Monthly Archives: December 2017

winds of change

Using Leverage to Change What Your Prospect Wants

This post considers a very basic change.  Do you want to change how your clients get what they want or do you want to change what they want?  You need greater leverage to achieve the latter.

How or What?

Let’s take an artisan baker as an example.  In terms of marketing, are they changing how you get bread or what you buy as a staple?

There are far fewer outlets that sell artisan bread than outlets that sell bread.  Unless you live close by you have to go out of your way to buy the bread you want.  If you really like artisan bread and perhaps the increased status it implies, you may be willing to go out of your way to buy it.  But in general it is harder to persuade many people to change how they get their bread.

But maybe you can persuade people artisan bread is a different product that is desirable.  It tastes better, it is healthier, better for the environment and so on.

For the coach or consultant, the question is: are seeking to change people so they use you for their services, eg as a website designer you do the work for your customers?  Or are you seeking to change your customer in some way?

You can immediately see both approaches have pros and cons.  The former offers little distance from your competitors.  It may work well if you have some speciality.  Otherwise people will use whoever is most convenient to them.  The latter is harder than the former but if you can do it, people are likely to seek you out.  The more difficult the task, the better the tools you need to do it.

What do You Change?

  1. So, which do you do? Change the way people get something or change what they want?
  2. What would persuade you to take up an offer that would change what you want?
  3. How do you market something that changes the way people think?


One important thing to consider is, if you aim to make difficult changes to what your clients want, do you have the time and the resources you need to do this?  What about experience?  What do you need to be successful in what you aim to do?

Changing what your potential clients want is more difficult than changing how they get it and more rewarding.  So, on reflection which of the following works for you?  (Fill in the blanks!)

  • For people who want this change (xxx), my business offers a different way to get there that is (xxx)(faster, cheaper, more reliable)
  • For people who want this change (xxx), my business wants you to want (xxx) instead.

You can see immediately, the first is easier than the second.  For the second, the challenge is what extra leverage can you use to change your prospects’ frame of reference?  To use such leverage is to create a new space in the market for your business.

Your leverage is strongly related to the benefits of your offers.  The better you are at explaining the benefits, the more leverage you are likely to have.

Following this sixteenth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You 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 receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Dream big and make it happen

Moving from Cognitive to Behavioural Approaches

This fourth of five movements is about taking action.  Some commentators on marketing talk about shipping.  They don’t just mean wrapping parcels and sending them to their customers.  Shipping is about getting an offer into the market.  Coaching is not just in the mind, you need to embody behavioural approaches. The best idea in the world is no use at all if it is not in the marketplace.

Not Just Courses

It’s true, especially for coaches, when you start in business, however good you are at what you offer, it is never enough.  The skills you need to get people to pay for your offer are completely different from the skills you need to deliver it!

Businesses that deliver products are lucky because all they need is packaging and a stamp.  They still need to market their offer, of course but they can focus on their marketing.

Mostly a coach’s offer is harder to deliver and their marketing is on top of that.  Marketing requires very different skills to coaching.

So, you have done your training and qualified in coaching.  Now you discover you need a lot of other skills to make clear what you offer your market.  You soon discover what works in theory rarely works in the real world.

Body, Mind and Spirit

The thing about getting your offer out there is it requires a completely different skill set to delivering coaching.  It engages the whole person; mind, body and spirit.

Of course, coaching itself may be equally all-embracing but by then the focus is on the paying customer.  When marketing your focus is on how you present yourself to prospective clients.

So, it involves your body and how you present yourself.  It is first impressions.  To a degree, marketing is showmanship – you need to look and play the part.

It involves the mind in the sense you need to show something more than your offer.  One thing I find very common is a focus on features.  You have a method, you know it works and you want to tell the world about it.  However the world is not even remotely interested in your method.  The world will take interest when you offer something they actually want!  They need to see potential benefits.

And the whole needs to be embodied through spirit.  You must show the way and lead by example.  This is more than an academic exercise, you offer something life changing and that needs to be embodied in your practice.

The extra you need to show is your common cause.  A new client does not merely recieve your wisdom, they become a participant in your vision.  Your spirit points beyond you and the client to some agreed goal, something you can work on together.


So, your offer at some level is an offer of yourself.  Perhaps this is less true if your offer is a thing.  But if you seek sales, you need customers who buy into your enterprise.

Whilst sometimes, you seek complete commitment from the customer, usually there are limits.  But the point is you need coherence between all aspects of your offer and it is this congruence your customer buys.

They expect complete commitment from you, even though they may not commit to you to the same extent.   You offer a service and so must show you can deliver it.  You take the initiative, seek a good match and share your customer’s values.

The promise to the client is always they can do so much more with your help.

This is the fifth post in a short sequence about intentional business development.  It’s all a part of Market Together.  Sign up below so you don’t miss a post and visit my new website by following the link.

  • Chris
  • December 18, 2017
  • IBD
Expensive cars

Marketing Through Status Roles

Here is something you rarely hear about from marketers!  Sales associate strongly with status roles.  This may not be immediately obvious but once you spot it, it is hard to see it any other way.

