Archive for April, 2009

Coaches. Don’t hire marketing help!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 | Virtual Team Building with No Comments »

Pardon the rant, but I really feel this needs to be said.

There is a serious problem in the coaching industry! Coaches are spending their money on marketing help before they are ready.

When a coach starts their business, they typically have no money or just enough money to sustain their business while it gets off the ground. All too often, a new coach hears more experienced coaches talk about how a Virtual Assistant (VA) was helpful. So, the new coach sets out to hire a VA to start helping with the marketing technology. BIG mistake!!! Most new coaches don’t even know HOW to market their business, let alone tell someone else what they need done! This is a huge COSTLY mistake. New coaches end up running in circles with their marketing, because they are spending all their money on assistance that supports running in circles. If you want to free up time, start with an Administrative VA and a bookkeeping VA. Then customer service.  Hire a marketing coach or consultant to help you learn what strategies are going to work for your business and for YOU, as the business owner.

Once you’ve learned how to market your business and your administrative needs are met, you can look at investing in marketing help. Now, let me clarify, I’m not saying skip the web designer or the copywriter! Those people can seriously boost a new business and they are worth the investment from the beginning! When I say Marketing Help, I’m referring to someone (or a team) who manages your marketing systems, puts your copy into technology, and spreads your marketing around to all those places where potential clients will see it.

Marketing help should come in at the point where you are saying “no” to incoming clients, or ignoring opportunities to create more programs, because you are spending your time on marketing. Hire marketing help when doing your own marketing is getting in the way of earning a higher income.

Plan to invest! When you hire marketing help, you will be investing in results that you may not see for 6 months to a year. At this point your income level should be in or near the 6-figure range. Expect to invest 10% of your income on marketing help.  If you don’t have the income to support this kind of investment for a year, then you have no business hiring marketing help.  Raise your rates or put together some group coaching.  Whatever you need to do to increase your income, before you go adding marketing help to your business.

Now, the next biggest mistake I see is coaches who get to this point, then they use their newly found free time to focus on more areas of marketing. No! Please don’t do that!!! Obviously, at this point the marketing you’ve been doing has brought in clients. Keep bringing in clients with the same consistent marketing for the first year you work with marketing help. USE that free time to create new higher earning programs, take on more one-on-one clients, etc… The Coaches’ job at this point is to participate in income-generating activities only!!! This will boost your business that first year and provide the income to sustain your marketing investment.

THEN, after that first year, you can start adding new modes of marketing, but the marketing team should be executing it! You see, once marketing help comes on board, you should only be creating the initial concept for the marketing, and writing 1st drafts of copy. The marketing team should be handling the rest, so you can continue focusing on income-generating activities.  Do you see how important that first period of doing it yourself is?  By the time you get here, you have to KNOW what it takes to market your business.  You have to KNOW your systems well enough to be able to make decisions that work for your business before you can tell someone else what to do with your marketing!

In order for your marketing team to take over, you can’t just hire anyone. You must scrutinize over who will provide marketing help. Cheapest isn’t always best! You must make sure your marketing helper(s) have experience, a personality you want to work closely with, and the ability to do the work that will come in the future. Hire for tomorrow, NOT today!  You’ll save time and money if you go this route.  In hiring for what is affordable right now, you are setting yourself up to have to hire other people later.  Why not get that professional team in place now, so they can learn your business and move it forward faster?

At the point you are ready to hire marketing help, you MUST be great at marketing your business, and have a vision for what you want your business to look like in 1, 3, 5, 10 years or more. Otherwise your marketing help is just going to support a stagnant business and a coach who runs around in circles with their marketing.

For more resources and support to help you build a team that saves you time while increasing your income, check out Melanie Benson Strick’s amazing resources at Success Connections.

Comments? Questions? Leave your comment on this post!

Marketing Campaigns are Backwards

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 | Implementation planning with No Comments »

Do you ever get a marketing idea and want to get started on it right away?  I do all the time.  Ideas are always jumping into my head for promotions, joint ventures, and anything else I can dream up.  I’m one of these people who also likes to be able to just run with the idea, put it together and get it done NOW!  Unfortunately, marketing campaigns don’t work that way, even though I do.

