Monthly Archives: February 2018

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Does Permission Marketing Work for You?

When I started as a local marketing coach, I signed up to several email lists from online marketing and business gurus.  This means I wade through numerous emails everyday and don’t read most.  A few have my attention but most do not get a second glance.  Permission marketing is where people appreciate your material.

Understanding Permission Marketing

Permission marketing demonstrates the difference between technical and adaptive marketing solutions.  Email marketing is a technical solution.  You learn how to create, maintain and use email lists and they are a great marketing tool.

Go further and learn how to write great emails with captivating subject lines.  If you can get to emails that recipients find a pleasure to read, you are almost there.

The challenge is to find people who appreciate your efforts and look forward to seeing your emails in their inbox.  This means you are interesting and engaging to them.  You have their attention and so their permission.

Generating Loyalty

  1. How do people feel when they sign up for your e-newsletter, blog or lead magnet?  How do you know?
  2. What do they believe about your ability to deliver on your promises?
  3. How are your messages to them different from junk mail?

How to Win Permission

This is a long game.  It takes time to win attention.  You must turn up day after day with a consistent and engaging message.  People must understand what you stand for and those who find it attractive will reach out to you.

The model most often promoted could be described as give give give take!  You give a lot away in the hope that somehow out of gratitude, your people will in time buy from you.  This can and does work but does not in and of itself build loyalty.

The reason is marketing is often about what the business owner wants.  They lack empathy with their market.  They are not tuned into the lives of their followers.

This is not an either or situation.  I suspect many of the most successful online gurus have a mixture of loyal readers and others who were initially interested.  It is complicated and success is likely to find a range of people with different needs and so different degrees of loyalty.

What makes the difference?

It is the models we use to think about business.  The most common models are confrontational.  Competition between businesses is one example but this easily spills over into relationships with customers. Attempts to motivate customers to buy more, are likely to generate a confrontational market.  But this is how we make sales, isn’t it?

Any business has to sell.  The issue here is the model we use as a context for sales.  We can use unexamined sales models based on confrontation.  Alternatively we can seek non-confrontational models.

For example, the journey or pilgrimage.  You as a business are on a journey and invite others to join in.  Everyone brings something to the journey and is responsible for their part in it.  Some aspects are held in common while others are unique to each person.  The aim is to meet both the goals held in common and those of each person.

Following this twenty-fifth 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.

Forest scene with face in the trees

What to do to Reduce Anxiety

Moving on with Elements of Value, from life changing to emotional values.  As we descend Bain’s pyramid, the scope of these values narrows.  Perhaps these next 10 values are about self-control.  They aim to help you follow the course you are on and not so much change course.  Remember, with emotional stability, we are more likely to make life changing decisions.   One important emotional issue is how to reduce anxiety.

What is It?

Anxiety is an emotion we all experience and sometimes find hard to name.  In the body it often accompanies tightening of the muscles on either side of the abdomen.  This correlates with taking part in any stressful activity, eg public speaking.

Different people are anxious about different things.  For example, public speaking energises me.  I often do my best work speaking and cannot remember a time I felt anxious about it.

On the other hand I find interacting with people much more stressful, often becoming tongue-tied or expressing myself badly.  This is odd because I can speak to an audience without a script but get anxious when speaking one to one.  So, this is not about rationality.  If your client is anxious about something, they may be aware it is irrational (I am) but that doesn’t really help.

Value for the Client

The aim according to Bain is to help the client worry less and feel more secure.

Worry builds into stress and so anxiety is often a prelude to stress.  Strengthening resilience may be important.  Social meetings make me anxious but I go to them.  If anxiety means we stop doing things, it becomes a serious problem.

I don’t generally worry about meetings.  I’ve been to hundreds and know what to do.  I still feel anxious but I don’t worry.  What I have to do is find a purpose so that I don’t spend all the time hiding in a corner or seeming bad-tempered.  Public speaking can provide the role I seek, for example.

Feeling secure, perhaps better termed confidence, is where we are not obsessed by what can go wrong and can actually function.  We all have coping strategies and perhaps to be more effective we need to change them.  This is the role of a coach, to help the client work out the most effective way they can use their strengths to bolster their weaker aspects.

