Marketing Madness: If You Build It, Will They Really Come?

In the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice that tells him, “If you build it, they will come.” After many adventures involving metaphysics and baseball, Ray plows down the corn crop on his Iowa farm to build a baseball field, literally in the middle of nowhere. The Black Sox of a bygone era do come to play on his field (visible to only believers), but that doesn’t pay the mortgage. His neighbors and even relatives think he is crazy for destroying most of his crop, but he doesn’t look so foolish for obeying the voice when the prediction of his friend Terrence Mann  (James Earl Jones) comes true:

People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door, innocent as children, longing for the past…. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball…. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

It makes a great Hollywood movie, but in real life, “building it” is no guarantee that anybody will actually “come.” Even if you “build a better mousetrap,” you’ve still got to build a business to effectively market and sell it.

An essential key to marketing that is often talked about but less-often practiced is the importance of defining what your prospective customers and clients actually want and need. Ultimately, a successful business is not about you and what you do, but it’s about being a contribution to your customers. It’s about giving them what they want, meeting their needs, and serving those who buy your products, programs and services.

How do you know what your prospects and clients want and need? You could hypothesize all day long, study trends, examine the competition, and analyze data (all of which can be informative). You can even do what Ray Kinsella did and rely on your intuition (also important, but by no means infallible). But the best way to know what your clients want and need is to simply to ask them. It’s not only the simplest way, but it’s essential.

Follow these tips to gain a greater understanding of your clients… and greater success for you: [Read more...]

Introductory Sessions: Secrets of Getting Clients to Sell Themselves

Introductory Sessions

These days, it seems that everyone knows someone looking for work. Savvy job seekers prepare their resumes, polish their interview skills, and network like maniacs in the hopes of “getting hired.”

As a service professional, “getting hired” is no less a concern for you! No clients, no paydays. You may have finely honed your skills and abilities as an independent business owner in your chosen field, possibly obtaining degrees, certifications, and undergoing many hours of practice. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good you are at serving your clients if you can’t get clients to hire you.

It’s actually very simple (though not necessarily easy) to get clients. First, you have to develop marketing strategies to attract prospects. Next, you need a reliable way to convert those prospects into clients, customers or patients.

One popular way to convert prospects to clients is through initial sessions. These could be free or paid introductory sessions, strategy sessions, or consultations.

There are ways to dramatically increase your chances of converting a prospect into a long-term paying client at an initial session, just as there are ways to dramatically increase – or sabotage – your chances of getting hired at a job interview. Nobody in their right mind would show up late in dirty jeans to an interview with a wrinkled, misspelled resume in hand. Similarly, you want to give yourself the best chance of “getting hired” by your prospects.

The process of converting a prospect into a client is often thought of as “selling,” or “closing the sale.” However, the real secret to success is getting clients to sell themselves… on hiring you! [Read more...]

Ten Reasons Why You Should NOT Charge For Introductory Sessions

If you’re going to use introductory sessions at all, you’ll have to decide “free vs fee.” In other words, will you offer complimentary sessions, or charge for your initial appointment? If you have a choice between free or paid sessions, all other things being equal, no doubt you’d choose paid. After all, who doesn’t enjoy being paid?

Does it stand to reason, then, that it’s always best to be paid? After all, there are big advantages to mastering the skill of paid introductory sessions, such as higher conversion rates, better filtering and qualifying of prospects, greater cashflow, and an increased lifetime value of each client.

Perhaps then, you should completely abandon the idea of offering free introductory sessions or complimentary consultations. Not necessarily! Just as you wouldn’t want a car with only one gear, a one-size-fits-all-approach is also not going to fit for all service professionals, industries, situations, or prospective clients.

So, how do you decide which approach is best for you?

There are fundamentals and nuances to being successful with paid introductory sessions. There’s a learning curve, and depending on where you are in that learning curve, it might make sense for you not to charge. Although I can promise that if you become proficient at offering paid sessions, you’ll be even more effective with your free sessions!

There are also circumstantial situations where it simply makes more sense to approach clients with a different offer or process than a paid introductory session. Just like you need a lower gear for a hill, or a higher gear to cruise the freeway, you’ll want to consider the situation to determine the best approach.

Here are common situations and circumstances in which you should not charge for an introductory session: [Read more...]

Strategic Marketing: Planning for Success

No doubt, you’ve heard the adage: “Failing to plan is planning for failure.” On the other hand, it’s been said that while planning is important, the actual plans themselves are useless. This apparent contradiction applies equally to both overall business planning and your marketing planning.

Why? As you to invest necessary time and thought into your marketing strategy, you’ll learn what works and doesn’t work along the way. And as you do, elements of your marketing plan will and must be modified. You’ll see opportunities that weren’t obvious earlier in the planning process. You’ll discover new insights. You’ll learn more about marketing.

So, how can you plan for marketing success?

The keys of successful marketing are to:

  • Effectively promote awareness of and the value of your product or service
  • Get the attention of the right people.

And who are the right people? They are:

  • Actively looking for the solution you provide
  • Ready to buy, right now.

I recommend the following proven approach based on sound marketing concepts:

1. First, establish the Core Market Position for your company.

Your Core Market Position defines: