Demystifying the Art of Action Planning

Posted by on Aug 11 2020

Do you have an area in your business that you want to grow or change? Sometimes it feels like you can’t get there fast enough.

Setting goals can seem intimidating until you realize goals are simply statements of results you want: be more profitable, finish a big project, launch a new service, or help more clients.

It’s more than a mere wish list; it’s stating exactly what will get you quicker results.

Start with Big Picture Goals

Before you jump into details, start with big results you want for your business over the coming year. People often confuse goals with projects, and the easiest way to split them apart is to ask yourself some questions.

  • What results are you trying to achieve and why (goals)?
  • Which vehicles will you use to attain those goals (projects)?

For instance, say your goal is to launch a new class. But there’s a reason you’re launching this new class, right?

Maybe it’s a free class to build your mailing list. Your goal is to build your list; your project is to create and offer a free class.

Or maybe it’s a paid class to show your expert status and build revenue. Your goal is revenue generation and visibility; your project is the paid class.

By asking yourself why you want to achieve something, you get to your core goals.

ACTION STEP: Pause for a moment and write three big goals you have for the next 12 months.

Brainstorm Your Projects

Now that you have your goals in mind, let’s talk about how to achieve them.

There are many paths that will lead you to the same goal. Choosing your projects wisely will help you get where you’re going faster, with less effort and friction.

Start by brainstorming all the projects that can help you achieve the same goal. For example, say that one of your goals is to build your expert platform and to get known. You could boost your blog audience, write a book, teach a class, do more speaking engagements, start a column in a national magazine or website, hire a PR firm, or create a podcast. All of these things will show you’re an authority in your field.

How do you know which projects are the best ones to tackle? Here’s a checklist to help you decide:

  • Which ones inspire and excite you?
  • Which ones align with your personality, knowledge, and skill set?
  • Which ones match the way your audience likes to connect with you?
  • Which ones fit your budget?
  • Which ones are likely to get you to your goals the fastest?

ACTION STEP: Pick one or two projects to work over the next year.

You can always add more later, but choosing too many projects will overwhelm you and cause you to lose focus. Start the year right: don’t overburden yourself.

Tap Your Task List

Write a list of the tasks to complete for your project. Next to each task indicate whether it’s a task you will do or whether you’ll need to outsource it to someone else. Also note whether a task will require a specific resource, like hiring someone to update your website, or taking a class to learn a new skill.

Say that your project is to create a new class. Tasks might include writing a lesson plan, creating worksheets or a student guide, selecting a teaching method, picking dates for the class, setting a price for the class, creating a marketing plan for the class, etc.

ACTION STEP: Take one of your projects and begin writing a To Do list of tasks needed to accomplish that project. I call this your Action Plan.

Next, organize the tasks into a logical order. Let’s use the class design project as an example. You’ll need to write a lesson plan so you know how long the class is, and which topics you’ll cover, before you can set the price or write your marketing copy.

And you’ll need to write the marketing copy before the sales page can be put up on your website.

Tally up those tasks and the timing for each one, and calculate when the project is likely to be finished. Allow for some “stretch time” in your action planning; you never know when you’ll hit a bump in the road that might delay your project.

ACTION STEP: Organize the tasks, and take an educated guess as to how long each task will take.

Get Moving, It’s Easy

You have an action plan for your project. That’s great!

Now it’s time to start implementing that plan. This is a place where many people freeze. You look at your To Do list and it feels like climbing Mount Everest.

Don’t look at the totality of every task on your list. It’s not possible to do all those tasks simultaneously, so step back and focus on the very first task.

ACTION STEP: Look for one action you can take right now. Just one action, no more.

If your project is to write your marketing copy, your one action might be to write the headline. If your project is to create a profit model for your class, your one action could be to calculate your costs so you know your class will be profitable.

By breaking projects and tasks into small increments, you achieve everything – on time, on budget, and with grace and satisfaction.

   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

Why Marketing Fails: The Silo Effect

Posted by on Jun 22 2020

When you think of a silo, you think good thoughts: silos on a farm filled to the brim with an autumn’s grain harvest. It sounds like a perfect metaphor for a successful business marketing campaign.

So how can a silo be a bad thing?

The Silo Effect in business refers to groups of people, or groups of projects, working independently from one another. You think this lack of communication and cross-departmental support is only found in large companies.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in your own small business marketing efforts.

  • You give a speech on your favorite topic, but you fail to mention your own services and how you help people around that topic.
  • You mingle in a networking meeting but don’t tell them about your upcoming free webinar, or give them a way to register immediately while it’s fresh in their minds.
  • You post on social media but never tell them about the podcast next week where you’ll be a guest.

The Silo Effect in small business marketing is this: the lack of coordination and integration of all your marketing techniques so that they support each other and continue to move the prospective client through your marketing system.

