Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: October 2012 (page 1 of 2)

Are your competitors controlling your potential?

Most small business owners compare their business, to their competitors businesses.

Here’s the challenge with that approach: It places a very low ceiling on your potential.

Allow me to explain

By competing against the standards of your competitors, you set your bar extremely low.

The vast majority of small businesses in any sector are uninspiring, to say the least. Statistically we know that most are struggling, with many going under every day. Very, very few are doing anything exceptional.

It clearly makes little sense to allow your competitors to regulate your potential.

So, compare yourself to the best instead

One of the finest ways to build a successful business, is to learn from the best.

  • Compare your customer service to Disney.
  • Compare your design quality to Apple.
  • Compare your distribution to Amazon.
  • Compare your build quality to Rolex.

Choose who / what you compare your business to, based on the quality of what they do and it’s effectiveness. Set your bar higher than your competitors. Demand the best. Be remarkable.

Who has earned the right to influence you?

influence

Everyone you come into contact with, influences you in some way.

Even total strangers have a measurable impact on what you think and how you feel. For example, a friendly smile from a stranger can make you feel better and abuse from an anonymous Internet troll can make you feel worse.

The people you connect with

Think for a moment about the people you connect with. Family, friends, neighbours, clients, social networking contacts, bloggers – everyone you connect with in some way. If you notice yourself about to make a decision based on their feedback, there’s a critical question you need to ask yourself first.

The question is this: Have they earned the right to influence me?

The value of relevant experience and expertise

Even if someone’s intentions are good and they believe what they are saying, if they lack expertise and relevant experience, their influence can be toxic to your business and your plans. This is why the most successful people in business are extremely selective, regarding who they associate with and who they connect with. They act on advice from informed sources; people they know they can trust. They exclude voices, which cause them to make bad decisions or cause them to feel negative or unproductive. They make a conscious choice to associate with people, who support them and their vision.

Take a moment to decide if the people who influence YOUR decisions, have earned that right. Be selective. Their impact on your future is too great for you to ignore this.

Image.

21 Lessons from Jo Average

The world is filled with inspirational stories about remarkable people. These contain many great lessons, which we can all learn something from.

Learning from Jo Average

What is less often examined, is the incredible value of learning from the stories of those, who never achieved anything beyond average.

By understanding their most common attitudes and motivations, we can avoid the same kind of thinking that led to their results.

Here are some common examples of how people apply ‘average’ thinking.

  1. They have specific problems, they seek general advice.
  2. They promise, they don’t fulfil.
  3. They curate, they don’t create.
  4. They complain, they don’t resolve.
  5. They are quick to decry, slow to forgive.
  6. They follow, they don’t lead.
  7. They take too much, they give too little.
  8. They automate, they don’t relate.
  9. They know the cost, they don’t understand the value.
  10. They watch too much TV, they read too few books.
  11. They dabble, they don’t specialise.
  12. They demand attention, they don’t command attention.
  13. They look for the short cuts, they hide from the work.
  14. They react, they don’t initiate.
  15. They do average work, they want above average results.
  16. They are general, they don’t get specific.
  17. They are big on criticising, they are small on creating.
  18. They repeat mistakes, they seldom learn from mistakes.
  19. They crave security, they shun calculated risk.
  20. They create excuses, they ignore reasons.
  21. They dream and wish, they don’t plan and act.

Average can be comfortable

Mr or Ms Jo Average may be happy with their life. They never have to live outside their comfort zone. They never have to risk failure, because they never try anything exceptional. They are happy with ‘average’ and statistically, we know their friends will be the same.

However, those of us who want something more, need to do something more.

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How much is inertia costing you and your business?

Today’s post is about the damage caused to small businesses, by inertia.

I’m referring to those things we know we ‘should’ be doing for our businesses, but decide for whatever reason to keep putting off.

Dentists know all about the cost of inertia

Ask a dentist what happens, if someone gets a cracked tooth and decides to leave it, rather than going as soon as possible for the correct treatment.

They will tell you that the longer the person with the cracked tooth neglects it, the worse it will become. After a while, the tooth will become infected and painful, extremely painful sometimes. Then, after maybe months or years of unnecessary infections and pain, the tooth will need to be removed. Had the crack been repaired when it first happened, years of discomfort could have been avoided and the tooth saved.

That’s the danger of inertia. It often creeps up on us very slowly… then boom!

Business inertia

In business, we see examples of inertia all the time. The business owner who puts off investing in data backup, often won’t see anything bad happen for months, maybe years. Their inertia surrounding data backups only becomes apparent when they discover their system is infected or stolen and they’ve lost all their data.

I was inspired to write this post for you today, having recently seen an interesting example of business inertia with one of my new clients. With her permission, I’d like to briefly share her experience with you.

