You invite them to sign-up within a day to get your pre-program discount price. Two people sign up. 

What is missing here? You seem to be doing all the right things, but oh, yeah, what about the follow-up? Maybe you'll get to that later. But first you want to get another talk booked.

Why follow-Up is like marketing glue

In all of those scenarios, follow-up via email and phone could have glued those connections into conversations. But nothing stuck, because you didn't apply the glue. Perhaps you were waiting for the prospect to contact you. But it rarely happens. But why?

Why you don't follow up

Perhaps you're a little shy, afraid of how your prospect might react. They may not be interested after all. And you wouldn't want to be an interruption or have them think you're pushy. 

Or you don't have a system for follow-up. You only have a handful of cards. You don't know what to say, the best time to call or whether you should leave an email or a voice message. 

So you put down your follow-up glue gun and promise yourself that you'll give it a shot later that week. But you never seem to get around to it. 

Connections + Follow-Up = Conversations 

The first thing to understand is that all you want to accomplish with follow-up is to have another conversation with your connection. And it's the simple act of following up that glues these two things together. 

One conversation leads to the next conversation and then to a deeper conversation. The next conversation may be a selling conversation, and the last one a confirmation conversation. And before long you're working with a new client. 

But not without the glue of follow-up. 

My 7-Step Follow-up System

This is what I tell my clients to do. It works.

1. After you’ve had an initial connection with someone who may be a prospect and deserves follow-up in any number of the scenarios mentioned above, create an intention to follow-up. Don't hope it will happen, but set very focused goals to make it happen. 

2. Ask yourself exactly what you want to get from the follow-up: Is it an introduction? A short meeting by phone? A longer strategy session? Or something else? Whatever it is, it should be the next natural step in connecting with that person. Be clear, even visualize yourself following up successfully. 

3. Now script out what you will say on that follow-up call and what you will say in your follow-up email. Just make it conversational, simple and short. Practice it out loud until it feels natural and easy. By the way, I’ll often leave a message first and then follow that up with an email. Short, sweet, simple.

4. Make sure your message includes your Ultimate Outcome. That's what gets attention. It answers the "What's in it for me?" question. “I’d like to talk about your needs” won't be perceived as very valuable. But, “We help our clients be more effective in these five essential areas," is more likely to get a response. 

5. Then screw up your courage and reach out. If they don’t get back to you, what does it mean? It usually means they are crazy busy, so don’t take it personally if they don’t get back to you right away. And try at least three times before moving on. 

6. And what’s the worst that can happen? They may not be interested in your Ultimate Outcome or it might not be a good time to talk now, or several other legitimate reasons. So don’t sweat it. Move on – there will be other opportunities. 

7. Make follow-up a habit. It’s one of the most important and effective marketing habits you can ever develop. And if you follow this plan, it really won’t be nearly as hard as you think it will be. In fact, believe it or not, it can be fun, especially when your conversations turn into new clients. 

Start adding the follow-up glue to your marketing and you can expect your results to increase dramatically. I've seen it happen with my clients over and over again. 

Cheers, Robert

P.S. If you liked this article, just want to be nice or have nothing else productive to do, please share your comments below or, event better, share this article on Social Media. This will also give you some much-needed practice at follow-up!


By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Wouldn't you love to know the perfect marketing approach for your business, you know, the one that brought in droves of clients with ease?

Well, of course, there isn't ONE. 

Then how about the most effective approach to marketing, one that at least gave consistent results? 

The thing is that there are a LOT of effective marketing approaches, dozens at least, perhaps hundreds.

Then, where should you start with your marketing? After all, you want an approach that will give you a chance to attract more of your ideal clients, right?

The first thing to understand is that your marketing approach needs to be customized to you. You should implement marketing activities that are appropriate for where your business is right now.

And you also need to understand that an approach to marketing is never just "one thing." 

For instance, if you focus your business on "webinars" or your "selling process" or your "website" you don't have a complete approach to marketing. 

I've found that the best approaches to marketing include many steps implemented in an effective sequence. You start with a simple sequence and then build the effectiveness of that sequence over time. 

Here's an example of a complete marketing sequence:

1. Develop a marketing message or brand. Then communicate it verbally and through marketing materials such as a website, articles, emails, presentations. 

My current message strategy is to put the emphasis on your "Ultimate Outcome," that is, the biggest result your clients get when they work with you. This kind of message is focused on your client, not on you. And it needs to be a result or benefit that is highly desired by your prospective clients such as:

"We help you double the effectiveness of your top leadership teams." Of course, then it's your job to prove that you can, in fact, accomplish this. 

2. Develop a program or service that can deliver on this promise. If money was not an issue, what program would you design and deliver that consistently produced the results you promised?

We rarely think this way and instead develop programs and services that we think our clients can afford. What does that lead to? Compromise and settling with OK results, not breakthroughs. 

I'm aiming for breakthrough results such as the ones my Marketing Mastery participant, Sal Sylvester achieved:

"Robert's program fundamentally changed my business. Before my work with Robert, I ran mostly short-term workshops – one or two-day sessions. Sometimes a series of workshops. My average deal size was probably $2,500 - $5,000. Today, my average deal size ranges from $25k to $100k.

"One year after the course was complete, my revenues went from about $170k per year to $260k. Then to $300k. They then doubled to $600k. And this year to over $900k. The foundation for all of this growth is the hard work that went into Robert's program. He not only taught me sound marketing and sales principles, but helped me change my mindset on what was possible."

You won't see those kind of results from half-hearted, low-cost programs that promise little and delver less. 

3. Develop and Implement a marketing strategy that gets your program or service in front of the right prospects. Again, there isn't a perfect strategy, but there are many very good ones. 

My two favorite strategies are:

1. Giving live talks in front of groups of qualified prospects.

2. Promoting my services and programs to those on my e-list.

Many other strategies can work as well. More often than not it will take a few different ones to effectively communicate your message to enough of the right people. 

4. Learn the practices and skills of effective person-to-person selling. Selling is one of those terrible words that has so much negative baggage. But good selling is not about hype or manipulation – it's more of a focused conversation to discover if what you offer can solve any of your prospect's challenges.

Selling includes many elements:

• Following up after someone has responded to your marketing, 

• Setting up appointments for selling conversations,

• Designing those conversations so that a high percentage of prospects choose to work with you. 

The good news:

The four basic marketing steps are really all you need to get the attention and interest of your ideal clients and convert them into good clients who pay you well. The system for developing them and getting success with them is tested and proven.  

The bad news:

Learning and ultimately mastering these four steps takes study, practice, and hard work. All of them include concepts that are counter-intuitive and that most people implement ineffectively, if not avoid completely.    

For instance, most business owners have a "Me-Centered" marketing message as it can be hard to wrap your mind around a "Client-Centered" message. 

In developing high-end programs, we tend to think they won't sell and therefore we don't even attempt to develop them. 

With marketing strategies, the most common thing is to emphasize the processes we deliver instead of the results our clients get. 

And with selling, we often think of it as a contest where we are trying to "win" business from an opponent who doesn't want to work with us, instead of as the beginning of a profitable partnership. 

The next step:

Please take the ideas in this article to heart. They include the core ideas that have helped both me and my clients experience great successes. 

And please consider this: 

The Marketing Mastery Program starting in mid January 2016 focuses primarily on mastering those four key marketing steps. If you are up to attracting more high-end clients for years to come, it might be for you:

Cheers, Robert


By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

The back veiw of Phil's Fish Market

Remember the movie, City Slickers? While Billy Crystal and Jack Palance are riding along the trail, Palance asks Crystal, "Do you know what the secret of life is?" And then he answers by holding up one finger and saying, "One thing, just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don't mean sh…!" 

And Crystal answers, "That's great, but what's the one thing?" Palance answers: "That's what you've got to figure out."

And it's an important question for us in our businesses. What is that One Thing? 

If you get it and you live by it, that One Thing leads to mastery. 

We spend a whole lot of time and energy on everything that isn't the One Thing. Sure, there are a lot of things you'll end up doing in your business and marketing but if they're not in the service of that One Thing you'll get off track. 

On Sunday I went out to dinner with my wife in Moss Landing, just south of Carmel, CA. The restaurant, Phil's Fish Market, was a cavernous place with seating inside and out, undistinguished decor and plastic fold-up tables.

