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Here’s a dirty little secret  hiding in plain sight . . . everyone can’t (or, won’t) connect you to people in their circles who can buy what you do and/or refer you to others who can.

I know.  It’s not easy to accept, is it?  After all, you want to believe that everyone and anyone not only CAN help you connect with qualified prospects, but they WILL do so.  Happily and readily.

RINGGG!!  RINGGG!!  Wake- up call!  That’s not the way it is.

The Right Person Makes Referrals More Likely!

When you take the time and make the effort to identify, approach and gain the commitment of the right kind of person, you will see a number of benefits:

 1.   You’ll generate more introductions and receive better referrals
2.   You’ll grow your  base of connections quickly and easily
3.   You’ll meet quality people who don’t waste your time
4.   You’ll enjoy a consistent flow of introductions and referrals
5.   You’ll close business sooner rather than later

I could on (and, on) but I think you get the basic idea.  Having the right kind of person to work with will help you generate more business, more quickly and far more easily than if you don’t.  It’s that simple.

Want To Meet More People, By Referral? 

One key to generating more referrals than you can handle (a problem you’d love to have, right!) is to work ONLY with people and partners who can help you make your goal of working primarily by referral . . . a reality.

This means you must seek introductions and referrals ONLY from someone who:

1.   Respects you, professionally
2.  Knows the kind of people you want to meet (i.e. fit your Preferral Profile)
3.  Has potency with the people you want to meet from their network
4.  Will introduce you to these people — if approached properly

In addition, the kind of person you want as a Connection or Preferral Partner must also:

5.  Offer a complementary, non-competitive service to the same target market/s you are
6.  Be able to receive introductions to people you know who fit their Preferral Profile
7.  Be actively seeking to grow their practice . . . i.e. they’re not ‘gliding into retirement’

Of course, the absolutely-you-can’t-do-jack-without-it factor is :::drum roll::: TRUST.

Without trust, no one will introduce or refer you to their contacts because the RISK of losing their Relationship Capital is simply too great.  So whatever else you do, establish trust, first.

POINT:
Knowing who to avoid, makes it easier to identify people who can help you generate referrals

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package

Constructing Your (Intangible Service) Package

Today, we’re going to delve into what packaging your service really demands. It may help if you keep  “The Pure Powder Skiing Escape” from the 1/8/2013 post in mind as we do this.

Building Your Package . . . Steps 3 – 4 of 9

In this post, I’m going to explain Steps 3 and 4 of the 9 steps shared in part 3.  With these insights, creating a ‘package’ for your service will become much much easier!

Step 3:  IDENTIFY . . . Specific PAIN/s of Your Ideal Client
As important as it is to have an ULTIMATE benefit or goal in mind, in this step you drill down a bit more and get a lot more specific about what issues, frustrations, concerns, irritations, etc. your service package might address.

When you consider your Ideal Client (remember, “Harry”?) you’ll quickly realize that he or she may want a ‘big’ beneficial outcome from you but that may require achieving several smaller component goals.  For example, a financial planner’s client may want to ‘retire with an income that supports a decent lifestyle’.  But making that bigger goal possible may require more specific goals to happen.  Such as:

•  Having a guaranteed income in the event a client is unable to work
•  Avoiding the catastrophic loss a long-term illness suggests
•  Tax planning to legally reduce taxes and maximize income
•  etc. etc.

Each of these ‘component’ goals suggest different ‘packages’ of applied expertise that, in total, contribute to producing the ultimate benefit a client desires — to retire with sufficient income to support a decent lifestyle.

POINT:
Build a package for EACH specific outcome that a client wants from you.

Step 4:  REFINE . . . Your BENEFIT for Specific Groups of Your Ideal Clients
In step 3 (above) you saw how an ‘ultimate’ benefit is actually made up of one or more ‘supporting’ benefits.  But when you consider specifically WHO you’re seeking to attract with your package, you’ll begin to see how each group of clients wants to enjoy your ultimate benefit . . . in their own unique way.

Remember the “Pure Powder Skiing Escape”?  That’s a specific package for a specific type of client — the corporate traveler who wants a ‘civilian’ holiday where skiing is the ‘main event’.

