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Every day I talk with professional service providers who do great work, have a valuable service that really helps peopleand struggle to get their services used as much as theyd like.They get a lukewarm response after an initial conversation while networking, the referrals come in but dont convert to real business as often as theyd like, and they cant seem to get prospects to see them as that much better than other professionals offering similar services.

Getting Your Services Used

Getting Your Services UsedOr they may get some attention from prospects as a result of an ad, published article, or speechbut then the early attention kind of fizzles into phone tag and no real client, in the end.So whats the problem? In most cases, theyre not getting far enough with the prospect to reveal the quality of their workso its not about their professional work. And some professionals DO have decent positioning and credibility-building things in place like client testimonials and case studies on their websites (although the latter -- done effectively is rare, unfortunately).There are a lot of things that can go wrong in the marketing and sales process. But in most cases, the key thing I see missing is a decent approach to packaging your professional services. Part of successfully packaging your services means putting what you offer into a variety of formats and "packages" that your clients need, at prices theyll pay.Networking and asking for referrals are a waste of time (or are a lot harder), if you dont have something for prospects to easily buya choice of easy "yes's" in the form of thoughtfully packaged versions of your services.Real Life Examples that WorkHere are some examples to illustrate what I mean. These are simple ways to repackage what typically is only offered as consulting services (whatever your specialty may be). Each format offers your clients a different level of commitment, time, and moneyincreasing the chances that youll find the right fit for their needs:* Weekly Coaching to Get & Stay On Track: Good for prospects who hesitate to take that first step or just need a little encouragement to start small. Great for people who need the structure and discipline of a regular meeting (telephone or in person) to keep on track.* Multi-Hour Strategy Session: Particularly useful if you sell to other businesses. A quick, affordable way for prospects to get specific feedback and new ideas on their existing approach to what you offer.* 1-Day Jump-Start Retreat: A more in-depth version of the idea above. Especially useful if you bring a management team together.* Multiple-Day or Monthly Workshop or Clinic: A different way to impart your expertise and help your clients "learn to fish for themselves."* Quick Audit: An affordable, finite commitment to let a prospect get a small sample of your approach. Can often develop into a longer engagement.* Strategy + Action Planning: A safe way for prospects to get real value, without buying the whole nine yards. Again, this is a finite engagement that produces a blueprint for future work.* Implementation Services: This is typically the primary service professional service firms offer. To make this more "buyable," break it into phases and smaller, incremental commitments.* The Round Table: Collaborate with trusted peers to provide a multi-faceted approach to helping your clients.How do I know that these approaches motivate prospects to become clients? Because I use all of them in my practice and they all get results. My business model represents a mix of revenue streams, none of which is tied completely to a traditional consulting model.For more tips on how to get your services used by offering options through creative packaging, keep reading...Give your prospects choices and youll increase the odds they more quickly turn into paying clients. Heres how:1. Package your services to offer clients have a variety of ways they can work with you. Think small, then incrementally add steps in larger sizes. Before you know it, youll have a range of ways to help your clients.2. Give each service a catchy title thats all about how your client will benefit. For example, I offer the "More Clients Than You Ever Thought Possible!" Marketing Clinic and the "Maximize Your Online Strategy" Website Audit. Make the title about your clients, not you.3. "Productize" your services to generate passive income. Record your public talks and sell them as tapes on your website. Combine sets of articles and sell them as mini-books. These are fairly easy, low-cost things to do.4. Go back to current and past clients with your new range of services and/or product-based solutions. Just because they bought one type of service from you in the past, doesnt mean they wouldnt be interested in new ways you can help them.5. Make sure your pricing structure offers prospects a range of choices. Make it easy for them to take the first step by offering something small and relatively inexpensive. There's a lot that can be said about pricing, which I'll cover in a future issue of this newsletter.6. Don't be afraid to spell out your range of services in your marketing materials and on your website. Demystify what you do by offering lots of information, including details of what your clients can expect in terms of deliverables, timeframes, targeted results, and what they need to do to ensure success.7. The bottom line is to use client-centered descriptions and language. Even though this is about your services, it's not. It's about how your clients will succeed and what problems they'll solve by choosing a particular service. I just can't emphasize this enough!Experiment with a number of packages and see what works and what doesn't. Play with the variables: title, size, price, description, deliverables, and so on. You've got nothing to lose, but future clients.

