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When you Google search “gecko”, GEICO appears first on the web list.
I’ve been preparing for my web program on kick-starting your business next week. So, this week, I thought I’d revisit (and shed some more light on) a classic business strategy: branding.
In any practice, branding is a primary way to attract your ideal client. It is an expression of your unique identity to “sell” your services to the kind of people you most want to work with…and then some. But branding isn’t just about showing how you’re different from your competitors. It’s about getting your clients or prospects to see that what you offer is exactly the solution they’ve been searching for.
If I meet someone at a party or gathering, and I tell him during our conversation that I’m a coach for financial and service professionals who want to get to the next level in their careers and lives, and then ask him if he would like to work with me, I’m engaging in direct marketing. If his friend comes across the room at that party and says to me, “I hear that you’re a great work-performance and client-attraction coach and I’d love to work with you,” I’ve successfully branded my business.
But to brand yourself and your work seamlessly, you need to take Three Preliminary Steps:
1. Know your “Target Market“. Who do you most want to work with or for? As a professional, a consultant, or a service-business owner, you will have more success if you become an expert in the needs of one particular narrow target market: teenagers, “Boomers”, families, entrepreneurs, landscaping contractors, retirees, ADD adults, etc. It’s aiming a high-powered rifle at the bullseye, rather than shooting up hundreds of pounds of buckshot in the hope of hitting something wild turkeys.
2. Identify one to three “core needs”. What are their biggest problems, or dreams? Obviously, you want to talk about the needs that you have solutions for. Your typical client may need dental work, but if you have a house cleaning service, this isn’t a core need you can use.
3. Design your unique solutions. Why will people or businesses in your target market buy the services they need from you and not your competitors? Clients like “packages”. If the solutions you provide are not special, start thinking about ways to package them to make them special. If you’re just another white crayon in a box of white crayons, there’s no good reason to use your services. Be the red crayon in the box.
In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote: “If you can, be first. If you can’t be first, create a new category in which you can be first.”
Fedex is the business to use “when it absolutely, positively has to be there over night”. When are you the business to use? Decide who you are, and then, keep REACHING…
I started my coaching career helping people overcome their fears. My book, The High Diving Board, and my audio program, Ten Steps To Overcoming Your Fears, are based on the premise that when we’re not where we want to be in our careers or lives, it’s because we respond to our fears by backing away from whatever has caused them. We tell ourselves, “It’s not okay; back away.”
Unfortunately, growing any business requires finding a better response to our fears. “It’s okay to be afraid,” I tell my clients and readers, “But if this is your dream, you have to do it any way.” You often can’t stop the fear, but you can change your reaction to it.
Nothing holds professionals and entrepreneurs back from growing their businesses or practices more than fear—fear of asking a client if they want to use our services…fear of asking for a testimonial or referral…fear of appearing foolish or odd when we speak in public, when we write, or when we’re simply making conversation in a networking situation…and fear of being rebuffed or rejected when we call someone on the phone.
So, we tell ourselves we hate marketing and selling our services; that these activities are difficult, manipulative, and sleazy. We’re forced by financial pressures into doing marketing and sales activities reluctantly and uncomfortably, and our accompanying negative attitude—our awkwardness and discomfort—make the people we communicate with equally uncomfortable. That, in turn, causes them to back away. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
To change this mindset, you need to start seeing the marketing and sale of your services—activities that attract clients—for what they are: the sharing of information about the best person available to fill a need with the people who have that need. In coaching, we call this a paradigm shift. Here are ideas that may help:
- You’re the best at doing what you do. If not, you’re working at becoming the best. You’ll try harder and care more than anyone else.
- People who need the services you provide must get them from somewhere. If they don’t know you and what you can do—if you’re not communicating with them—they’ll get those services from someone else.
- Attracting clients is nothing more than making sure they make the right choice.
Post these 3 points above your desk and remind yourself of them often. By remembering how your actions serve, alter your reaction to your fear of putting yourself out there. Then, keep REACHING…
We all have two futures: A “default” future, and a “created” future.
If you’re struggling to move your business forward, but everything you do seems to get you back to the same place—month after month, year after year—you are set to live your default future.
Imagine if nothing changed next year or the year after. Now project that outward five or ten years more. What will that future look like? That’s your default future. Is it okay with you?
You might be terrified about investing money, time, and energy in trying to change your path, because there’s a risk that it might not work. Hiring an assistant, working with a coach, changing your business affiliations…all of these could result in steep expenditure (of money, time, or energy) with nothing to show for it down the line.
But if you don’t overcome those fears that are keeping you from changing, you are almost certain to be living out your default future.
The future you could be living is the one you’ve created. What do you want to create? What resources do you need to create it? How will you find the money, time, and energy it will take to experiment with creation?
If the future you want to create is one in which you’re earning a comfortable six-figure income and have left your money worries behind, or you have eliminated stress in your life and made yourself healthier, or you have more time to spend with your family, you need to do something different—something you’ve calculated might actually get you to the future you want. And if that plan fails, you will need to be willing to find another path, and maybe another, until you’re successfully creating the future of your choosing.
What’s your default future? Is it okay with you? If not, what future can you choose to create? Now, what’s your plan? And if that first plan falters, will you create another?
One thing is certain: In the future of your design, you have to keep REACHING…
My friend and colleague, Steve Chandler, author of the Wealth Warrior, puts professionals in two categories: “Doers” and “Feelers”.
Doers come to work having planned out what needs to be done that day and, no matter how they’re feeling at any given moment, the do what needs to be done.
What Feelers do, on the other hand, depends on how they feel. They take their emotional temperatures throughout the day, checking in on themselves, figuring out what they feel like doing right now. Their financial securities, their outcomes, their lives, are dictated by the fluctuation of their feelings. Their feelings will change constantly, of course, so it’s hard for Feelers to follow anything through to a successful conclusion, no matter how passionate they may be about all they intend to accomplish.
As Chandler puts it:
“The success of Feelers depends on everything that can change their feelings…biorhythms, gastric upset, too strong a cup of coffee, an annoying call from home, a rude waitress at lunch, a cold, or constipation. Those are the dictating forces—the commanders—of a Feeler’s life and of his or her success.”
A Doer, however, has a plan and a system for her success, and she works the plan no matter how she feels. She knows in advance of each day how much time she will spend on the phone and in the field, what new clients she will cultivate and which old relationships she will strengthen. In whatever mood, she looks at any situation lacking completion and asks, “What do I need to do?”
A Feeler may have a plan, too, but only follow it on “sunny” days—when things are all going right and the there are no clouds in her sky. She says, “I just can’t make those calls right now,” and her excuse is that she wouldn’t be very effective unless she was feeling good about making them.
I agree with Chandler: All of us have Doers and Feelers within us. While many of us vacillate between the two types, some may be predisposed to being either a Doer or a Feeler, and over time, some may even unconsciously commit to one or the other.
If you recognize yourself as a Feeler and you’re not having the success you want, consciously commit to being a Doer, instead. Set a goal, create a plan to reach it, and have a daily system that you follow, no matter how the winds are blowing.
There is a Maasai tribal village in the African Savanna that has the incredible ability to bring on rain every time it does its rain dance.
Each year, as the Dry Season drones on, the landscape turns from lush greens and golds to a shriveled, blighted grey-brown. The rivers shrink until nothing is left but their bone-dry cracked beds and the lakes turn into little more than mud puddles. At some point, as the water supply is becoming dangerously low, the people of the village gather to do a rain and fertility ceremony—in large part, to hasten the oncoming of the Rainy Season.
The dance these villagers perform is virtually indistinguishable from the dance performed in the surrounding Maasai villages. They use the same rhythms, the same chants, and even the same movements.