Your Offer

This may be stress coaching but I find, as a marketing coach, elements of reducing anxiety are necessary.  Sometimes we find workarounds together.  Maybe some clients need more specialist help.

One of my roles as a coach is to help clients name their problems and if it is anxiety we can look at the specifics together and work out support the client needs.

I suspect most coaches need to reduce anxiety because it is a common reason clients do not perform at their best.

This is the eighth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

Next:  Rewards Me

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  • Functional 14
Folded newspapers on doorstep

Why Public Relations and Publicity Don’t Sell

Public relations and publicity don’t sell because they have more to do with your ego than your business.

Brand and Direct Marketing Redux

During the 1980s, I wrote articles about unemployment projects for the Teesside Advertiser.  This was voluntary and I did it for a local church-based organisation committed to supporting the long-term unemployed.

Mostly I wrote about woodwork shops.  They were in vogue at the time with a smattering of car mechanics, food preparation and needlecrafts.  There were a few stand out projects and I remember  foremost, a course put on by a few church leaders called “Dark Holy Ground”.  A course for long-term unemployed and of all the projects I visited, with the most profound impact on their lives.  Why?  Because they based it on listening to stories.

Inspired, I wrote one of my best articles, the only one the Advertiser refused to publish!  Why?  My best guess is that it was religious.  But most of the woodwork shops were religious too.  Going deeper it was edgy.  It was not the sort of thing the Advertiser published.

When you enter the world of Public Relations and publicity, you in effect hand your marketing to someone else.  Someone who cares about their bottom line and has no time for or interest in your message.  Win an award and they’ll be on your doorstep.  That’s safe.  Tell them what the award was for and tread on dangerous ground.

It feels good to be featured in established media but it is brand marketing and many businesses that win such publicity find it does little if anything for sales.  You can spend a lot of time and money chasing publicity but it rarely generates the results you need as a business.

Publicity Tactics

  1. Can you list publications that would write about your business?
  2. Which ones would write about you in a way you can share with others?
  3. What is it about your business that would cause a reporter to take an interest?

Making Publicity Work for You

Some businesses are born publicised, some businesses achieve publicity and some businesses have publicity thrust upon them.  Assuming you have received publicity by some means (and it is good), what is the next step?

Remember this is brand marketing and so the costs in time and money have no relation to the benefit you receive.  An article in a publication will disappear from view in a matter of days.  So, the question is how you can give it a longer lifetime.

There are two dimensions to this.

First, you may be able to give an original or one-off article a greater lifetime.  If it is online, you can link to it on social media and your website.  If it is not online, you can still reference it: “As featured in …”.  You may be able to display the article somewhere, eg restaurants feature reviews in their windows.  Sometimes you see them in offices or some public space.

The other possibility is other media may take an interest once you break through.  Once you are a story, it is easier for other media to take up the story.  You may need to fan the flames.  If they are actively seeking you out, you may need to manage their interest.  Not every story is bound to be positive.

Remember when you hand over your story to others, they make it less edgy.  If you want people to talk about you, consider other forms of marketing.  Perhaps publicity ultimately results in trust and not so much in interest.

Following this twenty-fourth 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.

Belonging depends on which side of the gates you are on

Building Belonging Brings Value

Most marketers are into building belonging.  Many talk about building a tribe.  But there is a distinction between marketing to a tribe and actively and openly building one.

What is it?

A tribe is people like us.  You sell to them because people like us buy things like this.  If someone belongs to such a tribe, they value what you offer because they believe it is right for them.  Their sense of belonging increases but they might equally be unaware of the tribe they belong to.

So, one choice is to show how your offer enhances their sense of belonging.

Value for the Client

So, what is it about belonging, your client finds valuable?

Status plays an important role but status alone is unlikely to make the deal happen.  Online activities, for example, have an initial status appeal but in time the name of the teacher and course seems less attractive. Most people don’t know these names and why should they trust you recycling what you learned from others?

Being a member of a group that provides genuine support may be really attractive.  Here you are not sitting at the feet of a teacher so much as discussing and working on problems together.  This experience has status appeal.  Being part of an inner circle can be very attractive.

