Category Archives for "Marketing"

sofa possibly with teddies

How to Start Conversations Online

Sarah was puzzled by another thing.  She knows she produces high quality material.  Whenever she asks someone to comment on her writing, she receives a positive response.  When she speaks in public, she receives a warm response. 

Place the same material online and nothing happens.  Her analytics show people read stuff and yet few comment.  Why do so few engage?

Customer Conversations

Just like Sarah, most of her customers are busy people.  How do busy people read?  Online, they don’t read in detail, they scan.  They are pressured for time.  Many people prefer to read books or readers that are easier on the eye.  Online they usually seek something and used to most of what they see on screen being of little relevance.

Many people use audiobooks and online they are more likely view video or audio.  Audio is good for busy people because they listen while they do something else.  However, there is still room for text.  Here are a few thoughts.  Some of what follows works under more than one heading. 


Busy people scan and so they must see immediately what this page is about.  By inviting those interested to read on, you invite everyone else to move on!  Anyone who stays scans the rest of the page to ascertain whether it is worth reading in detail.

When someone scans the page they read headings and subheadings, captions, highlights, links.  Anything that stands out from the main body of text.  Make sure standout text conveys what the page is about in summary.

Text accompanying video or audio is likely to be read.  The reader wants to know whether it is worth hearing the recording.  A summary also reminds someone of its content, if they decide to listen again. 

Remember to include a call to action.  What do you want the reader to do next? 

Blog Posts

The same applies to blog posts although perhaps visitors expect more words.  It is possible to be too long.  Reading online is still tiring and time pressured.

Choose any call to action but most common to blog posts is the invitation to comment.  The big difference between commenting and replying to an email is comments are public.  It’s possible to discuss the post with other readers.  (You can do something similar on your website – however be sure to get a conversation going.  Somehow an empty comments section on a webpage seems more of a problem than a blog post without comments.)

How do you get people to comment?  It is not easy.  Ask questions.  Invite comments.  Always reply to comments. 

Social Media

Again the main way to respond is through comments.  You are likely to receive likes and shares (the names of these features vary with platforms). 

Generally, informative posts get fewer comments than posts that pose questions.  Controversial posts are also receive more comments.  Watch others in businesses similar to yours.  Which of their posts get comments?


Networking is a great way to build lists.  Give people your business card and offer to add them to your list.  Connect with them on a social media platform to keep in touch but joining them to something specifically yours is better.

Why should someone want to connect with you?  Engage their attention.  Be distinctive.  Try not to sound like everyone else!  If you have a stimulating conversation that really interests the contact, they may be minded to continue the conversation online but don’t forget to offer the possibility of a coffee – it’s still possible to converse in the old-fashioned way!

What About?

Indeed!  You can afford to be mysterious or challenging in real life.  You can gauge responses and modify your approach as you go.  Online you don’t even know when someone reads a page or post.  If they comment, you can reply but most readers move on, leaving no trace of their presence.

Many are simply not interested and possibly never would be.  But some may engage if they see the right thing.  Social media is a good way of finding those who hang around until they see the right thing.  Once they engage, invite them to join your list. 

Valuable content is important but it is hard to generalise.  Make sure headings or subject lines, are compelling to capture attention.  There are email marketers I always open and start to read, others I mostly ignore.  Those I ignore may be compelling reading for someone else. 

Generally, keep the message as short as possible.  Start with a story and then link the story to a single piece of teaching.  Finish with a call to action. 

Master this basic model for a successful email or post before you try anything else.  You can keep this underlying model and vary it in effectively infinite ways.  How you do that is a matter of practice. 

Remember to use every opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with clients and prospects.  We will look at this in more depth next time.

old fashioned telephone

How to Generate Phone Calls with Emails

Sarah prides herself on not being pushy.  She firmly believes, from her own experience, that people are put off by the overt sales pitch.  She certainly refuses to read advertising copy.  And she is sure her market is similar.

Her problem is no-one responds to her emails.  She shares good content and when she meets people on her list – they tell her they enjoy reading her emails.  But no-one ever replies or comments – let alone expresses interest in her business. 

The Call to Action

Sarah needs calls to action.  To respond people need several things.  They need to know

  • a response is required
  • why they need to respond
  • how to respond.

