Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Month: March 2011 (page 1 of 3)

Today!

What’s your plan for today?

Many small business owners treat each new day, as if they had an endless supply of days, rather than a strict ration.  By failing to invest the best they can into each new day, they have days, weeks, months years and decades, where they make a fraction of the progress they could.

We each need to understand that “the clock is ticking.”  It’s time, right now, to stop repeating the patterns of business behaviour that have been holding us back or stopping our progress.  If we look around us and see elements of our business that we are unhappy with, today, right now, is the time to start putting it right.  If we are concerned about our; bank balance, cash flow, sales figures or a slowdown in inquiries that will lead to some lean months ahead, there is nothing to be gained by ignoring it and hoping it will go away.

Tomorrow never comes

Like the old song says; tomorrow is always a day away.  Putting things off until tomorrow is one of the key reasons people never take the action required for success.  They see a challenge with their business and because they are busy today, they decide to “look at it tomorrow” when they will be less busy.  Because they have consciously decided to deal with the problem tomorrow, there is suddenly far less urgency for them to do anything about it today.  Those with great intentions who seldom achieve their potential, simply repeat that process.  They “live” in a day that never comes.

Shifting our mindset from I will do it tomorrow to I will do it today, is a master skill of achievement.  Even if we only have 30 minutes available today to get started on making things better, we should still do it!  That 30 minutes of real progress, is of more value to us and our businesses, than a year’s worth of good intentions that were never acted on.

Today, find some time and use it to make things better.  Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: tirahadevu

The secret your competitors do not want me to tell you!

How secure would your business be, if a high quality competitor turned up in front of your clients and future clients today?

Most people only consider this, after the fact.  They wait until a new competing business, product or service shows up and THEN figure out how to respond.

The secret?

The secret to securing your place in the market, is to act like it has already happened.  Always, always look for ways to improve the quality of your services.  Listen to your marketplace, find out what concerns them and figure out how to help them.  This will make your existing clients love you and ensure you attract a regular supply of new clients too.

Of course, I recommend you simply avoid having any competitors.

The bottom line: Don’t allow the arrival of “some guys business” to be what determines when YOU up your game.  A new provider, product or service WILL show up in front of your clients, so take action now and put yourself into pole position!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Fristle

What’s your plan B?

How good is your back up plan?

As some of you may have noticed, this site was down for around 25 minutes earlier today.  There was a problem, caused by a plugin that was creating gigabytes and gigabytes of data, which had been installed on one of my test sites.

Part of the problem, was that the database for this blog had became corrupted.  In other words, every post and every comment was unreadable and the sites were inaccessible.

So, I put my blog continuity plan into action

Plan B started with a call to the guys at WebFusion, where my dedicated server is based.  I told them my blogs were down and within minutes, one of their tech support guys, Oliver Burkill, had taken ownership of the problem and started resolving the issue.  He identified what was wrong and was then able to get the blogs back up, using back-up copies, which are generated each day.  What could have been a nightmare, was averted.  Though I lost some comments, the site was live and 100% stable again in minutes.

The 2 ingredients of my blog continuity plan were:

  1. WebFusion: A super-responsive tech support team for my dedicated server.
  2. Reliable, off site back-ups:  I had copy of each site, stored at a different location.

WebFusion:  Although this problem was nothing to do with by hosting provider, it did give me my first opportunity to see how they responded when there was a serious problem.  I want to start by saying that WebFusion sponsor this blog, though I was a happy customer well before that.

Since moving my sites to WebFusion last year, I have enjoyed 100% up-time.  That kind of 100% reliability is extremely important for me.  I want this site to be here, for you, when YOU need it. I want it to respond quickly and for you to have faith in it.  WebFusion’s response to my phone call (around 20 seconds) and their eagerness to take ownership of the problem, justified my faith in them completely. It has made me an even more passionate advocate of their dedicated hosting services.

By the way, I am not an affiliate of WebFusion, so I don’t get paid for you clicking on their links.  I recommend them because I trust them and consider them a key part of my blog’s team.

Is their service cheap?  No, there are cheaper providers.  Is it value for money? ABSOLUTELY!

Reliable backups:  If I had not implemented a back-up strategy for my blogs, there’s a very good chance that I would have lost most, if not all, my blog posts and comments.  The data files had become corrupted and I don’t want to think about how hard it would have been to rebuild almost 3 years worth of data (and that’s just this site!)