How to Get There

It is difficult to move from nothing to an inner circle in one bound.  To build a group requires trust.  Your tribe does not belong to you.  They exist mostly in isolation unaware of other members or that they belong to that tribe.

So, your task is to raise awareness for members of the problem they share.  Some listen and take up your offer and so you begin to build trust.  You find yourself able to introduce members of the tribe.

Your Offer

You could offer membership of a club where you teach or discuss issues of common interest to meet in-person or online.  There are numerous closed groups online, where people choose to gather.

Meetings can be social or educational and more usually both.  They can be for learning, networking, support, consultancy on some situation, case, project or problem.

This is the seventh of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

  • Emotional: Next:  Reduces Anxiety

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  • Functional 14

Finding a Remarkable Offer

Leaving aside the dubious theology, this song says it all.  You make your mark when you stand out from the crowd, when you are market a remarkable offer.

No-one Cares About Your Vision

Face it, no-one cares about your vision or your business.  So, what do they care about?  Well, first status.  We’re all seeking something to enhance our status; that inspires, sustains, rewards us.

Vision is important; it keeps you going and you seek those willing to work with you on your vision.  But make no mistake, the reason they work with you is to develop their own thing.  It is not your vision per se that inspires, it is your vision’s compatibility with theirs.

This is why being remarkable is so important.  You need to be heard by those seeking what you offer.  And the key to this is being remarkable, they will talk about you; when you make an impact, you are heard by those who need to hear you.

Are You on the Edge?

  1. How can you push what you offer right to edge? How can it become truly remarkable?
  2. Do you offer something that might not work? Knowing this, what would make people try it?
  3. What story do you have that does justice to your remarkable offer?

Don’t Go for Mister In-Between

If you have a market, the chances are you compete with others.  Not everyone looks for the edge that makes their offer worth talking about.  Those who seek a compelling story and dream an offer that gives them win an edge over others in the market.

What works is to offer an experience people want to talk about.  You need to work out how to get a conversation started that generates new insights.  If people reflect on your marketing and receive new insights from it, they become interested in learning more.

Furthermore, the ones who do find new insights from your marketing are likely to be the best clients for you.  The chances are you are on the same wavelength.

Following this twenty-third 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.

Old letters, photoes and dried flowers

Provide an Heirloom for the Next Generation

Of the five life changing elements of value, this one is perhaps most distinct.  The focus is on an heirloom for future generations and not so much the business owner.

What is it?

My brother-in-law’s family have a Bible that is a few hundred years old.  They have a distinctive first name passed from generation to generation and the family inscribed detail of each person so named in it.  That’s an heirloom.

As Bain suggests, you can sell products to pass to future generations.  Items of jewellery, for example.  The value of an heirloom goes beyond its monetary value.  The fact that one or more ancestors used the item adds to its value, sometimes called sentimental value.

This is a narrow definition.  Legacy might be a better word because we can leave much more for descendants.

Value for the Client

My father never aimed to leave a fortune to his children.  He believed we would be better off learning skills to provide for our families.  So, note not everyone is interested in leaving an heirloom or legacy for their descendants.  However, legacy implies several possibilities.  Here are a few.

Equipping your children with the knowledge and skills they need.  Parents who pay for their children to study at University for example, are in effect leaving a legacy.

Parents pass on skills, knowledge and know-how to children.  If as a business person you know how to make money, these insights are of value to future generations.

Another legacy is to pass on your business.   My father hoped I would take on his business but my interests were elsewhere.  But where there is willingness to take it on, this can work.  To pass on the business early can mean you develop new interests while still available to lend a hand as the new business owner navigates unfamiliar waters.

Or else, pass on elements of the business.  If you are in property for example, you might leave a property portfolio for each child.

And of course, you can sell the business and leave money.  There are several reasons you might sell your business and legacy may have a minor role, as you may need to provide for immediate needs during retirement.  This is a complex area and if your business has value, you are likely to need professional help to sell it.

How to Get There

All these options have potential for business support.  They all benefit from specialist help.

Someone who wants to make provision for their children, must consider the best steps they can take.  One obvious point is children may have different needs and inclinations.  I admired and copied my father but I was never interested in the one thing he worked for.  My sister may have been a better bet to take over his business but at the time that was not something anyone considered.

