Michael Port begins his book practically: "[T:]here may be two simple reasons why you don't serve as many clients as you'd to today. You either don't...moreMichael Port begins his book practically: "[T:]here may be two simple reasons why you don't serve as many clients as you'd to today. You either don't know what to do to attract and secure more clients or you know what to do but you're not actually doing it" (p. xxvii).
In the pages that follow, he unpacks his "Booked Solid System" to which he ascribes the power to solve both of those stated problems.
Contrasting "old school" and "new school" marketing methods, he writes, "[Many:] have come to believe that marketing and selling is pushy and self-centered and borders on sleazy ... You must never fall into the typical client-snagging mentality. If you do, you'll operate in a mentality of scarcity and shame as opposed to one of abundance and integrity" (p. xxix).
Questions to ask yourself: How can I be fully self-expressed in my work to create meaning for me and those whom I serve? How can I work only in the areas of my greatest strengths and talents so that I can shine? How many relationships with people of purpose did I make and deepen? How can I better listen to and serve my ideal clients? How can I wow people with substance? How can I overdeliver on my promises to my clients? How can I cooperate with other professionals to create more abundance?
Port's claim is a large one: "If you keep asking yourself these questions, if you set a solid foundation for your business, build trust and credibility within your marketplace, and use the seven core self-promotion strategies [offered later in the book:], you'll be booked solid in no time" (p. xxx).
His layout of information consists of 3 modules: Your Foundation, Building Trust and Credibility, and The Seven Core Self-Promotion Strategies.
Each of the modules has something worthy to note, but I found module 1 to be the most informative and helpful - especially chapter 2: "Why People Buy What You're Selling."
He counsels, "Marketing and sales isn't about trying to convince, coerce, or manipulate people into buying your services. It's about putting yourself out in front of, and offering your services to, those whom you are meant to serve - people already looking for your services" (p. 17).
Those who are already looking for your services are those who should make up your target market. It's in this section where Port shines. He says, "Your target market's urgent needs [the things they would like to move away from:] and compelling desires [the things that they would like to move toward:] prompt them to go in search of you and your services ... You must offer what your potential clients want to buy, not you want to sell or think they should want to buy" (p. 22).
What will cause someone to purchase the service that you are selling? " [I:]f your potential clients are going to purchase your service and products, they must see them as investable opportunities; they must feel that the return they receive is greater than the investment they made. ... This return will come in different forms, depending on what you offer, but the return is almost always financial or [24:] emotional. ... Rather than talking about what you do, focus instead on clear, specific, and detailed solutions that solve your clients' problems" (pp. 23-24).
The next biggest issue that Port addresses is how we talk about what we do - commonly referred to as "The Elevator Speech." This is important because, in Port's words, "A primary reason that many service professionals fail to build thriving businesses is that they struggle to articulate - in a clear and compelling way - exactly what solutions and benefits they offer" (p. 47). Port offers guidance and examples for a long version, a mid-length version, and a short version by mixing and matching your answers to some exercises that you've already worked through. Those exercises include: Summarizing your target market in one sentence, identifying the three most critical problems faced by that market, telling how you solve these problems (the more unique the better), mentioning the most dramatic ("Wow!") results that your clients have experienced, and including the benefits your clients receive" (see p. 51).
This wisdom alone is worth the price of the book. The rest is just bonus as far as I'm concerned!(less)
In Leading Change, Kotter laid out the 8 stages of how to lead change. The connection between this book, A Sense of Urgency, and that book is that the...moreIn Leading Change, Kotter laid out the 8 stages of how to lead change. The connection between this book, A Sense of Urgency, and that book is that the first stage in the change process is, "Establishing a sense of urgency."
Establishing this sense of urgency - which Kotter defines as, "a gut-level determination to move and win, now" - is important enough to warrant a book all on its own because change efforts most often fail because change leaders "did not create a high enough sense of urgency among enough people to set the stage for making a challenging leap in some new direction" (p. viii).
The challenges to true urgency are complacency and false urgency. Kotter observes that "Complacency is almost always the product of success or perceived success" (p. 20). And the success doesn't even need to have been achieved recently. "An organization's many years of prosperity could have ended a decade ago, and yet the complacency created by that prosperity can live on, often because the people involved don't see it" (p. ix). The complacency remains mostly because "the complacent do not alertly look for new opportunities or hazards facing their organizations" (p. 21).
While complacency is demonstrated by acceptance of the status quo, false urgency is seen in the frenzy of activity that keeps busy with activities of low-importance. "With a false sense of urgency, the action is much more activity than productivity. It is frenetic. It is more mindless running to protect themselves or attack others than purposive focus on critical opportunities" (p. 25).
Ultimately, Kotter wants readers to recognize that "both the business-as-usual behavior associated with complacency and the running-in-circles behavior associated with a false sense of urgency are increasingly dangerous" (p. 7).
His term "increasingly dangerous" stands out to me. Either of these two mindsets have the potential to kill your organization. They are deadly. That simple acknowledgment, alone, can increase your urgency. If we don't act, and act in high-impact ways on high-importance projects/tasks, then there will be no future for us.