Introducing integrated marketing: bringing it all together.

Instead of simply doing one marketing technique then walking away, consider creating a marketing “network” of techniques where one technique encourages the prospective customer to participate in another marketing technique.

In this way, prospects who aren’t ready to buy can stay within your marketing network and continue to connect with you via all your marketing techniques.

Some examples of integrated marketing techniques:

  • When giving a speech, ask the audience to sign up for your free newsletter or an upcoming free event, whatever you’re currently offering to get them on your mailing list.
  • On the back of your business card, offer a free report, and give them the URL where they can download it.
  • After a networking event, email your new contacts with a link to a blog post on your site which solves a problem they’re having.
  • When doing a radio interview or podcast, remind people that you offer a free initial consultation and tell them how they can sign up for one.
  • On your website, place a big opt-in box that tells visitors about your free monthly webinar.

Never ask your marketing techniques to stand all alone like silos in a field. Connect them together and show that path to your prospective customers so they can walk the path through your marketing techniques to your door.

   

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Are You Using the Wrong Marketing Model?

Posted by on Jun 09 2020

Should your marketing strategy be a funnel or a bullseye?

Neither marketing model is wrong — but one is more flexible to real-world situations than the other. And both offer you insights into creating a successful marketing strategy.

Let me explain…

Imagine two images:

  • A funnel, where the entire universe of possible clients start at the top of your funnel and trickle through your marketing campaigns until they become paying clients.
  • A bulls-eye target, where the outer circle represents the entire universe of possible clients and the inner circle represents your closest paying clients.

funnel marketing versus bullseye marketing

Whichever marketing model you’re using, the concept is similar: you are going from a large audience (“top of funnel” versus “outer circle”) of people towards a smaller audience of paying clients.

These aren’t new concepts, but there’s something you should know

In both of these models, you begin by offering something for free, to get people on your mailing list. Through your marketing campaigns, these lead the prospect through the needs assessment phase and the decision-making phase of marketing.

The further along the marketing funnel a client gets, the the more likely it is they’ll buy from you.

Check. Got it.

Nothing new here.

But marketing funnels will trip you up.

Here’s where marketing funnels fail

When you use a funnel marketing strategy, you assume everyone starts at the same place: at the top of your funnel. And this might be true for 70% of your prospects.

But what the 30% who are referred to you from a colleague? Or those that find you in a Google search or on social media, and are ready to buy now?

Some people don’t enter your funnel at the top.

The funnel model doesn’t capture those people who are predisposed to purchase from you.

Many of my consulting clients buy my 90-day private program without ever having been on my mailing list. They heard great things about me from a fan, or they’ve seen me speak at a conference, or they found me through a Google search. I’ve also had people on my mailing list for five years who finally decide to take a class with me. As long as your marketing strategy allows people to enter at any point they want, it’s a viable strategy.

And that means you need more than just a funnel.

Here’s where a bullseye strategy shines

With a bullseye marketing strategy, you target (get it?) your marketing based on what’s really happening on the ground.

  • If someone is just discovering you and isn’t ready to buy, you have free offers available, and they move through your marketing campaigns in a linear way. They’re your “funnel” people.
  • But, if they are ready to buy, you can market to them wherever they are in the sales process. They’re your “bullseye” people.

Instead of forcing people to go through your marketing funnel in only one way, you are adaptive to their real needs, and your marketing strategy is flexible.

Read my blog post: How to Choose the Best Marketing Techniques based on where prospects are in the sales pipeline.

The sales pipeline is key

The sales pipeline is the movement of a prospect from “not knowing me at all” to “purchasing from me.” But it doesn’t end there: there is an ultimate goal of your sales pipeline — to have raving fans who tell others about you.

This is crucial because knowing where they are in your sales pipeline allows you to select the appropriate marketing technique.

When you use a funnel as your metaphor, you assume everyone starts the sales process at the “not knowing me at all” stage.

But when you use the bullseye model, you’ll identify the different stages of the sales pipeline and then craft the perfect marketing technique to speak with your prospect based on their needs.

For instance, I use different marketing techniques with someone who has seen me speak at a national conference compared to someone who has already taken an introductory level class with me.

Next steps

  • Determine where the prospect is in the sales pipeline. Read my blog post: How to Choose the Best Marketing Techniques based on where prospects are in the sales pipeline.
  • If they’re early in the sales pipeline, capture their contact information so you can stay in touch, and share great content with them so they get to know you.
  • If they already know who you are, and are in the middle of the sales pipeline, craft a marketing plan to help these prospects make the decision to purchase from you.
  • If they are near the end of the sales process, stop marketing (stop giving them information), and start selling (making an offer and asking for the sale).
  • Price your products/services across all price-points to allow for multiple streams of income.

