Your Way, or No Way?

In your business, how do you handle the sales and price and T&C parts of being a freelancer or solo owner?

Specifically, when clients try to haggle, or try to make you play by their rules – what do you do?

It’s very common for us to then start to appease the buyer.

But when you start to reduce your price, or you agree tot terms you’re not happy with, you’re setting up for an experience that will disappoint your buyer and you as well.

In fact, the more you let go of your own rules, the lower level of customer satisfaction, no matter how good of a job you do.

Saw this tweet the other day:

“Just said goodbye to a potential client because they wanted me to go against everything I’ve learned and start work without a deposit payment.

“But we’re BIG and you’re small. You can be flexible.”

No. It’s because I’m small that I can’t be. Now this is a correct and true response – but it’s also the wrong one.

Because how big a client is doesn’t have to affect your terms and conditions, and shouldn’t.

Because with that reply, the client heard ‘you’re right, you’re bigger and therefore dominant.

In other words, the client shows up with a big social ‘frame’, and says ‘And you are small, so you do what we say’. If you then agree with the first part of the statement, nothing you’ll say afterwards will change things for the better.

It’s a lost case.

But if you’d ‘break their frame’, and show your own, bigger, authority frame (which is rightfully yours, as the business owner), you might have a chance.

So a good and useful reply would be:

“Size doesn’t matter.

You are asking me to sell you this work, which means I also need to tell you my terms and conditions, which I’ve just done”.

With two sentences, you can turn the tables, and position yourself back where you belong:

As the business owner, stating terms and conditions, that a client may refuse or reject – and which they certainly may complain about if they want – but which is your prerogative to protect.

I know it’s cool and scary and exciting when a big company wants to buy your work.

But don’t be intimidated, and never let them bully you just because they’re bigger.

You run the business, you get to define your terms and conditions. You get to decide whether or not business is ‘your way, or no way’.

Cheers,

Martin

Three Questions That Determine Whether They’ll Buy – And the 2nd Gets Way Too Little Attention

Yes yes, of course: people need to know you, like you, and trust you, if they’re going to buy your thing.

But Know, Like, Trust, isn’t enough.

On a very primal psychological level, evolutionary style, everyone subconsciously asks three questions when dealing with others.

Do I like you?

Can you help me?

Do I trust you?

And that middle part – the other’s belief in our ability to help – is something often overlooked.

Think about it:

A buyer needs to have the conviction that you help with their thing. Otherwise they don’t need what you have.

But saying that you can do X or Y for them doesn’t cut it.

Whether you say ‘I make a good breakfast’ or ‘I fix your SEO’ or ‘I help you get really good at enrolling buyers’ (that would be me saying it – hi!) does nothing to convince someone.

It’s data, information, a statement.

For someone else to believe it – to trust that it’s true – that you can help them, something has to happen in their mind.

A doubt or question needs to be addressed in such a way, that they go from ‘Can they?’ to ‘Oh wow, they can!’

Saying it won’t make it happen.

Persuasion doesn’t make it happen.

Nor does a list of awards, education, resume or bio.

For a buyer to believe that you can help, they need to have an insight that leads to conviction.

They need to know that yeah, you’re the guy or gal for the job.

That’s when people buy.

So is there nothing you can do to have a buyer go through that process?

Sure there is!

1: Have a conversation, and frame it as an exploration into goals, current situation, and obstacles inbetween those.

2: Sell only one thing: your care and concern for them as a person and as a business owner. Be genuinely interested.

3: Ask questions that invite the other to try out different perspectives.

Keep doing that, and if you’re talking to the right person and you’re truly not being pushy or needy but interested in them, interesting things will happen.

For one thing, bits of the different viewpoints will stick, and the other person will composite their own viewpoint – or rather, their vision – on their situation, next steps, and the way you fit into all of it.

Another interesting thing that will happen: when a buyer reaches that vision, they’ll have decided for themselves – no persuasion required – that for their case, yeah you’re the right person.

And the most interesting: that’s when people ask ‘Where do I pay?’ or ‘When can we get started?’.

And I’ll bet you’d like to hear that more often, right?

Well, then let’s have a conversation, to see what we can do.

Let me know if you’re ready to talk, and I’ll send you a schedule link.

Cheers,

Martin

Moving Parade

A few times a week I spend some time at the terrace of a local restaurant here in town, to do some work and warm myself in the sun.

