Category Archives for "Market Together"

Old wooden ladder

How to Find Opportunities for Joint Ventures

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

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

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

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

Research into Potential Markets

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

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

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

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

Finding Pros and Cons

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

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

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

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

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

Referrals

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

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

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

Endorsements

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

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

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

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

Joint Ventures

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industrial skyline with smoke pollution

Why You Must Aim to Transform Your Business Environment

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

The Inevitability of Transformation

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

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

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

An Invisible Hand?

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

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

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

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

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

It Takes Time to Change Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Engage In-Person and Online Marketing

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

Broadcast versus Intimacy

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

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

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

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

Web Design is Dead

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

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

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

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

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

Systemic Marketing

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

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

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

Co-operatives and Franchises

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

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

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

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

Identify Viability Before You Invest

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

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

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

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

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

Someone stood on a rock in the sea with arms outstretched

Increased Business Growth by Slowed Marketing

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

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

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

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

Confidence Closing the Deal

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

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

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

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

Solving Problems

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

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

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

Handling Objections

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

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

Leadership

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

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

Having a System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statue of possibly Archimedes pulling some sort of lever

Leverage Your Marketing by Slowing Down

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Your Message Across

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

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

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

Speaking

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

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

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

Websites and social media

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

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

Writing

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

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

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

Answering Objections

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

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

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

Confidence

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

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

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

Make sure you see everything.  Complete the form below to get access to my mailing list.  You’ll get notice of future blog posts and receive my Thursday emails.

random assortment of objects arranged to illustrate bricolage

Slow Down Your Marketing for Clarity

Clarity communicates and the first person to benefit from clarity is you!  If you are clear, then your message shall be clear to everyone who hears it.  This takes time and so I’ve devoted this and the next 2 posts to the benefits of slow marketing.

(This is the seventh of 12 posts based on my new website, Market Together.  Go there to find previous posts.)

Who else benefits from clarity?

  • First and foremost, your market. They need to know you are speaking to them, understand their problem and have a credible solution to it.  If you are not clear, you are likely to switch them off.  Once off, it will be hard to switch them on again.
  • Your customers, past and present, may be able to promote your business but they need something clear to help them. Clarity helps them write testimonials or speak about your business.  Don’t assume they understand your offer, you must do the thinking and share it with them.
  • Other businesses, especially where there is scope for collaboration. If your partners struggle to understand your business, the chances are they will be unable to help you.
  • Other people who ask about your business. Not everyone who asks about your business will be in your target market or a business collaborator.  But if you have a brief account of what you do they can understand and remember, then they may occasionally put you in touch with people in your market.  They won’t totally get what you are about but sometimes the random connection pays off.

What Do You Need Clarity About?

You need to be clear about your business and to do that you need to validate it.  Validation is where you systematically, review the main elements of your business.  The circuit questionnaire is one way to do this and helps to clarify 5 elements of all businesses.

Many business owners do not really think about their business as it is and embark upon marketing something they do not themselves understand.  Taking the time to really get to grips with your business “as-is” is valuable time spent; time often swallowed up with the day-to-day pressures of running a business.

It is likely you know more about your business than you realise.  To take time to think about your business systematically, will help you bring aspects of it to your conscious mind that otherwise pass unnoticed.

The circuit questionnaire covers five elements:

  • Your brand
  • Your products and services
  • The problem your market experiences
  • Your solution to this problem
  • Your market

If you are clear about all five, you have a viable business.  You may be able to improve on one or all of them.  You cannot improve on these aspects unless you know what they are now!  To improve one element is likely to improve the others.

You may be able to introduce improvements without validation but you are likely to add random bits on.  Bricolage is the word used for art created from whatever is to hand.  Without validation, you are likely to build a monstrous business that makes little sense to the onlooker.  With validation, your bricolage shall be more coherent and make sense to others.  There is virtue using what comes to hand but the key to success is being able to integrate new ideas into your business, not just add on another bit for the hell of it.

Clarity is empowering and so in my next post I shall explore what you can do with that clarity.

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

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

Apple handed over at fruit stall

Market Together for Mutual Support

Sharing specialist skills becomes possible as trust develops between businesses.  They may meet specifically for mutual support or else they may have a common interest, such as sharing a building.  This post takes this further and suggests possibilities for closer collaboration.

Giving and Receiving Mutual Support

I almost left the word “mutual” out of the title of this post because it is possible for support to be one way.  A carer offers support and may receive little in return.  A business-owner might offer support to another business out of friendship or to a relative and not seek anything in return.

There’s no problem with one-way support but it is not the topic of this post.  Mutual support is the point, the goal, of collaboration.  The idea is all businesses that engage in collaborative marketing benefit from their work together.  There is no guarantee of success, of course but the aim is to find opportunities for mutual benefit.

