Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 133 of 191)

What everybody ought to know about building a successful business!

Have you ever wondered why some business owners refuse to invest in your services, even though they really need them?  Here’s what I have discovered, having worked with thousands of small business owners.

I was prompted to write this post, after speaking with 3 people recently, (purely by coincidence), who were each failing in their attempt to make a living as “life coaches.”  It’s little wonder.  Their services looked identical, just like (literally) hundreds of thousands of other life coaches, and there was nothing at all to motivate someone to hire THEM as opposed to anyone else in their industry.  None of them had any marketing experience and all 3 confirmed that they were earning practically nothing from their failing businesses.

Even so, all 3 were committed to developing their businesses without expert help, during the worst economy in living memory, knowing they were going broke.

Why?

All 3 gave me the same answer: Lack of money.

That’s the wrong answer, by the way!

Think about it for a moment: Almost every successful business starts off with little or nothing in the bank. Their challenge is not a financial one, if it was, only well funded businesses would succeed and that’s very much not the case.  In fact, some of the world’s most successful businesses, including Facebook, started off with little or nothing.  Facebook famously started off with just $1,000.

To give you a picture of that mindset in action, you need only look at the answer one of the life coaches gave me, when I asked him why he refused to invest in getting a local marketing guy in to help his business, when he so desperately needed marketing help.

I simply asked him: “You said that local marketing providers were too expensive for you to work with, how much did they quote you?

His answer: “Oh, I have no idea.  I haven’t spoken with any marketing people, they charge too much!”

That’s right, he had no clue what the cost was.  He just decided that whatever it was, it was going to be too expensive!  His barrier wasn’t financial, it was a mental block around investing in his business.  That may sound odd to you, but it’s an extremely common response from people who have decided that whatever the cost of expert help, it’s always going to be too much.

So, what is it that causes someone to try and compete in an overcrowded marketplace, during the most competitive economy in living memory, with no expert help?

I have worked with well over a thousand businesses over the past 15 years and have found that many small business owners simply lack the commercial edge required, to make it in business.  They are often passionate about the service they provide and in many cases, offer a great service too, but they are so focused on what they fear (loss) that they are blind to opportunities for growth.

As a result of failing to invest in their businesses correctly, through fear of loss, they paradoxically make it impossible to succeed.

In short: Where a businessperson or entrepreneur will see opportunity, they see only the potential for loss.  With that kind of mindset, it’s impossible to succeed at anything, including business.

The mindset of success

Just as the people I mentioned earlier made a conscious decision not to invest in their businesses, others I speak to, with little or no money, still managed to get the expert help their businesses needed.  These remarkable individuals have a very different mindset.  They make decisions based on what’s right for their business, rather than what’s easy.  They weigh up opportunities based on the potential for gain and loss and if the potential for gain is far greater, they do it.  Their failing counterparts will look for 100% guarantees, so elect to do nothing and thus miss everything.

I have met, spoken with and occasionally worked with, business owners who have had to make some tough decisions, in order to get the money required to get their business the technology, machinery, equipment or professional advice it needed in order to succeed.

They knew what was needed and they did what was required.

Our ability to look at the bigger picture and make the right decisions is ultimately what will determine how far we can go.  Each time we starve our business of the things it needs, we make it harder to survive, let alone thrive.

Thankfully, when we make decisions based on what’s right, rather than what’s easy, we move forward.  If we want to know how well our current mindset is serving us, we need only look at our results.  If we want better results, we need to take better actions and that comes when we make better decisions.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

4 ways to grow your business!

There are 4 ways to grow a business, which you need to focus on if you want to dramatically improve your marketing results.  Here are all 4, along with a brief explanation of each and some ideas on how to benefit form them:

  1. Win more clients.
  2. Increase the transaction value of your existing clients.
  3. Increase the frequency of your client’s purchasing.
  4. Reduce the number of clients who leave (what we call attrition.)

Your marketing strategy, should include plans for you to grow your business, using all 4 of the above areas.

Grow your business by attracting more clients

The first way to grow your business, is to attract more great clients or customers, (herein called clients.)  You do this by offering your marketplace compelling, uniquely valuable reasons to use YOUR services.  Remember, people will only be motivated to become your client, if YOU motivate them enough.  It’s easier for them to stay where they are, so your messages need to (literally) move them to take action.

