Digital Lighthouse member Frances Tolton was given takeaways from her Digital Lighthouse mentoring lunch, which have already brought in more than £100,000. Spending a couple of hours developing a strategy for your business with multi-millionaire marketing expert and Digital Lighthouse chairman, Jonathan Jay, is just one of the perks of being a Digital Lighthouse Gold member – and the rewards from that one-on-one mentoring session keep coming.
Tolton, who owns a successful business consultancy in Ireland, Second Sight Development & Training, attended the business strategy lunch with Jay in London.
‘Jonathan’s advice changed my mind about the direction I was going in. I had spent many years helping other people to promote their businesses and make money, but that lunch made me realise I had to start putting effort into promoting my own business. It also changed my thinking about the way I approached it, from treating it like a hobby to treating it like a business.’
Inspired, Tolton began to take action the moment she sat down on the flight back to Ireland. ‘I set a few action goals, which I addressed straight away. I made a firm decision that I was going to focus on developing my business and making money for me. I know that seems pretty basic, but it was a turnaround for me.’
Once she was back in her office, Tolton and her husband and business partner, Liam, wasted no time acting on those goals. ‘Within a few days of meeting with Jonathan, we were invited to make contact via the LinkedIn business network. Within the day, we were asked for a quotation for a piece of work, which ended up yielding us £15,000 and a continued contract with the client. Not bad for a Friday morning and two emails!’
Jay’s advice – to find out what customers actually wanted – proved to be crucial, says Tolton. ‘I had been offering training in a number of areas which I love and am passionate about. I was convinced that’s what everybody wanted.’
But the research she and Liam conducted after the Digital Lighthouse lunch showed otherwise. ‘We rang every client on our books, both past and present, and asked them what they wanted. We said, “If you had money to spend on training, what type of training would you spend it on?” Seventynine percent said attitudinal training and technical skills. I began calling the top 100 companies in Ireland and got the same answer. What’s more, we realised we could do both – me with my background in psychology and human development, and Liam with his amazing track record as a consulting engineer. We were unstoppable and Digital Lighthouse helped us realise this!’
As it happened, Frances had just published a book about attitudinal change, thanks to the advice she had received at her first Digital Lighthouse meeting. ‘At that first meeting, Jonathan put a lot of emphasis on the power of writing a book. I was in the early stages of doing just that, so I got cracking and published The Rainbow Factor: Seven Steps to Life Engagement for people who find it difficult to set and achieve their goals.’
‘Rainbow’ is an acronym for Reflect, Assess, Initiate, Name, Believe, Optimise, and Work with focus. Within two months, the book was published. ‘By the time I went to the next Digital Lighthouse event, I had sold 600 copies. I’ve now sold over 1,000. The business started to roll in, following the advice of Digital Lighthouse’s PR expert Paul Green. I got my face out there and the clients came. In Ireland, the state of the economy has had a big impact on people’s attitude and morale. This book is perfect for helping people to get their heads together, set their goals and achieve them by recognising and answering their calls to action.
‘Putting what I believed down on paper and getting my face on the cover of a book was just the first step.’ Tolton also got on prime-time television in Ireland. ‘I was signed up for a six-part primetime TV show with our national station, RTE. It was all about answering calls to action. ‘At the lunch, Jonathan talked about creating a pamphlet version of my book and sending it to prospective clients for free. When I got back to Dublin, I created a pamphlet version of the book and found a printer who was interested in partnering on the basis of getting the work for the production of a Seven Steps to Life Engagement training programme in return for a recommendation to the new clients to do their work.’
With what Tolton had learned from that Digital Lighthouse Gold Member lunch, she was then ready to take the next step: to find more clients and expand her business. ‘I just had to find out where the money was. I knew that training budgets were scarce, but my research revealed that once we could provide exactly what the clients wanted, they were willing to spend whatever resources they had with us at Second Sight Training.’
She decided to meet face-to-face with anyone who had the resources and offered a free presentation. They also got a free pamphlet of the book and an offer for a training day for as many people as they could put in a room. ‘The deal was that they could put as many people in the room as possible, but they had to provide the venue. It turned out that due to staff cover at present, most companies could only free up a maximum of 15 people away from their desks at any one time. This instantly multiplied training days and had the power to multiply the business tenfold in some situations.’
Eleven agencies each paid £1,200 per group per day. ‘The total number of groups from those 11 was 22 – which is how I made the first €33,000 [about £27,000]. It was a ridiculous amount of training days for me to deliver, and I was run off my feet. Therefore, I offered to train their trainers at €750 [just over £600] per person and said they could buy the materials but train their own staff in their own centre. Between them, they put 14 trainers on a two-day Life Engagement trainer’s programme – which earned me another €10,500 [£8,500]. From there on, the clients did the marketing. Basically, they did the work for me… they got the people, and they started to multiply it onwards.’
Another seven companies signed up for training days. ‘I repeated the process and between them, they produced 10 groups and six trainers – I hired two very good trainers who did a great job for a reasonable fee of €500 [£400] a day based on getting multiple days, and I increased the price of the day to €2,000 [£1,600] if they wanted me to deliver the programme.
‘Then – magic! State funding became available to companies wanting to do this training for their staff and managers. I contracted another two trainers, and I focused on training the trainers.’
The word continues to spread, and the clients and opportunities keep coming in. ‘We followed Paul Green’s advice on the structure and direction of a business tender, exploiting two key pieces of advice – professional presentation and letting the client know you understand their needs. We went on to win a training contract for 140 people, beating three reputable competitors. Our client told us that our tender stood out for those reasons.
‘We listened carefully to a Tuesday evening Digital Lighthouse webinar and learned about creating multiple streams of income. We immediately went to our current clients and asked a simple question – “What else can we do for you?” Almost every client had something else they needed. Digital Lighthouse helped us realise there was more business right under our noses – we just needed to ask.
‘Digital Lighthouse has given me a bigger vision – and helped me to reach for greater and more ambitious business opportunities. It’s given me the freedom to think bigger and to stop being satisfied with the regular fare.’
Finding Your Strengths
Tolton knew that the company’s most successful marketing techniques over the years had revolved around talking to prospects first hand, so she has been looking for more opportunities to meet potential clients face-to-face.
‘I took a stand at an entrepreneurs’ exhibition in Dublin and caught the attention of Telko House, the franchisee for Sky HD in Ireland and a number of other very high profile agencies,’ she explains. ‘A month later, I delivered a two-day high-powered Sales Success Programme for Telko House and Sky HD at the 5-Star Dromoland Castle in the west of Ireland. That’s thanks to Jonathan’s advice to find the type of marketing you are best at and invest first in that – we know that without a doubt, face-to-face marketing is our strength! We have taken part in three exhibitions – all yielded business well in excess of the investment.’