Monthly Archives: August 2017

Old wooden ladder

How to Find Opportunities for Joint Ventures

Joint Ventures are among the most challenging business approaches.  There are other possibilities for marketing together.  Opportunities for Joint Ventures are not always high-end.

I shall use the Awareness Ladder (follow the link to remind yourself of the steps) to demonstrate collaboration throughout the marketing cycle.  Keep your eyes and ears open for other possibilities!

Assume collaboration between businesses with shared interests.  They could be competitors but competition is likely to obscure opportunities for collaboration.

Remember, the further down the Awareness Ladder, the more people there will be and the harder it is to move them up the ladder.  But if they move up the ladder there are more prospects for all the businesses involved.

Research into Potential Markets

Rung 0 is where prospects are unaware of their problem.  The aim is to get them to Rung 1, where they are aware.

Businesses need to campaign to increase awareness of the problem.  You need to know who your markets are, where they are found and the arguments or incentives they need to become aware of their problem.

Even with much competition, there is likely to be scope for collaboration.  Moving people to Rung 1 is most difficult and so pooled resources by businesses addressing the same problem, makes a lot of sense.

There will be more people aware of the problem and so more opportunities for all the partners.  Remember partners have a variety of offers and so the next challenge is to help prospects work out which offer suits them best.

Finding Pros and Cons

The move from Rung 1, awareness of the problem, to Rung 2, awareness of solutions, needs continued collaboration.  The aim is to promote the options available to people aware of the problem.

If people are unaware of solutions they will not take action.  Many people live with a problem for years because they believe there is no solution and so do not seek it.

Help them make a good first choice.  An outline of the pros and cons of each solution helps.  The temptation is to debunk your competitors; you could list all the solutions on the market and why they don’t work, apart from your own.  The problem is this is not true.

A better approach is to describe the best customer for each approach.  “Use this approach if you are … , don’t use it if you are …”.

This acts as a guide to the offers on the market and helps prospects make a good first choice.  When you meet them, you can ask why they chose your offer and so assess whether you are in fact best placed to help them.


Now we move from Rung 2, a general awareness of solutions to Rung 3, awareness of one particular solution.  For the coach or consultant, this stage is where you arrange an enrolment meeting, an opportunity to work out whether there is a good fit between your offer and the prospect’s problem and context.

It may become clear there is no match on closer inspection; to make a deal would be a big mistake for one or both parties.

The ability to make a good referral is crucial.  If you have collaborated with competitors, making a good referral can strengthen relationships.  If it goes well, you will have a grateful competitor and their new client will be grateful too.  Ask how you can use this to your advantage.


Moving from awareness of your offer, Rung 3 to Rung 4, full understanding of and trust in your offer, should be easier so long as you have evidence in place.  You can show your prospect evidence, depending on what interests them, eg past projects, qualifications, testimonials, etc.  One powerful source of evidence is endorsements.

Usually, we think of celebrity endorsements and these can help some businesses.  But why not endorsements from competitors?  These could increase trust between partners as well as between you and your prospects.

If an endorsement can be backed with a promise that competing businesses will collaborate to support their partner businesses, when they are working with a client, this can strengthen the case you make to your prospect.

This collaboration falls short of a full Joint Venture but includes anything from offering you advice through to subcontracting elements of the deal to other businesses.

Joint Ventures

The final step from full understanding at Rung 4 to making a purchase, Rung 5, could be a Joint Venture.

You might share a high-end offer with another business.  If either business encounters someone who might benefit, they offer the JV offer.  You need to agree whether both need to be present.  The prospect may want to meet the other party before they commit.

There’s no reason this has to be a high-end offer.  You could experiment with low-end offers but income from them, divided between at least 2 parties, may mean there is a point where it is not worthwhile.


There is potential for collaboration between competitors at all stages of your marketing.

The attitude that competitors are the enemy is prevalent and may be hard to dislodge but the truth is they have shared interests and with collaboration there is potential for increased business for all.  Businesses with similar interests can collaborate for mutual benefit.

