Why going vertical is the most effective way of marketing!

When you’re working hard to build up your business, it’s normal to believe that you need as many people as possible to know about you. You spend time, energy and money telling everyone about your offerings, going to dozens of networking events, being on as many different social platforms as you can stomach.

You’re trying to get “out there”, aiming for as many people as possible to have heard of your name and your business. And you might notice this starts to feel exhausting, or like you’re spreading yourself too thin.

This approach to marketing is the “horizontal” approach – and it’s not actually the most effective way of marketing. To give you a visual: imagine people queueing up outside a concert venue; the line snakes around the building. With horizontal marketing, it’s as if you’re walking along the queue speaking with each person one by one, aiming to get as far along the queue as you can. If you’re really dedicated, maybe you’d reach 1,000 people this way.

The problem is: you’re only speaking with each person once. It’s easy for them to forget a one-off connection. Also, they know you’re biased; of course you’re going to tell them to buy your service or product. They don’t know you, so why would they trust your opinion?

A far more effective way of marketing is the “vertical” approach. This is where you’re happy with less people hearing about you, but that each person hears of you from several different sources. If we revisit that queue of people outside a venue, you’d be focusing on a select 100 people in the line, and you’d arrange for those 100 people to hear of you in three different ways. Maybe they first receive your flyer, then their neighbour in the queue tells them about you, and then the security guard at the concert venue recommends you too. You’ve reached less people, but the impact is far greater; they’re more likely to check you out further.

Consider where you experience the power of vertical marketing yourself. What film, book or holiday did you choose because a number of different friends and reviewers had recommended it? What product did you see in a magazine, and in a Facebook ad, and in your friend’s house before feeling inspired to try it for yourself?

Vertical marketing is a stronger, more robust approach to becoming known. Rather than focusing on quantity, your aim is quality. You want your name to be heard repeatedly by a select group of people. And those people are, of course, those who you believe will most benefit from your offerings.

For example, a yoga teacher in Edinburgh loves welcoming students who experience desk-related discomfort; she knows her yoga classes are valuable for anyone experiencing upper back, shoulder or neck pain, or RSI. So, she considers who these people are and where they hang out. For example, one prime example would be Edinburgh University lecturers. She then asks herself, “How could one lecturer hear about my yoga classes from three different sources?”

She does some research and discovers there’s a university magazine so she submits an article proposal to the editor, offering a piece featuring great yoga poses for those who do a lot of computer and whiteboard work. She finds out there’s a local event that many lecturers attend so she books a place at that event – or even better, offers to speak or lead a free introductory class there. And finally, she puts up flyers in cafes surrounding the university, where lecturers are likely to grab lunch.

This multi-directional approach means there’s a good chance that a university lecturer will hear about her classes several times and will therefore be much more likely to investigate and ultimately attend a class. The yoga teacher’s name will have been built up in the lecturer’s mind, layer by layer, creating a strong sense of trust.

Back to you. Firstly, identify the type(s) of people you’d most like as clients. Where are they hanging out, online and offline? Create an ideal client profile so you can imagine their daily life and the people, places and publications they’ll encounter.

Then, make a list of different ways you can reach those people. You’ll likely come up with a list that combines writing, speaking, networking, personal referrals, social media, and so on.

Then, start marketing in a focused way down these avenues. Your aim is that your prospective clients will be hearing of you from multiple people, in multiple places.

Vertical marketing is powerful. You’re building a solid reputation for yourself, rather than spreading yourself thinly. So, forget trying to reach as many people as possible and instead aim to reach the right people in a variety of ways.

Get vertical and let me know how you get on, in the comments below!

photo credit: deathtothestockphoto

Want to market effectively? Here’s the one person you must meet

There is a seemingly endless list of action steps you can take to market your business. From adding content to your website, to growing your email list, from posting on LinkedIn, to following more people on Twitter, from designing flyers, to attending networking events and from blogging to uploading videos, there are never going to be enough hours in the day to get everything done that could be done.

But rather than adding even more to your marketing To Do list, there’s a smarter way to focus your marketing efforts.

There’s one person you need to meet. This one person will enable you to delete items from your list. They will declutter your plans and ensure that even if you did just one thing per week, that action would have high impact.

Can you guess who that one person is?

Your ideal client

If you’re not clear who your business serves, it’s easy to spread yourself thin. Many business owners spend hours travelling up and down the country to attend event after event, or spend hours staring at a screen wondering which Facebook group to join next.

All this effort is wasted if you’re not getting in front of the very person who everything depends on. Your ideal client!

Here’s how to meet them

If you’re already in a public place reading this article, you can do this immediately; otherwise, action this as soon as you get to a café or train or busy shopping centre. (And if you can’t get to a public space for a while, you can play the at-home version via Google images, magazines or TV shows.)

From where you’re sitting, choose someone who could represent your ideal client. This exercise in itself is clarifying; who do you pass over and why? I call this the Tribe Spotting game; you’re asking yourself: Who here could be my ideal client, and why? What are the characteristics that my ideal clients share? What are the common challenges and desires that my business helps with?

I most recently did this exercise in a café in Brighton. From my sofa, I saw out of the window a blonde woman in her 20’s walking past with her boyfriend. I named her Juliet and created a whole life for her. She was a photographer struggling to find enough clients. I decided where she lives and whether she likes her flat. I decided her birthday and where she stands on the whether-to-have-babies dilemma. I decided which university she went to, which breakfast cereal she eats, and where she gets her hair dyed.

Most importantly, I could connect with who Juliet is and why it matters to her to get her business off the ground – which is what I help people like Juliet with. I know why marketing feels so challenging to Juliet and what she wishes someone would just “get” without her having to explain.

Every blog I write is for Juliet. Every course I develop is for Juliet. Every sales email, every Facebook status, every video – I’m speaking directly, heart-to-heart, to Juliet.

As I walk to the loo in that Brighton café, I see the community noticeboard. I ask myself: what would catch Juliet’s attention on this board? It gives me ideas for how to design flyers and business cards. When on Pinterest later that day, I ask myself: which boards would Juliet follow? What is she on this site for?

I notice what Juliet wouldn’t be interested in, which events she wouldn’t attend, which social networking sites she wouldn’t be active on, which words and phrases would turn her off.

But how do I know these things? How can I make all this up from looking at one person walking past my café window?

It’s because I’ve done research. In the early days of growing my business, I chatted with 100 people who I thought I could work with. They helped me clarify my ideal client profile. They told me their deepest yearnings and greatest fears. They told me about their lifestyle, their financial situation and their background.

Juliet is a composite of what I discovered from them. Her fictional life sums up the reality of hundreds, if not thousands, of my ideal clients.

Time and time again, I receive feedback from my blog readers and those I’m connected with on my Facebook Page, saying, “It’s like you read my mind. How did you know I’m struggling with this today? How did you know that’s exactly how the challenge feels in my head?” I’m not psychic; it’s because I’ve asked and I’ve then built up this ideal client profile that all my marketing speaks to.

I invite you to enjoy this Tribe Spotting exercise – and to commit to doing the research, if you realise you need to hear more from real people about what life is like for them, in relation to what you’re offering. From this, you can build up your all-important ideal client profile, and then all your marketing efforts will be focused on the one person you need to meet.

So tell me, have you met your ideal client? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Photo credit: deathtothestockphoto.com

Why testimonials are business gold: and how they can do your marketing for you!

Want marketing to feel easier? Let’s get testimonials doing the work for you.

Testimonials are golden

Whether you’re still in the early days of business and have only worked with one practice client, or whether you’ve served hundreds of happy clients, testimonials are one of the most important pieces of marketing copy to get up on your site.

Do this as soon as possible, do it in the right way, and testimonials can be doing a lot of the marketing work for you.

A great testimonial can move a potential client from being vaguely interested to being actively interested and ready to pay. It provides social proof; it inspires your potential client to say, “Oh, others like me are doing this; it’s safe to take the leap.”

But there’s a massive difference between a run-of-the-mill testimonial and a glowing testimonial that moves your potential client to commitment.

Your testimonial-gathering strategy

You can implement this immediately, whether you’re ten days or ten years into running your business; follow these tips and give your potential client the confidence to say YES to working with you.

1. Prove the happy client is real

If I’m looking for a massage therapist locally and I find a website which includes this testimonial – “Wow, this is the best massage in Cambridge! Sarah B.” – I don’t know Sarah B is real. The massage therapist could have fabricated Sarah B. A testimonial without identifying details doesn’t carry value for me.

Action: Ask your happy client to share their full name and photo. (Even better: include location and profession too.) Feel nervous about this? Business owners often assume their happy clients won’t want to be visible in this way; you might be right, but you might be surprised. Ask – and let them make the decision.

2. Tell your happy client the real reason you would like their testimonial. Your happy client is likely to be a generous human being who’d love to help you build your business.

Moreover, they’ll want to help others like them.

Action: Make it clear that testimonials are for the benefit of future potential clients who have the same struggles or desires they had before working with you. Explain it like this: “I’d love to share your story with people who come to my site; it helps if they see people like themselves, who were once where they are now, and it’ll be inspiring for them to see your great results.” Explain that a testimonial is a way for your happy client to celebrate their success publicly, in a way that will help others. When you present it this way, be prepared for them to be delighted to say ‘yes’.

3. Ask for objections  – You might assume a testimonial is all about the positives

“I got this result! This was amazing! I’m in a far better place now!” Yes, certainly include these (more about this in a moment) but it’s just as powerful – if not more so – to highlight the resistance that the happy client initially had. It might sound counter-intuitive to display your happy client’s initial misgivings and hesitations, but it’s exactly what your potential client is looking for. They’re on the verge of becoming your client, but they’re currently experiencing some reluctance. Transformation is appealing but may seem out of reach; in this moment, they can relate more to the feeling of holding back. Imagine their relief to see that someone else (like them) was resistant too, but went ahead anyway and was so glad they did.

Action: Ask your happy client: “Did anything nearly stop you from going ahead with this?” Their response could relate to the cost, the timing, what their partner would say, or their uncertainty that the process or product would work for them. By including these objections in your testimonial, you’ll create a powerful sense of safety for your prospective client and reassure them that they too can take the leap.

4. Ask for specific results

A testimonial like this – “Sally was lovely, I loved her, she was fantastic, you should work with her” – doesn’t say anything. You want each testimonial to convey someone’s journey.

Action: Ask your happy client to share how they were feeling and what was happening for them before they worked with you or bought your product. Then, ask them to describe their life now.

Finally, ask them to join the dots and explain why your support was what enabled them to take the journey from A to B. The real-life specifics of the journey will speak powerfully to your prospective client and reassure them that they too can have this experience.

So, are you using testimonials to full effect in your business. Let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!