Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: September 2012 (page 1 of 3)

How to build a stronger business

What are the areas of your business, which you are weakest at?

The good and the bad

No matter who you are or what profession you are in, there will be elements of the service you provide, which you are far better at than others. For example, some accountants and lawyers are very good at the technical side of their business, yet very poor when it comes to communicating with clients and prospective clients. Some restaurants offer wonderful customer service, yet the food is just average. You get the picture.

One of the challenges we face as business owners, is that the temptation can be to focus our efforts on what we are already outstanding at, whilst remaining poor in areas where we really need to improve.

Build a more robust business

Yes, it’s important to develop our strengths, but it’s also important to take a look at the elements of our service where we need to improve, and set time aside to develop those skills. If we do this, we become better and can provide an increasingly good service to our clients.

This also helps us build a more robust business, so our clients win and we win to. Win-win!

Let’s work together to grow your business and transform your future

Have you been thinking about joining me on my marketing mentor program; where you and I work together for a whole year, to grow your business and boost your profits?

If you have, here’s some great news: I have 2 positions that are about to become available!

The opportunity

This is the perfect opportunity for you to work with an Internationally respected marketing professional and see your business benefit, from my most powerful marketing and business development ideas. You can find out more about the program here, along with how to get in touch.

Over the years, I have helped small business owners like yourself, to massively improve their results – allowing them to work with better clients, for higher fees and plan ahead with confidence. Now, I am offering you the opportunity to do the same.

If you are interested, get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. I look forward to hearing from you.

How to build a massively valuable business using a more human approach!

Years ago, there were six degrees of separation between you and anyone else on the planet. Then came the social web and suddenly, there was just one pixel of separation between you and anyone with an Internet connection.

So, given this unparalleled business opportunity to connect with almost anyone, what are you doing with it?

Selfish demands from strangers

Very few small business owners seem to understand how to benefit from this opportunity.

They just don’t get it. They simply see a way to connect with someone via email or a social network who they think can help them, and ask that stranger for help. Rather than think ahead of the people it would be useful for them to know and invest the time required to connect with these useful people in advance, they just pester them with a direct demand for a selfish favour.

For instance, today alone, around half a dozen people who have never connected with me before, will email me and ask if I will let them write a guest post on this blog. Another dozen or so people who have never previously connected with me, will ask me via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or email if I will ‘check out their site and tell them what they are doing wrong.’ Then around 50 PR companies will email me a press release, even though they have no relationship with me and I have never published a press release.

None of us are self made people

The idea of the self made person is a myth. None of us can do it by ourselves. We all need the help and support of others, in order to achieve anything of value. The least effective way to garner that help or support, is to pester people we don’t know and demand it.

Business is all about people and people value relationships. This means relationship building should be an essential, ongoing process in your business.

Try this

Take some time out to identify the people, who you would like to know and then invest the time required to get to know them. You don’t need a complicated strategy for this any more than you need one for making new friends. It’s about people. Just keep it human and be prepared to give before you receive. Instigate the relationship with a hello, not a demand. Seek to help, before you ask for help. You wouldn’t make a new friend and straight away start demanding they do things for you – the same is true in business.

In short: Business is all about people and people respond very poorly to selfish demands from strangers. Make relationship building an ongoing priority, by investing the time required to get to know the people, who you can help and those who may be able to help you. Get this right and the potential is endless!

Photo: Teen Photographer

Who built your business model?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?

It’s easy to get stuck in a business model, which we adopt because everyone in our industry is doing it. Now, if that model works, supports our commercial and lifestyle goals, then that’s great. Sadly, many people are working a business model that’s missing one or both of those goals.

For example

An example we see all the time, is the trend among the best known social media experts, where almost all of them use the exact same business model: Selling speaking gigs and books. Book income is relatively low, even for best selling business books. As a result, these hard working individuals tend to spend most of their time away from their homes and loved ones, because they have not yet figured out an alternative business model to the social media talking circuit.

It’s sad and 100% avoidable, for those willing to embrace Steve Jobs’ mantra and Think Different – rather than follow the flock.

Thinking different

The starting point of developing a more effective business model, is to identify exactly what you want from your business. I’m going to leave you today with a great way to get some clarity around this key challenge.

Grab a pen and a pad and write the following question at the top of the page, then spend as long as required answering it.

Here’s the question: If my business was perfect in every way, serving both my lifestyle and commercial needs, what would it look like?

Consider things, such as:

  • How many hours would I work?
  • Which worthy causes would I support with my work?
  • How much would I earn?
  • Where would I live?
  • Who would I work with? You can answer with the profile of clients you want to attract or name names of people / businesses you’d like to work with.

The key is to allow your mind to focus on the things in life that matter most to you and incorporate them into the development of your ideal business.

If you take the time to do this correctly and then start working on an effective plan, the impact can be life changing. I have worked on this with many clients over the years and it’s one of the most professionally rewarding things I have ever done.

Just remember when asking and answering your questions, to Think Different.

No, it’s not easy, but it is required.

The link between your creativity and your associates

For years, we have known that the people we habitually associate with, have a huge impact on how we think. One of the least examined elements of this, is the impact our associates have on our creativity.

