Business, but Not as Usual

Hey, how are you doing there… not ill, I hope… not stressed or anxious or worried too much?

That said, business worldwide is being affected, and every one of us will need to think on our feet, if we’re going to keep our venture running.

It’s fun when pundits and startups talk about disruptive industries, but right now we’re dealing with industrial disruption, and that ain’t no fun.

What used to work last week, isn’t working the same today, and that means we need to adjust, adapt, pivot.

Luckily, the internet is a massive enabler, but it’s on us to find a way to leverage its potential.

Whether your revenue is at risk because you can’t visit your clients and deliver, or because supply chains and delivery of product can get delayed, or your remote clients aren’t buying your service offer because of spending freezes: if you’re going to keep going, you’ll need to adjust.

Here’s one thing that practically everyone can do:

Sell your genius.

Meaning: there’s something you do, based on your experience and skills and uniqueness, that nobody can do quite the way you do it.

That ‘genius’ is your IP – your intellectual property.

And if right now you’re stuck at home with no appointments in your calendar and uncertainty about how long your buying cycles will be, you could do worse than to extract that IP, turn it into a digital offer, and see if it would be useful to your audience.

Right now, I’m creating a system that will do exactly that, because a) I too need to pivot, and b) because there’s droves of people who are stuck, whose business is taking a hit, who need to keep serving up their IP – for their own sake and for that of the people they serve – and who are at a loss as to what to do.

And one thing to do when things are tough, is to use a system designed to lead to an outcome.

And while it won’t be a panacea for all businesses, that kind of system is what I’m building right now. I’ll probably make a basic instruction+workbook available for free, so that anyone who needs to give their business a push can benefit from it.

More news soon.

Cheers,

Martin

P.s. Whenever a business struggles with cashflow, my first question is always: Can you make an offer, sell something, is there anything you can serve your audience with? Usually, the answer is yes. But often, the actual selling part is tricky or scary for people. If that’s you, then read this ebook, 10 Rules for Ethical Selling. Might help you make the sales conversation a little easier:

2 Steps to Growing Your Business – But Hardly Anyone Implements Them

Some of my readers already know that in the last few months, I’ve been deploying a marketing system that guarantees increases in revenue of 20% or more.

It’s super effective, really reliable (actually comes with a guarantee), and really the only thing wrong with it, is that I didn’t invent it myself – I simply obtained a license to teach and implement the system for clients, because it’s one of the best systems for growth I’ve seen.

But the other day, I realised how wonderfully it dovetails with my own LEAP model for running and growing a business.

LEAP being the Listen, Explain, Ask, Profit framework I invented.

And in terms of that marketing system, here’s how it works, and the steps to implement if you want to grow your business:

Listen:

What is it it that makes people buy from you, and not someone else? What do customers opine about doing business with you? Why do they give you money?

You’ll have an idea, but until you talk to your people, and listen, you’ll be operating on assumptions and random soundbites and data points.

But once you get your buyer’s feedback, and motivation, in their own words: then you have a USP – a Unique Selling Proposition – that speaks with the voice of your best buyers, and attracts more of that kind of buyer.

Homework: survey your customers (current and past – you want to learn why people stopped doing business with you as well as why they still do)

Explain:

You take that USP – the thing that differentiates you and makes people love you – and you make it part of every piece of communication you do. If there’s a compelling reason that your market has told you is why they buy with you, state that reason.

Integrate your USP, make it part of your messaging, brand, tagline, the way you answer emails or the phone: make sure that those who deal with you are made aware of why you are you and therefore preferable over your competition.

Homework: well, that. Update your branding, your messaging, your bios on social media, your email signature, your tagline: live your key differentiator out loud. It’s why people love your work, remember?

Ask:
Here we look at your database – your past current, and future customers – and we start asking tough questions about who tends to buy what, and what kinds of offers we can make to see if people will buy something else.

Packages, special offers, add-on services or upsells: You simply ask: “I’ve got this thing here – is it something you’d want?”

When you do that, after defining your USP and making it part of your messaging, you’ll find that digging into your database and your numbers brings up all kinds of opportunities for people who love (or loved) doing business with you, to buy something again.

Homework: analyse your database, create packages and offers, and run campaigns (email, phone, social media, in-person meetings once travel is advisable again): create theories about what people might want to buy, and ask them if they want to.

Finally, profit:
This is where we create strategic alliances with businesses that serve a similar audience to yours, and we create partnerships based on cross-promotion and commission – and it only takes a few well-chosen strategic partners, for you to increase your revenue without scaling up your workload or your advertising budget.

Homework: analyse your market, identify products and services they already buy, and get in touch with people who sell them, to see if you can create partnerships.