While the same level of amenities is still desired by the travel agency’s business traveler client, this package addresses how this same client wants to get away from it all on their vacation vs. a business trip.  If you go back and review what this business-traveler-on-vacation package offers, you’ll see it’s specific in WHAT it does but is still mindful of WHO is going to get to enjoy it.

In this step, you want to consider your Ideal Client and the Ultimate Benefit they want but . . . choose a specific benefit that contributes to that ultimate benefit and build your package to provide that outcome or result for your client.

POINT:
Every package is built to produce a specific benefit that contributes to and is supportive of the ultimate benefit a client is seeking from you and your problem-solving expertise.

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

package

Constructing Your (Intangible Service) Package

Today, we’re going to PRE-view what must go into an effective package. It may help if you keep  “The Pure Powder Skiing Escape” from the 1/8/2013 post in mind as we do this.

 

9 Key Steps in Creating Your Intangible Service Package

As you build packages for your services, it becomes easier and easier (I’m NOT kidding — trust me!).

Why?  Simple.  You begin to see the structure of ANY package whenever you decide to promote a service.

We’ll go through each element, in detail, but first . . . let’s list ALL the elements at once . . . THEN . . . we’ll come back and explain each one for you.  OK?

The nine (9) step PROCESS you’ll  use to create your intangible service package is:

1.  Define your . . . core benefit or ‘Mission’ (if you haven’t done so before!)

2.  Review your . . .  most recent clients

3.  Identify the specific PAIN of each group / sub-group of recent clients

4.  Refine your core benefit as the ‘ideal Client’ for this service sees it

5.  Choose the essential elements needed to deliver your service

6.  Choose the optional elements that may enhance the delivery of your service

7.  Seek feedback from prospective clients and fine-tune your package

8.  Add in any ‘missing’ elements that your clients’ feedback suggested

9.  Name your package with a distinctive and attractive name

That may sound like a LOT to do . . . and, maybe it is.  But remember this — it’s very do-able.  And, with practice, it’s easier and easier to do!

To recap this PART 3 on Packaging Your Services:  

•  a ‘package’ has a specific ‘formula’ like a recipe

•  a ‘package’ is built by following a 9 step process

•  a ‘package’ makes it easier to buy what you offer

In PART 4, we’ll explain what’s implied by each step in the 9 step process outlined above.

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

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What is a ‘Package’ . . . Really?

Unlike packaging for a tangible product — think ‘Book Cover’, the package for your intangible service is totally different.  It’s not some container into which you pour your service, it’s not an image you use to promote your service and it’s not a set of ten (10) cassettes in which your service can be sold.

So, what is it?  Good question.  Here’s a good example to show what I mean:

“The Pure Powder Skiing Escape”

If you’re a serious skier who’s tired of the crowded, packed powder runs of New England and you yearn to ski in the wide open spaces . . . one day you make a decision to visit your friendly old travel agent.  Once you’ve told her about your disappointment with the heavy crowds and the packed powder problems you’ve had skiing in New England, you hear, “I’ve got exactly what you want –– The Pure Powder Skiing Escape!  (feeling excited already?)

It’s seven days of deep powder, no crowds, no phones, no fax machines, no kids (your option) and no demands on you except to have a great time!  We’re talking Utah here — where the powder is deep, the crowds are gone and the people are great.

The Pure Powder Skiing Escape includes your airfare, hotel, and all lifts.  You can stay at any one of six lodges and ski any day at any of three top-rated ski areas.  Or, for an extra $450 you can have a 3 bedroom, fully furnished condo that’s just a 5 minute walk to the base lodge or the tri-area transportation bus station.

I can also include a meal plan that provides a hearty breakfast and dinner each day if you wish.  Sound good or would you like the option of exploring the local restaurants on your own?  (Yeah, I thought you would, too.)

To get around the area we include a mid-size rental car with free mileage; an upgrade to a full-size luxury car is just $85 more. If you like we can include some optional activities: ski lessons: group or private as well as horseback riding or snowmobiling day trips in the high country.  Not for you, huh?  (I understand . . . been there / done that.  I get it!)