There are possibilities for collaboration between businesses, where they are not competing, so this post explores only one approach to collaboration.

Collaboration between competitors is likely to be fruitful if they agree a strategy.  Use the Awareness Ladder as a guide and agree at which rungs you wish to collaborate and how far you want to go.  As trust builds, you can do more together.  Whatever you agree, get it in writing so you can settle disputes and then focus on building trust.

In my email to subscribers this week, I shall write about building support with prospects.  To make sure you see everything, complete the form below to go on my mailing list.  You’ll get notice of future blog posts and receive my Thursday emails.

In these posts and emails I am forging a new approach to marketing.  Please comment and let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree.

mincing machine with minced meat

How to Use Your Outputs to Promote Your Business Purpose

Outputs are the direct benefits your clients experience.  Align your marketing plan to your vision and offers and to deliver your marketing promises, then you will see outputs.

Potential Benefits to Your Clients

Consider potential benefits for your client.  Some are more important than others and what’s most important depends on the client.

Coaches, consultants and freelancers have many different outputs because their reasons for being in business vary.  Here are a few possibilities:

Measurable Outputs

Outputs are measurable or it is possible to point to evidence something has changed.

  • Financial benefits – often expressed as something like “Triple your income”. This is powerful because everyone wants to do better financially.  How much they want varies and so massive claims may not appeal to everyone.  Some coaches are not sure they can claim to increase revenue.  What if you promise to double it and it doesn’t work?  What you claim is the potential is there and you work together to explore how your client might get there.  You can make more confident claims as you get some idea of the financial impact of your coaching through experience.
  • Clarity about their business or some aspect of it might contribute to a marketing plan.  You don’t need to make prior claims about the financial impact of the plan.  The marketing plan will estimate likely financial benefit and you can tweak the plan to maximise revenue.
  • Save time – time is your client’s most precious resource. Offer help with time management or Done for You services, for example.  For some businesses time is a limiting factor.
  • Accountability – even where a client can work alone, their coach can remind them of the strategic or personal dimensions of life. A coach helps their client focus on their work, prioritise what they need to do and deliver to time.  Where deadlines are self-impose it is easy to defer if an external deadline presses.  A coach externalises some internal deadlines.
  • Training – some coaches offer training as part of their package, eg online or workshop, accredited or informal, part of the coaching or before or after it.  You could argue guided reading is training and so training can be embedded in a coaching offer.

Informal Outputs

Some informal outputs may be measurable but generally, it is hard to prove the client’s benefit with hard evidence.  If the client feels better and believes they have benefitted, that is sufficient.

  • Health and well-being – if someone offers a health and well-being programme, there may be measurable evidence, eg weight reduction programmes. Any coaching can improve health and well-being.  There are coaches who seek general benefits to their clients, beyond their special skills.  Whilst it may be hard to find evidence, this does not mean there is none.  If clients claim there have been changes, these can feature in testimonials or claims about the service.
  • Resilience coaching anticipates future problems. A new manager might ask for help with stress awareness and how to cope when problems proliferate.

You or Your Client’s Responsibility?

There is another dimension to outputs and that is who delivers them.  You need to be clear about expectations:

Expert Consultancy

Expert consultants deliver outputs.  This can be simple.  You deliver a website, that’s an output and you’re finished.  A good website designer can offer a more effective service.

Some offer to design a website and optimise it for sales.  If you increase income from the site, you can agree a share of profits.  A designer, working with a business with potential, can make a lot of money that way.  Some businesses pay huge retainers to designers to keep their site optimal.

This is a big responsibility for the consultant and requires a good relationship with the client.  The rewards can be significant.   If you can do this, you have a big advantage in the marketplace.

Non-Directive Consultancy or Coaching

Here the responsibility is with the client.  Typically, client and coach work together on some problem; the coach helps or challenge the client to meet their goals.

