Money Hype – What You’re Worth vs What Your BUSINESS Needs

Money Hype - What You're Worth vs What Your Business Needs
Marketing strategist Lynn Serafinn challenges the ‘think big’ mentality, and shows how cash flow, not big bucks, is the key to a sustainable, ethical business.

About 8 years ago when I was still working as a life coach, I seemed to be getting several UK clients who had gone to an event by a world-famous personal development celebrity of the day. You know the ones – massive arena events where people are encouraged to dream big and end up doing a fire walk in bare feet. These clients said they felt depressed and didn’t know why. They had felt so high and powerful during the event, and for several days after – like they could achieve anything. They felt confident and exhilarated. But after a few weeks (which soon turned into months), the endorphin high they had experienced during the event took a nosedive and left them feeling deflated.

These clients were suffering from what I call the ‘Adrenaline Effect’. This is when the energy of a moment triggers heightened emotions, releasing hormones like adrenaline and endorphins, which then go racing around our nervous system like lightning. It’s like being drugged (well, endorphins are drugs; the whole reason people take recreational drugs is that they trigger endorphins). And like any drug that brings you up, there’s going to be a crash afterwards.

What was frustrating for me was that many of these Adrenaline Effect clients came to me in hopes of recreating the high they had felt in the arena. In truth, there are many coaches out there who are willing to accommodate; but I’m not one of them. I felt like the best service I could give these Adrenaline Effect clients was to help them understand this ‘crash’ wasn’t a failure on their part, but the result of being sucked into the extreme ‘high’ of the moment. Some of them came to understand this, and learned to shrug (or even laugh) it off with time. These people eventually were able to look back on the experience with fondness, remembering the ‘rush’ it gave them, but without attaching too much emotional importance to it.

But others couldn’t let go of it. They had come to identify with the experience, and they wanted it back. As a result, they kept going to one personal development event after another, trying to regain that elusively short-lived high they had come to associate with a feeling of personal power. Really, it’s a kind of addiction.

There is such a thing as a ‘personal development junkie’.

Mixing Endorphins with Money Matters

Unfortunately, there are many gurus in the personal development world who rely upon this adrenaline/endorphin effect in their work. Some of these come from the body of coaches who preach that you should charge ‘what you’re worth’. Like the celebrity mentioned above, such coaches challenge the limiting beliefs of their audience, encouraging them to think big. In this case, the goal is to get clients to dare to dream of monetary figures that ‘take their breath away’. In fact, if it doesn’t take their breath away, they’re told they are still thinking within their limited mind-set. In this way, the client is encouraged to ask the Universe for more and more until it almost feels like too much.

I can understand the intention behind getting people past their limiting beliefs; it’s a valid and important aspect of coaching. The trouble is, when we pull numbers out of a hat based on how much adrenaline is pumping through our bodies at the time, there’s no business logic to back it up. I agree that many independent business owners undervalue themselves; but setting financial targets or deciding your prices for your products and services shouldn’t come as a result of heightened emotions, but from a sound and sustainable business model.

Unfortunately, I have found very few people who seem to understand how to do it. That’s why lately I’ve been working with a LOT of my clients on their pricing. And for most of them (or at least, so they tell me), it’s been a very enlightening experience.

Why Pricing Isn’t About YOU

Even if you are a one-person-band, setting your prices isn’t about YOU; it’s about your business. It’s not about what you’re worth (or even about what you want) but about what it takes to keep your business alive and well. As an entrepreneur, your goal should not be to stay alive, but to ensure your business stays alive and thrives. And one thing I’ve learned about keeping a business healthy is that it’s not as much about profit as it is about cash flow.

Cash flow is like oxygen to your company – it breathes money in and it breathes money out. If your company doesn’t get enough money, it will suffocate and go under. During those times, you might be tempted to bail it out with loans or by getting another job; but this is like being chain smoker and thinking you’ll breathe better if you carry a respirator around with you all the time. Your attempts to keep your business alive by such means are futile because you’re not addressing the cause of the ‘disease’ from which it is suffering – lack of oxygen (i.e. cash flow).

For the chain smoker, the first step to health would be to quit smoking. But this act alone will only will stop impeding the flow of oxygen into the body; it will also be necessary to increase the lung capacity so they can absorb more oxygen and thus circulate it throughout the body.

Drawing upon that analogy, we can start to understand what it takes to create a healthy business. We need to ensure that what is going OUT of our company isn’t sucking the life from it, and we need to be certain that what is coming in not only meets its operational needs, but exceeds them. This gives us ‘room to breathe’. Only when our company has this breathing room can we create, grow and evolve.

Bringing Logic Back into the Money Equation

One of the services I offer my clients is product development. Mostly, these are service products – training packages, corporate services, medical treatment packages, coaching packages, etc. A crucial part of the product development process is determining the right pricing for the product. The ‘right pricing’ must ensure that the company will be in a state of regular, positive cash flow once the products take root and start to sell.

My approach to the process is logical – not emotional. We start by looking at your outgoings, and differentiating between what is necessary and what is not. We look at all the ‘moving parts’ that comprise the operational ‘machine’ that is your business. Your website, computer, software, subscriptions, staff, admin assistance, office rental, travel, utilities, etc. are all part of that machine.

If clients have got themselves into a situation where their business has become dependent upon credit for its operations, I encourage them to make getting RID of these debts (and not creating more debt ) their FIRST priory. I believe credit card culture – and the vile propaganda that our financial reliability is measurable by our credit ratings – has done more damage to our ‘developed’ society in the last 50 years than just about anything else. What I’ve seen is that, more often than not, eradicating debt is not so much a matter of making more money, but of overcoming the psychological and emotional dependency on credit. I could get on a soapbox and go on and on about this (it’s something I touched upon in the book The 7 Graces of Marketing ), but for now, suffice it to say that to improve your cash flow, you have to cut up the plastic and then pay it off – all of it. Your repayments also need to be factored into your product pricing structure (but, of course, you have to make sure you actually use the incoming cash to pay the debts!).

Once we’ve looked at all your outgoings, we next have to consider how many customers/clients you anticipate being able to serve each month (I recommend being modest with this figure). Then, if we divide those total outgoings by the anticipated number of clients, we can see how much we need to charge for our services simply to pay for themselves (not even to pay us).

