Since we are just starting our new year, I thought it would be interesting to reflect back on 2018 and share with you the reoccurring themes and biggest business challenges that came up time and time again during my coaching sessions with clients. So here are my top 5 (I would bet most of these were and are relevant to you in 2019).
This is usually a question that is asked early on and one of the reasons for engaging with a coach such as me.
In the agency world, there seems to be a constant mismatch between being super busy, working long hours and yet, not being profitable enough. This results in lack of investment in the business, not enough hours for the owner to work on their business, high staff turnover (if you have staff) and burnout.
As my clients know, the answer to this, whilst it’s not one thing, is definitely to sell value, outcomes and transformations and NOT time.
This kind of goes hand in hand with one because if you are run ragged servicing low paying challenging clients then you will have little time for new business. So firstly, get that right so you have time to look for new business.
Secondly, know your customers (define your customer personas). Understand their challenges (that you can solve) and market yourself against these challenges (rather than telling them how wonderful you are).
Understand their buying habits so you know where they ‘hang out’ (networking?, LinkedIn?, Facebook ads? (yep they can work for business) and so on).
Give away some value for free to demonstrate your credibility (such as a blog like this one) and build rapport with them through regular communications.
Like all the issues, this is a big one with a long answer. So let me give you a few quick thoughts on this:
This is all about getting your structure/infrastructure right, so you have room for growth. I always tell my clients to build their business structures today for the business they want to be tomorrow – that way you can grow in a managed sustainable way. If you don’t have the structures in place and grow rapidly, you are just as likely to shrink as rapidly – and have a stressful time in doing so!
So they are the top 5 challenges that I helped my clients solve in 2018. Will they be the same in 2019? Did I miss anything? Do let me know by dropping a comment or sending me a message.
I review a lot of websites that have a home page that tells the reader how amazing they are and what they do. After all you love to talk about your company and its products and services. Maybe you’re excited about a new product you have launched or a new market you can service. You’re selling your product or service, so that’s what you need to write about, right?
The truth is that nobody is interested in you, your company or your products – well not at least until you demonstrate some credibility. And this approach is rather an egocentric view of the world and a sure fire way of someone leaving your site pretty quickly (look at your Google Analytics to see your reader’s behaviours and how long they stay on your site).
In order to ENGAGE with your reader, you need to start by showing them you understand their market and their unique set of challenges. That way you leave them wanting to read more about you, thus clicking deeper into your site.
The old marketing approaches are still relevant today and particularly so to website copy design and structure:
Of course to achieve the above you need to really understand your market and how you fit in and then build your unique set of propositions. You also need to have a very clear understanding of your target customer(s). If you want some help with this then please get in touch. Also have a read of my whitepaper on market positioning.
90% of the businesses I meet believe they have a unique selling point (USP) yet in truth, it turns out to be generic and doesn’t make them stand out from the crowd.
Is it really important to have a USP? Is it better to be a niched business or a generalist? What makes you truly different? I work with many clients to help them better understand their current market position and plot where they would like to be, and how to get there.
Businesses who offer a niched service will always come across as specialists and will be competing against a smaller pool of similar companies. Niched businesses should be able to ‘speak the language’ of their market place and demonstrate a deep understanding of their potential customers’ needs. This has to be more appealing to prospects and give them the confidence that you understand and can help them.
But does being niche preclude you from other opportunities?
A wise person told me start niche and then go wide. With this approach, being niche doesn’t stop you from working with other industries or sectors, it just means your starting point is niche and it gives you a clear message to market.
I have written a short whitepaper on the subject. This is an important topic and one that affects every business that works in a competitive market place. To receive the whitepaper, simply click here.
Whilst I have written a whitepaper on this topic, I thought it was worth revisiting because it crops up time and again for me. I was with a prospect on Friday and we were discussing his goals for using a business coach; we defined 3 clear outcomes. I explained how I was going to help him achieve these desired outcomes and how I estimated it would take 7 x 3 hour coaching sessions for a fee of £x. He was definitely interested but struggled to get his head around the fact that another coach (he was seeing 3) had already quoted 7 days to do the same work for a similar fee.
When faced with this kind of objection, I need to get the client to focus on the value at the end of the project and not the time it takes. I often tell this dentist story:
It’s about a woman who had her wisdom teeth removed. When she received the bill, she was shocked at the cost; over £300 per tooth. When she returned for the follow-up visit the next week, she mentioned the bill to the dentist. “It seems like a lot of money,” she exclaimed. “Why it only took you about 15 minutes per tooth.” The dentist smiled and said, “That is exactly what you are paying for. If you want me to take an hour or more to remove each tooth, I can do that. In fact, most anyone can do that. But there is value in a 15-minute extraction.
I explained to my prospect that I believed I could deliver what he was looking for in 7 x 3 hour coaching sessions – this means we are achieving his outcome much more rapidly, being less intrusive on his ‘day job’ and helping him drive his business forward more quickly. I think at this point the light bulb went on and he started to assess things not in terms of time but more in terms of how pain-free the process would be and how quickly we can achieve the results he is looking for.
So does your business sell on time or on the outcomes and value it provides? I would be interested to hear your experiences, so please leave a comment or get in touch.
As a coach who does a lot of work with clients on their market position, content development and marketing, I look at a lot of websites. This is how the typical site looks: