Fall back to business!

Fall back to businessFall is here and just like children are all back at school, adults are getting serious about their business again. The air changes to crisper and days become shorter, business activities resume with full energy after the Labour Day weekend. People are reconnecting and going back to their usual meetings and routines. I also notice the obvious wide-eyed look of ’I know I had a reason to come, but I am not really sure what it was’. People are chatting to friendly faces and then forget to follow up. It is all good – summer has relaxed us to the point that we need to rebuild our routine again to get more done. A question might arise where do I start again?

Here are some quick tips to reconnect and be as effective as before:

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Marketing – manipulation or client attraction?

Client attractionReading different articles and talking to people, I have come across quite often the paradigm that marketing equals manipulation. Along the lines of – if you want to get people to buy your products or services you have to persuade them. I have never felt comfortable with that thought – for me marketing is a vehicle of client attraction not persuasion.

Actually, I see a lot of problems with thinking that you need to manipulate people to buy your products – for me it says that your products or services are not valuable. If this is the case – why have them at all, why not change them and add value? Also why would manipulation be somehow an industry standard? The thought pattern being that if you want to be good at marketing you need to learn to lie or at least – ’dress up the truth’. Yet, these must be the thoughts that lots of people have about marketing.

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Marketing mediums

Juicy steakWhat marketing mediums are out there? I was asked that question at one of my speaking events. I liked the choice of words – marketing mediums and not advertising mediums. Marketing medium has a much wider meaning than advertising medium – usually advertising mediums can be bought for money and they are institutionalized – you buy space or time from some entity. Some of the examples of marketing mediums are: referrals, your own website, testimonials, article in a newspaper, TV ad, radio talk show, emails, mobile ads and messages, networking and speaking events, the list goes on!

The good thing is that lots of the marketing mediums are for free or like referrals – cannot be bought. Which is why the most trusted marketing medium is ‘Recommendations from people I know’ (Nielsen study, 2013)

When choosing the marketing medium that you want to use in your business, you need to think of the following factors: what comes naturally to you, who are your ideal clients and where they are, what is your message and which medium will convey it the best and how much money are you willing to spend. 

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Confidence to jump

2015-05-04 11.21.02I witnessed something amazing the other day – four goslings hatched to the couple of Canada geese on our balcony on the 14th floor. The cute little goslings were piping and scuttling on the safety of the balcony edge (about a meter wide with bushes and grass) until it was time for them to take off and head towards the river.

How do they get down 14 floors without being able to fly, I had wondered previously? This wasn’t the first year we’d seen goslings appear one day and disappear the other. Now I got to see it in person. The mother goose who had been close to the goslings every minute previously, took off and landed below at the base of the building. The goslings got really anxious and started scuttling around and calling for the mother to come back. The father was looking at them from a distance and then also took off. Now the goslings went and peeped over the balcony edge and looked down – it was quite scary. They turned around and started running around on their little legs on the balcony looking for another way. Until they realized that the only way to get to their mom and dad would be to have the confidence to jump. The first one took off, the second shortly after, the third was having a bit of a counsel with the fourth, but off it went too. And the last one, really could not make himself jump off after the siblings.

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What is a Marketing pipeline

dreamstime_xl_18070406Some of the challenges that my clients come to me with are setting up their marketing in a way that helps them bring a steady flow of their ideal clients to their business. Very often people have tried different things and the results are not consistent or there is no response.

That is where an understanding of what a marketing pipeline is can help tremendously. A robust description would be that a marketing pipeline is a set of consecutive actions helping a potential client find out more about the product or service that you are offering. A good pipeline is easy, feels natural to you and brings in your ideal clients on a regular basis. The purpose of a marketing pipeline is to help a potential client get clear on whether they will benefit from the product or service that you provide at this point in time.

You could also say that a purpose of a marketing pipeline is to generate leads or sell. Yes, that is what it ends up doing for you, but the way you set one up is not to push a product or service towards someone who does not see the need or benefit of it at this point.

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Marketing message key points

Top 7 marketing mistakesYou might have noticed how some of the marketing messages that are used when describing a product or a service, make you go Yes! – I get it and I want to explore further. Whereas the others make you go – I probably need it, but if they sell it this way, I will never get it from them?

