Happy Mondays (no, not the band, although I do hear that they are reforming for a tour one month this year).

As I got in the car to drive to work on Monday, it was with a sense of relief after surviving the usual chaos of getting everyone out of the house on time and in the correct clothing and the right bags and kit for the day.  My thoughts then turned to the day ahead and what it might bring.  I am lucky enough to be doing a job I really enjoy, that is providing marketing advice and support to small businesses in the area.

Some days of course bring challenges and it can still be hard to summon enough positive energy for the day ahead, particularly on a Monday.  What does make this easier for me though, is that the clients I work with are a really positive group of people.  We work with business owners who are facing these seemingly tough times, but are amazingly positive about how they are going to make their businesses successful.  This positivity really does have a knock-on effect on us, and how we go about giving them the best marketing advice we can.  But we are constantly reminded about how hard life is at the moment, with no apparent easy way out of it, all of which we find far too negative.  The subject of recession and tough economic times is actually banned in our office.

It was interesting then to hear on the radio, during my journey in, that it was ‘Happy Monday’, apparently the happiest day of the year.  According to psychologists, the combination of getting the first pay cheque of the year and booking a summer holiday makes Monday 31st January the highpoint of the year.

‘We each experience an average of ten major happy days every year but none is happier than January 31, or Happy Monday,’ said Dr David Holmes, senior psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University.

So, I thought are my clients going to be extra happy today?  Perhaps not, but what it did make me appreciate is that although the people I work with do face challenging times, they work hard to be positive.

Building your own business, brand or company takes time, energy, and a lot of work. Why do I think my clients are so positive? One reason I believe is that they all set realistic goals and a schedule to work towards them.  We work with them to create a marketing plan with realistic business growth objectives.  Our services provide the marketing activities which helps work towards those goals. The reward from the time and energy spent on their businesses is realised through those goals being accomplished.  If small steps are taken to maintain or grow your business, you are more likely to continue that cycle of hard work, commitment and achievement.  With achievement and reward comes positivity, whatever the challenges faced along the way.

So let’s all keep positive, and have a few more Happy Mondays this year, or any other day of the week for that matter.

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Using the Law of Attraction to grow your business

I’ve been reading The Law of Attraction by Michael Losier. I attracted it to me – by putting it on my Christmas list!

I’ve been a fan of the law of attraction for many years, since finding out how to apply it to find ideal clients and attracting them to my business. It works on the ‘like attracts like’ principle and you can read more here in a blog I wrote about it. Now I know a bit more about how it works. You see, your words turn into thoughts and those thoughts turn into feelings, or positive or negative vibes. This means that you get what you say and think, whether it’s positive or negative. You know what happens when someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant, don’t you? The words are ‘pink elephant’, so that’s what you think of.

So if you want to get rid of your overdraft, you can’t do it by saying “I want to get rid of my overdraft” because the focus is on ‘overdraft’. You could repeat the phrase over and over, like a mantra, but all it will do is attract you an overdraft!

Losier has a three stage process for attracting what you want. The best thing you can do is read the book, but in the meantime, here’s a summary.

  1. Identify your desire – get really clear on what you want. One of the best ways of doing this is by writing a list of what you don’t want. Then take each thing on the list and turn it into something positive. If you don’t want to be late for a meeting, think about being early or on time.
  2. Give your desire attention – use your words to get more of what you want. One tool you can use for this is rewording affirmations. If your affirmation is that you have a fit, toned body, but you don’t see that when you look in the mirror, say instead say “I am in the process of developing a fit, toned body.” That’s true and it feels much better.
  3. Allow it – because allowing is the absence of negative vibes, or doubt. Take away the doubt and what you want can get to you.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?! It is and it works. Try this process on something small to start with, and see what happens. And for the full story, read Losier’s book.

A different way to use PowerPoint

Used properly, PowerPoint can be a really effective way of enhancing presentations. Used badly, it can do harm to your reputation. I’d like to share some tips I received on a birthday card, for an alternative way to use PowerPoint.

Making a case for case studies

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingA great way of promoting what you do is by writing case studies about your clients. They are also a great way to get feedback from your clients and to build up stronger relationships with your clients.

But how do you go about doing it? Where do you start? How do you make sure you include all the best information, without boring your readers?

Here’s how we do it. We ask our clients 4 questions and then we write up the answers. Here are the questions:

1. What was the problem that you were looking to solve?

This puts the work into context and it also gives your readers a good idea about the sort of issues you can solve for your clients. Say a bit about your client too, to give them some promotion.

2. Why did you come to us rather than someone else?

This question gives you the chance to get some feedback on your business and your marketing. What makes you better than your competitors? What did you do differently that attracted this client?

3. What did we actually do?

This is where you get to explain the actions you carried out to solve your client’s problem. It’s a great way of showing off your expertise and talking about how you actually do what you do. Don’t go into too much detail because it might get too technical for some people. Just give them a taste of what you can do.

4. What were the results of what we did?

So what did you actually achieve for your client? How did your actions and expertise solve their problem? No matter how you solved it, what’s really important is what happened as a result. This is what other clients will be interested in buying from you.

Using these questions will help keep you really focused on writing clear, concise case studies that will be very powerful tools you can use to promote your business.

Want to know how to use the case studies you write? Ask me nicely and I’ll answer that question in another blog for you!

Great marketing won’t get you anywhere ……unless you know how to sell and close the deal!

You can spend a lot of time, effort and money generating enquiries, getting your phone to ring and having meetings with prospective clients. But if you don’t have a great way of asking for the sale and getting it, you’ll be wasting all that time and expense.

Here is a simple sales process that I was taught by a very experienced Sales Consultant. I use it a lot, to great effect and have shared it with many other consultants and coaches. It works very well in face to face meetings; you can also use it for sales phone calls.

Situation questions – start by asking your prospect about their business. What do they do? Who are their clients? What are their dreams and plans for their business? These questions will help you build up rapport with them and allow you to get to know them better. They will also start to highlight any issues they have.

Problem questions – then ask what issues they’re struggling with at the moment, related to what you do. For me, these will be questions about what marketing they are doing, or the number of new clients they want to attract and what’s stopping them.

Implication questions – what will happen if they don’t address the problems and do anything about them? You need to ask this question, because it starts your prospect really thinking about what might or might not happen to their business, if the problem persists.

Urgency and importance questions – how urgently do they want to deal with the issue? Are they looking for help right now, or within the next six months? This will help you plan your solution and any follow up. Is it important to them right now, or are there more pressing issues they need to deal with? If the latter, no matter how great your solution, they won’t be ready to buy from you just yet.

There are two things to point out at this stage – firstly you’ve still not told your prospect anything about your business – other than what they already know about you. Don’t be tempted to jump in at any stage with your ‘presentation’ because if you do, you won’t win the sale. Secondly, you’ve also asked a number of ‘commitment’ questions, which help you establish whether or not you need to carry on talking to this prospect.

And the third thing to point out … is that I’ll tell you the next steps of this sales process in a future blog – so come back soon!

Why you need a strategy for your marketing – part one

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingWhy do you need a strategy? For the very same reason that you set goals for your marketing and your business. You could just set off and try lots of different marketing activities, in the hope that they will take you to your goals – a bit like just turning up at a bus stop and hoping that one of the buses that stops there is going your way. Or you could plan the best approach and only spend your valuable time and money on what you know will work. Having a strategy and following it is much cheaper in the long run than the scatter-gun approach to marketing.

There are four strategies you can use and the first two are explained in this blog. I’ll explain the other two another time!

1.       Selling Existing Services to Existing Clients

The first of the four strategies to consider is the simplest and most cost effective for many consultants and coaches. It is about selling more of your existing products and services to your existing clients.

If you provide one day of consultancy to a client each month, can you sell them more of your time and give them two days a month? If you sell coaching programmes of 10 sessions over 10 weeks to your clients, can you provide an additional 10 sessions over the next 10 weeks, to the same clients?

This strategy is the simplest and most cost effective because it involves you doing more of what you’re already doing, with clients you already have. Your clients know and trust you, making them the people who are the most likely to buy more from you. Your services are already established and getting good results, so they are the easiest to promote to your clients, who already know that they work.

Selling more of your existing services to your existing clients doesn’t need a huge investment in marketing or time. It’s about spending time with your clients – outside the time you spend working with them – to tell them how investing in more of your time will benefit them. It’s about keeping in touch with your clients on a regular basis and treating some of them to lunch now and then!

How can you sell more of your existing services to your existing clients?

2.       Selling New Services to Existing Clients

Strategy number two is about selling some new products and services to your existing clients. These people already know and trust you – and hopefully you keep in touch with them on a regular basis. This means that you can talk to your happy clients about the sort of new products and services they’d like you to provide for them. You can create new things to sell them, based on how you’re already helping them and other problems they need help with. Because they know and trust you and know that what you already do for them works, they will be open to hearing about how else you can support them.

What new products and services can you create? If your service is based around your time, think about how you can package your knowledge into products, like books, fact sheets and workshops. If you provide 10 face to face coaching sessions in a package, could you create a ‘quick start’ programme of 4 shorter, more intensive sessions, to help clients get started with a new project?

What new products and services can you create for your existing clients?

This is an excerpt from my new book about Marketing Planning, which will be published on 16 November 2011.  Pre-launch orders now being taken – click here to reserve your copy.

Where is your business?

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingWhen you first set out on a journey with a map, you need to know where you are. If you don’t know where you’re starting from, you can’t work out the best route to your destination and you can’t determine how long it’s going to take you to get there.

The first thing you need to think about when you’re creating a Marketing Plan for your business is where your business is now. Knowing where you are at the start of this journey will help you plan the best route to your goals. It will also help you set your goals so that you can see the distance you’ve got to travel between where you are now and where you want to be. You might think that you’d like to take on 100 new clients in the next twelve months, charging each one £1000 per day for consulting or coaching. However, if you’ve only got two clients right now and you’re only charging £300 per day, you’ll have a lot of work to do to reach your goal. (Of course, if that’s the goal you really want to aim for, that’s great and knowing your starting point will help you plan the most effective way of getting there.)

So what is your business? What resources do you have at your disposal, to deliver your services to your clients? How long have you been doing what you do and what sort of reputation and experience do you have?

You also need to think about the products and services that you currently provide and be clear on what you offer, to help you decide the best direction to take. Are you delivering what your clients actually want and are you doing what you really want to do? Is there a demand for what you want to offer or are you doing something you only think people might want?

Who are your clients? What sort of people and businesses do you work for? Where are they and why do they need your help?

Finally, what about your competitors? Do you know who your main competitors are and what they do? How much do they charge and what makes you different from them?

Take the time to think about all these questions and the answers as they apply to your business and make sure you know the starting point of your business journey.

This is an excerpt from my new book about Marketing Planning, which will be published on 16 November 2011.  Pre-launch orders now being taken – click here to reserve your copy.