Archive for the ‘Demonstrating Your Expertise’ Category

Be Your Own Superhero

There’s nothing “kickass” about being a “sidekick.”

Women with real moxie proudly claim their role as administrative expert and capable leader of their own business.

You’re not the hired help. You’re an expert clients turn to for your administrative expertise and guidance.

Competitive Advantage Isn’t About the Competition

Competitive Advantage Isn't About the Competition

You all are smart enough to understand that “competitive advantage” has nothing to do with your colleagues, right?

“Competitive advantage” is about emphasizing those unique traits, attributes, experiences, perspectives and strengths that help your ideal clients connect with you.

It’s what helps bring your educational marketing message to life and stand out from the sea of rote, repetitive scripts that everyone else parrots.

It’s about illuminating your uniqueness, giving your right clients a reason to choose you, making it easier for them to recognize your special, extra sparkle and discern that you’re the right fit for them.

It’s not a competition with your colleagues.

It’s a communication that happens between you and your potential clients.

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Have you thought about or identified your unique and extra attributes that clients enjoy when they work with you? Is this something you struggle with? Let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments. Maybe we can help. 🙂

I Am Replaceable

 

I was watching a video one recent morning and it reminded me of something that I wanted to share with you:

I am replaceable… and that’s a good thing.

What I mean is this:

I am not indispensable because I keep my clients dependent on me.

I’m indispensable because I empower them to run their own businesses without me if, when and where they need to or should they ever choose to.

Any of them could walk away from me tomorrow and be okay and not lost as to what or where anything is.

If I got sick or anything happened to me (god forbid), they are all in great shape to be able to take over and run with things themselves.

I don’t withhold their own information from them (e.g., think web designers who withhold passwords or sign up for client domains and hosting in their own names instead of the client’s).

I don’t make them have to go through me to get access to their own documents, administration and services.

I specifically use certain tools and work with clients in ways that they always have access to everything they need.

They stay with me by choice, not because they’re stuck and it would be too much trouble to extricate themselves.

They stay because I make their business (and life) better. I ease their burdens. They have less stress and more free time.

Because I’m good at what I do and always do what I say I will, they trust me implicitly.

Those are the best reasons for clients to stick with you.

Your Consultation Will Make You or Break You

Your Consultation Will Make You or Break You

Without a proper consultation process in place, you’re going to lose more clients than you get.

A proper consultation process is one of the ways you demonstrate your competence and professionalism to clients.

When everyone else is lamely giving 15-30 minute consults, a thorough consultation system turns you into a standout and gives you competitive advantage over everyone else.

Plus, if you want more monthly retained clients (where you get paid a higher fee for your ongoing monthly support), you simply must have a much longer, deeper conversation; 15-30 minutes just doesn’t cut it.

A good consultation system helps you set the proper tone for the business relationship moving forward so that clients take you and your business seriously and understand that they’re dealing with a business, not an employee.

It’s also going to instill greater trust and confidence in them by virtue of seeing that you conduct things in a proper business manner. It shows them that you know exactly how to expertly glean from them the info you need to determine how to best help them and where to start. This reassures them that they are dealing with a competent business professional who is going to handle the relationship and work you do for them just as professionally.

A thorough consultation helps you better identify how you can help each potential client and helps you get more of your ideal clients.

So, if you don’t have a consultation system in place, if you’re not sure of yourself when it comes to conducting consultations, if you’ve been lacking confidence and want to walk potential clients more assertively through that initial conversation, be sure to check out my client consultation guide:

Breaking the Ice: Your Complete Step-by-Step System for Confidently Leading the Consultation Conversation and Turning Prospects into Well-Paying Monthly Clients Who Can’t Wait to Work with You.

This is my own proprietary system I’ve developed and honed over 20 years in this business.

In this guide, I’ve packaged my entire step-by-step process for you in an encouraging, easy to follow plan that tells you exactly how to structure the entire process — before, during and after.

My success rate with this system has been out of every 10 clients who go through my consultation process, I have my pick of 8-9 of them wanting to work with me.

And colleagues who have followed my process often tell me how impressed their prospective clients were and how it made all the difference in those clients choosing to work with them.

Knowing how to do something is half the battle. This guide will help increase your confidence ten-fold and take all those nervous jitters that come with not really knowing how to proceed with this all-important conversation.

Are You Being Phoney-Baloney?

Are You Being a Phoney-Baloney?

It’s not necessary to be a phoney-baloney in your marketing to get clients.