That is the power of the choice of words that you use when marketing your business. Words can build trust and interest in your product and they can also destroy it. Choose your marketing message carefully and attracting clients becomes fun and easy.

What are the key points to craft a great marketing message?

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Marketing as a journey

Journey is the rewardMost of us want things to work, sooner rather than later. When you start a new venture – like your own business, you want to get results and start doing the things that motivated you to embark on that journey. Even if you have had lots of practice starting and running your own companies, there still will be some hiccups that make you go back to square one and re-plan or rethink what you are doing. Maybe you realize that you need to learn to do something that seemed so easy when somebody else was doing it. Like marketing that everybody seems to know something about until they need to do it themselves.

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Planning when life happens

DSC00175You have probably heard it more than once or maybe said it yourself – plans are just for paper – life happens. I am a believer in planning and also that life definitely happens while you are making plans. I have two examples for you today.

One is that of my client, who had taken over a business a few years ago and got stuck with the way things were run. Business started running her and she ended in a state of overwhelm while trying to balance her business and personal life.

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Spring ahead with aligned marketing

New growthThis winter has been very mild when it comes to weather, yet it has been tough for many businesses in Calgary. People have been in a holding pattern – waiting either for the other shoe to drop or something to change. There has been a reluctance to commit to doing things and moving ahead. Quite understandable, given the stories that we hear every day from either people we know or from media. In the three years that I have been in Calgary, it hasn’t been as quiet here in January-February before.

Yet this month when the spring is starting, many have realized that it is not possible to stay in a holding pattern for long. It is time to move ahead and make plans. Start taking actions based on what is going on right now. No matter what business is moving ahead and people need to find a way to cope with a winter that is too warm and with a business climate that is too frosty.

What can you do in spite of the uncertainties that are in the air right now?

  • Get clear on what is the situation you and your clients are in. Who of your clients will continue working with you and who will need to drop out in order to take care of their business? What is the impact on your business?
  • Who are the potential clients out there right now who need your services and who are ready to start working with you? Revisit your Ideal Client profile and see if anything needs to be tweaked.
  • Create your aligned marketing lead generation pipeline that helps your ideal Clients find you and get clear on what are the benefits of working with you.

If you’d like some help with getting your creative juices flowing sign up for my workshop on April 20th on Lead generation with Aligned Marketing. You will get clear what is your Natural Marketing Style, what does your marketing foundation look like and will understand what it takes to put together a lead generation pipeline.

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Life coaching and marketing

What is stopping you from reaching your goals?

What is stopping you from reaching your goals?

I have just started my certification course with CTI – Coaches Training Institute. I have coached people over the two years after I finished with the CTI training in London. Yet reading the materials over again and discussing them with my certification Podmates, opens up new nuances and really reinforces the skills.

CTI teaches co-active life coaching. That might seem odd to people who have heard me preach about niche, that I go out and learn more about something so broad as life-coaching. I am not going against my own beliefs, though. What I am doing is deepening my learning around how to make change happen. When people come to me to get help in finding new clients and becoming a confident marketeer, what they really are looking for is changing what they are doing into something more productive.

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Refine your message to double the results

Refine and double

Refine your message

You might relate to that – I have spent countless hours on web copy and the refining the rest of my messages. It is different to describe things on paper or web versus when you actually speak to people. Also when you are having conversations – what is the emphasis of your message and what words you use becomes important. I started this business 2 years ago and I have been growing nicely so far. My message has been consistently about marketing plan and strategy. I have my speaking topics and my whitepaper on the Top Marketing Tips that I have used all that time. They have worked well for me. Usually I get some people raising their hands who want to talk to me from most events where my Ideal Clients are. What my hope for this year was the possibility to at least double the results that I had achieved so far from speaking.

About half a year ago, I started feeling that I need to refine my message. It no longer spoke to me the way it had when I started my business and I also felt the energy was not quite the same from the audience.

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Is there such a thing as a Marketing Style?

natural marketing style

Each flower is unique

That’s was one of the questions asked last week when I was presenting about the Top 7 Marketing Mistakes that Small Business Owners Make and How to Avoid them. In my presentation, I had said that many people feel that Marketing themselves feels somehow wrong, but the problem is not them or Marketing, but they are using a Marketing style that does not work for them.

Yes, we all have our individual styles – the most obvious that we notice is the clothes we choose to wear and the way we interact with others (or don’t). If you look at the news from different award shows this season, then you can see how sometimes the dress brings out the best of the person wearing it and sometimes it is just not right. We are all unique individuals and none of us do the same things exactly alike. You probably have noticed when someone is trying to imitate someone else and it feels fake or at least you think that this person is not

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Tips for prosperity in 2015

ProsperityWhat have you decided your new year is going to look like? Where would you like to be a year from today? I love this time of the year when everything is so new and everything is possible. People have decided to make the best of the new year and are putting their best foot forward. Yesterday, when we went snowshoeing with my husband, we had never seen such a large amount of vehicles parked in Bragg Creek – everyone had come to either ski or snowshoe and it was like someone had organised an event.

How to keep that freshness and determination to put your best foot forward throughout the year? When do we start giving up and waiting for this year to end to start again in the new one? Well, the last question is easy to answer – according to statistics, by 3rd week of January the majority of people have given up on fulfilling their new year resolutions. This is the 3rd week of January right now, so hopefully you haven’t given up yet. Here are some tips to keep going strong for the next 49 weeks and bring you prosperity in 2015: 

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Reflecting on results

There are just a few weeks left of 2014 and most of us have started looking back and thinking what has this year brought. Some of us are very happy with the results and others want to go back and fix some key points where things did not quite work out. The hardest part of reflecting on results is not judging ourselves. There’s always this nagging feeling, even if things go well, whether they could have gone even better. I know, I do that to myself on a regular basis. This nagger, even if not pleasant, has it’s purpose – it helps us learn from what we have done and put it into a good use later. At the same time, we do not want to get stuck in thinking that just because we could have done better, we have failed.

Looking at objectives that were set is part of reflecting on results. Identifying where our objectives were just wishful thinking, because we did not lay a foundation for making it happen. You plunged into a new venture without any idea how much time it is going to take?

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Marketing objectives 2015

Setting objectives sounds like hard work, doesn’t it? Some of you might remember a few objectives that you have set that you did not reach and what a loser you felt afterwards?

Yet, at the same time objectives are almost a necessary evil. How can you know whether you are able to go on that trip that Air Canada has cheap tickets for right now, if you are not able to plan your life ahead?

The key is not to use objectives as a way of beating yourself up and using them as a measuring stick of your own worth. All objectives including marketing ones, just help you clarify where you want to put your efforts into for this particular time period and get you to structure your life accordingly.

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Yoga and confident marketing

What is it that connects yoga and confident marketing? This is a question I had to answer just recently. When an organizer of a Meetup group asked me what could they do to bring more movement and play into their regular lecture type sessions, I blurted out – how about yoga and marketing? A week later, I was contacted and asked to put a session together.

When we brainstormed with my yoga teacher (Anton Edwards), we actually came out with quite many connections. We ended up focusing on finding confidence in yourself and unlocking your potential.

How does yoga help you find confidence in yourself?

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Putting emotions into marketing message

Recently I have been thinking how emotional marketing is really the key to more confident marketing. I hear too often, even from professional marketing people, that your marketing message is all about providing your client with statistics and case studies that your product is adding value. As if any client was a computer that makes only rational decisions?! Us, humans, usually go for what our heart longs for and then rationalize it for our head. Have you noticed when you really, really want something, you will always find the money and time for it?

Therefore price usually becomes an issue if the heart is not into the product or service under discussion. Emotions are what the really great brands evoke – the difference between truly memorable brands and the mediocre ones. 

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How to build your confidence?

Have you noticed how you tend to avoid things that seem a bit scary or unmanageable? I definitely do. Right now I am trying to avoid tasks that take a long time to execute. Yet I know that I need to start one day. If I don’t start I will never get where I want to be.

The same thing with confidence – it takes a desire to be more confident in something. My example is playing golf. When I first went to play with friends of mine, I did not know what to wear, how to behave or what is the etiquette. I was thinking to myself that it had been very unwise of me to agree to go in the first place and commit to wake up at 6am on a Saturday morning? What was I thinking! Since I am a person who does what I have promised, I got up and I went there. The whole way to the golf course my head was filled with the horrors of putting a foot wrong or doing something that I am not supposed to.

