Monthly Archives: September 2017

two gifts wrapped

Your Business Thrives on Empathy

This post sequence encourages you to explore relational marketing in-depth.  It builds into a questionnaire to help coaches, consultants and freelancers prepare their relational marketing strategy.  This focus here is empathy in marketing.

Relational Marketing.

In the last three posts, I asked questions of your business about vision, market and promise.  If your vision includes genuine help for others (and why are you coaching if it doesn’t?) then you must understand your market so you make a promise that really helps.

Empathy is where you stand in someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective.  It is not easy.  For example, you may need wealthy clients who can pay for your high-end services.  How do they see the world and understand money?  But your next prospect may not be so affluent and may need the same service.  How can you help both?  Or do you aim to help only one?

In some ways the prospects furthest from you may be easiest to understand.  Their difference, forces you to build a world different from the one you know.  Someone who’s worldview is close to yours can be more difficult because you may overlook their differences.

Empathy in Your Business

  1. Think of a real person, maybe a client or prospect, whose worldview is like yours. Where do your worldviews differ?
  2. How many reasons can you think of why understanding affluent people helps your business?
  3. Consider people who would benefit from your promise, occupy your niche but do not share your worldview? Would you find it difficult to work with them?  Why?  Which worldviews do you find particularly difficult?

Bridging the Gap

Are worldviews important?  There will always be major differences beneath the surface.  None of us are immune to this.  We may not and should not change our views for a contract but we can keep track of our own behaviour.

When you listen to clients and prospects, keep an eye on your response to what they are saying.  Is it awakening strong feelings and if so, how do you deal with them?  You can’t avoid these issues coming up but you can learn a more empathic stance.

This is the fourth post in this sequence. Sign up below to make sure you don’t miss any.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you charge what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Special offer

Should You Reduce Prices When Marketing?

You set a price for your offer and the next challenge is how to market it.  You need to consider how you manage your prices while marketing.  Specifically, should you reduce prices?

Do You Display Your Prices?

One frequent question is whether you should display prices when marketing.  If you look at coach’s websites you will see some do and some don’t.

I believe it is better not to make your prices public, especially when you are starting out.  Here are some reasons:

  • If you are a coach, your offer is unique. Price comparisons don’t mean much.  The prospect who seeks the cheapest coach needs help to understand what they are seeking.
  • You sell benefits and so make sure your publicity covers benefits. If a prospect finds them attractive they will make contact.
  • At an enrolment meeting you can adjust your offer. Do this implicitly by listening to the prospect and then show them how your offer meets their needs.
  • One way to do this is the upsell. Suggest a basic package and add-on extras.
  • Alternatively, downsell. Offer a cheaper package if the prospect genuinely cannot afford the best fit deal.  This allows them to try your service and maybe they will invest further once they are sure you deliver what they seek.

As you become more popular and increase prices it might help to display your prices.  This means people who cannot afford the prices displayed will not contact you.  Do this if you find a lot of people turn you down for reasons of price but you still find enough customers.

If you become incredibly high-priced, I understand it can be better to hide your prices again.  This projects an aura of exclusivity.

Should I Reduce Prices?

Should you reduce your prices globally?  Usually, this is not a good idea.  You need to control the number of clients you can handle.  Lower prices mean you need more clients.

It may be better to introduce some low-end offers, especially if you find most warm prospects back out when they hear your prices.  This gets them on your books and offers an opportunity to check you out before making a bigger financial commitment.  Remember, if someone wants something enough, they will find the money.

If you believe your offers are not good enough for the price you charge,  consider the price you charge indicates something of your confidence in your offer.  To offer a lower price undermines your offer’s credibility.  If you are right it is the offer that needs improvement.  Something brilliant will always be easier to sell than something indifferent.

Should I Offer Discounts?

No, unless there is a real reason to do so.

During an enrolment conversation, you may find someone claims they cannot afford the offer that best fits their needs.  Here are a few ways to respond:

  • Make sure they understand the offer and its good fit with their needs. If someone wants something enough, they can offer find creative ways to meet the costs.
  • Would it help to flex payments?
  • Try to identify good reasons why they might receive a discount.

The point about discounts is, if you are going to make one, have a good reason to do so.

  • A prompt payment discount, if the payments come in on time.
  • A quick decision payment – I am not convinced by this, if someone wants your offer such a discount does not appear to make much difference.
  • Add a bonus. You can do this upfront.  An extra session in return for a quick decision, for example.
  • You can have surprise bonuses, for clients who pay on time. Don’t offer them in advance, that’s bribery!
  • Some people have discounts for charities or community organisations. The problem here is you could find you are making a lot of work for yourself that does not pay very much.

In the end, consider a downsell and leave your prices alone!

Marketing Prices

A lot hinges on marketing.  If you are clear about the benefits and believe you can work with the prospect, then the offer should sell itself.  Remember, your credibility hinges on your confidence and sense of self-worth.

So long as you deliver and exceed the expectations of your client, this will communicate in your favour.  Next time I shall look at how high prices benefit the client.

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list, so 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?

Two hands, little fingers interlocked.

The Power of Your Implicit Promise

This post sequence aims to encourage  in-depth relational marketing for coaches, consultants and freelancers.  It builds into a questionnaire to help them prepare their relational marketing strategy.  This third post builds on the first, about your vision or business purpose and second, about your market.  Elements of your promise are explicit but an implicit promise can be powerful.

Your Explicit and Implicit Promises

Your promise is at the very heart of marketing.  Whatever you say or do to promote your business or cause, it comes back to your promise.

Your explicit promise is sometimes called the benefit.  It is essential you understand the distinction between features and benefits and you must make sure your market understands your benefits.

Your implicit promise is not something you allude to directly.  It relates to your Vision and the psychographics of your market.  They see something in your vision and so trust you will deliver it.

Your implicit promise is: you will see it through and meet the unvoiced expectations of your customer.  This is why it is important coaches choose their customers carefully and listen to them.  Together you are weavers of dreams.

Your Promise

  1. Consider one of your products or services. What is its explicit promise?
  2. What is its implicit promise? Consider both emotional and intellectual aspects.
  3. Does your promise need to be bigger, more specific, less specific?

Making Your Promise

Taken together, your vision, market and promise make up your identity as a business-owner.  Review your answers to the questions in this and the last two posts.  Decide on changes when you consider them together.

One valuable insight from the implicit promise is, it allows you space to over-deliver.  You may find you need to support your customer over periods of upset when their business does not go in the anticipated direction.  Consider: how far are you prepared to go?  Remember as you take on more customers, you have less time to devote to each of them.

Are there bonuses you can deliver, once they have signed up, that will begin to deliver your implicit promise with minimal effort from you?

This is the third in a post sequence to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing.  Sign up below to get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you will receive an email with useful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Believe in what you do

How to Set Credible Prices for Your Offers

Your business purpose should include credible prices for your offers.  But what is a credible price?  Here are a few things to consider:

Your Confidence

Your prices increase as your confidence grows.  You need to understand the value of your offer and it is possible, when you start with a new offer, your prices will be lower than you would necessarily choose.

But your confidence may not be a reliable guide to the value of your offer.  You may be better (or worse!) than you think.

There is no upper limit to what you charge and something I ask my clients to do is design an offer for which they can charge £100K.  I don’t expect them to sell one of these! It helps to think about what you could do for someone able to pay that amount.

Most businesses have more than one offer.  Getting the right price structure in place, so that customers can try you out before committing to a high price is part of the challenge.  I’ll return to this in my next post.

This is about confidence because you need to get off the hourly rate and charge for the value of your expertise.  If you charge an hourly rate you effectively tie your business to your competitors’ rates.  You also do not account for preparation time or the training and development you’ve paid for in the past.

If you don’t think your offer has value, why should your prospect?

