Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
I have just finished reading "Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest and Most Reliable System For Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even If You Hate Marketing and Selling" by Michael Port.
Michael Port specialises in helping service professionals (accountants, business coaches and consultants, chiropractors, realtors/estate agents...) to market themselves more effectively so that they are booked solid.
Let Me Make This Simple For You
Let's skip the blah, blah, blah and cut to the chase.
- If you are thinking about venturing out on your own as a professional service provider, buy Book Yourself Solid. It will tell you what you need to know about marketing to become successful.
- If you are providing professional services to a small number of clients but there are more hours available in a week than you currently work, buy Book Yourself Solid. It will give you new ideas to find new clients.
- If you already a successful service provider working all the hours you want, buy Book Yourself Solid. It will help you to develop more status so that your fee rates can be increased and help you to find ways to break out of the "fees for time" syndrome which can restrict your income.
What Makes A Great Book?
When I read and review a business book I look for three key things:
- The book is well written. Check.
- The book introduces me to new ideas or gives me a new way of looking at currently known techniques. The book must increase my knowledge or if it is an introductory book, it must explain the ideas clearly. Check.
- The book must move me from theory into action. It is only by applying knowledge through action that your results improve. Check.
So that's three big ticks/checks for Book Yourself Solid.
You Want The Review of Book Yourself Solid?
I think that some of my readers like it best when I pull a book to pieces rather than be nice about it but let me explain why I believe that Book Yourself Solid is the book to boost the marketing of your professional services.
A Real Action Focus
Throughout the book you will find written exercises and links to useful resources to help you to implement the ideas.
Even better, when you buy the book you learn the password to get the 90 page Book Yourself Solid workbook from bookyourselfsolid.com. This lays it all out so that you can conscientiously work through and complete the exercises and capture your thoughts.
I recommend that you do it as you read the book and then print off another copy when you've reached the end and do it again.
It will be interesting to see what you have learnt and how the book has changed the way you were thinking about the sales and marketing of your professional services business.
You may be one of those people who just skips over the exercises in books but don't do it with Book Yourself Solid. You won't get the best out of it.
Your Ideal Client
I have blogged before about Michael Port's "velvet rope policy" and how it is up to you to decide who you want to work with.
It's a lesson that many of us have had to learn by bitter experience but professional services are a two way street. When the best coach, consultant or adviser comes into contact with the worst client, it is the worst that wins. Little is achieved and both you and your client lose out.
Some people are just not meant to work together and the sooner you accept that, then the sooner you start applying tighter acceptance criteria. You can also ruthlessly weed out the clients that are not up to standard.
They will suit somebody else so you owe it to them and you owe it to yourself to bail out of the relationship early.
Your Who, What and Why
Are you clear on your personal identity? Who you want to work with, what you do and why you do it?
For years I struggled with this because I didn't seem to fit into any nice easy pigeon hole. I'm an accountant but I'm not an accountant. I'm a consultant but I'm not a consultant. I'm a marketer but I'm not a marketer.
You see the problem?
The word business coach seemed to fit me quite well but I noticed that people didn't respond to it as well as I'd hoped.
This is partly because many people are sceptical about the word "coaching." Is it consultancy? Is it training? Is it therapy? Is it encouragement and support?
Yes, Yes, No and Yes in my case.
The problem is that pick any of the professions and describe youself that way, people get to keep their own existing mental image.
If you say you are an accountant people immediately stereotype you and commoditise you. They may even think that you are a little bit boring thanks to Monty Python.
Not good news when you are trying to show that you are different and that you are the accountant, life coach, estate agent, dentist, stock broker... that they want and need.
See "But I Don't Want An Elevator Speech" for a great video of Michael Port explaining this problem.
Becoming The Expert Authority
You market and sell professional services.
That means that you are selling expert knowledge but you probably run into two opposing thoughts:
- It's not polite to brag about what you know. Somehow it can undermine the very professionalism that you are presenting. Proactive marketing has been difficult for many old fashioned professionals to get their heads around.
- There is always somebody who knows more than you do. It is impossible to know everything so if you are a lawyer specialising in employment matters, you can't get pulled into areas outside that speciality but also you can be out-specialised.
Book Yourself Solid addresses this issue and while it encourages you to continue to learn as an essential element of your professionalism, you also have to accept what you know.