Be clear from the outset, the responsibility to meet the goals is with the client.  The coach does not profit directly from the client’s success but charges fees that reflect the value of their support to the client.

Remember, the client may not understand this approach and so be clear where responsibility for outputs lie.  I tell my prospects they remain in the driving seat, they make the decisions.  My role is to challenge what they are doing, make suggestions and help them progress and stay focused.

Coaches help with some tasks but no-one is good at everything and the client must understand they may need additional assistance.  I work with my clients to identify what needs to be done, how to do it and who does it.  Sometimes a client needs help to brief and supervise someone who works for them.

For a coach, lack of knowledge of their client’s business can be a big advantage.  It removes the temptation to take over their business and it is easier to build a relationship of equals.  The coach brings coaching skills and specialist knowledge and the client brings their specialist skills.  The coach presents them with options, helps them choose and may help carry out their choice.

What Do You Think?

Remember, outputs or benefits to the client are one dimension of the benefits of the coach or consultant’s work.  Next time, we’ll look at wider outcomes.

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Industrial skyline with smoke pollution

Why You Must Aim to Transform Your Business Environment

Your purpose is to transform your business environment and you need to be clear transformation always takes place in wider society when we work with clients and collaborate with other businesses.

The Inevitability of Transformation

Business causes transformation whatever the business owner’s intention.  Some don’t think about transformation or care what happens.  Businesses have unintended consequences, even though the business owner plans for transformation.  And sometimes businesses get it right!

Some people see profit as the purpose of business.  They may not appreciate the consequences of their actions on the world around them.  Not only will their business have direct consequences for their immediate environment but it contributes to the general attitude transformation is not the purpose of business.

We cannot afford that attitude today.  This is not only about asking businesses to take their responsibilities seriously but to go further and expect business owners to take a lead transforming things for the better.

An Invisible Hand?

It is interesting how Adam Smith’s concept of an invisible hand justifies neoliberalism today.  Smith uses the term “invisible hand” very few times and in his Wealth of Nations, he uses it to critique the approach we call neo-liberalism.  He argues self-interested business people will not trade abroad because their loyalty to the country draws them to business practices that benefit all, as if by an invisible hand.

The term is memorable and so over the years, everyone uses it to justify their economic beliefs.  The original idea was the rich, acting selfishly, benefit all because to produce their wealth and spend it, eg on servants, they redistribute their money to the benefit of all; a dubious idea, sometimes called “trickle down”.  At least, Smith intended money to stay in circulation.

Neo-liberalism uses the idea of a free market to justify practices that constrain the market.  Arguably, a market is free where money flows freely.  If the wealthy hoard money, then they are not contributing to a free market.  This is why regulation of free markets is crucial.

This problem stems from an old debate about whether businesses should aim for transformation.  Perhaps the most convincing argument against transformation through business is from externalities.

Externalities are the unintended consequences attendant upon any business activity, eg pollution.  The argument goes these will undermine any positive aim the business has and so an invisible hand is more effective than intention.

It Takes Time to Change Things

Transformation is an indirect result of actions taken by people.  In other words we cannot predict the outcomes of our actions because we don’t know how others will respond.  You can promise to deliver 100 widgets on time for a price and mostly you will deliver.  You cannot accurately predict the environmental impact of manufacturing the widgets or the impact their use will have.

Furthermore, the transformation we witness today may be completely different in 3 months, 6 months or 6 years.

Regulation mitigates the negative consequences of business activity but we must grow more confident understanding and owning the consequences of the actions we take.

For coaches, a business purpose helps their marketing because it is communicates values and shared values are important to the coaching relationship; working with people, trying things together, to find the most effective way forward.  Transformation is iterative, moves forward slowly, using trial and error.  This way businesses learn together.

The dilemma we face comes from those who deprive businesses of the means to effect change through withholding money from the economy.  Somehow the truth is twisted round to favour those who seek power through hoarding finance.

