Freelancers: how to spend less time in crappy meetings

Do you feel frustrated at crappy, time-wasting meetings?

Here are three rules you can follow to make your meetings more actionable and less sucky:

Rule #1: Every meeting must have an agenda

If it doesn’t have an agenda, it isn’t a meeting.

Rule #2: Every meeting must have a meeting owner

If it doesn’t have a defined meeting owner, it isn’t a meeting.

Rule #3: The meeting owner should create the agenda

The meeting owner should spend at least as much time writing the agenda for the meeting as is scheduled for the meeting.

45-minute meeting? Spend 45-minutes working on the agenda.


If you follow these three rules, you’ll notice your meetings will be less sucky and more productive.

Excelsior!

Kai

V-P-C

Recognize the fact that your leads are human.

When someone buys something from you, they have a Value (V) in mind for the service they’re buying.

They decide to purchase your service because they perceive the Value (V) they’ll receive by purchasing as higher than the Price (P) you’re charging.

V > P

Your Price (P) for your service shouldn’t equal your Cost (C) for the service — your Price should be higher than your Cost.

Your Cost is what it costs you to perform the service.

– X hours to design a logo
– Y hours to take an app from concept to cloud _(internal proof of concept)_
– Z hours to run an outreach marketing campaign

Your Price (P) should be higher than your Cost (C).

P > C

Put that together, and you have

V > P > C

Or

Value (to the buyer) > Price (to the buyer) > Cost (for the seller)

Why is this important?

If you increase the value of your service, you should raise the price of your service. If you add a new deliverable or got better at some aspect of the service, the value has increased. Raise your rates.

If you’re looking to raise the price of your service, an easy way to accomplish that is to increase the value of your service.

Monetarysearch

A Marketing Professor told my class in college about how when he was starting up his marketing agency he had to pick between two cities:

  • He could set up shop in his hometown in Illinois where there would be no competition
  • He could set up shop in San Diego where there were 87 other marketing agencies

No brainer, right?

  • Pick “Hometown, Illinois”
  • Set up shop
  • Be the #1 marketing agency in town

Right?

Not quite.

Whenever you’re evaluating a target market, you want to pause to make sure your target market spends money. Ideally? You’re setting your business up next to a river of cash.

If your target market doesn’t spend money, then you do not want to work with that target market.

This should be part of your Market Research process: pause and confirm that your target market spends money on consultants.

Call this the “Monetarysearch.”

You want to focus on a target market that can afford you, and that spends money on consultants.

If your target market doesn’t spend money, doesn’t spend money on consultants, or can’t afford you, you want to pick a different target market.

In my Professor’s case, he ended up setting up business in San Diego.

The absence of any existing competitors in his hometown made him consider if there was enough demand to keep them in business.

Because he paused and did this Monetarysearch, he realized that the 87 competitors meant there was a tremendous amount of demand for marketing in San Diego.

He set up shop in San Diego and went into business. He didn’t need to be the best marketing agency out there, he just needed to be the 80th best or the 69th best.

How can you apply this to your own business?

Well, it works great as you’re thinking about and deciding between target markets or niches.

First, as part of your market research, do a bit of Monetarysearch. Check to see if your target market spends money. If so, what do they spend money on? Consultants? Like you?

Second, look for competitors that are already serving your target market. If you can find the competitors, that’s a good sign. That means that there is demand for the services you’ll be selling.

Third, reach out to — wait, nope, hold on, that’s a lesson from Get More Leads (https://kaidavis.com/leads/), releasing at the end of March.

Competition can mean you’re setting up business next to a river of cash. And that’s a good thing.

Excelsior!

Kai

“I want to be an influencer, Kai!”

The easiest way to become an influencer as a consultant is by picking a super small, niche market, becoming a ‘Consulting Niche Celebrity’ (https://kaidavis.com/becoming-a-consulting-niche-celebrity/), and then expanding over time.

First, what the hell is an influencer?

Google’s knowledge box tells me that an Influencer is:

Someone with an audience and who has the power to affect purchasing decisions because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience. Someone who has a following in a particular niche.

Think “Instagrammers with a big following” or “People with an email list you read regularly.” Things like that.

Becoming an influencer is an excellent goal for every single freelancer and consultant.

I’m a big fan of this approach. Becoming a ‘Consulting Niche Celebrity’ is the Top Tier™ of Marketing and Personal Branding for consultants.

Let’s say you’ve embraced the idea of Personality Powered Marketing/Influencer Marketing. You want to become an influencer.

The challenge?

The reason why I say do not focus on becoming an influencer in the short- or medium-term?