As any restaurant that wants people in for lunch and dinner, they have signs with menu items – but this owner, he only puts them out an hour or so before lunch time.

Now, I don’t know if there’s a logical reason behind it, or if it’s the fabled Andalusian laziness, or simply not thinking things through, but I do know this:

The 150 to 500 people who walk by in the morning do not get the message that – hey, here you can eat, it’s not just a café!

So when the time comes that a tourist gets hungry, this restaurant is not one of the ones they remember as an option for grabbing a bite to eat, because they haven’t seen any sign or menu advising them that it’s an option.

In marketing there’s the concept of the ‘moving parade’: the notion that there’s always a stream of people who might want what you sell, and that it’s your job to stay in view, or in touch, so that when they’re ready to buy, you’re the one they think of.

So these 150 to 500 people, that’s his moving parade, literally. And if only he’d advertise to them that he serves food and not just drinks and coffee, he’d likely see an uptick in diners and lunchers. (Yes, I’ll mention it to him, see if he agrees and wants see if it makes a difference).

Now, in any business there’s a moving parade. There’s always folk who know about you, who are thinking of buying your work but it’s not the time yet, and so the question is:

What are you doing in your business, to stay visible and remembered, by the people in your moving parade?

Cheers,

Martin

If They’re Going to Buy… Shouldn’t It Be From You, Instead of From the Scoundrels and the Greedy?

It’s easy to cast blame for all the ways that commerce and capitalism do damage.

Society and the environment sure don’t get better from the way Facebook treats users, or the way  some companies pollute our world.

But if you’re in business and you’re here to make a difference, it doesn’t make sense to cast blame – whether you blame marketing, or capitalism, or commerce, or corporatism, or money:

None of those are the actual problem.

They’re all agnostic of right & wrong.

They’re just tools to be used in order to further a mission.

The type of mission determines whether you’re helping, or hurting things.

And how you use those tools is what makes for right or wrong.

And they’re powerful tools, too – so more than ever, the world needs good eggs – people like you – picking up the tools, and doing something good with them.

Because if you don’t, others will, and it’s plain to see that a lot of those others do not have the ethics and integrity as people like us do.

So you can dislike money or selling or capitalism all you want: if you don’t pick them up and do something good with them, others will – and you have no control over how those others go about their business.

But the buyer will buy – from you or from the other.

Shouldn’t it be you though?

That’s why, if you want to do something good, the best thing you can do is get good at being in business, sign on more clients – and scale up your impact.

Increase your slice of the pie for a good purpose, so that others without purpose, are left with a smaller pie.

Making sure that buyers buy from you, and not from the scoundrels and the greedy:

Sounds like a pretty good reason to grow your enterprise, if you ask me.

So: if right now you’re positioned for growth, you’re getting opportunities, but too often the sale doesn’t happen, let’s talk.

Helping entrepreneurs driven by purpose to create more clients is what I do, and I’d love to explore how we can get you to grow, sell more, and increase your impact.

Reply to this email and we’ll set up a time for a short call, to see what can be done.

Cheers,

Martin

Foundations of a Healthy Business: Two Questions You MUST Ask Yourself

It’s the most fundamental question in any business, and yet: it’s one of the questions easiest to skip over (scary how often people have no answer to it!):

Why should people do business with you?

In other words, why you? What’s unique about you? Why are you the best choice for specific people, or differently: what’s your Unique Selling Proposition?

Until you know the answer to that, you’ll find it real hard to land clients.

And no, “Because my training rocks”, “Because I have credentials”, or “Because I’m awesome” are not correct answers.

The only correct answer to ‘why you?’ is the one that answers the question your buyers ask: “What’s in it for me?”

The second question to ask yourself:

If people are not doing business with me now, why should they?

See, unless you have answers to these questions, you’re essentially a solution looking for a problem to solve, and I explained a while back how that’s a tough battle to fight.

But once you know your USP, and how to communicate it clearly, you’ll find that the wrong kind of clients stay away, and the right kind of clients are much more open to learning more about what you do.

So, since I like to ‘learn my readers’:

Why should people do business with you?

Cheers,

Martin

“If There’s No CTA, All You’ve Done Is Make Art”

Heard that on a podcast this morning, not sure who first said it. But it’s true, in business.

