Why you have to write that book!

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingLast week I launched my brand new (and first) book! It was so exciting to have dozens of copies on display at the workshop I was running, with people picking them up and looking at them. It hardly took any time at all before people were asking if they could buy a copy (silly question!) And then someone asked if I would sign their copy for them. I felt really honoured to be able to do that. All the hours of hard work and worry were paying off. People where wanting to read what I had to say – and wanting to pay me for it. I only ordered 50 copies from the printer and as I write this, less than a week later, I’ve already sold 20 copies.

Since the workshop I’ve sold copies to prospective clients I’ve met and taken the book to networking events. I have a number of copies that I will be giving to clients when I go to see them. And I’ll be getting back in touch with some past clients and people I’ve not spoken to for a while, to give them a copy. It’s a great marketing tool for me – as well as a really useful marketing resource for anyone who uses it.

Soon we’ll be on Amazon and going global!

The majority of the people who think about writing a book never actually get around to doing it. Yes it’s hard work, but is it worth it? Definitely. Can you write a book? Of course you can! Just give it a go and see what happens!

Click here if you’d like to order a copy of Magnetic Marketing and we’ll send it to you.

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What long, medium and short terms goals do you have for your business?

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingStephen Covey says start with the end in mind, so when you’re planning the future of your business, start by thinking about where you want your business to be long term. This could be 10 years away, 5 years away or 3 years away – it’s up to you. It could be about selling your business for a particular sum of money; it could be related to your turnover, number of clients or the reputation of your business. It’s up to you to get creative and choose a goal that inspires you to strive for it. You can have more than one long term goal if you want.

Once you have your long term goal, you need to break it down into more manageable goals. For instance, if your long term goal is to sell your business in 5 years, a medium term goal might be to be working only 3 days a week in 12 months, which is part of the way to being able to sell a business that doesn’t rely on you. If you goal is to be named the best in your field in the UK, a medium term goal could be to be seen as the best in your county in a year’s time. You can have as many medium term goals as you like to help you reach your long term goal.

You should be getting the hang of this process now, because it’s time to break your medium term goals down into short term ones – goals that you can almost reach already. So if your medium term goal is to be working 3 days a week in 12 months time, a short term goal could be to review your current working practices to see how you can grow a business that doesn’t rely on you.  Another could be to look at your staff or whatever team you have, to see what needs to be done to build a solid team of people around you, who can work while you’re away from the office. Linked to this, another short term goal could be to spend some time with an HR or recruitment consultant, to see what they advise in terms of growing your team.

Your short term goals can also be marketing goals. One could be to add a page to your website telling people about the sort of people you’re looking for, to help you grow your team. Another could be related to finding networking groups where you can meet the people you need to advise you and help you build your team.

As with your medium term goals, you can have as many as you like. If your medium term goal is 12 months away, you might need one main short term goal for each of those 12 months.

Spend some time planning where you want to take your business and you’re much more likely to get there.

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.

Do you work with your ideal clients?

When someone asks you who your clients are, is your answer something like, ‘anyone with a pulse and a cheque book’?

If it is, I’m going to let you into a secret. No matter how hard you try, you are always going to struggle to grow your business. You might think that trying to attract every sort of client to your business is a great way of getting more clients to work with you. But that’s not true. Trying to work with every different kind of business means that you will always be chasing everyone you meet, working hard to persuade them to work with you. It means that you will agree to work with clients who don’t really value what you do and how much you want to charge. They will beat you down on price and then want everything done really quickly. They won’t recommend you to other businesses, because they don’t think you’re that special.

Do you still want to work with clients like that?

Your perfect clients are the ones who come and find you. They want exactly what you want to offer them and they want to pay what you want to charge. They are a joy to work with and they always recommend you to other businesses. But there is a trick to finding them. Nearly every consultant or coach that starts a business begins by doing whatever comes along. The idea of sitting around waiting for people to come to you is a strange one, but it’s one that you need to understand. When you know who your perfect clients are and what you want to offer them, you’ll be able to attract them to you, instead of having to chase after them. You can save time by focusing your attention on only working with clients who really appreciate what you do and who pay you what you’re worth. You can save money by only marketing to your perfect clients and you can make more money from working with them.

Do you know who your ideal clients are? Are you working with them or putting up with not-so-perfect clients?

This is an exerpt 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 do your clients hang out?

If you know who your ideal clients are – the people that you really want to work with, who will love working with you – you need to think about where they hang out. When you know this, you can put your marketing messages in places where they will see them and respond to them. If you just splash your messages everywhere, your prospective clients will see them, but so will hundreds of other people that you don’t want to work with – most of your effort and money will be wasted. Putting your messages in places where your prospects won’t see them will waste your effort and money too.

For example, if you provide weight loss advice to people who want to get fitter and live a healthier lifestyle, leaving a brochure in a pub won’t bring you many enquiries – if any. You will have more success if you leave that same brochure in a doctor’s surgery.

If you specialize in helping women become more successful and assertive at work, promoting your business in magazines aimed at men will be a waste of time.

For ideal clients over a certain age, will they see your message on the internet? More and more people are going online, regardless of their age, but you still need to know where on the internet they spend time. What other products and services are they looking for? Which websites do they visit?

Where do your clients hang out? Write a list of everywhere your clients ‘could’ spend time and divide the list into the places they do hang out and the places don’t. Are you putting your marketing messages in the right places?

This is an exerpt 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.

I can’t write a book – what would I write about?

Did you know that 95% of people who think about writing a book never get around to it? That’s a lot of unfulfilled dreams and ideas.

But did you know that writing a book is just about giving? This means that a book is about sharing your ideas and your advice; it’s about writing about what you know about.

I recently suggested to one of my clients that she should write a book. After she’d stopped laughing, she said, “What on earth would I write about and who would want to read it anyway?”

The client in question, Debbie, is a riding instructor who works with people and their own horses, helping them to develop better relationships. It’s not about teaching people to ride, but about helping her clients to train themselves and their horses to the next level of fitness and performance. It’s a bit like a sportsman having a coach who helps him with the next competition; or the business coach who helps her clients achieve greater success – whatever that might look like. A great deal of Debbie’s work is also based around the psychology of riding and how the way riders think affects the way they ride.

So to answer the first question – what do I write about? My suggestion to Debbie was that she writes about some of her clients and the training they’ve been through. She works with a huge range of people and horses, so I suggested a series of case studies to highlight different issues and the different – all successful – results they’ve achieved. Debbie actually enjoys writing, so that won’t be a problem; for people who don’t like writing, a series of case studies can easily be produced by interviewing people and transcribing the interviews.

And question two – who will want to read it? I asked Debbie how many happy clients she has, who would like to know more about training themselves and their horses. She has dozens and all of them would buy her book – especially if they’re signed! In addition, the number of horses in the UK is huge. (According to the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) survey of 2066 there were 1.35 million in the UK.) Take off of few for the people who own more than one horse; remove a few professional riders who have written their own books and you’re left with a vast number of ordinary people who love their horses, ride for fun and would love a book that can, practically, help them improve their riding and develop a better relationship with their horse – without spending a fortune on an expensive course or ‘horse whisperer’.

The good news is that having answered Debbie’s two concerns, she’s giving it a go and is going to write the book! We’re starting with a half day planning session at the end of September and once we’ve done that, I’ll write another blog to update you on progress. If you’re a horse rider who would like to read Debbie’s book, let me know! Once we have the outline, we’ll put details of the book onto her website at www.Gain-field.co.uk with details of how to order a pre-launch copy.

Is there a book in you? Do you know what you could write about and the ideas and advice that you could share? Even if you don’t have the answers to the questions, if you’d like to write a book, get in touch by leaving a comment and ask about our new Book Consultancy service.

How to sell a book without selling a book

Chantal

My book has been rejected by two publishers! I’m dismayed and I’m giving up!

No, not really. There are plenty of other publishers out there who I can approach and someone will, eventually see sense and give me a publishing deal. (Imagine being the person who originally turned down JK Rowling and her first book about a wizard!)

So until I do get a publishing deal, I’m going to do something else with my book. I’ve planned 10 chapters, each with 4 sections; at least one section per chapter has a marketing focus. I’m going to turn each section into a workbook, starting with the theory – the meat of the section – and follow it with questions to be answered and activities to carry out. For example, the section on ‘Grown up marketing’ will encourage readers to look at what marketing they can do, to make the right impression, when starting up a business. As you can’t really get away with homemade business cards, what do you need to do to get them produced professionally?  There will be tips on the best way of doing things – according to my opinion and experience.

Each section will be available to purchase and download, from my website, with a new chapter being added each month. Customers will be able to buy individual sections or whole chapters, selecting specific topics and the help they need.