I have a service in place, which creates a back-up of my blogs and sends them to a separate server.  There are many services offering that facility, as well as some plugins for wordpress, which offer back-up functionality.  Whatever solution you pick, make sure you get something in place BEFORE you need it.  As they say, you have to back it up, if you want to get it back.  I use a back-up facility that saves my data on a different server, so that if the hard drives on my actual server failed, the off site back-ups would not be impacted.  If you have a commercial blog, I recommend you get the most reliable back-up solution possible.

All in all, the damage was confined to the loss of around 20 comments, which were left here in the period after the last back-up was made.  These were mainly on this post from yesterday.  I also lost around 25 minutes of up time.  When I think about the damage that would have been done had the past 3 years of posts and comments been lost, it blows my mind.  I would also like to publicly thank; Oli Burkill, Richard Winslow and Craig for their help today.

If you have a business blog and you value the content, make sure you have the best tech support, server reliability and back-up systems you can get.  Take action now, before you need it.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: LeSimonPix

How to massively improve your business results with these 3 easy steps!

Want to start making more progress toward your goals or business targets? If you do, here is a simple process, which is guaranteed to work for you so long as you use it. It’s based on a weekly, 3 step process of; reviewing, learning and actioning. Although the focus is on weekly progress, by making each week an improvement on the previous week, you also make each month and year better too.

Here is how it works:

1. Do a review of last week

Start off by doing a review of last week. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Who did I connect with?
  • What measurable progress did I make?
  • What went less well for me?
  • What ate into my time, with little return?
  • Where did my best results come from?

Write your answers down and get them ready for the next step.

2. What did I learn from last week?

Reviewing your answers from the previous step, what lessons are there?

The way you invest your time, is directly linked to your success or otherwise. This is why it’s important for you to identify the activities that sucked your time up, without providing you with some kind of measurable progress. Equally, you need to determine what activities were most profitable for you.

Write down as many lessons from last week as you can. Look for the gold dust and also the dross.

3. What will I do to make this week better?

If a commercial activity was not working for you last week, you need to either fix it or remove it from your work-flow. Many small business owners repeat things that don’t work, purely because they are comfortable with them. They hope that their results will “just get better”, yet as Einstein assured us:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results!

The week ahead can either be a chance for you to get a week better or a chance for you to relive the same frustrations again. The reason most people simply get a year older each year, rather than a year better each year, is that they allow themselves to get into an unproductive rut. They work hard, but mistake movement, for progress.

This final step is what separates the winners from the masses of frustrated business owners who make little if any progress. Great intentions are not enough. The world is full of people with great intentions, yet very few people action those great intentions. You need to be smarter than that, if you want to make real, measurable progress.

Identify the changes you need to make and then motivate yourself to take the action required. This is the cornerstone of all progress and the end to a life of frustration.

I’d really love to know what issues you are working with right now, so share your thoughts.

UPDATE: Following a problem with the blog’s database, the comments for this post that were left on the date of the post, have been lost.  However, everything is working fine now, if you would like to share your feedback on the post.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Escaping or relocating?

Trying to defeat a problem by running away from it is seldom an effective strategy; unless you are being chased by a lion, of course!  Most of the challenges we experience in business (and life generally), require a solution.  Otherwise the challenge will simply persist.

I was prompted to write this post, after seeing one of my neighbours put their home up for sale.  They moved into our tiny, picturesque village 2 years ago and sadly, they are now in the process of getting divorced.  Apparently, they moved here in an effort to save their marriage, but it didn’t work out.  They are lovely people and the news has been greeted with sadness by our tight-knit community.

Escaping to the countryside

Escaping to the countryside is seen as some kind of magical cure-all, for many people who want to solve the stresses and strains in their lives.  Sadly, it is not: As thousands, maybe millions of people can testify!

The reality is that if you have unresolved problems with your marriage, relationship, business or whatever; you will simply be experiencing them in a different location.  Once the newness of the “escape” wears off, the situation will be just like before, only without the support network you moved away from.  Like they say; most of our problems are caused by the person we see in the mirror each morning!

The difference between relocating and escaping

It’s almost 10 years since my wife and I moved from London, to a tiny rural village in South Yorkshire; close to where my wife grew up.  It was one of the best things we ever did.  That’s because we moved here, rather than “escaping to the countryside.”  There was nothing in London for us to escape from.  We brought a great marriage and a wonderful business with us.  We then started a family here, with our son born and raised in the village.  It’s been magical and I recommend it to anyone seeking to do the same.

Every person I have met over the past decade, who has successfully relocated has a similar story to my own.  They were not escaping.  They were making a great thing even more magical.

