31 October 2009

Why Does Promoting Your Business Feel Sleezy?

Look at me, I'm great, I'm so educated, I have tons of tools, I can do this for you, I can do that -- me, me, me. That's the idea that many coaches and counselors have about what marketing is.

Or -- YOU can be sexier, thinner, more confident, happier, make more money than Ever before, just one hour a week is all it takes and all your troubles will be gone, hurry hurry don't delay, this offer expires today, this chance won't come again, if you want the life you've already dreamed of, act now. Ugh, can you feel the slime rolling down your arms just reading that?

No wonder it feels sleezy to promote yourself and your solo practice.

Leaving aside the comforting fact that neither of those two approaches to late night guru fitness systems and ginzu knife promotions work for professionals in the healing and optimal performance arts, the deeper issue is that they touch us where we are raw -- in our self esteem, belief in our abilities to do our work well, or our lack of ease with feeling in the spotlight.

I want to pass along to you one of the most valuable things that was ever said to me when I was voicing the feeling of being not as good as the next therapist:
  • Your clients chose you because they intuitively knew that you were the best helper for them, and it's an insult to them to not have the same belief in yourself that they do. They are trusting you, and you must return their trust by trusting yourself.
If you struggle with feeling not good enough -- whether it's an underlying personality pattern or a misplaced acknowledgment of being new in practice -- it is vital to the health of your business that you work on believing in and trusting your abilities.

When you believe in your abilities you won't need to put yourself in the forefront of your marketing message. When you deeply trust yourself to provide the help that your clients seek, you'll focus your marketing message on them, not on yourself.

If you already believe in and trust yourself, it can become easy and comfortable to promote your business without feeling like it's sleezy because you can approach it from the sense of being in service to your clients and their goals.

Isn't that the core of why we wanted to be a counselor, coach or ND in the first place?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

21 October 2009

What Stops You?

Have you ever made a marketing plan that sounded good in your head or on paper, and discovered when you tried to put it into action that you have trouble forcing yourself into carrying out some of the items?

I developed a new marketing plan for a specific new project of mine this week, and have already found a pitfall.

Seems that what I thought I needed to do is requiring more effort to talk myself into than I anticipated. Does that happen to you?

What's the solution?

It's probably not the idea itself that's faulty. It's the assumptions behind it that haven't been completely made conscious, or thoroughly examined.

Sometimes it's the shoulds that get us. My pitfall action item is a should -- I thought I should attend more networking groups. But I hate those. I assume I'll feel awkward, I believe I won't know what to say. That brings up sabotaging fear. I reschedule, postpone, make excuses not to go.

Re-examining that should I remember that social networking isn't my strength. It's never going to be easy, I think. I'm never going to like it. Hmm, two more assumptions. Are they really true?

Will I be stopped on my road to achieving my goals by these assumptions? How can I coach myself (and you, if you're on the Should and Assumption road) out of this pitfall?

I ask myself (and you):
  • When you've felt awkward and scared before, what did you do to overcome it?
I took flower essence remedy Madia to strengthen my communication ability, and created a mental mantra to reinforce the sense of feeling comfortable, having fun, feeling accepted by strangers.
  • How can I make it easy?
I can start with small or purpose-focused groups, like workshops instead of meet and greets. That's easier because I can mostly listen. The pressure is off to talk about myself.
  • What do I need to experience so that I can like it, and how can I manifest that?
I need to feel a sense of comfort, belonging, and control. I can manifest that with convenient time and place, getting there without traffic, imagining being / playing the role of an extrovert, making a game of how many names I can remember or cards I can collect, being able to leave when I want, using my interviewing skills to start conversations, etc.

What about you? How have you gotten beyond being stopped before? How can you make it easy? What do you need to experience, and how can you manifest that?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

14 October 2009

4 Secrets to Compelling Online Profiles

As some of you know, I spend a fair amount of time helping counselors construct compelling practice profiles for online locator services. There are a few secret ingredients that I use to establish rapport with the reader, sharpen the marketing message of the provider, and strengthen the conversion rate (turning searchers into clients).

Secret #1 -- Speak directly to your ideal client about them, not about you

When you've decided who you're ideal client is, you get their attention among your competition in locator search results by asking them a direct question about the specific problem they have right at that moment of being online searching for help. This keeps people reading your profile.