Each month I’ll be writing a newsletter, based on the section of the current chapter that focuses on marketing. The newsletter will be used to tell my readers about the latest section and when it will be available. There will also be blogs about that subject throughout the month. All integrated and planned – which should make the writing easier!

Chapter one is about getting started from the ground up, with sections asking if you’ve got what it takes, how you do proper marketing from the outset, how to find the motivation to keep going and what to do with advice you’re given. It should be ready to download (and watch, because I’m going to video someone talking through each section too) in February 2011. The newsletter, about grown up marketing, will go out in February to promote the chapter. In January we’ll create the video version, and this month we’ll turn the words, which have been written, into great looking PDFs.

Chapter two will go through exactly the same process, so that it’s ready to buy in March. And so we’ll go on, all through 2011. Now that I’ve told you that’s what I’ll be doing, I don’t have any excuses, do I?! I’d better get with turning Chapter One into some PDFs!

The power of being positive – part four

Chantal

Here is the final section from the sample chapter of my book (working title One in Ten – How to Survive Ten Years in Business). The chapter is about how the power of being positive is so important for successful businesses.

 Click here to read part one of this chapter; click here for part two; click here for part three.

Talk to your clients

A valuable lesson I have learnt in business is to never assume anything. A friend made an assumption that nearly cost him a large client. This client is something of a celebrity who is not short of cash and he is very careful about how he spends it. He commissioned some work from my friend and queried every cost. At one stage in the project, my friend carried out some work, at extra cost, which was not first been agreed with the client. Overall, the cost was quite small in comparison to total project, yet the client was angry at not being consulted about the work. Even though the work was needed, the tension it caused between my friend and his client took its toll on their relationship. The trust was gone.

Never assume that your clients are happy simply because you do not hear from them. Just because someone never complains does not mean that there is nothing wrong. Even asking clients if they are happy will not tell you everything. You need to really understand what is happening within your clients’ businesses – what issues they face and where they are going with their businesses – to know to how products or services help them overcome those issues and reach their goals. Asking your clients for honest feedback is scary. You may hear things that you do not really want to hear, yet without that feedback, how can you improve what you do and move your business forward?

Carrying out a Customer Value Survey amongst your clients will help you get good feedback. Every couple of years, take a selection of clients and ask them what they think of your business. You can start by emailing them your questions, for them to send replies. Then you can get on the phone and speak to some of them, asking them the questions and talking to them about their answers. It is usually easier for someone to give good feedback when they can talk to you about it, than if they have to write it down; a conversation allows you to go into deeper detail. With some clients, you can arrange to meet with them to go through the questions; doing this over lunch or coffee makes the whole experience even more enjoyable for both of you and helps strengthen your relationship.

What should you ask? The questions that will elicit the most valuable information are around the value and benefits they get from working with your business. You can ask them why they came to you in the first place rather than one of your competitors. Ask them what they thought they would get before they started working with you, what they actually get and how they feel about the differences. In the many cases you may find that you are exceeding expectations; this does not mean that you can sit back and take it easy. It means that you have to look at how to keep up that level of service and satisfaction for your clients. This sort of survey also allows you to talk to clients about what else they would like from you, or what problems they are facing in their businesses. It is a great chance to spot opportunities and strengthen the relationship you we have with them. You cannot do this if you just assume that all your clients were happy because they have never complained.

Talking to your clients does not just tell you what they think of the service you provide; it also allows them to give you advice and ideas for your business. When I took one client out for lunch a few years ago, to ask for her feedback, she asked me about my exit strategy for my business, something. I had not thought about. My client suggested I speak to another one of my clients – a business adviser – about exit strategies and the future of my business. So then I took him out to lunch to ask for his feedback on our service and we ended up talking about exit strategies and doing some future planning for my business. Think about how you can use your clients to help you grow your business with their help.

In my business we use a number of suppliers. They include freelance writers, graphic designers, web developers, IT support, accounting and banking services, internet providers and business advisers. There is only one that ever asks me what I think of their service. They answer our phones calls when no one is available to answer them in the office. Working with the same contact for six years, every six months she calls. She tells me about the new services they have and tells me what she needs from me, to make the service better. I tell her what is going on at Appletree including new clients and new members of staff. That regular phone call makes me feel like a valued client and that the people who answer the phone are part of my team. I wish more of my suppliers took the time to ask me about my business and they provide. If they did, they would not be so surprised when I leave them unexpectedly.

When did you last ask your clients what they really think of your service? When did you last take one of your clients out for lunch?