What’s your biggest marketing challenge?

This blog contains thousands of free marketing ideas and marketing answers, to help you achieve your best sales results ever.  With new marketing material being added all the time, I hope to provide you with an increasingly valuable marketing resource.  However, in order for me to make this blog as valuable as possible to you, I need to know which marketing challenges or problems are most important to you.

For example; lead generation, email marketing, social media marketing, mail shots (direct mail), networking, retail marketing, referrals, joint ventures, etc.

So, I would really appreciate it, if you would take a moment to let me know what areas of marketing you would like me to focus on, by leaving a comment below.

Your feedback will directly influence what I write about and help me to focus on the areas of marketing, which are most relevant to you and your business.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Photo: Margaret Anne Clarke

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Marketing time for your business?

This quick marketing tip is all about how to improve your marketing results in the medium and long term.  In fact, it will give you one of the marketing foundations behind the most successful businesses in the world.

Marketing & small businesses: Never enough time!

I often hear the owners of small businesses, saying that they don’t have the time to market their services as an ongoing activity.  They tell me that it’s only when they lose a major account, that they have the time available, to dedicate to marketing.

The primary problem with this approach to marketing is that it simply does not work.  It causes a business to reach a plateau or spin its wheels.  This happens because periods of growth mainly come, AFTER there has been a loss of business / revenue / profits.  The loss of business having prompted the marketing.

When I hear the time argument, I explain that when marketing is conducted on an ongoing basis, it actually takes very little time each month.  Unlike panic-based marketing, when there’s been a big, sudden drop in business, working to a marketing strategy takes surprisingly little time.

In contrast, successful businesses of all sizes, work on their marketing all the time. It’s just a normal, ongoing business activity.  The difference between the two approaches to marketing is that one type of business uses tactical marketing, whilst the other uses strategic marketing.

I wrote a post about this, which explains the difference between tactical and strategic marketing and also explains compound marketing / leverage.  Be sure to check it out!

Tailor your marketing strategy to your resources

When I work with my clients, I always start off by ensuring that their marketing strategy is tailored, to match their resources.  It has to be manageable and easy to do.  It also needs to not get in the way of their core business.

Your marketing strategy needs to be similarly developed around your unique situation.  When it is, marketing becomes manageable and easy to implement into your working week.  This is the secret to developing a predictable, confidence inspiring flow of sales / new business.

What have your experiences been?  Please let us know with a comment.

Photo: Laffy4k

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

Marketing and Business: It’s all about the people!

Successful marketing is all about people.

It’s not about; brands, venues, websites, companies or social media tools – Marketing is all about people.  You see, without people, none of those things matter.

I met with a friend of mine this morning, who owns a large and very successful nightclub.  We had our meeting this time, in the nightclub itself, rather than his office, and the sensation was amazing.  I have only previously been there, when it’s been packed with hundreds of people, having a great time and enjoying the music.  This morning, you could have heard a pin drop, as we sat, drinking coffee and talking about his marketing.

You see, it’s not the building, fixtures or fittings that makes his nightclub a success; it’s the people who work there and party there. Without people, the place means nothing. The value is in the people.

I’m sure you have seen what happens, when a great restaurant or bar changes ownership, and suddenly the atmosphere plummets. The building and the surroundings look just the same, but it’s a totally different experience.  That’s because it’s the people that make the difference!

Online networking: It’s the people not the tools

In online networking, I see people who are more concerned about how to get their friend / follower / fan numbers up, than they are about actually being human with the people they have already connected with.  For them, it’s all about the tools, not the people.  Their focus is on growing numbers, rather than building relationships with people.

These guys often have very professional looking Twitter profiles and great looking websites / blogs – but very little feeling of community.  That’s because they focus on the tools, not the people.  They may have 500, 5,000 or maybe 100,000 ‘names’ in their online network but they probably know just a fraction of them!

In short: People can enrich our lives or they can keep us poor. It just depends on how we treat and serve them.