And that, in a nutshell, is the LEAP marketing system.

Follow these steps in order, and you’ll see your revenue go up.

Or, have me implement the steps for you, and I’ll get you to at least 20% growth. Guaranteed.

Shall we talk?

Cheers,

Martin

Selling Is Not Binary

In business, your job is to help a buyer advance, get better, solve problems – your job is not to ‘close a sale’.

Sometimes people buy from you, sometimes they don’t, and that’s up to them.

It really depends on what that person needs, and wants, and the timing of your encounter. Maybe their best choice is to not buy today, but tomorrow or next week.

Because even if someone has the money to work with you, it also needs to fit into their plans and projects.

Whether you sell a product or service, in most cases a client will also need to dedicate a certain amount of time to the project – and that already starts before buying: even the decision to work with you or not requires an investment in think-time.

So if they don’t buy today, who knows what they’ll want to decide tomorrow or later down the line?

This is why selling isn’t binary. It’s not a ‘sale/no sale’ scenario, because if you see it that way you’ll shut things down if you don’t get a yes.

Instead, consider it a ‘sale/or something else’ situation, where ‘something else’ is an outcome that you both benefit from, and one that keeps you in touch.

This change in attitude does magic for the relationships and conversations you have, because it takes the pressure off the situation.

It creates encounters that leaves people feeling ‘I feel respected by you. I’m happy to talk to you again’.

Which is great, because what better person to follow up with, than someone who’s open to dealing with you again?

This kind of conversation and relationship is what I teach in my LEAP training for ethical selling.

It’s in pilot launch at the moment, and there’s still a few seats left for a live, 1 on 1, 10-week training.

Are you in?

Cheers,

Martin

Values, Experience, USP

When I talk about ‘solving the good egg problem’, meaning: helping good folk sell more because of their values, that means there’s a great many variation in the kind of business that I work with. Ghostwriters, designers, architects, startups, healthcare, web developers and yoga teachers: I’ve worked with all kinds and sizes of businesses.

On the surface, that looks like bad marketing, because if I’m for everyone in general, my marketing would say ‘I’m not for anyone in particular’.

Except I’m not for everyone.

I don’t really think in terms of ‘niche’ or ‘industry’ or ‘demographic’ – what you as a business owner do can be whatever you want – but I can only work with you if and I have shared views on items such as values, integrity, truthfulness… and, the idea of running a business that does something useful.

That’s my ‘niche’ – the psychographic make-up that you and I have, and whether or not we’re aligned in how we see certain things that matter a lot to us. Like values, and stuff.

That’s why I’m for: people who see business and service and money and marketing in a way similar to me: a force for good, to be used strategically and with purpose and intent.

Here’s why this is useful:

Your values, or those that your company embodies, influence the experience your clients have with your business.

When you then lead with those values, in all your marketing and sales efforts, you’ll start to attract the kind of people who seek a provider who has certain values in common with them.

So when I work with clients to grow their business, an important job is to figure out what experience your customers have had, what that says about your values, and how that informs the communication (i.e. marketing and sales) you should be putting out in your messaging.

Because when you have the right values in common, the sale is already half closed, before you even talk to a new customer, because you’ll already have a lot of rapport.

What all this comes down to, is creating a Unique Selling Proposition for your business, that is built to appeal to exactly the kind of person you love working with.

Part of the consulting system I’m rolling out, is figuring out exactly what your USP should be, so if you want to get clear on that – meaning, get clear on what sets you apart from others and why people should do business with you and not those others – feel free to schedule a free 30 minute consultation here.

Cheers,

Martin

Interesting vs Useful

While asking questions and listening are at the heart of ethical selling, there will come a moment, or several, where the buyer wants you to say something.

Answer a question, explain something, repeat something…

That’s a crucial moment, because the way you handle that determines whether or not your sales conversation will go smoothly, or instead you have to struggle.

Most people, when it’s their time to talk, will go for ‘interesting’, which leads to statements like ‘We’re the world’s largest blah blah’, or ‘I work with some of the most influential authors’ or, the best of the worst: ‘I was talking to Richard Branson about that yesterday’ (or insert whatever more minor celebrity that someone actually might know).

The problem is not that these statements don’t make you look interesting.

The problem is that they do.

And a buyer doesn’t give a damn about how interesting you might be.

A buyer wants to know how interested you are in them.

And not in the money they might pay you, but in the solution they’re hoping to get from you.

And for all you regular, normal, non-world’s-largest, not-connected-to-celebs business owners out there: the good news is that even if you’re as boring as a wet sheet of paper, you can still sell your stuff, and at good prices too.