There are many stories of wayward children who squander the family fortune.  Others may be willing but lack business sense or may resent a parent who interferes in what is now their business.

Where it works out, legacies can be of value but they need careful planning and realism.

Maybe in the end an heirloom is the best option!

Your Offer

There are opportunities for coaches or consultants in this area.  Simply working out the best strategy can be a real challenge.  So, can complex activities such as selling a business.

This is perhaps mainly the domain of financial advisors but the issue may come up for other coaches and consultants.  There’s no harm asking about legacies as a part of a business growth or marketing package.

This is the sixth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:




Next:  Affiliation and Belonging

  • Emotional 10
  • Functional 14
desk top with various media including typewriter and camera

Understanding Story Telling

Story-telling is a recurring theme in this blog (search for “story”). Twice a month I run a story-telling session for business owners.  However, I still find understanding story-telling in marketing challenging.  The challenge is to tell a story that connects you and your prospects.

From Me to You

Mostly, stories used in marketing are personal.  Why?  Well, they are easier to tell!  You know what happened, how you felt, what you did and the outcome.  The problem with many such stories is they do not reach out to your prospects.

Some people argue you need a story that shows you understand your prospects’ problem.  There is a lot of truth in this.  The challenge is to make your prospects feel the connection.  I may have experienced the problem first hand but can I show I know how my prospects feel?

The key is to tell their story too.  Show you have empathy and really understand what they are going through.

Your Business Story

  1. How do you think your prospects perceive your story?
  2. What difference does your story make to theirs?  Do you know and tell their story?
  3. What changes when your stories interact?

Stories that Transform

If your story makes an impact and brings about the transformation you seek, there are some  things to remember.

Consider who is the star of your story.  If it is a personal story, can you make your prospects centre stage?  There is tension here.  Your story is unique, while a story about prospects in general will be less personal.  Even if you find a story about a particular prospect, why should that story be any more effective than yours?

Help your prospects understand and avoid their problem.  Start focused on them and then show you understand the problem too because of your experience.  Later you can offer more examples, to show how the problem manifests.

Then show how your story leads to solutions to their problem.  Show them how to achieve what they want, make the connections they want and ultimately realise their dreams.

A Journey

Take the listener on a journey.  Show how you thought and experienced the world in a particular way.  Then show how something happened, a turning point led to seeing the world in a different way, to new experiences, new skills and success in some field.

There are other story structures but the main point is to tell a story listeners apply to their situation.  It is about how you faced the problem they faced, what you tried and results that resonate with what they want.

Following this twenty-second 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.  Sometimes you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

man at desk with his head in his hands

Motivation: How to Help Clients Achieve Their Goals

Motivation, the third of five life changing elements follows on from the previous two.  Some coaches provide hope, support self-actualisation and motivate their clients.

What is it?

When you provide hope you help your client build a strategy or design that determines their goals.  Self-actualisation is the means to meet those goals.  Once you know where you’re going and how to get there, motivation makes sure you actually do it.

Shipping is sometimes the hardest challenge business-owners face.  Those attempting other challenges, eg keeping healthy, can face similar challenges.  Shipping is where we actually put something into the world and so subject it to others.

Value for the Client

Motivation is not about getting out of bed in the morning.  Inability to get out of bed and other forms of procrastination are usually related to other fears.  For the business person it is fear of having a treasured idea rejected by the public.

Motivation is a combination if reassurance and accountability.

How to Get There

Reassurance is close examination of fears.  How likely are they to happen?  What steps can you take to prevent them or mitigate their effects?  If they happen, what benefits might they bring?

Accountability is agreeing you will discuss reasons for delays.  Many business owners work for themselves and no-one cares whether they succeed or fail.  Someone who cares and demands explanations can be really helpful.

Your Offer

Fear of shipping is common and severely inhibits business growth.  A coach who holds their clients to account can be valuable but the value of this service may not be immediately clear.

For this reason, motivation can be combined with other elements of value.  There is little value in motivation to do what turns out to be the wrong thing and so, combined with providing hope and self-actualisation, motivation can add to the perceived value of an offer.

This is the fifth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

  • Emotional 10

  • Functional 14