The line to order at the counter was 20-people deep and the place was humming. I asked the couple in front of me what was good on the menu. The man then delivered the most enthusiastic testimonial I've ever heard. "The food is fantastic, the best anywhere. You've got to try the Clam Chowder and the fish tacos are to die for!" The couple behind me nodded in agreement. 

Everyone was smiling ear-to-ear. 

We did order the clam chowder and fish tacos and they were indeed spectacular. 

On the menu I learned that Phil had started the Fish Market in 1982 as a small fresh fish stand and began selling buckets of fresh cioppino. Recipe here:

It's still the most popular item on the menu and as we ate we saw many huge bowls piled high on the way to the tables around us.

Phil's One Thing? The best fresh cioppino anywhere. And everything else built from that – superior fresh seafood at a reasonable price for everyday people. 

It definitely works. Hundreds of people visit every day.

So, what is your One Thing?

By the way, it's not your marketing message (although your message should reflect that One Thing), it's not your process, your website, or even your services. 

Your One Thing goes beyond all that. It's what makes you memorable. It's what you love most about your business. It's why you started your business. And it's something nobody else can quite duplicate. 

Just down the road from Phil's is another restaurant called the Haute Enchalada. It's housed in a multi-colored Victorian-style home and the interior is intimate and wonderfully decorated. The food is gourmet and the service is impeccable. You might say it's just the opposite of Phil's, but it also has that One Thing that makes it immensely attractive. 

There's no one formula for the One Thing but it's always special, magnetic. It's a calling, a commitment, a passion that's immensely attractive. 

What is the One Thing for your business? 

It's already there. You don't need to invent it. But you are so close to it you may not notice it. 

Get some feedback from clients and others who have an experience of your business. And then ask them what they think your One Thing is. Keep brainstorming until it emerges. The words might not be perfect but ultimately you'll come up with the One Thing that makes your business special.

What's your version of Phil's amazing cioppino? 

Now the challenge is to embody that One Thing in everything you do in your business and in your marketing, your message, your website and your services. 

The One Thing is who you are. Embrace it and be that.  

Cheers, Robert


By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

When you struggle with your marketing, you know how it goes:

You think about things over and over and can't decide what you should do. It's agonizing. Finally, you set your mind on getting a project done, writing that letter or setting up some speaking engagements. 

You know action is important, so you decide to apply discipline to your marketing efforts. You buckle down, create plans and lists. You get focused and get to work. 

And if the marketing project is important enough, you'll probably get it done sooner or later with great effort and struggle. 

So, on the surface, discipline seems to work… but does it really? Yes, stuff gets done, but do you really want to approach marketing as if you were at boot camp? Every word you write is like a push-up, every call you make, a chin-up. 

Discipline may work for awhile, but it's not going to last long. 

People look at my marketing, my website, my programs, my weekly eZine and think I must have a lot of discipline. And they say, "I could never have that much discipline. It just isn't worth all the effort."

Well, guess what? Discipline doesn't drive me. 

Sure, when I've committed to doing something, I work hard at getting it done. But it's never really a struggle, a chore or a slog. 

I don't apply discipline; I employ passion and devotion instead.

Passion and devotion can fuel a lot of powerful work – work that is fun and energizing and that produces amazing, beyond-the-expected results.

This past Saturday I realized our kitchen needed some cleaning and organizing. And as I have a devotion to order and beauty, I worked my ass off for six hours making our kitchen awesome. It kind of blew my wife away when she saw it later that day. 

I didn't feel tired after my kitchen blitz; I felt energized and fulfilled. No discipline was required. And note that I didn't say I'm passionate and devoted to "cleaning and organizing" but to "order and beauty." That's the key.

In your business, your devotion and passion may be about making a real difference to your clients. It could be about creating something of real beauty or lasting value. It may be the joy of supporting someone who's confused or sad, or the delight in helping a client dress impeccably or increase their retirement savings. 

Ask yourself what you are devoted to. Ask what you are passionate about. And then ask what vision you want to make real in your business. That will ultimately dissolve your struggle with marketing, making it flow with ease.

You already know what you're authentically devoted to and passionate about. 

When you are committed to living that passion and devotion, creative and innovative possibilities open up to you – including great marketing ideas. Inspired plans that once seemed impossible, evolve from a simple idea or random association. That isn't hard work; it's a total blast. 

Allow this devotion and passion to infuse your business, marketing and life. 