Photo: Hipposrunsuperfast.com

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It’s time to get passionate

As a marketing coach, I love working with people, who are passionate about their businesses.  Passion is infectious.  Passion is inspiring and motivating.  Passion is power.  You see, no matter how great your plans are, without the passion to see them through, they will simply remain plans.  How sad would that be?  What a waste – To have the ideas and make the plans, but to lack the passion to see them plans come to life.

Here’s what my mentor, Jim Rohn, used to say;
“We each have a decision to make.  We can either pay the price for discipline or the price for regret.  Discipline weighs ounces, but regret weighs tons!”

Business, goals and passion

When we are passionate about our plans, it’s easy for us to discipline ourselves to do what’s required, in order to achieve the results we want.  The challenge is that most businesspeople develop plans that fail to motivate them.  Their plans lack the power required, to give them the inspiration to leave their comfort zones.  Their business plans don’t jump off the paper and motivate them to take action – so they remain plans.

The same is true of goal setting.  People waste a fortune attending seminars and buying products to help them set and achieve goals; when the problem is usually that they simply need to set goals that inspire them and ignite their passion.  The best goal-setting methodologies are worthless to us, if we use them to set goals that lack passion.  It’s the passion, that motivates us to take action and make things happen.

Here’s what I have discovered: Your business plans and goals should be based around what YOU want to achieve.  It’s hard to be passionate by proxy!  Many people set the kind of business goals they think they SHOULD set, rather than the goals that truly get their passions going.

So, why not take a look at some of the plans you have made, which you have still not acted on.  Ask yourself, honestly, if you are truly passionate about them.  If not, there’s a good chance they are the wrong plans for you.  If this is the case, replace them with something that really inspires you.  You will be amazed at the results!

What part of your business are you most passionate about?  What plans or goals are motivating you right now?  Let us know!

Photo: Pink Moose

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

Why copycat marketing can hurt your business!

Following on from yesterdays marketing tip, a number of readers have asked me the same question:

“Why do so many people do the same type of marketing, if it doesn’t work?”

Here’s the answer.  Amateur marketers will copy what they see others doing, wrongly assuming that it must be working.  This then gets more and more people repeating the same ineffective marketing, which encourages even more people to do the same, etc.  In other words, they copy what they see the crowd doing.

Marketing copycats and the wisdom of the crowd

I remember speaking with the owner of a hotel, who advertised for a year, paid in advance, in a local newspaper.  I asked him why he did this, as it was perhaps the worst possible place for him to advertise.  He told me that the local newspaper called him to say his largest competitor was advertising there and that the paper wanted to “give him the chance” to advertise there as well. So he did.

Of course, his advertisement didn’t generate a single piece of business.  Apparently, the biggest hotel in the area got their advertisement for free from the newspaper.  The ad sales guy at the paper then used that hotel’s ad, as a way to pressure other hotels in the area to buy advertising. Eventually they got 8  hotels to advertise, when none of them should have even considered it!  That’s the danger of copycat marketing.

Is your marketing on course?

Here’s a useful question to ask yourself:

Who (or what) encouraged you to use the various types of marketing that you use today?

You see, if you are not getting the marketing results you want, it’s entirely possible it’s because you are doing the wrong marketing activities, for what you want to achieve .  Just like that guy, who rows his boat in the wrong direction, no matter how hard he rows, he will never get where he wants to be; because he will still be heading nowhere.  In fact, the harder he rows in the wrong direction, the further away he will be from his destination. This is why so many hard-working business owners earn so little.

The bottom line here is this: If your marketing direction is wrong, you need to change course NOW!

What lessons have you learned along the way, which you would like to share?

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

Marketing tip: Stop shouting for attention!

Is your marketing shouting at people?

If you go into Starbucks today and start shouting at the people around you, you will definitely grab their attention.  However, it’s not the kind of attention you want to attract.  Many small businesses use a very similar approach with their marketing.  In an effort to capture attention, they act in a way that gets them noticed, but for all the wrong reasons.

