It’s a Small World, Afterall

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Today’s post is dedicated to a lady named Kate Barber who founded a business (Big Steps Little Feet) that is truly amazing and wonderful.

Kate graduated university with a degree in Dance and became the director of a dance school in Sydney, Australia. While there, she discovered that learning to dance is not the same thing as dancing to learn.  To Kate, creative movement and dance is but a means to the end of a child’s self-discovery and joyful expression of creativty and not an end in and of itself.

Follow Your Passion, Kate!
Kate obviously loves children and the creative aspect of teaching children to experience the world through creative and contemporary movement i.e. dance. So she continued to study early childhood development and how creative movement plays a key role in the way young children engage with their environment, stimulate their creativity and develop their cognitive and physical abilities.

Passions Fuel Dreams and Make Them Real
In 2004, Kate started her own ‘brand’ of creative movement for young children that she called, aptly, “Big Steps Little Feet“.  It’s so much more than a dance school!  Kate uses creative dance for babies, waddlers and toddlers as a way to promote healthy development (physically, mentally and emotionally) while fostering strong bonds between parent and child.

Successful Results (700% Growth in Year 1) Reflects Market Alignment 
In her first year of operation as Big Steps Little Feet, Kate’s enrollment grew 700%.  Why? Because what she does resonates beautifully with her target audience — “Mums, age 35 – 45, who are well educated, have discretionary income and appreciate a quality experience for their children”.

Postscript
You might wonder how I ‘met’ Kate Barber and her lovely business Big Steps Little Feet — given that it’s in Sydney, Australia.  Actually, I was alerted to a question she posed on a marketing site (MarketingProfs.com) and I replied.  I then Googled the company and found her profile on facebook.  From there, I found a link to her website.

Several lessons here:

1.  Do what you love . . .
(life’s too short to squander who you are on what you don’t love to do)

2.  When you’re clear about what you offer . . . the right people will respond to you
(alignment / target market)

3.  The world is very connected if you’re ‘online’
Walt Disney was right . . . it IS a ‘small World’ afterall

What’s In The Package?

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If you’re providing an intangible service, odds are the real  benefit of your services will not be enjoyed by your client until some time has passed.  You’re not selling ice cream cones that a client can buy and consume immediately.

That’s a problem.  Why?  Because it forces your prospective client to DELAY GRATIFICATION.  That’s not fun to do.  When people pay their money, they want their ‘ice cream’ … NOW!

It’s The Package
So what can you offer a prospect today that seems ‘real’ — even though you can’t deliver the real goods until some time in the future?  Simple.  A package. This is just a BUNDLE of your services that suggest the benefit your prospective client wants is likely to be enjoyed.

For example, we helped one client create a series of ‘packages’ that she describes in a one page format and each one addresses specific PAINS her target clients want to solve.  The mere fact that she has a package for a prospect’s problem communicates that she understands her prospect’s problem.  Her package also communicates that, while you may have to delay gratification, you’re more likely to enjoy it if you hire her than if you work with some other consultant who just says, “Yeah, trust me . . . we can help you”.

KEY POINT:
Packages make it easier to buy — and sell — your intangible services!

Simplicity . . . SELLS!

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Recently, social media anchors LinkedIn and facebook have made the news.

LinkedIn went public with an IPO and within a month is trading at about 66% of what it sold for on day one.  But no doubt LinkedIn is happy as are the many people who own a piece of the dream as they say.

Meanwhile, facebook’s BranchOut — a competitive online networking service, has not been idle, either.  Actually, it has.  For the past 10 months, it wasn’t really attracting new users.  But, in just 2 weeks, utilization has soared. From 200,000 to almost 1,000,000 users.

WHY?  Simple.  BranchOut changed it’s user experience. Dropped the irrelevant bells and whistles.  Stuck to it’s core function — simple, elegant, professional networking.  Made it easier to use.  Form followed function. Simple elegance.  Elegantly simple.  The marketplace followed.  Amazing how ‘getting it right’ often results in ‘getting it done’.

KEY POINT:
Simplicity . . . that’s functional and valuable . . . sells!

Packaging Your Solution

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I was traveling to a meeting, by car, on the (infamously long) I-80 in Pennsylvania.  I call it, “The road that never ended”.

We stopped for lunch at a quaint little restaurant in the middle of God-knows-where.

As we were paying our bill at the register I noticed a small display and a sign:  “Perfumed Horse Manure: $5 each”.  I was caught off-guard. I did NOT expect to see that.

I asked the lady at the register, “Is that REALLY what it says?”  “You betcha, Darling”  Now truly amused, I asked, “Do people really BUY that . . . and for $5?”  What she said next I’ve always remembered, “Honey, don’t you know that if you package it right, you can sell ________ to anyone!”  Wow.  Now THAT was a lesson I didn’t expect but I sure appreciated!

McDonalds sells a lot of Happy Meals™ because parents want “7 minutes to wolf down their food before their kids drag them outside to the playscape”.  Disney sells ‘Magical Vacations’ and Kodak sells cameras and media because families want to create timeless memories.

