Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Your Values are Marketing Essentials

The theme of 2010, value, is still alive and well. Conflict around this concept frequently comes up when I'm teaching the "Don't Pick a Niche" Marketing Workshop. The first nmarketing concept each group works on is value. Specifically, what are the values of each person in the workshop and how they are essential to effective Small Business Marketing.

Traditional marketing wisdom focuses extensively on benefits and outcomes. One of the participants last week made the brilliant connection between this focus and and the never-ending pressure in the job market to completely turn yourself into a dissassociated bunch of skills. The next step is to then relentlessly "market" yourself by trying to figure out exactly whick "product" configuration will be purchased by a possible employer.

Most employers also operate from this perspective. I agree that a candidate needs to have the ability to do the tasks of the job, or better yet the ability to learn the additional tasks they don't already have. And there's more.

A first impression happens in 2-3 seconds. This mostly unconscious decision becomes the driver for the entire conversation; driving towards the pre-assumed outcome. Even highly trained individuals struggle to behave differently, in fact most of them fail, regardless knowing how the game goes. Long before an interview conversation gets to skills, the deal is mostly sealed.

The same reality is good and bad news for your marketing. You have a maximum 2-3 seconds to get a potential customer's attention--through some media channels the timing is much smaller. Just as individual values influence clothing choices, vocabulary and attitude about a job, the presence of embedded values will work for or against you.

Why you do what you do; what you love about your work combine to make an important foundation for your marketing efforts. Consider: most consistently taught marketing techniques are out of the loop on the newest, freshest, more empowered ways to communicate with your potential clients.

Heidi Sue

© Copyright 2009-2010 Heidi Sue Roth. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Are You a Niche-Jumper Or Why IS Picking a Niche so Difficult?

I find this problem a consistent challenge for my clients. I often speak with a client and within a week or two, a new niche comes along that to distract their attention. While you’ll find a lot of reasons people do this, I’ve also found that there is a common, hidden theme to Niche-Jumping.Hopscotch

The concept of choosing a niche is so deeply engrained in the marketing culture that making this choice is considered synonymous with success. This instruction is so extensive that the practice has become a hyper-powered hyperbole.

Here are a couple of examples. You can now dial in your target market so closely that there is actually a practice/concept called “Micro Niche.” And you can purchase a variety of products to help you find one (I don’t endorse or market any of these products specifically and I know they exist). I’ve been wondering when we would hear about the nano-niche and of course, it’s already here.

You want to be aware of three important factors about choosing a niche. How you relate to these realities around Niche Marketing will determine how much you enjoy your business and how easy it is to succeed.

· Niche Marketing is at least 60 years old

· Niche as used in marketing is an out-dated concept

· Niche-jumping is not the problem; it’s a symptom

These factors are key to making sense out of where marketing is and where you want to take it for your personal success and well-being.

Niche Marketing is at least 60 years old. This fact alone is significant. You see, the longest economic waves that have been measured and predicted fall in the 60 year time frame. A 60-year cycle is considered extremely long-lived. A maximum 45 year cycle is much more common. Like any pattern that is experiencing change, hyper-acceleration happens from the building energy that then turns into the crashing crest of the wave.

You do want to be sure you’re solid on the lessons from Niche Marketing: Be ready, be clear, be specific. The second factor around niche marketing is the most meaningful for me.

Niche as used in marketing is an out-dated concept. The way this term is used comes from older models of biology and ecosystems. In truth, the scientists who pioneered this idea do not use it in this way. They have upgraded and updated their understanding based discoveries in how plants, animals and resources actually interact. As a result, the concept of Niche Marketing is embedded with many aspects of scarcity and competition for limited resources. These beliefs have much to do with the problems we deal with in the world. Just as scientists updated the idea of niches over the years as they’ve studied, you have the same opportunity to upgrade your perspective of how to market.

Your experience with the demand to pick a niche reflects these expiring and changing models. As a result, it’s time to meet marketing with a different perspective. In reality…

Niche-Jumping is a symptom, not the problem. Most people have trouble settling on a specific niche for appropriate and little-discussed reasons. Selecting your most appropriate, most favorite clients is NOT about marketing. It’s about heart and soul. While many people are starting to teach this concept, many established coaches and marketing experts don’t know how to make this connection in a meaningful way. This is a change in how business works and what customers want—some of us are ahead of the change, some in the middle and others are catching up.