Only then do we look at what we want to ‘make’ – how much we want to earn for ourselves – and add this to the baseline fee we just came up with. The trap I’ve seen many small business owners fall into is that they start by setting their fees at this point, and THEN take out their expenses. This gives them a false sense of security. They think they’re making X number of dollars an hour, but in reality they’re making half that figure.

The other trap many small business owners fall into when setting prices is that they fail to look at every moment they are putting into their business. Ask yourself:

  • Are you answering emails?
  • Are you writing blogs?
  • Are you reading or writing reports for clients between meetings?
  • Are you spending time doing the bookkeeping/invoicing?

Every moment you spend on your job counts for something, and…

…you need to get PAID for it!

This is not a matter of getting over limiting beliefs. This is simply a matter of not giving your precious time away. I find it really interesting that so many service professionals I meet say they want to increase their prices to reflect ‘what they’re worth’. But their struggle with money has usually far less to do with their self-perceived worth or self-belief than it does with their neglect to create systems to ensure they are getting paid for all the ‘little’ things they do within their business.

Because these figures reflect the ‘breath’ of money in your business – breathing money in and breathing money out – they become a sustainable system. With this system, we have a foundation upon which we can create any number of service products together. Because they are priced in a sustainable way, all these products have the potential to create consistent, healthy cash flow within your business (of course, it goes without saying that success also depends upon creating the right marketing strategy for them).

One of my longest-standing clients has now created about six service packages with me over the past couple years. After we launched the first two, she told me her cash flow had doubled in the first month. Suddenly, she was ahead of her expenses and was able to plan ahead in her business. After a few months, she was able to see a significant increase in her personal income that has continued to this day.

To Serve and ‘Live Comfortably’

These days, so many financial gurus out there like to dangle the ‘carrot’ of becoming six-figure, seven-figure, eight-figure or even NINE-figure earners to attract (lure?) customers to their programs. In my observation, many of them are replicating the same old Adrenaline Effect I discussed at the top of this article. Dreaming big is great, but unless it’s backed up with sustainable business systems, your wings are likely to melt before you get anywhere near your envisioned goal.

Personally, I believe the two primary goals of any social entrepreneur / ethical business owner should be:

  1. To serve
  2. To live comfortably

Service is essential. If we are not serving, we are not ethical business owners. It’s as simple as that. Our work must be helping make the world better in some way. We must be helping people and/or planet to be happier, healthier, safer, wiser, more empowered, more peaceful or just plain better in some way.

Living comfortably is equally important. If we cannot live comfortably from our business, the business will not survive. If the business does not survive, we cannot serve. To me, ‘living comfortably’ doesn’t mean ‘rich'; it means I have enough cash flow that I don’t have to worry if business is a bit sluggish. For me, ‘comfortable’ means:

  • I always have four to six months’ worth of mortgage and taxes tucked away in my savings account long before I need to use it.
  • I have NO credit cards or loans, and am incurring no interest (except my mortgage, which I think is a forgivable exception).
  • What I see is what I get; in other words, what I pay today is for things I am buying today, not things I bought five years ago.
  • I can plan ahead, both in business and in play.
  • I am not a millionaire (or anywhere close to it!), but I always feel like I have ‘plenty’ of money.
  • I wouldn’t say I have ‘money to burn’, but when I really want something (like a trip to visit my cousins in Trentino this summer), I plan for it and get it.
  • I don’t feel ‘crowded’ in my time or finances.
  • I enjoy my work. It find it interesting, creative and satisfying.
  • I have ample time for myself and my non-business pursuits.
  • I am basically a happy person.

In other words, ‘living comfortably’ means that money works for me and not the other way around. I am a servant to my customers, but I am not a slave to my job.

That’s when being an ethical business owner becomes fun. You feel a wonderful sense of satisfaction in your work, while experiencing a delicious sense of creativity and FREEDOM – especially with regards to money.

That is also when ‘earning what you’re worth’ and ‘giving your business what it needs’ are no longer at odds with one another, but have become one and the same.

If you’d like to explore how to create a sustainable system to give your business what it needs, I invite you to check out my Product Creation & Copywriting Packages on the ‘Work with Us’ page on this site. If they spark your interest, feel free to drop me a line via the Contact Form on this site to request a free 30-minute Skype chat to discuss your needs.

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
21 May 2015

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media . eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project .


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

 

Posted in 7 Graces Project, 7 Key Relationships, Business Tips, Lynn Serafinn, Product Development, Relationship with Money, Relationship with Our Business, Strategy Packages | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Our Assumptions Might Be Driving AWAY Our Blog Readers

How Our Assumptions Might Be Driving Away Our Blog Readers

Marketing strategist and blogging mentor Lynn Serafinn challenges the belief that talking about ourselves on our blogs brings our readers closer to us.

In Chapter 6 of my upcoming book, The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging, I discuss five of the typical assumptions about blogging that I believe can be damaging to blogging success. What I mean by ‘assumptions’ in this particular context are the unconscious beliefs we might have about blogging, our readers and ourselves, which colour the way we write and influence the effect we have on our readers.

Assumptions are not the same as what some people refer to as ‘limiting beliefs’. A limiting belief is a belief we hold about ourselves that holds us back and keeps us from achieving what we want. In contrast:

An assumption is something we believe to be true about life.

‘Life’ refers to the world in general – especially other people, including our readers, clients, colleagues, etc. Our assumptions are projections of what we believe other people think, feel or do. They may hold a grain of truth, or they may be distorted by our personal, limiting beliefs. Thus, our assumptions can be informed by our limiting beliefs, but they are not the same thing.

While I’m not going to discuss here all five of the assumptions I talk about in the book, I did want to share the first of these assumptions with you, as I feel it is one of the most damaging to our rapport with our audience.

I have to confess: I have a prickly feeling on the back of my neck that my take on this particular assumption might hit a few nerves and spark reactions from some of our readers. If that’s the case, please do share your thoughts in the comments after you’ve read the article. It should make for a lively debate.

So (I say as I hold my breath), here we go….