Your Business and Lifestyle Needs

You need to cover your costs.  Say you set out to make £25K per year.  To do this you need more clients and so you aim to maximise sales.  Soon you hit the most clients you can manage.  You are still way off your target income.

What are the options?  You can

  • increase revenue by increasing prices,
  • find more time by employing staff, or
  • develop new offers that automate delivery or offer more value.

You can see your pricing strategy is bound to evolve as your business develops.

Value of Your Offer

This is the other side of the problem.  If you know how much you need to charge, is this something the market will bear?  This depends somewhat on what your competitors charge but remember customers choose you for a variety of reasons.

  • Your solution to their problem – this may be similar to your competitors.
  • The niche you occupy – your location, the market you aim for, your business story, the types of offers you make, etc
  • Your worldview – do they feel comfortable working with you?
  • Benefits from your offer – the way you explain them may be attractive to prospects.

Each needs consideration as you set your prices.  As these factors change, they present opportunities to increase your prices.

Your Competitors

You need competition because if there is none, you probably don’t have a market, unless you have found a new market.

The knack is not to compete for exactly the same market but deliberately seek to separate your prospects from the rest of the market.  You do this through the stories you tell and the worldview you promote.

Competitors can make brilliant collaborators.  You can work together to increase size of the pool of prospects and then fish for the prospect who finds your offer attractive.

Do not be worried by competitors who undercut you.  They won’t be around for long.  Your market is the people who can afford your prices.

Marketing

A lot depends on how you market your offer and manage your prices.  I shall go into this in greater depth next time.

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?

avatar cartoon character

Use of Psychographics to Understand Your Prospects

This sequence encourages you to explore relational marketing in-depth.  The first post was about your vision or business purpose.  These posts build into a questionnaire to help coaches, consultants and freelancers prepare their relational marketing strategy.  If you want to understand your prospects, you need to understand your use of psychographics.

What are Psychographics?

We often think markets in terms of demographics, things like sex, age, race, location – all things most people are unable to do much about.  Perhaps these are more accurately described as your niche.  So, you may offer solutions to the problem of stress at work.  Your market is naturally those who experience stress but you can choose your niche based on sex or location, etc.

Psychographics are a better way to describe your market, it’s desires, frustrations and personalities.  There is a closer tie into your market through psychographics than demographics.  (When you follow the second link, please note I did not use the word psychographics, using demographics to cover both demographics and psychographics.  This is fairly common usage.)

Your Market

  1. Describe your market in terms of their psychographics. Consider their desires, frustrations, hopes, personalities, dreams, interests, career, culture, education.
  2. Do you use demographics, eg age, sex, location, etc to further niche your market? If so, why do this?  Remember this is not necessarily wrong but it should be intentional.
  3. Prepare an avatar for your market. Focus on what they believe and why they believe it.

Finding Your Market

Be aware, often the best market is the one that finds you!  You can anticipate the kind of people likely to be interested in your offer.  You might decide to target business owners.  As you find customers, work out what they have in common.  Why have they chosen you?

Markets are in constant flux and people who choose you today may lose interest tomorrow.  However, if you find people who know like and trust you, they are likely to listen to what you say.  Be alert to changes among your followers and respond to them.

Never forget markets are communities.  Consider how you can encourage conversations between your followers.

This is the second in a post sequence to help businesses reflect on their relational marketing.  Sign up below to get a weekly round-up of posts and a pdf about how you can make sure you charge what your business is worth.  Most weeks you will receive an email with useful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

profit loss risk

Why Your View of Personal Finance is Crucial for Business Success

Over the last five Mondays, I reviewed five stages in realising your business purpose.  It helps to have a separate financial purpose, informed by your view of personal finance.  This encourages you to think about business finance independently of business purpose.

I often quote John Kay, a contemporary economist, who says:

“Profit is no more the purpose of business than breathing is the purpose of life.”

Breathing is not why you are alive but you must breathe!  Profit is not why you are in business but you must make profit.

So, let’s deal with two mistaken positions.