If you find yourself constantly changing niches, it’s time to back up a few steps. Clarity on your purpose and your values makes “choosing” a niche virtually unnecessary. Your process for marketing, sales and business then becomes a reflection of you.

Experts sometimes say things like “Just pick any Niche and stick with it for a couple months, you can always change your mind.” Of course you can always change your mind, and aren’t you tired of feeling like you’re always starting over? I know I did, before I understood and used these principles.

That’s why I created the “Don’t Pick a NicheTM” marketing workshop. Your most powerful marketing doesn’t come from putting you or your services in a niche. It comes from knowing how to present yourself and what you do in a way that is appealing and accessible to your clients. The next workshop is on Thursday, April 29 starting at 6:30. Are you ready to stop worrying about niche and get to the heart of the matter?

Most of all, remember, Niche-jumping is a symptom, not a problem. If this is where you are at, you’ve got the perfect cue that it’s time to take a new look at your business.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue

© Copyright 2009-2010 Heidi Sue Roth. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What do you want to do with your Returnment?

I ran across this word-play today for the first time. Guess I was slow on Googling this term. My bad. And I love it. I’ve been in serious returnment three years now and didn’t even know it.

Success & Heart Training is literally the result of my taking an early retirement after selling off one of my businesses. I spent five years exploring, relaxing—sailing, what a life! I learned to succeed without working 20 hours a week, stressed out by the demands of Big Business.

I learned my lessons—and ended up completely bored! I missed being in business, doing business. I jumped back into the entrepreneurial world. Now, my inner Kick Ass Business Chick is overjoyed.

(Maybe you're retired but not done working, like this gentleman from Michigan.)

Success & Heart Training is a vehicle for being myself, using all my experience and gifts. And the most fun I’ve ever had doing business in over 20 years. While many would consider me young to be in “Returnment” it is still true. I don’t want to work 50-60 hours a week any more. Heck, in the past I managed to sometimes work an insane148 in a 2 week period. I’m not willing for that lifestyle any more. Are you in Returnment? Find out…you can read more here.

Success & Heart Training is designed to develop relationships, business relationships teaching you how to succeed in Returnment exactly how to do it. Thanks to repeat, entrepreneurial success I have a great foundation to work from. Here’s my very first suggestion:

If you’re getting busy advice from any source, always ask yourself, how might this advice NOT be true? How could this information NOT be appropriate for me and my business?

That’s perhaps the number one skill you need to succeed as someone who with professional success to repurpose that into your own, new venture (whatever your definition of success). I’ve watched so many people spend money following the traditional paths of business coaching and end up with very little except less cash. Like the current round of Chevrolet ads challenging the idea of “Everybody Says,” I encourage you to check and re-check if what you’re being told is true for you and your self-employed dreams. You can read and hear lots of familiar advice; not all of it is true, even less of it may be true for you.

Best wishes planning and creating your Returnment!

Heidi Sue Roth

© Copyright 2009-2010 Heidi Sue Roth. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I’ve been Affiliate Slimed—and I’ve HAD ENOUGH!

I recently logged on in the morning and found my email box bloated with affiliate offers. In just minutes I saw every kind of song and dance anyone could do in an attempt to get me to spend money through their link and scoop up their bonuses.

Can you imagine being locked in a room with 26 televisions all tuned to a different pitch man? Each one seemed more desperate than the last. Every technique of verbal and emotional manipulation attempted to part me from my money. As you can tell, I did NOT enjoy the experience. Perhaps you had the same experience.

This insane process inspired a number of feelings and responses for me.

· First, I got off a bunch of lists—I’m on a couple hundred for research about headlines, offers, etc. Now, I’ve dropped the “also” run lists and I’m staying on just couple from the top folks.

· I didn’t buy from ANYONE. Again, there were lots of reasons, the strongest being a different purchase was a higher priority. But even beyond logic, emotionally I was fed up.

· I did NOT believe that everyone who sent me a link knew the product and loved in. It was clear lots of the players were only doing it for affiliate payments.

· I felt like something smelled fishy: what smart business person sells their best software when it’s still the best at what it does? I just couldn’t believe this was NOT a business move first and anything else last.

Now, I have nothing to say about the specific product or person who sent this out to hundreds of affiliates. I don’t have personal experience with it, so any opinion I might have is completely invalid. And that’s actually my point.

