Showing posts with label Robert Middleton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Middleton. Show all posts

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Marketing Your Services in a Down Market: Specialization and Pricing

From the July/August 2008 issue of Resume Writers' Digest:

Last in a series of posts on Marketing Your Resume Writing Services in a Down Market.

One way to ensure your relevance in a downturn is to be a specialist. For example, the federal government is always hiring -- but these jobs require a federal resume. Now is the time to acquire the skills and certification required to serve these clients effectively. Identifying under-served niches and obtaining specialized training or experience will serve you well in a difficult economic market.

It will also enable you to protect your prices at a time when you may need to reduce your regular rates to attract "general" clients. Being a specialist in any area will allow you to continue to charge "premium" prices to clients in that industry.

And don't forget to target your base of existing clients during a downturn. Repeat clients are already "sold" on the value of the services you offer, and can offer a steady stream of income while you work to develop new clients.

Remember: No matter what technique you decide to use, don't wait until you need the business to start marketing. Even if things are going well, it can change in an instant.

As marketing expert Robert Middleton notes, "Many self-employed people think that the success of their business is completely dependent upon outside circumstances -- industry trends, the time of year, or the economy as a whole. But be honest with yourself and ask if you are doing the above activities on a regular basis or not. If you're not, it's no mystery why the phone isn't ringing off the hook!"

Want the whole article? Buy the issue here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting the Most Out of Your CDI Conference Experience

I have promised Laura DeCarlo that someday I will make it to a Career Directors International Conference ("Career Empowerment Summit"). The 2010 CDI conference will be in San Diego from Oct. 14-16, 2010 -- and, unfortunately for me, coincides once again with my other passion: UNO Maverick Hockey. (If all goes as planned, I'll be in Minneapolis at that time.)

But for you lucky folks who get to be there, I want to share some ideas on how to get the most out of your experience. (These ideas are based on an article by columnist Robert Middleton in the Summer 2009 issue of Resume Writers' Digest.)
  • Remember that everyone you meet is a potential referral source. The best resume writers are specialists, not generalists. That means that you have the opportunity to gain referrals from your colleagues who don't work in the same areas you do. I am always looking for writers who are really good at what they do when I attend a conference. As a result, I've made referrals to writers who specialize in military transition resumes and federal resumes -- all from contacts I've made at conferences.
  • Collect business cards. Make sure you get cards from the resume writers you meet, so you can follow up with them when you get back home. (Conversely, make sure you bring plenty of your cards with you too!)
  • Participate in the conference! Yes, I know conferences are often also vacations ... but you're missing out if you hit the beach instead of that afternoon session. The beach will still be there ... but you might learn that one most valuable piece of information you really needed for your business to succeed ... or you might be sitting next to your new top referral source! I agree with Robert Middleton: "Attend every session, every meal, every reception, and every event." As a corollary to this: Do NOT expect to be able to work on client projects while you're at the conference. You won't get the most out of your experience if you're sitting in a session working on a client project. (Yes, I've seen this actually happen at a conference.)
  • Participate in workshop sessions. Don't be a wallflower -- get involved! Ask questions. Approach the presenter after the session. Take part in the group activities.... even if you're shy!!
  • Follow up after the conference. Most conference organizers will give you a list of everyone who participated. E-mail these folks ... connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. These are great connections to continue in the virtual world!
Enjoy the conference ... and if you'd like to write up a session or two for a future issue of Resume Writers' Digest, send me an e-mail! E-mail me at editor(at)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't Strike Out With Prospective Clients

Marketing guru Robert Middleton has developed a marketing system for independent service professionals (including resume writers and career coaches) that is designed to help you attract more clients!

(Read more about it at

He says it's important to analyze our sales process and identify WHERE you are losing clients.

For most resume writers, it's when the client asks, "How much does this cost?" Save the sale by trying different approaches:
• Ask lots of questions to understand their real challenges (most clients aren't as concerned about the cost as much as they are on the RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT. Will it be worth what they spend?)
• Direct them to your web site for articles, samples, etc. if they say they want to "think about it."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Find the Pain and Offer a Band-Aid

As marketing guru Robert Middleton notes, "People always act in their own self-interest and will respond to marketing appeals that offer solutions to their problems, predicaments, and pains."

Some common sources of pain include:
• They've just been laid off;
• They are relocating becaues of a spouse or significant other;
• They've been looking for a job but aren't getting interviews;
• They just graduated from college and are looking for their first job; or
• They've been asked to apply for a promotion and need a resume.

Identify those areas of pain and position your services around them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Baseball Season

Baseball season is coming up, and it reminds me of a presentation that Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing, made at the 2002 National Resume Writers' Association conference.

Robert had a client acquisition strategy he called "Marketing Ball." He said you need to have a system to get consistent, powerful results with your marketing.

One of the things that struck me most in his presentation was that "If you try to hit a home run, you'll strike out." Instead, you need to make base hits.

First, you need to say "the thing" that gets prospects saying, "That's interesting. Tell me more." Middleton said, if you get that, you get to first base.

Next, you try to get to second base. The way to get there is to give people more information.

To get to third base is the sales process. It's capturing their interest and having them want to move forward.

Middleton said the hardest part for independent professionals -- like resume writers -- is getting to second base.

As resume writers, we try to hit home runs -- like getting a client to agree to a $1,000+ project (resume, cover letter, bio, branding work) without doing the work of base hits.

Remember that on Opening Day.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Free Marketing Plan Start-Up Kit

Robert Middleton has been a contributor to Resume Writers' Digest for many years. Now he's sharing a special resource with my readers: A Free "Marketing Plan Start-Up Kit."

This Marketing Plan Start-Up Kit will remove the frustration and struggle you may experience with marketing your services. It shows you how to start playing "Marketing Ball." If you have clients and want more of them, the Marketing Plan Start-Up Kit will make it a whole lot easier.

The Start-Up Kit includes an 85 minute mp3 Audio Tutorial and 22-page Workbook - everything you need to build a client-attracting marketing plan.

It's a step-by-step guide to attracting more clients. No matter what kind of self-employed professional you are, this Marketing Plan Start-Up Kit will help you become a better marketer.

To receive your free kit, click here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Avoiding Bad Clients

Marketing guru Robert Middleton had a great post last week on his blog that I wanted to analyze in a bit more depth. He shared a system of identifying types of prospective clients outlined by Jerry Vieira, of The QMP Group, at the IMC (Institute of Management Consultants) Confab in Reno Nevada.

He wrote:

Everyone wants to attract the ideal clients.
But very few of us know how to identify them. And what's even more of an issue is that we don't know how to identify bad potential clients.

As a result, we waste a huge amount of time and energy in the marketing process. We spend too much time speaking to and meeting with prospects who either will never buy our services or, if they do, the experience and results will be disappointing.

So how do you quickly size-up prospective clients?

You divide them into eight types that distinguish their dominant approach to doing business. When you clearly see these types, you'll know how to proceed.

Here are a couple that might sound familiar to resume writers:

** Takers

These prospects are experts at stealing concepts and ideas. So, with little compunction, they'll lift your ideas, pass them off as their own and never give you credit.

If you're meeting with a taker, they'll tend to grill you and take very good notes. They'll ask you to send resume samples or will press you for more detail when you provide them with a resume critique. They'll take your methodologies and get their cousin, Fred, to do the project using your approach.

** BMMDI - "Boss-Made-Me-Do-It"
In the resume trade, these are individuals who are being forced to use your services -- either by a spouse or other family member, or maybe by an employer (in the case of outplacement services). They are talking with you to fulfill an obligation. If they end up buying, they won't really care if your services deliver or not. They'll never read the resume or give you useful feedback.

** Opportunists
They are just one step above the takers. They do not part with their money easily. They want the lowest price, the bare bones package, the minimum they can buy. And then they expect first-class service when they pay economy fares.

An opportunist may buy some services, but they will be high maintenance and take up big chunks of your time. If you decide to work with them, you need a very explicit written agreement with clear boundaries which you stick to unfailingly.

If you connect with these types and recognize them, you'll save huge amounts of time and effort by moving on quickly. An initial meeting by phone and a few well-chosen questions will let you know if they fit into any of the above five types.

Next, Jerry went on to identify three desirable prospect types. When you recognize them, give yourself a green light to spend more time exploring how you might work together. They can all be good clients.

** Terribly Troubled
These are prospects who really need your assistance. They have a problem, predicament or pain and are motivated to get it fixed. They are desperately seeking alternatives and will often make a quick decision.

They may be willing to spend a lot, but are often in a rush to get going; as a result they may not carefully evaluate the options. Work to slow down these prospects a bit. Assure them you can help fix the problem, but also spend some time exploring ideal outcomes that will take more time and care to implement.

** Frustrated Drivers
These prospects are very interested in optimal results and will study alternatives intensively. They will commit quickly and spend what it takes, but will expect visible results sooner rather than later. This is the typical CEO/Executive client.

When speaking with these prospects, communicate about tangible results and clear courses of action. Offer well-documented case studies and proof that your approaches work. When they engage you, set well-defined benchmarks and measure progress regularly.

** Sincerely Growth-Oriented
You might consider this your ideal kind of client. They are already doing things quite well but want to do things better. They have issues and challenges that are not seen as debilitating, but as areas to improve. They are motivated by excellence and growth.

These clients will engage in long-term work, look carefully at the best alternatives, and commit to achieving ultimate goals. Bring your absolute best to working with these clients, as they will reward you financially, emotionally and intellectually.

If you focus on identifying these final three types of prospects, you will start to find more of them.

Thanks to Jerry Vieira for sharing his model. Jerry can be found on the web at


The More Clients Bottom Line: Much wheel-spinning can be avoided in the marketing and prospecting process if you are aware of the warning signs of prospects who will squander your time and energy. Put your attention and focus on better prospects who are motivated to take real advantage of your expertise.