If one of your goals is to escape (rather than relocate) to the countryside, the beach or the mountains, you will get a lot more from it if you fix whatever you are escaping from before you leave.  As one of my friends says; “the only way to solve a problem, is to face it and fix it!”

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to develop a massive competitive advantage with this 1 great idea!

How would you like to develop a MASSIVE competitive advantage for your business?

You can waste years of your time (and all of your money) trying to sell something that’s just too similar to your competitors.  Seriously.  I could help you smash every income and sales record you have, by helping you develop something uniquely valuable about your service and showing you how to market it.

The challenge for non-marketing professionals is always the same though: Finding something that your competitors haven’t thought of, which your prospective clients will be attracted to.

Developing your massive competitive advantage

Over the past 25 years, I have discovered that the best place to start looking for inspiration, is outside your industry or profession.  This is the polar opposite to what most business owners do.  They keep an eye on their competitors and follow their industry, but never think to look outside for; ideas, processes, services or products that they can use to give themselves a massive competitive advantage.

If you are serious about developing your business, but not serious enough to hire expert help, invest some time in researching what people in other areas of business do, to generate throngs of eager clients or customers.

Here’s a quick tip: You will almost always find the best ideas, from industries that have very little in common with your own.

Here’s a second quick tip: Try it – It works!

Oh, and if you simply don’t want any competitors, here’s how to do it!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: adihrespati

Never let a troll steal your dreams!

I received a call earlier from a friend, who is also a fellow blogger.  After years of giving free information to her blog’s community, she added a relevant advertisement to the sidebar of her blog.

Seems reasonable, right?

Well, it turns out she was emailed by a reader, who is also a blogger.  He called her everything from a sell-out to a hypocrite.  He hated that she now had this small ad on the site.  She has over 7,000 RSS subscribers and his was the only complaint in the 3 weeks since she added the 250 X 250 ad.  I suggested she check his blog out.  It was a poorly-written, amateur looking blog, which hadn’t been updated since June 2010!

Trolls are gonna troll!

In my experience, one of the defining characteristics of people who seem to be going nowhere, is that they waste their time dishing out advice to others, rather than working on their own challenges.  They are happier to piss all over your parade, rather than build something of value themselves.  They choose to get their kicks by throwing stones at those with the attributes they lack, rather than working on their own personal or professional development.

The bottom line: Don’t allow these vocal, yet typically inept, people to get in the way of your goals or dreams.  In fact, their very presence is often a good indicator of your own success!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Imamon

How to massively increase your sales and profits, with this 1 great idea!

If you want to increase the number of clients you have or boost your sales figures, here’s a quick marketing tip for you: “People buy for their reasons, not yours!”

Most small business owners make the mistake of selling their services, based on what THEY think matters.  In other words, they look at their product or service and because they know it so well, they assume they ALSO know why each individual person wants to buy it.

They are wrong!

Buying motives

Notice I used the word individual in that last paragraph?  This is because people have their own, individual motivations for making a purchase.  We call this their buying motive. If you try and sell or market your service to someone, based on what you assume will be of most importance to them, you may well lose their interest.  However, if you take a moment to discover what matters to them, you will know exactly what to focus on.

That single step, of discovering someone’s buying motive and then focusing on what motivates them, can increase your conversion rate by hundreds of percent!

I saw a great example of this last weekend.  I needed a new phone, so I visited a store and was greeted by the store manager.  She asked me how she could help and when I told her I was looking to buy a new phone, she asked me a few simple questions:

  • What would I be using the phone for
  • Whether I had a contract or not and who the contract was with
  • What my budget was

Once I gave her my answers, she was able to point me in the direction of a small selection of phones that did what I wanted.  Then, by asking and answering my questions, we were able to spot a clear winner.  She discovered my buying motives and focused everything on getting me a phone, that fitted my needs.  I got a great phone which I am extremely happy with and she made a sale (and an advocate!) Win-win!

By the way, discovering someone’s buying motive always allows you to render better service to them.  With my example of the phone store manager, at no point did I even feel like I was being sold to.  It felt like she was using her knowledge to advise me, so I made the right decision.  Now, had the store manager simply looked at how I was dressed (in jeans and a t shirt), and then assumed I would want a “lifestyle” phone or that I was on a low budget, she would have lost the sale.  She would also have came across as pushy, because she would have been offering me things I wasn’t interested in.

Whenever you speak with a prospective client or customer for the first time, always establish what’s important to them and what they are looking for.  Make that your primary focus.  If you get it right, people will never feel like you are selling to them; just like in the example I gave earlier.  You will come across as a professional, who is helping them make the best decision possible, based on their needs – not yours!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Terry Johnston

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