Press Releases: Mom-marketing Finesse

Press Releases: Mom-marketing Finesse

Welcome to Mom-preneur Colorado! Says the sign out front. Moms from everywhere gather in the great state of Colorado for you guessed it a seminar for moms who run their own businesses. From selling candles to selling Avon, coaching high end professionals in their careers to leveling the playing field for marketers everywhere these moms rock.A press release starting with the preceding paragraph speaks volumes to Mom-preneurs everywhere, drawing them in, getting their attention, and building anticipation for a coming event. The missing details wont be obvious until moms exit security at Denver International Airport. Just any random driver sitting on the front of his limo wont know where Mom-preneur Colorado is being held if you dont have the details in your packet.Any press release should include motivating factors to bring in the clients for a quick look-see and registration for whatever your business is releasing. But leaving out essential information might be deadly to the purpose of your press release.Essential information includes: 1.Who2.What3.Where4.When5.WhyThe five Ws every reporter learns right out of the starting gate to include in the top paragraphs of his news report dramatically affect attendance to your event. Without them, readers cant make an educated decision of whether or not to attend the event. With them, you might actually entice readers to attend. While most of the moms I know would love to attend a seminar at The Broadmore in Colorado Springs, cost may be a factor. So, if the seminar indicates a place like The Broadmore including the price would be highly beneficial particularly if your price is highly discounted for the event. Press releases must include all pertinent information about the event you publicize. Without that information, your press release is just another article about your business.

Sum of Its Parts

Sum of Its Parts

"Saltwater taffy, for example, does not taste good. Seagulls are not pleasant birds. Most people look better in clothes a lot of clothes. But it works. The beach is the ultimate triumph in setting." from the article, Sea and Be SeenWhat does this have to do with marketing professional services? A lot. Just like saltwater taffy, seagulls, and under clothed people, any one thing done in isolation to market your professional services wont work.When you take the sum of its parts, marketing works.Lets take an easy example: networking. Done in a vacuum, networking is just a "part." Without ways to sustain a new contacts attention, build their trust, or keep in touch the other "parts" of your whole you spend far more time and energy drumming up business than if you had other aspects of your marketing "machine" doing a lot of the work for you.Lets get specific. The biggest mistake I see is when people go out, network (or make cold calls, or send direct mail pieces), is that they simultaneously scare prospects off with an anemic poorly-messaged website, no value- adding resources to build your prospects confidence, and new contacts that vanish into thin air because theres no systematic way to stay in front of them thats affordable and effective.The same "in isolation" principle applies to other marketing "parts."* If you invest in telemarketing, but send new leads to a lousy website (even if you dont send them there, theyll look you up), youre shooting yourself in the foot.* If youre a master at churning out brilliant weekly e-newsletters, but havent "packaged" your services into a range of ways potential clients can buy from you, youre missing the point of using an e-zine as a smart promotional tool.* If you go to all of the time and effort to get booked as a speaker, then run around preparing for and delivering your talks, youll get nothing but a nice ego boost and applause unless you target the right audiences and hit them with "What in it for Me?" messages.All of that time, money and energy wastedbut not if you pay attention to the sum of your parts!To avoid wasting your resources and to make the most of your individual marketing efforts, make sure you have all of these parts working together:* Positioning that sets you apart from others offering a similar service. From your target audiences perspective, what makes you different? Why should they choose you?* Packaging in the form of a value-packed website that you can send new contacts to, demonstrating your value (again, through their eyes) and building their confidence in you as a good solution to their problem.* Promotion: An easy way to keep-in-touch with contacts and prospects, even if youre using other high-touch tactics, such as follow- up calls and meetings. The point is that not every new contact is a ready-buyer when you first meet. You need to stay on their radar, at least monthly, so that when theyre ready to buy, youre there. A monthly e-newsletter or e- zine is the perfect vehicle.* Persuasion: Youve got to turn contacts into prospects, prospects into clients, clients into referrers, and so on. Simply setting up sales calls and writing proposals wont do it, though. As any successful sales person knows, there are many moving "parts" to master. Youve got to know who the decision makers are, what theyre willing to spend, how buying decisions get made, how to stay in control of the selling conversation, and how to ask for referrals, to name a few.* Performance is the one "part" most of us in professional services rely on most its how we get referrals and maintain (or tarnish) our reputation in the marketplace. Its the marketing part that keeps me on my toes the most, above any other marketing challenge I take on, including writing this e-newsletter, upgrading my website, closing a sale, or giving a public talk. Why? Because its all about managing and exceeding client expectations, two very tricky "parts" to master. If this doesnt ring a bell with you, then take this quick quiz to find out what it really takes to master Performance: http://www.turningpointemarketing.com/Is_This_For_You.htmlIn isolation, Im definitely not a fan of saltwater taffy, seagulls or bathing suits. But in the right setting and working all together, theyre part of the most effective vacation I can think of. The sum of its parts works. So too can your marketing.