It’s not enough to sound just like all the others in your space.  It’s not enough to make the same tired promises or offer a similar range of services or products.  You need to get creative and give inspiring, compelling reasons for people to buy from you.  If you do, they will.

Grow your business by increasing the value of transactions

You should look for ways to increase the value of your clients overall spend with you.  This means introducing new services or products for them to purchase, which will deliver outstanding value and enrich their lives, their businesses or both.  It’s NOT about just increasing your prices or fees every year.

Find out what issues, problems or challenges your clients are experiencing right now and look for ways to help them, with new services or products.  It is far, far easier, and more profitable, for you to sell a 2nd or 3rd service to your existing clients, than for you to successfully win 2 or 3 times as many clients.  This is the fastest way to increase your overall profits and revenue.

As well as looking for new services to offer, I also strongly suggest you offer your clients a platinum or diamond version of your current services.  People are busy and quality never goes out of style.  You may be surprised to discover how highly people value an elite version of your services.

Grow your business by increasing the frequency of your client’s transactions

Check that your clients are buying from you frequently enough, for them to get the very best results.  Jay Abraham used to give a great example of this.  He would say that if you sold water-coolers and you knew that in order for your client’s staff to be fully hydrated and healthy, they needed 5 glasses of water a day, (but they were only buying the equivalent of 3 glasses a day), you had a professional obligation to help them make the right decision and get all the water they needed.  Only increase the frequency of a client’s purchases, when it’s in THEIR interest to do so – Not yours.

Grow your business by retaining more clients for longer

You should seek to reduce the number of clients that stop using your services or buying your products.  We call this your attrition rate.  The bottom line here is that you will grow your business faster and have a far more robust business, if you retain as many clients as possible.

Client retention is all about listening to your clients and taking heed of what they say.  Offer your clients what they want and provide it to them, to the very best of your abilities.  Have a process in place, to connect with clients who have not been in touch with you for a while.  Deal with client issues quickly and thoroughly.  Treat customer service as a marketing component – Because that’s what it is.

Don’t be like those companies, who treat people like royalty during the purchase process, then pass them over to a disinterested “account executive” once they have signed the contract.  Also, whenever a client switches from you to a new provider, ask them why.  Give them an exit call or send them an exit survey.

Listen to them.  Learn from them.

So, those are the 4 ways to grow your business.  Make them the cornerstone of your marketing strategy and it will ensure that you are covering all the bases.

Your tips please!

Do you have any tips for your fellow readers, regarding any of the 4 ways to grow a business mentioned here?  If you do, please share them!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

See how easily you can BOOST your income in 2011!

Here’s some important marketing advice that can help you massively increase your income, if you are like the vast majority of small business owners out there.  Let me start by asking you a quick question:

How many ways do you market your services?

The most successful businesses will use at least a dozen or more forms of marketing.  Each marketing activity will have been chosen and developed, so that it compliments and builds upon the others.  This creates what we call a compound marketing effect.  This is also what I am referring to, when you hear me mention the term strategic marketing.

Strategic marketing

Strategic marketing is about the BIG picture. If you want to massively improve your results and set your business on the right track, you need to think and plan strategically.  Your marketing strategy is a focused plan, which will usually be split into weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual segments.  It’s a flexible plan, which needs to be reviewed regularly.  You need to know what works, and what doesn’t.  You need to know what needs fixing, and what needs trashing.  Here’s some information on how to test and measure your marketing.

Tactical marketing

Tactical marketing is how most small business owners market their services.  They tend to be on the look out for the ONE KILLER MARKETING TACTIC or trick, which will make them rich.  Because they are always looking for that non-existent silver bullet, they usually have either no overall marketing strategy or just a fuzzy idea of what they should be doing.  They make seemingly random marketing decisions, which do not build upon anything.

Most small business owners market in isolation.  For example, they will (just decide) to do some email marketing and because there’s no overall plan, if they don’t get a great result after the first or second email, they stop.  They wouldn’t even think of developing a 6 month email marketing plan, with each email message building on the previous one, until the final email gives a massively leveraged call to action, which earns them a ton of money! No, they will send a few poorly written emails out and then claim email marketing doesn’t work!  If the magic bullet fails more than a few times, it’s dropped and replaced with the next isolated marketing attempt.

Don’t do that. It’s frustrating and you will go broke!

