Does the Action Plan Marketing System Really Work?
There are a lot of approaches to marketing and selling. The question is, does the Action Plan Marketing approach to attracting clients really work? We interviewed several of those who have used our products and taken our programs and asked them to tell us what difference they made in their businesses.
Below you'll find a brief extract from these interviews. If you then click on the link, you can read the in-depth interview. Each of their businesses is different except that they are all Independent Professionals.
Note that the interviews mention several programs. The Website ToolKit and Marketing Action Group materials are all included in the Action Plan Marketing Club.
All interviews are in pdf format.
I got exposed to Action Plan Marketing about 7 years ago when bought a franchise called The Alternative Board TAB®. I went through a year using the franchise's marketing plan. It did okay and wasn't bad. It worked fine for the first year, but I realized there wasn't any plan whatsoever for the second year and following to grow the franchise. I started discovering this was a common problem amongst the franchisees so I went on a search to see what I could do to improve our marketing.
I have a marketing background, so we were doing some things that were working, but the one thing I really wanted to do was build a database online. I started looking for ways to do that and ran across Action Plan Marketing's web site. I bought the InfoGuru Marketing Manual and really started to systematically apply a lot of things and discovered it was working very nicely. I started applying more principles to our own marketing for ways to build our own database.
In the whole course of building the database and by the time I sold the franchise, we had close to 10,000 names [starting from scratch]. Primarily, the last few years of my owning the franchise, all we marketed to was that database. We didn't market to anyone else and the business kept growing. We grew to one of the largest franchisees in the country (#2 or 3 out of about 200) in a very short amount of time, and in a very small market.
I was first introduced to Action Plan Marketing when I read an article by Robert Middleton on Guru.com. I believe it was in 2000 and was about how to put together your guru profile. It was really long and it really demonstrated one of the principles, which is giving away a lot of valuable information. After I read that I thought, this guy is a genius so I went to his web site and signed up for his eZine. Eventually I bought the InfoGuru Marketing Manual. The reason I bought it was because I had just left Coca-Cola where I learned everything about marketing, but realized I didn't know anything about marketing myself. I could market a product but not a service, or myself as a product.
I have a favorite Audio Logo story. There was a time when I needed to get more clients and knew I had to get out there. Networking is not my favorite thing, but I've always forced myself to do it. I had a bank that I had been trying to get hired by for a long time. The President invited me to their Christmas party. So I went to their party, even though it was brutal, and practiced the Action Plan Marketing approach to marketing conversations.
I saw somebody I knew from my town and she was there with this big guy who asked me what I do. So I say my Audio Logo and they're dazzled. And he says, 'Hey, how do you do that'? So I gave my 'how I do that' answer and he said to come and see him on Monday, which I did. Within 2 weeks I had a $44,000 project. The time line on that was 2 weeks from networking to the first check.
These materials came from a direction that was just so simple and easy to grasp and use. I would reach the same end result as Robert, but the way he reached it with his material was just so much easier. I had a large cumbersome process with SWAT analysis and positioning strategies - I was overcomplicating everything. As a marketer I knew these materials worked and I would have a great time explaining and implementing them with my clients. That's when I decided to sign up and become an Action Plan Marketing coach. The timing was perfect. Even though it's Robert's material, I have taken ownership of it and given my own flavor to the material.
I use the Marketing Ball model extensively with clients. One of their first AHA moments is - "I'm on first base! I'm already there! I don't have to try and do it again!" It's amazing. I have never had so many hugs as I have had over the past few months. My South African culture is a bit conservative. You don't just hug women. I've had a few occasions where ladies would say, "Can I just hug you?" Those are the moments when you realize that you have contributed to their lives and to them as a person, not just to their knowledge. Not just to their marketing. That is the big satisfaction I get out the material. I know I really contribute on a different level to people's lives.
One of my clients is an extremely successful dentist who has bought nine dental practices. I asked him to buy the InfoGuru Manual. During our next Marketing Mentoring session he said, "Jaco, this guy is brilliant." Coming from me that may not mean much, but coming from someone who I regard as brilliant was amazing.