Computer Consulting: Dont Market the 90s Way

Computer Consulting: Dont Market the 90s Way

The 90s was a time of certification for computer consulting businesses. Everyone touted what formal partnerships they had with what major corporations. Hire us because were a Novell certified shop or Hire us because were an IBM business partner.Most consultants arent leading with that anymore because they dont want to be perceived as an extension of that company sales force. They want to be perceived as their own brand of "computer consulting" .The Benefits of Partner Programs Have DisappearedIn the old days, you used to get big MDS and co-op advertising when you were in a partner program. Those days are rapidly ending, so theres really no financial reason for sticking their logo all over the place anymore. Spend more time branding yourself as opposed to just focusing on the solutions that you represent.Stick To The Products You KnowNaturally when you get new computer consulting prospects and youre taking them through the qualification stages and sales calls, youre going to tend to recommend the solutions that youre most comfortable with.If youre authorized to belong to a program, youre going to recommend that particular solution. Thats fine, but don't make your marketing message focus on just that particular product or that particular platform.Don't Become a Commodity If you do, you open yourself up to commodity priced competition. Your prospects will ask why they should buy their NetWare license from you if they can get it cheaper on the Web or through mail order. Dont open yourself to a bidding war. That way of marketing is dated. Its pass. You are much better off if you market what your computer consulting business can do for your client!Copyright MMI-MMVI, Computer Consulting Blog. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

If It Quacks Like A Pyramid...

Who gets the Pyramid Quack award?On our conference call the other day, people wondered how to talk and act so that people would stop asking "Is this a pyramid/one of those things?"One way is to stop, forever, saying and doing the things that evoke this image in the minds of others - i.e. people "who abuse their friends and try to sell them stuff, and get them to sell and take a percent."For years, it's been all about getting people to sell and recruit. That's the reason countless people discouraged (and ridiculed) my customer-oriented students, "There's no money in customers. All the money's in the recruiting."I've taught hundreds of classes to those who prefer to amass customers. It's lucrative in some companies, and many stayed in the business because they learned how to do that, instead of quitting.But some companies pay you to act like you're a pyramid type. We will bestow upon them the "Pyramid Quack" award. Yes, here. To encourage them to change their pyramid quacking ways which make their people look bad.If it quacks like a pyramid..."a pyramid scheme is...[where] the need to subscribe newcomers outweighs whatever benefits the products or system has to offer. Many MLMs sell distributorships more than cosmetics [name your product or service - KK]." -Coercion: Why We Listen to What "they" SaySome people don't know it from the way the business is promoted, but we do two things to make money in the network marketing business:1) get customers (earn a percent on their orders)2) Get sales reps who want to get customers and more sales reps (earn a percent on their orders)So based on what they pay people to do, which companies get the Pyramid Quack award?One gal, Phyllis, a Tahitian Noni rep for years, told the group this:Typical order: $120 for the Noni juice per month.Pay for getting a customer (who doesn't sell it) to buy it: 6%. That's like $5 for getting a $120 order.(!!)With such puny pay, who'd want to go after customers? They don't, and haven't, for years, she said. This pay plan tells it all: We pay you to get recruits - people who sell it. We don't care about customers who just buy it (and who don't sell it).So, we were about to bestow upon the Tahitian Noni International pay plan, the Pyramid Quack award.Then with great pride, she announced to the group: "But Kim, this past year they've worked to change it - because I think they heard you. As of May 1, 2006, they are paying 20% for customer orders. So now we get $24 for each of those orders!"That's what, 3 days ago? After almost 10 years of being in business.(This conference call will be up on the Talking about Your Great Thing podcast site later this week, so you can hear the juicy details for yourself.)Tomorrow's blog: The story on the pay plans of two more companies: Young Living and Life Wave. Do they get the Pyramid Quack award or not?Send in your company plan plan info and see if it gets the Pyramid Quack award. (Use Comments below.) Here's what info to submit:1. What's the typical customer order amount? And what do you get (range) if you find them, front line them, and they do NOT sign on to sell anything?2. Name of company. And YOUR NAME.Then we'll check it out, and award the Pyramid Quack award to your company, or not.After all, if it quacks like a pyramid...