KEY POINT:
Whatever you’re selling, think about what you do FOR your client and PACKAGE the service elements needed to make that happen.

Improve Your A.C.T.

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Here are three strategies to grow your revenues:

1.  Increase Your Opportunities
2.  Improve Your Selling Skills
3.  Increase Your Average Client Transaction

Today, let’s consider the THIRD strategy:

Option 3: Improve Your A.C.T. (Average Client Transaction)
A friend recently said to me, “There’s only 24 hrs in a day and one of me — how can I grow my income since I’m maxed-out now?”.  Effectively marketing his practice has left him with no real capacity to ‘see more people’.  That’s a ‘Good News / Bad News’ story, isn’t it?

The bad news is, that you do have only 24 hours/day.  At some point, you will run out of time.  And that caps your earnings.  UNLESS . . . you leverage your time with a client by  serving more than one need your client may have.

How? By cross-selling, up-selling and re-selling your clients on services they could benefit from but aren’t using.  Simple.

KEY POINT:
Since you can’t make more time, make the most of the time you have with each client

Bundling Services Boosts Revenues

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Would you like to work . . . TWICE as hard for HALF the money or HALF as hard for TWICE the money? Dumb question, isn’t it?

Well, you may be doing just that. Especially if you’re not bundling several services together to produce a result your clients desire.

If you visit any fast food restaurant, you’ll notice they offer ‘Value Meals’.  These are created by bundling several items together — usually a burger, a drink and fries and giving that ‘combination’ a simple name or even a number — e.g. “I’ll have a #3 with a small coffee”.

The brilliance of this is that you have a ‘complete solution’ to the problem of ‘I want to eat something’ and you just have to ask for one thing to buy several.  THINK ABOUT IT.

KEY POINT:
Bundling services to produce a desirable result makes it easier to buy several things with one decision. For you, this means more revenues, more easily generated.

Package Your Message

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If you can convey your value quickly, you may get a new client.
I was speaking with a friend about his business.  He lost me. He was into the ‘weeds of details’ about HOW his firm does what it does.  I just wanted to understand WHO cares about WHAT he does and WHY.

Consider a Package . . . it’s a ‘tidy bundle’ that expresses the value you offer in a way that invites inquiry by a qualified prospect.

The Hook
“How’s that work?” my friend asked.  “Well” I said, “Let’s say you’re at business meeting.  Someone asks, “What do you do?”  You tell them about your package — “We offer a People, Positions and Profits package”.  Now that’s got to capture some curiosity, right?

The Explanation
They’ll ask, “What’s that?”  You say . . . “Do you know how if you don’t have the right people in the right positions their performance suffers and hurts your profits? . . . Well, this service makes sure you have the right people in the right positions in your company so your profits are the best they can be.”

KEY POINT:
Create a Package you can use when you meet a prospect. Let your Hook connect the ’cause’ with the ‘effect’ someone may want to enjoy (or, avoid). Then, use your Explanation to make the connection and suggest the value you offer.  Try it.  It works!

 

Packaging — What Prospects Want

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untitled1What does a prospective client want from you?

Do you know? Can you say? What would that look like?

If you don’t know, can’t say or can’t show it, you risk of being an order-taker — someone who invites your prospect to tell you what they need or want.

I’d argue that abdicating your responsibility to know what a prospect needs from you is akin to allowing a patient to tell their doctor what to prescribe.

Seth Godin agrees. In this post, he makes the same point.

POINT:
The true benefit of ‘packaging’ your problem-solving services in the first place, is how it communicates that you already know:

  1. what people want from you, and
  2. what that solution is supposed to look like

Once you have packaged your expertise to provide the ‘beneficial difference’ a member in your target market is seeking, you’ll never be guilty of order-taking again!

Chicken-Little is Alive and Well

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  1. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Chicken-little was so sure the sky was falling that the entire barnyard was turned into a frenzied bunch of fearful characters.

There was no where near the basis for concern that Chicken-little claimed. But it didn’t matter. The survive-at-all-costs instinct kicked in and made every animal hyper-sensitive and act appropriately . . . IF . . . the sky was falling.

But it wasn’t. And neither is the economy, beaten up as it is, in a depression or a state of total collapse. It’s tough out there. No argument. But it’s not all that bad, either.

This is a wonderful time to do some marketing. Wisely, of course.

This economy is a gift! It’s your opportunity to focus on solid value propositions and service packages that are:

  1. clearly communicated,
  2. aligned around meaningful results, and
  3. ardently desired by your prospects

Oh yes, and listen to LESS radio and TV . . . we are what we hear and think about.  And if we get too much of the media talking about how the sky is falling . . . we’re more likely to believe it’s as desperate as they say.  Next thing, we get nervous and support a perception (it’s still reality, right?) of scarcity. That is not good for any of us.

Be a leader.  Don’t buy the media’s ‘message’.

Remember, it may sell papers but it is definitely not good for your mental health and future wealth.

If Your Business SUCKS . . . Punt!

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I seriously doubt you’d want to promote the fact that your business was mediocre at best . . . and probably “Pretty sucky” at worst.