Now before any artists reading this get upset: I’m not slating anything about art or artists. In fact, art is an important and valuable part of history and society and culture – and thank you all for making it.

That said, when you create marketing materials – emails, videos, presentations, social updates – and you don’t end with a call to action, what you’ve done is a public service…

… without serving your business – like art, it’s good for people and society.

It’s useful, good, gratefully received, builds goodwill and trust and rapport – but it doesn’t serve your business.

Because a business needs customers, and – oddly – you’ll get more of them when you ask.

That doesn’t mean you need to go all ‘buy now’ in everything you put out there, mind you.

You can invite your audience to take any kind of action – so long as you ask them for some kind of action you suggest they take.

“Hit reply…”

“Check out the course…”

“Buy it if it’s right for you”

“Share this with a friend?”

“Tell me, what’s your view?”

“You’ve learned the exercise, now I highly recommend you take some time for it.”

“Now that you know the cost of sloppy thinking, is it time to start thinking better and making better decisions?”

“Think about it…”

You see, there’s a million actions your reader or viewer can take.

The best one for business is one that leads to a sale, of course.

But on days when you’re not driving for a sale, or your intention is to serve or inform or train or entertain, you’re missing out if you don’t also invite the person to take some sort of action.

You’ve just done something intended to change or better their life.

What better thing to do, than to ask them to action it?

Think about it… see how you can work CTA’s into your own materials.

Or, you can talk to me if you’re ready to level up your marketing and sales in a big way.

Either way: I highly recommend you always use a CTA.

Cheers,

Martin

P.s. Here’s an example of another fun CTA you can use:

If you’ve considered contacting me about my work but haven’t yet… what’s the thing you want the most for your business… the thing you want so much, that you’ll click this link and schedule a short conversation, so I can learn what you want and you can learn if I’m the right one to help you get it…?

Good Eggs Sell More & Sleep Better

“We didn’t like that estate agent”, she says. He kept showing us properties that were above our budget – and like, 200K over budget. It was weird”.

Friendly dinner conversation, at Burn’s night with friends this weekend. (Yes, there was haggis, and no: it’s not as bad as people say).

“It bit him in the ass though, because in the end we bought a property through a different agent, and it turned out that Mr. Greedy Agent also had it in his portfolio – but because he never showed it to us, we bought it through someone else”.

And so it is with selling: if you try too hard, if there’s neediness, if there’s greed, it’ll backfire.

It’s quite the opposite to my friend Dick, who’s one of the top sellers in his agency.

His secret? “I sell people the house they want, and make sure they don’t buy the wrong house”.

That’s ethics in selling, it’s looking out for your buyers, and it’s a perfect way to do well.

Good eggs sell more, and they sleep better. (well, they *can* sell more, if you learn how to)

When you’re an ethical person, with a lot of integrity, never make the mistake of thinking that this makes selling (or enrolling buyers) harder – it doesn’t have to be that way and in fact:

If you know your values and you lead with integrity, it makes selling a hell of a lot easier and a lot more fun too.

Want to talk about how that would work in your business?

Let me know…

Cheers,

Martin

Something You Might Find Useful – Because All Mind and No ‘Make’ Makes Martin a Dull Boy

Used to be, I’d be making things all day long. Suits when I was still a tailor, walls and plumbing and carpentry in the monastery, copywriting in my copywriter days, the 16-page LEAP marketing premium newsletter, when I still sold that…

And at some point, I started coaching.

Which is a beautiful thing to do, to spend time in sacred space with clients who are keen to change things. From the heart, all the way.

But there’s a problem and it kept getting bigger: coaching is a ‘brain only’ thing. And heart and emotion too, of course, but there’s no making involved. No doing things that are then ready, to be used or shown or shared.

And especially over the last year, I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated that my work didn’t involve making stuff.

Which is why I decided to bring back a service that has me do stuff and make stuff:

Growth-driving marketing consulting.

Because in the marketing system for growing business that I use, there’s a lot of work for me to do.

Sure, it’s not as sexy as coaching. And some would say it’s a step down, but I don’t really care – I want to make things!

And no, it doesn’t rely on my 25 years of learning psychology and it doesn’t involve deeply personal conversations.

But that’s fine, because I get to do things and make things – yay!