Backwards marketing for coaches

Backwards marketing for coaches

Over the last 3 years of coordinating marketing campaigns, the most valuable thing I’ve learned is to SLOW down and work backwards.  I know that just doesn’t seem like it would work when your creative juices are flowing.  That’s why I always suggest the first order of business is to start at the end do a brain dump.  What do I mean by “brain dump?”  What I mean is writing down all your ideas for the campaign as soon as you can, so your creativity can flow.  What do you want the campaign to look like?  What do you want your campaign to include?  Leave room to add more ideas as they come to you.  You can also talk to someone about it and have them take notes, or record yourself talking about it and have it transcribed.  Either way, get all your ideas on paper, so you have a big picture idea of what you are working on and you can allow your creativity to flow.

Now, plan backwards.
1)  Choose your ideal end date.  What date do you want to have the event?  What date do you want to launch the product?  You get the idea.  Keep in mind that most large event type campaigns need a good 3 months to take hold and produce results.  Smaller product release type campaigns can be put together in a month, because you are continually marketing even after the release date.

2)  What’s it going to take?  Look at your brain dump notes.  What tasks and details did you write down?  Create a list of all those details and then fill in any holes you see.  Number your list in order of what needs to come first.  So, let’s say you are doing an ebook launch.  You need the cover designed, you need the ebook written, you need it proofed and formatted, and you need a sales page…not to mention there are a lot of other pieces.  What needs to get done first?  Most likely, it’s writing the ebook first, then the cover design, then while proofing and formatting is going on, the sales page needs to be created.

3)  And before that?  Now, next to each of your task items on the list, add what needs to happen before those are done.  The person who is creating your sales page will need certain things from you.  When will they need them in order to have the final draft to you in time for your end date?  Plan for a few edits and revisions.  Make sure you know the turn around time so you can plan it out accordingly.  Create due dates for each task item on your list.

4)  What do you need?  What do you need in order to make sure all of it comes together?  Do you need to move the end date, so you have more breathing room?  Do you need to take some extra time out to breathe before you start looking at what needs to be done?  Do you need help in managing the project, so you can focus elsewhere?  What do YOU need in order to stay sane, keep the flow going, and make sure you get the end product you want?

Plan it out with dates

Plan it out with dates

I find it very helpful to use project management software for planning out campaigns.  I have purchased a monthly subscription to Basecamp (http://www.basecamphq.com) for my clients and my team to use.  It allows us to set up to-do lists and milestones for each piece of a project.  This makes it easy to see all that needs to happen.  It also makes it easy for my Project Manager to communicate with our clients and keep them in the loop.

I’ve also been known to use mind maps for my brain dumps.  It gets everything out on paper in picture form and I can see all the little legs of what needs to happen.  I use the fr*ee personal version of http://www.mindmeister.com, for this.

Remember, having a marketing implementation plan like this can keep you and your team on track with a project.  It also allows you to think ahead and create space where you need it, so you aren’t cramming to get everything done last minute.

If you find this article helpful or have questions/opinions, please leave a comment.  I want to hear from you.

Blog Sites Are Not Blogs!

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 | Blog Sites with 1 Comment

Just because your website is on WordPress doesn’t mean it can LOOK like a blog!  I know, many coaches are catching on to the fact that it’s easier to maintain and update a blog website, vs. an HTML website.  So, you’re switching to WordPress.  This isn’t a bad idea.  It will make it easier for you to update, add social networking and change as your style changes.

It IS a bad idea to make your blog site actually LOOK like a blog!  Ugh!  Over and over I’m seeing coaches misuse a blog site.  They picked a free theme, installed it themselves and did very little (if any) customization…and it shows!!  If you want clients to purchase your services and products, then you want your site to give them a feeling of professionalism.  This creates trust immediately and it creates a sense that you know what you are doing.

I was just looking at a coaching blog site the other day and it was awful.  The Home page was a regular blog page.  It had language about what the business does, but there was no bolding, color or anything to catch my attention visually within it.  The navigation bar had small words on it, I barely knew it was there.  What do you think that says about the coach when it’s obvious the site just thrown up there.  I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Instead, I’ll give some tips on what will actually attract clients on these blog sites.

1)  Get a business design - There are some really great (and worth the price) custom designs out there that are meant for business.  They have a built in home page that almost looks like an HTML page, but is still as easy to update as a blog post.

Check out http://www.ithemes.com for some GREAT themes for under $100.  My favorite is the “Architect” theme - http://ithemes.com/purchase/architect/ (click on the theme picture to see how it looks in action).

Another place with some great themes is http://wphacks.com/small-business-premium-wordpress-themes/.  There is a lot of variety here.

2) Don’t let your banner overrun the page - A beautiful representative banner is important to selling your sevices, but you want to make sure that there is some content on the screen when people first pull it up.  I work on a very small laptop that is about 14.5 inches.  WAY too many times, I’ve pulled up a blog site and the banner is the only thing I see.  It’s important, but not so important that it takes up half of your space on the page.  Words are what people are looking for.  They want to know what you do and they want to see that you have a description the moment the page loads.