But that’s precisely what a hotel in Amsterdam, Holland is doing and . . . it’s doing quite well, thank-you-very-much!

“The WORST HOTEL IN THE WORLD”
If you’re in the hotel business, you’d think that’s got to be the worst review you could get, right?  WRONG!  It turns out the management of this hotel (The Hans Brinker Hotel) is delighted with that kind of review.

Why?  Excellent question.  And in the answer is a great lesson in marketing and positioning for YOU to apply to your business.

If You Can’t Be All Things To All People, Be Something Special to a Special Group
This is a fundamental truth in marketing your business or service.  Pick a niche.  Find a market segment.  FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

hotelThe Hans Brinker Hotel is probably NOT the ‘worst’ hotel in the world but, as Seth Godin wrote in his book ‘Edgecrafting’, there’s real value in being seen to be at the extreme edge of whatever you do.  In tough times, bargain-priced items and luxury-priced items do well.  It’s the ‘middle ground’ items that seem to suffer the most.  I’d argue that anytime you have a position that isn’t ‘edgy’ you’re going to be seen as ‘vanilla’ and your competitors will be ‘chocolate chips’ — they’ll stand out . . . against your business or service as a nondescript background.

Now apply that to the way a business is positioned . . . is presented to be something and, at the same time, something it’s not ever going to be.

Realizing that it could never compete on common metrics of Amsterdam’s luxury hotels, it went to the extreme . . . in the opposite direction.  With rooms suggesting a military barracks more than a hotel in a top European city, The Hans Brinker Hotel went for the ‘gold’ . . . where the gold is not typically found.

Knowing they would most easily and likely appeal to a decidedly ‘low-cost’ traveler, by accepting themselves, they also uncovered their ‘ideal’ market.  Namely, youthful college kids traveling through Europe with a backpack and only a (relatively) few bucks or guilders to spend on their nightly accomodations.

“Tell The Truth . . . It’s Good For Your Soul . . . and Balance Sheet”
By being truthful . . . that it’s not the MOST luxurious hotel in Amsterdam, The Hans Brinker Hotel gained a bizarre benefit . . . it’s actually more rather than less attractive to the very market it’s best designed to attract!

Students seem to relish the ‘bragging’ rights they get simply by having actually stayed at the hotel.  Probably like getting a merit badge in the Scouts.  Only more roughing it, apparently!  This is an essential key to viral marketing of the hotel and, as proof of the efficacy of this, many of the hotel’s guests first learned about it from their friends and other youthful travelers they met during their travels while in Europe.

If You Set Expectations Appropriately . . . People Don’t Get Upset With You
Ok.  Let’s say you’re in the target demographic for this crazy hotel — you’re a college student on summer holiday with a backpack and yearning for memories you’ll tell your grandkids about one day.  You’ve heard you’re staying at the ‘worst’ hotel in the world when you get to Amersterdam. You’ve heard the rooms are spartan.  The food is allegedly only passable, the amenities are often lacking or missing entirely (one ad for the hotel reportedly says, “If you want toilet paper, bring your own!”).

Then, you arrive (no doubt with a roll of TP in your pack) only to find that . . . yes, it’s not the most upscale hotel you’ll ever be in but, y’know what . . . it’s not all THAT bad, either!  By helping to lower the prospects’ expectations, The Hans Brinker Hotel has managed to actually make you feel good about the schlock conditions of the place.  And, despite your worst fears, the food in the hotel canteen is actually ‘not too bad’.  You’re hooked.  You’ll tell others you meet in Cologne or Paris or . . . and the future of this little ‘shoddy’ hotel looks brighter and brighter.

The ironic thing is that this hotel’s been growing their guest count and revenues on a steady basis ever since the word started getting out with the help of an advertising man named Erik Kessels.  “It wasn’t too challenging . . . the only requirement the owner had was to help him stop the guests’ complaints”.  By embracing the very reason why people complained and RE-positioning the Hans Brinker Hotel around it . . . the very same weakness became the hotel’s #1 strength and market attractor!  That, is very, very cool.

The Extreme Experience . . . Became a Book!
the-worstThere’s now a book out that details the story of this benign little traveler’s hotel.  Yes, the story of the hotel is that much of an inspiration — even if the rooms and food and fellow guests are touted not to be so good.  Imagine.  Take an extreme position.  Find the angle to promote.  Promote it (uh, heads up folks . . . that still takes some funding to pull off!).  Enjoy the activity you generate as a result.  Amazing.  Amazing and true!

Lessons:

  1. Don’t try to all things to everyone  . . . BE YOURSELF — flaws and all — there’s a market for everyone . . . you just have to find it
  2. Once you’re clear about who / what YOU are . . . your ideal market will begin to be seen with increasing clarity
  3. However you position yourself, go for the EDGE . . . the EXTREME EDGE . . . to STAND OUT from the crowd of ‘me-too’ competitors
  4. If your MESSAGE is aligned with your MARKET . . . your MISSION will be ‘magical’ to the very prospects you want to attract

Until next time . . . All the best,

Bill