Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 1 of 187)

What happened next?

Business is full of contradictions.

Why do accountants, smart people who really understand business, tend to use the least efficient business model, selling their time for money?

Why do designers, supposedly highly creative thinkers, tend to work from similar looking offices, with white paint on the walls and Mac’s on every desk?

Why do marketing consultants, who understand the importance of standing out, offer an almost identical range of services?

What do you think would happen, if…

What do you think would happen, if an accountant developed an innovative business model that clients found attractive? Could it help them stand out in their overcrowded marketplace?

What do you think would happen, if a prospective client visited a designer’s office and found that it looked a lot more original, than the other designers they’d visited? Could it make the designer look a lot more creative than their competitors?

What do you think would happen, if a marketing professional developed a uniquely valuable marketing service, which got people talking? Could it help them build a successful marketing business, which gets referenced in the world’s leading newspapers and media outlets. [Yes, look.]

Most importantly

What do you think would happen, if you found a way to differentiate your business from your competitors?

Are you building a tribe or writing drive-by content?

Many people who write blogs, newsletters, email marketing, etc, think they are growing a tribe or community, when in fact, they are doing the opposite.

Allow me to explain.

Content marketing… and buckets

The problem with trying to fill a bucket, which has a big hole in the bottom, is that the water flows out just as fast as it flows in. It’s a never ending task, unless you get a new bucket or fix the hole.

Most Content Marketing, including that written by many so-called experts, is based around the idea of treating your content marketing, like a bucket with a hole.

  • It’s about attracting drive-by readers with ‘killer’ headlines.
  • It’s about SEOing your thoughts, rather than expressing your thoughts.

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin put it extremely well:

The copywriter/editor who trades in meaning for lists, using calculated SEO keyword loading and sensationalism designed to attract the drive-by audience, earns the privilege of doing it again and again, forever.

It’s like trying to fill that broken bucket. It’s also the total opposite of growing a tribe.

They drive by

The thing about drive-by readers, is that they drive by. They are attracted to hyped up headlines and quickly go from one “25 ways to write like a rock star” piece to the next. If your content marketing is based around chasing them, you’re making life way too hard for yourself.

Grow a great community

To grow a great community or tribe around your work, you need to attract the right people and retain their attention.

It means showing up regularly with useful information, rather than sensationalist, predictable content for the drive-by crowd.

It means expressing your ideas, rather than a keyword loaded version of what you think.

It means being brave enough to stop chasing easy, but low value, drive-by ‘traffic’.

It means building deeper connections with people who will value your work, share your work, call you, email you, hire you or buy from you.

A remarkable lesson from Steve Jobs and Malcolm Gladwell

Today, let’s look at one of the key factors in building a remarkable, profitable business.

Your business and doing it your way

Malcolm Gladwell was once asked how to write a best selling book. His answer was as follows:

“The moment you write a book hoping it will be a best seller, your chances of it becoming a best seller go downhill. [...] You write the book you would want to read.”

Gladwell went on to explain that Steve Jobs never brought a product to market, because he thought the marketplace wanted it.

Think about that for a moment:

  • Gladwell writes books that he would want to read. They are unlike any other books in his niche. His books are also amongst the best selling non fiction books of the last 30 years.
  • Jobs created products because he thought they were beautiful. Jobs’ success with Apple led to his company being the most highly valued in the world.

The lesson here?

If we want to create remarkable products, remarkable services and deliver remarkable experiences, we should deliver what we believe is right.

Think about it: The only way we can hope to build a meaningfully different business is to tap into our uniqueness. To give the marketplace what we would value, if we were the customer or client. If we simply look at what our competitors do, then find a way to do it a little faster or a little cheaper, we become unremarkable.

When Roger Banister broke the 4 minute mile barrier, he was remarkable. The next guy, who ran a little faster than Bannister, wasn’t.

In short: Set your own bar. Create what you believe is valuable. Deliver an experience, product or service that would get you talking, if you were lucky enough to be one of your clients.

Oh, and in case you are wondering… yes, you absolutely can do it!

What everybody ought to know about business success

There are 2 ways to build a business. One route works and one doesn’t. I’m going to show you both and suggest how to make sure your business succeeds!

This works

The business owners who achieve meaningful success are the ones who keep on keeping on. They feel the fear and do it anyway. They strive to be remarkable, knowing the alternative is to be ignored. They give it their best shot and when life knocks them down, they get back up… every time.

They know that you only grow by stretching and you can’t stretch without leaving your comfort zone.

This doesn’t

The alternative way to run a business is to try hard, but fail to give it your all. To work hard, but work hard doing the things you are comfortable with. To be predictable rather than embrace the edges. To seek certainty like an employee rather then seek opportunity, like an entrepreneur.

Thankfully, we get to decide the route we take. We can embrace the opportunity of what works or choose the fake comfort of what isn’t working; what I call the Failing Familiar.

How do we change route?

Change comes from the daily choices we make and the actions we take. It’s down to us. Our decision. No one else can push us up the ladder. The day we start giving it our best shot, leaving nothing on the table, is the day we shift from the Failing Familiar to the edge of our potential.

