Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: May 2013 (page 1 of 3)

How to Bake Marketing into your business

marketing baked in

The most successful businesses bake marketing into their services.

If you have not heard the term before, baking marketing into a service (or product) means creating something, which is of so much value and interest, that people want to buy it and also tell their friends about it.

Most small business owners do the opposite

Look around you at your competitors and you will see that with few exceptions, they all seem remarkably similar. So, they try and undercut one another on prices or fees, out network one another or outspend one another on marketing. They are focusing their time and money in completely the wrong direction. They are trying to get people interested in something, which isn’t interesting. This is a costly, avoidable mistake.

That’s why I want something far better for you and your business!

Bake marketing into what you do

Today, I am going to ask you to consider doing something bold. I’m asking you to consider not changing your marketing, but changing what you market – your core services.

Why? Because you can waste years of your time trying to sell a service, which is simply not interesting enough to the marketplace. Great marketing is no substitute for an uninspiring service (or product).

Conversely, a service that is of exceptional value will often sell itself, as people are so impressed with it that they spread the word. I regularly speak with business owners who don’t need to spend a penny on advertising, because their customers and their marketplace are always recommending them.

Most small business owners use the opposite approach. Instead of inspiring people with the story behind their business, they try to motivate uninspired people to talk about them.

  • Some pay people to talk about them or offer commissions.
  • Others try to pester people into recommending them.
  • Many join networking clubs, hoping that social pressure, reciprocity or rules of membership, will get people to talk about them.
  • Some spam us with unsolicited emails – I get around 50 of those a day, from people pushing dull, uninspiring services at me.

All of those work to a degree, but you can do massively better, by shifting your focus 180 degrees!

Here’s what we know: People do not need to be pestered or pressured into recommending a GREAT service. They automatically spread the word when they encounter something exceptional. However, we must first give people something worth talking about – a story worth sharing. When we do, they can’t help themselves. They shout from the rooftops.

An alternative approach

The alternative is to bake marketing into what you do. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Observe your marketplace and develop a product or service, which is based on what they want, rather than ‘just’ offering your version of what your competitors already provide.
  • Give people a story about you or your business, which is worth sharing. This means having the courage to be different. Easier said than done, but essential if you want to attract the interest of your marketplace.
  • Deliver a customer experience, which stands out for all the right reasons. Pull out all the stops. Leave your clients and prospective clients feeling moved and roused by the experience of working with you, visiting you or connecting with you.
  • Demonstrate your passion for what you do and your desire to help others. Passion stands out. Passion is infectious.
  • Have outsiders. You can’t have insiders, without outsiders. Insiders are the people who buy from you. Insiders are the people your services are aimed at. Don’t try and be all things to all people. If you do, your story will be vague and cease to motivate people.
  • Learn from the products and services, which you recommend. What lessons can be adapted to help you deliver something remarkable?
  • Strive to become remarkable. It’s the only way to compel people to remark (or talk) about your service to their friends and contacts.

Just don’t fall into the trap of trying to get people inspired about an uninspiring service or product. It’s expensive, low leverage, frustrating and the least rewarding way to develop your business.

Do the research. Make the decision. Take action!

Ogilvy on judgement

Here’s a very quick tip, to help you turn your feedback or research, into results.

I want to start by asking you a question: What role does research play in your business? I find that many small business owners will make big decisions, without doing any form of structured research. Others will do enormous amounts of research, yet fail to interpret the data and then act on it.

Making a judgement call

In my experience, a balance between those two approaches needs to be struck if you want to make profitable decisions. Do the research and study the data, then decide what plan of action to take and take it. This means making a judgement call.

This is something, which advertising legend, David Ogilvy, correctly identified as being rare:

I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.
~ David Ogilvy

Why is using one’s judgement so rare?

Because the person with the courage to make a judgement call, risks calling it wrong. This stops a lot of people. After all, if they fail to make a decision, they can’t call it wrong. Of course, it also means they can’t call it right.

Here’s the message behind this post. I want to share with you, the pattern I see time and again, with the most successful decision makers.

It looks like this:

  • They do the research.
  • Collect the data.
  • Interpret it.
  • Make the decision.
  • Back it up with action.
  • Then measure the feedback from their actions and learn from it.

No, this is not as easy as it sounds. This is why those who do it, set themselves apart from those who refuse to leave their comfort zones. It is, however, extremely effective.

How to give your business the focus and direction it needs

One of the keys to business success, is to work on the things you can control, rather than focus on what you can’t control.

Marcus Aurelius quote

For example, you can’t change the economy, but you can change your strategy. Those businesses that hunker down and ‘just wait’ for the economy to improve, lose their lunch to their agile competitors, who adapt their strategy to benefit from the economy.

Be the captain of your own destiny

Know what you want to achieve, then set your sail to take you there. Doubtless, you will need to reset your sail many times, each time learning something new. These priceless lessons help you to make better and better decisions. This is how all meaningful progress is achieved.

Let your inflexible competitors surrender control of their businesses, as they passively wait for things to improve and focus on who or what to blame.

Not you though!

How to boost your creativity by making connections

How creative do you think you are?