Take some time to learn more about these models, understand how the audience participates in them, then create a model for your own business. It will give you clarity and insight, and allow you plan your marketing in a more powerful and effective way.

   

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Category: Marketing
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Are You Persuasive?

Posted by on May 05 2020

Much of marketing is about persuasion. Note that I do not say “manipulation.” That’s the kind of marketing we all hate.

Dictionary.com defines the verb “to persuade” like this:

1. to prevail on (a person) to do something, as by advising or urging: We could not persuade him to wait.

2. to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince: to persuade the judge of the prisoner’s innocence.

So persuasion, especially in marketing, means:

  • encouraging someone to take action (call me to talk about your needs, sign up for my program, buy my book, etc.)
  • convincing someone by helping them to understand information, ideas and/or benefits.

CNN/Fortune Magazine posted a interview with Kurt Mortensen, entitled How Persuasive Are You? The article referred to a quiz (self-assessment) which helps you to understand your own first reactions to a series of events, to see how much you use persuasion in your marketing and sales efforts. Go ahead, take the self-assessment! It’s an eye-opener!

When you’re finished with the self-assessment, he will email you the questions you got right and wrong, so you can begin to understand the psychology of marketing.

I’m absolutely fascinated by the psychology of marketing: what makes people pay attention to a marketing piece, and more importantly, what persuades them to take action and buy. I’m reading several books on the topic right now, and as soon as I compile my notes, I’ll write more about the topic in this blog.

For instance, my blog post How Customers Make Buying Choices walks you through how decisions are really made during your clients’ buying process.

I think the psychology of marketing will make all the difference in the world to your success. I’ll keep you posted.

   

3 comments for now

Category: Marketing

8 Ways to Increase Revenue in 2020

Posted by on May 01 2020

When planning for the year, remember that there are 8 ways to increase your income:

  1. Sell more quantity of your existing offers. If you typically have 25 people in a workshop, aim for getting 30 or 40 in your next workshop. If you work one-on-one with clients, add more private clients to your roster.
  2. Increase the price of your existing offers. Without changing your offer, increase your fees. If you’re still charging the same fees as you did five years ago, it’s time to look at your pricing model.
  3. Increase the price and increase the value. Change your offer to be more complete and compelling, and increase your fees. Make sure that you haven’t increased the value by adding more of your personal resources, otherwise the offer isn’t scalable. For instance, if you previously offered a six-session consulting package and now you’re making it an eight-session package, you’ve just used up two extra hours of your time. Even if you charge more for it, are you actually making more income from it? Instead, consider adding something valuable to your clients that doesn’t require you to spend massively more money, time or resources to deliver. Do the math to be sure that the cost doesn’t outweigh the income.
  4. Decrease the size/quantity of your existing offers without reducing the price. You see this all the time in the supermarket – a 12-ounce box of cookies now becomes a 10-ounce box of cookies, but the price stays the same. Where can you cut back and still deliver value? Which parts of your offer are not used by your clients?
  5. Create new offers that leverage your time and resources. If you’ve maxed out of offering private, one-on-one consulting with clients, can you offer a mastermind group or workshop that maximizes your time by working with groups of clients rather than individuals? Can you create an online self-study program?
  6. Upsell existing customers to the next level of your offering. Your clients love you and they want to work more closely with you, or they’re asking for a specific resource that you can provide. When my existing consulting clients wanted a systematic way to manage their projects, tasks, and time, I wrote a book and created a class to help them. How can you serve your existing customers better and provide what they’re asking for?
  7. Go to the master level – teach others how to do your work. For instance, after 20 years as a small business consultant, I now teach people how to become small business consultants and run an efficient, thriving consulting business of their own. What do you know, that you can teach others who are starting on your same career path?
  8. Hire others to do some of the work for you. If you typically bill out at $200/hour, can you hire others at $150/hour do the client work, and you keep the extra $50/hour as your commission for bringing in the clients? This is especially helpful when you have limited time and too many clients to handle personally, or if you want to create an agency model for your business.
   

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

Strategic Small Business Thinking during the Pandemic

Posted by on Apr 30 2020

These are indeed uncertain times. For the most part, we really don’t know what’s going to happen over the next 3 to 18 months.

You may be feeling somewhat anxious or fearful, for you and your family, and for your small business. You may be feeling overwhelmed or distracted.

I’ve lived through 9/11 and the Great Recession, one thing I know for sure: Action alleviates anxiety.

If you think through some what-if scenarios, you can create an action plan that’s flexible enough to flow with whatever happens in the future, and design an action plan which makes sure you’re in a strong position when things get back to normal.

You don’t want to make decisions now that you’ll regret later.

Grab your note-taking tools and I’ll walk you through several ways to think strategically about your small business and consider what-if scenarios in the above video. After that, I’ll give you some concrete ideas on how to make wise plans and take smart actions over the next few months.

   

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

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