How a 270% increase in client inquiries led to total frustration

I started working with this client (an accountant, who has asked me not to use her name here) just three months ago. We immediately began to focus on how to make her service stand out in a very crowded, fee sensitive marketplace. We put some ideas together and started planning. Then, last month we worked together on turning her website into a lead generating machine for her business. Yesterday, exactly 4 weeks later, she reported an increase in new client inquiries from her website of almost 275%.

On sharing the news with me, she was clearly extremely frustrated with herself. This wasn’t the reaction I was expecting from her, so I asked her why.

She explained that she had been thinking about hiring me for 3 years, but had always talked herself out of it. “I’ve now realised that my inertia in waiting 3 years before hiring you, will have cost me a fortune in lost fee income.” She went on to explain that she’d spent years competing against her competitors, largely on fees; attracting an equal share of the local marketplace for ‘average priced’ accountants. Until working with me, this qualified, hard working professional had been giving prospective clients no real reason to hire her, as opposed to any of her equally qualified, hard working competitors.

Where is inertia hurting your business?

I don’t know you or your business, but here are some common areas where inertia often hurts small business owners:

  • Are you waiting for ‘the right time’ to start backing up your data?
  • Are you waiting until you’re rich, before you hire an accountant who can save you a fortune?
  • Are you waiting for your clients to complain, before you ask them how you can improve the service you offer them?
  • Are you waiting until your business is in serious trouble, before you get the expert marketing help you know you need?

Only you know the areas of your business, which require action. Kick inertia into touch and give your business what it needs, now.

Bloggers: 8 Tips to help you attract more readers, sales and business leads

blogging

If you write a business blog and would like to see better results from it, I believe you will find the following 8 blogging tips really useful. They are based on my own experiences, having grown Jim’s Marketing Blog from zero, to one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs.

Let’s get started with tip number 1.

1. Write when you have something useful to share. Be useful often

Very few bloggers seem to understand one of the most basic facts of blogging. It’s simply this: You can’t expect people to keep returning to your blog, if you don’t.

For example, if a reader finds a new, useful post on your blog today, then returns in a few days and there’s nothing new, then returns a few days later and still nothing new – you stand a great chance of losing their interest. Conversely, if they find something useful on your blog every few days, they’re extremely likely to keep returning. That’s how you become part of their world. That’s how they start getting to know you.

When you publish posts infrequently, it’s almost like starting from zero each time. There’s little if any momentum: Momentum is essential if you want to grow your readership.

I often hear people claim that they just can’t find useful topics to blog about, on a regular basis. The thing is, these same people have no trouble finding useful things to say to their clients, contacts and friends, every day! Writing is like talking. If you can talk regularly about your topic, there’s no reason why you can’t write about it too. I believe everyone can think of something useful to share at least a couple of times a week.

The next tip takes this one step further.

2. Write as closely as you can, to the way you speak

Have you ever noticed that when you read the best blogs, it almost feels like you can hear the blogger speaking the words to you? That’s because these writers have discovered, that when you write similarly to the way you speak, you make it easier for people to connect with the person behind your posts.

In fact, allowing your personality to shine through your written words, may be one of the best kept secrets of the most successful, prolific bloggers.

3. Avoid writing ‘me too’ blog posts

Some bloggers will only write posts, which agree with what almost everyone else in their space is saying. By adding nothing new, you give people nothing to connect with. You look like a sheep. Always look for a way to add something of your own, something that shows your readers what you think and what you feel about the topic.

4. Aim to be useful

The most widely read blog posts are those, which people find useful in some way. So, give your readers something they can take away from the post and put into action.

Give them an idea, which they can chew over and then draw their own conclusions.

Give them a fresh way to look at an old challenge.

In a nutshell – The more useful you are, the more valuable your blog will be to your readers.

5. Focus on them

Yes, it’s nice occasionally to write about yourself, but if you really want to engage your readers, you need to focus on them. Talk about what’s happening in their world. Offer answers to the problems facing their industry.

There’s a big difference between writing posts that just talk about you, your product and how amazing you are – and writing posts that are all about being useful to the reader, yet contain lessons from your own experiences. In fact, it’s a great idea to share your own experiences, when offering useful examples to help make a point. I’ve done it a few times in this post. Your readers will value learning what happened when you did XYZ – it could save them time and money.

The key is to ensure the focus of the post is on helping them, rather than bragging or pushing sales pitches at them!

6. Don’t try and sell in every post

You write a business blog and the purpose of the blog is to help you build your business. It’s essential to write posts, which promote your products or services, but you need to get the balance right.

In my experience, the vast majority of your posts should be designed to offer independent value to your reader. By independent value, I mean the reader should be able to get something useful from your posts, without having to buy something from you or hire you. I write just a few posts a year, which exclusively promote my marketing services. These are sometimes called conversion posts. All the hundreds of other posts are me offering independent value.

I’m not suggesting you write as few conversion posts as me, but remember that there’s a reason people skip the ads on their TV’s. They watch TV for the programs, not the commercials. Too many conversion posts and you’ll find it extremely hard to build a great readership.

N.B: One of the reasons I write so few posts that promote my marketing services, is that I include a small excerpt at the bottom of my posts. This has a link you can use, if you want to know how I can help you grow your business or build a successful blog. Readers know it’s there and can ignore it, until they want to find out more. It’s out of the way, until it’s needed.

7. Keep it human

If you want your readers to connect with you, you need to be approachable. The reader needs to know that if they email or call you, you will welcome them. This means humanizing the relationship between you and your readers.

Here are a few examples, based on what I do.

  • I respond to every comment, which needs a reply.
  • When I reply, I try and always include the name of the person who commented.
  • If I notice someone commenting here for the first time, I welcome them to the blog. And I genuinely mean it.
  • Everyone who reads this blog via email, can send me a personal email, by simply replying to it! Your reply goes direct to my inbox, so we can have a more private connection. If it isn’t spam, they get a response and they know I love to hear from them. Many readers exchange emails with me several times a week. It’s wonderful. I love hearing from you. If you’d like that deeper connection with me, you can get all future posts via email, for free, by subscribing here.

8. Never aim for perfect

If you do, you’ll seldom publish anything. The perfectionist mindset places the bar impossibly high. It tells us that we have to cover every point, counter every possible argument and do all this, in an engaging way. I’ve written thousands of blog posts and not only are none of them perfect, none of them would ever have been published had I been aiming for perfect.

That’s the thing about the perfectionist mindset. It stops us from even getting started.

Here’s what we know about your marketplace: None of them are expecting perfection from you. Not one. As I mentioned earlier, what people want is something that’s useful, something of value. Something they can quickly read and get at least one insight, answer or nugget of information from.

In closing

A business blog can either be a waste of time or an enormously valuable business asset, depending on what you do with it. I hope you find something here, which helps your blog join the latter of those two groups.

To your success!

Photo: Sean MacEntee

What are you waiting for?

Don’t wait for the time to be perfect. It never is.

Don’t wait for someone to pick you. They may not turn up.

Don’t wait for permission. You don’t need it.

Don’t wait for the initiative. Take it.

If you want to make any significant progress with your business or your life, the best time to get started is ‘as soon as possible‘.

Is it impossible for you to get started today – if not, what are you waiting for?

Do you follow these 3 keys to business success?

If you’re not seeing the business results you want, it’s likely you are not working on one or more of the following 3 key areas, correctly.

Here they are:

1. Be so good that they can’t ignore you. This is the key to attracting genuine interest, from the right kind of people. You can apply this to anything. If you want more followers, do something worth following. If you want more word of mouth referrals, offer a service that’s so good, people want to talk about it. And so on.

2. Start blogging. It’s the best way I have ever found, to build a community (what affiliate marketers call a ‘list’) and position yourself as an expert in your field. Publish useful posts regularly. Be prepared to invest for the long term. Blogging is about relationships and trust. You don’t build those overnight.

3. Offer unique value. With so many other people competing for the attention of your prospective clients, doing it your way is the only way to get noticed. Be yourself.

Everything improves

Those are what I consider to be 3 keys to success, especially for small business owners. I show my clients how to develop those 3 key areas (and many others) because; when you are so good that people can’t ignore you, when you publish useful blog posts regularly and when you offer the marketplace unique value, everything improves.

I’ve seen some truly amazing results, working with clients who were previously making little real progress, until they focused on those 3 areas. I recommend you do the same.

In praise of the slow win

Why do so many small business owners look for shortcuts to success?

I have a theory. I don’t believe, as some do, that the typical small business owner is a fool. In my experience, the opposite is true and I think it’s insulting to suggest otherwise.

So, what gives? Why do we see intelligent people investing their time and money on improbable shortcuts?

Here’s how I see it

From the outside, a lot of business success seems to happen overnight. Seemingly out of nowhere, a brand, company, product or service is suddenly everywhere. Of course, we seldom see all the hard work, time, commitment, creativity, testing and measuring that went into making that overnight success happen. We don’t see the ‘failures’, rejections or risks either. We just see the success.

Having had the privilege of working with thousands of small business owners, many of whom have achieved commercial success at a life changing level, I can say I have never once seen one who got there using a trick or shortcut. I can, however, point you to countless examples of people who have focused their time trying to get rich quick, yet are still broke years later – sometimes broken too.

The slow win

In my experience, the slowest way to get from where you are, to where you want to be, is to keep looking for the shortcuts. Go for the slow win. It’s what the winners in business do.

Photo: Zoutedrop

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