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What Business Are You In?
by Irene Brooks

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend of mine. She was excitedly telling me all about the new coaching course that she had just developed and how awesome it was.

I patiently sat and listened to her.

I could see that she was really enthused about what she had just created. After she finished, I asked her, “That's great, now the real trick will be getting people to buy it.”

Her first reaction to my comment was, “What do you mean? Of course people are going to buy it. It's the best work I've done to date.” But as she pondered for a moment about my comment she realized that she had fallen into the age-old deadly small business mistake that most entrepreneurs fall prey to; forgetting the principle objective of her business.

I subtly reminded her that her principal occupation is NOT coaching; it's the MARKETING of her coaching services.

There is an old advertising quote that says, “Any fool can make soap, it takes a clever man to sell it.” This is as true today as when it was first uttered many years ago. Any Tom, Dick, and Harry can make a bar of soap. Even if it's the most advanced soap on the planet earth, it won't matter if no one buys it. Now, I’m not comparing my friend’s wonderful coaching coarse to soap, in fact her course is truly masterful… But the fact of the matter is, that it is exactly like soap.

There's a thousand great coaching courses out there…

…but it takes a clever person to sell it!

Failing to understand (or accept) this principle is so poisonous that it can kill any small business fast. You see, to make a small business successful you need cash flow. To get cash flow you need customers. To get customers you must sell your product or service.

You might be a plumbing wizard or a crack electrician, but so are the fifty other plumbers and electricians whose ad sits right next to yours in the yellow pages. No matter how great your technical skills are or how innovative your product is, your business will wither away and die like 80% of all small businesses if you can't sell it.

How Would You Do Things Differently If…

Let's suppose for a moment that you truly did internalize this critical principle. Suppose that you sincerely believed that your most important function was the marketing of your products and services. What would you do differently tomorrow morning?

- Would the contents of your daily to-do list change?

- Would you allocate and prioritize your time differently?

- Would you change the criteria and process with which you screen new partners?

- Would your training agenda change?

I would suggest that if you really believed deep down that your primary business objective (and number one goal) is to *market* your products and services, your to-do list, the way you allocate your time, your role in your company, and your personal training would be radically different than it is today.

Now that you know what your primary business objective is, what are your going to do about it?

Allow me to list out a few activities that I (and you should) consider “high value.” By high value, I mean activities that will generate you income so you’re no just spending time “piddling around” in your business.

- Creating (or developing) something unique in your product or service.

- Attending direct response marketing conferences / workshops / bootcamps.

- Meeting with your mastermind marketing group.

- Finding low cost targeted advertising opportunities and creating a plan to utilize this medium correctly. Hint – You cannot sell your services via advertising.

- Studying the marketing strategies of your competitors and other businesses outside of your industry.

- Networking with other owners and representatives of businesses that target your same market.

- Testing your advertising and marketing to improve your current response rates.

- Writing articles for trade journals, local newspapers, magazines, industry newsletters etc.

- Writing sales letters and managing your direct mail marketing campaigns.

Do you get the idea?

If you worked for a corporation, your Director of Marketing would perform those activities.

You must become the Director of Marketing!

That should be your new role in your business.

Why leave the absolute most critical part of your business to someone else?

I can hear you saying right now, “But I'm already doing all those things.” And my response is, “How much time are you devoting to those “high value” activities?” Do you need to hire a manager or assistant to relieve you of all your other duties so that you can focus exclusively on those activities that have the most impact on your business?

Brian Tracey, a famous author and speaker has said that, “To be really successful, you should stop doing any activity that wouldn't normally pay you what your worth.” For example, if you think you're worth $50 an hour, why would you be filing papers when someone else can do it for $8 an hour?

Becoming a Master of Direct Response Advertising

I often get e-mails from people asking, “Irene, I only have $1,000 to market my product. Where should I spend this money to get the highest return on my investment?” My response is always to invest it on your personal education. Nothing will bring you a greater return on your marketing dollar than your personal investment in becoming a master of direct response marketing.

I regularly spend thousands of dollars every year investing in books, tapes, CD's, workshops, conferences, videos and every other form of educational medium. In fact, as I have interviewed many successful business people I have consistently found one common trait. Each person had a passion and insatiable desire to learn and invest heavily in their own private education.

What Do Bill Gates and Oprah Have In Common?

Other than their own personal Fort Knox, Bill Gates and Oprah both have an insatiable desire to learn. Did you know that every year Bill Gates goes away for a week with a suitcase full of books just to read. If Bill can find time to do it so can you.

Oprah is famous for her “book of the month club.” Do you have a reading list and if so what is on it?

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a small business owner is to be fooled into thinking that you are in the business of producing and delivering products and services. Wrong! You're in the business of *marketing* products and services. The faster you realize this, the faster the cash will flow.

I've always said, good marketing can make up for a bundle of operational sins (just ask Microsoft). Marketing IS your business, not just part of it. Become an expert in direct response marketing by investing heavily in your own education. Reevaluate how you are managing your business by asking yourself some of the questions that I've mentioned.

What I've shared with you may require a new paradigm shift. But if you want to not only survive, but also be a super-success, you must make the shift.

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Irene Brooks is a Professional Life and Business Coach, speaker, writer and marketing consultant who specializes in helping small business owners and entrepreneurs to quickly and easily generate a constant stream of customers without wasting time and money on ineffective marketing techniques. She has successfully built two businesses of her own via traditional, internet and non-traditional marketing techniques.  Visit her website at

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