Marketing strategy first – Marketing tactics second

If you want to start seeing some real, measurable progress, you need to know what your marketing strategy is.  Only then, can you possibly know what the correct tactics will be for you and what you want to achieve.  Otherwise, it’s like trying to plan a route somewhere, when you don’t have a destination!

Decide what you want to achieve and get specific.  This means putting some numbers together, such as your target; turnover, profits, unit sales, client numbers etc.  Then, decide what resources you are prepared to invest, to make this happen.  For example, how much time / money are you able to invest in your marketing?  Until you know exactly what your resources are, you cannot possibly select the correct marketing tactics for your overall strategy.

So, it’s strategy first, then combine (or compound) your tactics together, in order to get the best possible results.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Do you make this marketing mistake?

The ability to work today, on creating a better tomorrow, is a cornerstone of business success.  However, many small business owners get it all wrong.

For example, I spoke with a business owner last week, who wasted hundreds of hours just 6 months ago, writing a paperback book on how to use Twitter.  His self-published book is already woefully out of date and he is around $12,000 out of pocket!  Twitter is a constantly evolving platform, and paperback books are static once published; ensuring his book would have an extremely limited shelf life and decrease in value with each passing day.  By failing to plan ahead, he ended up driving $12,000 worth of books to his local recycling centre, to be pulped!

Ask anyone in marketing and they will tell you that there is a rush for their services in January.  This is because many business owners don’t plan for the coming year, until it has already started!  It’s as if they are unaware in October, that January is just around the corner.  Business owners with that disadvantage are always playing catch-up with  their better prepared competitors.  For instance, I will see a 400% increase in requests for my services in January and none of them have a hope of hiring me, as all my available client places will have already been booked, by forward thinking business owners.

Invest some time today in planning for what you want next week, next month, next year and beyond.

Build a better future, by making better decisions, today!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Why you can’t make money with great ideas!

It’s a fact: Great ideas alone are of little use.

They only acquire value, when you use them!

One of the biggest blocks to commercial success, is the inability to take the action required for what you want to achieve.  Everyone in business can do the easy stuff; however, very few business owners are prepared to discipline themselves to do the tricky, challenging things that are required for success.

When people ask me how I dragged myself out of the gutter into a life of abundance, (BTW: here’s what I used to call home!) I tell them that I read some great books and then put every great idea I discovered into action.

When I think of every successful person I know, from my long time friend, the grammy award-winning writer / producer Bruce Elliott-Smith through to people I have worked with at The BBC, like Lara King and on to every successful businessperson I have worked with, they are ALL people of action.  They get an idea and they use it.

That kind of self motivation is in stark contrast to what you and I see around us each day.  Typically, people will do what’s easy, rather than what’s right.  Business owners, for example, will often know that there are important things that need to be done, yet they will avoid doing them because they are too hard to do and so easy NOT to do.  The challenge with that approach is that it’s broken.  It doesn’t work.

I was prompted to write this brief post, after hearing someone on the radio earlier say that: “When all is said and done, there’s a lot more said, than done!”  How very true.  I hear people discussing amazing plans and opportunities all the time, yet see very few actually putting plans into action.

If you think you would benefit from learning how to motivate yourself (and others) I have an audio program you should check out.  I wrote and recorded it specifically for people who want to learn how to put their plans and ideas into action.  It’s based on the same set of tools that I used to transform my life and has been used by people in over 100 countries, without a single money back request.  You can grab a copy here, download it and be listening to me share these ideas and techniques with you in minutes.

Give your best plans and ideas the chance to succeed that they deserve, by putting them into action.  You will be amazed at the results.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

See how easily you can improve your marketing and make more sales!

I’m going to show you 6 very easy ways to improve the success of your marketing.

It’s based on the understanding that the marketplace likes things to be easy.  So, the easier you make it for people to learn about you and connect with you, the easier YOU will find it to gain inquiries, attract new customers or make more sales.

Let’s go!

1. Your site needs to be easy to navigate around.

There’s little point having lots of wonderful, valuable content on your website or blog, if people can’t find it.  Many sites have pages within pages and information on the same subject, which is scattered all over the site.  Keep your site clean and clear.  Make sure it loads nice and quickly and that all your links work.  The easier your prospective clients can navigate your site, the more likely they are to find what they are looking for, and get in touch with you / buy from the site.

