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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

A couple days ago our refrigerator conked out.

A repairman showed up today to take a look. The verdict? We’d need a new freezer coil. The cost was close to $1,000 and would take almost a week to get the parts.

A new refrigerator was about $2K. And that’s the option I chose. It will arrive tomorrow.

Logically, I could have saved more than $1K if I’d chosen to get it fixed.

But emotionally, I didn’t want to be without a fridge for a week, perhaps longer. The discomfort of that was worth avoiding even if it meant paying $1,000 more.

All buying decisions are emotional, not logical.

When a client decides to work with you, they may justify it logically, but ultimately, they chose to get your help because of how they feel about you and their situation.

They will choose the option that feels the best to them.

In most cases, people buy your professional services because something isn’t working for them.

And that decision is always emotional.

And they also want things to work better for them or their companies.

And that decision is emotional as well.

Since marketing is 100% communication, your first job is to remind your prospective clients of the problems, issues, and challenges they are experiencing.

And your second job is to inform them how much better things will be after you help them by using your professional services.   

Nevertheless, this emotional content needs to be presented in a logical, understandable way.

That’s why the third law of attracting clients says you must balance logic and emotion in your marketing.

This is the art of marketing.

Learning how to communicate this way can be tricky, but I like to break it down into these 6 logical steps:

1. Write a list of all the problems, issues and challenges your prospective clients are facing.

2. Write a list of how things could be if their problems, issues, and challenges were resolved (the mirror image of #1).

3. Prove to them that you have the experience and know-how to help them achieve #2.

4. Write a list of all the other benefits and advantage they’ll gain if they hire you to help them.

5. Explain what you’ll actually do and what it will look like (but not in too much detail).

6. Let them know what they need to do to get started with you (including your fee).

Now, of course, this can be written or spoken in an infinite number of ways, but these steps are the building blocks of marketing communication that turns prospective clients into paying clients.

Next week: The law of visibility.

Cheers, Robert

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

More than 29 Million people have watched this Youtube video about the Purple Mattress Protector pitched by a female Sasquatch.

You can see it here.

The creators of this video understand that you can’t be boring if you want to get attention for your product or service.

You can see their “making of” video here.

But it’s more than a visual gimmick. The script for the video is a straight pitch from a mom extolling the virtues and benefits of the Purple Mattress Protector.

Most TV commercials are 30 seconds long but this video is 3:43. You can’t take your eyes off it, and I admit I’ve watched it several times.

So, as an independent professional wanting to attract more clients, what does this mean to you? Am I suggesting that you hire a Sasquatch to pitch your professional services?

No, but I am suggesting your marketing could be a little more creative, eye-catching and benefit-oriented.

The second law of attracting more clients is: “You must not be boring.”

But I’ve noticed that this is the prime feature of most promotion and marketing for independent professionals:

It’s mind-numbingly boring.

Why? Because it’s all about you or about your process. And nobody really cares about that. They care about how you can help them.

The Purple Sasquatch video gets this. And in the opening of the video she addresses the problems with other mattress protectors:  

“Did you know that the wrong mattress protector can ruin the feel of your mattress?

“Hi, I’m a mom, one of the hardest jobs out there.

“This is Junior. Junior’s a sweetheart but he can wreak havoc on our mattresses. Which is why I got the Purple Mattress Protector.

“Nobody likes sleeping on a plastic bag! Other protectors turn your bed crinkly or stiff and they make your mattress noisy, hot and uncomfortable – like a Nickleback concert – or the first year of my marriage!

“A mattress protector that ruins the feel of your mattress makes about as much sense as my husband’s conspiracy theories.”

Now that our Sasquatch mom has established the problem with other mattress protectors, she extolls the virtues of the Purple Mattress Protector:

“The Purple Protector is stretchy so it can let your bed do what it was designed to do.

“The Purple Protector enhances your Purple bed or any other bed. It’s soft and flexible so it doesn’t take away from the supporting power your mattress.