What stops many people fully benefiting from their creativity, is that they don’t think they are creative. They wrongly assume that unless an idea has never been pondered before and is plucked from the sky, it isn’t creative. Yet, when we examine the most creative people in any area of art, science or business, we find this to be a fallacy.

creativity connecting things

Creativity and making connections

As the late Steve Jobs famously said, creativity comes from connecting things. People who think they are creative look for connections. For example, millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked, ‘why?’

  • Blogs (or Web Logs) came from connecting websites with the idea of diary writing or journalling.
  • The underarm, ball-style deodorant was invented by Helen Barnett Diserens, when she made the connection between a ballpoint pen and applying deodorant. She saw the potential for the pen’s ballpoint system, to be adapted to deliver deodorant.
  • Henry Ford connected his experience of 19th century meatpacking plants in Chicago and Cincinnati, with the production of automobiles and created the automobile production line.

If you want to produce more creative output, a great place to start is to look for more connections. This post on how to become a creative thinker, will also help you.

Why it pays to think before you speak

Napoleon Hill quote

Napoleon Hill was right: Your words have incredible power. Your words can shed light where there was once darkness. Your words can make people feel like a million dollars or leave them feeling totally undervalued.

The power of words

Although words are powerful, we tend not to apply too much advance thinking, to what we are about to say. Yes, if we are speaking at a formal or commercial event, we plan our words. However, in our day to day conversations, I think we could all benefit from thinking a little more before we speak.

  • Your words can create or destroy.
  • Your words can clarify or confuse.
  • Your words can help or hinder.
  • Your words can inspire or demotivate.

Ultimately, your words can leave people better than you found them or worse then you found them. Choose wisely.

The simple secret to excellence

inspiration

When it comes to getting important things done, you have a choice. We all do. We can either wait for the right time to do something or we can get started.

  • An artist can wait for inspiration or he can command it.
  • A business owner can wait for everything to be perfect or she can plan, research, work and then ship.

Make no mistake: Success comes from developing the habit of taking regular action, in the direction of your goals, even when it’s easier not to.

6 Incredibly powerful questions to help you grow your business

Here are 6 essential questions, to help you take your business to the next level.

question answers

  1. Are you wishing the economy was better or are you improving your skills? You can’t improve the economy, but you can improve yourself. Make the adjustments required, to thrive. Don’t just wait.
  2. Are you running your business or is your business running you? Unless you are working to a plan, you are simply reacting to whatever your business is throwing at you… rather than running your business.
  3. Are you saying ‘yes’ to too many requests? Your time is precious. Use it wisely, so that you have all the time required to do all the things that matter.
  4. Are you investing in your future, by doing more than you are paid for? Future success belongs to those who pay the price for success, in advance.
  5. Are you associating with the right people? We tend to grow in the same direction as those we associate with. Think about what your associates have got you; thinking, believing, feeling and saying.
  6. Are you learning from past business mistakes or repeating them? If you are facing the same old frustrations, it’s because you’re repeating the same old errors. For better results, you need a better strategy.

What would you add to that list?

How to make prospective clients fall in love with your business!

love people

If you want to massively improve the way you and your prospective clients feel about your business, you will find the following technique really useful.

I’m also going to show you how to make your business a source of inspiration and excitement for you, rather than stress and worry. It starts by understanding the importance of being genuinely enthusiastic about your business.

Why enthusiasm matters

Someone once described their definition of a sale to me as, the transfer of enthusiasm. That’s a pretty accurate definition. If a prospective customer feels as enthusiastic about buying a product as you feel about selling it, chances are they will buy it.

So, what happens when a business owner lacks enthusiasm? The first thing that happens, is that their prospective clients notice. Just as enthusiasm is contagious, so is indifference and apathy. If you don’t think some business owners show that total lack of enthusiasm, just check out any social network on a Friday.

YES! IT’S FRIDAY!

Every Friday, thousands of small business owners feel compelled to take to social networks, screaming how happy they are that their week has finally finished. As their prospective clients and customers look on amazed, these business owners openly demonstrate more passion and energy about the end of their working week, than for anything they did during the working week.

It doesn’t matter how good your service is, if people sense you lack enthusiasm for your business. It doesn’t matter how sharp your marketing material is, if people sense a lack of passion and energy when they speak with you. In short: We can’t expect people to be enthusiastic about our business unless we are.

How to turn things around

If your business leaves you feeling more stressed than fulfilled, fix what’s wrong. Reconnect with the dreams that caused you to start your business. Remember that your business will always be a reflection of the decisions you make and the actions you take.

If you want a better, more inspiring business, stop what you’re doing and ask yourself the following question:

If my business was perfect in every way, what would it look like?

Then, write down what your ideal business would look like. Be as specific as you can. For example, ask yourself things like, how many hours do I want to work? How much do I want to earn? What would my ideal client or customer look like? Where would I be based? How would I dress for work? Be as specific as you can and keep writing!

What you have just written down, is a description of the business you SHOULD be running. THAT’S the business, which inspires you.

Your notes will now provide you with the foundation of a business development strategy. If you can do this yourself, do it. If you need help, I can help you. Just never settle for less than you deserve. You’re too good for that!

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