It’s all (ALL!) an audience/numbers game.

You’re an influencer when you have an audience and a platform.

No audience? You’re not an influencer.

To become an influencer, you need to focus on ‘stacking the bricks’ and building an audience (Ideally? An audience as a mailing list.)

Building a mailing list gives you an audience and a platform. It’s the long game (seriously: it is a long-game play)and it works (seriously: it works very well).

There are shortcuts. I’ve yet to see more than a handful that meets the requirements of the Project Design Tetrahedron:

  • Fast
  • Good
  • Cheap
  • Predictable Results

(Pick Three)

How can you efficiently move from freelancer to influencer? It takes time.

The best path I’ve seen from freelancer to influencer is this:

First, pick a specific target market (even if you’re iterating through different target markets over time) to focus your marketing.

Picking a target market is an exercise to make it easier for you to know what opportunities to focus on.

If you’re trying to reach Shopify Store Owners and you have an opportunity to reach WordPress Plugin Developers, you’ll know to say

> No, that is not a market I am looking to reach, thank you for the opportunity. I must pass at this time.

Then, start building your email list.

Work on growing your email list for the next 2-5+ years. Building your email list is now the central focus of your business.

We just had a great ‘Lunch and Learn’ presentation on going form 0 to 200 email subscribers for Freelance Camp community members. All presentations are saved and shared for new members to watch and dig into with a https://freelance.campmembership.

Then, Write. Write consistently.

Write in service of your current target market. Produce content. More content. Share your views on topics. Curate your thoughts from months of writing and discover where you have strong opinions.

Ship a small, initial, self-published book for your target market.

Essentially, a piece of 10x content (https://moz.com/blog/how-to-create-10x-content-whiteboard-friday) as a PDF book.

The goal is demonstrating that you a lot about this topic and are an authority vis a vis the book you wrote on this topic.

You goal isn’t to make money with this book. (Here’s a personal reference article of mine on how to ‘Write Your Book’ http://kaidavis.com/write-your-book).

Pause to congratulate yourself!

Congratulations! You’ve picked a target market, you’ve started building an email list, you’ve written content for your target market, you’ve discovered your strong opinions, and you’ve shipped your lean self-published book.

You are awesome.

Do a Podcast Tour

Use your email list, existing content, and book as leverage for why you’re relevant to be a guest on podcasts that your target market listens to. Do a podcast tour. Guest on 6-12+ podcasts. Grow your email list.

Rinse and repeat.

Each time you go through this cycle, you get more efficient and see the easy wins within it, and grow your audience. Even if your change target markets/niches, you get to take your content, authority, and email list with you. That’s a huge advantage.

Building an audience and becoming an influencer takes time.

Becoming an influencer as a consultant is very much doable as a medium- or long-term goal.

Picking a Super Narrow Target Market or Niche is a powerful additive when you have a goal of becoming an influencer.

Why?

It shrinks the size of the population you want to recognize you as an influencer.

Again, it’s a numbers game. When you pick a specific, narrow target market or niche you’re shrinking the size of the audience you need to grow.

Let’s say you want to be seen as as an authority in the Shopify Ecommerce space. There are 800,000+ Shopify stores.

That’s a ton.

Let’s say you decide you want to pick a narrow target market or niche to focus on.

Shopify Stores selling CBD Dog Treats to help Dog Anxiety.

Boom. Narrow niche. (And look at the Shopify stores in that niche that we can find with a quick Google search: https://www.google.com/searchq=”powered+by+shopify”+”cbd”+”dog+treats”).

If you pick a super narrow niche, you’re choosing a ‘smaller pool’ to become an influencer in. You’re going from 800,000+ potential clients and people you’re looking to reach to a much smaller sub-section of that target market.

Because this is a smaller target market, you can more easily become an influencer.

Then, iterate through similar, related target markets and build up your status as an influencer.

You started with “CBD Dog Treats to help Dog Anxiety.”

From there, maybe you go a little broader and say “I’m working with Shopify stores selling products to calm dog anxiety.”

(Hey, look at the Shopify stores we can find within that niche: https://www.google.com/search?q=”powered+by+shopify”+”dog+anxiety”+%28″medication”+OR+”relief”%29).

What do you do then?

  1. Write content.
  2. Get more traffic.
  3. Grow your email list.
  4. Create relationships with people in your target market
  5. Rinse, repeat.
  6. Chop wood, carry water.
  7. Play the long game.

Excelsior!

Kai

The Roadmapping Horror Story

They were a dream lead for my business.

We met and I told them the first steps of working together: a paid Roadmapping Session. We’d talk about their goals for their website, how they were dissatisfied with their current site, and what new features they wanted.

