First, let’s get some things straight:
Branding is the image people have in their minds when they think of your company. Your branding flows from your mission statement. In many ways, I am like an attorney. People call me to get accurate advice, so my branding portrays professionalism, experience and accurate advice based on knowledge and experience.
Marketing is the activity of educating potential clients about your goods and services. I market by writing this blog, writing lots of articles on business, attending networking events, serving as a judge or mentor at venture development events such as Startup Weekends, and giving classes and seminars.
Advertising is the way you get your name and value proposition out to a general or targeted group of people, some of whom might be potential customers. Advertising reflects your brand and can educate, but it is mostly a waving flag that lets people know you exist and where to find you. It also announces your promotions and presents a call to action. I don’t usually advertise in the traditional way because it tends to result in resumes from job hunters rather than calls from potential clients. My articles and blogs serve as my advertising.
Sales is the pitch delivered person-to-person that is designed to convert the potential customer into an actual customer. In a professional service business, sales must be educational and focus on the value proposition. The potential client wants to know what they will get if they plunk down money. When selling a product, sales positions the product as solving the customer’s need or desire in some way.
Re-inventing your brand
I have previously branded aBusinessPlan.com as a startup consultancy that takes its clients from idea to IPO. I have marketed it as a hands-on service that works closely with the entrepreneur to refine the business idea, create the business model, revenue model, marketing model and build-out plan. I have pitched its services on a project basis.
In re-inventing my business, I expect to be changing the name and logo to be more evocative of entrepreneur coaching and I will be pitching my services as hour-long appointments. So far, this seems to be a good idea.
How it works
I have had a number of inquiries since I started this project, which tells me I am doing the right thing. I inform people of the following schedule:
- Make an appointment
- Send me a list of questions you would like covered, so I have time to do any research needed
- I send you an Invoice from PayPal or for a wire to my bank
- You pay the invoice
- We talk
So far everyone seems to like this. Now all I have to do is find the time to work on my new logo and website!
In the meantime, I can still be reached at email@example.com where I will continue to do projects. However, it appears that coaching is hitting a niche that people are responding to with interest.
Funny how just a few tweaks can make all the difference in the world …