Dr. Lori Gray-Boothroyd
I purchased the InfoGuru Marketing Manual and used the Web Site Toolkit to get my web site up and running. I also signed up for the Fast Track program. I didn't do every single thing, but what I found was just implementing a few things made a difference. Number one was changing my mindset about marketing. I do a lot more mentoring now with new coaches and I remember being where they are now and the fear around marketing being pushy or aggressive. They have this idea of service marketing and that it is all permission based. It doesn't mean I have to change who I am to grow my business. For me that is a huge integrity piece and authenticity piece.
It is so straightforward, so practical and effective. It is about letting your authentic self come forward so you can attract the people you most want to work with who want to take advantage of what you offer. For me it was taking a leap of faith based on the good feelings I had about Robert Middleton. He is a deeply trustworthy marketer. That's rare. There are a lot of marketers who have bells and whistles which are easy to fall for when you are in a vulnerable place. But with these materials the bells and whistles are not there. There's nothing fancy about it. It is just solid, supportive material that works with effort and time.
I am doing well financially. I have also noticed I am now in more of a maintenance phase with my marketing. Recently my husband has had some really serious health issues so I have not been attending to marketing as much as I had been. In the past, I would have been afraid the bottom was going to drop out, but that has not happened. I still have a steady stream of clients because of the marketing pieces I had put in place.
Since being in Robert's program I increased my income by 40%. The wonderful thing about the significant increase in my income is that I could channel that money into the business to create new services and invest in ways to be able to reach and help even more people. That feels great.
What else I got was seeing the value and power of what I am offering and seeing the possibilities of the kind of impact I can have. It crystallized in the development of my website. It was moving the business to a new level of really supporting people. My intention with the website was to really help people, to have it be a resource. I feel I have achieved that.
Connecting with people through my website and having the interaction has been huge on both a professional and personal level. One of my larger visions is to define the field of Holistic Psychotherapy. Because of my website I've had a lot of Psychotherapists contact me saying, I want to develop a practice like yours." So I have been able to start coaching other therapists on how to develop a successful Holistic Psychotherapy practice. That has been another amazing thing that has happened as well.
As a result of working with Action Plan Marketing I have more confidence. I think Robert has definitely contributed to my having a much more refined mission than I had earlier. Very simply, I now say, "I help you tell your business story better". That has resonated with a lot of people. But where I've noticed real change is by beginning the conversation with, 1) what are your goals, 2) what's working, 3) what is getting in the way, 4) what would it feel like if you didn't have those obstacles, and 5) how I can do something about them. That five-step process has been helpful to me and to my prospects.
With my background as a fundraiser it was always about telling stories. I think I understood a lot of this stuff before, but you might say I got permission to use it more. I have confidence and comfort with that approach. At the end of day you have to have something of value. I can now say with greater authority what I can do for you.
Robert's work is very, very practical and simple. One thing that has really struck me is the work Robert has done with Byron Katie. What has fascinated me is it so resembles cognitive therapy. I know this from other parts of my life. Those materials have also been a big part of giving me permission. I keep coming back to that. Without meaning to, I've become a raving fan. I'm not one to write fan letters as I'm a believer in process over personality. Yet, after reading and participating in numerous Action Plan activities, I find myself recommending Robert's process to many people.
What I've come to understand is that all marketers basically say the same thing. You have to build trust. And there are different ways to build trust. The way that Robert talked about it, what he said in the InfoGuru Manual and the way that he presented the materials in the Marketing Action Group, they just made sense. It just clicked into the universal truth of how human beings are with one another. You don't need to manipulate, you just need to build trust and here's how to do it. If you're solid with what you're offering, if you're offering a high quality service and really intending to do well by your client, here's how you can deliver that.
I don't really remember a particular moment (when I realized that this stuff was really working). I do remember looking back over the year after I had taken the program and I realized our courses were selling out really consistently, our revenue had basically doubled from the year previous, and that's pretty cool. I don't remember the exact moment, but I do remember that sense of, 'Huh! That works.'