Too Positive about Finance

It is possible to focus solely on money.  You can accumulate wealth that generates income.  If you do this you can, through activities such as real estate, trading shares, referral marketing; generate a monthly income for your old age.  This way the need to work recedes as you grow older, meaning you choose when to retire or fund experimental business ventures.

This is not everyone’s cup of tea.  I question this approach when someone accumulates vast amounts of wealth, way beyond their capacity to spend it.  This has an adverse impact on the business economy.

Passive income is a viable approach to finance, possibly finance for your business.  But note it is about what you do with your income.  It is not about how you get finance from your business.  You can choose to build passive income but my focus here is how you get the finance you need to build the passive income in the first place.

The danger is financial concerns dominate business purpose.  This is why I suspect anyone who guarantees vast sums of money if I follow their method.  There are a number of very good reasons to question such claims:

  • It is not possible for everyone to increase their income in this way, for reasons of competition or because there is not enough money in the economy.
  • Your context is not the same as the person who is selling the method – they cannot know you will use it the same way they did or whether what you use it for works with their method.
  • You may not, for very good reasons, commit to the approach. You have other demands on your time, perhaps you misunderstand it or find you can’t do it or disapprove of it or …

The solution is to work out your financial strategy as you design your business.  This helps you assess the claims made by marketers.

Too Negative about Finance

The other common mistake to take a too negative view of finance.  Obviously, taken to extreme, this will lead to business failure.  If you are in business, you are open to the possibility to making money!

A negative attitude to money expresses itself in more subtle ways.  These include low prices, giving services away free or at cut prices, fear of asking for money.

This attitude betrays a lack of empathy for customers and prospects.  The problem is not so much your relationship with money as your attitude to people.

People pay for something if they believe they need it.  They find the money if they need your offer.  You want customers ready to make a sacrifice; they are the ones committed to the success of your coaching.

If you fear letting them down, you must ask yourself why you are in business.  You can solve their problem and so they will pay for it if they want your solution enough.  Your confidence plays a large part in conveying your ability to deliver the solution.

If you genuinely believe only bad people charge high prices, why are you, a good person, so determined bad people get all the money?  It is monstrous to think charging high prices is somehow dishonest.  We shall see in later posts other good reasons for charging high prices.

Conclusion

So, this boils down to pricing.  You need to find a realistic price that delivers the income you need.  You need confidence in your offer and its price to ask for money and close the deal

In my next post I look at pricing your offer and suggest price is integral to your offer’s credibility.

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?

Cartoon girl up ladder, reaching for stars

What Will Your Coaching Business Change?

In this new sequence, I explore relational marketing in-depth.  The challenge is to build a new questionnaire to help coaches, consultants and freelancers work with their relational marketing strategy.  Today’s focus is: what will your coaching business change?

Each post is in three short sections.  A thought for the day, a few questions and a call to action.  Feel free to share thoughts and actions in the comments.

If You Act, You Change Things

Marketing leads to change.  If nothing changes as a result of marketing then you are not marketing and you do not have a business.

Change can be accidental and unintended.  Even with great planning, prepare for unintended consequences from your actions.  These can be positive or negative.

Good marketers look beyond their customers to the change they want to see in the wider world.  Their invitation to their customers is to join them in making that change.

Your Vision

  1. What change are you seeking? This is your vision or business purpose.
  2. What are the existing and likely outcomes of your current marketing campaign?
  3. What could you change to align your vision with your marketing?

Finding Your Vision

Your vision does not necessarily come solely from your head.  It is better if you can build your vision from observations of the changes your business is making already.  This may be hard if you have a new business but take stock of the changes you see and build on them.

The word Vision implies things you see.  Even a ladder to the stars has to be secured to the ground.

This is the first post in a sequence to help businesses plan their relational marketing.  Sign up below to get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how you can make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you will receive an email with useful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Finger pointing to green smiling emoticon.