“It cradles your pressure points when you lay down instead of making your mattress hard and uncomfortable – like watching Transformers IV through the window of an RV.

“And the stretchiness means it’s super durable, which is nice because Junior has vivid night terrors about deforestation.”

The pitch about the protector’s benefits incorporate some sly humor that fits with the visuals of the video.

Could you do something similar with your marketing copy? Of course! (Without going over the top.)

The first part of your copy should address the problems or issues your prospective clients are currently experiencing. This is what one of my clients wrote:

As a top executive or leader in your organization, you’re often faced with leaders and managers who are not performing at the level you need them to.

I am often called into a company when they are experiencing people issues and challenges such as the following:

Someone in your organization is not communicating effectively. It’s hurting productivity, spoiling relationships and impacting morale. You wonder what you can possibly do to help them get along and interact more successfully.

No sly humor here, but it directly addresses a very real issue experienced by leaders and managers. Then you can explain the benefits of your solution:

My executive coaching services help leaders improve their communication skills and enhance productivity.

Executive coaching gets to the heart of the matter, addressing behaviors that don’t work and offering new ways to interact effectively.

When we work with leaders, we help them tap into their strengths, leverage their relationships, and communicate authentically and powerfully.

And that translates to a more productive, profitable company.

Notice that none of this copy talks about your process (that’s boring), but addresses the results the leader can expect if they get executive coaching.

So, don’t be boring. Take a page from our Sasquatch mom and talk about what your clients care about: value, benefits, and results.

Cheers, Robert Middleton

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Today I was going to write my third installment of the 7 Laws of Attracting Clients.

However…

Over the past five weeks, more disasters have happened in the U.S. than in living memory. And I’m feeling a little shell-shocked.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have affected the lives of millions of people. Many of those people’s lives will never be the same again.

The earthquake in Mexico City killed 360 people. 

And last night, a lone shooter in Las Vegas murdered almost 60 people in a senseless attack on attendees of a country music festival.

There is nothing I, you or anybody else could have done to prevent any of these tragedies.  

I don’t live in hurricane country, but an earthquake could strike Northern California at any time. I tend not to hang around large crowds, but I’m not immune to something as random as being struck by a drunk driver.

These thoughts can trigger fear and depression. The fact that nobody is truly safe is not paranoia, but reality.

Of course, we try to put these thoughts out of our minds and hope for the best.

Life is fleeting.

Life is precious.

Life is uncertain.  

Yes, we can try to live as safely as we can, but we ultimately have no control. I remember a story of a woman who was killed by a falling redwood tree that she had planted in her yard years earlier!

All of this reminds me that all we have is this moment.

Live life in the now and enjoy it for what it is.

Express gratitude and count your blessings.

Love those in your lives and be more generous and less petty.

Do the best work you possibly can and make a difference.

Serve the greater good for as many people as possible.

I wish you success, love, and joy in this crazy, random world.

Cheers, Robert

P.S. You might consider donating for hurricane relief

UNICEFRed CrossGoogle

 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

This article is the second in an eight-article series on the Seven Laws of Marketing. See the first article at this link.

Law #1 – You must be very good at what you do.

Once there was a consultant who was the top expert in his field. And he traveled around the country giving talks at management conferences. He also brought an assistant to each of his talks who helped him with logistics, set up his slide projector, made his hotel arrangements, and sold his books at the back of the room at the end of the talk. 

One day the assistant remarked to the consultant, "You know I've been in the back of the room for dozens of your talks and since you give the same talk every time, I'll bet I could deliver it verbatim." 

The consultant, being the adventuresome type, took up his assistant's bet and told him, "Since nobody knows me at this talk I'm giving next week, why don't you give the talk and I'll sit in the back of the room?"

They agreed and the assistant gave the next talk. And he was right; he did a great job. He not only gave the talk verbatim, he used the consultant's same tone of voice and gestures and got a standing ovation at the end. 