2. You need to make it easy for people to contact you via your website too.

That DOESN’T mean a contact box on a contact page, where you tell people they have to give YOU their email address, name, company name etc – just to get in touch.  Many people (me included) will not do that!  If that’s the only way for people to contact you, I can assure you 100% that it is losing you business inquiries.  To be easy to contact, give people your phone number, email address, social networking accounts and if you want people to trust you, I suggest you put a postal address down too!

3. The benefits of using your services need to be easy to understand.

This means short, information rich content that’s written in plain English.

4. Make it easy for people to trust you.

Use testimonials from named people, who had great experiences with you.  If you have won an award or reached a certified level of achievement within your industry, make sure people can easily see it.  I have a big orange shield on this site, which shows people that this blog is listed as one of the top 150 marketing blogs in the world, by AdAge – The most respected organizations in our industry.  Similarly, on my about page I mention that my expertise has been quoted or listed on The BBC, CBS, ITV etc and and in print via The New York Times, The LA Times and others.

5. Your persona needs to be easy to engage with.

If you use your blog or social networking accounts as a way to broadcast what you think, rather than engage people and communicate, you will attract very few inquiries.  Prospective client’s find it a lot easier to email or call a potential provider, if that provider is personable and approachable. Be human and make it easy for them to see the real you.

6. Make it easy for people to call you.

This means never, ever using a premium rate phone number or cell / mobile number as your contact number.  No one wants to have to pay you, via a premium rate number, to find out about your services.  Many small businesses use non-standard numbers because they want to disguise where they are located, in case it puts people off.  That’s nuts.  I suggest you use a normal number.  Mobile phone numbers, when used as the only contact number, make you look less stable.  As a consequence, this will reduce the number of calls you receive and by extension, the number of inquiries you get.

What would you add to that list, as a way to make it as easy as possible for people to find the value in what you do?

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

What everyone needs to know about their business in 2011!

If thousands of people offer a very similar service to your own, your income will be limited.

If hundreds of people in your industry market their services in a similar way to you, your growth potential will be limited.

If tens of people in your industry have websites that rank higher on Google than your site does, your online marketing potential will be limited.

If just one of your competitors decides to up their game and target your clients with professional, competitive marketing, your turnover and profits next year will be limited.

With 2011 just around the corner, you have a decision to make.  You can either make 2011 a replay of 2010 or you can decide that you want something better.

To relive the same year over again (and waste another 12 months), simply do whatever you did in 2010.  This is what most small business owners will do and it’s why they seldom make any worthwhile progress.  It’s the path of least resistance. It’s easy.  There’s no need to change.

To make things better in 2011, you need to stop whatever your current approach is and replace it with something more effective.  This requires courage, which is why this path is so rare.  It also requires change, which makes it just too uncomfortable for most people to try.  The masses prefer to complain, but stay the same.

So, more of the same or something better?

Thankfully, the decision is always yours!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

The secret to being OUTSTANDING!

When you were a kid, you were told that there is safety in numbers.  You learned that if you were with a group of children on a trip somewhere, it was potentially very dangerous to stray away from the rest of the pack.  For kids in that type of scenario, the advice is correct.

To be outstanding, you need to stand out!

As adults, most small business owners are still following the pack, like when they were kids.  The challenge here, is that it’s impossible to be outstanding in business or achieve outstanding results, unless you stand out.  To stand out commercially, we need to have the courage to break away from the pack – To be different from our competitors.

Here’s the thing: Every time you do something with your marketing, customer service or business development, which mirrors what your competitors are doing, you become a little less outstanding.  My mirroring what the pack are doing, you make it impossible to break beyond the “average” and that’s a stressful, uninspiring place to spend your career.

Now, you can (just about) scrape a living without being outstanding.  However, I’m pretty sure you didn’t go into business to scrape a living. Right?  You started a business because you wanted something more than that.  You could have had a regular job if all you wanted was to pay the bills and have a little left over.  No, you decided you wanted more from your life and that’s exactly what you should focus on.

Don’t settle for less, just to accommodate an under-performing business

Don’t be like the masses of small business owners, who forget about the dreams and ambitions they had when they started their business.  These guys have adjusted their lifestyle DOWN to accommodate an under-performing business, rather then adjust the performance of their business UP, so that it fulfils their ambitions.  Fall back in love with the passion that drove you to start your business and use that energy to inspire you to break away from average and become outstanding!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

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