Payment awaited me at their office.

I was ecstatic. I’d sold a Roadmapping Session. I was making the move from Contractor to Consultant.

I get an email from them the day of the meeting. They were letting me know:

  • They needed to cancel the meeting
  • They had no cash on hand as a business
  • They would be unable to afford the roadmap and might be going out of business

I was (again!) ecstatic. Why? Because I hadn’t spent time writing a proposal only to then find out they couldn’t afford the project.

I saved hours of work by saying:

The first step in working together is a Roadmapping Session

Roadmapping Sessions protect you from what would otherwise be business horror stories.

I know too many freelancers who tell variations in jazz of the same story:

  • They found a great lead
  • The proposal was approved
  • Payments were set at milestones
  • …and then the client ghosts and the freelancer is left holding the bag

Save your time, energy, and attention for people who are paying you.

Roadmapping Sessions protect you from bad-fit leads, ghosting clients, and all manner of other client horror stories: https://kaidavis.com/roadmapping/

Excelsior!

Kai

About Your Homepage…

Here’s a quick exercise for you, my friend:

  1. Open up a new browser window
  2. In one tab, open your own website’s homepage
  3. In the other tab, open your own website’s about page
  4. Now, read each page in turn

(If you don’t have a website for your business, may I suggest [http://carrd.co]?)

Which page is more interesting to you, as a reader? Your homepage or your about page?

Which page better answers your questions, if you were a prospect? Your homepage or your about page?

Bonus points if you hit reply and share links to your homepage and about page with me.

Later this week: my grand hypothesis revealed! 

Excelsior!

Kai

The Curse of Greyface

I’m reminded of a story in the Principia Discordia revolving around a fictional figured named Greyface.

Greyface preached that we should preserve Serious Order and eradicate spontaneity (and even play) at any and all costs.

Greyface and his followers took the game of playing at life more seriously than they look life itself and were known even to destroy other living beings who ways of life differed from their own.

The Discordian “Curse of Greyface” refers to a psychological and spiritual imbalance that results from these beliefs

This imbalance causes frustration, and frustration causes fear. And fear makes for a bad trip. Humanity has been on a bad trip for a long time now.

Embrace the creative forces of order and disorder, my friend.

Further reading can be found:

Excelsior!

Kai

You’re not in the mind 🧠 reading business

Earlier this week I got this question

If I follow-up with a past client to see if they have any new projects they need help with, will I appear desperate or look like I’m offending them or wasting their time?

I have several things to say about this.

First, in my experience, it’s impossible to know what someone is thinking or feeling unless they tell you.

Until they tell you what they’re feeling, you’re only guessing. You aren’t in the mind reading business. (And if you are in the mind reading business, you’d be better off playing poker in Vegas than consulting).

What I do know is this: it’s far more important to spend your time writing better emails and sending more follow-up emails than worrying if you’ll come off as desperate by following-up with a past client.

I have never once worried about following up with a past client.

Why? Because we’ve already worked together and built a relationship.

When you show up in their inbox with a helpful follow-up email to stimulate a conversation, you’re reminding them

  • That you’re available to help
  • That you’ve helped them in the past
  • That you’re an expert and a trusted advisor

After all, they might be about to make the wrong decision in their business.

When you follow-up, you’re giving them the opportunity to ask their questions to an expert they trust.

When you follow-up, you’re providing value to the other party. You’re saying

Hey, how are you? Is there anything you need help with?

That’s what a consultant does. They reach out as a trusted advisor and ask their past clients

How are you? Do you need help with anything?

Take this information and do what you will.

If you want to learn my approach to following-up with past clients and bringing them back to life, then you want to order “Raise Your Clients From The Dead!”

Here’s what Kurt Elster, Senior Ecommerce Consultant at Ethercycle, has to say about “Raise Your Clients From The Dead!:

“I recommended your ‘RAISE YOUR CLIENTS FROM THE DEAD!’ book of necromancy to a coaching student. Same day he bought it, he got a client from 2 years ago to reply with three maintenance projects worth high four figures.” — Kurt Elster, Ecommerce Consultant, Ethercycle

Impressive return from a $25 purchase and the time it takes to send a few emails.

Order Raise Your Clients From The Dead! today for $25

Excelsior!

Kai

Get More Warm Leads With A Twist On This ‘Tried And True’ Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

It’s November 20th. Your inbox is about to be blown up with Black Friday deals, friend!

Take a page from the Ecommerce Playbook.

Offer your clients a discount on your services as a special for the holidays, Black Friday sale style.

Here’s the twist to help you make more money — that’s what you come to Uncle Kai for, isn’t it?