To put it bluntly, you need to tell people exactly what you want them to do.  This does not have to be “Buy my stuff!”  For example: “What do you think?  Hit reply and let me know …”  

This way you start conversations and so deepen relationships with the people who reply.  It also gets them into the habit of responding to you.

You may think you don’t need to tell people how to respond to an email.  It may need clarifying if the email arrives via an email service such as MailChimp but mostly the aim is to encourage a response.

There are many ways to respond and responses have different meanings in different contexts.  Replying to an email is private, whilst commenting on a post is public.  There may be more than one possibility.

For example, you could encourage readers to call you. 

Emergency Calls

The easiest is the emergency call.  If you are a plumber or electrician – you have little problem encouraging people to use the phone.  The challenge is how to get them to call you and not a competitor. 

Even if their call is not an emergency, it is something people generally find straightforward.  They need work doing and call to ask for a quote.  This is standard practice and both of you know the script.

Why Would They Call You?

But for many businesses, receiving phone calls is not so easy.  The problem is, if you offer a one-off singular service, a call implies interest in you.  Your competitors are not able to offer a comparable quote. 

If they call you they are likely to already be in or close to a buying state.  It is worth asking what steps they would pass through to be motivated enough to call you.  If someone makes the call, what is the immediate thing that prompted them to do so? 

What stages do they pass through to arrive at the point where they call you?

Should You Call Them?

Yes!  However, there are a few things you need. 

First and most obvious is their phone number.  Email marketing can help.  If you have a sign up form on your website, include their phone number.  If they leave it, presumably they are happy to hear from you.  You could include it as optional or required.  The big advantage of making it a requirement is it shows they are willing to play ball.  If someone is put off by a request for a phone number, the chances are they are not a serious prospect.

You need a plan.  What is the objective of the call?  It is possible to sell over the phone or an alternative might be to arrange a one-to-one meeting.  There is no limit to what you can sell over the phone but it is worth considering your options.

If you have something like a place on a workshop, a call to people you expect to sign up might be a reminder and does not really require a face-to-face meeting.  If you are selling long-term coaching a face-to-face meeting may be more appropriate.  A lot depends on what you want from the meeting and your level of experience or confidence. 

Email marketing helps you move to a point where a telephone call is the obvious next step.  You do this through online conversations. 

braided loaf

Email Marketing through Professional Content

Sarah understands that to be credible as a business person, she needs a marketing strategy.  She needs to build a list to market her business online and she has made a start.  Today she was to write her first marketing email.  This is how she demonstrates her professionalism.

Now she encounters another problem.  She has so much to say, where should she start?  Should she tell her readers about her business and how much she charges?  But her list was mainly family and friends – sending them an advert seemed a bit pushy – she’d never hear the last of it!  So, should she tell them about nutrition so they would understand more – but it seems an awful lot to put in one email …

Exclusive Content

The first thing Sarah needs to consider is the difference between the people on her list and those who drop in through social media.  People on her list have expressed interest in her business.  They may be more or less committed – the least committed are likely to unsubscribe – so she can assume they have some interest in her business.

How can she reward them for being subscribers, persuade them to stay subscribed and eventually to buy her services?

Sarah meets some of these goals by being interesting, mysterious, humourous or suspenseful.  Any of these encourages the reader to open her emails and read them.  But this is not enough.

The key is something sometimes called FOMO – “fear of missing out”.  If Sarah’s email content is exclusive, her subscribers will believe it is worthwhile being on her list.  They open and at least scan all her emails. 

How much should she give away?  Some business people worry if they give away too much, there will be no incentive to buy.  Understand a couple of things about information online:

  1. Any information you share is likely to be present online in hundreds of places.  It is unlikely you will come up with something unique.  Even if you do, it will be copied and adapted by hundreds of other people.  You take time to find out about what you write about and combine it in various ways.  By all means hold back material for your coaching, but don’t worry if it leaks out because …
  2. Coaching is not an information dump.  The coach helps their client understand, make choices, practice, try new things.  Working out the best solution for them is always a unique problem.  They need help to think things through and find a solution that works for them. 

Bringing Two Strands Together

Your email series covers ground midway between elementary material you share on social media and complex struggles with reality many people engage in as business people and are the real purpose of coaching.

There are many ways to organise this material.  How a particular business works out their content strategy is a topic suitable for coaching.  However, we can illustrate the type of thing a successful content strategy could use. 