Then he opened it up for questions. He was asked a very complex question and this is how he answered: "Ha, that is such a simple question. Anybody knows the answer to that question. In fact, it's such a simple question, even my assistant could answer it for you!" And then gesturing to the consultant at the back of the room he said, "Go ahead and give us the answer to this simple question!"

Being good at what you do is not just being in command of a certain set of facts. It's understanding all the things beyond those facts. Someone once taught me that a consultant or speaker should know thirty times more than what he consulted or spoke about. 

Is your expertise beyond your knowledge and do you have the ability to effectively apply that knowledge? Can you walk your talk? Can you answer the difficult questions and then demonstrate how to apply your ideas in a wide variety of circumstances? 

Of course, you will never know everything, even if your expertise is rather narrow. Are you consistently expanding your expertise through reading, workshops, seminars, and conferences? And are you refining your expertise through writing and speaking?

More than any other factor, being genuinely knowledgeable and being very good at what you do will determine your success in attracting more of your ideal clients.

A final note about the title of this article.

I’ve talked to hundreds of people about their business and marketing. And many of them believe there’s a hidden secret to attracting clients and growing a business.

If only they had the perfect message, a bigger list, more connections or a “killer app” that generated a non-stop flow of qualified leads.

But there’s really only one killer app. And that’s YOU.

Sure, there are some great tools and resources out there today. A past client of mine recently discovered some online tools that are helping her generate more qualified leads than ever before.

But it’s her hard work, dedication, and trial-and-error efforts that have enabled her to get such great results from using these tools. It’s her commitment to making them work that’s made all the difference.

Want to be great at what you do? Realize that ultimately YOU are the killer app.

Cheers, Robert   

P.S. After writing this article the thought occurred to me. I wonder if anyone else has written an article with this title? I looked on Google and someone had. In fact, Jonathan Fields wrote a great article that says essentially the same thing. I recommend you read it here.

If you enjoyed this article about attracting more clients, don't miss an issue. Opt-in and get a new article every Tuesday morning (since 1997). And you'll also get a copy of my world-famous, 41-page Marketing Plan Workbook.
 

 

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Recently I asked myself what was really important in attracting clients and growing a professional service business. 

And what I realized is that it had nothing to do with marketing strategies and techniques. Sure, those are important but they're a moving target. They are always changing.

The question is, what things are important no matter what strategies and tactics you use? You may or may not do speaking and networking and have a website or use social media. 

But when you do use those strategies you need to remember and apply these laws or your marketing will fall flat on its face. So ignore them at your peril!

Today I’m going to give you an overview of those seven laws. Then over the following seven weeks, I’ll go into each law in depth.

First of all, the laws of marketing a professional service business are very different from marketing a product or a company. In those cases, the focus is on branding and differentiation.

To market a professional service business, the focus needs to be on clearly communicating your value proposition.  

Law #1 – You must be very good at what you do

In working with clients over the years I’ve seen that those who had the most expertise and overall confidence in what they offered, did better than others.

And, not so coincidentally, they also learned and implemented the other laws of marketing much better than average.

Becoming very good at what you do takes hard work, ongoing learning, and dedication to your business and to your clients. Nothing else can substitute for this. 

Law #2 – You must not be boring

The great advertising executive, David Ogilvy, said what I think is the most astute thing anyone ever said about marketing and advertising: "You can't bore someone into doing business with you." 

But what is the secret to being interesting, not boring? Does it mean razzle-dazzle and excitement, fancy graphics and knock-em-dead presentations?

Not at all. It means putting the focus on your clients and communicating clearly about the value and benefits they receive from working for you. It’s that simple – and that difficult.

Law #3 – You must have a balance of logic and emotion in your marketing communication

This is an extension of Law #2 and is about how you communicate the value of what you offer to your clients – through any and every communication medium.

So, let me demonstrate this: "If you learn how to balance emotion and logic in your marketing, many more people will be interested in your service and will want to work with you." 

That sentence was written in a logical matter. "If you do X you will get Y." But the content is emotional because it promises to give you something you want. Logical communication without an emotional appeal falls flat.

Law #4 – You must be visible to your ideal clients

In other words, you need to get both yourself and your message out there. This sounds simple in theory, but is actually the most challenging part of marketing yourself.

You only have so much time, energy and money to invest in marketing activities. This is why I put an emphasis on the three most effective marketing strategies for professional service businesses:

Networking (live and virtual) to build connections and relationships. Speaking (from keynotes to webinars) to position yourself as a top expert. Writing (from articles to books) to build long-term credibility.

Law #5 – You must communicate like a human being

Nobody likes “being marketed to.” But everyone likes to have conversations about how to solve their problems. We are not looking for a pitch, but for understanding.

Understanding starts by asking great questions of your prospective clients. What are their situations, goals, and challenges? Only when you know these can you legitimately offer your services.

And when it comes time to explain your services, remember Laws #2 and #3. Dwell less on your process (what you do) than on your value (what the client gets if they work with you).

Law #6 – You must be able to tell a story

Stories should permeate your marketing. A good story helps a client understand your value. Stories bypass the conceptual mind and speak directly to the emotional mind.

A good story has three parts: 1. The original situation of the client, 2. What you did to help them, 3. The results the client realized from working with you.

Build a repertoire of good stories to use whenever speaking to a prospective client, in talks and presentations, and when writing articles.

Law #7 – You must believe you make a difference

I’m willing to bet you didn’t go into business just to make money. You went out on your own as a self-employed professional because you wanted to help people.

But, as you probably know, growing a business can be challenging. Attracting clients who want to work with you and pay you well takes the consistent application of all these laws.

Remembering why you went into business in the first place will fuel your motivation. I’ve discovered that asking the question, “What service can I offer that will really help my clients?” inspires me a lot more than, “What can I do to make more money?”

In the coming seven weeks I’ll be going into all these laws in much more depth. So stay tuned!

Cheers, Robert

If you enjoyed this article about attracting more clients, don't miss an issue. Opt-in and get a new article every Tuesday morning (since 1997). And you'll also get a copy of my world-famous, 41-page Marketing Plan Workbook.
 

 

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by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

The new book, Fantasyland, by Kurt Andersen is the most interesting book I’ve read in years.

It’s a 500-year history of how America went haywire through magical thinking and substituting facts with whatever we wanted to believe was true.

From imaginary gold rushes promoted by Sir Walter Raleigh that brought the first rush of settlers to America, to crackpot religious teachings that deluded millions of people, Americans in vast numbers have chosen the improbable over the rational.

One of the greatest fantasies of all is the get-rich-quick scheme that promises untold wealth with a minimum of effort.

I’ve been suckered into this thinking more times than I care to admit. I wanted things to be easier, faster and risk free. I wanted all the business I could handle with some magical new strategy or tactic. 

I didn’t want to do the hard work of developing a solid strategy, building a program with tested systems, and marketing it with hard work and persistence.

But ultimately I faced the inconvenient reality that nothing else actually worked.

The job of legitimately communicating the value of what you offer, building the proof, demonstrating the benefits, and then going the extra mile to deliver seems almost quaint and old fashioned.

These days we expect instant, viral-type results. Put up a video and get thousands of viewers, send out a quick email and get a flood of responses, post an article on LinkedIn and get a multitude of interactions, or put on a webinar and fill a course overnight. 

Sure, these things happen, but only very rarely.

But we’ve been programmed to think magically, to expect that whatever we believe must be true. Others have done it, why not me? Riches are just around the corner if we only follow this simple system.

If we insist on living in fantasyland and thinking magically, sooner or later we’re going to be very disappointed.

The world of marketing reality has very different rules.

It takes time and hard work to build trust, communicate value and attract new clients over the long haul.

It takes what I call “friendly persistence” where you prove your value over time and finally get the attention of clients because you don’t give up at the first sign of disinterest or rejection.

Perhaps living in marketing fantasyland is a phase we all have to go through. We need to realize that shortcuts and schemes to strike it rich are nothing but pipe dreams.