Businesses committed to a place, to enhancing lives in that place, are the heirs to the vision: a  vibrant marketplace at the heart of every community.

In my email to subscribers this week, I shall write about practical approaches to transformation.  To make sure you see everything, complete the form below to go on my mailing list.  You’ll get notice of future blog posts and receive my Thursday emails.

In these posts and emails, experience a new approach to marketing.  Please comment and let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree.

idea plan action success

How Your Marketing Plan Makes Your Business Purpose Real

In previous posts, I have shown how your vision leads to your offer.  This next step is once you have your offer, you market it.  “Vision to offer to marketing” is the logical sequence; an observer would conclude.  However, for practical purposes your marketing plan comes before development of your offer.  How so?

Prepare Marketing before Your Packages

It makes sense to prepare marketing copy before you design your offer packages.  The big mistake many entrepreneurs make is to prioritise service delivery over marketing.  The fact is without marketing you do not have a business.

Look at this way.  There is no point developing any package until you know how you’re going to market it.  You need to test the market, check out it exists.  And to do that you need to know how you are going to reach your potential market.

So, prepare your marketing plan first, including draft marketing copy.  It is possible, once you prepare your offer, you shall want to tweak your copy.  But if you find your offer is completely different from your draft copy, the chances are you have designed the wrong thing!

Indeed, some business people do not prepare their package until they have customers.  I don’t necessarily recommend this.  You could plan a workshop far enough ahead to allow you to sign people up and allow a week or so to develop the package, once you know you have the numbers.

Another possibility is to design a basic package you tweak each time you market it.  This means you experiment with marketing campaigns, to find the most effective ways to promote your package.

Align Your Vision and Marketing

The challenge is to develop a marketing campaign that aligns with your vision.  Then your offer becomes part of your marketing campaign.  Your offer is what you deliver to further your vision.  Your marketing campaign is how you make your vision a reality.

So, usually we think of a vision leading to a package, something to offer the world.  This is then marketed to the likely people who will consider buying the package.

An alternative is to design a marketing campaign that implements your vision.  Your customers are the people you recruit to further your vision.  You collaborate because you share the vision.  Your prospects share your vision and may help you further it.

Your vision is close to the promise your offer makes to your customers.  You help them solve a particular problem.

Let’s say you worked in an industry for several decades and experienced a variety of management approaches, some good and some bad.  Your vision is to improve management in your industry.  Your prospects are managers in your industry, who share your concerns and believe in your approach.

You need to establish yourself as the industry leader in your approach to management.  This way you become known to managers who value your guidance.  They may begin to request coaching or suggest workshop opportunities.  You may find your marketing generates requests for packages you had not considered before.  Your packages are one way you realise your vision through marketing.

Most freelancers stumble upon this, having started by designing something in line with their vision.  Usually, you revisit your offers as your marketing develops, adapting them to whatever opportunities present themselves.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Open laptop, city and world map, binary flying from screen

How to Engage In-Person and Online Marketing

For years, I’ve said in my one minute elevator pitch : I help people engage their in-person and online marketing.  Few people have asked me about this.  It is a radical stance but many don’t see it that way.  Most people don’t appreciate the massive change the business world has experienced over the last few years.

Broadcast versus Intimacy

For most of my life, I’ve experienced broadcast marketing: advertising hoardings, newspaper and magazine adverts, television and radio commercials.  These were pretty much the all there was until the Internet.

Broadcast media is expensive.  You needed sales skills far more than marketing skills because unless you were good at sales, you did not have the resources to invest in marketing.

With the Internet you can get your message out to people at far lower costs.  You can do some marketing for free and the costs where there are charges are modest.  Broadcast marketing is still important for national or global markets but local marketing is particularly enhanced because we can combine in-person and online marketing.

Intimacy is another difference between broadcast and online marketing.  Modern marketing allows us to build relationships with people we never meet in person.  With mobile phones we link directly with people as they go about their daily business.  But it is also intimate in the sense, local marketing communicates both in-person and online.