Want to know more? If you do, this will help inspire you and guide you: The 21 Habits Behind Highly Successful Business Owners.

7 Honest truths about marketing

Here are 7 important things to consider, when marketing your business.

In no particular order:

  1. Embrace brevity. Your marketing content is almost certainly 50% to 75% too long. Fix that.
  2. Most marketing advice online is either inaccurate or toxic to your business. Be especially cautious of anyone offering tricks or short-cuts to marketing success. Short-cuts to success are seldom short-cuts and they never lead to success.
  3. In business, everything you do is marketing. Yes, everything… read this.
  4. Great marketing alone is not enough to mask an average product or service. You are not ready to market anything, until you have pumped a massive amount of value into it, first.
  5. Don’t expect professional marketing results from amateur marketing. If you’re serious about growing a successful business, stop treating your marketing like a DIY project.
  6. If you need to attend networking events, to try and get people talking about your business, ask yourself “why”? Why aren’t people automatically talking about your business? Why are you not already getting more leads than you need from your clients? Why isn’t your marketing message spreading via word of mouth? Spend more time fixing the problem and less time pushing what’s broken.
  7. You will never be one webinar away from marketing success. Ever.

Hopefully, you will find at least 1 thing on that list that will stop you wasting your time or money. Most people will find several.

The question now is, what are you going to do about it?

How to write great content every day!

If you find it hard to write articles, blog posts or newsletters, I have a quick tip for you. It will help you write more frequently and in a way that people will understand.

Drum-roll please…

Write the way you speak

Think about it: When you talk, people understand you. They listen to you. You engage them.

You don’t get talkers-block either!

So, don’t treat your written words differently from your spoken words. Just type them, rather than speaking them. This is the approach I used when I started as a writer and it has never failed me. And yes, the more you do it the better your writing will become.

The challenge with this approach is that it robs you of any excuse not to write more frequently. Sorry :)

Tip – Read this: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

3 Ideas to help you, the next time they say you’re too expensive!

3 ways

If you are sick of talking to fee sensitive prospective clients, you are making 1 or more of 3 common mistakes, which I am going to share with you right now — along with the solution.

Let’s get started!

A quick look at value

I want to start by looking at the way your prospective clients think about value:

  • It’s always too expensive, when the price or fee is considerably greater than the value.
  • It’s always great value, when the price or fee is considerably lower than the value.

To get that price / value balance right, we have 2 options:

  1. We can pump more value into the product or service.
  2. We can lower the price.

The race to the bottom

Most small business owners focus on lowering prices or fees, in order to make themselves appear better value. This is why we often see competing businesses in that dreaded race to the bottom, where business owners race to out discount one another. It’s a low leverage and unsustainable way to run a business.

Here’s the thing about slashing your prices: Your prospective customers or clients can go to Google and find 20 lower priced alternatives to you, in minutes.

Here’s the thing about increasing your value: High value providers are rare. Rare value comes at a premium, which the right clients are happy to pay for.

3 questions you need to answer

The following 3 questions will help you identify why you are attracting too many fee sensitive inquiries. Go through each question and spend a moment to consider your answers.

Firstly: Have you put so much value into your product or service, that the price or fee represents great value? As every quality brand will confirm, we can always sell a superb product or service for a great price. However, we are fooling ourselves if we expect prospective clients or customers to pay a premium, for something that’s average or close to average.

Secondly: If you have created a product or service that represents outstanding value, is that value clear from your marketing? In other words, when a prospective client reads your marketing or talks with you, can they easily see a clear reason why your services are of great value? Use the best copywriter you can afford, to make the value obvious, attractive and crystal clear. I find the vast majority of small business owners get this wrong and use DIY copywriting, thinking they are saving money. In reality, it’s losing them a fortune.

Finally: Is your marketing attracting the right type of leads or inquiries? You can have an amazing service, offered at a wonderful price, but if the people responding to your marketing can’t afford it, you’re wasting your time.

For example: A diamond ring that’s worth a million dollars, would be amazing value if offered for sale at $100,000. However, if you’re trying to sell it to someone, who knows the value, but is broke, they can’t buy it.

Getting your value balance right

Lowering a price is easy. It can be done in seconds. It requires no creativity. However, the easiest decisions in business are seldom the right decisions.

Instead, look for inconsistencies between; what you charge, what you offer and who you are marketing to.

In short: You will always be able to sell a high quality product or service for a good price, so long as it represents great value and you are marketing it to the correct people. If you are struggling, it’s because you need help in one or more of those areas.

How to build a better business by solving better problems

Think about it… the value of your work and the demand for your work are determined by the type of problems you solve.

This is why one of the best ways to grow your business, is to:

  • Look for better problems than those solved by your competitors.
  • Create a solution to the problem.
  • Offer the solution to your market place.

You can do this by expanding the utility of an existing product or service you provide or by developing something new. It’s up to you. Both can work amazingly well.

Is this easy? No.

Is it worth it? Absolutely!

This will help you get started: How to find the answers you need, Einstein style!

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