Genius is often found in combining two topics.  Find the right two topics that resonate together, producing new and valuable insights. 

I’m a marketing coach who specialises in one small part of marketing.  I do this because deep expertise in one area enhances practice in many others.  My specialism is business storytelling.  Without a business narrative, everything else is immensely difficult.   Going deeper into storytelling, brings meaning to other aspects of marketing and indeed business as a whole.

It soon became obvious to me that storytelling alone was not enough.  I needed another strand.  Strategy is something I have specialised in for decades.  Many business people are great tacticians with poor strategic skills.   

Strategy is why storytelling appeals to me.  Good stories are well plotted and plotting is similar to strategy.   Plotting is how we organise the raw content of a story to make sense of its direction, purpose and audience.  Strategy is what makes sense of a marketing campaign.

Your Signature Content and How to Deliver it!

Many people think of signature content as a one-off story, distinctive to your business.  Some business owners have a signature story.  But not everyone.  Everyone must however have signature content.

So, what is it?  Think of a piece of content you have produced.  You show you prepared it by appending your signature.  But what if someone reading your content thought it must be by you before they reach the end and see your signature? 

The content itself contains your signature style.  Only you could have written that article.  Now you can say, if you want more, if you want to see the insights I have from years of work, mountains of reading, hours of reflection, then join my list.

Of course it’s not as simple as that!  The point of creating a list is to build relationships with those who are on it.  Building such relationships is a long-term project but equally it can be faster.  Using the phone is a valuable marketing tool, alongside your email list. 

A sieve with icing sugar.

Email Marketing Enhances Credibility through Automation

Sarah said goodbye to her client, sat down and sighed.  The session had gone really well.  Her client was delighted with the service she received.  Just like the other two.  It felt great to deliver a really professional service.  So, why was it so hard to gain credibility in the wider business world?

Sarah needed just three clients per month to break even and cover her bills.  It couldn’t be that difficult, could it?  She had invested several thousands of pounds in training over several years.  Now she was a skilled nutritionist and making a massive difference for her – so few – clients.  What was she doing wrong?

Credibility and professionalism go hand in hand.  It is hard to imagine a professional who lacks credibility or credibility without professionalism.  So, what is the difference?

I’m using professionalism in the old-fashioned sense of particular expertise.  Usually this includes knowledge and experience.  The medical doctor knows the theory but also how various conditions present in a variety of patients. 

Certainly, if the professional lacks knowledge or experience, they lack credibility.  For many professions though, credibility includes capacity to deliver.  Can the professional marshal the resources they need to the required degree?  It is possible to have professional ability and lack capacity to deliver as a business. 

This post covers credibility as a business, the issues all businesses must address, irrespective of their profession.  The next addresses how to communicate professional content online.

The Sales Funnel

This subheading implies a single thing called a sales funnel.  The concept is a funnel you might use in the kitchen, to fill narrow necked bottles.  It has a wide end and a narrow end and so channels fluids or powders into the bottle. For the cook, the funnel saves time and spills (loss of valuable resources).  Can the same be true of your sales funnel?

The analogy breaks down because the sales funnel does not save spills! Nowhere near the numbers who enter the wide end emerge from the narrow end as customers! Reality is more like the image at the top of this post!

If you are in business and can describe your sales funnel, you have a marketing strategy.  It serves several functions; it can be tweaked, reviewed and measured.  If you do not have a marketing strategy, you do not have a business. 

Your credibility as a business depends upon a marketing strategy that looks out for customers at whatever stage of your sales funnel they are at.  When potential customers experience your sales funnel, you must reassure them they are in safe hands, they can trust you to deliver on your promises. The details depend upon the nature of your business.  This is why I say there is no single sales funnel that applies to all businesses.

Social Media Alone Cannot Work

By and large, social media functions at the wide end of your sales funnel.  Use it to pique interest and build an initial following.  Social media may fulfil other functions, for example private Facebook groups help build community between paying customers.

Your aim is to move people from social media to your email list and website.  There are several reasons for this and I shall cover them in later posts.  Overall, moving prospects from social media to your own site gives you more control over their experience.

  • It is easier to sell within your own website and email list. 
  • Your marketing strategy is safer, protected from rule changes or suspension within social media platforms. 
  • It is likely there will be more charges for selling online as social media platforms work out how to sell services to businesses.  There’s nothing wrong with paying for social media support for your business so long as the service you purchase works for you.  But be aware the rules and the prices change and you have little or no influence over how and when those changes happen.

