Category Archives for "Caring"

rose bush

How to Make Business at Leisure!

The Romans had two words to describe the relationship between home and working life: Otium and Negotium.  These delineate the relationship and help us answer the question: is it possible to make business at leisure?

This first post in a sequence about work-life balance, focuses on Otium and I shall consider Negotium in a future post.

What Do You Want?

Otium is often translated as leisure.  However, this is not a good translation because it separates home life from working life.  It is perhaps better translated as what happens in private in preparation for working life.

Another interpretation might be self-development.  This is closer but perhaps still misses the point.  Self-development is sometimes tied to work.  What training do I need to do my job properly?  This is important but I would argue it is Negotium – a part of your public life.

Otium is much more about accomplishments and experiences that make you the person you are and equip you with something to share.  From the business perspective the question is not so much what you need to do to meet the needs of your business as what you uniquely bring to your business.

For example, my background is in community development.  Now I offer coaching in marketing.  I occasionally get told by more experienced business people that this background is not professional enough.  Maybe there is some truth in this but actually, it is my life experience that adds value to my offer.

I have experiences to draw on, skills I have practiced over the years, which are of great value to my chosen business.  When you work in a situation where there are too few resources, you have to be resourceful.  Running a small business and community development are not that far apart.

Flourishing

So, the question becomes: what do I want from my life?  Imagine you have a rose-bush in your garden.  The worse possible outcome will be for the buds to wither and drop off.  What you want is the buds to open and the bush to flourish.

As a gardener you need to carry out various activities, eg feeding, watering, pruning, weeding to help the bush to flourish.  The same applies to life.

There are three dimensions to this in constant flux.

  1. You need a cause, something to commit to, a change you want to see in the world. Your business is likely to be your main cause and so this is Negotium.
  2. You need a vision of your own personal future, the person you wish to be. This may be a range of activities and interests that help you become this person.  This might include activities such as sport, hobbies, music, reading, religion, etc.
  3. Your relationships, again moving towards the public. This includes family and friends but also things like public worship, political activities, etc.

However, there is a fourth dimension, serendipity (and of course its opposite, the unhappy accident).  Life throws up opportunities and disasters. Our triumphs and tragedies can all transform into something of value.

The Catholics call this experience formation and it has both dimensions – activities of our own choosing, disciplines, and those that we have to take in our stride.

Seen this way the boundaries between business and leisure are less clear then perhaps we believe.  The question becomes: is the aim of your life to achieve your business aim, your financial aim or your forgotten aim of becoming a human being fully alive?  Are all three possible?

We aim solely for financial success at our peril.  Many business owners understand their business aim is integral to financial success.  How many forget the human being at the heart of it?

The challenge is to unscramble what we want out of our lives and businesses.  This will be the topic of my next post: what is my business offer to myself?

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Benefits from financial success include investment in the world

Who Else Benefits from Financial Success?

You start with a financial vision, reflected in your pricing and marketing.  This results in benefits for your clients, your outputs.  But actually, your clients’ experience includes outcomes beyond immediate benefits.  The client who solves their immediate problem experiences improvements in the rest of their lives.  They join their vision to yours and see their vision realised as they improve their performance.  But who else benefits from financial success?

The real value of financial success is to see your business purpose realised through changes in the lives of people around you, your business outcomes.

Other Businesses

Your success inspires others, gives them hope.  These do not always become competitors.  If you increase prices, you are likely to need fewer clients and so there will be more people in the market than you can handle.

It is possible your success will increase the market.  Your response could include:

  • Expand and take on staff
  • Work in partnership
  • Offer training to help others engage with your new market

Your vision is important here.  You don’t want your market flooded with fly-by-night coaches who do not understand it and discredit your approach.  Supporting those interested in supporting your vision can result in greater expansion and benefits to all involved.

Investment

Investment is not limited to money.  With more money and time, you can invest in causes; into the vision behind your business.

Your reputation and expertise becomes valuable to others and various causes welcome association with your business.  In the early days you are likely to have credibility without being well-known.  You can choose what you support and present your credentials when you need to.

Should you invest for free?  Investment implies payback and I always advocate working out of self-interest;  remember the basic rule of mutuality: “I help myself when I help others.”  So, yes, by all means choose causes that support your business aims, including financially but remember generosity is your aim.

Family and Friends

Others who benefit from financial success are family and friends.  It’s not that you have more money to spend on them.  Your success is likely to be modest in the light of claims made by many marketers.  Remember the Pareto principle, 80% of the money made through business will be held by 20% of businesses.

