Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: September 2013 (page 1 of 4)

I have some important news for you

I have some news for you. It’s about your competitors. I did a little research and it seems they have really improved the quality of their customer service.

As a result, you now need to improve your customer service significantly, just to be at the service level, where you thought you already were.

So, take time out today — right now if possible, to figure out more ways to delight your clients or customers. Look for opportunities to show how much you care about them.

Hang on…

Sorry, I was wrong

I just looked again and it seems your competitors have not improved their customer service after all. So, your investment in extra customer care could now pay you a huge, windfall dividend. It could encourage massively more of your clients to talk about what an amazing service they receive from you.

Think for a moment about all that extra word of mouth publicity and the endless referrals.

Sounds like a business opportunity to me.

Success seldom interrupts us

It’s my birthday next week… a great time for a little reflection.

On Thursday, I will spend a whole day working on my personal and professional development.

Why?

Because I want to get a year better, not just a year older. So, I will spend the day figuring out how to invest everything I have learned so far, into the next year of my life.

Business and planning

As we approach the final quarter of 2013, some small business owners will be reflecting similarly. They want their businesses to get a year better, rather than plateau for a year. Of course, most small businesses won’t do that. For them, January 2014 will not be the start of a New Year — it will just be another chance to relive the same year over again.

In business and life generally, success seldom interrupts us. It requires deliberate planning. If you want to see better results in 2014, the time to start planning is now.

Choose: Be criticised or be ignored

You can’t please everyone. If you try to, you will end up playing it safe… being predictable and being ignored.

That’s not a smart move for a business owner.

Alternatively you can embrace criticism

Instead of blending into the background, you can choose to do work that matters. Tell it the way you see it. Put your own dent in the universe. Lead instead of follow.

If you do, you will be criticised. It’s the price you pay for visibility and an indication that people are noticing you. However, if you’re willing to pay the price, the rewards are huge.

In short, it’s impossible to achieve any kind of commercial success, when you’re keeping your head down and being ignored.

If you want to know more about doing work that matters, read this: The key element that’s missing from 99% of businesses!

You choose who you work with. Not the other way around!

One of the keys to a successful business, is to pick the right clients or customers.

Many small business owners make the mistake of working with anyone, who has the ability to pay. They then end up with a random client list, ranging from wonderful people to rude and over demanding, toxic people.

The challenge with accepting toxic clients, is that they drain your energy and resources massively more than great clients.

For example:

  • You enjoy working with a great client and look forward to your next meeting with them.
  • You dislike working with a toxic client and dread your next meeting with them. So, as the date of your next meeting approaches, their toxicity poisons your work flow.

In other words, toxic clients are massively more emotionally draining than great clients.

Your clients deserve your best work

You deserve great clients. You do not deserve to have clients who are rude to you or who demand more from you than they pay you for.

Just as importantly, your great clients deserve your best work. You can’t do your best work, when your thinking and work flow is regularly interrupted with toxic clients. The only winner here is the toxic client — you and your great clients pay the price.

The solution?

The solution is as easy and as hard as this: Market your services to the kind of people or businesses you want to work with. Then, only accept clients after you’ve spoken with them and are satisfied they fit your client profile.

  • It’s easy, because it’s under your direct control. It’s your choice who you work with. Your decision.
  • It’s hard, because many business owners find it difficult to turn a new client away — even a bad one.

In business, we find that we get the type of clients that we deserve. If we are prepared to work with toxic clients, we deserve to pay the hefty price.

However, if we market to the right kind of prospective clients and choose only to work with them, we deserve the joy of running an exciting business, which rewards us on every level.

Remember: You choose who you work with. Not the other way around.

PS: I recommend you read this, if you want some more on this subject – Steve Jobs, Seth Godin and The Secret Of Their Success!

Here’s another way to grow your business

I have a question for you: Have you ever considered turning the average business development model upside down?

It looks like this

  1. Pick your clients — the perfect people for you to work with.
  2. Then, and only then, develop a service. The service needs to be something, which this very specific group will value and desire. Something, which is of direct relevance to them.
  3. Then, and only then, market the service exclusively to this specific group. Highlight all the things, which you know they will love about it.

Or…

Do what the average business owner does and try to find clients for a service you’ve already built.

You have a choice. The most obvious choice, the most common choice and the correct choice are not usually the same choice.

What’s your plan for today?

Many people answering that question, will notice that their plan isn’t really their plan at all. They will spend their day working on the plans of others. Clients, prospective clients, suppliers, colleagues… the list goes on.

Of course, as a business owner this is exactly what you should be doing. You work to help others. However, it’s important for you to get the balance right.

What about your business?

The challenge comes when you spend so much time helping others with their plans, that you neglect your own plans. You end up working IN your business, rather than working ON your business.

The answer is to incorporate planning into your daily work flow. Once you do this, you will find yourself guiding your business with greater direction and focus. The difference this makes is huge.

PS: Here is some great business advice from Steve Jobs, on the importance of working with focus.

If only they knew how amazing your business is

If only they knew how amazing your business is, you would have more great clients.

If only they knew how amazing your business is, you would be able to charge what you are worth.

If only they knew how amazing your business is, you would escape the feast and famine cycle.

If only they knew how amazing your business is, you could look to the future with confidence.

So, let them know!

Explain what makes your business stand out. Highlight the benefits of working with you, rather than an ‘average quality’ alternative provider. Showcase your strengths.

Just don’t expect them to believe general marketing claims. Telling them things like “we try harder”, “we go the extra mile” and “our service is second to none”, doesn’t work. Everyone makes those generic promises.

Show them specifics

If you want prospective clients to know how genuinely amazing your business is, you need to move from generic, to specific. This means providing supporting information for your claims. Show them the difference.

For example, instead of  claiming to offer great customer service, show them how you invest in customer service training. Show them the additional opening hours you provide. Show them your customer service awards and notable mentions in the press, etc.

When they know how amazing your business is, you will find you attract the best clients, the most attractive fees and the most rewarding projects.

So let them know!

PS: Here’s a free, 3 part series on how to attract the best clients and the highest fees.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 1.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 2.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 3.

Marketing 101: First impressions

What kind of impression are you creating, in the mind of your prospective clients and customers? In this post, I explain why image is so important and also answer an often asked question.

New branding

As many readers have noticed, I’ve added some new branding to Jim’s Marketing Blog and my social networking accounts.

Jim Connolly branding

A few weeks ago, I hired a professional photographer to take some honest, up to date photos of me for the blog. Then last week, I added my new logo and branding, which was created by the award winning team at Attract.

jim connolly logo

Why the new branding?

It matters. No… it REALLY matters!

As soon as a prospective client or customer connects with you on your website or a social network, they start to form their initial impression of you.

You can either present them with a professional image or… not.

Why do I invest thousands a year on a site that offers free information?

People ask me that question a lot. It’s perfectly true that the vast majority of people who read Jim’s Marketing Blog, are here exclusively for free information. They are the freebie crowd. It’s what freebie hunters do.

However, the reason I invest thousands of pounds here every year, isn’t for the freebie crowd. It’s for the total opposite crowd… professional business owners. These amazing people contact me every day to either Pick My Brain or join my 1 Year Marketing Service.

If I want professional business owners to continue contacting me, my message and the image around it, needs to be worthy of their valuable attention.

The same applies to your business

The first impression you give to your prospective clients or customers, is enormously important. It’s either generating trust or generating doubt. It’s either supporting your marketing promises or destroying your marketing promises.

The bottom line: Your image is either helping your business or hurting your business. You’re losing a fortune if you neglect it.

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