If you’ve been paying attention at all to marketing and sales information, you realize it’s actually emotions that move forward your potential clients. Dan Ariely spends a over 240 pages demonstration the studies and reality that consumers are NOT rational, despite what many economists and other experts have wanted to believe. I’m very clear that the emotional reactions I experienced to my bloated email account were in no way reasonable. And they were still how I felt—and continue to feel a few days later.

What can you and I learn from this? Here’s what I learned and what I’ve decided as a result of this experience:

1. I had conversations with my own affiliates and learned, the “conversion” rate (sales) per 100 is pretty darn low in this model. If nothing else, it’s because of how people have been treated, and that most individuals don’t want to receive random, pointless emails. “Canned” endorsements are obvious.

2. I really have dropped off almost all those lists. Of the literally hundreds of affiliate offers I received, I clicked 4 because of the headline. I’m staying on those lists and loosing the others.

3. I have completely commited myself and my business model to creating REAL affiliates and partners. If you ever see someone promoting me or something I offer, it will be as a result of first hand experience with the product or program. I am unwilling to accept any “cold” affiliates.

4. I’ve closed down my affiliate relationship with anyone where I lack the same experience. I’m actually a new affiliate for a person who’s services I’ve been using for over a year. Needless to say, I can completely, whole-heartedly recommend her and what she offers.

Folks, it really is time to notice that business HAS changed and continues to change. It is about connection, service, and heart. Instead, many people are still functioning from the hungry wolf-pack model and getting others to circle your wallet in relentless fashion.

You still need the buyer-beware model. If everyone IS doing it, it’s time to ask why and be sure you’re clear on your own WIFM (what’s in it for me) because the odds are high that you may not get quite what you wanted from something that everyone is promoting. They want your money. You want results. If everyone uses the exact same recipe, pretty soon all the results are boring.

Soon, I’ll give you my real recommendation to my new affiliate. And I honestly can’t wait. After my personal debacle being overrun with offers for the same blasted thing, I look forward to making my personal, really-using-it perspective. What I want are partnerships NOT promotions. And if I don't know the product or the person, I may as well be Wal-Mart shoveling over the cheapest stuff from where is the cheapest source. Let's look for marketing opportunities that are being real, being heartfelt and about connection instead of promotion.

Maybe you disagree…great! Let’s hear it! This is reporting my experience, my lessons and decisions.

Agree or disagree, I hope I've given you something to think about. Have a super day! Your alliances say as much about you the other things you do. Choose with care, choose with heart, and always keep the highest good for all in mind.


Heidi Sue

Friday, March 19, 2010

When you let circumstances crack the whip...

You can end up with serious whiplash and not even notice what you've been missing. And so it's been with my blog posts here. I've been consistently surprised with how much I get myself involved with a loved one's battle with terminal illness. No, not a surprising realm for all the overwhelmed, sadness, anger, helpless and beginning to grieve that are part of the process.

It's how handy this as a place to let myself slide, really lessen my intention and forgot my focus. A way to conveniently loose tough with the other things in my life that really do matter. My work. My clients. My other relationships.

Having really tuned into this personal pattern, it's time to take steps to have room for the rest of my life in the midst of this process! All of me with all of the things going on.

Today, I encourage you to stop by another blog. Regardless your perspective of the dance between history that enmeshes conservatives, liberals and that slippery eel, the truth, it's tough to disagree with this assessment of how it works:

'What they don't usually add is how history is then revised by the politicians, gutted by the church leaders, molested by the power mongers, skinned alive by paranoid militants, poorly codified by the speechwriters and then spun, torqued and diluted by countless mealy "experts" before being shoved down the gullet of unsuspecting youth, where it is partially digested like so much liquefied school lunch meat, only to be wrongly half-remembered later in life by the most insane among them, who then quickly gets his own talk show on Fox News. And lo, the circle of life continues."

During my salad days, I had the chance to dig into some places where the difference between what data we can access is in distinct contrast to what was written under the guise of "history." I'm clear that history is written by the winners. It's no surprise that it flatters that same group or entity.

Agree or disagree, stay informed, stay open. Stay aware. Please go visit Mark Ford's blog and be part of the discussion.

Read more:

Coming tomorrow: It's time to wash the Affiliate Slime job out of my email box! Find out why...and what we can do to change the reality of partnering for success

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue