JOIN THE CLUB!
Want To Get More Business?
Form or Join an Action Group
by Steven Van Yoder
One by one, 12 people
connect to a conference call led by Costco member Terri Levine, founder of
Comprehensive Coaching U in Philadelphia. Within minutes, each takes a turn
reading his or her marketing scorecard, ranking progress on personal goals
and acknowledging shortcomings. When somebody exceeds a goal -- such as exceeding
income projections -- participants applaud and celebrate. If somebody has
a problem, everyone offers advice.
What's going on here?
A small-business marketing action group based on author C.J. Hayden's popular
Get Clients Now!™ A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals
Ever since Oprah Winfrey
began her wildly popular on-air book club, book discussion groups have exploded
and reading groups have cropped up around North America. According to Rachael
Jacobsohn, director of the Association of Book Readers and Leaders in Highland
Park, Illinois, a national clearinghouse of information on book groups, there
were 250,000 such groups five years ago; the current figure is double that,
Taking a cue from the
rise of book study groups, action groups based on books have gained popularity.
Your Money or Your Life and The Artist's Way, two
national bestsellers, helped launch goal-oriented groups that combine elements
of book circles, support groups and 12-step programs, but add an emphasis
on goals from programs presented in these books.
It was only a matter
of time before action groups found their way into the small business arena.
Many small-business people, for example, see marketing as a solitary pursuit.
But the truth is that few become wildly successful in business without the
help of others. Action groups help participants to stay motivated with what
could be called "benevolent peer pressure" and to establish and follow through
on marketing and sales goals.
"I started my first action
group a year and a half ago, called the Practice Builder," says Levine. "Initially,
it began as a four-week program with 20 participants. But four months into
the first program, I ran into Get Clients Now! and saw the value of
using a programmatic marketing book as a blueprint for the group. Now, the
book is our common ground; using a book has given the group more structure
and provided everyone the same common denominator."
Levine's action groups
are now six months in duration and meet for three monthly 30-minute teleconference
sessions. Groups are geared to service professionals, such as financial planners,
consultants, freelancers and other individuals responsible for their own
self promotion. Groups focus on setting goals and achieving results based
on specific action steps.
"Each participant has
their own agenda," Levine notes. "Some are concentrating on getting prospects
by making more cold calls; others are researching the Internet to develop
an e-commerce strategy. When we get together, we review the actions participants
committed to at the last meeting, as well as the results or where they got
stuck. Participants then commit to new actions based on progress up to that
Get Clients Now!
author Hayden stresses that action groups keep participants focused. "Many
psychologists see affiliation as a primary motivational factor for human
beings," says Hayden. "Through the act of associating with others on the
same path, you can stay motivated to do what it takes to be successful."
Accountability is also
at the heart of successful action groups. Members make commitments and share
them with the group. At each session, members ask one another about their
commitments, what they have accomplished since the last meeting and what
will come next. "Your fellow team members expect you to follow through on
goals you established," Hayden says. "If you get stuck, they'll help you.
But, if you keep showing up with excuses, they'll call you on it."
Another bonus is support.
"Having someone else to complain to or celebrate with delivers psychological
and emotional rewards," says Hayden. "It's great to know others care about
your progress. When you hit a roadblock, talking about it for a few minutes
may be all you need to get back into action. And having people to share your
success makes it so much sweeter."
Costco member Annie Hammond,
a professional business coach in Santa Cruz, California, says an action group
made her feel like she was part of a greater effort. "It was helpful in terms
of hearing the challenges people were having and also their breakthroughs,”
says Hammond. “If somebody else in the group is struggling and suddenly lands
a client, it's very encouraging. And when you hear about the successes and
failures of others it helps you stay motivated, focused and inspired."
Others feel that being
exposed to different points of view within a group breaks the isolation that
often overcomes sole practitioners. "Just hearing your problem restated by
another person gives you new insight," says Susan Schwartz, an image consultant
in San Mateo, California. "A group lets you share ideas and test your assumptions.
Bouncing ideas off others is a great way to brainstorm solutions."
Nancy Albu, a financial
advisor with Donro Financial, a Costco member firm in St. Catharines, Ontario,
decided to form an action group after her office received a mandate to develop
a sales plan, build prospect lists, design marketing materials, and establish
better telephone techniques and a referral-generating process. "Frankly, none
of us were marketers," says Albu, who was at first daunted by the enormity
of the challenge. "We didn't know where to begin."
After some reflection,
Albu proposed an intra-office action group based on her previous experiences
in networking groups. "I said to everyone, 'Let's put our expertise together!'
So we created a marketing action group [comprising] all 12 people in our
office. Since I had already developed my own marketing plan based on Get
Clients Now!, I suggested we use that as the basis for the group. Using
a book gave us a roadmap. People liked the structure it provided."
For many people, the
bottom line is results. Tifin Kutch, of Life Adventure Coaching in Nevada
City, California, started an action group last year with two friends based
on the Get Clients Now! program. Over a four-month period, the group
had daily morning conference calls where each agreed to a daily action step
and held each other accountable for the following day.
"Through the consistency
and discipline the group imposed, I landed four new clients, lined up five
workshops and garnered two speaking engagements, all in the first month,"
Steven Van Yoder is
a freelance writer who writes about small business, entrepreneurism and international
affairs from San Francisco.
Find out how
to become a GET CLIENTS
Join a GET CLIENTS
NOW! group with a professional leader.
Locate a licensed GET
CLIENTS NOW! facilitator in your area.
Network with other
GET CLIENTS NOW! readers to find a peer group or business buddy.