Web Design is Dead

Allow me to use website design as an example.  In its early days, website design was difficult.  You needed to design a graphic image, slice it into bits and assemble it on the webpage, using tables.  You did this using html.

CSS simplified web design. It was still an acquired skill. If you wanted a website, it was usually more economic to hire a designer than to go on a course and learn to do it yourself.

Today, with platforms such as WordPress with hundreds of themes and plug-ins, you can do almost anything yourself.  There will be times when you need professional assistance.  You may hire someone because you don’t wish to devote your time to building a website.  But that is your choice.

The real issue is not graphic design or the layout of your site, it is the content.  What do you want your site to do?  It’s not the latest technology that matters so much as knowing what you need from your site.  If you don’t know what you need, no-one can honestly say to you: “we have the latest thing that exactly fits what you need to do.”

For someone to do that for you, you must open up about your vision, trust they keep it confidential and know enough to help you get what you need.

Systemic Marketing

Systemic marketing means marketing that takes into account the entirety of your business.  This means you are ill-advised to approach marketing by picking at bits of it.  “I need a website.”  How do you know that?  It isn’t good enough to say you need a website because your competitors have one.  You need to understand its purpose in your marketing plan and how to manage it so it achieves that purpose during your marketing campaign.

If you invest time and money in a website or anything else, how do you assess the return on your investment?  You could spend a lot on something that brings no return whatsoever.

One thing I learned early in my career as a community development worker, was copying ideas does not work.  Something may work brilliantly in one time and place.  It will not work in yours.  It worked the first time because someone got the measure of a place and tried the right thing.

Co-operatives and Franchises

By all means look at what others do for inspiration.  The retail co-operative movement is an example where copying worked well; it offered a model that worked pretty much all over the country.  I’ve never seen any figures showing how many co-ops failed.  Their approach worked in most places but we do not see records of false starts.  The co-ops were in effect an early franchise and in the business world we see many such enterprises.

Franchises are replicable businesses, not noted for innovation.  That criticism could be made of the retail co-ops.  There were many proposals for other forms of co-ops, primarily worker co-ops.  These never really worked in the UK, although successful worker co-op movements can be found in Southern Europe.

If you want a franchise, you get a lot of support including a decision whether the franchise will work in your place.  This does not encourage innovation and so this is where small businesses come into play.

Most businesses fail within a few years.  There are many reasons for this including poor management and marketing.  But where businesses are well-managed, many still fail because they are not viable.  They are in the wrong place and time.

Identify Viability Before You Invest

A systemic approach to marketing helps you find what is viable before you invest in something that will not work.  A successful franchise begins with a local trial, refining the approach until there is something replicable.  Few businesses set out to become franchises; they become possible depending on how a local business develops.

That’s the point.  As a business develops, new opportunities appear.  Your task is to see and take advantage of opportunities and for that you need to be familiar with your business, not just one aspect of it.

Next time I shall look at the transformations businesses are responsible for in wider society.

In these posts and emails I am forging a new approach to marketing.  Please comment and let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree.

To make sure you see everything, complete the form below to go on my mailing list.  You’ll get notice of future blog posts and receive my Thursday emails.

Two rows of artesan bread

Use Your Offer to Promote Your Business Purpose

Your business purpose is primarily your vision for the changes your business makes to your clients and their wider community.  The next step is to ask: what is your offer and is it aligned with your vision?

Hourly Rates or Packages?

Many coaches make the mistake of offering an hourly rate to clients.  There are at least two issues you need to consider.

  1. An hourly rate encourages the view your work is entirely face-to-face with your client. In fact you put in many hours of work not visible to the client; both direct work on preparation and follow-up and indirect work, including marketing.  A package charges for the benefit to the client.  The client does not see your hours and is not encouraged to convert your charges into an hourly rate.  After all they are hiring you for your expertise and you need to be rewarded for the hours you have put in over years to get there!
  2. Whatever the change you promise, it is unlikely you will make any significant difference in a single session. To offer a package, says it takes this long to get the result you’re after.