Now you can leave any day Monday through Friday. And, we include without charge, door-to-door limo service and all ground transportation in Utah.  Naturally, we handle all baggage checks for you.  The basic price of The Pure Powder Skiing Escape is $3,200 or $4,000 per person if you fly first class.  You can charge it on your credit card — we accept American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discovery and Diners Club.  So now . . . the only question I’ve got for you is this:  “When do you want to go?”  

My friend, THIS is what I call a powerful package!

If you’re a serious skier who’s had it up to here with crowded trails and packed powder skiing, I’ll bet this ‘package’ of travel services is very, very compelling, right?  Could YOU do the same for your particular expertise?  If you’re not sure, we’ll examine why this package ‘works’ and how you can apply the same principles to achieve success in packaging your expertise, too.

To recap this PART 2 on Packaging Your Services:  

•  a ‘package’ provides what your Ideal Client wants

•  a ‘package’ includes everything needed to do that

•  a ‘package’ is the FIRST thing a client gets from you!

In PART 3, I’ll deconstruct the Pure Powder Skiing Escape — so you can do the same

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

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If you’re providing a service and find you aren’t getting as many qualified prospects to become clients as you like, you may want to examine an often overlooked yet significant factor: the way you package your service.

Why You Need A ‘Package’ for Your Service

Let’s face it.  Selling an intangible service is not the same as selling a tangible product for a lot of reasons.  I won’t go belabor the details, but it is sufficiently different because when someone decides to become your client, they’re not (yet!) getting your service.  You see, technically they can’t!

With a tangible product like a hot dog from a vendor, you immediately know what you’re getting.  But, how can anyone know what they’re getting at the time they’re buying your service?  Afterall, they haven’t experienced your service yet, right?  And, they certainly haven’t enjoyed the benefits of your service, either.  So, what are they buying in that magical moment when they commit to become your client and avail themselves of your service?  It’s the implicit PROMISE . . . that they’ll (eventually) enjoy the benefits you offer them.

By the way, before we go any further, let me clarify two things.  First, I’m assuming that you have adequately defined the benefits of your service so that qualified prospects can identify what’s in it for them if they buy it.  Second, I’m assuming that you have already sold yourself to your prospect by intentionally developing a relationship with your prospect through the things you’ve said and done with your prospect starting from the moment you first met.

So, if you are acceptable to your prospect and your service’s benefits are truly attractive, but your otherwise qualified prospects aren’t buying . . . it might just be the way you’re packaging your services.

To recap this PART 1 on Packaging Your Services:  

•  prospects can’t experience the benefits of your service until some time passes

•  a ‘package’ is how you make your intangible service . . . tangible

In PART 2, I’ll reveal how to construct intangible service ‘package’ — so you can do the same!

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

“If you’re not standing out, maybe you’re just not that outstanding!”.  Perhaps a tad harsh with a hint of truth (sounds like a good wine!).  But the fact remains that differentiation is a key skill to develop for your business or practice.

It’s Not Personal, It’s Biological!
The author, A. K. Pradeep writes in his book, The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind that when there’s a plethora of similarities, our brain goes into what he calls “Repetition Blindess”.  This is a condition of perception where, when faced with a number of similar objects or concepts, the brain ‘freezes’ or ‘goes blind’ and is rendered useless at being able to distinguish one item from the others.

Pradeep adds, “We are biologically programmed to seek out differences”.  Why?  The purpose is purely adaptive.  We need to identify things in our environment that have the potential to harm us.  So we scan and scan our environment to identify anything that appears ‘out of place’.  So our brain renders anything similar in appearance as non-registerable and seeks to find the ‘exception’, not the ‘rule’.

Marketing Implication:  Stop Being a Copycat!
Saying what your competition is saying is not only unimaginative, it’s ineffective.  Why?  Because ‘copycat’ marketing — saying what your competition is saying — makes you appear similar to them and that, as we just said, makes you invisible!

Marketing Implication:  Honor Your Prospects’ Need for Differences
The way to capture attention of your prospective client is to ‘go against the grain’ . . . to ‘stand out’ from the crowd in what and how you say it. Remember that your prospects’ brains are craving for what is not like all the other messages out there.

Rather than putting out the ‘same old, same old’ . . . consider these ‘outstanding / stand out’ variations as noted copywriter, Tom Trush suggests:

Tutorials — popular way to attract interest.  “How To” never goes out of fashion!