Small Business Marketing: Are We There Yet?

Small business marketing is not like taking a family vacation.Did anybody take a family vacation this summer? Do you have children of your own, or do you remember what it was like when you were a kid taking a trip somewhere?I can still remember the family vacations as a youngster growing up. Our famous treks across America in the family station wagon or the rented RV, when the station wagon became impractical. Now with my own family we've taken some similar but generally smaller scale trips.It seems like one of the most asked questions from a child - "Are we there yet?" Or the other favorite is, "How much longer?" Even families that fly to their vacation destination I'm sure can relate.What does this have to do with marketing?I think sometimes (maybe many times) service business owners can become like that child in regards to their marketing. Are we there yet? How much longer?You work on a web site, or a brochure, or go to networking events and send out letters. Then you wonder when you're going to start getting results. When does the fun start? You know, the fun -- when prospects start calling and others refer and send business your way.And much like the family vacation, continual asking of are we there yet or how much longer often leads to unplanned stops or detours. You stop to work on other things because there is so much to do and it's sometimes hard to see how this marketing is going to work.Marketing shouldn't start and stop.Most people say they understand, even if their actions say differently, that marketing is an ongoing activity. Marketing isn't like a vacation where you have a final destination and then you stop traveling because you're there.Unfortunately, many small businesses get frustrated or burned out when they work on their marketing. They want to know, "how long this is going to take". Are we there yet?And far too many times, they abandon their marketing "campaign" because it wasn't getting them results and taking them where they wanted to go. But even worse than that, many times the "are we there yet" mentality didn't even let them finish planning or put the idea into action.Eventually they start planning, or maybe just take off on, another marketing trip. Once again, they start wondering how much longer it will be. Are we there yet?Marketing needs to be an ongoing, lifelong kind of journey for your business. It takes regular and consistent effort to keep your pipeline full of good, high-quality leads and to keep moving your prospects forward until they become paying clients. That means continuously marketing even when you have clients you're busy working with.Keep Moving On.The question "are we there yet?" needs to become "how do we keep going?" Yes, you do need to monitor results so you can assess how well things are working to get you where you want to go. When your measurements show you that something is working, keep doing it. In fact, do more of it.But you can also keep striving to reach new heights as well. How can you continuously improve even the things that are working to get even better, more consistent results?If you continue to ask the question, "Are we there yet?" you might just stall out on your journey. You see, eventually you'll discover some marketing strategies that will start to attract attention and generate the response you've been hoping for. It might seem like in fact, "you are there" and so you put the marketing on cruise control.How to keep moving forward.When you find yourself asking this most asked question, consider any or all of the following ideas to keep you continuously moving forward.Study up on marketing. There is no shortage of resources out there. You need to find them and begin consuming them. There are lots of books available on the subject. Look for the ones that offer proven, hands-on strategies and tactics. Remember, one or two good ideas now and then could make a significant difference to your business.Form or join a "think tank" or mastermind group. Find a group of people who care just as much about your success as you do, just as you'll care about their success. This is not a group of friends who will simply stroke your ego. Look for an honest group who will ask the tough questions and demand accountability from each other while supporting each others' efforts.Attend talks and workshops. If you go and participate fully, you'll often get just as much from the other participants as you will from the session itself.Get hands-on assistance. Working with a coach or marketing consultant who can help you focus, set goals, prioritize, create action plans and help hold you accountable could be an invaluable experience for your business.Support from outside resources like this can help you shift from a mindset of "are we there yet" to a mindset of "how can we keep going." They'll help you continue to see possibilities beyond where things currently stand in your business.

Summary

Every day I talk with professional service providers who do great work, have a valuable service that really helps peopleand struggle to get their services used as much as theyd like.They get a lukewarm response after an initial conversation while networking, the referrals come in but dont convert to real business as often as theyd like, and they cant seem to get prospects to see them as that much better than other professionals offering similar services.