How to Align Your Packages with Your Vision

Your packages flow from your vision.  The way you name and present them shows the expected outputs and outcomes.  You are asking the client to work with you to achieve your vision.

The client may agree with you, work needs to be done to improve the quality of management in their industry.  They work with you and so you both work for change with that goal.  The customer wants to see benefits to their specific problem but also their wider context.

Website Design as an Example

Let’s say you are coaching someone in website design.  They expect to be better website designers as a result of working with you but they also need to consider the wider context in which they work.  What changes must take place in their business or industry, to accept the approach to online marketing your client learns?

Website design has never been solely a technical skill.  In the past the technicalities were difficult to master.  Now it is easier and the focus has moved towards organisational issues.  If the website changes, how will the organisation rise to the challenge?  What you don’t want is a website that works and is never used by its owners because it is not understood.

Whatever your packages do, these days they need to be interdisciplinary, offering a systemic approach because if they don’t they won’t work for the client or anyone else.

This may be a daunting task.  “I’m a website designer, I don’t know anything about organisations!”  But your client may know something about organisations.  This is the value of working together, to solve problems.  You get the credit even if the client solves the problem!  Chances are they would not have understood the issue without you.

Your package should give you both permission to work on the implications of what you are doing, not solely on acquiring technical skills.

And then, of course, you need to market your package and that is another things altogether.

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Someone stood on a rock in the sea with arms outstretched

Increased Business Growth by Slowed Marketing

In the last couple of posts, I’ve shown why it’s important to validate and upgrade your business.  These increase your confidence when talking about your business and set you up for the most crucial dimension to your marketing plan, campaign design.  This is where you put together a marketing plan for increased business growth.

The big mistake businesses make is to embark on campaign design without validation or upgrade.  This invites losses in time and money.  Without validation, how can you understand what marketing methods you need for your business?  Without upgrade, how can you know you are marketing the best possible version of your business?  What a waste, when you discover part way through your campaign, you could have made improvements before you started!

Campaign design with foundations in validation and upgrading, is more likely to be effective, easier and quicker to develop and faster bringing your business to those most likely to buy.

So, here are some advantages you have as you design your marketing campaign.

Confidence Closing the Deal

If you are not confident about closing deals, you are likely to avoid situations where you get close to closing the deal.  Obviously, this is a fatal problem for any business!

Most people who experience this problem seek help through training or coaching.  So, let’s assume you have done the coaching and understand closing.

If you have validated and upgraded your business, you are clearer about what you offer and so more likely to attract prospects.  And you are confident enough to make an offer.

You will know how to find those you can help and communicate your confidence to them.

Solving Problems

Validation and upgrading help you solve your clients’ problems and they help you solve your own marketing problems.

A big problem business owners face is they find they are marketing using a method they do not  enjoy.  You could argue the aim is to promote your business not enjoy marketing but if you enjoy marketing, you are more likely to do it and communicate your enthusiasm.

The question is: how do I find a method I enjoy and design a campaign that will work for my business?  Chances are the skills you already use delivering your offer can be used to market it.  This way your business is coherent across marketing, sales and delivery.

Handling Objections

Upgrading shows you where you need to go out on a limb.  You take an extreme position in your campaign and that attracts objections.

When you get objections, it shows you are making an impact.  You have confidence to respond to them positively.  Remember, your response should speak to your market.  The person who makes the objection may not be in your market.  They may not be able to see the point because it is not for them.  Turn this to your advantage.


If you establish your own space as an expert, you draw a group of people around you.  You become a leader!  You build credibility and credibility means more work and more sales.

Leadership is something people fear but deep knowledge of your business means you can be confident your leadership is well-received.  Good will is valuable so long as you come up with the next step and keep on innovating.

Having a System

Campaign design is basically developing a system whereby you automate aspects of your business.  You can do this online and this is usually what people think about when they design a marketing campaign.

But they need a system that involves their customers, prospects and other contacts.  There are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) packages available online and one of these may be helpful.  But you need to clear what your CRM is for – what do you want your contacts to do for your business?  What incentives can you offer for them?

You need a system that works for the front end (outreach / targeting) and backend of your business (CRM).  A sales systems at both ends can be complex but saves time and energy if you get it right.

There is more to campaign design than many businesses offering marketing tools acknowledge.  The only person who can hold the complete picture is you – marketing companies cannot do this for you.  You need to work closely with those you hire to deliver your marketing strategy.  If you don’t know what you need, don’t expect anyone else to!

Next time, I’ll dig deeper into campaign design for local marketing.

In these posts and emails I am forging a new approach to marketing.  Please comment and let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree.

To make sure you see everything, complete the form below to go on my mailing list.  You’ll get notice of future blog posts and receive my Thursday emails.

How Your Vision Promotes Your Business Purpose

Every business should have business, financial and lifestyle purposes.  Together they equip your business with the vision, means and energy to make real change.  This is the first of five posts that look at how your business purpose plays out.

You are a coach, consultant or freelance; just starting out or perhaps an old hand.  To be effective you need to know yourself.

It is possible to set out in business without a purpose.  I did.  I decided to give business a go about 6 years ago and had no idea what I was going to do.

My story

I was made redundant in 2011 and attended a few workshops about self-employment.  My background was 30 years as a community development worker and it was hard to see at the time what I could offer.

What attracted me was the lifestyle of self-employment.  My priority was to find something I could offer.  My first thought was to offer website design to community and voluntary organisations.  I found this did not work for me.  Website design was no longer viable as a career owing to growth in platforms like WordPress.  Also I soon realised the reasons websites don’t work are often nothing to do with the website.  Organisations are often behind the failure of websites and other marketing initiatives.

This led me to study marketing and I soon discovered much of it was very familiar, similar to stuff I had done with community groups over 30 years!  As I became more familiar with marketing, I could see the same patterns as I saw when I developed community enterprises.

For example, transplanting an idea from one place to another, without appreciating the change in context.  Context is everything in community and business development.  Many businesses market without self-knowledge and desperately need to deepen their understanding of what they are doing.

What is Your Business Purpose?

Your business purpose is the benefit your business brings to your clients and to the wider world.  One concept I used as a development worker was the distinction between outputs and outcomes.  An output is an immediate result of an intervention, usually recorded as a quantity.  It may be something like the number of people interviewed or attending a training course.  An outcome is a more long-term achievement, usually recorded as a quality, a story.

A business coach may find their client’s business becomes more successful financially, while the quality of life for the client also improves.  But the same coach also has outcomes.  What is their impact on their client’s clients, families or neighbours?  If your client becomes a better business owner, the chances are your benefits go way beyond the immediate value to the client.

If you aim to reach people in one industry then your purpose may be to improve the quality of some aspect of that industry.  It should reach beyond the immediate benefit to your clients.

You are saying to your clients, I understand your business and I’m committed with you to improve the overall quality of that business.  Why?  Because this vision will improve your overall profile in the eyes of your market.  You show you understand what they are up against, know what works in their field and can provide the means to make the necessary changes.  When you can point to real and substantial changes, you can show the impact your vision has had on the world.

Your Vision and Theirs

Your vision should stimulate your target market’s imagination.  When you speak, you should be able to capture their attention and hold it.  You are inviting them to join you in making your vision a reality.

On its own this is not enough but as you’ll see in later posts, your vision is a necessary foundation for your marketing and indeed delivery of your coaching.  Your vision must inform all the decisions you make about your business; its purpose, its finance and even your lifestyle.

So, we shall return to vision in a few posts times when we look in more depth at finance.  Next time we shall turn out attention to how you express your business purpose through your offer.