Lists — short, sweet and fun to eat (oh, that’s baby carrots!)  but you get the point, yes?

Interviews — with thought / industry leaders — they’re very popular for a reason!!

Statistics — charts and graphs render complex ideas quickly and easily!

Insider Views — show what ‘most’ can’t or don’t get to see and you’ll be very popular

Q & A — reveal your expertise and satisfy the need to compare ourselves with others

KEY POINT:
Don’t be a copycat!  Saying what others are saying in their marketing is like getting wet in a dark wool suit — you may feel all warm and fuzzy but no one (that you care about i.e. prospects) are likely to pick up on it. 

woman with calendar bookAt 2012 winds down, you (like many of us) are probably looking back at the year and trying to make sense of what worked, what didn’t and why.  That’s good.  I applaud you.

You may also be reviewing all those articles and posts you’ve bookmarked in hopes of getting back to read them.  But you didn’t.  Until now.  Me, too.

In reviewing articles I didn’t get to read earlier, I came across a recent study in MarketingProfs that I was glad I filed so I actually found it when I wanted to read it!  It revealed some very useful insights about what is working for firms in various professional services fields — law, high tech, consulting, etc.

Key Findings
Firms that grew ‘significantly’ (20% or higher for at least 2 consecutive years) used:

  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • White Papers / Content Creation

even more than firms in the ‘Marketing / Communications’ fields which acted as a ‘control’.

growth rate graphicBut I was really impressed to see that firms experiencing “high growth rates” were generating a disproportionate amount of their leads from online sources!

In fact, for all professional services firms, those generating at least 40% of their leads from online sources ALSO experienced the highest median growth rate (53.8%).  That should make you stop and take serious notice!  (It sure did for me!)

That also makes me appreciate all the more the timing of our newest coaching program: Total Online Presence that will be available in January 2013.

Click here to download a Special Report on this program!


KEY POINT:
If you’re a professional services firm and you want to generate significant growth, you’ll do well to figure out how to leverage both digital media and the many opportunities available to you in the online world. 

To me, the word Professional means “Worthy of Trust and Respect”. Without these qualities you’re unlikely to be an effective agent of change and growth in your company.

So here are five (5) qualities that correlate with being a pro . . .

 

1.  Competence
You could call this ‘Knowing Your Stuff’.  And while it’s important to know enough to be competent, it’s also about being confident enough to know what you don’t know and being able to admit that.

In my first job, I felt compelled to ‘have all the answers’ . . . until a senior associate replied to a client, “Y’know that’s a good question.  I don’t have a clue . . . but let me do some digging into it and I’ll get back to you”.  After that, I found it was a ‘strength’ not a ‘weakness’ to accept and acknowledge my limits and commit to learn what I didn’t know but needed to know to grow (what else!) “more professional’ to my clients.

2.  Conviction
As the recent election showed, differences in position or opinion are perfectly acceptable.  If you prefer one candidate over another, it’s because someone had a clear position on what’s important and they didn’t compromise their values to please people or gain a short-term popularity (which you know won’t last!).

3.  Commitment
You know the term, “Keeping your word”?  Well, people do prefer to work with / support / follow people who do what they say.  As one staffer at a client told me, “I may not always agree with or like what ______ says we’re going to do, but I know she’ll do it and back me up if I do the same.  I can rely on her to create ‘no surprises’ and I really find that attractive!”

4.  Transparency
This suggests a lack of pretense and that’s what the famous JOHARI Window reveals — that organizations where people are transparent have the smallest facades and ‘blind-spots’ — two factors that correlate with highly effective organizations where communications and productivity are generally very, very high!

5.  Endorsement
This is what you DO when you ARE someone who endorses others on your staff.  I used to fly with a great pilot — John H. Phillips, USAF.  His greatest compliment to me was, “I’ve got your six”.  That was an endorsement that, if the you-know-what should hit the fan . . . I wouldn’t be alone.  That kind of support would make me march into the gates of Hell for John –– as I knew he’d do for me.   If you can instill that kind of esprit-d-corps in your staff, your competitors won’t be getting much sleep!

This post was inspired by a great post by Sharlyn Lauber  AKA the “HR Bartender”

KEY POINT:
Being a ‘professional’ isn’t what you say you are, it’s something you DO . . . and these 5 qualities are useful benchmarks to judge how well you’re doing it.

Whether you love the tragic-comedy Lifescapades of Lindsay Lohan or not, you have to admit that she’s getting a LOT of media coverage lately.

In fact, all that media coverage has not been lost on the good people at Goodyear Tire.  Yes, the people with the blimp.

Lindsay — You’ve Got Mail!
It seems that, following the recent episode in a NYC parking garage where Ms. Lohan allegedly hit a pedestrian while attempting to park her Porsche — and the media that went nuts like a bunch of sharks in a feeding frenzy, good old Goodyear has taken it upon itself to help save the world (or, at least make it better) by offering driving lessons to Lindsay and Amanda Byrnes.

OK, That’s Funny.  But Goodyear is Totally Serious!  
How serious?  Serious enough to send her publicist an actual letter in which they offer Lindsay FREE DRIVING LESSONS with a professional driver at the Goodyear headquarters.  And, oh yes, they guarantee there will be “no paparazzi allowed”.  You can read the actual letter by clicking here

Naturally, the letter does a nice job of promoting Goodyear’s local dealers and tire products.  (Why not, it’s THEIR letter, right?).

Listening for the BUZZ . . . Attracts the GREEN!
Goodyear’s PR people were smart to jump on this ‘current event’ (Linday’s notorious driving reputation) to raise Goodyear’s AWARENESS to a nice level using the very same media who were covering Linday’s latest lifescapades in the first place!

What’s Good for Goodyear Is Good for You, Too!
If you’re lucky enough to have an in-your-face media fiasco like Linday produces predictably and periodically, you have a readily available source of inspiration for a ‘newsy’ angle on which you can build a story for your brand, company, product or service.

When you do that, you are also likely to gain the attention of the media and all the good things — increased brand awareness and probably increased website traffic (to name just two things of many!) that go with that.

KEY POINT:
PR is a great way to raise the public’s awareness of your business and brand.  The secret to PR that doesn’t end up lining birdcages in Baltimore is to piggy-back off of some highly touted and visible event that everyone seems to know about and leverage that media coverage into a highly visible PR opportunity for you.

I’m compelled to comment on something I’m noticing with an increasing and alarming regularity.

It’s a variation on the biological imperative to choose, when faced with a serious threat to your life, between ‘flight’ or ‘fight’.

As we’re now well into the second half of 2012, I’m observing that a number of smaller business owners are making a decision (intentionally or not) on how they’re responding to the challenge of our rather challenging economy.

Basically, there are two (2) camps of thinking that seem to be emerging:

1.  owners who are ‘doing nothing new’ to build their business, and

2.  owners who are choosing to ‘do something’ to build their business in this economy

If you’re choosing to ‘hunker down’ and ‘stay the course’ in the hope that you’ll ‘survive the storm’ you are making a risky choice between action and in-action. If you have a lot of money in savings, you may be able to afford to exercise that choice.  But not all of us have that option.  Even worse, many owners are exercising the ‘do nothing new’ option — whether they can afford to or not.

Other owners who decide, as Hamlet once said, “To take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them . . .” regardless of their resources, are far more likely to not only survive the economic conditions we’re in at the moment but thrive better than most when it ends, as well.

Quick diversion . . . when I was a pilot-in-training

istock_000001045269medium

there were certain times (during instrument flight training) that you learn you must ‘trust the instruments, NOT your body’.  Why?  Absent visual cues (like the horizon) when you’re ‘in the clouds’, your equilibrium becomes unreliable very quickly.

You ‘feel’ like you’re leaning to your right side so you ‘correct’ to the left.  That ‘feels’ correct — to your body. In fact, you ‘feel’ you’re flying ‘straight’.  But you’re not.  You’re actually in a left bank and turning to the left rather than proceeding on a straight course.

Eventually, relying on your ‘feelings’ rather than your instruments, you’ll find yourself in what is known to pilots as the ‘graveyard spiral’.  Your shallow turn to the left actually reduces your aircraft’s lift factor (it’s aerodynamic stuff and I won’t bore you with that!) and, as a result, you begin to lose altitude.

Whether you can read your instruments for instrument flight conditions or not, even beginning pilots learn to watch their altitude / altimeter.