Class and Status

You may have heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”.  It is worth considering for a moment.  It is an old phrase, from well before the Internet.

Marketers have been aware status roles are important from the earliest times.  It is something we are reluctant to own up to, especially in Britain where we have a lot of anxiety around class.

Class is important, however much we may deny it.  In the UK, we are subjects of a monarch, not citizens.  We still have gentry as well as new gentry, funding their way through investments and accumulation of wealth.

UK people are conscious of gradations of class and even if we don’t care to admit it, most of us are acutely attuned to signals that mark class.

The connections between class and status are complex.  A trade union leader for example may have high status and low-class.

What is important to marketing is our perception of our own status and how it can be enhanced.  I feel it myself, in my desire to do training and read books.

How Does Your Offer Address Status?

  1. Can you think of times when you have made purchases to enhance your status, at least in your own eyes?
  2. How are your offers likely to influence the status of your clients? Is this explicit or implicit?  To what extent might clients consider status when buying from you?
  3. How could you change your offers to appeal to status change?

Status Roles and Ethics

That people consider status when making purchases is outside of your control.  We all do it (except perhaps a few saints, who being saints already have high status!)

Look, I want to be better than anyone else at what I do.  I want to be respected for my contribution.  When I am respected, I enhance my status.  I doubt there is anyone reading this post who can honestly say they don’t experience similar desires.  Some argue these are entirely legitimate aspirations.

Given status is important, how should a marketer react?  They need to be aware of status.  For some, a ruthless appeal to enhanced status increases sales and that’s that.  Coaches perhaps take a little more care.  Someone who hires a coach solely for reasons of status may not use the resulting opportunities in the most constructive way.  You see why the third question is important?  What are the implications of appealing solely to status and are you aware of the extent to which you do so?

Following this fifteenth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You 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 receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Multi-coloured dandelion clocks

Moving from Technical to Adaptive Solutions

Intentional businesses seek more than clients.  They promote real change in the world.  They may aim for change to a particular industry, eg to help people in the printing industry enjoy healthier lifestyles.  Or maybe to see their neighbourhood transformed.  So, they need both technical and adaptive solutions.

Technical and Adaptive Solutions

Businesses need both technical and adaptive solutions.  Mostly we depend upon technical solutions.  This is particularly true for marketing, where we have seen a massive increase in technical solutions, in recent years.  All businesses market and so the change for society is profound.

So let’s define terms:

Technical solutions:

  • A pre-determined outcome where, perhaps you try to increase traffic to your website using seo. You can be more specific and aim for a minimum percentage increase in traffic.
  • This happens according to an agreed plan. You seek a plan of action to optimise seo to drive traffic to your website.  Everyone involved understands and agrees the plan.
  • The plan is based on previous positive experience. If there is research to back up your plan, so much the better.  A good technical solution reduces risk.

Adaptive solutions:

  • There is no agreed outcome – the mindset is more experimental – try something and see what happens. Imagine a few businesses get together to design something new.
  • So, this involves limited risk taking, which means risk informed by experience.  There is no risk involved when you attempt something known not to work! Your intention is to develop something from which everyone benefits financially and so good business practice limits risk taking.
  • Your aim is to create community – where people invest in change. The businesses seek an approach that creates community in the marketplace by finding people who benefit from what the businesses offer.
  • And in so doing they seek to change the subject and the object of the change. This new community has a stake in the outcomes.  They define who and what needs to change as well as the purpose of the change.

The business world needs both technical and adaptive solutions.  Too often the claims of technical solutions drown out adaptive solutions.

Left Behind in a Changing World

Advocates of technical change often use the image of a toolbox.  Hunt around and you shall find the right tool for the job.  You have a flat tyre and so you need certain tools to replace the tyre.  There is some skill involved but after a few repetitions, you can become expert at replacing tyres.

But no matter how proficient you become at car maintenance, you will not find any way to cross a river in spate that has washed the bridge away.  Now you need an alternative means of transport.  Can you adapt to sailing a boat or flying a helicopter?

Technical solutions are efficient and when applied to the right problem, effective.  Without adaptive solutions, however, you are left with tools not appropriate to a changing world.  You discover new technical solutions through adaptive solutions.

Adaptive solutions are effective where they genuinely take into account the changes happening in their context.  Sometimes they take and apply a technical solution from another context.  As technical solutions develop, they open up possibilities for new applications.

Problems arise where you apply technical instead of adaptive solutions.  It is tempting to assume proven methods always work.  This is a real problem for businesses, who use off-the-shelf solutions, where innovation is called for.


Intentional business development is about transformation.  We develop something new that transforms the context within which we operate.  Every business does this to some degree.  Where there is clear demand for a product that can be manufactured and distributed, maybe less so.  But for the coach or consultant, the chances are they offer something different, something that addresses issues where the market is not fully aware.

In marketing there are many technical solutions.  The problem is many people have no grounds for choosing one instead of another.  You don’t have to be around for long before you’re told you need to use a website, social media, seo, a sales funnel.

You may need some or all these but without understanding what you sell, what you want to achieve, the chances are these methods will not work for you.

