Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: October 2013 (page 1 of 3)

Marketing 101: Why you have to choose

Coffee shop marketing, coffeeshop marketing

I’d like to share a personal experience with you today, which shows the commercial importance of choosing your customers.

The coffee shop that failed to choose

Most weekends, my family and I go for a walk along the local riverbank. At the end of the walk, there’s an independent coffee shop, which we often go into for some lunch. The place is very small, with seating for around 20 people. It’s mainly used by people with young families, who have been walking and older people who meet there for lunch and a chat.

2 weeks ago, my wife our young son and myself were enjoying our lunch when members of a cycling club arrived. They had obviously been cycling very vigorously, as they were dripping with sweat. The 10 of them came in, took their muddy shoes off (not pleasant) and walked to their seats leaving 10 sets of sweaty footprints. Not an ideal atmosphere when you’re eating!

Within a few minutes, an older couple who are regulars, cancelled their order and left. A younger couple with 2 small children came in and walked straight out again — the sweaty smell and noise was not what they expected.

We quickly finished our lunch and left. As we paid, the proprietor asked if everything was OK. I explained that it wasn’t and she immediately knew what I was referring to. She went on to explain that unlike the other local coffee shops who have banned cycling clubs, she hasn’t.

She said; “I can’t afford to turn them away!”

I replied; “Who? The cyclists or the regular customers you’ve just lost?”

Unbelievably, the proprietor then told me that the cycle club were rude and that one of them had insulted her waitress. Yet, she still believes she can’t afford to lose their very occasional custom! They mainly want to use the toilets, have one drink and have a 30 minute break.

The problem created with an intermittent issue like that, is that they flood the coffee shop just often enough to make it not worth risking a wasted trip. So, we shall not be using the place in future. It seems we are not alone…

The next time our family went for a riverside walk, we decided to use another local coffee shop. As we walked in, we saw several of the people who we usually see at the other coffee shop. They each said the same thing, that the atmosphere was ruined for them and they won’t risk going back and having that happen to them again.

The marketing lesson here?

It’s not about being short-sighted, at least not directly. The learning from this situation is that the business owner failed to chose. By trying to attract everyone’s custom, she failed on both counts.

The business owner failed her regular customers, by allowing the place to be taken over by the cycling club members. One of the regulars we met, who left after we did, told us that within 15 minutes of the cycling club arriving, the place was empty of regular customers. Others came in and walked back out again.

The business owner also failed the local cycle clubs. Other independent coffee shops in the local area have a sign outside, saying No Cycling Clubs. Now, had the coffee shop owner built a cycle club-friendly experience, with somewhere safe to put their expensive bicycles and a BIG Cycle Clubs Are Welcome sign on the door, she’d attract more than that one cycling club. People like me, who cycle regularly but are not part of a club, would also appreciate a safe place to store our bikes when we stop for a coffee.

By contacting all the local cycling clubs and telling them that she welcomes them, she could carve out a very nice weekend trade.

She did neither.

By refusing to choose, the coffee shop owner has lost a number of her regulars and will fail to attract enough cycling clubs to cover the losses.

The cost of dodging the decision

All business owners face similar choices, with many doing exactly as the coffee shop owner did and failing to choose. Most importantly, by failing to choose, you miss a great opportunity to offer exceptional service to your chosen market.

Of course, the paradox here is that the decision not to choose is a choice itself. It’s the default. The let it slide option. The fast track to average.

And if you think making the decision is hard, wait until you see the cost of dodging the decision.

PS – You may find this useful. It’s all about choosing your customers.

How to predict your 2014 business results

With 2013 now drawing to a close, many business owners are wondering what the coming year holds for them. If you’re one of them, you may find today’s post useful.

It’s about the three different types of business owner and why some will do so much better next year, than others.

1. For most, next year will be a lot like this year

They will keep doing what they have always done and keep getting what they have always got. Incredibly, this applies most to those small business owners whose businesses are stagnating or contracting. Those who most need to change are also those least likely to change.

It’s their resistance to change that creates their business problems and then allows their problems to persist.

2. For some, next year will be an opportunity to build on past success

These successful business owners will keep doing what they have always done and keep getting what they have always got. Every year, they decide what they want to achieve and then make the changes required. Even though they are doing extremely well by most people’s standards, they want to do better.

They rightly look to 2014 with a mixture of confidence and excitement.

3. For a tiny percentage, next year will be a transformation

These wonderful, rare people will take the opportunity of the New Year to learn from past failings and turn their fortunes around. They will STOP doing what they have always done and START getting what they have always WANTED. I have massive admiration for people in this group. It takes courage to change course — to invest in progress.

Question: Which group do you think is most likely to contact me for help?

You’d think that most of the people who email me to inquire about hiring me, would be in that second or third group. And you’d be wrong!

Although all my clients come from people in the second and third group, the vast majority of inquiries I get, are from people in that first group. They know they need to improve things, so they get in touch with me. However, the people from that first group never respond to my reply. They email me explaining how desperate their situation is, yet when I email them back to arrange a call, they disappear. They know they need to change, but the pain of change is just too much for them. So, they complain… and stay the same.

You and your business and 2014

I have no idea which of those three groups you find yourself in. What I do know is that if you want things to improve, then you need to improve — to leave your comfort zone.

A pound of action is worth more than a ton of intentions.

Stop trying to please everyone. Seriously. Stop it!

The message behind today’s marketing post may sound a little counter intuitive. I’m going to explain why the key to gaining the visibility your business needs, is to be LESS visible.

In fact, every entrepreneur who achieves meaningful success, sees their products or services ignored by the vast majority of people. It has to be that way!

Allow me to explain.

Most people Ignore Apple Inc.

Yes, Apple fans love Apple products. (Notice, how we refer to Apple customers, as Apple fans?) Last week, they clapped and cheered as Apple introduced a new line of products.

Think about that for a moment: Customers cheering at the prospect of buying products. THAT’S how much they wanted what Apple offered them.

Apple customers are happy to spend a premium to own these products too.

To the vast majority of people, the idea of spending $3,000 on an entry level Mac Pro computer is insane. Most people won’t even buy an iPad, when there are far lower priced alternatives out there. But that’s OK. Apple doesn’t design, build or market electronics for the price conscious crowd.

Why? Because Apple understands that to be highly relevant to its customer base, it has to be totally irrelevant to everyone else.

The lesson here?

Focus on your ideal profile of client and ignore the rest.

Most business owners, especially small business owners, end up selling their products or services based on price. All  because they fail to give a segment of the marketplace exactly what it wants.

So…

  • Their marketing messages lack IMPACT, because they are aimed at everyone.
  • They attract people who are price sensitive or fee sensitive, because they fail to give a compelling reason to use them rather than a competitor.

If you want to have a regular supply of high quality clients or customers, be less inclusive. Focus like a laser on being directly relevant to a profitable segment of the market. Speak their language. Solve their most pressing problems. Ignore the rest.

The irony is that by trying to appeal to as many people as possible, we cease to inspire, motivate or compel the best clients!

It’s easier said than done

Well of course it is!

So, why would anyone give such a silly answer, when offered advice?

Simple: It’s an excuse. A poor excuse, but an excuse all the same.

Easier said than done is the mantra, of those who do what’s easy rather than what’s right. It’s the stock response, of those who want the reward without the effort.

If I were building a team, I’d think twice before including people with that mindset.

What type of clients do I work with and who do I avoid?

As I wrote recently, it’s essential to pick the right clients or customers for your business.

After publishing that post, a number of you asked me how I filter the people, who I choose to work with. So, I thought I would share this quick overview with you — starting with those I choose not to work with. I hope you find it useful.

I don’t work with people who:

  • Are not business owners. Even marketing directors usually lack the influence to put our work into practice, without talking to their boss. It’s a frustrating waste of time.
  • Email me about my services, saying that they have little or no money. I charge for the work I do.
  • Email me with a one sentence long inquiry. Or email me asking what I charge, when I obviously have no idea how much of my time they will need.
  • Sell any of the following: Nutritional supplements / products, MLM, Internet millionaire schemes, affiliate marketing, psychic services, PPP, compensation services, etc. It’s my choice. Please respect it.
  • Are playing at being in business. I am only interested in working with people, who are committed to making something amazing happen.

I work with:

  • Business owners who are passionate about what they do.
  • Business owners who are in very competitive industries. The more competitive their industry, the better.
  • Business owners looking to take their business to a new level.
  • Business owners who want to escape the feast and famine cycle.
  • Business owners who no longer want to work for average clients and average fees.

That’s just an abridged overview of some of the things, which make someone an ideal client for me or a non-starter.

