Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 1 of 191)

12 Things every business owner should know!

12

Here are 12 pieces of advice I wish someone had told me, when I started out in business. I hope you find them useful.

  1. Be quick to forgive. While you’re holding a grudge, they are out dancing.
  2. Either you run the day or the day will run you.
  3. Become a better decision maker. Remember, the decision to be indecisive is also a decision.
  4. Always try to leave the people you connect with better than when you found them.
  5. Risk taking is underrated. If you win, you’re happy. If you lose, you’re wise.
  6. In the Google era, people can find 20 alternatives to you in 2 minutes. Embrace what makes you unique. That’s all you’ve got.
  7. Consider firing your worst clients. Then, invest the time you wasted on them, doing better work for your great clients. This works surprisingly well.
  8. Only take the easy route when it’s also the best option. Taking the easy route by default leads to nowhere worth going.
  9. Following the crowd is almost always the wrong thing to do. Warren Buffett has made billions using this simple concept.
  10. Spend as little time as possible with negative people. They sap your energy and if you hang around them long enough, they’ll steal your dreams too.
  11. Learn how to set and achieve compelling, measurable goals. It will improve your life more than any single business activity.
  12. If you really want the marketplace to trust you, show them… don’t tell. Talk is cheap.

Stop making excuses. Really. Stop it!

Most of the excuses we have for failing to reach our potential, are bogus.

Think about it:

  • Nelson Mandela crafted his plans for a new South Africa, when confined to a prison cell.
  • Steve Jobs built the world’s most valuable business, despite coming from a family with very little money.
  • In just 5 years, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling went from living on welfare to become a multimillionaire, best-selling author. She did this despite being a single parent and having clinical depression.

Here’s the thing

Those who are committed to make it happen, will always find a way. The opposite is also true. Those who lack commitment, will always find an excuse.

Every day, we get to choose what we focus on… reasons why we can or excuses why we can’t. It’s up to us to choose wisely!

Let go of the past. Embrace progress!

start

It’s easy to start. Easy to set grand goals. The tricky part is sticking with the project.

Back in January, business owners worldwide set goals. They committed to do what’s required, in order to significantly grow their business this year. By April, almost all of them had slipped back into old habits.

For most small business owners, the first day of January is not the start of a New Year. It’s simply another chance to relive the same disappointing year all over again.

Stop

If you’re sick of working hard and making too little progress, stop. Stop and ask yourself why you’re repeating the same errors. Ask yourself why you’re starving your business of the resources you know it needs. Ask yourself why you’ve accepted this totally unnecessary cycle of struggle… why it’s OK for you to waste year after year. None of us can afford to waste years going nowhere.

Then, if you are serious about improving things…

Take action!

Don’t wait for January to come along before you get serious about the future of your business. Instead, give your business a head start. Get moving today.

The message here is clear —  old ways won’t open new doors. So, let go of the old and embrace progress.

Show them what you know and who you are!

blogging for business

Someone just emailed me, to ask what were the commercial benefits of writing a blog. He wanted to know why I spend so many working hours giving useful information away, for free.

I want to quickly share part of my answer with you, because it’s extremely valuable. It’s based on a blog post I wrote a few years ago. I recalled a reader asking a blogger if he was in as high demand before he started blogging, as he is today.

Here’s the gold dust!

In one sentence, the answer sums up one of the most valuable reasons for business blogging. It went something like this:

“No one gave a rats ass about me, until they could see what was inside my head.”

Share what’s in your head

Your business blog gives you the opportunity to demonstrate what you know, what you stand for and who you are. It’s a way for people to check you out and determine for themselves, if you “get it” or not.

If you really know your subject and have the desire to share what you know with prospective clients or customers, there is no better way to showcase your talent than blogging.

PS: If you’re still not convinced, here are 25 reasons to write a business blog.

How to create a new product or service, which people will love

The world’s most successful businesspeople have something in common with the world’s greatest inventors. It’s simply this:

Instead of answering the questions people are already asking, they look for new, better questions to answer.

The thing about business is that it’s already overflowing with vendors, offering the marketplace whatever the marketplace is asking for.

The challenges here are twofold:

  1. By offering what your marketplace wants, you leave very little room for innovation — the very thing that you need in order to stand out and be noticed.
  2. The marketplace doesn’t usually know what it wants, until someone creates it. As Henry Ford famously said; “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. There was also zero demand for tablet devices, until Apple created the iPad. Today, the iPad is a mass-market consumer item.

So, how do you spot what your marketplace wants, before they ask for it?

Look for unspoken challenges

Over the years, I have helped clients worldwide to develop new products and services, which are hugely popular and profitable. In every instance, I started by asking the client a series of questions. One of these questions, which you can work on today without my one-to-one help, is this:

What unspoken challenge is your marketplace faced with, which you could provide an answer to?