But the results of the ceremony in this village are remarkably different. While the rain dances the other villages perform may appear to bring on rain every two or three times they are done, in this particular village, the dance manages to bring on rain one hundred percent of the time—on every occasion that it is performed!
Anthropologists, meteorologists, and other scientists took note of this seeming phenomenon—which links the desires and actions of a people to a physical change in their environment—some time ago. Researchers came to the village in teams to study what was occurring.
The only thing the experts found, however, that might account for the difference between these villagers’ ability to generate rainfall and the more random results obtained by those in the surrounding villages, was that while in the other villages they do their dances for three days straight, or five days, or even nine days, in this village, they dance…‘til it rains.
You could argue that there’s nothing *special* about dancing ‘til it rains when you know that at some point it will rain. But conversely, if you know for sure that at some point you will have the success you seek, maybe there’s no great *sacrifice* in keeping at it until you get it.
If you don’t believe that at some point, if you work hard, you will have the success you want, you’re also almost 100% certain to be right about that. Anything you actually want in your career or your life that you don’t already have requires three commitments from you:
(1) A burning desire to have it. This means more than just wanting it; it means wanting it at a level of commitment that you’ll do just about anything to get it.
(2) An unwavering belief that you will have it at some point, even when other people tell you it is impossible. Think of all the dreamers who were told that it would be impossible to create what they wanted:
For Christopher Columbus, it was the belief that he could sail due West to reach the Far East.
For The Wright Brothers, it was the belief that they could create a sky filled with heavier-than-air flying machines.
For Nelson Mandela, it was the belief that there would someday be a multi-racial, democratic South Africa.
(3) A willingness to “dance…‘til it rains”. Mandela “danced” in prison for 27 years before his seasons changed, but when they did, they brought growth to his whole land.
If you’re not happy with your career or some other aspect of your life, ask yourself which of these three commitments is missing from your daily ritual. If you have the burning desire, and the belief that what you want will happen, all you have to do is dance, and dance, and dance, and keep REACHING…
‘Til It Rains,
In my book, The High Diving Board, I discuss Seven Paralyzing Fears, including the Fear of Rejection.
Fear of rejection—of having someone say “no”—stops people from asking for help, support, money, a date, a job, a referral, or a sale. Victims suffer what I call “Fear Factor” symptoms, including these:
They become tongue-tied…Their paralysis makes it impossible for them to pick up the phone…They’ll actually avoid the person they want to ask for help, going as far as walking across the room, or leaving it altogether…They break out in a sweat at the mere thought of asking for what they want.
But while the Fear of Rejection is very real, it is extremely rare that asking for something actually results in rejection. If you ask someone to refer you to a business acquaintance, and he or she says “no”, you could tell yourself that you have been rejected…but in reality, nothing has changed.
Did you have a connection to the person you wanted to contact before you asked? No!
Did you have a connection to that person after you asked? No!
Did your business—or life—get worse? No. It stayed the same!
Next time you’re paralyzed by the Fear of Rejection, ask yourself this question:
“If the person I ask says ‘no’, am I really in any different position than I was in before?”
If the answer you give yourself is “No, my position would be unchanged,” remember to ask for what you want.
In the meantime, keep REACHING…
*Image courtesy of Buzzle.com.
A Guest Blog by Andrew Chymych
My friend and colleague, Andy Chymych, provided me with his article about slogans that I wanted to pass on to you this week. Take Andy’s challenge below and create your own slogan. Then, live by it. If you want, I’ll help you craft one worth living by, so that to your fullest, you can keep REACHING…
In 1981, I had the distinct pleasure of graduating high school and entering military service. At that time, each of the five branches of the US Armed Forces had a recruiting slogan to market their particular branch and mission, and to motivate young people to join and serve their country in the branch of their choice.
The Marines’ slogan was “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” They were offering us an opportunity to feel pride—in the lives we lived, in our accomplishments, and in the contributions we made. They were telling us to have more courage than the average person and to always be faithful to a cause.