So. If coaching isn’t something you’re looking for, but you ARE looking to grow your business and you want me to implement a tested&proven marketing system for you, let me know.

I’ve not made a web page explaining the service yet, but for now I can tell you that a) this marketing system is affordable, and b) comes with a guarantee:

You’ll see at least 20% growth in revenue, otherwise I’ll continue working the system at no cost, until that 20% growth shows up.

Let me know if you’re interested… we’ll set up a call to see if this is right for you, and proceed from there if it is.

Cheers,

Martin

Three Pillars Required for Business Success

When trying to create clarity and fun and growth in your business, there’s three core areas to pay attention to – fundamental pillars, in my opinion:

Mindset, method, and skillset.

Mindset is about how to think, how to look at the playing field, the decisions to make, the things to say no or yes to.

Mindset is the overarching ‘how’ of the way you run your business.

Method, is straightforward, hands-on, measurable. It’s about planning, strategising, and steps to take, in such an order that one thing can build on another.

In other words, it’s the ‘what’ of being in business. What next, what not, what way, what to measure, and what assets to leverage in order to create a thriving business.

Skillset is, as the word says, about capabilities: the specific skills you need to bring to your game in order to actually make things happen.

It’s really important to work with all three, because it’s like a three-legged stool: if one leg is missing, the thing will fall over.

You may have an excellent method and strategy, and crazy good skills at marketing or delivering your work, but if your mindset says ‘it’s pointless, the economy sucks, people just don’t pay what I deserve’, then method and skillset don’t do you much good.

If your mindset is ‘I can do this, and I know I can find the people who do want to pay good rates’, and your method for finding them is great – but you don’t have the skills required to actually find those people, it won’t work either.

So as an exercise to look at where you’re at, where you want to go, and how to fill the gap between those two, it’s useful to assess where you’re at with each of the three pillars.

If mindset needs improving, work on yourself. Read books, get a coach, go to workshops and retreats. Learn to make your mind work for you, instead of against you.

If method is undefined or underdeveloped, straight-up learning is in order, especially in terms of strategy, measurement, and systems.

If skillset is lacking, train yourself. Be it in copywriting, or selling, or SEO, or using social media or building your list: there’s things you can do and do well, provided you train yourself.

So whenever you feel things aren’t working the way they ought to, take yourself through a little thought exercise, and ask:

Is my mindset configured correctly for reaching my goals? Is there any belief or elements to my attitude or showing up that I can change, improve or replace?

Do I have a well-defined, hypothesis-based method in place for growing my business, that allows me to test, iterate and optimise?

Do I have the skills required to actually make it work – or do I need to acquire new skills?

(Warning: rabbit-hole ahead. Not every skill is something you ought to learn – very often it’s better to outsource a particular skill, instead of trying to learn it yourself.)

Either way, if you want to make it in business, you need the three pillars: mindset, method, and skillset.

Which is the one that you need to pay most attention to?

Cheers,

Martin

Iced Coffee, No Ice

“It already has the ice in it”, says the waiter as he puts down the glass of coffee.

It’s my favourite restaurant at the beach, where I like to sit and work in the mornings.

I look: no ice, just coffee. I touch the glass: it’s warm. Very clearly, this coffee is not iced, even though iced coffee is what I asked for.

“Yeah”, he says, “we’re no longer buying the big icecubes, because we had an icemaker installed. These new cubes are so small, they melt away when the coffee pours over it”.

Baffling. I mean, I’m all for reducing costs and optimising operations, but if it is at the expense of customer experience, something isn’t right.

Now, I don’t know if the owner is a penny-pincher, or if he’s simply been bullied into buying the icecube machine by some overzealous hospitality equipment salesperson, but if a customer has to ask for extra ice, it doesn’t bode well for the future of the restaurant.

Which is a real pity, because the place is generally excellent, the food is high quality and the owner is a nice guy who treats his staff well. I want them to stay in business, they deserve it. But this way…? Not a good sign.

Reducing costs is good. Optimising for profit keeps a business healthy.

But a business exists by virtue of customer love, and there’s only so much you can do to reduce costs.

The moment customer experience becomes less important than profit, you’re either on the road to failure, or to becoming one of those unpleasant companies that treat customers like cash-dispensers on legs.

And without customers, a business is nothing.

So keep ‘em happy. Delight the people who give you money. Profit will follow.

Cheers,

Martin

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