I was walking through the airport in Calgary recently when a young man in a suit approached me about MasterCard services. I was tired and not keen on hearing his pitch, so I gave him the standard "Not Interested" brush off. But as I walked away I found myself thinking about how few of my small business clients would be bold enough to set up a booth and approach all passersby with an invitation to consider their services.
Yet here is the Bank of Montreal, Canada's second largest bank and a multi-billion dollar operation, marketing aggressively at nine o'clock at night in an airport. It brought home one of those awkward business truths - no matter how successful you are, you must be marketing all the time!
If you're a natural marketer, I envy you and you can stop reading now. However if you're not, you probably won't enjoy this newsletter but reading it is absolutely essential to your business success.
Most of us find marketing difficult, especially when it involves promoting our own products or services. Why? A complex combination of factors. Let's start with the fears including fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of being judged by others and fear of conflict. Also, when we were young, we were taught that it was bad to say good things about ourselves - that's bragging. We view aggressive sales people as sleazy, dishonest, manipulative, and pushy and we want to avoid being labeled that way at all costs!
I notice that my small business clients have many ways of rationalizing their lack of marketing activity. Some convince themselves that they will get enough business via referrals and word of mouth. Others claim their values prevent them from violating other people's privacy. Or, they use the New Age excuses for failure, "The Universe will provide" and "I market by Attraction." (Tell that to executives at the Bank of Montreal or Coca Cola.) Many know that marketing is crucial and since they are unwilling to do it themselves, they look for someone else to do it for them. If I had a dollar for every person who has told me, "I need to find someone to handle the marketing for me," I would be a wealthy man!
So how can you overcome your resistance to marketing? The first step is to acknowledge that marketing is the single most important factor affecting your business success. Period. You simply have to conquer this demon if you want to achieve a reasonable level of financial success.
I'm sure you believe in what you have to offer, but no one will know about it if you don't step forward confidently and educate people about the value you provide. That's all marketing is. And if you don't do it, you are guaranteed to fall into the category of "best kept secret".
It helps to recognize your own mental and emotional barriers to marketing, whether it's a belief that nice people don't draw attention to themselves, or a fear of being shamed, ostracized or attacked. You need to be aware of these barriers and to reframe them so that they no longer hold you back.
How much marketing should you do? The answer is simple. Enough to achieve the success you want in your business. If you're content with your current level of business activity and income, then you don't need to market any more than you are already. But if you want to grow your business faster, then you'll need to step out more.
It does make sense to develop your skills in the area of sales and marketing. But all the marketing strategies in the world, however brilliant, will not get you anywhere unless you're prepared to step out of your comfort zone. You must not let the fact that marketing makes you uncomfortable cause your business to fail. In fact, marketing may be the best avenue of personal growth you will ever find!
For example, when you are at a networking event, how often do you approach strangers about your product or service? Are you proactive enough to get the results you want? If not, resolve to reverse that pattern. You don't need to be obnoxious with people, nor do you need to violate your integrity and make claims that aren't true. But you do need to be clear and assertive about what you have to offer and the benefits it provides.
One time when I was working as a sales rep for Xerox, I learned a key marketing lesson that I've never forgotten. I was out cold calling one morning, and I passed an office worker wheeling an old photocopier down the hall. When I inquired about the machine, she said that it had been giving them nothing but grief. I seized the opportunity and asked to meet her boss. He told me he had already decided what brand to buy and that he wasn't interested in looking at the Xerox product. I was not about to let this opportunity slip away, and pressed my case to the point that he asked me to leave. Later that day my sales manager called me into his office and said he'd received a phone call from the company complaining about how pushy I had been. I braced myself to receive a reprimand, but it never came. Instead, he smiled broadly and said, "Andrew, I want to get more of those calls!"
You see, the painful truth is that if you're not getting some negative feedback about your marketing, you're not being aggressive enough to be successful. A crucial element of marketing is catching people's attention, and that means rising above the ordinary.
I was reminded of this again recently when I drafted a sales letter about our upcoming marketing seminars. When I showed it to my marketing coach he asked me if I was comfortable with it. When I answered yes, there was a pause and then he replied, "Then I guarantee it won't work. Every marketing letter you send needs to make you uncomfortable." He challenged me to say I'd coached over 4000 people, and was one of the highest paid coaches in Canada. Even though these claims are true, I had a huge resistance to saying them and pushing the "send" button was difficult for me.
To bring this to a close, I'm going to practice stepping out of my comfort zone right now. I believe in ProCoach and I'm confident that we deliver great value to our members. Unfortunately we, too, are a "best kept secret". I know I need to get out of our office more often and speak to networking groups, sales teams and business associations. Do you know of a group of 8 or more self-employed people or small business owners who would be interested in having me as a guest speaker? If so, please contact our office and we will set it up.
And, yes, I do feel uncomfortable making that offer. But I am more committed to people hearing about ProCoach than I am about being comfortable. I encourage you to make the same commitment to your business.
To your success!
Master Certified Coach
Attention Surrey, Burnaby and Bellevue, WA - NEW! "The Success Blueprint Workshop"
Master Certified Coach Andrew Barber-Starkey will be facilitating his newest workshop in the Surrey, Burnaby and Bellevue, WA. This two and a half hour workshop begins with breakfast and networking. After breakfast Andrew will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating a clear and compelling vision for your business and ideal life. He will then guide you through a structured process you can use to consistently achieve your goals, no matter how daunting they may be. Andrew has developed this proprietary material through coaching over 4,000 small business people over the past 14 years.
Surrey, BC - Wednesday, October 17 (morning) from 7:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
Burnaby, BC - Tuesday, October 23 (evening) from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Bellevue, WA - Thursday, October 25 (morning) from 7:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
Admission: $29 for one, $39 for two includes full breakfast
Registration and details
Alberta - The Return of the "7 Success Accelerators"
We all know that the economy in Alberta is red hot, but are you maximizing the current opportunity and building a business that will take you where you want to go in the long term? The highly acclaimed "7 Success Accelerators" seminar will reveal the seven most important strategies for growing your business. These free evening seminars, presented by long-time ProCoach member James Downie, will leave you focused and inspired. James is a successful self-employed entrepreneur, respected coach and highly entertaining speaker.
Calgary - Tuesday, October 23 at the Glenmore Inn
Red Deer - Wednesday, October 24 at the Capri Hotel
Edmonton - Thursday, October 25 at the Chateau Louis Hotel
Seminar time: 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Registration and information
Arrange for Andrew to speak to your group
Do you know of a group of 8 or more self-employed people or small business owners in BC, Alberta or Washington State who would be interested in having the ProCoach himself, Andrew Barber-Starkey, as a guest speaker? If so, please contact our office by email or phone.
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Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.
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