Use your ‘Black Friday’ or ‘Cyber Monday’ sale to promote (and sell) your future services.

When you send an email to your prospects (past clients, lost leads, current clients), offer them a discount on your future services at the start of the year.

Here’s How To Do This Today

  1. Make a list of your past clients
  2. Draft an email (jumping off template below) to them promoting your future services for sale today
  3. Customize your email for each person
  4. Send an email to each of them

That’s it. That’s what you do.

Step 1: Make a list of your past clients

Make a list of your past clients. You can do this with pen and paper or a spreadsheet.

Here’s a Thanksgiving gift for you: a spreadsheet you can use to make a list of your past clients. Make a copy here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wblczdkS8k515ZFmxudluJqpRrlirCPbMSAcKNDptfQ/copy

When you click a link, you’ll be prompted to make a copy. If you aren’t logged into your Google account, you’ll be asked to log in. (You can view and download the spreadsheet here)

Just fill out the ‘Green’ cells for this exercise.

(And after you make your list, make sure to check it once or twice)

Step 2: Draft Your Outreach Email

The most efficient way to draft a good outreach email is to:

  • Identify a good-fit sample prospect
  • Write an email to a prospect from your list
  • Take your email and then it into a template [MADLIBS] style
  • Personalize your email template for each of your prospects

This approach saves you the hard work of creating a fully custom email for each person you’re emailing and provides 80% of the benefits.

The second most efficient method?

Use this Customizable ‘Plug And Chug’ “Black Friday Consulting Special” Email Template as a jumping off point for your email. (Full credit to Kurt Elster for the inspiration for this email back in 2016)

Black Friday Outreach Email


Subject: [Black Friday Specials] Know anyone who might be interested?

Hi [Their Name],

Hope you’re staying sane and enjoying the start of the holiday season.

The one thing I know you don’t enjoy about the end to the year is thinking about all the work you’ll have to do on your business at the start of the year.

I’ve had several of my most successful clients come up with a clever way to tackle this problem.

How?

They made it my problem.

They pre-paid me for a portion or all of next year’s services now to guarantee that their business and projects were getting the time, attention, and care they deserved at the start of the year.

As an extra incentive, you’ll receive a 15% discount on all projects paid for before the New Year.

Eligible projects include:

  • [Project 1]
  • [Project 2]
  • [Project 3]

Know anyone who might be interested? If so, feel free to forward this email to them.

If you’re interested, you pick a time on my calendar here to talk so we can figure out a plan that works for you: [Calendly Link]

Happy holidays,

[Your Name]

Here’s that email as a Google Doc for you to copy:

Access This Template

Step 3: Customize & Send

For each project, take your email template and fill in the [Bolded Sections In Brackets].

  • Fill in [Their Name] with their first name from your spreadsheet
  • Fill in the [Project] with a description of the project you can help with
  • Fill in the [Calendly Link] with a link to your Calendly or schedule booking tool or choice
  • For [Your Name] fill in your name

For [Project]s, think “Drip Email Marketing Setup” or “Facebook Advertising Roadmap.” If you struggle with this step, then cut the “Eligible projects include” line along with the project bullets.

Dynamite. You have an easily reusable and customizable email you can send to people you identified.

Your Next Steps

  1. Make a list of up to 10 people (clients, lost leads, past prospects, colleagues) to email using the spreadsheet linked below
  2. Draft an email to them using the template linked below
  3. Customize your email for each person
  4. Send your customized email out to each person
  5. Here’s your spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wblczdkS8k515ZFmxudluJqpRrlirCPbMSAcKNDptfQ/copy/
  6. Here’s your ‘plug and chug’ [Black Friday Specials] email template:

Access This Template

Get to work, my friend.

Excelsior!

Kai

Becoming a “Consulting Niche Celebrity”

Do you want an unstoppable value proposition for your business?

A value proposition and a differentiator that none of your competitors (no matter how hard they try, how long they’ve been in the industry, or how much money they spend) can compete with?

Something that attracts prospects, warms your prospects, and converts prospects into clients and loyal, raving fans?

You want to become a Consulting Niche Celebrity

Why Become A “Consulting Niche Celebrity”?

When you’re a Consulting Niche Celebrity you’ve built up an amazing amount of proof that shows that you, your business, and your services are trusted, respected, and valued by clients in your target market to solve problems.

You:

  1. Pick a Target Market (Niche) — You want to pick a small, specific niche within an industry to target.

  2. Be Everywhere —You want to make it so prospects can’t help but run into you. This could look like content marketing (articles, testimonials, case studies), marketing campaigns (advertising, outreach, events, webinars), or personality based marketing campaigns (podcast hosting, podcast guesting, guest articles)

The more content you produce and share, the easier for prospects to come across your marketing.

