By Robert Middleton - Action Plan Marketing
For many people, the idea of "high-end marketing" or "high-end clients" simply means setting the prices for your current services higher. In fact that's what people always used to tell me: "Robert, you've got to raise your prices."
But for some reason, I just couldn't get it. I couldn't make that work for me.
Over the years I've discovered that high-end marketing is much more complex, and today I'd like to make some of that complexity a little simpler so that attracting high-end clients becomes more approachable for you as well.
I use an acronym that I think is useful: "HEOB" - High-End, Outcome-Based services and programs. This means that you focus on developing services and programs that are higher-end and that also deliver a tangible outcome. You've got to have both.
Another way of looking at it is that you shift your focus from pricing to value. You work at developing new services and programs that have substantially more value than the services and programs you've been offering up to now.
There are many ways to package such services but I'd like to focus on three that I've worked with the most and have seen the best results with my clients.
I call them the Patrick Summar, Kendalll Summerhawk and Alan Weiss models. They are all very different except that they are all versions of HEOBs, that is programs and services that deliver very high value.
Patrick Summar is a close friend of mine whom I've helped with his business and marketing over the years. Patrick is a business coach who primarily works with business owners who want to take their business to the next level while still having a life.
Here are some of the elements of Patrick's model:
1. He works with clients who can justify a much higher fee. Patrick charges his clients about $2500 per month (for weekly meetings) and at any time is only working with six to eight clients.
2. He puts a big premium on service. For every hour he works with a client he puts in an hour of preparation. Part of that time is studying the client's "pre-call report" that the client sends in before every session with Patrick.
3. The pre-call report is central to the success of Patrick's clients. It forces them to look at what's working and not working, issues they need to focus on and opportunities they want to pursue. It also provides data for Patrick about how his clients are progressing.
4. Patrick does a quarterly review of his clients' progress to see how they are doing overall and to validate the value of the coaching. By pointing out where the client was three months ago and where they are now, the client sees how far they have come and almost always wants to continue working with Patrick.
5. Patrick doesn't require long-term contracts. He only ask that they make a three-month commitment at a time (and he doesn't even enforce this). Patrick's clients want to stay with him because he is helping them produce the results that justify his fee.
6. Patrick's marketing activity is mostly networking. He is currently working on other marketing approaches but I've been impressed that he can generate a multiple six-figure income mostly by referrals.
The next Model was inspired by Kendall Sumerhawk. Kendall offers a variety of high-end programs for small business owners. Her big focus is on group programs. This is the model closest to how I work and the Marketing Mastery Program is very close to her model.
Here are some of the elements of Kendall's and my model.
1. The key concept is to offer a "high-level group program" that really immerses the clients in your work. This means a long-term program (often a year) that includes workshops, conference calls, study materials, individual coaching and email feedback.
2. The aim of all these programs is for the business owner to master a certain body of knowledge and set of skills that will make a measurable impact on their life and business.
3. It's important to point out that individual workshops are neither a viable business model nor an effective medium for instilling long-term change. It takes time and work to change. This kind of program is very successful in producing the ultimate results a client is looking for.
4. Reporting, tracking and other systems, such as Patrick uses, are also key elements in high-end group programs. Individual attention, coaching, and feedback are essential. Programs that are "information only" simply don't get the job done.
5. Leveraging the contribution of others is also highly recommended. Creating a Google Group or other interactive communication system is key. Putting people into small mastermind groups, setting up sub-groups to work on projects and doing everything possible to encourage "cross-pollination" makes a big difference in increasing participant commitment.
6. In my experience, online marketing, teleclasses and live presentations are the most effective marketing vehicles for high-end group programs. One of my most effective practices is to have people apply from my programs. I only want participants who have very big goals and a willingness to play 100%.
The next model, inspired by Alan Weiss and outlined in his book "Million Dollar Consulting," is best for offering in-house services and programs to small, medium, and large companies. No matter what model you use, I highly recommend his book.
Here are some elements of Alan's model:
1. Above all, you need to remember that you are offering a solution, not a process. Processes (such as training, coaching and consulting) become commodities and push the price down. Solutions, on the other hand, deliver measurable results and command a premium price.
2. HEOB services and programs, can include many modalities. Several of the participants in the Marketing Mastery Program, for instance, offer a combination of assessments, training, consulting and coaching. The synergy of utilizing several of them together will accelerate client results.
3. You want to design an HEOB program or programs, with the understanding that some customization will also be required. Companies want programs that are made for them exclusively. However by assembling various existing modalities one can create high-impact programs with relative ease.
4. The challenge in offering such programs is getting past a company's request to "just do a two-day leadership program" or offer "a couple months of management coaching" to an executive who is underperforming. The question is, will such an approach really produce a result or merely "fit their current budget"?
5. It pays to be picky about the companies you work with. You may need to spend considerable time in selling conversations. One best practice is to partner with the client to build the proposal so that you stay on the same page. Only add a price tag when you are in complete alignment.
6. Marketing to companies usually requires networking, publishing articles and perhaps books (Alan has written over 25!), and my personal favorite, speaking engagements. All of these marketing activities highlight you as an infoguru or expert in your field.
In the Marketing Mastery Program we work with self-employed professionals on the model appropriate to their business. No one size fits all and we work on developing unique HEOB programs and marketing plans that consistently attracts their ideal clients.
To learn more about these High-End Marketing Models please attend my TeleClass on Thursday the 16th titled: "What's Working to Attract High-End Clients Right Now"
You can make your reservation at this link:
The More Clients Bottom Line: There is more than one kind of high-end program, however, almost all professionals can succeed at developing an HEOB that is a good fit for their experience, skills and preferred clients. But yes, it takes a fair amount of work and guidance. However, if you want to make or exceed a six-figure income, this is the path you need to follow.
Are you currently offering some kind of HEOB program? What's your model? Please share your answer on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the Comments link below.