How to Promote Your Purpose through Business Outcomes

In this post, we complete the sequence about business purpose, from vision to offer to marketing to outputs with business outcomes.  This progression is sequential although there can be loops, especially between offer and marketing. Sometimes things happen at once, eg outputs and outcomes can develop in parallel.

What is a Business Outcome?

Outcomes result from your client’s outputs.  So, when someone completes your package and begins to meet their goals, their context changes. Perhaps as they intended, although there will be surprises too.

Outcomes can be hard to identify because they are usually qualitative.  Mostly outputs are easy to measure but measurements lack meaning.  You get 20 people to a training session, they all complete it and say they’re happy with it.  How have things changed as a result of their training?  It is sometimes possible to follow-up but their evidence will be mainly delivered as stories.  Stories are not easy to summarise as evidence and so this step tends to be neglected.

Let’s say your client wants to change management in their industry for the better.  You address this by coaching the client to be a better manager.  If they are a better manager, this should be reflected in their outputs.   But how has management improved generally in their industry?  There could be a delay of several years, before the client shows their approach works better than the industry standard, assuming nothing knocks them off course.

Not all outcomes are difficult.  Wider benefits can happen instantly and so long as someone takes note, they are easier to capture and prove.  So, let’s take a look at some examples:

Outcomes for the Client

The relationship between outputs and outcomes can be straightforward.  Your client gets more clients or better results from working with their clients.  They see their business growing and the changes that follow to their lifestyle.

Are these positive or negative changes?  Increased numbers of client increases income and this may result in positive changes for their family.  But if it means the client spends more time working, this may affect family relationships adversely.

It is not uncommon to meet outputs and find the outcomes are not as comfortable as predicted.  Underestimating the work that goes into increased outputs may be one reason.  This is why many promises made by coaches are misleading because the cost of their delivery is not considered.

Not all outcomes relate to lifestyle.  If the client has a business purpose, they expect to see it met through their outcomes.  So, a business coach’s client wants to see change in the management culture of their organisation.  They learn to become a better manager and use their example to show others the way forward.

They will be judged under the prevailing culture of their industry.  Does their new approach deliver what the industry needs to deliver, usually profit?  The pressure will be to use tried and tested approaches, especially if early outputs are disappointing.  The result can be entrenched positions.

This does not take into account unexpected outcomes.  Something unpredicted that in retrospect is caused by the changes.

The coach must help the client understand likely outcomes.  The line between genius and folly can be very fine.  The coach helps the client anticipate issues and consider how to handle them.

Outcomes for the Coach

The client’s outcomes are also the coach’s.  There is a risk in depending on someone else’s behaviour to generate your outcomes.

Positive outcomes are not infrequent and usually clients, delighted with them, become supporters of their coach.

Negative outcomes are not infrequent and the coach must not deny responsibility for them.  They should take on clients, who take responsibility for their own decisions.  The coach helps clients make decisions but they must not be the coach’s decisions.  To return to the coach and say “I tried what we discussed last time and things went pear-shaped – can you help me work out what to do next?” is ideal.  The world is essentially unpredictable and trying new things is no guarantee of success.

The return of the client chastened by circumstance for more help is a brilliant outcome for the coach.  It demonstrates trust.  The client understands their business and need for an informed sounding board during a crisis.

For the coach, this is an important outcome because it shows a change in the client towards a calmer, better informed worldview.

Outcomes and Vision

Is this enough to meet the coach’s vision?  The knack is to see the outcomes of your work and compare with your original vision.  Ask how the vision manifests in the changes you have caused.  Real life is always messier than visions of possible futures.

A negative outcome might contain elements of the original vision.  There may be clues that show how the vision may to be modified.

If you intend to change your vision in the light of outcomes, ask whether the change covers up failure.  Or have you identified new needs and so need to change your vision so that it is more relevant?

The pathway from vision to offer to marketing to outputs to outcomes is not set in stone.  It should be malleable as you learn more about the changes you want to see.  Your vision in five years’ time may be very different to today’s and yet you should be able to see the path you took. So each revised vision is more relevant, informed by similar values.

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?