Your email list is the glue that holds together your sales funnel, including the social media elements within it.

Automating Your Sales Funnel

Your email list enables you to automate your sales funnel and increase your business capacity.  Once you have a name on your list, someone has expressed interest in your business and you can show them more material of interest, exclusive to people on your list. 

You increase your business capacity.  Automation saves time. 

You deliver regular information into their inbox.  Whatever social media platforms your prospects favour, they are likely to check their email several times a day.  You need to capture and hold attention.  Imagine if they see your email and trust you enough to at least open it and scan the content, based on past experience.

High quality content is essential.  Use it to win credibility by drawing upon your professional expertise. 

Cart drawn by two horses

How Email Marketing Builds Your Reputation

Early on, Sarah was concerned about her branding and asked a graphic designer to produce a logo for her emails, website and stationery. He did a brilliant job for a few hundred pounds. But now Sarah’s business has moved on and she has a dilemma. She has a distinctive and attractice logo that has mislead several prospects. Even though it is lovely she fears it could damage her reputation.

Branding is about reputation.  No amount of graphic brilliance improves your brand if your reputation is poor.  So, let’s begin by considering what branding is and is not.

What is Branding?

Most of us don’t drive a horse and cart these days.  Even so we see the impossibility of putting the cart before the horse and expecting the horse to push it along.  Would you really spend a few hundred pounds on your logo before you launched your business?  Really?

Your priority, during early business development, is to create a great product or service, to learn how to market it and sell it.  No logo will help you. A logo is a distraction – putting the graphics cart before the marketing and sales horse. 

It is possible a good logo makes your business recognisable and memorable.  But, especially in the early days of your business, is it worth investing time and money in symbolism that might have limited application?

Quality of graphics does not make a good brand.  When your positive reputation is associated with your branding graphics, they acquire value.  

So, choose a business name.  Choose a font.  Put together a logo using your font and business name.  You can do this in half an hour.

This way you:

  • save time and money
  • have a scalable logo.  Text does not go fuzzy at the edges when you increase its size.  (The same is true of icons and so use an icon if you wish.)
  • can update it whenever you wish or inspiration hits.

Many successful businesses use text logos.  Their logo evolves over time but remains essentially text.  Take a look at the logos on these sites:

These successful businesses have simple logos.  We admire them (if we do) because they are successful. 

What is Reputation?

How do you build your business reputation?  Reputation is positive when you get two things right. 

First, show you deliver on your promises.  If you promise a workshop on a particular day, show up and deliver that workshop.  If you are a coach and promise to help your client develop a skill, they must develop that skill.

So far, so good.  The key is accountability. For freelancers this can be difficult.  In employment, you meet requirements set by your employer.  As a freelance, you deliver to your own schedule.  The temptation is not to make your objectives public.  If you do, you have to meet them and you can turn that to your advantage.

Setting tasks publicly and meeting them demonstrates credibility.  An email marketing strategy sets public commitments and automates them. You show you plan your work and have capacity to deliver on your promises. 

The second thing you must get right is your teaching.  The content you promise and produce through your emails, shows you understand and deliver on your subject area.  That’s what I am doing as I write this blog post.  People on my list receive notice of it, while those who access it through some other route sign up if they find the post helpful.

Credibility alone is not enough.  Deliver worthwhile material – material your customers and followers value and this demonstrates professionalism.

Your Email Marketing Strategy

A sound email marketing strategy supports both professionalism and credibility.  The next two posts take each in turn and shows how.  Taken together professionalism and credibility enhance your reputation and add value to your brand.

Man with laptop and notebook

Three Essentials for Your Email Marketing Strategy

What do you need in place to support a successful business online? The Venn diagram shows three areas of expertise you need to build a productive email marketing strategy.

Allow me to introduce you to Sarah. Her business is going reasonably well but she needs to take it to a higher level. She longs for more customers because she knows those who use her services really benefit. Sarah has made a start developing her email marketing strategy. Each post in this sequence explores one of the issues Sarah faces.

This post describes three essentials for email marketing. This sequence of blog posts focuses on the third: media channels. Other sequences in this blog cover the other two essentials. Even when you have a clear vision for your business and know how to market and sell your products and services, the practicialities of getting your message out there can present a significant barrier.

Remember: for success you need all three working together, something all business owners find challenging.

1.      Your Business Why?

You cannot communicate effectively if you do not know and understand your business.  Here are 5 elements you need to know well:

  • Branding – how your business is seen from outside
  • Products and Services – how your business achieves its purpose
  • Proposition – your business’s why?  Explains why your business exists.
  • Problem – the problem, owned by your market, your proposition solves.
  • Market –  who they are and how you find them

2.      Your Business Narrative

The stories and teaching you use to explain your business why?  Stories and teaching depend upon your:

  • audience – people and context
  • media channel
  • sales funnel

3.      Media Channels

Most businesses use several channels, online and in-person.  Your strategy needs to look something like this:

  • Hub 1: Your website – likely to include several landing pages.
  • Hub 2: Your email list, built within an email service such as MailChimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft, Kajabi (there are others)
  • Spokes 1: sources that push new prospects towards your hub – eg social media, business cards, public speaking.
  • Spokes 2: Products and services – these may be online or in-person, so long as prospects can register and pay online.

Imagine a wheel where your website (Hub 1) and email list (Hub 2) are the hub and everything else is the spokes.

All your media channels (Spokes 1) should point towards your website.  You use these to market your business to new prospects.  Aim to engage with them to the extent they wish to find out more.  Great content in social media, points them to your website, where they find out more.  Once they visit your site, invite them to join your email list.

Use email to directly offer new ideas and training.  Encourage prospects to visit your website when you add more material, eg blog posts.  This should be genuine valuable material, unobtainable elsewhere.  

Use emails and your website to sell products and services too. 

This is a basic overview.  Your aim is to find an approach where these three essentials overlap to best support your business.

In future posts I shall explore this approach to marketing in more depth. Each post explores one of the 21 reasons email marketing is essential in more depth.

Multi ooloured email at signs

21 Reasons Email Marketing is Essential

When you tell your business story, you need a medium to tell it.  Traditional media include public speaking, drama and books.  What can you use online?  The truth is you must design an email marketing strategy.  Email is a flexible approach and the only way to build a secure online business.

Many protest they can build a business around social media.  The overriding reason why this is not best practice is email marketing is the only approach where you have complete control of customer information.

Bear in mind, email marketing strategies take time to implement.  Make a start today and start to see results.  But it takes time to design and build a system that works and requires minimal tweaking.  The 21 advantages I list below, assume an email marketing system that works!

In future posts, I shall add information about the 21 advantages.  Remember, every business is different.  There is no single strategy that meets the needs of all businesses.  Above all you need clarity about your business narrative; what is the story you need to tell?


Branding has little to do with graphic design.  Your brand is your reputation; what people say about you in your absence.  Visual and verbal representations of your business become captivating when people associate your brand with them.  If your reputation is poor, the best graphic design in the world will seem negative.

Build Brand (1)

When prospects enter your sales funnel, they stay there if they find quality content.  They may also tell their friends.  Emails that contain or point to quality content are always welcome, build your reputation and so your brand.

Build Credibility (2)

The same content builds credibility because it shows you deliver.  You invite prospects to journey deeper into your world.  They pay for access to exclusive content and services.  This depends upon the trust you build.

Look Professional (3)

The madcap chaotic world of social media is not always the best place to conduct business.  Nothing beats a thought-through sales funnel.  A funnel you own and control and adapt to changing circumstances.


Imagine a funnel.  The wide end is its front end and corresponds to fresh prospects, interested people who have not yet made a purchase.  Once someone makes a purchase, they enter the back-end, where you continue to deliver quality content and great offers.  The whole is about building relationships with prospects and customers.  This may be difficult, especially if you have a global market but it is not impossible.

Generate Calls (4)

Someone reads your email and takes interest in your services.  It may be natural for them to make a call.  How natural, depends on your business.  Emergency services are more likely to receive calls than coaches or consultants.  However, prospects are always more likely to call if they see a number and you encourage them to use it.

What would happen if you called everyone who joins your list?  This is a great way to build relationships.  However, it depends upon them giving you their number.  Why would they do that?  For overseas contacts you need Skype addresses or a similar service.  How would you get this information?

Start Conversations (5)

It is easy to reply to an email.  Encourage recipients to do so.  Once you receive a reply, can you move the conversation onto the phone and/or a 1-to-1?

You can support communication between customers too.  Be clear about the purpose of conversations and be certain they’ll actually happen before you make any promises.

Strengthen Relationships (6)

Let’s say you move prospects from social media to your sales funnel.  With social media, they communicate with everyone else taking interest or just hanging around.  They stay on social media when they enter your sales funnel, of course.

But consider the change.  In your funnel, it’s just you and them.  It is an opportunity to strengthen relationships.  Your aim is to move them to where they see the point of buying time with you.

Improve Communication (7)

Always reply, even if they like a post on Facebook.  Ask a question.  They may answer it.  Always try to deepen the conversation and probe for common ground.


Email marketing is a common and effective version of the sales funnel.  Emails combined with just about any other media are a great way to build relationships and increase sales.

Increase Web Traffic (8)

Use email to direct followers to your website, when you add something new.  You need two calls to action.  The first is the subject line to your email – does it invite, or better compel, the recipient to open the email?  Then you need a call to action to click the link to your website.

Once they are on the website there will be at least one further call to action, for example to sign up for or buy something.  You can see why clarity and compelling content is essential at every stage.

Generate Leads (9)

This is one big advantage of email over social media.  Emails can be forwarded to other interested people.  First, you need great content and then you need to ask!  Many people know others equally or even more interested in your offer.  Or perhaps maybe interested – no need to be picky!

Promote Products and Services (10)

Some people think email is dead!  If it is, how come social media depends upon it?  You see emails every day drawing attention to posts, tweets and the like.  You receive email reminders of events you have signed up for or notices of new products and services.  Many companies send emails, perhaps on a daily basis, that remind you they’re still there.

Boost Sales (11)

You can go further.  If you have a major product launch, use sequences of emails to raise awareness.  You don’t need a massive list to do this.  Use the promotion to grow your list.

Customer Relations Management (12)

Keeping track of your customers and what they have purchased or expressed interest in is another big advantage of email marketing.  There are effective ways to manage huge numbers of customers on the market but start with low-cost (or free) services and grow your business over time.

Build Capacity (13)

Email marketing automates online sales.  Develop a robust and effective system to extend your reach.  Email marketing is scalable.  However, other factors limit reach, such as staffing.


Like any method, email marketing introduces new technical issues.  However, it also resolves some tough issues.  Here are a couple.

Business Security (14)

Corporations own social media and they can (1) change the rules and (2) impose restrictions, if they think you’ve broken the rules.  Therefore, be ready for anything that threatens your business.  Keeping a list of customers and followers outside social media really helps.  Social media feed into your list.

Compliance (GDPR) (15)

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is largely taken care of through your email service provider.  Measures such as double opt-in, unsubscribe links and showing your business address helps you comply with standards automatically.  Remember though, you need to do more on your website to be compliant.


In their early stages, new businesses seek early adopters and find adaptive solutions to the problems they encounter.  Hence design of marketing is crucial during early years.

Some businesses go on to mass markets and so the design challenge moves from “how do we do this?” to “how do we remain true to our original business purpose?”

Marketing Strategy Design (16)

Email marketing has many advantages for the beginner.  It is inexpensive, scalable and imposes a systematic approach from the start.  It is highly flexible, not an alternative to social media but uses it strategically.

Design Products and Services (17)

Many online and offline products and services are highly compatible with email marketing.  Your email marketing strategy influences decisions you make when designing products and services.

Use email lists to test drive ideas or test products in beta.  It’s great to build something new, confident there is a market for it.


Most important of all, email marketing is how you communicate your business why.

Explains Your Business Why (18)

Help followers and customers understand why you’re in business.  When they understand your why, they are more likely to buy from you.  Use emails to take them further into understanding your business than you can on social media.

Help them understand how to help you achieve something they want to see happen.

Generate Anticipation (19)

People hooked by your Why, want to know what happens next.  People excited about your business are keen not to miss out.

Educate Your Followers (20)

Take your followers to new levels of understanding using teaching via email.  Also use email to point to new material on your website or blog posts.

Saves Time (21)

This is under the heading of transformation because a robust email marketing strategy transforms your life.  It’s your choice. Use the time you save to build capacity or pursue other interests or commitments.  You should find the latter happens as your business develops.