Damaging Assumption #1: ‘People will connect with me more if I talk about myself.’

Those of you who have read my other books will know that ‘ Transparency ’ is one of the 7 Graces of Marketing. As I have defined it, Transparency is the practice of allowing the ‘light’ of who you are to shine through your marketing – your values, your personality, etc.

However, there is a fine line between the Grace of Transparency and using your blog (or social network) as a public confessional. These authors have allowed their blogs (and books) to become predominantly anecdotal, permeated with stories about their personal hardships with relationships, health, addictions, money, etc. I have most frequently seen this kind of writing show up on blogs in the spirituality and personal development fields. Many of these authors are operating on the assumption that if they are open and honest about their imperfections, it will break down the barrier between them and their audience and bring them closer. While, in theory, this is absolutely true, it does not necessarily mean your approach is creating the impact you desire.

For example, have you ever had a friend in the past who seemed to be perpetually caught up in one drama after another, and whenever you got together for a chat you had to sit and listen to his/her latest episode? How long did it take you to realise this person wasn’t listening to you when you were speaking? When you finally realised this, how long did it take you to stop meeting this friend for lunch or calling them on the phone because you were just too worn out by them? In much the same way, while personal anecdotes can be great teaching tools, used incorrectly they can make your audience switch off. Unless framed correctly, using too many personal anecdotes turns the spotlight away from your audience, because you’re too busy shining it on yourself. If you want to use anecdotes to connect to your audience, you need to create a clear and direct line of relevance between your story and their immediate needs and concerns. Use anecdotes as vehicles to illustrate specific and clearly defined points; otherwise, they have no place in your blog.

Let me be clear: when I say ‘to illustrate a point’, I don’t mean something along the lines of, ‘I am telling you this story to show you how great I am.’ For example, I know a woman whose blogs are almost always made up of stories about how her coaching resulted in one of her clients succeeding in x, y, z. To me, there is nothing inherently valuable in such a blog article. It’s all about the author and nothing about me, the reader. Keep putting yourself in your audience’s shoes, and ask yourself what they want from you, not what you want to get from them.

You might also believe that showing your failings and vulnerabilities to the world will make you seem more approachable and human. Again, while there is an element of truth in this, if done incorrectly, it can also come across as apologetic and needy. Thus, instead of showing your readers that you care for them, you are making them feel like they need to take care of you. That is not the relationship you want to have with them; nor is it the one they want to have with you.

At the opposite extreme, talking too much about all the obstacles you have overcome can sound sanctimonious, condescending or even desperate. When readers feel they are being preached at or spoken down to, they will switch off, click away from your blog and never return. Yes, there will be the few who will be happy to be in your ‘fan club’. But to create a successful business you don’t want fans; you want intelligent, informed, loyal customers.

Unfortunately, using a blog as a public confessional (or pulpit) can be a hard habit for many authors to break. This is where limiting beliefs play a part. If an author harbours private beliefs about him/herself such as ‘I am flawed’ and ‘People will see through me anyway’, it is likely they will unconsciously use their blog as a vehicle for their own personal emotional purging. If the author is filled with insecurities that create an overwhelming need to be liked, their articles are likely to be more for (and about) themselves than their readers.

One of the editors on our 7 Graces team commented on this topic when I was writing it. Her advice was to go through your last blog article and count how many times you used the words ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘my’ in it. Take a good look at those sections and honestly assess whether they are providing genuine value to your readers. If not, DELETE them. Looking at what remains should give you a good idea of how substantive (or not) your content actually is.

The bottom line is this: while it’s always a good thing to let your readers know the real you, it is crucial to be aware of your underlying motivations when you talk about yourself. If you are inwardly seeking some sort of personal or professional validation from your audience, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Your words will create the impression that you are trying to ‘prove yourself’ to your readers. If, however, you are able to set aside your emotional needs and craft your anecdotal content into something that delivers genuine insight, information and value to your readers, then by all means use it.

Closing Thoughts

You may or may not agree with my viewpoint on this particular assumption. Nonetheless, if you do a little self-reflection, I am sure you will be able to determine whether or not you hold this assumption yourself, and how it might be influencing the way you write.

Leaving any assumption buried in your unconscious has the potential to do great damage. It is crucial for any writer – whether blogger, journalist or book author – to bring unconscious assumptions into the conscious and recognise how we allow them to infiltrate what we write. Only then can we actively wean ourselves away from self-defeating habits we may not have realised we had, which are creating disconnection between our audience and us.

Again, I welcome your responses to my viewpoint, and look forward to your comments below.

If you’re intrigued to find out more about The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging, I invite you to request a reminder when the book comes out in late 2015 at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/blogging-book. When you do, you will also receive a free blogging template based on ideas from the book. This is the same model we use with our own blogging clients here at the 7 Graces Project.

And, of course, if you’re interested to find out more about how we help clients build their platform through blogging, social media and product development, do take a look at our service offers on our ‘Work With US’ page, or contact us for a free 30-minute consultation via the contact form on this site.

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
5 May 2015

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

Posted in 7 Graces Project, 7 Key Relationships, Blog, Business Tips, Lynn Serafinn, Marketing Tips, Platform Building Programme, Relationship with Our Audience, Social Media, Strategy Packages, Tweep-e-licious, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Get Rid of All Those FAKE Twitter Followers You Bought

How to Get Rid of All Those Fake Twitter Followers You Bought

Marketing Strategist Lynn Serafinn explains why buying Twitter followers is a BAD idea, how to tell if you’ve been scammed, and how to clean up your account.

UPDATE 25 May 2015:
Since I wrote this article, Twitter has changed its API access to Tweet Adder, and at the current moment TWEET ADDER IS NOT FUNCTIONING (and no sales are being taken until this issue is resolved). If you use this product, I encourage you to follow updates about this issue on their user forum at Tweet Adder Announcements. I will put an update here if I hear of any changes.

One of the things I work on with clients is online platform building. In my view, an integral part of any online platform is the seamless integration of social media and blogging. I believe giving due care and attention to these two ‘layers’ of your marketing funnel is crucial in developing an ongoing relationship with your audience, which ultimately results in generating business over the long-term.