How?

By being helpful, obviously. If your thing doesn’t help, people have no reason to buy it.

And if you want a buyer to understand how much you help and how useful you are, you show them.

When it’s your turn to talk, don’t start with things that make you look interesting.

Instead, say things that are useful: share insights, ask clarifying questions, suggest ideas or changes, and above all, and before anything else: make sure the buyer knows that you really get their situation.

Because it’s super useful to talk to someone who gets us: there’s no way we won’t get something useful out of the conversation.

And even if they don’t buy then, they’ll be happy you spoke, and you’ll be welcome when you reach out again.

There: an easier conversation, with better positioning, AND an open door when you follow up, just because you didn’t try to look interesting.

Ain’t that useful.

Cheers,

Martin

10 Principles for a Fun and Profitable Business

Some of these took me a long while to accept, others to discover, and some to implement.

All of it is, I guess, a work in progress – like the self, our business, and life in general.

So here’s what I learned over the years, in no particular order, to help make your business easier, more fun, and more profitable.

1: Learn how to write copy. Business will always require writing, and the sooner you get a grip on how to write tightly, in a way that’s clear and compelling, the better you’ll do. It’s an unmissable skill in business.

2: Learn how to enroll people. You can call it selling or persuasion or whatever you want, but if you have a business, you deal with people and you want people to align with your vision, right? Whether we want buyers, high-performing teams, active and responsive followers… you want to really *get* psychology in such a way that you’re able to *move people*. Because that’s what enrolling and selling are ultimately about.

3: Always stay active in growing your list. It’s the core asset of your business and you should never stop growing it.

4: Speaking of assets: your business is full of them, except we tend to overlook or discount them, especially when they aren’t tangible. A fleet of cars is an asset, but so it a list of past customers, who might buy again or introduce you to someone. More assets: your reputation, your network, the quality of your work… all assets that can be leveraged, and your life and business are full of them. Get of your assets, and put them to use for your business.

5: Never get good at the small stuff. Sure it’s great if you know how to fix the printer or design a logo – but if your money-making activity is, say, doing SEO at $100 an hour, you spending an hour fixing the printer cost you a hundred bucks. Better pay someone 25 and use your time to do work that pays.

6: Protect the owner (that would be you, operating as a business owner, instead of a business operator). Most of the time, we work *in* our business, and forget to work *on* our business. This is a massively bad idea because it keeps us stuck in the hamsterwheel of doing and making, stealing time from architecting, strategising, and planning, which is what make for business growth.

7: Values and shared values are the core of finding product-market fit – and enrolling buyers. Not everyone who shares your values will be a good client for you, but if you look at your best, most lucrative and most fun clients, you’ll likely find that those people had a lot in common with you, in terms of values. Find more of those people.

8: Keep it simple. And that’s how simple I’ll keep this point :)

9: Systemise everything. Systems aren’t boring: they are what free up your mind for creative thinking, problem-solving, and creating content that attracts people or that people will pay for. After all, these days we’re all a publishing company, whether we publish work for marketing or for getting paid.

10: Talk to your people. Video, email marketing, public talks or social media: it doesn’t matter where you do it, but you’ve got to show up. Nothing will show up (clients, opportunities, partners, etc) unless you do.

There’s a lot more that goes into a business that’s fun and profitable of course, but if you look at this list, you’ll see there’s a nice set of do’s, don’t’s, skills and attitudes in there, enough to keep you on the right track.

Cheers,

Martin

Look! Book! Ten Rules for Ethical Selling

One of my favourite things when working with clients, is looking at the assets that aren’t being utilised in their business.

Makes for fun and fast growth, when for instance you take the asset called ‘subscriber list’ and you start talking to the people there. After all, most people collect email subscribers, but never send.

But once you start to communicate with them? Replies, downloads, sales… like I say: it’s fun!

And in the spirit of eating my own dogfood: I’ve taken some of my own assets, and put them together in a little ebook, for your entertainment and education.

Click here to download ‘Ten Rules for Ethical Selling’

Enjoy!

Cheers,

Martin

The Cost of Short-Term Thinking

It’s not that I’m a consultant or coach for the hospitality industry, but man there’s a ton of lessons to be learned from what I see here in town – this time, courtesy of a different establishment than the one I wrote about last week.

“I need another waiter”, said my buddy the restaurant owner. “Just for serving drinks, but I can’t find anyone”.

I suggested he attract a quality waiter by paying above average wages – say 20 or 30% more, but he said he can’t afford that.

Which seems to make sense in winter: Not enough diners to make up for the extra cost.

Except it’s backwards thinking. Short-term numbers games, and it does his business damage.