It’s not a fun lesson to learn. One of my clients told me today that she realized it was time for her to grow up and simply do the things she needed to do to get new business, instead of wishing things didn’t take any work or effort on her part.

Following proven marketing principles is not sexy. It’s not exciting or glamorous. But in the long run, it’s the only thing that works.

Cheers, Robert   

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

If you’re a management consultant, business coach or corporate trainer, your marketing is different than other service businesses.

It’s different because it needs to be more professional, more personal and more, well, serious.

Your buyer is the owner of a company or a top-level executive in a company. They are looking for proven solutions to their problems, issues and challenges.

And they don’t respond to marketing that’s full of hype and over-the-top promises. They are looking for professionals who are a known quantity, not those with fly-by-night ideas.

So, what works to market to these kinds of clients?

This following is the advice I give to clients who need to make the right connections and the right impression through their marketing.

Network Actively 
And I don’t mean going to a lot of cocktail mixers (although they do have their place), but being in touch with and regularly meeting with your business associates who can connect you with new people, resources and opportunities.

If your associates are not seeing you and speaking with you occasionally, they are not thinking about you. Set up coffees or lunches two to three times a month. My marketing research client, Nancy Clift, got back on the vendor list for a major client and landed large new projects with this kind of networking activity.

Be Active on LinkedIn
Check your feed at least daily. Make comments on posts. Point to your blog articles or share a resource. My client, Eileen, just got an appointment with a prospective client by paying attention on LinkedIn and following up with a connection. 

LinkedIn is online networking and can keep your name and services in front of those who already know, like and trust you. You don’t have to promote aggressively for LinkedIn to lead you to new clients.  

Do Presentations 
It may be a talk at a professional group or a webinar to those on your list. You have ideas people want to know about, so get out there and share them. Nothing else builds your credibility faster.

One of my clients, Ross Blake, speaks exclusively at human resource organizations in Upstate New York. He makes a positive impact, collects cards, follows up, gets appointments and makes sales. It’s a proven system.

Write Content
Digital Marketer, Tsavo Neal, advocates writing and posting something related to your business once a week. Send to your list, post it on your blog, LinkedIn and/or Medium. Doing so keep you sharp and spotlights your current thinking. 

I write this ezine and blog post in a couple of hours each Monday, but Neal points out that you could spread this out by writing just 20 minutes a day. Break down what seems like an overwhelming marketing chore into small bits of work.

Follow Up
I sometimes think that this is really the master skill of marketing. Although many avoid it, it’s really not that hard to do. And the best way to do it is to send follow-up emails or make calls the very first thing in the day.

My client, Amina, calls this “swallowing the frog.” It may be the hardest activity you do in the day, which makes the rest of the day a whole lot easier. She doubled her coaching practice in three months by simply following up with prospective clients each morning.

These five marketing activities are nothing new. And yet they do take time, focus, and effort to get results. They are not a quick fix where you can expect a flood of new leads overnight. Instead, they result in a nice flow of new clients over time.

And that's how real professionals market themselves. 

Cheers, Robert   

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Some Mondays I don’t know what to write in this weekly eZine article. Other Mondays I’m more prepared because I’ve been thinking of a topic for several days.

Today is the former. No idea what to write about. I, like everyone else in the U.S., has been a little preoccupied with a happening in Charlottesville, VA.

So, what do you say when it seems you have nothing to say?

Recently, I listened to a video program by Larry King about communication, and the problem of having nothing to say was one of the very first things he talked about. He related the story of when he was the host of a radio show for the very first time.

When he was cued that he was now live on the air, he went blank and nothing came out of his mouth. So after a minute or so he simply started talking about what had happened.

“As soon as I was cued, my mind went blank and I didn’t know what to say…” and he simply took it from there, reporting what had happened in the moment.

This turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons he had ever learned about communication: simply communicate what’s going on right now. And if you do that, inevitably the mind kicks in and things go just fine. Now Larry is rarely at a loss for words.

