This project starts with a business writing coaching company.
A few weeks ago I took action on an idea that I have been
incubating for years. Not a new idea, nothing revolutionary, but simply finding
a way to help fellow business owners with challenges they face in selling
It is called Sales Rescue Team and I’m going summarize our
efforts here each week. The idea is this: convene an informal, online panel of
experts willing to donate their time to help a fellow biz owner. I have full
details here about how we’re going to Change
the World, as my friend Guy Kawasaki likes to say.
Our first mission is for Dr. Julie Miller and her company, Business Writing That Counts.
She has a successful business offering writing improvement workshops and seminars
for financial institutions, engineering, lawyers (and legal firms) and accounting firms (she certainly
serves other companies, too, but these niches were ones we focused on).
Business Writing That Counts and Julie Miller’s newest effort is to find a way to chunk those
courses into smaller modules and allow existing and new clients to purchase and
do them online. I should point out that her major differentiator (as there are
lots of eLearning players) is that she has a very 1:1 approach – you get actual
feedback and suggestions from a coach. Not canned feedback – a real person
(imagine that) reads your work, makes valuable suggestions, and helps you
So, what’s the challenge? Finding new customers who want to
do an online course. Or finding ways to get current clients to consider this
Here’s our panel of experts this mission and some of the
great ideas they had to share.
Erich Nielsen:I would like to point out probably the most
obvious when it comes to online offerings: You need as few clicks as possible
to reach POS (point of sale). The offer should also be linked on the front
Andy Sayers: Julie Miller has clearly enjoyed success with
1:1 clients. In my view it is essential that she harness this by way of
testimonials. In taking a modular online approach, which I think is a great way
forward; she faces the challenge that many writers have: How do I publicize my
wares without giving everything away? Therefore I’d be inclined to do what the
writers do and put together the equivalent of a synopsis, where a flavor is
given and maybe some examples of improvement of one piece of text over and
other, and have that backed up by a testimonial or two. This can be done for
Having looked at the website it is clearly laid out and I believe the modules
are well priced. Where it falls short in my opinion is in the testimonials and
corporate clients. That’s a pretty impressive list of customers she has and I
think she could leverage that more aggressively.
Lisa Jachimowicz: My view point is from an economical standpoint. Things she can for free or very cheap. The first things I would do:
Get on local public business forums. Because you can be (online AND local) this would allow her to use her signature file to post educational responses to questions in her expertise. This makes her the expert and shows her as a helping company without the sales pitch that some people tune out. I would also make sure she communicated with forum owners for permission first, (not to mention) forum owners are candidates as well!
The idea of less travel would mean doing podcasts, teleseminars and or webinars. She can download a program called audacity http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ and start making her own podcasts to publish to her website. People like them and they now can be downloaded onto mp3 players. It would allow candidates’ to hear her sincerity and passion about her classes. Plus, it is open source software and free! All you need is a pc, microphone and then you just upload it to your site and provide the URL to your potential listeners.
Drew Talbot: She
could build employer branded mini-sites and market this as an employee benefit.
Insurance companies, financial services providers and even legal services
providers have long developed web portals for ecommerce for employees of
companies with plans they manage. The overall cost of this doesn’t have to be
huge and it might gain significant penetration at companies where she is
Getting viral with this, the employer could sponsor contests
for writing submission and even set up an employee blog to show off. Peer
recognition can be a powerful way to increase utilization of services. An
advantage to her is that she can enlist the support of clients for free for the
sake of non-monetary reward (bragging rights, team spirit)
Steve Cory: In writing this response you will see that
I probably need the course. But I would not find it doing a search on the
Internet because I don’t really know that I need it.But if someone I knew were to send out a testimonial
about how their business was impacted by improving their writing…I might
check out a website.Then if there was
an interesting white paper or a free review of a business letter I might move a
step closer to opening my check book.
Your Coach has a built in market.You mentioned several of her customer types;
engineers, accountants…All of whom have huge, national associations to which
they may belong.All Associations have
at least 2 relevant purposes; business referral and education. Many already
have an on-line curriculum with loyal users. Some even have education requirements
for members. On an added note, all are looking for new members and often
provide their entire membership directory when you join.
Helen Fanucci:I think that while she wants to sell her course to a general audience
she will need to market it to specific audiences so that folks feel like it is
for them. She will need to address pain points or situations in business they
face that the course addresses. She will need to go to forums where these folks
participate. It will be easiest to promote the classes within her current
client base and then try to grow from there.
Morriss Partee:Fascinating case study. Here’s how I would
Without fail, your BEST target audience is one that you
already have, where you already have a positive reputation and relationship. So
if i were her, I would start with her current clients; the corporations, and
ask them what THEY are looking for in terms of an online offering for their
employees. This will help her create and customize a format that works for
them. Once the product has been created and is in place, then she should go
back to the corporations and ask her contacts there if they can recommend her
to contacts at other companies. Once this bedrock of online success is
established, then she should reach out and begin to blog about her business and
program, and also look to establish a twitter account (free), keeping an eye
out for twitterers who work for the corporations she has a relationship with.
Next up is establishing a Facebook fan page (free), and posting her workshop
events there (also free). Again, making Facebook friends with her existing
corporate clients is key, as is looking for more contacts on Facebook also at
At that point, she can begin to network where her target
audience hangs out online. One way to develop twitter contacts is to do a
search on Twellow.com. In this case, a search on engineer, yields 2,095
results, and there are 863 people in the Accounting subcategory of the
Financial Services category (and 147 bankers too). Looking through the categories
on Twellow will undoubtedly turn up related categories that would fit her
The full discussion and commentary can be found here
TJ McCue owns Refine Digital, a marketing lab focused on 3D technologies, and is currently traveling the United States on an 8-month RV roadtrip to get the pulse of 3D printing, 3D scanning, and 3D design across America. Follow him at 3DRV continues as GoExplore3D or via Twitter @TJMcCue.