Because if today a large family shows up – and the Spanish love to dine in groups of 8, 10, or 12, and because you’re understaffed they get sub-par service, it might be the last time you see them.

10 diners is easily 500 euros worth of food and drinks, and if you treat a group like that well, they’ll easily be back at least two or three times before summer is over.

And, they’ll be telling their friends how awesome the service was and how well we were taken care of.

So losing the support and loyalty of just that one family can cost his business anything from 1000 to several, or many, 1000s in lost sales, over the course of a year. And that’s just one family. If ten families decide to never return, he loses tens of thousands in sales.

Contrast that against an extra 300 euro per month in paying a waiter above-average… i.e. a total increase of wages of 3300 per year (11 months) and you’ll see it not only makes sense to hire a superb waiter at higher prices… you also see that it’s outright stupid not to.

But such is the mentality on the coast: pan para hoy, hambre para mañana. Bread today, hunger tomorrow.

Short term thinking is expensive.

Long term thinking works to leverage current costs against future returns.

In other words: If you want your business to be fun and lucrative, you can’t afford to make short-term decisions that clip your earnings later on.

And if you HAVE to make short term decisions in order to protect cashflow, the last area where you ought to save money, is in customer experience.

Cheers,

Martin

Better or Worse

He’s a terrific guy, an awesome waiter. He does have the Granada ‘mala folla’ attitude, but once you accept that, you realise he’s actually not boorish at all – that’s just his sense of humour.

And at work? I’ve never seen a waiter run faster than him. It’s astonishing.

But the other day, having lunch with friends, the terrace was just so full that we had to eat our paella starved of drinks. He just wasn’t able to keep up.

This morning over coffee I asked if they shouldn’t hire another waiter, to help him.

Turns out, his boss doesn’t like paying wages. Thinks he can handle things by himself.

Which he can, but if you’re serving 25 tables at the same time AND there’s nobody behind the bar pouring drinks for diners… Then it simply is impossible to handle things well.

This owner, they are doing damage to their business.

Everyone I know in town loves this restaurant – and everyone complains about the service.

Which isn’t my friend the waiter’s fault – he’s running as fast as he can.

But to the customer, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. They want a good meal and decent service.

And the greediness of the owner… well, customers only care about that once it affects service or quality, right?

Here’s the moral of the story:

While profit is essential in business, and you sometimes need to make tough decisions, never let quality and service suffer.

Yeah, it’s bad for business.

But more importantly: it’s backwards thinking, because quality and service grow a business, while inefficiency and wastage slow it down.

If you’re going to optimise for profit, start by looking at bottlenecks, redundant assets and processes, and numbers to grow: traffic, inquiries, conversion rate, number of followup actions and all those fun digits that tell you whether
your business is doing well or not.

Make things better, instead of worse.

Are you looking to make some choices at the moment? Maybe I can help you there… and help you make things better.

Cheers,

Martin

Because Nice People Should Finish First

Last night, a friend held my feet to the fire about my work, USP, and elevator pitch.

To her, ‘coach and consultant for ethical business growth’ isn’t what I should run with.

So I tried to explain: “You ever notice how people high in integrity, folks who really want to do right by people, are often the ones who have most trouble growing their sales and their business? I help that kind of person sell more because of, not despite, their values. I call that ’solving the good-egg problem”.

“Yeah”, she said: “Too long”.

By this time, I was getting frustrated: I mean, she knows
me, she knows what my work is about. What I stand for, and which values are sacred to me. And besides, I wasn’t sure if she was challenging me on my USP, or my tagline, or my elevator pitch.

So I blurted out: “I help nice people sell more”, and that seemed to hit home.

Because the harsh truth is that in business, many people believe that nice people do finish last.

And that’s not how it should be.

Nice folk should finish first. Not despite being nice, but because they are nice.

And helping nice folk grow their enterprise, that’s something I get up for every day.

So if you want help with the mindset and decision and strategy side of things, I can coach you on how to be a powerful, skilled business owner. The leader in your own team, whether you’re a solopreneur or not.

If you have that down pat but you want your marketing to get you higher returns, I can consult you on that, and/or implement a marketing system guaranteed to grow your business. (actual guarantee, not just words).

Or, if you have your self-leadership rocking, and your marketing rolling, but you want to learn specific business skills, such as selling, email marketing, productivity or negotiation, I can provide you with custom-made training.

Put differently:

If you’re a good egg, and you want to grow, you might be the kind of person I work with.

Because nice people should finish first.

And if right now you’re eager to make that growth happen, then maybe we should talk and see if I’m the right chap for you.

Sounds good?

Let me know…

Cheers,

Martin

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