How well do you know your stuff?

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A number of years ago I was in Texas attending an event related to one of my businesses. The room was filled with several hundred attendees waiting to hear the featured speaker who was scheduled to do a training. Unfortunately, he had the flu and couldn’t speak.

One of the event organizers knew me and asked if I would be willing to fill in. I had nothing prepared but I said yes, got on stage and did a 30 minute training. I was able to do that, without notes or preparation, because I knew the subject matter. I had trained many times before, both on stage and on conference calls, and was able to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Even if you don’t regularly speak or train or address a jury, you should be able to do the same thing.

You know your area of expertise cold, don’t you? You should be able to explain what you do in a cogent manner. The challenge is to make it interesting enough to engage your audience, so they will remember what you said, and remember you.

So here’s my charge to you. Flesh out a five minute talk about some aspect of what you do. Start with a few bullet points, then add an opening and a closing.

Open with a story, a startling statistic, or a provocative question. Share stories about cases or clients you’ve had, to illustrate your material and to bring it to life. Close with a summary and tell them what you want them to do.

Practice your talk. Record yourself delivering it. Get good at it, because even if you’re never called upon to deliver it to a live audience, it will help you become better at communicating what you do.

Wait. You’re not done. You should also prepare a 20-minute talk, and be prepared to deliver it if called upon. A standard talk you could do at a luncheon or on a webinar. Who knows, you might find you like speaking and have a new way to bring in business.

Finally, prepare a one-minute talk. This will probably be the most difficult, but also the one that you are most likely to deliver.

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Write for your clients, not your prospects

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A question posed on a marketing blog caught my attention: “How might your attitude to writing your newsletter or blog improve if you saw every reader as a client?”

It’s a great question.

You know your clients, and care about them, and so when you write to them or for them, you communicate at a deeper, more informed level than you do when you’re writing to strangers. You understand your client’s business. You know their family. You know what they like and how they think, what they need and what they want.

You have a relationship with them and when you write to them, you are more relaxed, more open, and more genuine.

Why not be that way with everyone?

When you write a blog post or article, when you speak before a group, when you meet people while networking, think about them as though they already are your clients. You may know nothing about them (yet) but by showing them that you care about them and want to help them, when you generously share your knowledge and advice, when you have a conversation with them instead of talking at them, they will come to know you and trust you.

Some of them will become actual clients. This is a great way to accelerate that process.

Website? Blog? Newsletter? Here’s what to do and how to do it

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The Real Housewives of Orange County

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I get a fair amount of direct mail from lawyers and other professionals inviting me to a free dinner at a nice restaurant. Basically, they buy you steak or seafood and you listen to a presentation, followed by a pitch to make an appointment.

If the professional gets all the bits and pieces right, this can be an effective strategy for marketing high ticket items like legal services, securities, and insurance products.

The other day, I got one such mailing from one of my neighbors, a financial adviser who is conducting a retirement planning dinner. My wife saw it and recognized the name of the host as one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Orange County”.

Yep, she’s one of our neighbors.

The mailing doesn’t mention her “Housewives,” connection, however. I’m sure this was intentional. Aside from the fact that she may be contractually precluded from leveraging the show by name, no doubt she wants real prospects to attend, not just star struck folks who want to meet a celebrity.

The mailing contained a brochure, the invitation, and two tickets. Fairly typical and reasonably well done.

There is something on the invitation that’s not that common, however.

The invitation says,

Would you prefer a face-to-face meeting?

If you would rather discuss your retirement questions in a private setting, you can schedule a consultation with [her name] in the comfort and privacy of our office. As a sincere “thank you” for your time, you will be presented with a $50 gift card after completing your consultation appointment. No purchase is required. Call xxx to schedule your appointment.

If you are using free dinner (or lunch) presentations to market your services, you might consider adding this option. You’ll get in front of people who can’t make the event or who prefer privacy. If you’re willing to buy them dinner to hear your presentation, why not make the same offer if they come to see you privately?

Actually, you might want to do this even if you don’t use dinners as a marketing tool.

Am I suggesting that you pay people to come see you for a free consultation?

Yes. It will increase response.

If there are no legal or ethical restrictions, and your numbers work, i.e., you close enough prospects to make it worthwhile, why wouldn’t you?

You don’t have to offer this to everyone. You could use it for special occasions, a holiday promotion for example. You could offer it in some ads or mailings and not others. Or with certain joint venture partners.

For example, if you’re working with a CPA, have him email his clients and tell them about your consultation or seminar, etc. When his clients come to see you and mention the CPA’s name, they get a gift card or other freebie.

If you don’t want to offer a gift card or other cash equivalent, offer a “planning kit,” a copy of your book, a resource guide, or a presentation on CD.

Whatever you call it, bribes work. Even if you’re not a real housewife.

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Activating your list for fun and profit

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You have a list of clients, prospects, and professional contacts. What are you doing to activate that list and turn it into repeat business and referrals?

How do you get that list to DO SOMETHING?

Some of the people on that list will do something merely because you stayed in touch with them. When they need something you offer, or know someone who does, they will click or call.

What about everyone else?

What about the people who need you but think the problem will go away by itself? What about the ones who don’t know how bad the problem can get if they don’t do something?

What about the people who don’t realize all of their options? What about the ones who didn’t have the money before, or didn’t want to spend it?

What about the ones who know people who need your services but didn’t think about referring them?

You need to do something to get these people to do something.

But what?

How about creating an event and inviting them to it? A webinar, teleseminar, or video hangout.

Invite your list to see some new information, or new ways of looking at the solutions. Teach them how to stop the problem from getting bigger and keep it from happening again.

You’ve got to get them thinking about the problem again. Comparing solutions. Considering the options. What better way to do that than to invite them to access this free information from the comfort of their tablet or smartphone?

During the event, make them a special offer. A free consultation, perhaps, so they can discuss the specifics of their situation with you. Or a discount, bonus, or inexpensive partial solution. Tell them you now take credit cards or offer a payment plan.

Give them an incentive to do something and tell them what to do to get it (e.g., call, fill out a form, stop by the office).

Record the event so you will have something to offer to new subscribers. Transcribe the recording and turn it into a report or ebook.

You can create an event today and announce it to your list tomorrow. By next week, you can have more people calling, subscribing, and referring.

How to set up an email list for your website or blog

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