Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 138 of 202)

Here’s a quick way to get great new ideas for your business

Are you in the process of developing some new ideas for your business right now?  If you are, then today’s post is just what you need!

One of the most effective ways to generate valuable, new ideas and insights, is to think on paper.  The act of committing our ideas onto a blank sheet of paper with a pen or pencil, seems to encourage thoughts to flow more freely (for me and many others I know), than simply jotting notes down via a computer keyboard.

Getting started

The challenge many people face when developing ideas in this way, is how to get started.  For me, the secret to getting great answers and ideas, is to ask great questions.  Here are a few questions to get you started and help you develop some new ideas.

If my business was perfect in every way, what would it look like?

  • What would my income be?
  • What would my client list look like?
  • How many hours would I work each week?
  • Where would I work from?
  • Who would I hire?
  • What would my marketing look like?
  • Which of my current customers or clients would I no longer be working with?
  • Which new clients would I replace the above clients with (name names)?

Then what?

Once you have pondered these questions or some of your own (or both), start writing!  Get your pen moving and jot down as many answers as you can.  Make sure you give yourself enough uninterrupted time to get as many ideas down as possible.  If you can manage an hour, great.  If you only have 30 minutes, that’s a good place to start (plus you might want to add some time management questions as well!)

Quick Tip: Don’t rule anything in or out.  List everything and decide afterwards what’s worth working on and what’s not.

Will all your ideas be gold dust?  Probably not.

Will some of them be useful?  Yes.

Might 1 or 2 of your answers lead you to a significant breakthrough, which could massively improve your business?  Yes, of course!

Everything starts with an idea

By developing new ways to encourage your creative thinking process, you can increase the number and quality of ideas you have.  By acting on your best ideas, you significantly increase your potential.  I wrote a post earlier this year on how to improve your thinking, which you may also find useful.  In addition, this post has links to OVER 140 business development and marketing ideas.

What tips do you have, for encouraging the creative thinking and new ideas?

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

Photo: Smemon87

Have you been working this week?

Have you been working over the past few days?

I asked this question on Twitter and via my Facebook page yesterday and got some very interesting responses.  Almost everyone who responded, said they had been working, but ONLY because they loved what they do.  In other words, they were working because for them, work is enjoyable – Rather than something they want to avoid.

A few people even questioned whether what they were doing could be classed as work.  I find myself in both those groups.  I work with fantastic people and I work on extremely interesting projects and as a result, I look forward to working.

The need for balance

As Danny Brown mentioned last month, even if we love what we do, there’s a need for balance.  When work becomes play, the temptation is to keep playing.  The challenge here, is that we risk overdoing it without even knowing it!  Now, whilst I have never experienced health issues from working too many hours, I find that it DOES help my creativity massively, when I walk away from my desk for a few days.  So that’s what I do.

When I set this business up, back in 1995, I worked for 3 years without a vacation – Stopping only on Sundays and on Christmas Day.  I was 29, had no kids and my business needed me.  Then, I took a break and realised how stupid I had been, not to have had a break MUCH sooner.  After a week away from the office, I generated more ideas and made more progress than ever.  I didn’t know I needed a break, but I very clearly did.

Working can, and should be fun.  If you find yourself wanting not to work because your work is too stressful or you just don’t enjoy it any more, change it.  You are a business owner, which means YOU are in control.  Design your business so that it excites and inspires you.  As my mentor used to say:

If you don’t like where you are – Move!  You’re not a tree!

If like most business owners you LOVE what you do, always be aware of the need for balance.  Paradoxically, by working a little less, you often find that you achieve a little more.

Your feedback please

Have you been working this week? What’s your take on the work / life balance?

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

Photo: MSVG

Something better or more of the same?

What are you doing right now, to ensure that your business is offering the marketplace something better than it currently gets?

More of the same

The provider, who offers a pretty similar range of services and quality of service is setting a very low ceiling on their potential.   Even so, if you randomly research a few; accountants, web designers, lawyers, trainers or recruitment providers etc, you would see little if any real difference between them.  They will all promise a great service, show some testimonials and then reel off a predictable range of services.

They then wonder why they get so few inquiries, and why prospective clients are so cost conscious, when cost is all they have offered prospective clients, as a way to differentiate them from their competitors!

Something better?