Unfortunately, many clients who come to me for help have yet to learn how to make this dance between blogging and social media work. Many have been exposed to the philosophies of ‘old school’ Internet marketers, who encourage aggressive marketing strategies that are based upon numbers, manipulation and formulae rather than on people, conversation and relationships. Still more have become victims of marketing scams, such as promises of a guaranteed number of ‘followers’ on their list or social media accounts…for a fee, of course.

The Truth about Numbers

There are many so-called ‘marketers’ (although calling them ‘marketers’ is tantamount to believing the proverbial ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ is actually a sheep) on both Twitter and Facebook who claim they have a genuine database of people who are ready and willing to follow, like and love you. They will tell you they have all kinds of advanced algorithms and blah, blah, blah, designed to target valid leads to you. They promise you that $250 (or whatever amount) will get you, say, 1,000 new followers, and $500 will get you more.

Now, I’ve been doing book and product launches for the past 8 years and I can tell you unequivocally that there is no way on the face of the earth that you can PROMISE a fixed number of people will opt in to any offer – free or not. There are simply too many variables. Some of these include things in which I have little or no influence, such as company branding and the rapport between the client and their audience. If the client’s branding and rapport are not cohesive, consistent, qualitative and engaging, it is unlikely any kind of marketing campaign is likely to ‘inspire’ others to follow them. While I might set a target to get 5,000 new followers on my client’s social networks or mailing list, there is no way anyone can ‘guarantee’ this will happen…

…unless those followers are actually FAKE.

Anatomy of a Marketing Scam

‘But,’ you stammer, ‘I don’t understand. I paid my money and within a week I had 3,000 new Twitter followers. They look like real people. What are you talking about?!’

When we’re just starting out in business, many (if not most) of us feel helpless about ‘getting the word out’. We just don’t know where to start. How do we get people to follow us on social media? How do we get them to read our blog? How do we get business from this? It’s daunting.

Because we’re so overwhelmed, we look for solutions that can help us go from ground zero to…well…SOMETHING – but we’re not sure what that ‘something’ is. People tell us we need to get Twitter followers; but even if we know how to do that, we don’t know what we’re supposed to do with them after we’ve got them.

Unfortunately, there are many opportunistic people out there in cyberspace who prey upon unsuspecting small business owners who are caught in this vortex of ‘I don’t know’. Some of those opportunistic people run scams thinly disguised as marketing services. They set up several thousand bogus Twitter or Facebook accounts, hiding behind different proxy servers (notionally, so Twitter or Facebook don’t realise they’re fake accounts). They might have real sounding names. They might even have headshots. But make no mistake: there’s nobody there except the scammer. The scammer who sold you their ‘marketing product’ will, for a fee, make all these bogus accounts follow you on Twitter or ‘like’ your Facebook page (that is, of course, if they don’t run off with your money without even bothering to give you your fake followers).

Suddenly, you have thousands of followers. You’re starting to feel more confident about the future. You think people are really interested in you and what you are doing in your business.

The problem is, these people don’t exist.

How You Can Tell Your Followers Are Fake

I recently started working with a new client who had about 3,500 followers on Twitter. However, she was following only about 400 of them. I told her I wanted to look at this imbalance, because it’s a good idea to follow back your legitimate followers, so you can start to build rapport. So, I went into her account using Tweet Adder 4.0, which our team runs on a private server to support our clients’ Twitter accounts.

After I had a good look at her account, I said to her, ‘Can I ask you, at some point in the past, perhaps in or before 2011, did you BUY a batch of Twitter followers?’

She was surprised at my question. She said, ‘Well, I purchased a Twitter marketing package from someone at that time.’

I explained to her that this was no ‘marketing’ service, and that she had been scammed. Of course, she was upset by this news. She was also bewildered as to how I could see this in her account.

Here’s how I discovered this:

  • When I set up her Twitter account, Tweet Adder, flagged over 3,000 ‘follow backs. That meant she was not following back 3,000 people who were following her. Of course, I could already see that just by looking at her numbers, but Tweet Adder enabled me to analyse these figures to understand more about them.
  • First, I sorted these ‘follow backs’ using a filter in Tweet Adder called ‘Last Tweet Date’. In my view, there’s no point in following someone who is inactive on Twitter.
  • Then, I applied other filters to see which accounts hadn’t been active in a LONG time. I set the number of days to 300 days (> 300). I discovered that nearly all of her followers hadn’t been on Twitter since 2010 or 2011.
  • Finally, I used other filters to see how many followers these people had versus how many people they were following. I also looked at how many Tweets they had sent out. What I found was something that looked like this (I’ve smudged out the names of the Twitter accounts):

Tweet Adder Follow Back List - screenshot

This screenshot was taken TODAY. You can see that:

  • There were 601 accounts following my client who hadn’t Tweeted in about a year (these ones hadn’t Tweeted since 2010).
  • All of the accounts had only ever sent ONE Tweet.
  • All are following hundreds of people, but nobody (save a few people who didn’t know any better) is following them back
  • All of these accounts originate in non-English speaking countries. In fact, all of the clearly purchased ‘followers’ were from Asia (Indonesia, mostly) and South America. Even if they were legitimate followers, what would my client gain from following accounts she couldn’t understand?

Had I thought to take a screenshot when I first started working with her, you would see that far more than 601 accounts showed up when I first performed this search. However, we’ve slowly been getting rid of these bogus followers over the past month (I’ll show you how to do this, in a minute).

Why It’s Pointless to Retain Fake Followers

You might wonder what the big deal is. So you bought a bunch of fake followers in the past and now you’re stuck with them. ‘What’s the harm? Who cares? Let them be.’

I believe it’s important to get rid of fake followers. As a marketer, I want to KNOW what’s actually going on. I want to know what’s working and what’s not. If I THINK I have 3,500 followers, but I’m getting virtually no ‘action’ from them, something is seriously wrong.