If you’re a solo, don’t pretend you’re a bigger company.

When it comes down to it, that’s just plain dishonest, a lie.

Is that really how you want to start your valued new client relationships?

And what kind of clients will you end up with based on false pretenses?

What happens to trust once they find out they’ve been snookered, manipulated?

Trust, credibility and rapport are established through honesty and by demonstrating your competence, professionalism and capabilities through your writing, the presentation of your website and other marketing collateral, and the polish and effectiveness of your policies, processes and protocols.

I get that people want to help clients see how skilled, competent and credible they are, and that some think the only way to do that is to portray themselves as bigger as if they have more people involved in their business than there actually are.

But dishonesty is never the answer.

Engaging in false presenses belies your own low professional self-esteem and the belief that you are not enough, that the way you operate your business as a solo is not enough.

It’s also presuming that prospective clients have any problem with it.

Imagine the better fitting clients you would get, client it would be more joyful to work with, simply by sharing honestly the size of your business and how you operate, and being the real you.

I have two categories on my blog here with posts that will help you learn how to instill trust and demonstrate your competence without being dishonest or unethical:

Trust & Credibility
Demonstrating Your Expertise

Check ’em out!

You Don’t Have a Portfolio

You don’t have a portfolio when you’re in the admin support business because admin support is a service, not a tangible, visible product (like design is).

Rather, your “portfolio” is the experience clients get dealing with you.

It’s your service, your communication, your responsiveness, your policies, processes and procedures, your systems, your standards, how your website looks and works, what your testimonials say, your case studies…

These are all demonstrations—samplings and examples—of your expertise, competence, professionalism and the service experience clients will get should they decide to work with you.

And if they are positive, if they are smooth, if they are well-executed, those are the things that instill confidence and trust in your potential clients.

Are You an Irritant In Someone’s Day?

Are You an Irritant in Someone's Day?

What are you doing to respect the time of others by NOT creating loose ends and being an irritation to them?

This is important when it comes to your business.

Clients do not work with people who irritate them by creating more unnecessary work, follow-up and loose ends to deal with.

Colleagues will not work with you either when that’s the case.

If you create more problems and work for them, they will not have any confidence in your ability to keep organized, follow-through and respond to things in a timely manner (or at all) and will not refer anyone to you.

Plus, wasting people’s time is a sin. 😉

When you fail to meet deadlines, when you take days or weeks to respond to messages, when you don’t follow-through as promised or requested, what you are marketing is that you are not competent, professional, capable or reliable.

All of which will lose you business and clients.

Always put your most professional foot forward no matter who you are dealing with. Everyone is making judgments and assessments about your skills, competence and professionalism.

And everyone is a potential referral source.

Tell Their Story: 3 Case Study Ideas for Marketing to Clients

Tell Their Story: 3 Case Study Ideas for Marketing to Clients

So, what is a case study?

For those who might not be familiar, a case study is basically a story that describes a typical client’s situation before, and the progress and results achieved after, working with you.

Potential clients visit your site and they see what you do, but a lot of times they don’t understand how your service helps them beyond just getting work done. Case studies provide context in a way that helps illustrate the ways in which clients benefit from your support. They help them better visualize and imagine the kind of results you can help them acheive and get excited about the possiblities of working together.

Ideally, a case study uses an actual client as the basis. However, maybe you are a new Administrative Consultant and don’t have clients yet. When that’s the case, what you can do is paint a word picture of the kind of results and benefits a typical client could expect from working with you.

You would tell the story from the perspective of the typical kind of client who would need your services, the kind of needs, challenges and goals they have, and then describe the kind of support you would provide to meet and overcome those needs, goals and challenges. Most importantly, you then describe how that typical client’s business (and life, for that matter) would be improved and all the various benefits and results the client would get as a result.

Here are three case study ideas that each focus on a different angle you can take in developing your own.

