Have you tried the art of Zen Marketing?

Some people rush around doing masses of marketing – lots of networking, writing articles and blog posts, speaking in public – and hope that the phone rings. They go to loads of meetings and send out dozens of proposals, hoping that all the activities will bring in more clients.

Other people get up late, take the dog for a walk, wander into their office and answer the phone, to talk to a prospect client who is calling and ask if they can pay them for their help.

The latter group of people are practicing the art of Zen Marketing! It’s much cheaper, less time consuming and more effective than the marketing that the first group of people do.

So how does it work? First you need to get really clear on who your ideal clients are, so that other people can recommend you to them. This also means that you can stop wasting time running after not so ideal clients, who will take months to sign the deal and then don’t want to pay you for the great job you’ve done for them.

Secondly you need to build a great reputation. When people are talking about you without you being there – and saying nice things, or course – then your phone will ring without you having to do all the chasing.

So the next time you’re thinking about spending a lot of time and money on your marketing, stop, take the dog for a walk (or go to the gym, or take a nap) and think about getting the basics right. When you get the basics right, the rest of your marketing will be much more effective.

Why Christmas is Just a Marketing Tactic

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingAre you a big fan of Christmas? Do you have your tree up, your lights on and all your presents bought and wrapped? Or do you say “Bah humbug” to all the festive glitz and expense?

Whatever your attitude, Christmas is actually a great marketing tactic that should not be ignored and this issue of Scribbles will give you some ideas on how you can use it to promote your business.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of Christmas, because it has become too commercial. We’ve forgotten the real meaning of Christmas and it can be so stressful. (On 25 December I’ll be at home with my husband, cats and dogs, enjoying a quiet day and a roast duck!)

However, from a marketing point of view, I do think Christmas has its uses. Here are a few ideas for you:

Seasonal promotions – you can use the end of the year to run special promotions. “Last chance to buy this service at this price before the prices go up in the New Year.” Just make sure your promotion is different to what you offer throughout the rest of the year, or no one will take you seriously.

Christmas cards – I always take the time to write personalised Christmas cards to all my clients, suppliers, friends and supporters. It’s my way of saying thank you for being with us this year and here’s to more success next year. Each card is hand written, with a personal note in it, which shows the receiver that we’ve taken the time to think about them. The cards are only signed by people in the office who know the recipient; they are a great way of getting back in touch with people we’ve not spoken to for a while.

Party time – throwing a Christmas party for your clients is a great way to thank them for their custom and support over the year. It needn’t cost the earth – think of something original and people will talk about it for years to come. The mince pie extravaganza we held a couple of years ago was a real hit.

Networking mayhem – many networking groups hold special Christmas events. If you go to all of them, it could get expensive, so choose wisely. Some will be more relaxed than usual, so if you want to do something a bit differently, this is the time to turn up wearing your reindeer antlers!

So will you be using Christmas as a marketing tool, or will you just be eating and drinking as much as you can, while wearing a party hat and dancing around the Christmas tree?! Let a comment here to let me know.

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.

Measuring your marketing

To make your marketing really effective, you need to measure every marketing activity that you carry out.

You can start by measuring the number of enquiries that you generate from each activity and how much it costs for each enquiry. Go a stage further and measure the number of new clients generated from those enquiries. Some activities may generate many enquiries, but if they’re not the right sort of enquiries – not your ideal clients – you will not get the conversion to clients that you want.

When you are measuring the cost, take everything into account. If you attend a regular networking meeting, include the annual fee and cost of each meeting. You can even include the time that you spend at each meeting and your time to travel there – this will show you if it’s worth you driving for two hours to that networking meeting, even if it’s free to attend.

Be really specific with your measurements. For example, for networking meetings, measure the effectiveness of each group you attend, as this will show you if some are better for you than others. If you advertise in newspapers or magazines, measure the results you get from each one.

Once you have started to measure your marketing, take a look at the numbers. Are there any surprises? Do you have some marketing activities that are working better than others? Are there some that are not working as well as you thought they might be? Are there some marketing activities that you should stop and others that you should do better?

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.

A five step plan for social media

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingMy thanks go to Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist, for the inspiration for this blog. I heard Graham speak at a Ladies and Gentlemen That Lunch networking meeting earlier this year, when he shared with us his five step plan for social media, which looks something like this.

  1. Plan – have a strategy, decide exactly what you want to achieve, set targets and goals. For instance, do you want to use social media to find new contacts, or build your reputation?  Are you using it primarily to keep abreast of industry news, or to share your advice with other people? How many contacts do you want to connect with?
  2. Blog – adding content should be your primary activity and the more the better. At the time of writing this blog, we’re posting on it twice a week. We’ll be going back up to three posts each week in the New Year. If you’re just starting out with a blog, aim to post once a week and build up from there.
  3. Integrate – connect your blog to every social media outlet important to your market, but especially Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Each time we publish a post on this blog, a tweet goes out automatically; we keep tweeting that tweet until another blog is posted. Our blogs also go onto our Facebook page.
  4. Monitor – constantly be aware of your readership and what they are doing with your content. We use Tweet Deck to see who is talking about us on Twitter and who is retweeting us. Tools like Google Alerts will also tell you who is talking about you.
  5. Respond – reply to the engagement you receive and use that to help develop your future plans. Reply to direct messages through Twitter and get into conversations with your followers – it can lead to work and ideas for new products and services. Respond to comments on your blog, LinkedIn and Facebook for the same reasons.

Many people start using social media without really thinking about where they’re going with it. That’s a bit like starting out on a journey without actually knowing where you’re going. Without a destination to head to, you’ll just end up driving round and round in circles, wasting your time. Follow Graham’s five step plan and you’ll save yourself lots of time and effort, while making the most of this active marketing tool.

You can read more of Graham’s words of wisdom at www.GrahamJones.co.uk.

What do you do? And how do you tell people?

When you go to networking meetings and someone asks “What do you do?” can you answer succinctly, in a way that leaves people wanting to know more? Can you get your message across in one minute – or less – in a way that everyone can understand? Or do you leave people confused, bored or even put off by what you say?

Courtesy of the great Mike Harris, who set up companies like Egg and First Direct, I’d like to share with you a process I’ve learnt recently. We tried it out at an LGL lunch in Oxford at the end of September and it went down really well. Here’s the process:

  1. What’s the big idea? What do you actually do, or want to do? You need to be able to say it in one line, without using any jargon or ‘weird’ language. At this stage you don’t need to say how you do what you do. I used to say “I’m a marketing consultant” and have realised that the word ‘marketing’ puts many people off; and some people just don’t understand it. So now I say “I work with coaches, consultants and trainers who are too busy to find new clients.” Simple, clear and succinct.
  2. Why should I listen to you? This is where you tell your audience why they should carry on listening to you. Give them your credentials. If you’re the only person who does what you do, say so; if you invented what you do, or have won awards doing it, then say so. For me, I tell people that I’ve got 16 years of experience helping other companies to find new clients. I also say that 11 of those years have been spent running my own successful consultancy, finding new clients for coaches and consultants.
  3. What’s the problem? So you’ve got all this experience, but what problem do you actual solve for your clients? What have you noticed people struggling with? As an example, I’ve noticed how a lot of consultants either have too much work (and no time for life or doing any marketing) or they don’t have enough work (and therefore no money for life or doing any marketing.) They spend their time going up and down a rollercoaster, going from feast to famine and back again. And they want to get off the rollercoaster!
  4. Sell the solution. Once you’ve got the audience’s attention by showing you understand their problems, you can tell them about the solutions you provide. Tell them how you can help them. At Appletree, we help coaches, consultants and trainers to get off the feast and famine rollercoaster, by doing lots of marketing for them. We keep the marketing ticking over in the background, while they get on doing what they’re good at – and what they’re paid to do. With regular marketing, we help them get a regular flow of the right sort of clients, to keep them busy and earning the sort of fees they deserve.
  5. Put your heart into it. You can go through the first four stages of this process and still leave people uninterested in what you say, if you don’t put your heart into it. You need to show your audience why you care about what you do and how passionate you are about it. I hate seeing coaches and consultants struggle with their businesses, especially when I know there is something that can be done about it. It’s my mission to put an end to the struggle of running a coaching, consulting or training business. I want to inspire people to succeed by following their passions.

So think about how you can explain what you do, without confusing people with jargon from the outset and by being really clear on what you do and why. Put some heart into it and the next time someone asks you what you do, try out this clever process and see what happens. If you’ve been used to seeing people’s eyes glaze over, or have people drift away from you before you’ve finished answering, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Let me know how you get on?!

And if you want to try this out with a group of like-minded people, join me at the Ladies & Gentlemen That Lunch north Oxfordshire/south Warwickshire meeting in Farnborough on 5 October, when we’ll be running a mini workshop during lunch.

Networking – Do we still need face-to-face?

Nowadays, we have many different ways of getting in touch with each other and meeting new people. The social media takeover means we can keep up with what our peers are doing at the touch of a button but face-to-face networking is a valuable skill, and not many people still have it. Networking and marketing go hand in hand, and it’s all about tailoring it to your business. You need to choose events that work for you. Here are some quick tips about improving your face-to-face networking.

1.       To eat, or not to eat?

Many people don’t think about this, but eating poses more of a problem than you’d guess. Can you hold a flowing conversation whilst eating? Maybe you find it distracting. Different meetings have different catering – some are canapés and others are three course meals! Bear this in mind. Go for valued networking and connect with the most people, not for a meal.

2.       Formal or Informal?

There’s a wide range of formality in networking. Some are so informal there’s little structure at all, it’s up to you to talk to people and start conversation. Formal meetings often have seating plans and timetabled 30 second introductions from the attendees. If you’re a people person, and can start conversations easily, maybe there’s less need for formal networking. Go where you’re comfortable.

3.       Industry Specific?

It’s always worth being strategic with your networking. You’ll get more out of it if you go to a meeting relevant to you. If you work with businesses within a specific market sector, then go out – be proactive! Find out where they network and join them. Chartered institutes or associations are great places to start. If your clients are across a range of sectors, find out what they have in common. Is it business size, or target market? Find out where they network, and see them. There’s no downside to getting to know your client’s industry a bit better.