Secret #2 -- Name 3 unpleasant ways their problem disrupts their life

It won't be a surprise, they already know. You need to show that You know in order to begin to establish rapport. Hint: name problems you want to work with, that are fun and easy for you. (see below)

Secret #3 -- End every paragraph with a statement that you can or want to help.

Example: Life sucks? Feel angry enough to explode? Can't sleep? I'd like to help.

If daily arguments are wearing you down, if your irritability is growing and your family is telling you to shape up, it may be time to talk with someone who'll be on your side about the underlying pain in your heart and learn to let it go. I'll be that someone for you.

Secret #4 -- Use a powerful 3 paragraph structure

Paragraph 1: connect with specifics about the client
Paragraph 2: deepen rapport by staying client centered
Paragraph 3: give your marketing claim or hook, and a call to action

Possible marketing claim per #3 example: Learning productive ways to argue and communicate sets the stage for a happy marriage. Isn't that your greater goal? It's a personal strength to get help when you want to change what isn't working. I'm here to help.

Possible call to action: Let's start now. Call today.


Once a great compelling profile is constructed, you can use it in multiple ways and places. If writing isn't your forte, if you're struggling for days over getting it right, maybe I can help. :)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

13 October 2009

The Art of the Soft Close for Business Phobic Solopreneurs

Solopreneur coaches often say that using a trial session is a way to discover if prospective clients are a good fit for us, and that it's a way for them to understand the benefits of coaching. New counselors are often tempted to provide a "free consultation" session for the same reasons.

But by itself, a trial or free consult session that has only these purposes won't necessarily turn a freebie into a paying client. What's needed is a comfortable way to "close the sale."

Yes, that's right, at some point we do actually have to ask for the business if we want it. We have to switch to the business-owner side of the brain and help the prospective client make the decision to hire.

I'm one of those who would rather not be put in that position. I'd much prefer that people would just automatically intuit, or deeply feel, or logically grok that my counseling or coaching services are so fantastic that they'd be super foolish to pass up the chance to pay me for them.

In the real world, it doesn't work like that. I've had to recognize that the REAL purpose of any trial or free consult session is to GET THE CLIENT. I've had to learn the art of the "soft close" -- that is, how to end the trial session with a comfortable way to talk about hiring me.

I have a brief outline for a soft close script I recently came across that I thought others who are reticent to be business-like in trial sessions might like to have. It's available on my wiki here.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

09 October 2009

3 Realistic Expectations for Solopreneur Success

Because few of us in the counseling, coaching or naturopathic medicine professions have been trained for being in business, we tend to have unrealistic expectations about how long it should take to consistently turn a profit.

Likewise, we can be overly idealistic about how soon marketing efforts will start bringing in clients. And the danger of this is that we adopt a shotgun approach to setting business goals and working an effective marketing plan.

Exact timelines will vary according to what degree of resources you start out with, how much time is available to work on your business, and how persistent you are at following through on a small number of daily tasks. But there are some generally realistic timeframes to keep in mind.

If you are like most solopreneurs I work with who have a small pool of resources to invest at the beginning, and are financing the launch of your business on personal credit cards or family loans, it will take longer to get a continually full client load.

The realistic expectation for the time it takes a one-person businesses to truly succeed is about 5 years.

If you are reluctant to set business goals with targets for where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years, it will take longer to feel and be successful. The more organized and business-like you are in your approach to running your business, the faster it will settle into a nice rhythm of keeping clients coming in.

The realistic expectation for success without a detailed business plan is from 3-7 years.

Note that
detailed doesn't have to mean extensive. You don't need a 20 page business plan with charts and graphs. Start with 3 goals -- big, medium, small -- and target dates -- long range, mid range, near term -- by which you intend to achieve them.

If you are impatient or scattered in your marketing strategies, or trying to make a method work that goes against your natural personality, it will take longer to generate powerful client attraction. The more concrete, specific and consistent your marketing activities are, the faster they will pay off -- although not always in the direct ways you can measure.

The realistic expectation for highly effective marketing to be producing a steady stream of clients when you're a one-person show is from 12 months to 3 years.

These timeframes may sound like a very long time when you need clients now. There's no time like the present to get started on focused planning and follow through.

Overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Email for a brief strategic steps chat.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

08 October 2009

Multiple Streams -- of income or hassle?

There's a lot of excitement in some quarters about the old idea of having multiple streams of income. What that means is that you have additional ways to make money aside from your one-on-one client appointments.

There are two common ways to do this for the novice solopreneur:
  • developing and selling products -- books, self-help tools, diagnostic kits, dispensary items
  • developing and selling live group services -- group therapy / coaching, workshops, signature talks, teleclasses, etc
The more experienced business owner may also venture into:
  • affiliate programs -- where you get a percentage for referring clients to others
  • creating online membership programs
  • train the provider programs
What's important to realize is that establishing multiple streams of income when you are your only employee means that you are running more than one business. It can become a multiple nightmare -- assuming you even had time to sleep -- in keeping up with your bookkeeping, different tax structures, various regulations, not to mention different marketing campaigns and business plans for each income stream.

However, some of these same activities can be more simply started as marketing strategies for your one initial service.

What's your plan for transitioning multiple marketing strategies into multiple streams of income?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

05 October 2009

The 4 Legs of Effective Marketing

Effective marketing strategy has 4 main legs:

1. who your ideal client is
2. what type of marketing personality You have
3. how much persistence you are able to commit
4. what stage of development you're in (what your marketing need is)

No one leg of strategy is THE answer for everyone.

Know who your ideal client is. This drives where and how you market, and what your marketing message needs to say. We all have to start here.

Know what type of marketing personality You have. This helps construct a marketing plan that can be consistently followed to get results. We all present ourselves and our business better if we lead with the strengths of being an introvert or extrovert, and use the style opposite from our own to supplement primary activities.

Know how much persistence you are able to commit. Carve out the necessary daily/ weekly/ monthly time, nurture the energy, gain the skills, and do the follow through -- all are needed to make your marketing efforts work.

By the way: four hours a day is optimal to start. Four hours a week is better than 4 hours a month. The more persistence you put in, the faster your business will grow.

Know whether you need to fill your pipeline, follow up with a contact list, get more chance to talk about your work, or become more efficient at converting interested people into clients. Those are the four stages of client attraction development for solopreneurs in the healing arts.

When you know which stage you're in, you'll know exactly what marketing activities you should be doing.

Need help? See The No Hype Mentor for a coaching package that's right for you.

03 October 2009

3 Things that Steal Your Confidence -- & 3 Easy Daily Actions that Build It

3 Confidence Thiefs
  • the unfamiliar
  • procrastination
  • fearful mindset
Confidence in life and in business, especially as a solopreneur, is sabotaged by encountering the unfamiliar -- situations in which we don't have a positive automatic reflex for knowing what to do, or believing we have the answers we need.

Procrastination robs us of success momentum. Putting things off for whatever reason -- especially the things that our business needs for daily growth and hygiene -- lets all the ingredients for success dry up and blow away.

Perhaps the greatest thief of confidence is the fearful mindset. Fear is generated when we soak in negative thinking about taking small risks, trying something new, or making a choice and following through. Probably the worst eroders of confidence are the self-asked questions: what if something bad happens? and its cousin, what if I do it wrong?

3 Confidence Builders
  • be persistent
  • take action now
  • have learner's or adventurer's mindset
Things that we do over and over again become familiar. They become second nature. We learn to trust what to expect and know how to meet it. Persistence builds the confidence muscle. The most successful business owners try, fail, adjust, and try again. Confidence comes from the commitment to keep going.

Taking action that moves you forward in accomplishing your goals provides valuable feedback -- you can't know what works and what doesn't until you put something in motion. Many small actions done on a daily basis add up to business success. Small actions that succeed keep the confidence muscle toned and functioning at optimal levels.

Being a solopreneur is a life of adventure, of constantly learning to observe, assess, adjust, measure, and reap rewards. An approach that comes from the mindset of let's see what happens will bring more positive, delightful, and initially unexpected surprises that build confidence in tolerating risks.

So your coaching questions for today are:
  1. What marketing activity do you need to apply some persistence to throughout this month?
  2. How will you take action on promoting your business every day for the next 28 days?
  3. Who can help you maintain the adventurous learner mindset, and how will you be accountable for being positive?