And Finally

I hope I have persuaded you email marketing is worth considering as the basis for your marketing design.  Even if you read the headings only, you see there are several powerful arguments in its favour.

Remember though, email marketing is not a technical fix.  You need to design a system that works for your business.  It’s not only the technical aspects that matter.  You must get to grips with content.  This is why I offer coaching, so I can help you figure out what works for your business.  Visit new pages on my website about my coaching offer.

In the New Year I shall offer a workshop where you can find out more about email marketing, the various options for setting up your own strategy and how to set about producing content.  Sign up below if you would like to receive notice of the workshop and other events designed to help you tell your story.

Also, in the New Year I shall produce a series of blog posts about each of these 21 reasons to use email marketing.  You shall receive notice of my blog posts, as they appear, if you sign up below.

sailing ship on stormy sea

The Myth of the Rational Consumer

You may think your clients make rational decisions; show them how you solve their problem and they immediately decide to buy!  If only the rational consumer existed!

The Rational Consumer

Right-wing economists who believe economics is a science, developed an imaginary construct, the rational consumer.  Assume thousands of consumers all behave in their own best interests and you can model the economy.

The political implications are catastrophic.  Some politicians genuinely believe the economy works in this way.  More than that they claim their madcap schemes are the will of the rational consumer.

Experienced marketers are aware the rational consumer is a myth.  Most people do not act in their own self-interest because they do not know what their self-interest is.

Why do people not act in their self-interest?  They have in effect two brains.  Their emotional brain is fast and overwhelming.  Their rational brain is slow and logical.  Often they act on their emotional brain before their rational brain kicks in.

This is not to say the emotional brain is necessarily wrong.  Marketers sometimes encounter buyer’s remorse, where following a good purchase the rational brain kicks in and finds reasons to regret the purchase.

Good marketers engage with both brains, using the urgency of the emotional brain and the logic of the rational so their client feels comfortable with their purchase.  Motivate your client to take full advantage of their purchase. This is especially important for coaches.

Behavioural Economics

  1. How does your behaviour vary from the profit-maximising rational behaviour classical economists insist upon. This may help you understand the reasons for your clients’ behaviour.
  2. How much choice do you offer your prospects? Remember too much choice can be counter-productive.
  3. How do you position your offers to guide prospects to your best offer?

Slow Down Your Thinking

There is value in thinking about your own thinking.  Too often we rush to a decision without giving it proper thought.

Take time when you make an important decision.  It is easy to get stuck in a narrow definition of the problem.  Try to see the problem in its wider context.  The problem as it initially presents itself is transformed when viewed from another perspective.  Consider using a coach or mentor to help with decisions.

You sometimes find another perspective by taking time out and allowing your mind scope to reflect.  Walking is an opportunity to do this and a good night’s sleep is also effective.  Even turning to another problem allows your mind space to find another perspective.

Beware of Premature Solutions

Beware of the solution that presents itself as a problem.  A prospect who presents with a request for help with their website is presenting a solution.  They may be right and have already done the thinking for themselves.  Still, it is worth finding out: what is the problem the website solves?  Once you know what the problem is, you can assess the proposed solution.  Sometimes a well-defined problem goes most of the way to solving it.

This is a really important point.  The costs of solutions masquerading as problems is immense.  An example of this, now in vogue is Brexit.  There is no agreement about what the problem is that Brexit is meant to solve.  Is it immigration or sovereignty?  Both these problems are poorly defined.  Worse the real problem may have nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with how we make decisions in the UK.  A referendum takes power away from representative government.  It disables opposition, which means the government is no longer held to account or able to receive feedback on its legislation.

Always find out what the problem is first! Sometimes clients resist this and insist on their solution.  If you can help them understand their problem, they are likely to see their problem in an entirely different light.

Following this thirty-ninth and final post in this series 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.

Usability Testing and the Small Business

Why are medicinal drugs so expensive?  The big pharmaceutical companies argue that we all need safe drugs.  Rigorous safety testing is costly and so the companies have to be compensated for the time and money they spend.  Does the small business have a similar claim about usability testing?

Usability Testing

Usability testing is costly.  Most of us are likely to hear about it through websites.  It is true websites are much improved by usability testing.  Some people design a website and then ask several people to use it, while they watch how they use it.

A great deal can be done more economically using AB testing.  Here you set up two versions of your site.  You randomly assign one version to each visitor to the site and see which over time is most likely to meet the response you seek.