  1. Demonstrate how you help. A lot of times, prospects don’t fully understand what you can help them with, and those exhaustive lists of tasks and services don’t help (the eyes glaze over at a certain point). So what you do is describe a typical client in your target market, point out some of the needs, goals and challenges they have, and then outline the kind of support areas and activities you would help them with that would address those needs, goals and challenges. This gives them context to better understand and visualize what you do for them and how you work together with certain objectives in mind.
  2. Demonstrate how you give clients back more time. Another kind of case study you can paint is one that helps prospects realize how much time they can gain back. Most people want more time to what? Work with more clients and make more money? Take vacations? Have more quality time with family and friends and just generally have a life beyond their business? So, use this kind of case study to help illustrate what their life might like with your administrative support. What kinds of things would they do with that newfound extra time? Would they have more time off for relaxing and self-care? Would they have a better quality life? Would they have more time to develop and grow their business (and, thus, make more money)? How would their peronal and family life be improved?
  3. Demonstrate how a client’s business can grow and improve with your support. This kind of case study is about specific facts and figures. Obviously, when clients are trying to do everything themselves in their business, there’s only so much time left to work with clients. By leveraging your support, how many more clients could they work with? How much more free time would they gain back? How much more money could they be earning per year? How many new products, services or programs could they develop? For this case study, you need a client where you’ve taken inventory at the start of the relationship and then again at least six months or a year later. How many clients did they have in the beginning and how many after? How much were they earning annually then and now (i.e., their income persumably increased due to having more time and being able to work with more clients with your support). This is a powerful kind of case study because it directly links your support with growth in their business and income.

There are two products I recommend you get from the ACA Success Store that will help you develop the third type of case study:

Client Profile Sheet (FRM-06)

Client Profile Sheet (FRM-06)

and the

Client Feedback Form (FRM-04)

Client Feedback Form (FRM-04)

These have been designed to work together in collecting the before and after data you need to elicit testimonials and create your own powerful case studies.

Whose Fault Is It?

Can I vent a little? Do you mind?

More importantly, there are a few business lessons in this post for you as well (you know I’m always using these experiences as teaching moments, lol).

Whenever you promote something that (gasp) people have to actually pay for, you inevitably get a few unsubscribers from your mailing list.

No problem. This is a good thing. Never, ever worry about that.

Because you want those who begrudge you charging for your time, knowledge and expertise off your list. They just suck up space and create negative energy.

Who knows why they’re even on a business list in the first place because, um, business is about earning money after all. Or did they miss that memo?

I guess they should stop expecting clients to pay them as well, right? I mean, by their logic, we should all be doing everything for everyone for free all the time.

Oh wait, earning money and expecting to be paid only applies to them; everyone else is supposed to be giving to them for free. 😉

Anyway, I digress, lol.

Here’s what I really want to talk about…

So, I get this unsubscribe message from someone who writes about the ACA Industry Survey:

I shared confidential information for the questionnaire and was never offered a copy of the results. Sorry to go.

Here’s what I want you to know (because what a lot of these people like to do is turn around and badmouth you to others, mischaracterize things and spread incorrect information—or flat out lie):

  1. Our survey is confidential. We don’t know who you are when you complete the survey. You aren’t sharing anything “confidential” or personally identifying with anyone.
  2. If you have a problem with sharing your “confidential information,” why did you take the survey in the first place? You chose to take the survey, no one had a gun to your head. This is called personal responsibility.
  3. “Sorry to go.” That’s such passive aggressive bullshit. Because obviously, if you were genuinely and authentically sorry to go, you would have instead sent an email and made some polite inquiry. Business lesson: Don’t be disingenous. It’s not gracious. Get a backbone and tell the truth.
  4. I have no clue who the person writing is. She’s not someone who ever interacts or corresponds with me. I sort of get the impression she thinks I should know who she is, but here’s the thing. If you never open your mouth and speak to people on a regular basis (like on their blogs, forums, listservs, social networking, etc.), no one is going to remember you or know who you are. People can’t get to know, like, trust and remember you, much less build any kind of relationship with you, if you sit there like a bump on a log. (That’s another biz lesson, by the way.)
  5. I am always interested in making sure we do a good job and do what we say we will. So I went to investigate to see if I could piece together what may have happened. I put her name and email address into Aweber and she’s not on our current survey mailing list. Our survey page very clearly states (with several reminders throughout the process) that participants must sign up to the survey mailing list in order to get their free results report. If they fail to follow that step, they won’t get a copy. Simple as that. So, if it’s the current survey this person took, since she’s not on the mailing list, I can only assume that she didn’t complete the survey or the sign-up. Only you are responsible for your ability (or lack thereof) to follow directions or follow through.
  6. It occurred to me that maybe she was talking about a previous year and we archive those lists offline. So I went to the archives and was able to find her name and email—FROM OUR 2009 SURVEY LIST. So she’s waiting over 3 years to bring this to my attention now and wants to act like she was somehow wronged? Really?
  7. We keep meticulous records on this stuff, and our records show she was in fact sent an email from the mailing list back in 2010 with the download link to her free copy. If she didn’t download it, whose fault is that? Here’s how we do this: participants on the mailing list are sent an email with the link to download their free copy once the survey period is over and the report has been compiled. They are informed that they have X number of WEEKS (not days) to download their copy. They are told, in no uncertain terms, that the link will expire after that date and there will be no requests indulged after that point. We even send one or two courtesy reminders. The survey is a huge undertaking that takes a ton of time and energy. We have to automate and systemize in order to manage everything effectively and efficiently (another biz lesson). Plus, you have to keep in mind, this is a free service. It’s a big pain in the ass to be dealing with requests dribbling in the rest of the year from folks who didn’t follow directions in the first place. I and the people who help me in this endeavor have our own businesses to run and other things to do. We simply have to put these boundaries in place. So we spell out how things work, tell folks how to download their free report, give them a deadline with plenty of time to do so, and the rest is on them. If someone doesn’t  download their copy or report problems in a timely manner, that’s on them.