Be clear about what you know and even more important, make sure that your clients know your boundaries. There is no shame in admitting that you don't know about something. Don't be reluctant to refer work when necessary.
The Book Yourself Solid Sales Cycle
You are romancing your customers, gradually building the trust and credibility necessary to turn the relationship into profit.
The key way to show your knowledge is through information products. Perhaps you have a blog like this one because I am sure that as you read my blog, you gradually realise that I do know a bit about business. (Did you see how I ducked out the bragging issue I mentioned earlier.)
Perhaps you should have a free e-book or a short course people can subscribe to.
Whatever the mechanism, the idea is the same. To demonstrate your knowledge in a meaningful way to potential clients so that they feel that you are the obvious solution to their problems.
The Book Yourself Solid Core Self Promotion Strategies
Clients need to know that you exist so you have to find ways to promote yourself.
Michael Port devotes a chapter to each of his seven promotion strategies:
- The Book Yourself Solid Networking Strategy - love it, hate it but it nearly always has to be done and the book gives you practical tips to allow you to network with confidence.
- The Book Yourself Solid Outreach Strategy - this includes direct mail, telemarketing, email marketing - in fact anything that you do to reach out to your prospective clients and say "this is what I can do for you."
- The Book Yourself Solid Referral Strategy - the core strategy for most good professionals and where most of my coaching and consultancy fees come from.
- The Book Yourself Solid Web Strategy - this is an excellent chapter but then Michael Port is co-creator of Traffic School.
- The Book Yourself Solid Speaking and Demonstrating Strategy - most people are terrified about the idea of speaking in public but it can be a very effective way of promoting your services. Not one I fancy particularly although I love small group training.
The thought of addressing an audience of hundreds of people sends a shiver down my spine. But this chapter has made me think again. Partly because it has broken my fixed idea.
Public speaking doesn't have to mean speaking to 500 people. Michael helps me to identify baby steps which are just outside of my comfort zone but not so frightening that I have a mental block and refuse.
- The Book Yourself Solid Writing Strategy - this one is much more to my liking but again, I have suddenly realised that I'm not really doing much in this area apart from my blogs. I will definitely be pressing on the gas pedal here. I love to write.
- The Book Yourself Solid Keep-in-Touch Strategy - so obvious but often hard to do. I use a contact management system to follow up with contacts and record what is happening and of course I have my email newsletter. You have signed up haven't you? What do you do?
So there we have it. A fairly long review of Michael Port's "Book Yourself Solid" book.
I think it is great. One of the best books that I have ever read and I wish it had been written thirteen years ago when I first started as a professional service provider. My life could be very different.
But Paul Why Haven't You Given "Book Yourself Solid" Five Stars If It Is That Good?
Good question and I'm glad you asked.
Michael Port has upset me!
He has destroyed my business book review ideas but I am not giving in.
When I started reviewing these books I was determined that I was going to be firm but fair.
My recommendation is hard won and that means holding back the top 5 star award to books that I can recommend without reservation because they have changed the way I think about business and act in business.
Book Yourself Solid is great. I love it.
Well written, very easy to read, action focused and at 243 pages of content, full of great ideas and actionable advice without going into tedious detail.
But it hasn't had the chance to stand the test of time so I can't say for certain whether this is "The Beatles" and not the latest hot new thing that is the current number 1.
Is it a book that I will keep on referring back to like my 5 star review books?
I just don't know but I can tell you that I have written in my schedule to come back and reassess my grade with the current intention to upgrade the book from 4.5 stars to 5 stars on 1 April 2009.
In one year's time I will know.
My Recommendation On Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
I don't think I've ever thought this about a book before.
I wish I'd written Book Yourself Solid. That's how good it is.
Update on Book Yourself Solid One Year On
I have decided to keep the book rating for Book Yourself Solid at 4.5 Stars.
I still have very strong memories of the book but I haven't been drawn back to it. That is partly because I haven't been marketing my coaching services for various reasons.
Have You Read Book Yourself Solid?
If you have read Book Yourself Solid or have any other experience of Michael Port, I would very much like to hear your thoughts and opinions.
Please leave a comment below.
The Booked Solid University
Starting in March 2010, the Booked Solid University.Become A Book Yourself Solid Coach
Michael Port has taken the systems explained in his books Book Yourself Solid and Beyond Booked Solid and created his own certified business coaching program.