For example, the iPad was Apple’s answer to the netbook problem. Remember netbooks? They were small, cheap, underpowered laptops, which people used primarily to surf the net [hence the name netbook]. They had low quality displays and were awkward to use. However, they sold by the million, because they were easier to carry than a laptop and had better battery life.

The huge popularity of netbooks showed that there was a demand for what we now call consumption devices —  devices which people used to consume information and chat on social networks. Although you could get things done with even the first iPad, it immediately plugged the consumption gap.

It was an elegant, great looking answer to a problem, which the marketplace didn’t even know it had. It has been so successful, that tablet sales have eaten into a huge chunk of the laptop market. It’s one of the best selling electronic products in history — even though NO ONE was asking for a tablet!

Here’s a suggestion

Take some time out to think about the challenges facing your marketplace. Look for solutions, which people will value. No, this isn’t easy, which is why people work with me in order to get the answers they need, but if you get it right, it can improve your business beyond recognition.

3 Easy ways to boost your productivity

Social networks

Think about it: Technology makes it easier than ever to get things done.

  • Processes that used to eat our time can now be automated.
  • Meetings that used to require travel, can now be conducted using Skype, FaceTime etc.
  • We carry a phone in our pocket, which is a powerful computer, allowing us to get answers we need instantly no matter where we are.

Yet, we still have too little time each day. We have projects that are behind. We have things left undone, which we know we need to do.

Here’s how to turn that around!

The incoming

A major reason we struggle to get things done, is that we pay way too much attention to the incoming; Facebook, Linkedin, email, Twitter, text messages… all these incoming signals and more, shout for our attention. They train us to check for updates and each time we do, we surrender our time and our attention.

Here’s the thing: What we pay attention to changes how we feel and the way we feel is responsible for what we do. So, not only does the incoming suck up our time while we check for updates, it can also lead us into an unproductive state.

Thankfully, we are in control of the incoming. With just a few simple adjustments, we can become far more productive and focused. Here’s how to regain control in 3 easy steps.

1. Limit the number of people you follow on social networks

The fewer people you follow, the less distracting the incoming becomes. Do you REALLY need to follow 500 or 5000 people on Twitter? Do you absolutely have to be in so many Linkedin groups or Facebook groups? Focus on value rather than volume.

2. Change the notification settings on your social networking apps

By default, many social network apps will notify you every time there’s activity on your account. This means you can get distracted from your work, simply because Bob liked one of your Facebook comments or Barbara sent you a smiley face on Twitter. As you may have already discovered, it’s hard to ignore your phone when it’s beeping at you or has a light flashing!

Go into the notifications settings of your social networking apps and set them to only notify you, if something worthy of your immediate attention happens. Alternatively, you can do as I do and turn automatic notifications off. You will then be able to catch up on everything, when it suits you.

3. Make email work for you, not the other way around

If someone needs you urgently, you will get a phone call. Your kids, the school, your partner, friends and clients will call you if there’s a time sensitive emergency. So, rather than have your email app running in the background checking for new messages all day, turn it on only when you have the time to read and reply to messages.

In short — Take deliberate control of the incoming, rather than being notified constantly all day. Get this right and it will make you more productive, improve your focus and allow you to think with greater clarity.

How to build a successful business

how to build a successful business, grow business

It’s a very broad question, but a lot of people ask me for help with how to build a successful business.

So, here’s some of the best business development advice I know, along with lots of examples. I hope you find it useful!

Build a successful business… by doing all the work

Maybe the biggest difference between the most successful business owners and everyone else, is this:

  • The most successful business owners do 100% of what’s required to succeed.
  • The average business owner does 100% of the things required… so long as they feel comfortable doing it.

The difference in results between those 2 mindsets is enormous. The successful business owner sees her business needs something, and does it. The typical business owner sees the same thing, then weighs it up based on how comfortable they are about it. If it feels too uncomfortable, even though their business needs it, they don’t do it.

For example: I recall speaking with a business owner once, who sold his business to a guy, who tripled its turnover in 6 months. The former owner told me how frustrated he was, as all the things the new owner did were things he had already thought of doing, but failed to do because they were ‘too risky’. Over the 10 years the former owner had the coffee shop, he believes his aversion to stepping out of his comfort zone lost him at least $15,000,000.

If your business needs something, do it. Puff out your chest, leave your comfort zone and make the right decision rather than the easy decision.

So, to build a successful business do all the work required.

Build a successful business… by connecting with the right people, in advance

To build a successful business, you will need the help and support of others. As I have said here many times over the past 5 years, business is all about people.

One of the key differences between successful business owners and those who struggle, is the way they connect with people.

Successful business owners think of the people, whose help they will need, in advance. They deliberately, regularly make connections with key people. Then, months or years later, if they need their advice or help, it’s there. I know of no exceptions to this rule.

Struggling business owners wait until they need help, then they pester strangers with selfish requests.