After explaining what true urgency is not, Kotter begins to unpack what it is and how to create it. He says, "The winning strategy combines analytically sound, ambitious, but logical goals with methods that help people experience new, often very ambitious goals, as exciting, meaningful, and uplifting - creating a deeply felt determination to move, make it happen, and win, now" (p. 47).
He offers four tactics, which serve to elaborate on the "methods" he mentioned in the quote above. Those tactics are: 1) Bring the Outside In. 2) Behave with Urgency Every Day. 3) Find Opportunities in Crises. 4) Deal with the NoNos.
Each of these tactics are matched with case studies that illustrate their importance, as well as practical suggestions (and cautions) for how to use them well.
In the end, Kotter counsels a kind of "urgent patience." With this term, he means to suggest, "acting each day with a sense of urgency but having a realistic view of time" (p. 118).
I recommend this book for anyone who is involved in the hard work of leading change. Change takes time, but if you create a true sense of urgency at the start then the time it takes and the challenges you face will be significantly less than if you don't.(less)
Michael Port and Elizabeth Marshall team up to share insights into typical sales tactics and they skillfully illustrate why the old school ways are no...moreMichael Port and Elizabeth Marshall team up to share insights into typical sales tactics and they skillfully illustrate why the old school ways are not necessarily the best approach.
The typical old sales tactics we're all familiar with no longer work. Cold calling gets you nowhere, door-to-door selling is a nonstarter, and today's consumers are too savvy for most traditional scripts and closing techniques. New technology and instant communication have put customers firmly in control of the sales process. They don't answer calls from unknown numbers; they demand honesty and transparency in the sales process; they are well informed about your product before they deal with you; and they have no patience for pressure tactics like closing questions. No wonder traditional sales methods no longer work.They demand more. They expect more and they deserve more than a stale sales pitch and antiquated, canned attempts at "the close".
The new marketing model is all about relationships and meeting the ever demanding expectations of today's consumer.
Two of the most important tips I hope readers take to heart are: 1) Identify and target specific groups of individuals rather than the mass market.
This may seem like a no-brainer to most contrarians but I am amazed to hear people today say "I want to speak to those who are even remotely interested in my product or service." This broad approach to marketing, advertising and sales is not cost effective. With this approach the messages created are often watered down and don't connect with people who may actually want what you're selling. Why don't more people understand the narrower the target the more qualified the consumer and coincidentally the more likely people are to buy from you?
2) Collaborate with strategic partners who share the same target market.
Collaboration is the key to your success on the new business playing field. Gone are the days of bitter competition, back biting sales strategies and unauthentic attempts to make the sale. These out of date techniques hinder rather than help both sales and the economy. Odd as it may seem there is more than enough business to go around. In fact, I regularly collaborate with other professional copywriters. We have a referral network and we send business to each other based on our specialties and who we like to work with. It's a win-win situation.
Another vital component to being a contrarian is following the Contrarian Primer. Port and Marshall created a list of 9 fundamental contrarian traits (this chapter alone is well worth the small investment in the book). I'll list them here but please note the book elaborates in the importance of each.
1. Build relationships and make connections 2. Respect your customers and honor their wishes 3. Target specific groups of individuals and the people with whom you do your best work 4. Make relevant and timely offers 5. Increase your likability factor 6. Practice radical transparency 7. Establish yourself as a trusted advisor 8. Collaborate with strategic partners to leverage your efforts 9. Think bigger about who you are and what you offer your clients (less)
Collins has a knack for distilling enormous amounts of data into memorable concepts that can be applied across many sectors. In this book, he explains...moreCollins has a knack for distilling enormous amounts of data into memorable concepts that can be applied across many sectors. In this book, he explains that companies don't simply go from thriving, prosperous, and successful one day to irrelevant, bankrupt, and obsolete the next. They slip; they abandon successful practices and avoid rigorous strategic thinking. It happens in stages over a period of time.
Collins identifies 5 stages that precede a fall: 1) Hubris Born of Success 2) Undisciplined Pursuit of More 3) Denial of Risk and Peril 4) Grasping for Salvation 5) Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
If your organization finds itself at any of these stages, you should know that all hope isn't lost. Collins offers a few insights along the way that, if applied by the right person in the right way at the right time, can patch the hole, keep the ship afloat, and get it back on course.(less)
Talent + Skills + Community = Results. This book is a decent read if you're on an airplane because it's not very in-depth and it's short enough to fin...moreTalent + Skills + Community = Results. This book is a decent read if you're on an airplane because it's not very in-depth and it's short enough to finish before you land.(less)
good insight (especially on level 5 leadership which probably warrants another book itself) if you're in an organization that's already "good" and try...moregood insight (especially on level 5 leadership which probably warrants another book itself) if you're in an organization that's already "good" and trying to leap into "great." most people should probably start with "built to last" before they assume they're good and ready to tackle greatness. (less)
The fable moves along with some pretty choppy dialogue, but as an introduction to leadership, the concepts that are highlighted in the SERVE model are...moreThe fable moves along with some pretty choppy dialogue, but as an introduction to leadership, the concepts that are highlighted in the SERVE model are top-notch. (less)