When we are around people who embrace their creativity, we find it easier to embrace our own. Conversely, when we surround ourselves with people who follow the flock, it’s a lot harder to think creatively. This dilemma is often seen when people leave a company because they realise their creativity has been stifled, only to flourish in a more creative environment.

Why does this matter?

The need to creatively stand out and capture the attention and imagination of your marketplace, has never been greater.

Millions of small business owners are discovering that thanks to Google, their prospective clients or customers can find people offering a similar sounding service to theirs, for less money, in minutes. Similarly, they are discovering that there are millions of people in their industry, trying hard to capture the attention and interest of their prospective clients.

In other words: We need to embrace our creativity in order to be visible amid all the information our prospective clients are being bombarded with.

3 Questions regarding creativity and your associates

Here are 3 useful questions to ask yourself, especially if you feel you’re lacking in creative motivation:

  1. What have my current associates got me reading or watching?
  2. Which beliefs do they have me adopting?
  3. Are these influences helping me develop my creativity?

If you believe that your current associates are not helping you think more creatively, consider spending at least a little time, with people who will. If you don’t already know people who are highly creative (that’s anyone who regularly solves problems) think of potential sources of creative thinkers. For example, you may decide to join a creative writing class or an art class.

In short: If you want to avoid blending into the background, associate with more people who will help you think creatively and encourage your creativity.

Note: Here areĀ hundreds of articles on creative thinking – all free for you to use and enjoy.

Photo: Roger Price

How to start first and keep on winning!

The first person to successfully market a service often gains a huge advantage over their eventual competitors.

Take Klout for example. Klout was the first company to successfully market the idea of ‘individual influence measurement’ and as a result, even if someone does refer to one of their competitors, they call it a Klout alternative. Years ago, people in the UK referred to all vacuum cleaners as Hoovers and public address systems were called Tannoys – even though these were simply the brand names of the first companies to market those products successfully.

By the way, I have rejoined Klout in order to review their recent changes and stay updated on future developments.

Being first is not enough

If you have an idea for an amazing new product or service, you should consider exactly how to maximise the first to market opportunity. It’s not enough to simply be the first person to show up with it. You need to know how to create the kind of positive impact, which causes people to automatically associate your brand with that type of product or service. It is a specialist area of marketing, but one worth investing in for those eager to benefit from it.

Get it right and your brand becomes part of the conversation every time someone talks about that type of product or service. Get it wrong and someone will simply take your idea and make it their own. It’s worth remembering that neither Tannoy or Hoover invented the devices, which became synonymous with their names.

It works for small businesses too

If you think only big businesses can get this process correct, think again. Small businesses serving a local area can successfully get to market first and figuratively own the conversation around their type of product. In every town there are small and medium-sized businesses, whose names have become almost shorthand, when others talk about the kind of product (or service) they provide. I can think of at least half a dozen small businesses, who are used as the standard in my local area, whenever their industry is mentioned.

In short: When you get a great idea for a new product or service, if you want all those amazing first to market benefits, you need to launch it and position it correctly. Simply being first, is not enough.

How to get noticed, create a powerful impact and become irresistible!

It’s not hard to disrupt your marketplace, get noticed and create a powerful impact. However, it does take a little creative thought and a large measure of courage.

Disruption

Creative thinking is required, in order to create the disruption and transform it into something that makes good business sense. For example, you may decide to:

  • Give away something expensive and make your money from something else. You’ve seen this with companies that give away razors and make their money selling their razor blades – And those who give away mobile phones and make money from their call and data packages.
  • Make your clients or customers feel twice as good about spending money with you. A great example of this is Toms. When I buy a pair of shoes from Toms, they send a second pair to a child who needs them.
  • Switch from providing a mass market product, to providing one aimed exclusively at a small niche. You see this with web designers. Most will build a site for anyone. Others have discovered it pays them to focus exclusively on building sites for people within a specific niche. These web designers have become specialists. They know the needs of the niche they serve and how to market to them. Specialists not only earn more than generalists, they also tend to work on more interesting projects and usually have a waiting list too.

There are lots and lots of ways to stand out and develop a hugely profitable business – In fact, I do this with my clients all the time.

All you need to do is pluck up the courage to do what’s required and let go of ordinary.

Write or wrong?

It seems that it’s easier to spot what someone else is doing wrong, than to identify and fix our own mistakes.

I was thinking of this earlier, when I received a sarcastic email from someone, who needed to tell me that she had spotted a typo in one of my blog posts and that the post itself was ‘a chunk of crap’. Ironically, she referred to the typo as a ‘typographic’ error, which is incorrect as the term is ‘typographical’ error.

Occasionally, when someone sends me that type of email (I get a handful a year), I will quickly check out their site. Thus far I have found that 100% of the time, if they have a blog themselves it either hasn’t been posted to in months or it has glaring mistakes. Usually both. In this instance, the person emailing me had not published a post on her own blog since March and her homepage is littered with errors.

Focusing on how we can improve

The most effective people in business are those who focus on how they can improve – rather than focus on what others have done wrong. They have figured out that their progress is driven my improving their own work, not unpicking what you or I have done.

Yes, it’s easier to knock others down than it is to build something of our own. However, people seldom destroy their way to happiness or success.

Photo: Darkuncle

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