Imagine a group of businesses have worked together for a period.  They have viewed each other’s marketing campaigns and provided feedback.  They have exchanged specialist skills and assisted each other with aspects of their marketing campaigns.  Now they are ready to launch.  Are there possibilities for mutual support?

This will depend on the nature of the group.  Similar businesses may have a lot to offer each other but may compete for similar markets.  Very different businesses may not compete but their markets may not be relevant for all the businesses present.

How Support Works

Ask each other: how can you help get my message out?  Pool ideas in a positive way.  You are seeking win-win strategies.  Here are a few possibilities:

  • Shared mailing lists – this is possibly the most straightforward possibility. Each business prepares an email and the others circulate it to their mailing list.  The message should include a link to a landing page so that if someone responds from one business they can sign up to show interest in another.  If someone has a few hundred people on their list, only a few are likely to be interested in another business.  If they can opt to sign up for the new business’ list, they can receive emails from the new business too.  A note from the original business may help if the people on their lists trust them.
  • Recommendations – circulating an email to people on your list recommends another business. The email could include a request to recipients to pass on the email to people they know who may be interested.  But recommendations can happen informally.  Most people can carry a few flyers for a few favoured businesses and make referrals when there are opportunities.  There are many variants on distributing printed material such as flyers and posters.  Discuss possibilities together and get beyond asking people to carry them around to pass out as they see fit.
  • Joint ventures – affiliate schemes may be possible, where each business receives something in return for every business that signs up through their contacts. Other possibilities might be special offers from the other businesses when someone signs up for one of them.
  • Joint packages might be another possibility. Here two or more businesses offer the same package as part of their portfolio of packages.  If the customer opts for the joint package, the participating businesses collaborate for its delivery.

Isolation and Collaboration

In-depth exploration of mutual approaches to marketing can be rewarding.  Marketing a business is always hard work and made harder by the isolation many business owners experience.  Collaboration helps find support short of employing staff.  Even with staff, collaboration with other businesses is still valuable.

Marketing is always risky but there are steps you can take to reduce risk and use time and money effectively.  A lot depends on being able to identify opportunities and move swiftly to take advantage of them.  This becomes easier if you have done the foundational work on your business.  Paradoxically, to increase speed of business growth you need to slow down your marketing.  Next time: the power of slow marketing!

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

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

Cartoon 2 business women implies mutual benefit

Market Together to Share Specialist Skills

Last Wednesday, I opened the topic of collaborative marketing.   I explored feedback and suggested there is real value to your business when you offer feedback to other businesses and receive feedback from them.  As relationships deepen, it is possible to offer specialist skills.

Giving and Receiving Specialist Skills

It may be you would ordinarily charge for specialist skills.  But is it right to charge a group that offers support for your business in exchange for support for theirs?

The principle in such a group, is to offer specialist skills without charge.  By all means, if you commit a lot of time to helping someone, point out the costs in moving focus from your business to their’s.

The aim of collaboration is mutual benefit for all involved. The priority is to each person’s business first.  The ethic is one of self-interest.  I help you because in doing so, my business benefits.  Businesses work together for mutual benefit.

No-one needs to keep detailed records about what each person does for each other person.  However, there will from time to time be work that comes up that requires substantial commitment of time and resources.

So,  get agreement from collaborators about how to handle big jobs.  This can be by exchange of services, paying perhaps at a reduced rate for services or referral to someone outside the group.  There is probably no need to have hard and fast rules but it helps to know what the options are.

Why Specialisation Works

So, why does sharing specialist skills work?  This happens where trust grows in a group, so its members commit to supporting each other’s businesses.  These are informal arrangements that fall short of joint ventures.

  • Sharing skills is an opportunity to develop new skills. Imagine there is a demand for a particular skill in a group.  Maybe one member of the group sees an opportunity to support their own business by learning the skill.  It is an opportunity to practice new ideas.
  • You may find people in your group offer specialist help you have never considered using for your own business. If they offer something you have not considered, you need to apply the test: is this something of potential value or a distraction?  Listen to what they say.  They know their method and may see opportunities in your business that you can’t see yourself.   So, be ready to receive specialist help, even if at first you don’t see its relevance. Which leads into the next point:
  •  Collaboration extends experience.  It is not just narrow benefits added to your business but new possibilities from extending your experience as a business-owner.
  • If you can provide business support for co-business-owners, they can provide social proof by showing others what you can do, writing testimonials and when they speak to others about your business. High quality opportunities to show what you can do can be really valuable.

Sharing skills requires a degree of trust.  People need to know they are not wasting time but also need to be confident they can leave you to prepare something to help their business.  As trust grows, it becomes possible to go further and provide increasing support for others.

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

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

Shadows of 2 people in conversation, with arrows showing the flow between them.