When you’re working on becoming a Consulting Niche Celebrity, you’re investing in marketing that takes you from:

‘Who is this company I keep hearing about?’

to

‘I have to work with this company I keep hearing about!”

What Does It Take To Become A “Consulting Niche Celebrity”?

To be a consulting Niche Celebrity, you need to give the perception that you are everywhere.

That doesn’t mean you need to be everywhere. At once. Right now. That means you need to invest, over time, in marketing that gives you the appearance of being everywhere at once.

You want to make it so prospects, leads, and clients just can’t help but run into you and reasons to work with you:

  • Testimonials and case studies from happy customers, published on your site

  • Educational explainers on YouTube, showing off your knowledge and expertise

  • Testimonial videos on YouTube, sharing the highlights, features, outcomes, and benefits of working with you.

  • High ranking pages in Google, so when a customer is searching on a topic, you’re what they find

  • Podcasts, interviewing you or members of your team, sharing examples of problems you helped your clients overcame

  • Podcast Guest Interviews, with you, featured as the guest expert, sharing something informational, educational, or controversial with the listeners

  • Guest articles, published on established and new sites or in popular trade magazines that your target market reads

  • Quotes from you shared in articles online

When you add all of this up, you end up with uncountable proof that your services and business are the best choices for your clients.

How Do You Become A “Consulting Niche Celebrity”?

You develop uncountable proof that your services and business are the best options for your clients.

You do this by assembling your “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof.”

As you assemble your “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof,” you naturally become a celebrity in your niche.

When you have “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof,” you’re everywhere your customers are looking:

  • Websites

  • Magazines and trade publications

  • Social Media

  • Podcasts

  • YouTube

Everywhere.

Let’s take a look at an example:

  • You run into a problem with AWS, so you Google for an answer

  • You run into an article that gives you the start of an answer to your question

  • A few days later, you’re searching again, and this time you find a podcast interview talking about the problem you’re experiencing. Would you believe it? It’s the same person from the article you read!

  • A week later, you’re browsing Twitter and see a friend Tweeted out a video — and it’s from the same person that the Podcast Interview featured and that wrote the article.

They’re everywhere!

You’ve Just Experienced “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof”

When you’re developing your “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof” for your business, you’re creating online and offline artifacts — articles, interviews, PDFs, email campaigns — that capture your insight and expertise and let prospects find them.

When you have “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof,” you’re making it so your customers can’t help running into you and understanding reasons to work with you:

  • Testimonials and case studies from happy customers, published on your site

  • Educational explainers on YouTube, showing off your knowledge and expertise

  • Testimonial videos on YouTube, sharing the highlights, features, outcomes, and benefits of working with you.

  • High ranking pages in Google, so when a customer is searching on a topic, you’re what they find

  • Podcasts, interviewing you or members of your team, sharing examples of problems you helped your clients overcame

  • Podcast Guest Interviews, with you, featured as the guest expert, sharing something informational, educational, or controversial with the listeners

  • Guest articles, published on established and new sites or in popular trade magazines that your target market reads

  • Quotes from you shared in articles online

“Two Pounds of Marketing Proof.”

Why “Two Pounds?”

Ideally, it should make a ‘thud’ when you package it all up into a binder and drop it on a prospect’s desk.

To assemble your “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof,” you need to:

  1. Understand who, specifically, your target market is

  2. Research your target market and understand how to reach them

  3. Research your target market to understand what pains, problems, and questions they’re struggling with

  4. Start assembling your “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof” through diverse content marketing efforts, answering questions, sharing resources, and positioning yourself as a thought leader and authority

To know how to reach your target market, you want to research and understand:

  • What websites do buyers in your target market read?

  • What magazines and trade publications do they subscribe to?

  • Who do they follow on Social Media?

  • What Podcasts do they listen to?

  • What YouTube channels do they subscribe to?

The easiest way to reach your customers is to go where they already are. So as you assemble your “Two Pounds of Marketing Proof,” focus on going to where your customers already are and creating your “Marketing Proof” there. For example, if there’s a podcast your target market listens to, appear on the podcast as a guest (http://www.podcastoutreach.com).

That way, as you’re building up the proof that shows that you are the best option in the market, you’re also marketing your business to prospects in your target market.

Would you like to become a “Consulting Niche Celebrity”?

It starts with getting in touch (http://kaidavis.com/apply/) and letting me know you’re looking for help.

Excelsior!

Kai