So here I am on a Monday afternoon, writing this article with no idea what to talk about. I often talk to my clients about exactly this when they ask me what they should write about.

“As a consultant or coach, your clients have problems, right? And don’t you help them with solutions? Aren’t there a lot of things you teach them and show them? Well, that’s what you should write about!”

And a few minutes later we inevitably have a list of a dozen topics for articles they could write.

Maybe that’s enough of an idea for you to start writing articles as well, but then there’s this question: “Why should I write articles in the first place?” and, “What good does it do; will it really help me grow my business?”

Those are really important questions.

Back in 1997, I’d launched my website only a year earlier. It really wasn’t doing much. A client I worked with had started writing a weekly email newsletter and he inspired me to start one as well.

I didn’t know that writing a weekly article was impossible, so I just started. Twenty years, and more than a thousand articles later, I’m still at it.

Did it work? Well, it helped me grow my email list to as high as 50,000 subscribers and build an international marketing coaching business.

For the first nine years, I simply sent out the eZine by email. And since 2006, I also posted it on my blog.

Nothing really complicated, high-tech or tricky. Yes, I also post links to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, which takes me just a few extra minutes.

A few years later, the whole concept of ‘content marketing’ became the rage, but I realized I’d been doing that for more than fifteen years already.

All those articles are out on the web, and people find them. Then they end up on my website, many of them signing up for this eZine. Ultimately, some of those subscribers become clients or participants in my programs. It’s that simple.

So, when I don’t have the most brilliant, ground-shaking marketing topic to write about, I don’t worry. I trust it will all work out… if I just keep writing!

But I will share a new tip with you. I decided to add more content to my website with an “Ideas” section and also put links to all my content on the home page of my site.

I figure this will help in two main ways: 1. The links on the home page will help Google rank me higher, 2. My site will become ‘stickier’ as the content on the site is easier to find and navigate.

I just landed a new client this week who had found my site, spent a lot of time reading several articles, and ultimately contacted me. So it’s working!

Don’t know what to write? Don’t worry. Just start writing and posting. Before long your website will contain a treasure trove of good ideas that will engage prospective clients asking if you can help them.

Cheers, Robert 

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By Robert Middleon – Action Plan Marketing

Bobby Previte is a jazz drummer with a difference. He’s not cool and laid back, but a boundless ball of creative, brilliant energy.

Since he started his career in 1985, he’s published close to 50 albums and played on or partnered on about 100 others. I downloaded twelve(!) of them this week and am listening to one as I write this.

Bobby is a drummer, musician and composer with prodigious talent, endless imagination, fearlessness, and energy to burn. You can hear it in every single moment of his amazingly energetic and unconventional music.

Bobby made me think, “What does it take to generate this kind of creative energy? Is it something you’re just born with or can you grow and nurture it?”

A sense of his approach comes from the album notes to a soundtrack he wrote:

“So I kind of barricaded myself inside my studio at the time, working exclusively between midnight and 6 a.m. for three weeks straight. The only window opened out to an airshaft. My neighbor was a woman who, with a certain fearful respect, we called the "Voodoo Lady." From time to time she would stick her head into the shaft and at the top of her lungs let rip a bloodcurdling scream. Too bad I didn't have a sampler back then.” 

No, Bobby Previte is not what you’d called a ‘conventional’ musician. As you can see from the story above, he throws himself headlong into a project and embraces whatever shows up.

Now, you may not be a creative artist like Bobby Previte, but, as an independent professional, you are very much on your own, free to create the kind of business and lifestyle you want.

So, inspired by Bobby, here are some of my musings about creating the conditions for expanding your creative energy and multiplying your creative output.

Throw out the rulebook

Who wrote the rulebook anyway? Somebody who wanted to keep things in control. “Don’t talk to strangers. Write short copy. Avoid using slang.” Really? Instead, ask, “What will break through and get attention?” and be willing to bend a few rules to get it.