Tap into that and you'll get naturally excited about your writing, your speaking, and whatever else it takes to communicate to your community about what you are up to, what you're devoted and passionate about. 

What's the alternative? If your work is not infused with passion and devotion, you're simply doing hard time. You're waiting for retirement or to hit it big in the lottery. You're living in fantasy land, not reality land. 

It's time to get real. Declare what you're already devoted and passionate about, feel it deeply and move into action, not with the burden of discipline but with juicy, yummy, authentic enthusiasm.  

What are you devoted and passionate about? How are you going to make it real in your business? Please pass this eZine on to a friend, and tell them what you're up to.  

Want to play in the space of marketing your business with passion and devotion for ten, action-packed months? Then check out the New Marketing Mastery Program here.

Cheers, Robert

P.S. Thanks to Kiran for the ideas that inspired this article.


By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Every Monday at about 10 or 11 am, I sit down to write my weekly eZine and blog (actually the same thing, through two different channels).

The question that everyone asks me is, "How do you decide what to write about?"

Good question! Let me answer it here and give you a few tips as well. First of all, my weekly ezine/blog is always something about marketing professional services. That's pretty broad, so I l have lots of options. 

Here's how I generate ideas, but don't make them absolute rules. Be open to inspiration and even out-of-the-blue whims.

My 6 Primary Idea Sources

1. My work with clients. Every week, I have interesting conversations with several clients. Ideas from these meetings – both my ideas and the clients' – are often excellent topics. If this conversation helped the client, why wouldn't it help those on my list?

2. Ideas from something I'm reading. Often an idea strikes me and I look it up online in places such Google, Amazon and Wikipedia. Eventually the idea develops into an article.

3. Ideas from things I notice in the world. I observe businesses, both online and off, people who are doing interesting things and all kinds of situations where I see great successes, dismal failures and even flashes of brilliance. 

4. Ideas from my personal experience and expertise. When you've been in business for more that 30 years, you've accumulated a lot of strategies and how-tos. Even if you've been in business only for a few years, you know more than you realize. 

5. Ideas from my own internal process. Sometimes I'm struggling with something or trying to figure out a problem, so I'll often post a question on Wisdompreneurs or search Google and get several good insights. 

6. Ideas from the shower or hot tub. Warm and running water seems to stimulate new ideas and gets them flowing. No effort required, just accepting ideas as they come. 

My Writing Process

With these idea sources, I usually come up with enough of them to write an article every day. Then I select one randomly or one that pulls me the most. 

I don't worry if they are perfect articles that will get me SEO positioning or lots of comments. I just write what I'm interested in and hope it will help others with their marketing. 

Recently I've tried a little harder to include stories and get away from being too conceptual (that is, boring)!

I write the best I can but never trust myself enough to catch all the typos and grammatical errors I make. My amazing proofreader and editor, Daphne Gray Grant, finds those for me and gives me ideas for expressing myself better.

I'm not overly self-critical. Yes, I want to write a good article that makes a difference and often put a lot of work into it, but I'm not caught up with perfectionism.

Oh, yeah, and I almost always have jazz music playing in the background. Most of my attention goes to the writing, but having instrumental music playing tends to drown out my critical, noisy mind.

Length: I try to do about 500 to 750 words. 

Time to write: 30 minutes to one hour.

I've been writing every week for 17 years. It's the single best thing I do to attract clients. I highly recommend you give it a shot. It won't hurt you; you'll survive it and ultimately it will help your business thrive.

Cheers, Robert



By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Here is a dialog with one of my clients who was resisting the idea of marketing herself. 

What's your struggle or issue with marketing?

I'm just not good at anything related to marketing myself. I don't want to put myself out there, talk about what I do, or even develop a website. 

Well, before we get into that, can you tell me your accomplishments?

The client then told me about a lot of her client successes and her work with a wide variety of organizations, all impressive. She is intelligent, bright and capable. 

OK, it looks to me that you have a huge amount to offer. Why are you hiding those gifts?

Well, as stupid as it may seem, I think I'm an impostor. And if I started marketing myself, people would discover that I'm a fake. 

Well, are you an impostor, a fake? Is that really true?

When you ask it directly that way, I guess I'm not. 

If you're not an impostor, then who are you really? 

I'm a very good consultant and coach. I really know exactly what to do to help my clients and they get consistently great results when working with me.