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What is confident marketing?

Confidence comes with practice some say – once you get better at something you’ll also become more confident. Others say that you are born with it – you either are confident or not. I believe in the first statement – you can practice things and become more confident, even if you start out being very insecure about doing something.

The same way with marketing  – you will immediately recognize a confident person when you enter the room – they have some kind of a quiet aura about them, they seem grounded and people seem to gravitate towards them.  I am not talking about this brash confidence when you are rude and loud – this is overconfidence, aggression even. The real confidence takes into account others and holds them as valuable and equal. Not better or worse but equal in their own powers and knowledge.

It is difficult to be confident if you are not sure what is expected of you or what you need to do in a situation. If you haven’t been marketing yourself, it would not be easy to just get out there and on with it. Even for the most confident people in their non-business life.

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How niche can help you be successful?

In my previous post on niche I spoke about how by choosing a niche you get to be more of you and attract the types of clients that want to work with you. There is obviously more to that than just showing up as you. One part of being successful in a niche depends on how well you know the needs and ambitions of your clients in that niche and how well your business is focused on them. Establishing yourself as an expert in a particular area is a lot easier than trying to be all things to all people.

What does it take to be successful in a niche? 

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Niche is being more who you are

When I looked up the definition of ‘niche’ in Merriam-Webster, I was positively surprised – it seems like a marketing person has written the definition:
niche is (1) a job, activity, etc., that is very suitable for someone
(2) the situation in which a business’s products or services can succeed by being sold to a particular kind or group of people
(3) an environment that has all the things that a particular plant or animal needs in order to live.
Today, I would like to talk about the first definition: a job, activity, etc. that is very suitable for someone. In spite of the many similarities that we may have with each other as human beings – gender, age, nationality, education, experience, etc. no two people are exactly the same. We are like the leaves on a tree that are completely unique.

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Ideal client – the benefits of focus

What if you let go of your fear that you have to work with anyone who is interested in your services or products and really defined who is you Ideal Client? Hit your ‘bull’s eye’ and get maximum points. Let’s look at the benefits of focus here:

– Choice of topics, tone and content when writing your blog, social media postings or newsletters becomes easy – you know what challenges your Ideal client has and what they want to read about.

– You recognize your Ideal client in networking meetings and you are prepared to talk about your offers in a way that draws them in and they want to know more.

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Filling the pipeline with Ideal clients

When I started Coaching by Ave Peetri Inc., I did not know anyone in Calgary. We had just arrived in Canada and I had made a decision to start my own company. Now 16 months later, I have no difficulties filling my business with my Ideal clients. When I analysed what I have done over the past year to get to this far, I came up with the following pointers to help you fill your pipeline:

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Learning from failure

I attended Calgary Chamber’s after hours event where I had a chance to listen to the two time winter Olympian Jessie Lumsden. As some of you know, at the Sochi Olympics he was part of the team whose bobsleigh crashed. He and the pilot did not suffer any injuries, so they could continue with other team-members, but their Olympic dream of winning a medal crashed together with the sleigh.

It was amazing to listen to Jessie speak about the determination to learn from the failure rather than let the ‘fog’ overcome him. Fog is something that descends on people when they have failed and they cannot seem to get out of it – keep crying about the tough luck and are unable to move forward. It hit home with me, because very often what I

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Lead generation

Lead generation might be considered by some people a sales tool  and not so much related to marketing. Yet, classify it as you may,  lead generation is effective only if you have thought through who is  your Ideal client and what is the message that you need to tell them  about your product or service. Lead generation is essentially the  generation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services  of a business. There are different methods of generating leads:  networking, internet and social media marketing, referrals from  existing customers, paid advertising, search engine results, etc. All of these methods generate quality leads only if you know your target audience and what they are looking for.

One of my clients had been very active with all kinds of lead generation activities: sending direct mail, email, internet marketing and she even hired a person to go and talk to the potential clients. She was very busy with no significant

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Are you everything to all people?