When you notice you’re losing altitude, the ‘obvious’ response is to “pull back’ on the stick or yoke.  When you’re in level flight, that raises your plane’s nose and makes your aircraft climb.  Hence, you gain altitude.

But once you’re in a turn, however slight, pulling back on the stick only tightens your turn. Ironically, that ‘feels’ the same (to your body) as when you’re climbing — you feel yourself being pushed down into your seat.  But it’s not gravity making you ‘feel’ that sensation; it’s centrifugal force (you’re in a turn, remember?).

At this point, non-instrument trained, inexperienced pilots notice that they’re losing altitude more rapidly.  So they ‘pull back’ on the stick (again!) hoping to re-gain valuable altitude.  But it seems to work in exactly the opposite manner.  The more they ‘correct’ for their altitude loss, the more altitude they’re actually losing!

Eventually, this becomes a viscious cycle that makes the aircraft (and, the hapless pilot and any unfortunate passengers) enter such a tight turn that either the aircraft suffers structural damage and is lost or, the plane is flown all the way down into the ground (or, the sea as happened to John F. Kennedy, Jr off Martha’s Vineyard, MA a few years ago).

OK, back to 2012’s ‘interesting’ economy . . .

If you, like most of us in entrepreneur-land, find this economy isn’t the same as it was a few years ago (AKA ‘The Good Old Days’), your response to it may not be all that different than the pilot who doesn’t understand the ‘best’ course of action under deteriorating flight conditions.

Today, while the ‘natural’ inclination of many business owners and solopreneurs is to ‘do nothing’ different than you have done in the past, I submit that may be just as deadly as pilots who do the wrong thing at the wrong time in flight.

What is called for now is action, not IN-action.  But appropriate action.  And that would be . . . to proactively market your business in a manner that reflects:

1. a candid, honest understanding of your business — strengths AND weaknesses,
2. the marketplace you seek to attract and serve, and
3. a proven and systematic plan for taking coordinated actions to build your business or practice services . . . effectively

Doing ‘no thing’ IS a decision.  And, it may be the best decision you can make. At times.  But it’s usually not a deliberate decision as much as it’s a default decision because many of us are simply not being proactive about the ‘sea of troubles’ on the horizon that are waiting for anyone who’s in business in 2012.

My Respectful Recommendation . . . Do Something . . . By Design, Not Accident

As tempting as it is to ‘do nothing’ and ‘hope this economic storm blows over’ that strategy is just as deadly to your business as a ‘graveyard spiral’ is to an inexperienced pilot.

As difficult . . . scary . . . unsettling . . . makes-me-feel-like-throwing-up . . . as it may ‘feel’ to you . . . DO SOMETHING to make your business what you want it to be . . . by design, not accident.

Staying the course, given the current economy, is probably not the best course of action you can take these days.  Remember the old saying, “Doing what you’ve always done isn’t going to get you anything different”.  Today, that can also get you killed.  Times have changed.  We must change, too.  Or, suffer the consequences.

Doing what you did to build your business in the past may need some adjustments to make your business remain successful in these turbulent days.

Yes, you risk making a mistake when you do something new.  And none of us want to make mistakes.  But remember that doing nothing is still a decision to do something — ‘nothing’.  And doing ‘nothing’ has it’s own consequences — positive and negative.  But they’re not consequences you’re creating.  They’re consequences you’re being forced to accept because you’re abdicating your personal responsibility to make decisions and take actions critical to your own success.

No one has ‘all the answers’ to this economy or the best ways to respond to it for your business.  But please . . . don’t do no-thing because you didn’t already consider doing some-thing else.  At least make doing no-thing a deliberate and thoughtfully considered decision.  It might be the correct course of action for you and your business.  But for many, like Hamlet said, “taking arms against a sea of troubles . . .” will be far more likely to end them.

So . . . do your homework . . . seek the counsel of your trusted advisors . . . then do some-thing to market your business or practice.  Yes, even if it is no-thing.  But do it deliberately.  You and your business will come through these challenging times and yes, you WILL be better for it when (not if) the economy eventually improves.

KEY POINT:
Life is what YOU make it.  Choose wisely.  Act decisively.  And, enjoy success . . . because you’re worth it!