So, given that, what's really the worst thing that could happen if you started marketing yourself, started marketing your greatness and capability?

The worst thing? Well, they might not be interested. They might even reject me.

OK, but could you live with that? Would you survive that? Could you take the next step after that? Remember, not everyone is interested in everything, your services included. Why should everyone be interested in you?

I guess everyone shouldn't. But I see what you're saying. Even if some aren't interested, others might be. And, of course, many people have been interested in what I do and it's turned into very successful work. I often forget that. 

Yes, and at this point you're the world's best-kept secret! You believe they won't be interested in you and your services or, even worse, reject you because you feel you're an impostor. But you just told me you weren't. 


So what are you really afraid of?

I'm not quite sure.

Isn't it your fear that if you get out there people will discover how great you really are?

Hmm, I see what you're saying, but that doesn't make a lot of sense does it? 

Think of it this way. With greatness comes responsibility. That's not comfortable. So it makes sense that you'd prefer to play within a limited comfort zone. Correct?

Yes, I guess I'm addicted to comfort! (laughs)

OK, so you hired me to help you promote your greatness. If you want to make a difference and experience more success you can't stay mired in your comfort zone can you?

I guess not. I've been trying to have both. I'm great in the work I do but then I hide in my comfort zone, avoiding putting myself out there in any way. 

That's exactly it. So if you're ready to spread the word about you as a great coach and consultant, are you ready to leave your excuses behind and start taking action?

Absolutely, let's get moving!  

I'm often reminded of these lines by Marianne Williamson:

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

Epilog: My client is now having great success in her marketing. Without those old beliefs the resistance has disappeared. 

 Cheers, Robert


By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Everyone knows that if you throw a boomerang it will come back to you. When I was a kid I got a boomerang for a birthday present. And I remember vividly how excited I was to give it a try. 

I went out into a big field, grabbed my new boomerang firmly and threw it into the sky with all my might. 

And guess what? It didn't come back. 

I tried over and over again until I finally gave up completely. There was something wrong with the boomerang or something wrong with how I was throwing it. So I threw in the towel instead. 

Many years later, I saw someone throwing a boomerang on TV. Well, it did come back, but guess what? He was throwing the boomerang in the opposite way way I had thrown it, with the angle of the boomerang in the direction of the throw. The correct way is to point one of the ends in the direction of the throw. 

But why hadn't It occurred to me to try it that way? After all, there were various ways I could have tried. I came to the conclusion that I threw the boomerang the way I did because I believed I was using it the right way. No other way made sense to me, despite my repeated failures. 

When it comes to marketing, there are activities you may try that don't get the outcomes you want – whether it's with your marketing message, your web site, or your various marketing and selling strategies? 

I've seen these problems so many times with new clients.

Business owners try a certain way to implement a marketing strategy because they think they know the right way to do it. And despite the results, they keep doing the same thing over and over. Ultimately they give up, thinking marketing is a hoax or something they're simply not cut out to do.

Some people have a little more faith and/or persistence and realize there must be a better way to implement that strategy and get results. 

So they do some research, buy a book, take a course, ask an expert or hire a coach until they learn how to implement that marketing strategy successfully. 

What are you doing to get your boomerang to come back to you? The first thing you might do is question the belief that you actually know what to do. That's when a new world of possibilities will open up to you.

Here's a video on the right way to throw a boomerang:

Wish I'd seen this about 50 years ago!

Cheers, Robert M.

P.S. If your marketing strategies are not producing the results you want, you can get the answers you're looking for in the More Clients Club. Gain access today for only $29.


By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Today, Paul Zelizer, the founder of the Wisdompreneurs Facebook Group, posted about a common perception that many independent professionals complain about:

"I do REALLY, REALLY deep work and therefore people don't understand my work and that's why my business isn't thriving."

But this isn't just an concern for those who do "deep work," it's an issue for just about anyone who offers an intangible service, from coaching and consulting to various kinds of healing or spiritual work. 

The truth is that none of these services are very easy to talk about conceptually in a way that is easy to understand.

Instead, your marketing communication needs to be about the things people relate to more easily – their personal struggles and stories of how these struggles were overcome. 

Here are some points to consider about helping people understand the work you do, no matter how deep or esoteric it may be. 