For example: I get emails every day, from total strangers who want me to do things for them. Some ask me for detailed marketing advice. Others have just written a book or launched something, and ask me to write about it, because they know I have a great readership.

Never, ever start a business relationship, by asking a total stranger for a selfish favour. Make the connections first. Get to know people. Show some respect. Be human.

The most successful business owners, go beyond this… they actively look for ways to be of value to others, in advance. They know that ‘giving and receiving’, begins with the ‘giving’ part.

So, to build a successful business, make the right connections in advance.

Build a successful business… by having a wide spread of clients or customers

The most successful business owners know the danger of having too few, high paying clients. They make sure they have a wide spread of business, rather than a few clients, who are responsible for a large percentage of their income.

For example: My wife is a very good Amazon customer and spends several thousand there every year. We have deliveries from Amazon every week, often 2 or 3 times. Do you have any idea how big a problem it would be for Amazon, if my wife stopped shopping with them? None. Zilch. Zero. That’s because Amazon has a massive number of customers. They can afford, literally, to lose 50,000 people who spend just as much as my wife, without breaking a sweat.

The typical small business owner does the opposite. Especially service providers. They usually have a small number of clients, who represent the majority of their income. If they lost even one, it would have a serious impact on their business. In some cases, it can put them out of business.

To grow a successful business, your business needs to be resilient. It needs to be robust. It needs to have a wide spread of clients or customers, none of whom have too big a share of your turnover or revenues.

If you currently find yourself too reliant on a small number of clients, make remedying the situation your number one priority. It’s a lot easier to improve your spread of business now, than when you have just lost a major client or customer.

So, to build a successful business, don’t have too many eggs in one basket.

Build a successful business… by using proven strategies, not tactics

One of the biggest mistakes people make, when trying to build a successful business, is to copy the tactics of other successful businesses, rather than learn from their strategies.

For example: Hundreds of ‘new’ social networking sites fail every month, because they try and copy what Facebook or Twitter does, (tactics) and end up creating a very similar network, that has no users. This approach can’t possibly work. Why would anyone use a new version of Facebook, which none of their friends are on?

If instead, they focused on the strategies that worked for Facebook or Twitter, such as developing something sufficiently unique, viral and valuable, they would have stood a better shot.

When you copy someone’s tactics, you simply become a copy of the original. Copies are of little value. The original Mona Lisa is priceless… you can buy a copy though, for the price of a coffee!

The challenge with discovering a successful strategy, is that it’s often hidden. We can see the tactics successful business owners use, because they are visible. However, discovering the strategies behind those tactics takes a lot more detective work. Fortunately, many of the world’s most successful business owners have written books on how they did it. Others are often interviewed, allowing us insights into the strategies they use or have used.

I have never seen a successful business that’s made up of a series of tactics. They are all strategic.

So, to build a successful business, think strategic.

Build a successful business… by getting the help you need

Very, very few successful business owners are equally great at every business discipline. It’s natural for all of us to be stronger in some areas and weaker in others. Commercially, our areas of weakness can have a huge, negative impact on our overall business success, if we allow them to.

This leaves us with 2 options:

  1. Learn to become strong in the areas where we are weak.
  2. Hire expertise in the areas where we are weak.

Ongoing learning is essential to your business success, however, none of us can learn to be an expert in every area. So, we need to choose wisely.

For example: If you need a new website, which looks professional and isn’t simply based on a template used by a million other sites, it pays you to hire a talented designer. Otherwise, it may take you years to learn how to write code and study design, to the point where you can do work as polished as a talented professional web designer. You ‘save’ nothing by either creating a crappy looking DIY website quickly, or by robbing your business of hundreds of hours of your precious time, to learn how to design a great site.

Every successful business I have ever studied, has hired the help it needed. Conversely, every failed business I ever looked into, tried to do it all themselves. DIY is best kept to the home. Do It Yourself accountancy, IT, marketing and legal work, etc, makes zero sense… especially in today’s super competitive economy.

So, to build a successful business, get the help you need.

Finally

I hope you found these ideas useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with them.

Stop dumbing down your marketing. Really. Stop it!

dumbing down

It’s tempting to dumb down your marketing message. Surely, if you dumb it down enough, everyone will understand it. Everyone will have their questions answered. Everyone will be happy.

The challenge is, you don’t sell to everyone. So, you’re marketing to the wrong people!

A smarter approach

The most effective and powerful marketing messages are those, which your clients or customers understand. Messages that are highly relevant to them. Messages that speak to them directly. Messages that inspire them to take action and motivate them to hire you or buy from you. You can’t achieve that by dumbing down for the masses.

If you’re not making enough sales or attracting enough clients, I have a suggestion for you. Instead of dumbing down your marketing message, look for ways to smarten it up. True, not everyone will understand your message. However, your prospective clients or customers may think you’re exactly what they’re looking for.

Oh, and here’s some important advice that will help you!

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