What do I mean by ‘action’? ReTweeting/sharing my Tweets is action. Clicking on my links and visiting my blog. Talking to me. If none of my followers are doing this, either there’s something wrong with my followers or there’s something wrong with ME. Maybe my blog content is rubbish. Maybe my Tweets are confusing. Maybe I’m inconsistent in my communication. Maybe I’m writing for the wrong audience. But if I do all I can to ensure I’m not the problem and I still don’t get any action from my followers, I have to look at how and from where my followers are finding me. My analysis will be useless unless I first cull so-called followers who do nothing to serve my business.

The other reason it’s valuable to exile your fake followers is so your REAL followers (especially those thinking about connecting with you) take you seriously. If they check out your followers and see thousands of inactive (and obviously fake) accounts, what does that say about you? If, however, they see thousands of genuine Twitter users actively choosing to follow you, they get a far more positive impression about you.

Blocking Your Fake Followers

Hopefully, you’re now considering getting rid of all those fake followers you bought in the past, even if it means seeing your numbers go down. I understand it might be scary; watching your numbers decline for the sake of truth and transparency is a brave thing to do.

Now you might be wondering something else: ‘How do I MAKE people unfollow me on Twitter?’ The answer is: you use a feature on Twitter called ‘Blocking’.

When you block a Twitter account, it means they cannot follow you, message you or tag you, and you can’t follow them, etc. In other words, you cannot communicate with each other in any way on Twitter. If that sounds pretty extreme, it’s because it is. That’s why blocking really should only be used in specific circumstances, such as:

  • Porn
  • Spammers
  • Aggressive or abusive users
  • Fake accounts

Back in the screenshot of Tweet Adder above, you’ll see that next to each account in the ‘Follow Back’ menu, there are three options: Follow Back, Black List and Block.

Tweet Adder Follow Back Blacklist Block

‘Follow Back’ is obvious. If you click it, Tweet Adder will follow back that person.

‘Black List’ is less extreme than blocking, and it only relates to Tweet Adder, not Twitter. When you ‘black list’ someone, it means you CHOOSE not to follow them, but you’re ok with allowing them to follow you. I tend to use black list when someone seems like a genuine follower, but I’m not particularly interested in what they’re Tweeting about (like if they do a lot of advertising, but they’re not directly spamming me). When you put someone on your black list, Tweet Adder will not ask you to follow them back again in the future (unless you take them off the black list). However, they will still be following you, unless they decide to unfollow you of their own accord.

If, by using the filters I described earlier in this article, you have been able to identify your fake followers, you can start to ‘block’ them simply by pressing the ‘block’ button. They will cease to follow you, and you will never see or hear from them again.

CAVEAT: Don’t go blocking accounts too quickly, as Twitter will see it as ‘aggressive’ activity and you could end up getting your account suspended. It’s best to do it gradually over a period of days, weeks or even months, if you have a lot of bogus followers.

Closing Thoughts

If you’ve read my book Tweep-e-licious!, you might remember Tip #41: Don’t Be Tempted by Twitter Growth Scams. Today, I’ve given you some good reasons why NOT to get hoodwinked by them (apart from the obvious waste of money), as well as some tips on how to undo the damage if this happens to you. To me, marketing is only effective when you’re not playing in the dark. Getting rid of bogus followers helps you become more able to see what’s working and what’s not, in your social media marketing.

If you’d like to check out Tweep-e-licious!, you can find it at http://tweepelicious.com. There you can also get access to a 90-minute Twitter audio class I recorded some time ago (no purchase necessary, but you will have to sign up using your email address to get access).

AND…if you’re at a point in your ethical business where you’d like to work closely with a marketing strategist (and her team) who can help you grow an online audience of followers who GENUINELY know, love and appreciate what you do, give me a shout via the contact form on this site to set up a 30-minute Skype chat. We offer platform building services (including Twitter support), product development, copywriting, eBook development and many other valuable services for service-oriented independent business owners and non-fiction authors. You can read about our services HERE.

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
21 April 2015

Transparency: In this article, I have used my affiliate link to the Tweet Adder website. I do make a small commission if people purchase the product using this link.

P.S. I do hope you’ll stay in touch by subscribing to this blog; and, as always, don’t forget to leave a comment (and share with your network) before leaving!

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

Posted in 7 Graces Project, 7 Key Relationships, Blog, Business Tips, Lynn Serafinn, Marketing Tips, Platform Building Programme, Relationship with Our Audience, Social Media, Strategy Packages, Tweep-e-licious, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting Down Roots – Gardening Tips for the Small Business Owner

Putting Down Roots - Gardening Tips for the Small Business Owner
Nancy Goodyear applies her grandpa’s age-old gardening wisdom to business growth, showing how strong roots and hard pruning are the secrets of a good harvest.

When you run your own business, whether it be a start-up or an older, more established business, you need to create space for it to develop. As your business grows, it will inevitably change. From time to time, you may need to stop and take stock, review where you are and where you’re going. You may find your business has changed slightly. You might be attracting different clients, they may be buying slightly different products, or they might want slightly different services from those you currently offer. Your business may no longer be what you thought it was. You may need to give yourself some time and space to grow into where you are now.

“But,” I hear you cry, “I have a business to run. I’ve put loads of time and energy into getting this far, I have clients and commitments to honour. I can’t just drop it all and start again from scratch – I don’t have time!” To this, I say growing a business is like growing a plant from a seed; it takes patience and nurturing to get it to bear fruit.

My grandpa was a keen gardener and spent his retirement tending his garden. He was very proud of it. Whenever my brothers and I visited, he would drag one of us out to show off his roses, and to the greenhouse so we could admire his tomatoes. I’m no gardener myself, but some of what Grandpa taught me found its way in and stayed. Now I would like to share with you some of his wisdom, and try to relate what I learned about growing plants to growing your business.

Growing Strong Roots

When you plant a seed and it germinates, its first priority is to grow strong roots. These are the plant’s foundation; they give it stability; they absorb the nutrients and water from the soil that it needs to grow. A plant’s root system is the same size and shape as the plant itself. In other words, there is as much below ground as there is above and, until the roots are established, not much happens above ground. All the activity happens out of sight. Only once the roots are established, does the plant start to focus its energy on what is happening above ground.

What we can learn from this in terms of our businesses is the importance of directing much of our energy below ground, to the bits our clients don’t see. Yes, this means all the boring admin stuff we all love so much – but it also means paying attention to what comes before the part the client sees. I’m talking about defining your vision, your brand and your audience, by asking yourself these fundamental questions:

  • What is your business for?
  • Who is it for?
  • What does it do for them?

These questions should all be answered to some degree before you send your business out into the world. Otherwise, how do you know whom you should be talking to and what you should be saying to them? And without talking to the right people – people who want what you are offering – there is no business.

So, your attention first needs to be given to growing those nice strong roots that will keep you grounded during stormy weather and soak up all the available water and nutrition your business needs during the dry summers.

Pruning Your Business

Every year Grandpa’s garden was full of beautiful, vigorous rose bushes full of gorgeous blooms. Once they’d finished flowering, he would cut them right back almost to the ground. It seemed brutal to me, to cut this big healthy plant down until it was barely more than a thorny twig sticking out of the ground. Grandpa assured me these bushes would grow again in the spring and be even bigger and healthier than the year before – and they would produce even more flowers. He was right. His roses were always beautiful – every year.

Your business needs pruning from time to time, as well – ruthless pruning. Grandpa always said you should get your neighbour to prune your roses for you because they would be far more merciless that you could be, which is better for the plant’s performance the following year. In terms of business, this means periodically reviewing where you are, what you’re doing and for whom. It means going back to your roots and asking:

  • Has your vision changed? Are you still doing what you set out to do?
  • Has your audience changed? Are you still working with the same kinds of people or are you attracting a different group of people? Are you still enjoying working with the people you work with or are you yearning to work with someone different?
  • Are you still delivering what you set out to deliver? Or are clients asking for something different? Are you finding you’re actually delivering something slightly different from what you promise?

Keeping Grounded as Your Business Starts to Bear Fruit

One thing I always enjoyed helping Grandpa with was his tomato garden. He showed me how to ‘nip out’ the new shoots at the top of the plant to stop it growing upwards and explained how, by doing this, we would ensure the plant put all its energy into growing tasty fruit, rather than wasting it on growing ever taller. By nipping out the very top shoot, the plants’ energy would be directed at new shoots lower down, making the plant stronger, healthier and capable of producing more fruit.

Applying this principle to business means staying focused on your vision at all times – not allowing yourself to get distracted by shiny exciting new projects that don’t serve your vision, and learning to discern between what is an opportunity and what is a distraction. Entrepreneurs are often very creative people who have a magpie tendency towards shiny, sparkly new things. They can flit from one exciting new idea to the next, seduced by its newness, leaving behind a trail of abandoned projects that have lost their lustre simply because they are no longer new. Some of these new projects will be in alignment with their business vision, but a lot won’t. The trouble with this approach is that nothing gets finished. Even the most exciting visionary project will become old and therefore less interesting than the new project that comes along. The challenge such entrepreneurs face is sticking with the old and seeing it through to fruition.

Growing roots isn’t glamorous. They aren’t what’s visible to the world. However, strong roots keep your business grounded. Put too much energy into producing flowers too soon and your business will become top-heavy and unstable, just like those tomato plants, and yield less fruit.

Closing Thoughts

As a teenager, my brothers and I went out of our way to find excuses not to be chosen for the guided tour of Grandpa’s garden. Now that he’s been gone for 20 years, I would give anything to have just one more visit to the greenhouse with him. I realise the true fruits produced in that garden were the life lessons we learned. I hope you can take something from his garden, too.

And if you’re ready to put some energy into the roots of YOUR business, you might want to check out our newly redesigned 7 Graces Business & Marketing Strategy Packages. Have a look through them below, and then drop us a line via the contact form on this site to set up a free 30-minute consultation to see how we might be able to help you cultivate your ethical business.

  • Our 13-Week PLATFORM BUILDING & Growth Package – for established business owners who want to build their online presence, increase their blog traffic and grow their Twitter following. This can also be used in combination with one of our product development packages.
  • AUTHOR services – we also have a variety of services just for authors, including full-service Amazon book launches, wholesale copywriting, virtual blog tours and other marketing services.
  • ‘A la carte’ services – Many of our other services can also be purchased ‘a la carte’ (although the package prices are always lower for the equivalent service). Some a la carte services have fixed fees, while others will vary according to the complexity of your particular project.

Nancy Goodyear
24th March 2015

Nancy GoodyearNancy V Goodyear is a Business Mentor and Coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners cultivate their relationship with self, their business and their audience. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French having lived in France for some time. She is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. She is also a product developer, coach and member of the editorial team at The 7 Graces Project.

Nancy on Twitter: @NancyVGoodyear
Nancy’s website – http://nancyvgoodyear.com
CLICK HERE to read Nancy’s other articles on the 7 Graces website.

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

Looking for a Tribe?

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious by Lynn SerafinnTweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

Posted in 7 Key Relationships, Business Tips, Community Blogger, Nancy Goodyear, Platform Building Programme, Relationship with Our Business, Strategy Packages | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tip of the Day for Small Businesses: Get It Down in Writing!

Tip of the Day for Small Businesses: Get It Down in Writing!
Community member Lubna Gem Arielle explains why trust is not enough when it comes to business, and why you should keep a written record of what was agreed.

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, it can be tempting to enter into business arrangements informally, believing we can rely on trust and being afraid we will insult or alienate our clients with a suggestion of formality. Funnily enough, I’ve seen ‘both sides’ succumb to this fear, believing it is to accommodate the other!

What seems to fall by the wayside is the fact that if you choose not to enter into a written contract, you will often have a verbal one anyway. What has been agreed will be recorded in people’s heads, possibly with some written evidence such as emails or the narrative of an invoice, relating to some of what was agreed, but with key areas neglected.

The Perils of an Unwritten Contract

A contract formed in this way has weak spots which have very little to do with trust. Let’s look at two key areas.

Weak Spot 1 – Being Human

Almost all of us will admit to falling prey to the consequences of being human such as having flawed listening abilities and memories. How often do you just ‘switch off’ when someone is talking? Do we always hear and remember what was said? At times we may think we remember the date, exact location and most of the conversation and it is the other person who has forgotten – and yet, perhaps that is what they claim, too. ‘Trust’ is often not enough to fill in this gap which can so easily be avoided. Going through a process of discussing, agreeing and recording terms can patch over poor listening – and a written contract is a panacea for forgetfulness.

Weak Spot 2 – Incomplete Agreements & Mismatched Perspectives

Informal arrangements based on trust often don’t deal with key issues. In my experience, people may start off with good feelings, but this doesn’t mean they will be able to navigate bumps with a smile. The reality is that when the unexpected happens, perceptions of and perspectives on what is fair and reasonable can be utterly mismatched.

Let’s look at a typical example – commissioning a website designer. All too often, work is carried out on the basis of an invoice for half of the payment upfront, which may have some outline of website specifications attached. What could go wrong? I’ve heard so many friends, clients and colleagues complain that their website is taking forever – why didn’t the designer say he/she was overcommitted / going on holiday / having personal problems? At the same time, website designers become frustrated at clients being too slow in providing essential feedback or information and too quick off the mark in asking for sneaky extras which all add up.

Specifying the delivery date, timescales for giving feedback and what happens where changes are requested could all have been discussed upfront, when everyone was on friendly terms. That’s the best time to set clear boundaries and expectations. Not doing so means everyone grumbles about what they think is ‘fair’ or ‘reasonable’ and may be bitterly adamant about what the other person should do. They may or may not be able to resolve it. Even though they started out with the flavour of trust, these hazy relationships can end up turning sour.

The Opportunity in a Written Contract and DIY Solutions

A written contract presents an opportunity to discuss, agree and set out agreed terms. Having this drawn up by a lawyer is best, and with complex areas such as employment contracts or financing arrangements, you should always refer to an expert.

However, there may be times where you are entering into a simpler relationship, you may be providing your services at a modest value, or you may be developing and testing something new; and even though you are aware that having a professionally written contract would be wise, you are simply not geared up to obtain professional help. Here, at the very least, you should ensure that you discuss the key issues and keep a clear written record of what you have agreed as a simple DIY contract.

In some ways a contract is a glorified list of who does what and when. With this in mind, you can write your own simple contract in 4 basic steps:

  1. Write out your name and address and the other side’s name and address
  2. List what THEY are going to do and by when
  3. List what YOU are going to do and by when
  4. Add the date and sign it.

Of course you won’t include some of the nuances that a professional would, but it will give you a much better level of protection and assurance than doing nothing. Although a lawyer-made contract is more water-tight, an imperfect contract based on making a list can be good enough, enabling your business relationship to progress more smoothly and successfully to its conclusion without unnecessary disputes.

Written Records – The Halfway House

An alternative approach to a DIY contract is to exchange emails. Simply email the other side with your lists of who is doing what and ask them to confirm by return email. This will give you a clear and valuable record of what was agreed, which is evidence of what was agreed, i.e. evidence of your unwritten contract. As you can see, a signed DIY contract and written evidence of an unwritten contact are very closely related – there may not be much difference between them.

Some records are better than others; compare an exchange of emails with notes alleged to have been taken during the meeting. What if the notes were made on a branded notepad with the logo of the serviced offices where the meeting took place? What if they were made on an iPad? These are all useful, to varying degrees. These days, saved text message streams can also be helpful. The best scenario is for the written record to be in one place, showing some form of acknowledgement from the other side.

Final Thoughts on Trust

When it comes to trust, in my experience, the problem with unwritten contracts rarely stems from dishonesty. I have heard someone saying words with no melody: ‘I never said that.’ Maybe you have too. In those instances, we might be able to find an email or text to remind them; at other times, we might not. However, for the most part, the flaws in informality stem from our humanness – not listening, forgetting and having our own points of view of what ‘should’ be done. It’s so much simpler to get it down in writing – and contracts and written records don’t destroy trust. Far from it. They enable you to have important conversations and, in doing so, to build and nurture your business relationships.

I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences – what makes or has made you hesitate, and what happened when you insisted on a little more formality?

Until next time,

Lubna Gem Arielle
12 March 2015

Lubna Gem ArielleLubna Gem Arielle is the founder of 6 Minute Bites, making contracts accessible to entrepreneurs through experiential training and producing user-friendly terms and conditions. Alongside this, Lubna lectures in law in the MA in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck, University of London and advises visual artists through Artquest’s Q&A Service. Lubna is a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing Course and member of the 7 Graces Community.

CLICK HERE to read other articles by Lubna on this website.

Lubna’s Website: http://www.6minutebites.com
Lubna on Twitter @LubnaGemArielle
Lubna on LinkedIn: LubnaGemArielle

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Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

 

Posted in Blog, Business Tips, Community Blogger, Law and Legal Tips, Lubna Gem Arielle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Once a Year – Part 4

6 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Once a Year – Part 4
Ethical marketing strategist Lynn Serafinn offers a step-by-step guide to the ‘Where, When and How’ of your annual business plan. Part 4 of a 4-part series.

In my last three articles, I’ve been talking about why business owners should take time at least once a year to re-examine their business and marketing strategies. Throughout this series, I’ve been using six fundamental questions to help us delve into the matter:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?
  6. How?

In Part 1, we looked at ‘WHO?’, exploring things like: Who are you and your company? Who are your customers and clients? Who are your partners, collaborators and support network? You can find Part 1 by clicking here.

In Part 2, we looked at ‘WHAT?’, asking the questions: What do you WANT? What do you OFFER? And what ELSE could you offer? We also looked at the ‘What?’ of money, and how it’s often a difficult subject for business owners to think about. Click to read Part 2.

Last time, in Part 3, we looked at the question, ‘WHY?’ We looked at the ‘Why?’ and also the ‘Why BOTHER?’ of your business. We asked ‘Why does the WORLD need what your company does?’ and I offered two hypothetical scenarios for how that might play out in practice. If you’d like to read Part 3, click HERE.

Today, in this final part of the series, we’re going to take on the remaining three questions:

‘WHERE?’ ‘WHEN?’ and ‘HOW?’

In reading through these, remember that when I use the term ‘business offers’, I am referring to the products and/or services you deliver to your customers/clients.