Marketing Together Generates Feedback

So, you have three strategic objectives: your business purpose, financial purpose and lifestyle purpose.  These will set your feet on the right road, so now the question is whether you travel your road alone or with others.  To travel with others means you have opportunities to give and receive feedback.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Most of the time, while I’m giving feedback on others’ websites or marketing, part of me is wondering why I don’t follow my advice!  It is always easier to see other people’s faults, far more clearly than your own.  So, giving feedback can sharpen your act!

Receiving feedback can be enlightening too but not always so much as giving feedback.  Mostly people give feedback by offering a solution.  Usually, you need to understand the problem and not be distracted by someone’s solution.

Say you get feedback about your website, like there are too many words or a heading is not legible.  Even something as simple as this demands an answer to the question: what exactly is the problem?  Try to steer the conversation towards defining the problem the reader perceives.  They may not understand something you’ve written, so find out exactly what they don’t understand.  What might initially appear to be too many words, may mean a search for the right words.

Once the problem is clear, you can move the discussion onto what solutions may be possible.  Note there are always several possible solutions and the first one you think of will not always be the best.

Remember it is your business and your decision.  Get the most from feedback by taking time to step back and understand the problem.

Why Feedback Works

You need to spend time understanding the feedback you receive.  Assuming your feedback is helpful, what accounts for its positive value?

  • People bring different life experiences to the conversation. They see things in a different way to you.  If they are in your target market their views may be of more value than those who are not.  However, do not discount insights from anyone.  Anyone by entering a conversation about your copy, might bring some new insight to the table.  Don’t assume it’s worthless.  Anyone who is not you, can potentially bring a new insight, something that has never crossed your mind.
  • As you spend hours carefully preparing copy for your marketing campaign, it is possible to lose perspective. Insights from someone who is not so close to your work can be valuable.  Some basic assumption you have made might conflict with success of your marketing.  Someone who doesn’t understand your work is not necessarily being obtuse.  Find out what they struggle with and discuss how it can be made clearer.  Maybe you need to say something obvious!  The person you speak to may not “get” your business but the conversation may reveal volumes about how they perceive your marketing.
  • And of course, argument leads to transformation. An intense conversation, can lead to deepening insights or completely new ideas.  Someone from a completely different business to yours might open up an entirely new way to look at your business.  This revelation may be as much of a surprise to them as it is to you.

So, you see feedback can be valuable whether it comes from someone who is new to your work or familiar with it.  It is up to you to listen carefully and engage with your critics.  Feedback done well builds trust and this may open up new possibilities for specialised support.

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

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

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Lifestyle Purpose and Your Work-Life Balance

For a super rocking fun time marketing plan you need three strategic objectives and this is the one almost everyone misses because they do not take it seriously!  You need a lifestyle purpose for your benefit and your business’s.

There is a story of a business man on holiday beside a great lake.  He finds a fisherman, dozing in the sun and they get into conversation.  “Why are you not out fishing?”, the business man asks.

“I’ve caught all I need to feed my family today.”

“So, why not carry on fishing?  You could sell the fish to buy an outboard motor for your boat and that would take you to other parts of the lake where there are more fish.  More profits would mean new, bigger and stronger nets.  With the additional money you could buy a second boat and pay people to fish with you.  In time you could have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“And what then?”

“Then, you could sit back and relax.”

“What do you think I’m doing right now?”

There is no doubt lifestyle choices make a big impact on your business.

Your Benefits

Most people have heard of work-life balance and it is important.  You have a young family and spend every hour God sends outside your house, marketing and delivering your business.  Fifteen years later, your business collapses through exhaustion and you return home to find a house full of moody Goths who have no idea who you are and a partner who has forgotten you exist.

Lifestyle benefit is for everyone, even those who live alone.  I value the freedom to live my life in the way I want to.  I walk for health and that means I walk every day.  Being free of having to go into work means I can do as I choose.  Some people have hobbies or sports they pursue and value opportunities to do so.

Your business needs to fund your work-life balance, that is the costs of non-essential business activities.  Your lifestyle purpose should inspire your financial purpose.  What do you need to fund your non-business activities?

Business Benefits

But your business benefits from your lifestyle purpose too.  If you are to come across as fresh, as someone who enjoys your work, you need to take lifestyle seriously.  The worst boss you ever have is likely to be you.  It does not have to be that way.  Everyone struggles with this but you can plan how to get to your chosen lifestyle.

But you also need space to review and reflect on your business.  Many people, especially coaches, get so caught up in their job, they forget their business.  How many people schedule in the time they need to take a step back and review their business?  You need to create space to do this, so that you’re not distracted by day-to-day demands from your clients, partners and others.

Finally …

So, there you have it.  You need business, financial and lifestyle aims for your marketing plan.  They’re related but you need to focus on all three if you are to do justice to your business.  This may seem daunting.  But don’t worry, you’re not alone.  There are many others in the same boat and this is why collaborative marketing is important and so my next topic.

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

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