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A 10-step exercise for services professionals to evaluate

Fly fishing -- it doesn't work, does it? When I first
watched someone fly-fishing, they released the line and
fling it far out into the water. No sooner had the fly hit
the water was it being reeled back in. Even today, I still
don't understand how this method catches any fish. Yet it
does. The results had an opportunity to occur because
the line was pitched.

Fly fishing looks like so much more work compared to the
worm, bobber, sitting on a camp chair, day dreaming, an
occasional inconsequential conversation, sipping on a beer
(okay root beer for family friendliness), relaxing and
waiting for the bite. The energy is more comfortable yet
the results less active -- maybe, maybe not.

If you talk to a fly-fisherman, they claim there isn't
anything better. And the same is uttered from a by-the-seat-
of-the-pants fisherman as well (cute description huh?).

Doesn't this sound like one marketing pitted against the

What makes the two different? Technique? Yes. Water type
-- salt or fresh? Yes. Type of fish? Yes. Equipment?
Yes. Supplies? Yes. Or is it the bait? Yes.

The right answer is "all of the above."

You can also throw in the temperature, weather, and time of
day. Everything depends on the right combination in the
right order. You don't want to toss out the fly before the
line. Well, I guess you can. But you miz-as-well kiss it

Or as my Grandmother used to say: Don't throw out the
bath water before the bath.

Marketing is not any different than fishing. If you are
tossing out the wrong hook to the right fish, they are not
going to bite. If you have the right fish and hook, and the
wrong technique, maybe a prayer or two will work. The
results might trickle now and then. Yet, not the results you

This is why marketing experts emphasize the importance of
knowing your target market. If you don't know who you are
trying to catch, you are forever going to be trying
different lures, hooks and techniques. Eventually, wearing
you down and keeping you chasing the next best thing to come
along that just might work.

You can't catch flounder in fresh water or blue gill in salt.

Stop throwing out the fly without the line. Start knowing
what bait they like to eat, what line spooks them, what is
their timing for buying, and especially what type of fish.

Start with this exercise for service professionals:

Start the exercise by hand to get the "feel" of it. Then
move the process into a spreadsheet to continue its growth
and your clarity.

Step 1: Grab a blank sheet of paper. Turn the page sideways --

Step 2: You are going to making many vertical columns so write

On the left, create the first column. Record the name of
each one of your clients that you remember off the top of your
head. Keep it simple and write just the name you remember. It
could be just their first name, company name, or a nickname or
label you privately gave them. Don't be kind be truthful.

Step 3: Second column, title it "M/F." You guessed it, "male
or female." Now, proceed down the column and write the

Step 4: Third column, title "M/S/D/U"=married, single, divorced,
unknown. Continue down the column.

Step 5: Continue making columns for additional categories
you know about your clients. Create a column for age or age
group. Location, US, UK, Australia. If all the same, skip
the column. Number of children. How long a client. Total
revenue for the past year. Service type. How did they find

Step 6: Add new distinctions and details over the next few
days or week as you remember. Set aside the first five
minutes of the day to add to the list or as you remember.

Step 7: If you find some information missing, contact the
client or past client and ask.

Step 8: Look for similarities, for instance, 90% males, single,
or divorced. Some of these patterns are going to be obvious
and some aren't.

Step 9: Place a "*" or highlight your ideal client or clients.

Many times, and without knowing it, because you are just glad
for the business, the fish pick you.

Step 10: If you couldn't find "the ideal client" then for
some reason you aren't attracting them. There are some
things you need to change, either inside yourself or out,
probably both. Find the gap between the two? What do you
need to do or be differently in order to attract the
preferred type of clients?

Describe the type of ideal client you want. Place as much
detail to them as possible, including revenue. What do they
want that you aren't expressing you have? What do they want
that you don't have and need to change?

At some point during this process you will want to convert
this to a spreadsheet for ease of use. Start when the information
feels it needs too.

This isn't a requirement, you may want to stop as soon as
you see that you aren't expressing what the client is
willing to buy or some characteristics or type of service
you don't provide that the client must have in order to do
business with you. If this is the case, you can stop here
and work on what needs to shift or change.

Feeling some reluctance in taking the time to do so? You
will not be the first.

Jim, an insurance agent from Arizona, sent me an e-mail
after his attendance on a teleclasses with this exercise.

"Darn, Catherine, you're good. The exercise ate at me all
night. I gave in and did the exercise this morning, even
though last night I was convinced that I already knew all
the answers. Today, I discovered major holes in my
marketing. Just by closing one of these holes today sales
increased. I look forward to continuing the exercise.
Thank you for your patient e-mail and letting me move
through my denial and seeing that thinking its all in my
head and writing it down is two different things."

This exercise deserves repeating regularly. You can use
the results of this exercise as a measurement when reviewing
your yearly goals. Or comparing one year to another.

For first year businesses, I recommend completing this
exercise once every three months. After the first year,
shift to twice a year. After three, once a year. Or
before and after a new service or product is introduced.

About the Author

Catherine Franz, a Certified Professional Coach, specializes
in infoproduct development. Newsletters and additional
articles available: http://www.abundancecenter.com
blog: http://abundance.blogs.com/inthelight


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