Your clients seek transformation of some aspect of their lives.  They seek a solution to a unique problem.  When you sit down together the chances are there is no clear idea of where your work together will take you.  The clarion demands of the marketplace do not help.

This is the fourth post in a short sequence about intentional business development.  It’s all a part of Market Together.  Sign up below so you don’t miss a post and visit my new website by following the link.

  • Chris
  • December 11, 2017
  • IBD
Spider on water, held there by surface tension

Marketing Through Trust and Tension

We’ve all experienced marketing campaigns that aim to instil fear.  They communicate fear because the marketers are fearful themselves.  Panic selling creates panic buying, in the unlikely event it achieves anything.  Without fear the marketer introduces their market to trust and tension.

Trust, Tension and Action

To sell you need to build two things: trust and tension.  No-one buys from you if they do not trust you.  But equally they won’t buy if they do not experience some tension, something they need and feel they lack.

Ideally, you build tension as you build trust.  The tension part is an obligation on your part, if you offer something of real value.  If you know people benefit from your offer.

How do you build trust?  You cannot take action and build tension without trust.  Usually trust grows as you take action.  As you build tension in your audience, you build trust because you take action.

To build trust you take action

To take action you create tension

Taking Action

  1. Think of a positive experience of marketing (it could be yours or anyone’s). How did they build tension between “That’s what I want” and “I don’t have it yet”?
  2. How do you take action to create tension?
  3. Why should people trust you?

Your Marketing Design

The tension between “That’s what I want” and “I don’t have it yet” is old-school marketing.  Our challenge is to build trust and tension but there is more to it.  You must design your marketing strategy to take into account things like:

  • Pricing and other package details
  • How you engage with prospects and customers
  • The design of your service
  • The story you tell

Your aim is to change your market’s story.  You want people to view the status quo in a different way; to see your offer as an alternative to standard offers.  You seek to bring change.  Change requires action on your part and that action creates tension and builds trust.

Following this fourteenth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You 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 receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Stylised speaker and listener

Moving from Individual to Collaborative Business

I recently completed a series of posts about working in private (Otium) and public (Negotium).  This is different because it is a movement in how we understand business.  All business involves movement between private and public.  This post is about how we perceive business itself – is it for self-enrichment or enrichment of many?

Private and Public

It may be tempting, once you identify your business through discernment, to set out as a self-employed person to make your fortune.  Indeed, it may be essential.  Even if you can sustain outgoings exceeding income for a period, actually making a living is pressing.

This conspires to focus on self-interest at the expense of others; to miss the possibility that self-interest may be better served collaborating with others.

While discernment requires private contemplation (Otium), movement into public (Negotium) should naturally involve movement into collaboration with others.  It is not simply making an offer.  The sustainable approach is to enter into conversation with your market.

Your first step is to identify your market, which can be difficult.   Fortunately, you have competitors and they can show you the way.  Competitors offer similar products and services to yours.  Unless you offer something unique, you have competitors.   Your challenge is to find a market they are missing and enter into conversation with that market.

Your market and your competitors’ markets share the same problem.  You work together to increase awareness of the problem.  This is likely to increase the size of everyone’s target market.

Listening into Free Speech

Your next step is to enter conversation with your market.  You do this by meeting people who express interest in your offer, for a one-to-one.

The aim of this meeting is for both of you to hear what your prospect is saying.  This is really important for two reasons.

  1. The prospect needs to articulate their problem. Most people live with their problems and never share them.  They hardly know what the problem is themselves.  They hear you speak or see your offer and it triggers recognition of their problem.  Now they seek a space where they can hear what they are saying.    This is free speech, not in the political sense of permission to speak in public but in the personal sense of voicing the problem.
  2. Listen to what they say for two reasons. Their way of describing their problem helps you develop a solution that genuinely helps your market.  The more listening you do, the more likely it is you find solutions that have a better fit for your market.  The second reason is you may find this prospect has a better fit with one of your competitors.  Usually it is better to work with those who have a good fit and pass on those who do not.  This reduces the possibility of dissatisfied customers and enhances your profile in the business community.

I am because we are

We live in a Cartesian society.  You will remember the philosopher Descartes rationalised thinking through “I think therefore I am”.  This principle of modern philosophy is common ground for most thinkers today.

But what if it is not the entire story?  We experience formarion in language and culture by listening to others.  So, it is not a massive leap to see that we function at our best when we are intentionally part of some community.

The key to this movement is “listening” but telling (or selling) is modern business’s primary goal.  We need time in private to work on our offer of something different.  But when we move into the public sphere, our aim is to build community, if our business is to be intentional.

The point of intentional business is sustainability, building a community who help one another by doing business.  If we aim to make loads of money, we may succeed.  But what we succeed at is effectively reducing the money in circulation.

Together businesses can meet the needs of their markets.  In doing so, they create relationships that enable communities to flourish.  This needs to be the focus of the business-owner’s intention.  How do we create the spaces where businesses flourish and build community together?

This is the third post in a short sequence about intentional business development.  It’s all a part of Market Together.  Sign up below so you don’t miss a post and visit my new website by following the link.