Remember, (here comes more biz savvy) business requires policies and procedures, standards and boundaries.

As Administrative Consultants, reading, paying attention and being able to follow directions and follow through in a timely manner is our stock in trade.

It doesn’t say anything good about your competence or abilities if you can’t do those things.

We all make mistakes; we’re all human. That’s okay. But own your own mistakes and failures and learn from them. Don’t blame others for them.

Dear Danielle: How Do I Market to a Target Audience I Have No Experience With Yet?

Dear Danielle:

I’ve been using your products to help me figure out my target market. In your materials, you encourage us to not be deterred by a niche just because we haven’t yet gained experience with it. So, the question I keep asking myself is how to confidently market my services that I know I’m adept at, but don’t yet have the concrete evidence to support such statements when meeting with potential clients. —Jayleen Hayden, Administrative Consultant

Hi, Jayleen 🙂

This is where the research phase of defining your target market comes in.

Your job, once you’ve determined (or are looking into serving) a particular target market is to STUDY UP and learn everything you can about that particular profession/field/industry. There are all kinds of ways you can do that (and you should do all of them!):

  • Use the Internet to learn more about that particular profession/field/industry.
  • Read books (buy some and/or check some out at the library)
  • Check out their industry journals and publications
  • Contact their industry professional associations and avail yourself of their information and resources (including TALKING to people there and asking for their thoughts and guidance on how you can learn more about their industry)
  • Create a free online survey and then shop it around in their industry networking forums, listservs, etc.
  • Call a few people in your chosen target market and conduct some telephone surveys/interviews.
  • Take someone in your desired target market out to lunch and pick their brain.
  • Join your target market’s forums and listservs and start asking questions.

Use your imagination and creativity! Any way you can think of to learn more about your target market is perfectly valid.

And what exactly do you want to know about your target market? Anything and everything; it’s all useful! But here’s a simple list to get you started:

  • You want a firm understanding of the work they do and how their businesses are commonly run.
  • What kind of overarching goals, dreams and desires do they have for their businesses (and their life)?
  • What are their common needs, goals and challenges in their businesses?
  • What kind of administrative work is involved in running their business?
  • How do they make their money?
  • Where are their stuck points? What kind of roadblocks keep them from moving forward (e.g., work they hate or don’t know how or don’t have time to do)?
  • Who are their clients? What kind of needs, goals and challenges do they have in supporting their clients or customers?

Value is always relative to the subject. Value is never something you can articulate in any general kind of way. This is why you always have to know who you’re talking to specifically in order to be able to articulate your value in a way that is going to be the most meaningful, relevant and compelling to that group.

When you don’t know who you’re talking to, this is when people default to talking about themselves and their businesses from their own limited and self-indulgent perspective—things that prospective clients are the least interested in, and which is the least client-centric.

Therefore, this background work in knowing and understanding your target market is vital in getting a grasp for and determining how and where your support will be most useful and meaningful to them. As you get the answers to these question, you begin to see where your support can fit in and help them in all kinds of ways:  running smoothly, keeping organized, moving forward, helping them become more streamlined, systemized and automated. It’s this thorough research and subsequent understanding that will help you show potential clients in your target market how you can truly help them.

When you’ve done your homework like this, it shows. It will show up in your marketing message because you’ll be able to relate your work specifically to your target market’s particular industry and their specific needs, goals and challenges. They will recognize that you understand their businesses and their challenges, and this will make your value more readily apparent to them.

When that’s the case, experience with a particular target market (or lack thereof) is never a roadblock. You’ll get that soon enough!