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Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Statue of possibly Archimedes pulling some sort of lever

Leverage Your Marketing by Slowing Down

Increased clarity is one advantage of slow marketing but increased leverage is the main benefit.  Archimedes said: “’Give me but a firm spot on which to stand, and I shall move the earth.”

Most people argue you need a lever for leverage but Archimedes’ point was he needed a firm spot on which to stand too.

Your firm spot is your validated business.  When you know your business, you can find the lever you need to move it.  There are plenty of levers available but mostly they don’t work because they are not used from a firm spot!

First, you validate your business and then upgrade it – ask: can your business be improved?  In my last post I listed 5 elements for validation from the circuit questionnaire.

Take each element in turn and ask: how can I upgrade this, take it to a new level?  An upgrade to any one element is likely to improve the others too.  If asked to improve our business, we tend to focus on one element, our offer.  Upgrades of several elements are likely to strengthen your business far more than focusing solely on one.

Getting Your Message Across

Upgrading several elements helps you communicate your message.  Here are several possibilities. You can:

  • build an effective elevator pitch. This is your 10 second to 1 minute account of your business.  If someone asks what you do, you can explain accurately and succinctly.
  • answer new questions because you have already answered many questions about your business. A question that has never been asked before should present no problem because you’re used to the challenge.
  •  be much clearer about what you offer and to whom. You will know who to approach and how to approach them.
  • be clear about what makes you distinct from other businesses with similar offers. You will have a keen sense of the niche you occupy.  This will enhance possibilities for collaboration with businesses close to your own.

Standing on firm ground strengthens your business and you!  You find you can express yourself with clarity and conviction.  Your prospects see in you someone with credibility.


This is crucial for public speaking.  You may need to learn how to overcome fear and some techniques to speak in public but your message is just as important.

Set yourself the challenge of speaking for 10 minutes every day in private!  Dream up new and challenging topics and practice speaking about them.  You will find you come out with new solutions.  Indeed answering the circuit questionnaire questions and seeking to upgrade will give you plenty of topics to keep you going for ages.

This will improve your performance in debates.  If you have a distinct approach to your coaching business that challenges established players, they will play down your contribution.  Be ready to fight for what you know is right!  And remember debating with others and tackling new objections is a fantastic way to sharpen your approach.

Websites and social media

Take the detail and reduce it to a few clear sentences that lead the reader to a decision.  It may be a decision to click on a link for more information, all the way through to making a purchase.

This skill is called copywriting and it takes time to learn it.  Use a variety of simple tools to capture  your market’s attention and encourage them to explore following you or working with you.


More general writing can be important.  Blog posts, emails, pdf downloads are all online and many of the copywriting rules apply.  But these all differ from websites and social media because they are opportunities to tackle a subject in more detail.

There is no limit to the length of the articles you write.  The rule of thumb is it should be no shorter than what you need to say and no longer than that!

But reading from a screen is harder than reading from paper.  Very long articles are less likely to be read in full.  If you can publish on paper, this will increase your credibility.  Or it may be possible to publish to e-readers.  This used to be called vanity publishing but the value is you make it easier for your prospects to find your writing.

Answering Objections

Your aim is to answer objections and enjoy them!  A firm spot helps you do this and is important for credibility.  However, you may object, a firm spot implies inflexibility.

It is possible to be inflexible and after all the validation work, you may find it irresistible.  Your firm spot is always a starting point.  Use it to explore new possibilities, confident you can return to it or move it as new ideas develop.

How do new ideas inform and develop your business?  Do they do so for the best?  Or do they detract from your business?  Your firm spot is your starting point for further exploration; you can be confident and at the same time willing to explore.


Ultimately it boils down to confidence.  The next step in your marketing strategy is campaign design; choosing the tools you need to market your business.  These tools need to be learned; their technical aspects and how they can be used to greatest effect.  The latter can take many months.

Next time, I’ll show why slow marketing is faster because it helps you choose the right methods and use them to greatest effect.

In these posts and emails I am forging a new approach to marketing.  Please comment and let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree.

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