Then there was the Coast Guard slogan: “Always Ready.” This was about hard work—the hard work of being prepared and developing and having the right mindset. What you’re thinking right now is what you’re creating right now, and you have the power to create your own outcome.
The Army’s slogan was “Be All You Can Be.” Have you ever said to yourself, “There’s got to be more to life than this”? The Army’s message was not to sell yourself short; to discover the true you and your call to greatness; to experience living at your full potential. Do something amazing! Be more than average! Don’t settle for anything less than what you were created for. Do the best you can. In the Army, greatness was not a choice; it was a destiny.
The Navy had an interesting one, too: “It’s Not Just a Job, It’s An Adventure.” In other words, your commitments don’t have to be a struggle; they can be liberating. You should be doing what you love. I read something that said if you look at opportunity like a job, you’ll be paid like an employee. If you look at opportunity like a business, you’ll be paid like a business owner. If you look at opportunity like a sport or a game, you can be paid like a professional athlete. Make your life so adventurous people will buy tickets to come see it.
Last, and not at all least, was the Air Force, where I proudly served from 1981-1992. Our slogan was “Aim High!” Don’t aim somewhere in the middle, and don’t aim low. Most people fail because they aim too low, and many don’t aim at all. Why not reach for your dream? Set your goals high. Someone once shared with me that I should shoot for the moon because even if I miss, I’ll land among the stars…and that’s not bad at all.
I believe that if you can dream it, you can do it. I challenge you to create your own slogan and then live by it. Believe in yourself and in your abilities. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Why not make it a great one?
Andrew Chymych is the founder of World Class Thinkers, LLC. A resident of Arizona, Andy incorporates his love for motivational speaking into his work as an insurance agent.
Once again, I was inspired by a recent article written by my friend and colleague, Steve Chandler, leader of the Wealth Warrior Movement.
Steve was responding to a question from a business/life coach who was afraid to reach out to someone he perceived as a “powerful person”—beyond his ability to benefit, or to attain as a client.
The advice Steve gave is the same I give my professional clients who are afraid to go after the “whales” in their target markets, telling themselves they have nothing to offer such wealthy, influential people and making the excuse that the biggest fish are probably “all set”. Here is my adaptation of Steve’s response, as it might pertain to financial and insurance professionals:
YOU are powerful, my friend. People would NOT be paying you fees and entrusting their financial futures to you were you not already powerful for them. YOUR power is not in question.
I would question whether THEY are as powerful as you think. How do you assign them power? According to past income? Years of experience or notoriety? I don’t see power in them at all. Not compared to you. Can they call forth checks when someone is disabled or dies? Can they match your ability to understand and keep eyes on financial markets? Can they think on their own of legal ways to minimize their taxes? Not even if their lives depended on it. Who’s more powerful than YOU here?
So “powerful people”, “whales,” or “elephants” are stories made up by you that get placed between you and these people—and so you have a hard time contacting the little girl or boy inside one of their bellies, needing help with his or her finances, and terrified of making a mistake. Why? Because you’ve thrust a “Story of Power” in between the two of you.
There’s a cardboard cutout of your prospect that you place between you and him, and by doing that, it’s hard to connect with the real person who may very much want your advice.
NO ONE is powerful (in the intimidating way you think that they are).
So focus on the work you do best and the SERVICE you can give anyone. Remember your value, and stay with that. And don’t get lost in the personalities at play. Or in a comparison of who, between the two of you, is more successful, has more prestige…or any of the nonsense we superstitiously assign to each other.
Just keep being a person—a powerful person—helping another.
And, of course, keep REACHING…
My thanks to David Ward, a colleague who helps lawyers grow their practices, for this week’s hypothetical, which applies to all professionals:
Imagine that a law were passed today, to take effect in three months, prohibiting you from purchasing and using lists, outlawing advertising or promoting yourself on social media, banning seminar-hosting or writing about what you do—a law mandating that all of your business would have to come through existing clients.