Occasionally, we come across a service provider who’s offering a legitimately better service.  These are often people at the top of the pile locally or even nationally, such as:

  • The designers, who take our breath away when we see their work.
  • The accountants, who really “get” the business of business, rather than just the numbers.
  • The lawyers, who speak to their clients like humans, in plain English.
  • The trainers and coaches, who offer more than generic workshops and a range of courses that we could buy from a million other trainers.
  • The recruitment professionals, who understand the human side of recruitment and recruitment marketing.

Those who lead the field do so, by standing out for all the right reasons.  They make it easy for us to see the value of using them, rather than one of the competitors.  We don’t price-shop with them, we just hope we can afford to use them or buy their products, after learning how good they are.  This is why Apple Inc. posted record breaking profits in the middle of a deep recession; even though their goods are priced at the high end of the market.  This is also why I work with my clients, to get them out of the sea of average providers; so they can market from a position of strength, rather than compete on price.  I strongly recommend you do the same.

Moving forward

I spoke yesterday about the need for change; how change should always be geared toward progress, not simply change for the sake of it.  It’s all too easy to mistake movement for progress.  To ensure your business is progressing, offering something that’s better rather than just different, here’s a suggestion.

Examine the needs of your marketplace, their hopes, fears and challenges.  Listen to them on services like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc.  Work out how to help them in those key areas, with your products or services.  I assure you, if you do this correctly, they will find your products or services massively more attractive.

No smoke. No mirrors.  Just a customer focused approach to business development.

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


What everyone needs to know about CHANGE


If you want better results for your business, how do you feel about making the changes required?

The challenge with change

On one level, we know that in order for us to improve, we need to change, yet on another level, we tend to find change uncomfortable.  As a result, many people stick within their comfort zones and only really push themselves when faced with some kind of emergency.

Small business owners worldwide will be looking ahead right now, hoping to improve their revenues and profits.  They want more from their business in the year ahead, than they achieved over the past 12 months.  But how many will be seriously prepared to make the changes required for the success they want?  In my experience, very, very few.  Most will prefer to stick with what they know and just make marginal changes.

Marginal changes are fine, if someone is only marginally off track.  Although marginal changes can create significant results, this only happens when the basics are already in place.  Many small business owners need to make a more significant change.  A change in their mindset.  Their businesses are often seeing little if any worthwhile growth, or revenues / profits have dropped.  They are looking to the future with apprehension, rather than excitement.  This is NOT what they started a business for!

People start a business in order to enjoy a better lifestyle; doing work they enjoy, with more freedom and a better income.  Yet, many “accidentally” develop a business that requires more of their time, offers little freedom and in many cases, a lower income than a regular job.

Intelligent action

If you are serious about wanting more from your business, you need to take intelligent action.  This means finding out exactly what you need to do and then doing it, without excuses.  Anything else is a waste of your time.  Even so, small business owners are more likely to try and develop a successful business, during the worst economy in living memory, with only a foggy idea of what to do!  These people often work hard, doing the wrong things correctly.  That’s the opposite to intelligent action and it’s why the vast majority of small businesses fail.

We all have the freedom to just make marginal changes, follow the wrong plan or have no plan at all.  It’s easier in the short term, but the long term price for that approach is horrendous.

Helping direct the process of change

Change is something that happens to us all, all the time.  By deliberately guiding the course of that change, we get to live the life we want, or at the very least, something darn close to it. 

Do the right things, correctly. If you work hard but don’t know what to do, find someone with the answers.  If you already know exactly what to do, but have not been applying it into your business, start today (right now!)  When you do, the sky’s the limit.

Reignite the passion that caused you to start your business in the first place, and adjust your income up, to fit the lifestyle you originally wanted.  There’s no need for you to adjust your lifestyle down, to fit the current limitations of your business / income.

It’s always YOUR choice!

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

Image: Rafa Garces

How not to get YOUR fingers burnt

Last week, whilst I was cleaning the ice from my car, I burned 3 of my fingers and my thumb on the ice!  I was in pain for several days and will make sure I don’t repeat the same mistake again.  Most people, don’t associate scraping ice of their car with getting burnt.  After all, ice is cold.  Cold is the opposite of hot, and hot is what burns you.  Well, as I discovered, extreme cold burns you too!

Just like the law of gravity, which works regardless of whether you know about it or not, ice can burn you, even if you were previously unaware.  This is because ignorance of a process does not stop the result from occurring.