Large graphics can also take extra time to load and if all they see is a loading graphic, you may lose your visitors before they’ve seen what you have to offer.

3)  Have a few easy to spot points - Many of the business themes have  a way to pull a few pieces of content and highlight them in a small area on the home page.  This is a great opportunity to introduce your business and what it has to offer.  Pick 2 or 3 aspects of what you do and talk about what’s possible for your clients if they were to participate in those aspects of your business.

4)  Have a space to talk about your overall business - Make sure there is a stand out section that introduces your company.  It can be typical home page text that gets people interested and wanting to click through to other places in your site.

5) Make sure your navigation bar is prominent - All too often, I haven’t been able to find where to click in order to get to other areas of a blog site.  Make sure it’s easy to find where to click.  You don’t want it cluttered up with a bunch of blog stuff, like most popular posts etc… it needs to be part of the design at the top of the page, on top of or under the banner.

6) Make your text stand out - Have a few “Titles” or “headings” that stand out on your home page.  You want people to be able to quickly scan and find what they want.  Make sure those titles are outcome driven and share what “could be” if people work with you. My coach (Robin Jones of http://www.successbecomesyou.com) is always urging me to create text that is outcome oriented instead of process oriented.  Here’s what Robin says about making your copy outcome driven; “Most coaches talk about how coaching works when asked what they do.  Nobody cares.  Nobody really wants coaching.  They want the results they get from coaching, so talk about the results they can achieve.” I urge you to follow his advice.  Especially with your titles.

The way most of the business themes are designed, your home page is more like a landing page where you can add more information than usual.  You want to quickly get your visitors attention and easily guide them to where they can learn more.

Are you using a premium business WordPress theme for your coaching website?  Post the link in the comments so we can see more examples of what’s possible.

Social Media Marketing Works!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 | Social Networking with No Comments »

Have you heard?  There’s a new industry report out about social media marketing.  Michael Stelzner surveyed nearly 900 Social Media Marketers (including myself) and has published his results.  I’m going to highlight some of the important parts for coaches here.  If you want to see the entire report, you can go to Michael’s blog and download it.

What constitutes social media?

First off I want to clarify what I mean when I say social media.  This survey included Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, You Tube, Social Bookmarking sites, Stumble Upon, Digg (and others like it), and Friend Feed.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

“The number-one benefit of social media marketing is gaining the all-important eyeball.  A significant 81% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated exposure for their businesses. Improving traffic and growing lists was the second major benefit, followed by building new partnerships.”

I’ve had many coaches ask me, what the ROI for social media is.  Well, here ya go!  More exposure leads to more clients.  It’s as simple as that.  I know, it’s easy to continue marketing the way you always have, but what about expanding your community?  Through social media you can exponentially expand the amount of people you expose your business to on a daily basis.  How much business are you getting from your non-social media community?  What if you could triple or quadruple that community?  How much more business would that mean for you?  THAT’s your ROI for social media marketing.

According to Michael, “Sole Proprieters were more likely than others to see benefits.”  So, if you are the main show in your business, it’s definitely worth it to be engaging in social media.

How much time do you need to spend in social media?

In as little at 6 hours a week, those surveyed have seen results.  Here are some of the findings:

“After only a few months and with as few as 6 hours a week, more than half of marketers have generated qualified leads with social media marketing.”

“61.83% of people who have only invested a few months in their social media marketing report new partnerships were gained.”

Again, sole proprietors were more likely to see these results.

“Nearly all marketers spending 6+ hours a week on social media marketing found exceptionally positive results.”

So, at 6 hours or less, you’ll see some results.  If you spend more than 6 hours a week, you’ll see exceptional results.  That doesn’t mean you need to be spending that kind of time right off the bat!  Most experienced social media marketers do spend 16+ hours a week on social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean you have to!!  As you start seeing results, you’ll want to spend more time on the networks.  In starting at 6 hours, you can find which networks are brining the most results, so that when you ARE ready to add time to your efforts, you know where it will do the most good.

In conclusion:

If you haven’t jumped into social media yet, or you are wondering if you should do more of it, the answer is GO FOR IT!!  Many businesses are out there gaining profitable connections every day.  This report proves that social networking is worth the time.  So, jump in, beef up and expand your business.

What do you think of these findings?  What questions do you have about social media marketing?  Let us know and we can discuss it here.