With these tests, you get results within a few days, so long as your site receives sufficient traffic.  And of course, most of us don’t!

You can see how these methods can be costly in terms of money and time.  A large company can afford them but they want compensation through pricing.

The interesting thing is maybe small businesses are better able to bear these costs.

Always be Wrong

  1. Where are the edges you can dance on?
  2. What would you invent if you knew it was going to fail and wanted to see how it failed?
  3. How do you test your edges?


Imagine three concentric circles.  You and your business occupy the innermost circle.  This is the comfortable place to be.  Everyone else is in this circle and they all offer similar products and services to the same market. It feels safe but is actually the place of most competition.

The outermost circle marks the fringes.  Beyond here things are too chaotic to make sense to you or any credible market.

The interesting place is the circle in-between.  This marks the edge between the comfort zone and the fringes.  The secret about this circle is it is not a circle.  It is a polygon with many edges.

If you find your way to one of these edges, you have a small enthusiastic market.  You will not compete with anyone else for that market.  Perhaps this is another way of describing the early adopters in the innovation diffusion model.

The fabled Brick Rabbit is a good example.  It was a restaurant without food.  You brought your own, cooked it on the premises and ate it with friends.  It failed.

What Doesn’t Fail?

Mostly, businesses on the edge fail.  They fail because the costs of trying something new are greater than the likely returns.


But if it works, it can be brilliant.  Things to bear in mind:

  • The edge is not a compromise. In a market where people sell big things and little things, selling medium things does not count as an edge.
  • You are not seeking difference so much as to take something to an extreme.
  • So extreme, it is remarkable and gets people talking.
  • It will also get some other people walking away.

Pete Atkin nails it in this song.  There is a clear and small market (drummers) for a wristwatch that is truly remarkable.  How would you design a wristwatch for a drummer in the days of the mobile phone?

Following this thirty-eighth 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.

Someone amazed at what they see on screen

How to be an Impresario and Promote Your Business

A lot depends on personal circumstance but the draw of doing what you enjoy (your job) is at the expense of running your business.

Your Job and Your Business

This is a common mishap for the self-employed.  One reason you became self-employed is you enjoy doing something; you are a coach and you love coaching.

Perhaps you put on an event and as a result get 6 clients.  Maybe that’s hard to imagine but bear with me.

You set to work.  They pay your fees.  For the next 6 months you live and breathe working with these clients.  You are successful in every way, you have enhanced your reputation as a coach.

Then one day you wake up to find you have no clients and no money.  You have done your job, as a coach but neglected your business.  You need another event and it will take weeks to organise.  Many businesses fail because they cannot recover from such a mistake.

You need a programme of events, to keep yourself in the public eye, so you continue to enrol clients.  You may have problems managing new clients when still working with old ones but that is a different problem, one of capacity.

Let’s stay with the problem at hand.  What can you do to remain in the public eye?

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone

  1. What do you create that people will miss it when it’s gone (and hope it comes back soon)?
  2. What could you create that offers a real incentive to tell my friends? That makes news?  Who can get the word out in exchange for a share of attention?
  3. What would happen if your promotion didn’t work? What would happen if it did?

Impress an Impresario

Ok, a few definitions.  A promotion is an event you put on either in real life or online.  Real life promotions might be public speaking, a stall at a business fair, a workshop, training event, a network event over a meal, lunch and learn …  Online promotions might be a blog post, social media campaign, webinar, online course.  These need not necessarily be free events but usually they are fairly low-cost.  Your aim is to find clients.

An impresario is someone who brings people together to work on and promote an event.  You may be aware of impresarios in your own community.  You could join in with what they do.  If you spot a gap in what they are doing, perhaps you can step into the impresario role?

Next, do you need a schedule of promotions to keep you in the public eye?  I find it is best to have a few regular promotions punctuated by occasional experimental promotions.

Can you build a team who work with you because it helps promote their businesses and strengthens their message?  How you do this is flexible.  You might have a team who consistently work with you.  Alternatively, if you have a regular event, you can invite people to take part, perhaps as a keynote speaker or trainer.

Remember, the aim of marketing is to create change and so your events should aim to do just that.  How do you promote change? By being remarkable!  When people talk about your promotions, they are your audience.

Following this thirty-seventh 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.

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