The people you see filling their social media accounts with sales pitches, are unaware that they are actually damaging their reputation by pushing their marketing on you and failing to connect.  The same with cold-callers and those who send you DM spam on Twitter, etc.  In fact, no one in business sets out to hurt their reputation or alienate potential clients or customers.

These ineffective marketing techniques are like my burnt fingers; they are the result of ignorance!

Why not take some time out to think about the impact of what YOU are doing, on the network of people who are exposed to your marketing.  For example, how do you currently reach people?  Do you have permission to contact them?  If you do have permission, do you contact them too frequently?  Do your marketing messages offer advice and answers, or does the reader feel like they are “just” being sold to (or sold at)?  Can they easily see the value of your services?

Taking an outside look at our own marketing activities can be extremely illuminating.  We know the intent behind our actions is good, but by taking an objective look at our actions, can we see how they may be perceived by the marketplace – BEFORE they hurt our results.

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

Photo: Steven Depolo

5 of the secrets behind Jim’s Marketing Blog

As it’s Christmas Eve, I thought I would share a different kind of post with you today.

It’s a list, containing 5 of the motivators that help me write and develop this blog.  These are not things I usually write about, so I hope you find this interesting and maybe learn a little more about me too.  So, here they are in no particular order!

My son

OK, I know I said in no particular order, but that’s excluding this one :)  I am always aware that although my son is only 5 years old right now, one day he will be a man and (hopefully) read some of what I write here.  I want him to be proud of what he sees, which inspires me to try even harder to make the blog as good as I can.

Pure enjoyment

Blogging is enjoyable.  I love writing this blog and meeting people through it.  I receive emails every day from readers, some extremely touching, where an idea I have shared with them has helped them achieve an important breakthrough.  I have also been sent handwritten notes, books and gifts from readers all over the world.  Something else that has happened, is that I have been able to connect with people, who I have admired for years, because of the blog.

Earlier this year I connected with Nile Rodgers (from Chic); whose music has been an inspiration to me for 30 years!  We are now in fairly regular contact, following a post I wrote here.

Green tea

I always start the day with a strong coffee, then drink green tea throughout the day.  Most green tea tastes awful but Mao Feng green tea from Tea Pigs tastes wonderful.  I don’t know if they ship outside the UK and that’s not an affiliate link.  There are all kinds of health claims associated with drinking green tea, and I have no idea which are true and which are not.  However, since adopting green tea as my main drink, I feel better.  When I feel better, I write better too.  That said, I drink this blend purely for the taste.


I almost always have music on whilst I write.  According to iTunes, here are the top 25 tracks I’m listening to right now.  It’s a very odd combination but an accurate picture of what I hear when I’m blogging:

  1. Good times – Chic
  2. Let’s start the dance – Hamilton Bohannon
  3. My philosophy – KRS 1
  4. Clear – Cybotron
  5. Love has come around – Donald Byrd
  6. I shoulda loved ya – Narada Michael Walden
  7. Stomp – Brothers Johnson
  8. Numbers – Kraftwerk
  9. Reach out – George Duke
  10. Metal guru – Trex
  11. Pretty vacant – Sex Pistols
  12. September – Earth Wind and Fire
  13. Money in my pocket – Dennis Brown
  14. Shake your body down to the ground – The Jacksons
  15. Stir it up – Bob Marley
  16. Nightrider – ELO
  17. Le Freak – Chic
  18. Absolute – Scritti Politti
  19. Shine – Motorhead
  20. Bambaataa’s theme – Africa Bambaataa
  21. The same old scene – Roxy music
  22. Biomechanik – Anthony Rother
  23. Love’s theme – Barry White
  24. Absolute beginners – The Jam
  25. My forbidden lover – Chic


As a naturally competitive person, I am inspired to constantly try and find ways to improve the blog.  I would like to help three times as many people in 2011 as I did in 2010.  Increasing my readership by 300% is going to take a lot of work, but the challenge is extremely motivating, as are the rewards.  As is so often the case, the more I give, the more I receive.  I am also constantly looking to improve as a writer.  One of the best ways to improve as a writer is to write, so expect a lot more from me over the coming year!

Obviously, there are many other motivators behind this blog.  I just wanted to give you a little insight into some of the less obvious stuff, which keeps me moving the blog forward.

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, I would like to a very Merry Christmas!

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


Photo: Wagsome Dog

How to make massively more sales AND reach more prospects than ever before!

titles, copywriting

Today, I’m going to share some ideas with you, to help you massively increase the power and impact of your marketing!

