In today's economy, everyone is starting to realize how important marketing is if we're going to maintain, let alone grow our businesses. For many, it's much harder to bring in new business.
For instance, one of my clients mentioned a statistic he had just read: Now, instead of three sales meetings on average to get one client, it's taking four and a half meetings. So the business is still out there, but it takes a 50% increase in marketing and sales efforts to get the same results.
The conclusion most of us make in the face of these realities is that we all need to buckle down and work harder if we are going to make it to the other side of the recession with our businesses intact.
A New Paradigm is Needed
However, I believe it's much more important to make a complete paradigm shift in our businesses.
The old paradigm is to market and sell the same services to the same clients, work harder at closing the business, and if you're persistent (and lucky), your business will do OK.
I want to suggest that this old paradigm may not work anymore.
Changing the paradigm may mean marketing and selling different services to different clients. In my business, I changed this paradigm twice in the past year and am actually making more money with less work, while producing better results for my clients.
Before I explain these new paradigms, let's look more closely at the old ones.
Are You Stuck in These Old Paradigms?
One old paradigm is related to scarcity and hard work: "Clients are difficult to attract and you've got to work hard to get them." I've seen this for years in my clients; it's an amazingly persistent one that's hard to shake off.
Another old paradigm is about the fees for your services: "This is what I do in my business and I charge $X per hour for those services. I really can't charge any more. In fact, I may have to charge less in this economy."
One more old paradigm is about how we market and sell: "If I'm going to be successful, I can't be pushy or aggressive. If people want my services, they'll call me." Most of us are beginning to realize how well that one works!
Paradigms Limit Possibilities
Now the thing about paradigms (also called belief systems) is that they tend to limit our possibilities to the pre-set parameters of the paradigm. Everything inside the paradigm makes sense and seems right. Anything outside the paradigm seems wrong, or at least, very uncomfortable.
It's not unusual for business people to get stuck inside very limiting paradigms. After all, it's comfortable there! We found something that works and we stick to it, thinking it will work forever. And then the economy or something else changes and the old paradigm doesn't work anymore.
New Paradigm: More Value, Lower Cost
One paradigm shift I made late last year was in how I sold information products. The old paradigm was simple: I had created a number of marketing information products for professional service businesses and sold them successfully on my web site for several years.
When the economy slowed down, I sold fewer of these products. The natural thing to do might have been to lower prices and send more emails to my list to try to sell more. But I realized that this was simply more of the same old paradigm.
Instead, I shifted the paradigm. I created a membership site (The Action Plan Marketing Club) where I offered a lot of information products all in one place. I posted new products and services every month worth about $250, and then I offered a club membership for only $29 per month.
With this paradigm change I offered massive value at a very low price. What I hoped would happened did: People signed up in droves and a good percentage of them stayed and took advantage of everything I offered. I now have about 500 members.
New Paradigm: Sell the Outcome, Not the Service
For many years I'd been offering group marketing programs at a medium price point. The groups were very effective and helped the participants successfully grow their business. But as the economy changed, it was harder to get people to sign up.
Again, the old paradigm would have been to lower the price, and push the programs even harder. But I just couldn't imagine doing that anymore, after all, I'm not getting any younger!
Instead of selling a "process" I started selling an "outcome" and instead of offering it to all comers, I limited my market to Independent Professionals who were making $100K or more.
I realized that in the old paradigm I put too much of a focus on the process of the program - what was covered, what participants would learn and how it was structured.
The new paradigm was to promise an outcome: "This program is designed to help you increase your income by $100K or more in one year or less." And then I structured the program so that I could accomplish that objective.
The net result is that I filled my Marketing Mastery Program in two months with less effort than before. Fifty percent of those I talked to about the Mastery Program signed up for it.
What's Your New Paradigm?
Note that the paradigms for these two services, the Marketing Club and the Marketing Mastery Program are very different. One is based on a low price and a high volume, the other is based on a high price and low volume.
I am now earning all my income from completely different products and services than I was a year ago. And it all started by looking for ways to change my paradigms of doing business.
I can't say that these ways will necessarily be right for your business, but I will say that if you don't change your paradigm or the way you're playing your business game, you will continue to get similar (or worse) results than you're getting now.
Some Rules for Changing Paradigms
1. Notice your current limiting business paradigms. Write down your assumptions and beliefs about your business and then start to question them:
Is it true I have to lower my prices and work harder? It is true that I can't target new markets? Is it true that people won't pay higher fees? Is it true that I can't offer more value for a lower price to more people? Question everything!
2. Look at what you're already offering. Are you selling a process or are you selling an outcome? If you made changes in your service could you start to sell an outcome? What could you promise that people really wanted and that you've never offered before?
3. Are you willing to risk and step outside your comfort zone? If you had no limits, no restrictions, no old paradigms, what would you do? What would be fun, exciting, bold and make an even bigger contribution to your clients and the world?
4. What do you need to learn that you don't know now? What information, strategies, techniques and skills do you need to have in order to shift paradigms? Remember, you can't do things the same old way you've always done before. Are you ready to invest in yourself to learn these new things?
5. What is a new paradigm for your business and life? That is, how do you want to live and what kind of business will give you that lifestyle? You need to spend some time in visioning, brainstorming and creating the future if you're ever going to attract it to yourself.
The More Clients Bottom Line: You might say that the most important business skill of all is the skill of changing paradigms. To do this, you need to work on all of the five rules above, and more. One thing's for sure, we can no longer be content with the old paradigms; the world is moving too fast and we are in danger of being left far behind.
What's your new business and marketing paradigm? Please share on the More Clients Blog: http://www.actionplan.blogs.com
© 2008 Robert Middleton, All rights reserved.
By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert's web site at http://www.actionplan.com for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.
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