Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: August 2013 (page 1 of 3)

How to turn time wasters into gold dust

gold bars

How do you feel about people, who either ask you questions about your service or look around your products, then leave without buying?

Some business owners get angry at what they perceive to be time wasters. In doing so, they miss out on a massively valuable opportunity. They leave a huge business asset on the table… untapped.

I’m referring to the feedback these so-called time wasters can provide you with.

Time wasters are attracted to us for a reason

If you’re attracting lots of the wrong kind of inquiries, there’s a reason. It’s usually a sign that:

  • Your marketing message needs to be improved.
  • You are marketing to the wrong people.
  • Or both.

It’s extremely easy to learn which applies to your marketing, so long as you ask these people for feedback.

Before they end the call or leave your premises, ask something like: What was it that prompted you to (visit or call) us today? This will give you some feedback to work with.

For example

If they often say they were looking for a low priced (whatever), yet your prices or fees are average or above average, you need to review your marketing message. Take a look and see if you are overstating how low your prices or fees are. If you are not overstating how low your prices are, then you could well be targeting your marketing message at people with too small a budget. You get the idea…

The key is to try and get as much feedback as you can from those who fail to hire you or buy from you. It will help you improve your marketing message, improve your targeting and generate more business!

In short: Speak with people who don’t buy from you. Listen. Learn from their feedback. Then, make the necessary improvements to your marketing. Don’t just assume that someone is a time waster and therefore of no value to your business.

Their feedback could be commercial gold dust. In fact, it often is!

Marketing Tip: Embrace the edges

edges

It’s coming to the end of our family holiday and I wanted to quickly share a simple, yet extremely valuable marketing tip with you.

We remember the edges

I sat down earlier, thinking through the various things we have done together over the past week and realised something. Each of the memories that stood out, were ‘on the edges‘. In other words, they were experiences that were not what we were expecting, because they deviated from the predictable, middle ground.

Truly great customer service, beautiful buildings, delicious food, outstanding value, interesting people… all of these were only memorable, because they were significantly different from what I expected.

In business, if we want people to remember us, hire us, buy from us and talk about us, we do well to embrace the edges.

How?

A great place to start, is to avoid offering the same kind of experience as your competitors and to focus on being exceptional in at least one meaningful area.

This is especially effective if you offer a service with little perceived differentiation, such as; law, accountancy, training, SEO, copywriting, web design, marketing, etc.

In short: If you want to stand out for all the right reasons, avoid the predictable. Stay away from the middle ground. Embrace the edges!

How to get results AND avoid unnecessary stress

focus influence

Each of the following have one thing in common:

  • The economy.
  • The arrival in your marketplace of a smart, agile competitor.
  • The next trend.
  • The price of commodities.

Answer: They are all beyond your control. You can worry about them or complain about them, but you have no influence over them.

Focus on what you can influence

As a business owner, it’s essential to only invest your time and energy in what you can control.

Any result you want to achieve, needs to be within your influence.

For example: If your plan for a better future is based around making business improvements, you can adjust as required and achieve real progress. However, if your plan for a better future is based around ‘the economy picking up’, you put yourself in a position of zero influence.

Relying on things you can’t control is a major cause of stress. It’s also a really bad business move. So, take control. Plan to succeed and then follow your plan.

Seek out the dissatisfied (not the disinterested)

It’s a fact: People who are happy with their current provider, are not looking for whatever your business is offering.

Even if you’re providing amazing value, it’s invisible to those who are not interested.

Focus on the dissatisfied

Yes, build an awareness of how great your product or service is, so people know who you are and where you are, when they have a need.

However, if you want to have the full attention of people, who are ready to make a purchasing decision right now… seek out the dissatisfied.

It’s a far more rewarding business building strategy, than trying to convince the disinterested.

Marketing 101: Make it more attractive, not more annoying!

spam

Around 30 people email me every day, with some kind of pitch. They do this, even though I specifically ask people not to pitch me, on the contact page of the blog.