Tim Ferriss, author of the best selling book, The 4-hour Workweek, recently said in an interview with Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, that some people following his book’s ideas will still have to work 40 hours a week.  However, if they had previously been working 80 hours a week, that’s a huge improvement, right?  The book isn’t actually a step-by-step guide for how to work for exactly 4 hours or 240 minutes a week.  It’s a series of useful ideas and tactics for people seeking to work smarter and get more done in less time.

Tim’s book is well written and worth many times the cover price (buy it, I did), but how many copies would he have sold, had the book simply been called, “how to work fewer hours” or “how to work smarter”?  Chances are it would have been lost, in the sea of time management and professional development books that have flooded the marketplace.  The title, along with Tim’s extremely successful marketing (and bloody hard work), meant that this superb book got the audience it deserved, whilst other valuable books on the subject remain largely unknown.

Titles matter

Titles really matter.  A good title creates expectancy and motivates people.  It captures people’s attention.  It causes them to read on. Whether it’s the title of; a book, a website, a blog post, a report, a marketing email/letter, a group, a podcast or a twitter account etc, you should carefully craft the most compelling title you can.  Many small business owners will spend a huge amount of time, for example, writing a blog post or marketing letter, then spend 5 minutes thinking of a title.  They then end up with a great piece of work, which few people are motivated or compelled to read.

What titles do you use, for the products and services you provide?  How motivating are they, for your prospective clients or customers?  If you think there may be room for improvement, here are a few suggestions on how to develop more inspiring titles.

  • If you want more people to read and share your blog posts, look at the blog titles used on the most read and shared blogs.  Most blogs display the number of times a post is tweeted, giving you an indicator of how popular each title and post is.
  • If you want a better title for your next book, check out the best selling business books.  Remember: there’s a big difference between the best selling books and the best written books.  Some great books sell a handful of copies and some dross sells by the truck load.  Look at the best selling books list and search for common themes in the way a title is structured.
  • If you want to write attractive email marketing or direct marketing (mail shot) titles, look at the marketing emails and mail shots that YOU opened.  Think about it, most of the offers you get go straight into the bin or are deleted.  Very few have titles or subject lines, which actually inspire you to open the letter or email.  Keep a file with everything that motivated you to “read on.”  Don’t just copy them though – LEARN from them.  That’s where the real value is.

Great titles take time

It’s not uncommon for me to spend as long writing the title of a successful piece of marketing, as it is for me to write the actual marketing message.  The value of a great title, in encouraging people to actually READ your message, means that it is worthy of as much time as required, to get it as motivating as possible.

In my experience, the title is the most important single element in written marketing.  If you are going to invest some time in improving your copywriting skills, this is the area to start.  It can improve your marketing results by thousands (yes thousands) of percent!

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

Photo: Procsilas Moscas

Deal with criticism, like Mark Zuckerberg

If someone got a discussion going, pinpointing what they believed were serious flaws in your service, how would you respond?

critics, criticismTypical reactions to that kind of unrequested, negative feedback, is to either ignore it or attack it.  A less common reaction, is to study the critique with an open mind and look to see if there’s something you can learn from it.

Mark Zuckerberg and the critic

That second, less common reaction is exactly what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg did recently, when an employee of Google, a major rival of Facebook, critiqued Facebook.  Zuckerberg’s reaction to this public criticism of Facebook, is a lesson in how successful businesspeople deal with feedback.  Not only did ‘Zuck listen to what the critic (Paul Adams) had to say, he took the ideas on board and worked with them, creating what we now know as Facebook Groups.  Yesterday, it was announced that Zuckerberg had hired Adams!

When dealing with negative (or positive) feedback, it’s important to consider the source and the intent.  In the above example, Zuckerberg listened because the critique came from a member of Google’s User Experience team.  In other words, it was informed criticism. It also came with a solution to the problem, suggesting the critic was genuinely trying to contribute, rather than snipe.

Of course, it’s essential to check the source of feedback, before you act on it.  Not all criticism is well informed.  Just as you would not go to your doctor for legal advice or your lawyer for medical advice, you shouldn’t act on criticism from people who don’t know what they are talking about.

In my experience, when we receive criticism from a well informed source, even if we don’t LIKE what they have to say, we are foolish to just ignore it or attack it.  It’s worthy of review at the very least.

PS: You might find this post about how to deal with different types of criticism useful!

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

Photo: Cornflakegirl

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