Imagine further that under this law, you could serve your existing clients all you wanted, and if they referred you to a friend or family member, you would be permitted to take on that prospect as a new client—but that would be the only way you were allowed to bring in business.
What would you do during the next three months, until the law took effect? What would you do after it took effect? Would you continue to have success, or would your business fail?
First, I would imagine, you’d want to do everything you could to grow your existing client base through whatever means were available during the next three months. What steps would you take that you hadn’t been taking already to quickly expand your client base?
At the same time, you’d want to strengthen your relationships with your best clients. If there were ways in which you hadn’t yet served them, you’d want to start enacting those types of services immediately—even if the extra work would not generate any immediate income.
You’d want to let them know how important they are to you, by astonishing them with just how thoughtful and giving you could be. After all, once our imaginary law were to take effect, they’d be all you’d have to work with.
Could you survive and keep growing your practice solely on additional and repeat business from your current clients, and their referrals?
Of course you could!
Even if you only had 15 clients right now, you could make your practice work—unless all 15 were hermits, with no interest in helping anyone they’d ever known.
When you had finished serving each of your best clients in every way you could, you could safely ask them to introduce you to people who weren’t already getting the same kind of support and attention. One introduction from each of 15 people would give you 15 new, highly qualified leads. Five introductions from each during the course of the year would give you 75 highly qualified leads.
This is all very figurative, though. Or is it?
What would happen to your practice right now if, instead of focusing on cold calling people from targeted lists, or on doing seminars or increasing social media efforts, you made your primary effort to upgrade your relationships with your best clients and to parlay those relationships into great introductions?
Make your own new law today: throw away your chilly “lists”. Start stretching further the warm, rich resources that are right in front of you, and keep REACHING…
*Image courtesy of tweakyourbiz.com.
“What’s the main reason your calls and emails are not getting returned,” I asked a group of advisors recently.
Hands shot up throughout the room.
“Value,” one of the advisors responded back. “They’re not getting enough value from the call or the email.” Heads nodded throughout the room in agreement.
But the answer was wrong.
People aren’t returning calls or responding to emails because they’re not “getting enough” CURIOSITY.
In the old days of manipulative sales, some trainers taught their people to leave a message that sounded like it got cut off:
“…My number is 555-1234. The reason that I’m calling is [indiscernible noise, then click].”
The idea, of course was to arouse enough curiosity to get the sales-victim to call back.
But this was just wrong on so many levels. I wrote an article a while back blasting a tactic that some financial representatives and their managers were applauding: an advisor leaving a message confirming an appointment for “later today” that she hadn’t actually made with the prospect. Her effort did get the prospect to call back—to ask that he never be called again. I DEFINITELY DO NOT CONDONE THESE METHODS OF CREATING CURIOSITY.
Unfortunately, for those of us attempting earnest service, there are three types of calls that aren’t being returned:
1) Cold calls
2) Calls to referrals, or people you know or have met but who aren’t yet clients
3) Calls to existing clients
Cold call messages are rarely returned, but they are 100% certain not to be returned if the message you leave is generic. Many advisors don’t leave a message at all—but you’re there already, so why not try? Leave a message that might peak his interest:
“Mr. Jones, I’m calling because I have some ideas to help people who are worried that they might not have enough money to retire. If this means something to you, please call me back at _____. I promise that I won’t waste your time.”
Calls to people you know, but who aren’t yet clients, need to genuinely spark the same Curiosity Factor:
“Joe! I’ve been thinking about the conversation we had at John and Mary’s party last week and I have a couple of ideas for you. Give me a call if you can…”
Finally, calls to a current client that aren’t being returned suggest a less-than-satisfactory relationship. Here, it’s not usually about curiosity any longer—it’s about improving that relationship, or firing the client. Still, sending a hand-written note hinting at some ideas to further improve his/her situation might create just enough renewed curiosity to generate a response.
If you don’t have the interest of those you want to work with, light a genuine spark, and keep REACHING…