They think their email is somehow special

They spam me, because they think that spamming is something that other people do. It’s OK for them to ignore my request, because they think their pitch is different.

It isn’t. In fact, the type of people who use that uncreative, pushy ‘spray and pray’ approach to email marketing, never have anything interesting to say.

The rules apply to all of us

Here’s the thing: No matter how special, ethical, important or valuable we believe our message is, the rules of effective marketing still apply to us. Spam is spam, even when we do it.

If you want people to take notice of you, do something worthy of their attention and make it easy for them to share. Build an email marketing list, from people who give you permission to email them.

If our message is genuinely of use or interest, the first 10 people who hear about it will each get us another 10, who will do the same, and so on…

If we have to keep pushing our message, because too few people are sharing it, it’s time to make what we’re doing more attractive – not more annoying.

25 Reasons to write a business blog

business blogging

Without doubt, business blogging is the most powerful and cost effective marketing tool I have ever encountered. It’s also extremely enjoyable.

Here are 25 reasons, why I recommend business blogging to you.

  1. Business blogging encourages you to keep learning, so you have something useful to share.
  2. Business blogging can generate regular (daily), targeted business leads. The caveat here, is that you need to learn how to write well and how to market your blog.
  3. Business blogging is the best way to build a huge, targeted, professional network. You don’t need Linkedin or any other network, when thousands of people already know who you are, exactly what you do and how to contact you.
  4. Business blogging allows you to reach people… lots of people, with your message. That’s because blogging scales to infinity. In other words, a post can reach one person or a million people, yet it still takes you the same amount of time to write it.
  5. Business blogging is more fun than watching prime-time TV.
  6. Business blogging is also far more rewarding than watching TV.
  7. Business blogging publicly demonstrates your ability to show up regularly. Reliability is highly valued in business.
  8. Business blogging provides a showcase for your knowledge. This is enormously valuable. People who hire me, know all about my work long before they ever speak with me.
  9. Business blogging increases your professional profile, as new people discover you and your work every day.
  10. Business blogging gives you the best tool on the planet, for building a community or tribe.
  11. Business blogging gives you a voice. If you have something important to say, people will hear you. This is especially the case if you stick with blogging, for long enough to build a large readership. How long does that take? About a week longer than the typical blogger is prepared to invest, before she gives up.
  12. Business blogging sometimes inspires people to email you, to say how your work helped them. This is far more rewarding than most people imagine.
  13. Business blogging makes you a more informed reader, as you understand the work and creativity that people put into their written work.
  14. Business blogging causes you to have to regularly dig down deep, really deep, to find something worth sharing. That sounds like hard work, but just as lifting weights builds your physical muscles, digging down deep builds your mental muscles.
  15. Business blogging makes you a better communicator. I’m convinced that regular blogging has improved my communication skills across the board, not just in writing.
  16. Business blogging is a great way to meet new people, especially if you publish a link to your email, on every post and page of your site as I do. (It’s on the sidebar.)
  17. Business blogging makes you a lot better at asking questions.
  18. Business blogging also encourages you to question your own opinions, to ensure they stand up to scrutiny and are worthy of your readers.
  19. Business blogging encourages you to regularly do research, increasing your own knowledge base.
  20. Business blogging can get you recognised in the mainstream press, for being named the most influential blog in your class, by the world’s biggest PR company.
  21. Business blogging allows you to build fantastic contacts. My initial contact with my friend Nile Rodgers, started because of something I wrote here on this blog a few years ago.
  22. Business blogging teaches you to look at things from more than one perspective.
  23. Business blogging provides you with a creative outlet, which helps you grow as a person. In fact, blogging has been the most powerful professional development tool I have ever used or researched.
  24. Business blogging ensures you remain constantly curious… this is priceless.
  25. Business blogging allows you to build a business asset, which grows in value with every passing week.

Get deliberate. Get specific. Get moving!

If you want to get the most from what I am about to share with you, I strongly recommend you read this first!

What do you want from your business? I ask you this question, because the only way to get from where you are right now, to where you want to be, is to be as clear as possible about your destination.

