Essential Business Tools for Today
It’s been 10 years since I started my business and the tools available now were not even thought of then. My business has evolved too and looks completely different now. If I had to start again now, then I would do things differently. Here’s an article that explains what 3 essential business tools I would have and why.
Primary Focus – 121
First of all, my primary focus would be to try and get 2-3 one on one clients paying for my highest priced package and alongside that I would building up a list of potential clients interested in what I do.
Why? It takes the same amount of marketing effort to gain 1 client regardless of how much the price tag is. And that includes getting prospects browsing your website to actually sign up for a free report. To get paying clients you have email and real conversations whether you’re trying to sell 121 coaching/consultancy or group programmes. The difference is it’s not essential to have a website to sell 121 packages. A conversation with 20 people that results in 2 or 3 clients is more achievable and less overwhelming than the prospect of having to speak to 100 people to get 10 people signed up to a group programme.
Group programmes require a lot more setting up, whether they’re face to face (where you’ll need a venue, catering etc) or online (where you’ll need online payment systems, autoresponders and online delivery methods). It’s all money up front before you’ve even sold your first place.
So it makes sense that the time to sell programmes is after you’ve got some paid clients behind you (which means you’ll have testimonials and feedback) AND some money to invest in a website and further marketing for your group programmes. You’ll also have more marketing information about what attracted those paid clients to you which you can then use in your marketing messages for your website, social media and email campaigns.
The 3 essential business tools
- LessAnnoyingCRM.com This is a really cool online CRM tool. Yes, you could save money and use pieces of paper to track what’s going on with each prospect, but given that a lot of communications happen online by email as well as phone, having it online makes it easy to keep updated and be reminded.The reason I really like LACRM is you can record all your contacts’ details, including conversations you have with them and set yourself a reminder to follow up which gets emailed to you as a to do task list. What’s really cool is you can bcc a copy of any email communications and it will automatically assign it to the relevant contact so you have all the communications with that prospect in one place, making it quick to review before making that follow up call to them. You can also set up tags and lists so you can easily identify how many prospects you’ve got in your pipeline and what stage they’re at (e.g. not ready yet, hot, won, lost etc).The best thing is its price tag – just $10 per month.
- Acuity Scheduling This online tool can let you set up an appointment scheduling page that’s linked to your live Google Calendar so that it only offers available appointments. You can block of times that you’re never available (because you’re working with clients for example) or the converse, block times that you’re available to speak to prospects which could be different to clients. Best of all, you don’t need a website to host the scheduling page. You can customise the scheduling page to have your logo and colours. It saves a huge amount of agro and to’ing and fro’ing trying to get people in your diary and the problem of when they finally get back to you accepting one of your free times only to discover that time is no longer available. Plus it makes you look serious and professional.The best thing I like about Acuity Scheduling is that you can set up paid packages. So if you sell coaching packages, part of booking a time with you is paying for the package and Acuiy takes care of the payment side as well so no need to wait for old-fashioned cheques (that might bounce) or online bank transfers. Plus you can take credit cards!Cost is just a measly $10 per month (plus Paypal fees if you are using it to sell programmes)
- Constant Contact I mentioned earlier that I would focus on two things – getting high end 121 clients and building a list that I could email to and this is the tool I would use to do that. It’s possible to use free tools like Madmimi and Mailchimp, however, they have their limitations and shortcomings that you’d soon outgrow them, particularly when you’re ready to sell group programmes.You can create a sign up form that doesn’t need a website to host it, which is quite important if you’re starting on a shoestring and don’t yet have the funds to have a website where you can embed a form. Another important thing you can’t do with the free plans is create an autoresponder – a series of nurturing emails that get triggered automatically after someone signs up.Other features that CTCT has the others don’t, are survey and registration tools. So, when I’m ready to launch a programme, I can run a programme that doesn’t need a website. Payment is handled by CTCT, they then automatically get plugged into the autoresponder which delivers the course content (be it videos, handouts or whatever), which could be all in one hit or dripped out over a period of time.The survey tool is great for collecting valuable feedback which gives you more material for content of newsletters, programmes and marketing messages. And the best thing is it’s all kept in one place, so no need to export and import contacts from the alternative survey and registration tools. Constant Contact starts at £15+VAT per month for just basic email and £30+VAT to include the autoresponder, survey and registration tools (and social campaigns – I haven’t even told you about that one!).You can have a free 60 day trial by signing up here. Have a look also at my how-to video showing you how to set up your newsletter.
So there you have it. Notice that website isn’t there. That’s because when you’re starting out, a website is probably going to be the biggest investment you make. You can expect to pay anything from £2k upwards if you pay someone to do it (or many months of your time if you go the DIY route, so you want to make sure you’ve got the content, audience, message, pain points right. And you won’t really know that you’ve got it right until you start working with real live clients. When you start working with live clients what you thought were their pain points actually might be something you hadn’t thought of because it was too obvious to you!