Black carAnother thing that struck me, when interviewing small business owners, was the number of people who had no idea who their customer is. I got answers like: ‘anyone with a wallet’, ‘anyone who needs my services’. It is obvious that we want people to pay for our services, but the question here is – who is this ‘anyone’? After a bit of probing I heard that this anyone is pretty much everyone, because we don’t want to exclude anyone. In fear of not including everyone, we end up not being relevant to anyone. (Pun intended!) Even Henry Ford, the forefather of automated assembly lines in car manufacturing,  who supposedly had said that you can have any car as long as it’s black, had to introduce different colours to please more people. So, if you sell the equivalent of a black car, then you have to find out who are these people who want to buy them.

What do I mean by ‘black car’? If you are in the business by yourself and you are selling a product or one or more services, you are selling a black car. Even if your product comes in different colours and your services are appealing to a large number of people. Let’s take accounting. Most people and all business need accounting. If you are an accountant, you can potentially serve anyone who has a business or needs help in personal taxes, right? Yes, if you were a machine and people buying services from you were as well. Then your personality, way of doing things and experience does not matter. But it does! People are looking for an accountant they can trust. Yet, some people end up trusting people who do not seem trustworthy to others. It does not mean that one does not do their job just as well as the other. People want to be understood and work with people whose behaviour they like.

Stop being all things to all people and write down the characteristics of your Ideal Client. Once you know who your Ideal Client is, it is much easier to find them in a networking event and spend time on building a relationship with them. It also becomes easier to talk to your web-designer about what kind of website you need or what kind of marketing materials are appropriate. You’ll end up working with people that you feel happy to help and will not have to force yourself to work for money only. You’ll also find that your clients are happier with you – because you understand them and can offer them what they need.

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Marketing Plan – why have one?

file8971249325114When I interviewed small business owners,  mainly in Calgary, and asked them what are the biggest marketing mistakes that they have experienced over the course of running their own company, not having a marketing plan was mentioned the most.

Very often when we begin a business, we think that let’s just see how it goes and then see what to do next. The logic for that is that we don’t know so many things anyway, so there is nothing to put in the plan. When I started my first consultation company, this is exactly what I thought. I had a lot of work initially and landed a large client that paid my bills nicely, but realized after 6 months that this is not what I get all excited about doing. I also understood that I do not really know what I wanted to do. I just wanted to have my own business and use my Marketing experience gained from working for large companies. I had not considered what services I would offer and what clients I feel moved to help, how and where I market myself. Since I did not find the experience of working on my own any different than working for another company, I ended up thinking that having my own company is not for me.

Next time I started a business it was no longer on my own, but with two other people, and one of them already was running a successful company. We started with a business plan, marketing plan, product development plan while constantly working on the product. That was the right thing to do. Even though we always did not agree on what the future might hold, at least we had discussions about it and established the best course of action based on what we knew at that time. All of us ended up selling our shares in the company in the end, but the sale could only happen because we had consciously developed the company and thus created some value to sell.

When I started Coaching by Ave Peetri Inc., I had learned from the past, but still decided to speed up the time to market and hired a business coach. She has been of tremendous help in getting my business set up and provided lots of support when I needed it the most. Most certainly one of the first things I have created is a business plan and then a Marketing plan, that I now follow and update on a regular basis.

In addition to helping me navigate the course of growing my company, the plan helps me stay motivated. I can see how much I have done already and I know that my goals are achievable. I might have to change some of the tactics, but that does not take me off course.

Learn more about what a Marketing plan should consist of when you sign up for my newsletter and receive the 7 Quick Marketing tips.

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Strengths and weaknesses

Strengths and weaknessesQuite often I have conversations with different business owners who are saying that they need to overcome their weaknesses and then they are able to market themselves better. I usually respond that let’s start with working with your strengths in marketing first. My firm belief is that everyone can be marketing themselves with good results if the will and the need is there.

Very often we have a belief about our strengths and weaknesses. Some of those beliefs have come to us over our lifetime of peers, bosses and parents. Others are even more general than that – I am good with math that means I must be crap at marketing. Or I am an IT person, what do I know about marketing? We might have failed at something once and then taken this as a sign that we are not good at that.

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