Defining the ‘WHERE?’ and ‘WHEN?’ of Your Business Offers

Once you’re really clear on the ‘Who?’, ‘What?’ and ‘Why?’ of your business, the next step is to look at the ‘Where?’ and ‘When?’. When we talk about your business offers, these two questions need to be asked in conjunction. In the past, all business was conducted in real-time and face-to-face. If you were selling bread, someone came to your shop and bought it. If you were a doctor, either you made house calls to visit your patients or they came to your practice to be treated by you. But these days, the choices for where and when we will deliver our business offers are much more varied:

  • You might sell digital or physical products on your website OR on third-party sites like eBay or Amazon OR both.
  • You might deliver private sessions with clients or patients in your office OR over the phone/Skype OR both.
  • You might deliver group training or coaching in real-time in person OR via a telephone conference line, Google Hangouts or Instant Teleseminar.*
  • You might deliver pre-recorded training through your own membership site OR through a third-party educational/training site.
  • You might (as most of my clients do nowadays) deliver a combination of the above.

* Transparency: that is my affiliate link for Instant Teleseminar; I have used them for several years for all my webinars, courses, telesummits, etc.

The ‘Where?’ and ‘When?’ of your business offers are the major determining factors in your marketing strategy. Only after you have defined these can you go on to answer other critical questions, such as:

WHERE are your clients/customers?
Your marketing will vary significantly depending on where your customers are located. If your business offers can only be delivered in a specific location, for example, your customer base will delineated by geography. However, if your business offers can be delivered remotely, it can open up a much broader potential audience. Each of these types of audiences requires a different approach to marketing. Many new clients come to me because they have attained little success with their online marketing. When I dig more deeply, I often learn they are working with geographically defined client bases. What needs to happen in such a case is: a) we devise a different marketing strategy that specifically reaches people in their geographic area OR; b) we create new product lines that expand the boundaries of their potential audience OR; c) both a and b.

WHEN do you want to do WHAT during the week?
This might seem like a silly question to some. Businesses are ‘supposed’ to work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, right? Well, that might work if you have a ‘job job’, but not if you’re a sole trader running your own business. For example, I only meet with clients on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between the hours of 2-8pm UK time. Those might seem like really strange working hours, but this arrangement is absolutely crucial to my being able to deliver my services and run my business properly. I know the majority of my clients are in the United States. If I stuck to a 9 to 5 regime, it would make it almost impossible for my west-coast clients to work with me. Also, it means I can use the mornings for writing – not just my own books and articles, but all the marketing copy my clients hire me to write for them (and there’s a lot of it!). Lastly, it allows me to use Mondays and Friday to work on product development, billing, bookkeeping or other operational work. It also gives me the freedom to take those days off or to work on an entirely different project (right now I use many of my Fridays to work on my family history research). Saying, ‘We are open for business during the traditional work week,’ without defining WHAT you will do WHEN is a guaranteed formula for leaving you feeling over-worked and under-paid. It will also leave you wide open to allowing your customers and clients to define how you run your business (and your life!).

WHERE are your partners and WHERE is their audience?
In Part 1 of this series, I asked the question, ‘Who are your partners/collaborators/support network?’ Equally important is knowing WHERE you can find them. Do they come from a local MeetUp or business network? Do they come from a Facebook group or Twitter following? Do they come from a mastermind group to which you belong? But knowing where your partners ‘hang out’ and where you can develop rapport with them is only one half the question. You also need to know where THEIR audience is. If all your potential partners are geographically based, but you are planning an online promotion (or vice versa), there is a mismatch between your partners and what you can mutually offer one another.

WHERE will your marketing connect all of the above?
Only after you have explored the previous questions can you join all the dots together and create a marketing strategy. WHERE will this marketing ‘live’? Will your marketing focus on email announcements? Social media? SEO/Google AdWords? Blog tours? Article marketing? Will it be supported through a local network? Print advertising? A speaking/radio tour? An affiliate programme? In choosing this ‘WHERE’, be sure you ask yourself:

How does my marketing strategy connect ALL
the ‘who, what, why, when and where’ elements
I have already defined?

Why ‘HOW?’ Is the LAST Thing You Should Ask

Knowing how you’re going to put a plan into action is the only way you’ll ever get it done. However, in my experience, most people ask, ‘How?’ at totally the wrong time. They say things like, ‘I’d really love to do such-and-such, BUT I have no idea how.‘ It’s like someone shutting a door in their face. The great monster called ‘I don’t know how’ is probably the biggest impediment to our being able to think creatively and expansively.

This is why it is essential to go through ALL your ‘who, what, when, where and why’ questions before you permit yourself to ask, ‘How?’ By then, you will already have an emotional investment in the idea and the ‘I don’t know how’ will not have nearly as much potency. Instead of it stopping you dead in your tracks, you will look for solutions – or get help from others – that can begin to put all the ‘hows’ in place.

Closing Thoughts

We’ve now completed our look at the six questions every business owner should ask once a year. I hope this series has helped you to start thinking about your business and where you want to take it over the next year.

The ideas I’ve been sharing are inspired by the work I do with my clients. If you’re an independent business owner looking develop the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of your business and marketing, I invite you to explore our 7 Graces Business & Marketing Strategy Packages:

  • Our 13-Week PLATFORM BUILDING & Growth Package – for established business owners who want to build their online presence, increase their blog traffic and grow their Twitter following. This can also be used in combination with one of our product development packages.
  • AUTHOR services – we also have a variety of services just for authors, including full-service Amazon book launches, wholesale copywriting, virtual blog tours and other marketing services.
  • ‘A la carte’ services – Many of our other services can also be purchased ‘a la carte’ (although the package prices are always lower for the equivalent service). Some a la carte services have fixed fees, while others will vary according to the complexity of your particular project.

ALL of these packages and services are available NOW. You can read all about them on our ‘Work With Us’ page at: http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/work-with-us/.

On that page, you’ll also find downloadable PDF information packs, so you can read about each package in your own time. If you like what you read, and you’d like to discuss how we might work together, follow the link provided in the info pack to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation.

Of course, if you have any questions before you do that, don’t hesitate to drop us a line via the Contact form on this site.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
4 March 2015

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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

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