1. Is your work real? 

That is, does it produce measurable changes in your clients? When you work with your clients are they able to resolve things better, become more resilient, more skilled, more confident? Can they face issues with less resistance and fear?

If so, that's something you can communicate and is very easy for most to understand. "When people come to me they often have deep-seated emotional issues that tend to stop them in many areas of their lives. When people work with me they get beyond those issues and are happier and face life with more courage."

2. Is your work valuable?

Do your clients really value what you do? Once I worked with a bodyworker who offered a modality designed to help me with my back pain. The thing is, it didn't. And it's sometimes hard to know if what you're offering is really as valuable as you think it is. 

You might ask clients to fill out a questionnaire after working with you. If you're not getting great feedback on overall value, you need to consider what you should do differently. And if you get great feedback, then you can be more confident in your marketing. 

3. Are you communicating?

If you are clear about the first two points above, then start communicating about them in a very simple way. Tell stories, give examples, and talk about outcomes through the following media: 

Your blog and/or ezine. Don't just explain your concepts and processes. Instead, tell stories of real-live clients who came to you with certain issues and challenges. Tell a little about how you helped them and what things are like for them now. This simple story format is powerful and it never gets old. 

Client Interviews. Interviews are also powerful because you're simply talking to your clients about what brought them to you, what they were struggling with, how you helped them and how things are different today. This kind of simple and honest communication has persuaded me sign up for very some expensive programs!

Webinars teleclasses or video conferences. Introduce your work, not by talking about why or how your services or programs work, but the difference they've made and the results they've produced. No hype is needed, just authentic stories. Explain clearly that your services are for people who have certain challenges, what they need to succeed with your work, and what they can expect if they work with you. 

Social Media. Perhaps you worked with a client recently and had a big breakthrough or exceptional result of some kind. Then just tell that story, as above, on Facebook, LInkedIn, whatever. Readers don't need to know much about your process or how you work – they just want to know you produced a great result and that you're happy and excited about the difference you made. 

The thing to remember in all of this is that marketing is not about YOU. Readers don't need to understand you. They don't even need to understand how your process works. But they do need to understand how your work has made a difference with your clients. 

No more excuses about how people don't understand you!

Cheers, Robert


By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

I spend a lot of time these days thinking and reading about new trends in marketing – mostly online. 

I reflect on a lot on what I, my subscribers and clients really need to know about marketing right now. Here are some trends that I've noticed and that I think you should be aware of - and apply in your business.  

1. Marketing Messaging

There will always be a need for marketing messaging and branding to help you stand out and differentiate yourself from others. 

Messaging has always included a few elements: Who your ideal clients are, what they'll get by working with you and how you stand apart from your competitors. 

But I think the strongest trend right now is to emphasize your client's issues, and challenges, above all else. This focus tells your prospective clients that you know what they're going through and that you've been there. 

To do this you need to zero in specifically. So for me, for instance, it's not just "helping independent professionals who are struggling with their marketing." Instead it might be, "helping independent professionals attract more clients without all the hype," or "helping independent professionals attract more high-end clients."

It starts to become obvious that the more clear you are about exactly who your ideal clients are, the more you can zero in on these clients with very specific messages that get more attention than generic messages. Action: Do surveys to discover what message your prospective clients respond to best. Use this tool.

2. New Format Websites

In the past several years, website design has changed a lot. What many have realized is that people won't read as much as they used to. They are rushed and overwhelmed and want their information in bite-sized pieces. 

Leading-edge websites, usually Wordpress, have much more bold graphics with many fewer words. Since this is the case, every single word counts more than ever. And this isn't as easy as it looks. 

In three or four short paragraphs you can communicate the essence of your message and then direct your web visitor to find out more, to get a free report or learn more about your services. 

Is your home page bogged down with a lot of information about you're services? Then it's time to change. Action: Search for websites in your field until you find the ones with the best graphics and most concise home page message and then emulate (not copy) their home page. A favorite example.

3. Social Media Groups

One of the most common ways to market with social media is through groups. Many people link to their articles, blogs or other web content by posting in Facebook and LinkedIn groups. 

The problem is, that stops conversation in the groups and most will ignore your articles. However, you can post your complete blog posts into LinkedIn and they'll appear under your profile. This way, people checking you out get an immediate credibility hit about your expertise. Great Example here.