Let’s begin

A great way to start this process, is to ask yourself the following kind of ‘ideal world’ questions. This will show you what you really want to achieve, professionally and personally. It’s then far easier to map out what your ideal business will look like.

For example: In an ideal world…

  • Where would you live?
  • What type of home (or homes) would you live in?
  • What school would your children or grandchildren attend?
  • How many weeks would you spend travelling the world each year?
  • Which charities or causes would you support?
  • How many hours would you work each week?
  • How much would you earn?
  • Who would your clients be?

Add your own questions to the list.

So, what type of business supports YOUR ideal lifestyle?

Your business is directly linked to your lifestyle. It determines how many hours you have available to spend with those you love. It usually determines where you live, both in location and the type of home you can afford.

Once you take some time to answer the questions, around what matters most to YOU, take a look at your current business and see if it’s on course to get you where you want to be.

If not, change your direction. Now.

Remove anything that’s working against you. Build your business model, so that each element is taking you from where you are today, to where you want to be. Focus only on what matters.

How it worked for me

Will this process magically set you on the right path, to live an exceptional lifestyle and grow a great business? Possibly. It did for me.

I went through the exercise I just shared with you and found my ideal business and business model. Here’s a very brief overview of the things I needed to change and how I did it:

I made the decision 9 years ago, when my wife became pregnant, that I wanted to be there for her and our child. No more crazy hours. No more travelling around the world working. This meant completely changing my business model, which consisted of endless travel and minimum 12 hour work days.

So, I took my business and made it 100% digital. I moved all my face-to-face client work to teleconferencing (then Skype). I did the same for all of my meetings. I set boundaries on how many hours I would work and when those hours would be. So, I am around every morning to have breakfast with my son and every evening for dinner.

Pretty much everyone told me that none of that could be done. Not only were they wrong, I soon started earning more than before and massively improved my profitability too. This was only possible, by mapping out my ideal business, in advance… a business that would support what’s most important to me.

Be deliberate

It’s worth reminding ourselves that success requires deliberate planning. Success doesn’t interrupt us.

Yet, we find the vast majority of small business owners make fractured business decisions, with no joined-up strategy. They then wonder why they work so hard and often go round in circles. In many cases, all they need is direction… which only comes when they get clear about what they want and where they’re going.

So, get deliberate. Get specific… and get moving!

Stop settling and start demanding!

demand more

I have an important question for you: Why did you decide to start your business, rather than work for someone else?

That is a question that every small business owner is in touch with, in the early stages of their business. Ask someone that question, when their business is a week old and they will answer, with clarity, instantly.

  • I want to enjoy a better quality of life.
  • I want to be my own boss.
  • I want to make more money.
  • I want the freedom to do things my own way.
  • I want to make a difference.

Then something changes

Something then seems to happen to many, perhaps most, small business owners after a couple of years. It’s as if they lose touch with the motivations, which caused them to start their own business.

They stop making plans – and start making do.

It looks like this:

  • Instead of being focused on the fact there’s no ceiling on their earnings, they focus on there being no floor on their earnings.
  • Instead of experiencing the freedom that comes from owning a business, they experience longer hours than when they were an employee.
  • Instead of being their own boss, they allow their clients or workload to boss them.
  • Instead of focusing on making more money, they focus on making concessions on their lifestyle goals, to fit their income limitations.

Let’s turn it around!

This doesn’t need to happen to you. If it already has, you can turn it around… starting right now.

From this point forward, refuse to ‘settle’ for less than you deserve. Seriously. Stop it.

Reset what you are prepared to accept, so it’s in line with the goals and targets you dreamed about when you started your business. Stop settling and start demanding your share of the good life. Plan to succeed, then follow your plan. Anything less is less than you deserve.

You’re not alone

I am here to help you, every step of the way. I’m committed to providing you with as much useful, free information via the blog as I possibly can.

PS: In tomorrow’s post, I’m going to share some ideas with you, to show you how to create your ideal business and lifestyle, so your business starts working for YOU.

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