My clients often ask me to help them evaluate business opportunities and determine if they are a good fit for their business. Below is an excerpt from an email that a client asked me to take a look at recently. I want to share this with you so that you may learn something about how to evaluate such opportunities for yourself, in the event that you don’t have someone like me to ask for advice.
I have changed names to protect the innocent, but have left the original grammar and spelling intact.:
Hi Brian, I trust you are well.
I have been making my way through a considerable number of Business/Executive coaching blogs to identify a shortlist of those that we feel offer a high level of value to their readers and one of those that I have identified is your blog at http://www.myclientswebsite.com.
We are looking for a limited number of business/executive coach blog authors to become official partners of this year’s Amazing Virtual Event.
You have probably heard of the event, but if not we are the world’s largest event for Business and Executive Coaches, bringing together a large number of industry experts such as etc and etc and other such global thought leaders in our field for an online conference each year.
We appreciate that the coaches within our industry learn a lot from each other and from the content they publish including blogs such as yours and hence see this as an excellent opportunity to create a partnership.
The way the partnership would work is very straightforward and comes in two optional parts. Firstly, we can provide you with a button or banner for your blog or website which identifies you as an official partner of the Amazing Virtual Event. This banner/button would contain an affiliate link unique to you that we would set up on your behalf. Secondly, we can provide you with high quality material that can form central points to your blog posts to incerase the value of your posts and also save you time.
As we provide you with 50% off the ticket price and also a 50% commission for every coach that signs up for the Amazing Virtual Event from the banner on your blog, it means that if just one coach signs up as a result of clicking your link you can attend the entire summit at no cost yourself. Alternatively, you can of course simply keep the affiliate commission and not attend.
With this partnership more important to us than the number of subscribers and volume of traffic the blog receives is the quality of the blog and the value contained within it’s posts, that is why we will only be approached a limited number of industry bloggers.
When I look at business opportunities like this, where the people selling the solution are presenting themselves as business experts, I look at two separate but related questions:
1. Is what they are telling me accurate? First, I want to know how accurate and honest they are in their communication to me. Are they well informed? Do they know their industry (and/or mine)? Are using logical thought processes?
And 2. Are the techniques they are using to promote this offer effective? People can tell you their techniques work, but the real proof is in the results. Are they using their own techniques to sell you on this opportunity? Are they proven techniques or newly developed? Are you buying into what they are selling? Will your customer or client react similarly to the same techniques?
Here’s my take on this particular offer:
Is what they are telling me accurate?
- They make several references to “the quality of your blog and your blog posts.” I found this suspect since my client is in the process of rebranding and doesn’t have much in the way of content at all on his blog, let alone “quality content” in the business and executive coaching niche. Likely, they are using this type of wording to appeal to the ego and get their prospect to take action based on these hollow compliments.
- They say they are only approaching a “short list” of “quality blogs.” I disbelieve this statement since my client’s blog — as it exists in this moment — should not have made anyone’s short list. This is another example of appealing to ego.
Result: No, they are not being truthful or accurate in their communication.
So, what about the next question, are the techniques they are using effective?
- Enrolling affiliates to help you market your program can really help you sell more, but managing them is one of the most time consuming tasks. The most effective affiliates — the ones who make the most sales for you and earn the most commissions for themselves — are going to be the ones that you have a personal relationship with. That personal relationship means talking to them on the phone — to enroll them as well as to keep them motivated to promote you. Enrolling affiliates via a cold call email is not ever going to be effective.
- The marketing tools they are giving their affiliates are banner ads and blog post copy. These will only be successful in generating sales if there is a lot of traffic to the website. Twenty or so visitors a month (like my client) isn’t going to generate a darn thing. If they really want these tools to work, they have to approach blogs with significant traffic.
- The market for their program is business and executive coaches, yet they aren’t approaching bloggers whose target market is business and executive coaches, only bloggers who are themselves business and executive coaches. This would be like approaching Coca-Cola to market Pepsi for you; to sell more Pepsi, you’d be better off approaching distributors who sell various brands of soda to restaurants.
Result: Their use of ineffective marketing strategies makes their “expert” status suspect.
My advice to my client was to give this opportunity a pass. There wasn’t any direct cost associated with participating and it is possible that he could learn something from attending this Amazing Virtual Event, but in the end, his time is valuable. He would be better served spending that time researching his own company, reading a book from a well-respected industry expert, or working with a coach.
Based on my examination of this email, I believe this company simply visited the websites of various coaching accreditation organizations, looked for certified business and executive coaches, and emailed any that had a blog. Many of my clients struggle with how to find people that fit into their target market so they can reach them; this email demonstrates why simply broadcasting your materials willy-nilly isn’t effective.
It would have taken a bit more time, and required a bit more research, but compiling a list of well-trafficked blogs (or other websites) that serve business and executive coaches and then approaching them individually would have been a more successful technique for this company.