The other thing I've found immensely useful is to engage in deep conversations within groups such as Wisdompreneurs or my Marketing Club Group. I don't get many direct clients this way, but I build visibility and trust. 

And that has led to interviews, podcasts, and resources that have been incredibly valuable. When you make real connections with real people over time in groups, you really can expand your resources and capabilities: Action: Join Wisdompreneurs (search on Facebook) and/or join the Marketing Club Facebook Page. (link)

4. Video Conferencing

For years I've been doing marketing to groups via teleclasses and webinars. Video conferencing has been around awhile but this year it has come of age with ( video conferencing services. 

This is the most exciting marketing communication vehicle since the advent of affordable (and then free) teleconferences around 20 years ago. 

Just as television replaced radio as the primary mass media marketing appliance in the 50's, video conferencing will replace voice and images as the most powerful interactive medium. I've gone "all in" on video conferencing as it's effective, fun and inexpensive. 

Those are 4 Marketing trends that I think are very important right now and I recommend you take action to integrate them into your business. 

What other marketing trends do you feel are the most important for your business? Please join the conversation on the More Clients Facebook Page 

Cheers, Robert


By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

A typical interaction with one of my clients: "Robert, the foundation of my marketing is solid, I know my message, and I have a website and some written materials. Now what exactly do I do to get new clients?"

And I reply, "Well, there's the marketing side and the selling side. Before we get started on developing plans and strategies, let me give you the 30,000-foot view of the whole process from beginning to end."

And this is more or less what I tell them:

1. Develop the ideal package of services to sell

What exactly are you selling? Some people say executive coaching, management consulting or crisis therapy. But those are not "service packages" – they are labels and completely intangible. 

It's hard for your prospects to buy "executive coaching," but it's easier to buy a "One year Leadership Coaching Program for Executives." See how that's so much more tangible? It's a one-year program and it's for a particular group of business people: Executive Leaders. That's interesting, that's real. And as a result your prospects want to know more. 

So I want you to stop labeling yourself, and we'll start developing programs or services that have real value, that are tangible and that have clear outcomes and benefits. Then we'll focus on finding leads for that service.

2. Generate qualified leads from your marketing efforts

Once you've packaged your services, you'll want to generate leads to people who need that service or program. These leads can come from almost anywhere – from networking or public speaking, from emails to your contact list, from social media and from following up with referrals. You want to start with the most viable strategies.

Remember, though, you don't have a lead unless that person is a good potential client for your service or program and he or she either has a problem you can solve or an aspiration you can fulfill. To qualify a prospect you need (at the least), to have a short conversation by phone or an email exchange. 

When you have a lead to a prospect, personal connection makes all the difference. When you get a card from networking, from a talk, or a response from your website, reach out immediately by phone or email. 

Find out if this person is looking for the solution to a problem or a way to fulfill an aspiration. Ask them, "Are you interested in dramatically increasing the leadership capability in your company?" or "Are you concerned about the productivity of your workers?" If the answer is yes, you have a real, live prospect. 

3. Get phone and face-to-face appointments with your prospects

In these first phone calls or email exchanges, you should explore their needs and desires in a little more depth. If they are strong candidates to work with you, you should request a more in-depth meeting: "Based on what we've discussed I think I can help you," you might say. "What I usually do is set up a Marketing Strategy Session to learn more about your business and explain how my services work. How does that sound?"

4. Ask the right questions during the sales conversation

I call these meetings "Strategy Sessions," but the name isn't important. Ultimately, they're sales conversations where you'll discover the prospect's situation, goals and challenges in-depth.

You should think of this meeting as an interview where you ask a lot of questions to get to the truth. But you also want it to feel like a relaxed conversation where you show sincere interest in this prospect and their circumstances. If you can't empathize, they won't trust you enough to work with you.  

5. Present your services and solutions during that meeting

Once you've asked all your questions, it's time to explain to the prospect what you do and how your services can help them. Exactly how much you explain depends a lot on whom the prospect is – a large business or one-person entrepreneur, etc.

You want to be organized in presenting this information. First, let them know the ultimate outcome you are going for in your work together. Next, explain the many things you'll focus on to produce those results. And finally, discuss the structure of how your services or programs are delivered. 