Challenge boring conventions

My favorite marketing saying is by the great adman, David Ogilvy: “You can’t bore someone into doing business with you.” And if you look and sound like everyone else, you’ll just blend into all the other boring look-alikes out there.

Seek out challenging creative partners

As independent professionals, our biggest weakness is doing everything alone. Big mistake. I recommend you find some like-minded independents who are open to masterminding, brainstorming and collaborating. Look, I don't even write this weekly article without the help of an editor. 

Try new and different things

We are creatures of habit, which is great for maintaining a daily momentum. But stagnation, boredom, and burnout are often close behind. Do something crazy this week – like listening to a Bobby Previte album! Check out “Too Close to the Pole.” It’s like a bracing plunge into turbulent Arctic waters.   

Go the whole hog

This means don’t hold back, even a little bit. You’ve come this far on a project (such as developing a new program), now pull out all the stops and go for broke. Do an all-nighter, if need be, until it’s done. Fine-tune that sucker so it shines like a diamond.  

Strike when the iron is hot

We can’t control when we feel inspired. But when something turns you on, grab that energy and run with it. If you wait for ‘the right time,’ your energy and inspiration may have dissipated. Seize the day!

Hope you caught on to my theme today. To generate creative energy you need to boldly step outside of your normal patterns of thinking, feeling, and action. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Bobby Previte’s life purpose is to inspire his listeners to do exactly that.

Cheers, Robert        

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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

When it comes to marketing one’s professional services, the most common emotion isn’t fear, it’s overwhelm.

My friend, Jill Konrath, has an overarching description of prospective clients these days: Everyone is “crazy busy,” she points out. And this is why it can be so hard to reach people, get meetings with them and sell our professional services.

But as independent professionals, we’re crazy busy as well. We seem to have more things to do than ever before. And when it comes to promoting our services, we get overwhelmed because of all the things we think we must do to keep up with everyone else. 

Here are just a few of the things we can do these days to market ourselves online:

Develop and maintain our websites

Keep a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

Develop a podcast

Create online videos

Write an email newsletter

Publish a blog

Post articles on LinkedIn and Medium

Hold a webinar

Advertise on Facebook

Send promotional emails

Overwhelmed yet? I’ve done a number of these things, but just reading this list practically gives me a panic attack.

We look at a list like this and inevitably think,“I’m not doing enough to market my professional services; I’m falling behind; I’m not doing enough; I’ll never catch up!”

That’s overwhelm. And then we freeze and end up not doing anything because we don’t want to waste our time doing the wrong thing.

A few tips to help you start feeling more in control:

1. There is nothing on that list above that you MUST do. Yes, marketing entails communicating to prospective clients in one way or the other, but there is no one strategy or technique that is absolutely essential.

2. You can be effective marketing your services by doing ONE thing consistently and very well. It might be an email newsletter, giving talks, or networking, but it doesn’t need to be all of those things.

3. Find the marketing activity that you enjoy the most and do that one over all the others. For me, it’s writing. It’s easy for me and doesn’t stress me out. But you need to find the thing that’s fun and easy for you.

4. Do everything you can to avoid information overload. Delete your junk emails as quickly as possible. Don’t visit Facebook 20 times a day, and check your messages less often. Focus on one project at a time with as few interruptions as possible.

5. Use online tools that get you organized and save time.One of my favorites is Evernote.com as it’s great for organizing lists, ideas, projects and people. And many of my clients swear by HighriseHQ.com to manage their contacts and follow-ups.

6. Book very specific times to do your marketing activities.For instance, I always write this eZine on Mondays and rarely miss an issue. Many of my clients make follow-up calls or send marketing emails the first thing in the morning.

7. Let whatever you do today be enough.Stop beating yourself up for not being a “super marketer.” That’s obsessive-compulsive behavior! Do whatever you can the best you can and be a little easier on yourself.

8. OK, breathe, relax.Push yourself away from your screen for a minute or two and be in the moment. Step out of overwhelm intentionally whenever you notice you’re getting sucked in. Then return to your work with more awareness and presence.

Cheers, Robert 

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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.