Marketing Tip

If you have not already done so, put a list together of what makes a great client or customer for your business. Armed with this information, you can target your marketing far more successfully. You can also avoid time-wasters, before they get the chance to waste your valuable time.

You can read the original post, here.

TGIF: A really bad marketing move!

It’s easy to understand an employee, taking a job they don’t like because of urgent financial need.

It’s harder to understand a business owner, building a business they don’t like.

Yessss! TGIF! It’s the weekend at last!

Yet, every Friday, social networks are illuminated with business owners, who are so relieved to finish work for the week that they have to shout it from the rooftops. Exclamations of “TGIF” (Thank Goodness It’s Friday) ring out from business owners.

Their sense of relief is baffling. We wonder why the heck they built a business, which leaves them living for the weekend. They probably decided to work with the wrong clients too.

Here’s the thing: Telling their clients, customers and contacts that they can’t wait to get away from their business, isn’t going to help them or their business.

If they thought about it, they’d quickly see it’s a really bad marketing move too!

How would you change your business, if you didn’t need to earn a penny?

There’s real power in that question.

Why? Because it causes you to think about your business in a new way… through fresh eyes.

Removing the money filter

Many business owners fail to discover potentially valuable ideas, simply because they can’t immediately see where the money will come from. The reason we need to free our thinking when it comes to developing ideas for our business, is that the money isn’t always obvious at the conception stage.

If it’s obvious, everyone else is already doing it and it has little value. For example…

Twitter

Twitter was a great idea, which would never have happened if the founders applied the money filter to their initial thinking. In fact, for years, journalists and media experts never missed an opportunity to say that Twitter couldn’t be monetized.

As advertising revenues rocketed and new commercial services were built into Twitter, the naysayers changed their tune.

Your route to zero competition?

I’ve been asking people to think more freely about their business for years, using that powerful question and the results have been amazing. I have seen commodity service providers build massively valuable niches.

Lawyers, trainers, accountants, web designers, marketers, coaches, architects, dentists, copywriters, IT professionals and many others, elevated themselves beyond their competitors, by working on the answer to that question.

Two of the three largest revenue earners for my business were created after I asked myself that question and answered it.

Now what?

I suggest you take some time out and give it a try. Ask yourself: “How would I change my business, if I didn’t need to earn a penny?”. Then, start writing. Write everything down, no matter how silly or non viable it may seem.

Then, review your answers. At this stage, you can start looking at how the idea can either directly or indirectly be of commercial benefit to you.

How it worked for me

For instance, when I answered that question for my own business, I decided to start Jim’s Marketing Blog: a site that gives useful information away for free and has no ads. The monetization came when readers started asking if they could hire me. Readers see how effective my free ideas are and figure out the transformation I can create for their business, when working directly with them.

Why not give it a try?

Ask yourself that question and get to work on the answers. Who knows what amazing ideas you will come up with!

Are your clients killing your business?

What box have your clients put you in? That may seem like an odd question, but it’s extremely important.

You see, a huge part of the way your prospective clients will feel about working with you, is defined by who you already work for.

Allow me to explain

When a prospective client checks your portfolio or testimonials, they get an immediate insight into the size and quality of clients you’ve worked with. If you’ve worked for clients who failed to give you the freedom you need to do great work, this too will be super-visible to prospective clients. Your clients will have placed you in the average box.

Equally, if you allow yourself to work for clients who don’t pay you on time, you will always have cash flow problems. This leaves you constantly desperate for income. Prospective clients can smell desperation a mile off. They will either be put off working with you or they will use it to drive your fees or prices down. Your clients will have placed you in the needy box.

Pick your clients and choose wisely

Working for anyone who will pay you fails you in the short term (you’re miserable), the medium term (you’re not fulfilled financially or professionally) and the long term (the process keeps looping). This is how negative cycles are created and allowed to persist.

Yes, it’s tempting to grab whatever work you can get. However, it’s not the solution.

This could be…

How to set up a positive cycle

Thankfully, the opposite is also true. When you work with great clients, on inspiring projects and your time is valued, it places you in the VIP vendor box.

Prospective clients see that you work with great people. They see the projects you’re involved in. They draw the conclusion that people like you don’t come cheap. You then attract more great clients, you get paid what you’re worth and this too creates a cycle.

A great, profitable and enormously rewarding cycle!

What’s next Jim?

Here’s a free, 3 part series I wrote for you, on how to work for 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.

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