Then take questions. If you're offering services to small business owners, you often don't need a proposal. You can simply ask them how this program and approach sounds to them. If they like what you've said and can imagine succeeding with you, then talk about your fee and see if they can manage it. 

6. Respond effectively to issues or objections

If you're meeting with the owner or other decision-maker of a larger business, you'll probably get tougher questions, and you need to be prepared to answer them. Poor, incomplete or vague answers will loose the sale. Great answers delivered with a lot of confidence increase the chances of a sale. 

In fact, you want to welcome questions or objections. It shows your prospects are interested. They're looking for a solution – they just need to figure out if yours is the right one. Never see these questions or objections as an attack, because they're not meant that way. 

7. Prepare a written proposal

A larger company will almost always want to see a written summary of your presentation, in the form of a proposal. Essentially, a proposal says, "Here is your situation and here is what you said you wanted to accomplish and here is how you'll know you've succeeded." Then you should outline exactly what you'll do for them to achieve those objectives, plus what they can expect when working with you, and how you'll deliver your services or programs. 

The one thing you do not want on this proposal is the price. Why not? Because that's the very first thing prospective clients will look at before anything else. Let them know that this is, "A first draft of the proposal to see if we are both on the same page." Once they've seen the proposal, let them know that you'd like to work together to refine the proposal to make sure the program meets their needs. 

When you've gone over the proposal and have come to an agreement about exactly what you'll do, then you can put a price tag on your program.   

8. Get the prospect to respond to your proposal

When you don't put a price tag on the initial proposal, there's an incentive to get back to you, to finalize things and get the price quote. This changes the balance of power. 

After you offer to prepare a proposal and agree that you'll meet again to get feedback and to fine-tune it, also set the time for the next post-proposal meeting. "Okay, I'll get you the proposal to you by next Tuesday. I'd like to set up the next meeting for the following Wednesday or Thursday. Can we look at our calendars?"

9. Ask the final closing question

There are actually many closes during a selling conversation. These "trial closes" help you understand if you are on the same page or not. They don't have to be manipulative or tricky. After you've asked your questions in the meeting, ask, "Have you told me everything you need so that I'm able to help you?" 

After you've explained and presented your services, you can ask, "Based on everything I've explained about my program can you see working with me in this program and succeeding with it?" That's what I call the "close for commitment." If they are not sure, then that's when to ask for questions. If they have no questions, but can't quite see themselves working with you, ask, "What else would you need to know to be confident that this program is for you?"

10. Get paid what you want to be paid

If you have a prospect who says they can see working with you and that they want the results you deliver, it all comes down to price. When working with an individual, you should talk about the price last. With bigger prospects, you'll talk about the price after they're happy with the proposal. 

For an individual prospect, this is my close on the price: "The fee for this program is $XXX or $XX per month. Does that work with your budget right now?" They will think and say, "yes, no," or "it depends." Then work out the details, discuss issues about payment, etc. If they really don't have the money and this is the only thing that's standing in the way, there's not much else you can do. 

With bigger business prospects, you'll ask a similar question: "Can you fit this program into your budget for training (or coaching or whatever) this year?" They may say yes, but more often they'll say they need to run it past some people. That's fine, but ask them if they can give you an answer by a certain date. They may get back to you with more questions, suggest alternatives, or negotiate the price before the final approval.

It's useful to understand this big picture of the marketing and selling process. 

Most Independent Professionals muddle through this process. It takes some time and work to learn how to implement each of these steps successfully. If you do, you'll attract clients faster with less struggle. But if you don't, you may be struggling for a long time to build your business.

In a few weeks, I'll be launching my New Marketing Mastery Program that takes the participants through al of these steps until they are consistently attracting more high-end clients. It starts in mid January 2016. Please look out for my next introductory video conferences about this program. The next one is on October 22. You'll get a notice.

If you'd like to see the Preview video for the New Marketing Mastery Program, just click here: 

Cheers, Robert M.

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Robert Middleton, the owner of Action Plan Marketing, has for 30 years, been helping Self-Employed Professionals attract more of their ideal clients.  He offers the online membership site, The More Clients Club, and individual coaching and consulting through his Marketing Action Coaching. If this is your first visit to the More Clients blog, make sure to get a copy of the Marketing Plan Workbook and join the Marketing Club Forum for free.