This partly accounts for business failures.  However, you don’t have to be in the top 20% to be viable as a business.  Just aim for sustainability.

The value to family and friends is your presence, being there for them and not an absent benefactor.  Your aim is to find an equilibrium, where you balance work and lifestyle to be able to help others do so too.

This post brings my posts about the second, financial aim of businesses to a conclusion.  But it opens up the path for further exploration of your third lifestyle aim.

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Woman considering benefits from high prices, by looking at a graph.

How Your Client Benefits from High Prices

Can you list benefits from high prices for your clients?  They boil down to how you structure your business.

Business Structure

How do you understand the way finance works for your business?  There are many possible financial objectives and your business may adopt several as it develops.  You can choose to maximise sales, revenue or profit, for example.  Your choice determines how you market your business.

So, when you estimate the money you need, decide the financial structure to meet that objective.  For example, if you seek maximum sales, you must increase traffic to your business and consider how quickly you convert as many as possible.

If you maximise revenue, seek clients who can afford your high-end offers. This may mean reduction in traffic and increased conversions.

Your clients receive a better service from you if you know what you are doing!

Their Confidence in You

When your client trusts you, they are more likely to share openly with you.  Price tells them how much you value your offer.  If they don’t think you value your offer, why should they trust you can help them?  Furthermore, if they see you as successful, you are likely to have inside information to help them be successful too.

This applies to all types of coaching.  Say you coach people for stress reduction.  If someone faces a crisis, they look for someone with a proven track record so they have confidence their coach can help them.  At a time of crisis they may want to meet more often or have access to their coach as things develop.  They will expect to pay more for this level of service.

The same applies for resilience coaching.  Someone in a responsible position wants a coach to equip them for the inevitable crises.  They expect to pay for an effective service.

It is easy to see why self-confidence is important.  If you do not believe you are worth a high price, how do you persuade your high-end clients you are worth hiring?  If you make a first offer of a high-end product, you can always downsell to a low-end product.  This establishes your worth and so long as the low-end product is clearly a lesser product, you establish your credibility.  Someone with fewer resources to commit can be reassured by the prices they cannot afford.

More Time

Your aim is to create more time for your clients as you increase prices.  With limited hours in the week, knowing how much you need to earn, work out how much you need to earn per hour.  Offer high-priced products and you need fewer clients and have more time to devote to each client.  This is true for both preparation and face-to-face time.

More Resources

With higher prices you have more resources to devote to your clients.  So long as you budget for resourcing your offers, there are many ways to improve your client experience:

  • Equipment, eg cameras, tablets, etc.
  • Room hire so that you can meet in comfort
  • Personal development, training and coaching for you.
  • Books and other reference materials for the clients
  • Hire specialist support for the client, this will normally be in the contract with the client
  • Hospitality for the client, eg meetings over lunch.
  • Spaces at events created by you, gets you an audience and is a bonus for the client.

Self-Confidence

Over confidence is a possible downside.  What happens if success goes to your head?  There is a species of arrogance, sometimes among successful coaches and consultants.  Many business owners see this and do not want to be perceived this way.

The main thing to remember is most people lack self-confidence.  Being under-confident is more likely to be your problem.  They ask: “What if I am not as good as I think I am?”  To which the obvious response is: “What if you are better than you think you are?”  It is possible low self-esteem deprives the world of your unique, valuable contribution.

Pricing is not the sole criterion for the successful entrepreneur; arguably it is the least important.  But reality dictates without sufficient income, other advantages of success are unlikely if not impossible.

Next time, I share ideas about other positive results from financial success, beyond satisfied customers.

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Special offer

Should You Reduce Prices When Marketing?

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

Do You Display Your Prices?

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

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

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

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

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

Should I Reduce Prices?

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

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

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

Should I Offer Discounts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing Prices

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

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

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list, so you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Believe in what you do

How to Set Credible Prices for Your Offers

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

Your Confidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Business and Lifestyle Needs

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

What are the options?  You can

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

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

Value of Your Offer

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

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

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

Your Competitors

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

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

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

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

Marketing

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

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

profit loss risk

Why Your View of Personal Finance is Crucial for Business Success

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

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

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

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

So, let’s deal with two mistaken positions.

Too Positive about Finance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too Negative about Finance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Finger pointing to green smiling emoticon.

How to Promote Your Purpose through Business Outcomes

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

What is a Business Outcome?