I have a tremendous respect for Robert. I totally respect his sense of integrity and what he's doing and what he's bringing. Whatever he is standing behind I feel that I just want to support him. I'm happy he's taking the steps to make the materials even more widely available. That's exciting to me.
Dr. Shelley Simon
I bought the materials and signed up for a Marketing Action Group. Then, I just really got it. I understood that there is a language to marketing and that my effectiveness would be determined by the extent to which I could learn that language.
Yes, it's been really great (using the Web Site ToolKit to create my web site). But it's not just a web site that I got from these materials. It's owning the language of marketing. It's understanding the process of marketing and being able to apply it appropriately to people with different needs, different agendas, or different problems - and who want different kinds of solutions. Using a marketing language where you are attuned to someone else's needs is the secret to human communication. At the same time, it is a marketing strategy for moving people closer to a decision to do business with me. Now I feel like my marketing is a contribution to people rather than something I'm selling to them.
Without a doubt it gave me traction in my business very quickly. It was knowing who my target was and speaking directly to them in a language they understood. It helped me understand what my marketing strategies were and weren't, and how to position myself. It just worked. I've used these materials for a coordinated campaign to market my business. My articles, advertisements, and the consultations I offer to prospects are all shaped by the materials and the principles I've learned. As a result, I had a full practice within a year and have a waiting list. I am extremely profitable. This is my business. This is how I support my family.
The Website Toolkit, hands down, made the biggest difference for me across the board. What I mean by that is to clearly define who I work with, how I work and put it in the language of my prospects. I focused on what's in it for them rather than who I am. Nobody really cares who Preston True is. If their knee hurts they want their knee to feel better. I needed to describe what I do in terms that resonated immediately with a prospect. The Website Toolkit helped me do exactly that. It is a perfect template to deliver information that is understood, engaging and invites people to take action.
What is most valuable about the Website Toolkit is it almost demands that you take a really deep look into your business and what you do. I would have spent six months or a year if I didn't have a resource like that and the content would have been half as valuable, at best. I've gotten so many compliments from people about my website. It has been such a tremendous resource for me. I don't print one flyer. Everything is on the website. It's my online brochure.
Other benefits are, number one, the amount of time it saved me. I could very easily put a dollar figure on my time. It saved me thousands and thousands of dollars. There is a tremendous time savings because I understand and know a marketing process. And not just for creating an Executive Summary. I use the same process if I'm going to write a web page, an e-zine, or make a blog post. And there is a confidence level I have in understanding what I do and who I work with. I'm not sure how to measure that in hard dollars. But I can attest to is this - I am far more confident three years later than I was before, simply because I can explain what I do and who I do it with clarity and ease.
I knew I could coach anyone but Robert helped me see I was the best person to coach executives. That's where I came from. I had no passion for any other group but I resisted initially. He helped me focus into that niche. He also asked me, "How much do you want to earn?" That was easy. Then he asked me, "How much do you want to work?" He taught me how to "back into" how much you want to earn by how much you want to work.
In 2003 I was awarded the International Coach of the Year recognition, and I earned it through principles I learned in marketing to help me sell myself for the nomination and ultimate selection. I also have two executive coaching contracts with global companies where I am one of only 50 worldwide executive coaches authorized to coach the top senior level executives. Those individual engagements average around $40K each a year. And now at this point, almost 70-80% of my clients come from referrals.
My return on investment has been huge! I hit six-figures pretty quickly, but I wanted to be back to what my salary was as a corporate employee executive and surpass it. That was my goal that year. The Marketing Action Group helped me get there. My income has far surpassed the former VP salary and more importantly, I'm in a position to select my roster of clients and the number of hours I want to work. I have some of the best corporate groups which give me pure pleasure in my work.
If you want to get started with the Action Plan Marketing approach to attracting clients, I recommend starting with the Action Plan Marketing Club.