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

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

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

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

Outcomes for the Client

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outcomes for the Coach

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

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

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

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

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

Outcomes and Vision

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

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

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

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

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

mincing machine with minced meat

How to Use Your Outputs to Promote Your Business Purpose

Outputs are the direct benefits your clients experience.  Align your marketing plan to your vision and offers and to deliver your marketing promises, then you will see outputs.

Potential Benefits to Your Clients

Consider potential benefits for your client.  Some are more important than others and what’s most important depends on the client.

Coaches, consultants and freelancers have many different outputs because their reasons for being in business vary.  Here are a few possibilities:

Measurable Outputs

Outputs are measurable or it is possible to point to evidence something has changed.

  • Financial benefits – often expressed as something like “Triple your income”. This is powerful because everyone wants to do better financially.  How much they want varies and so massive claims may not appeal to everyone.  Some coaches are not sure they can claim to increase revenue.  What if you promise to double it and it doesn’t work?  What you claim is the potential is there and you work together to explore how your client might get there.  You can make more confident claims as you get some idea of the financial impact of your coaching through experience.
  • Clarity about their business or some aspect of it might contribute to a marketing plan.  You don’t need to make prior claims about the financial impact of the plan.  The marketing plan will estimate likely financial benefit and you can tweak the plan to maximise revenue.
  • Save time – time is your client’s most precious resource. Offer help with time management or Done for You services, for example.  For some businesses time is a limiting factor.
  • Accountability – even where a client can work alone, their coach can remind them of the strategic or personal dimensions of life. A coach helps their client focus on their work, prioritise what they need to do and deliver to time.  Where deadlines are self-impose it is easy to defer if an external deadline presses.  A coach externalises some internal deadlines.
  • Training – some coaches offer training as part of their package, eg online or workshop, accredited or informal, part of the coaching or before or after it.  You could argue guided reading is training and so training can be embedded in a coaching offer.

Informal Outputs

Some informal outputs may be measurable but generally, it is hard to prove the client’s benefit with hard evidence.  If the client feels better and believes they have benefitted, that is sufficient.

  • Health and well-being – if someone offers a health and well-being programme, there may be measurable evidence, eg weight reduction programmes. Any coaching can improve health and well-being.  There are coaches who seek general benefits to their clients, beyond their special skills.  Whilst it may be hard to find hard evidence, this does not mean there is none.  If clients claim there have been changes, these can feature in testimonials or claims about the service.
  • Resilience coaching anticipates future problems. A new manager might ask for help with stress awareness and how to cope when problems proliferate.

You or Your Client’s Responsibility?

There is another dimension to outputs and that is who delivers them.  You need to be clear about expectations:

Expert Consultancy

Expert consultants deliver outputs.  This can be simple.  You deliver a website, that’s an output and you’re finished.  A good website designer can offer a more effective service.

Some offer to design a website and optimise it for sales.  If you increase income from the site, you can agree a share of profits.  A designer, working with a business with potential, can make a lot of money that way.  Some businesses pay huge retainers to designers to keep their site optimal.

This is a big responsibility for the consultant and requires a good relationship with the client.  The rewards can be significant.   If you can do this, you have a big advantage in the marketplace.

Non-Directive Consultancy or Coaching

Here the responsibility is with the client.  Typically, client and coach work together on some problem; the coach helps or challenge the client to meet their goals.

Be clear from the outset, the responsibility to meet the goals is with the client.  The coach does not profit directly from the client’s success but charges fees that reflect the value of their support to the client.

Remember, the client may not understand this approach and so be clear where responsibility for outputs lie.  I tell my prospects they remain in the driving seat, they make the decisions.  My role is to challenge what they are doing, make suggestions and help them progress and stay focused.

Coaches help with some tasks but no-one is good at everything and the client must understand they may need additional assistance.  I work with my clients to identify what needs to be done, how to do it and who does it.  Sometimes a client needs help to brief and supervise someone who works for them.

For a coach, lack of knowledge of their client’s business can be a big advantage.  It removes the temptation to take over their business and it is easier to build a relationship of equals.  The coach brings coaching skills and specialist knowledge and the client brings their specialist skills.  The coach presents them with options, helps them choose and may help carry out their choice.

Remember, outputs or benefits to the client are one dimension of the benefits of the coach or consultant’s work.  Next time, we’ll look at wider outcomes.

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

idea plan action success

How Your Marketing Plan Makes Your Business Purpose Real

In previous posts, I have shown how your vision leads to your offer.  This next step is once you have your offer, you market it.  “Vision to offer to marketing” is the logical sequence; an observer would conclude.  However, for practical purposes your marketing plan comes before development of your offer.  How so?

Prepare Marketing before Your Packages

It makes sense to prepare marketing copy before you design your offer packages.  The big mistake many entrepreneurs make is to prioritise service delivery over marketing.  The fact is without marketing you do not have a business.

Look at this way.  There is no point developing any package until you know how you’re going to market it.  You need to test the market, check out it exists.  And to do that you need to know how you are going to reach your potential market.

So, prepare your marketing plan first, including draft marketing copy.  It is possible, once you prepare your offer, you shall want to tweak your copy.  But if you find your offer is completely different from your draft copy, the chances are you have designed the wrong thing!

Indeed, some business people do not prepare their package until they have customers.  I don’t necessarily recommend this.  You could plan a workshop far enough ahead to allow you to sign people up and allow a week or so to develop the package, once you know you have the numbers.

Another possibility is to design a basic package you tweak each time you market it.  This means you experiment with marketing campaigns, to find the most effective ways to promote your package.

Align Your Vision and Marketing

The challenge is to develop a marketing campaign that aligns with your vision.  Then your offer becomes part of your marketing campaign.  Your offer is what you deliver to further your vision.  Your marketing campaign is how you make your vision a reality.

So, usually we think of a vision leading to a package, something to offer the world.  This is then marketed to the likely people who will consider buying the package.

An alternative is to design a marketing campaign that implements your vision.  Your customers are the people you recruit to further your vision.  You collaborate because you share the vision.  Your prospects share your vision and may help you further it.

Your vision is close to the promise your offer makes to your customers.  You help them solve a particular problem.

Let’s say you worked in an industry for several decades and experienced a variety of management approaches, some good and some bad.  Your vision is to improve management in your industry.  Your prospects are managers in your industry, who share your concerns and believe in your approach.

You need to establish yourself as the industry leader in your approach to management.  This way you become known to managers who value your guidance.  They may begin to request coaching or suggest workshop opportunities.  You may find your marketing generates requests for packages you had not considered before.  Your packages are one way you realise your vision through marketing.

Most freelancers stumble upon this, having started by designing something in line with their vision.  Usually, you revisit your offers as your marketing develops, adapting them to whatever opportunities present themselves.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Two rows of artesan bread

Use Your Offer to Promote Your Business Purpose

Your business purpose is primarily your vision for the changes your business makes to your clients and their wider community.  The next step is to ask: what is your offer and is it aligned with your vision?

Hourly Rates or Packages?

Many coaches make the mistake of offering an hourly rate to clients.  There are at least two issues you need to consider.

  1. An hourly rate encourages the view your work is entirely face-to-face with your client. In fact you put in many hours of work not visible to the client; both direct work on preparation and follow-up and indirect work, including marketing.  A package charges for the benefit to the client.  The client does not see your hours and is not encouraged to convert your charges into an hourly rate.  After all they are hiring you for your expertise and you need to be rewarded for the hours you have put in over years to get there!
  2. Whatever the change you promise, it is unlikely you will make any significant difference in a single session. To offer a package, says it takes this long to get the result you’re after.

How to Align Your Packages with Your Vision

Your packages flow from your vision.  The way you name and present them shows the expected outputs and outcomes.  You are asking the client to work with you to achieve your vision.

The client may agree with you, work needs to be done to improve the quality of management in their industry.  They work with you and so you both work for change with that goal.  The customer wants to see benefits to their specific problem but also their wider context.

Website Design as an Example

Let’s say you are coaching someone in website design.  They expect to be better website designers as a result of working with you but they also need to consider the wider context in which they work.  What changes must take place in their business or industry, to accept the approach to online marketing your client learns?

Website design has never been solely a technical skill.  In the past the technicalities were difficult to master.  Now it is easier and the focus has moved towards organisational issues.  If the website changes, how will the organisation rise to the challenge?  What you don’t want is a website that works and is never used by its owners because it is not understood.

Whatever your packages do, these days they need to be interdisciplinary, offering a systemic approach because if they don’t they won’t work for the client or anyone else.

This may be a daunting task.  “I’m a website designer, I don’t know anything about organisations!”  But your client may know something about organisations.  This is the value of working together, to solve problems.  You get the credit even if the client solves the problem!  Chances are they would not have understood the issue without you.

Your package should give you both permission to work on the implications of what you are doing, not solely on acquiring technical skills.

And then, of course, you need to market your package and that is another things altogether.

Visit my new website, Market Together to sign up to my list so that you don’t miss any posts and hear about the exciting plans I’m working on to promote an alternative approach to marketing.

Please comment and let me know what you like about this post.  What would you like me to write about further?