They not only fail to generate new business; they can permanently damage the reputation of their business too.

Some examples of how companies shout at people with their sales and marketing:

  • Adding people to their newsletter list, without permission. It’s spam.
  • Spamming people on Twitter.
  • Meeting people at networking events and using that transparent crap; “tell me about your business and how I can help you.” Wake up, it’s not 1985 any more!
  • Asking people to join their Linkedin network, claiming they worked with them (when both parties know it’s a lie.)
  • Unwanted telemarketing calls to people’s homes at 8pm.  Just what you need when getting a young child to sleep or relaxing after a hard day.

In marketing, it’s easy to confuse movement with progress.  People see that they need to win more business and they know that they must do something – quickly!  So, they do what they hope will generate the new business they need.

The marketing challenge here, is that just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.  Just because we can pay someone to spam 500,000 people with a marketing email from us, doesn’t mean it will generate anything positive.  Yes, you can waste half your life attending the same networking events, with the same people, all there to sell, none there to buy – but it’s massively ineffective.

Thankfully, we each have the freedom to make our own choices about the way we market our products and services.  If we use our freedom of choice wisely, our success is guaranteed.

What do you think about the typical small business marketing you see?

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

Photo: The Dream Seeker

Marketing your services or servicing your market?

Which are you better at: Marketing your services or servicing your market?

Superb service – Average marketing

I have lost count of how many outstanding businesses I have seen go broke, simply because they failed to market their services correctly.  They enjoy superb customer retention, because their services are so good that people just don’t want to leave.

However, because they win too few new customers, their revenues and profits stagnate and if they do lose a big account or have a large, unscheduled financial commitment pop up, they can suddenly be running at a loss.  If that loss goes on too long, they are in deep trouble.  If only they adopted better marketing, they could achieve great things.

Superb marketing – Average service

Then there’s the other side of the coin.  There are companies that offer a pretty average service, yet their marketing is very powerful.  They find it easy to win new customers.  They have a great marketing message and they reach stacks of targeted people with that message really effectively.

Of course, because their service is pretty average, they tend to lose quite a few customers too.  Their customer-base is like a bucket with a leak; it never fills because they are leaking too many customers.  If only they offered a great service, they could achieve great things.

The magic mix

Without doubt, the most successful businesses are those with an outstanding product or service and great marketing too.  These are the companies that enjoy long-term commercial success, because they not only win stacks of new customers, their quality of service is so amazing that they seldom lose customers.  They can plan ahead with confidence, knowing that they have truly developed the winning formula.

Is there a lesson here?

I think so.  If you know you offer a great service and you are not achieving the business growth you feel you deserve, take a look at your current marketing strategies.  If you enjoy high levels of customer retention and yet are still failing to gain the revenue and profits you want, you need to attract more bankable results; through a more powerful marketing strategy.

If you have little trouble attracting new customers, but find it a challenge to retain their business, it’s usually a sign that you need to focus on the service side of the business.  Marketing is important, but ultimately, it is not a magic bullet.  For a business to succeed in the longer term, there has to be an excellent service behind the marketing.

In my experience, small businesses tend to focus too much on either their marketing or their service.  If you notice too great an emphasis in one of these areas, bring the weaker element up to the high standards you have set in that stronger area.  Match your marketing to your amazing service or match your service, to that super-effective marketing you use.

What do you think?

Photo: CRSchmidt

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

Time wasters: How to spot them and avoid them!

If you run a business, you will already know how precious your time is.  This is why it’s so important to ensure that you avoid time wasters, and that’s what this post is all about.

Time wasters

One of the biggest time sucks in business, are those seeking free advice from you, with no intention of repaying you in any way.  Often, these time wasters will disguise themselves as prospective clients or customers, in an effort to get the benefit of as much free information from you as possible. These are the time wasters I am going to focus on in this post!

Unless you have nothing better to do (and I know you have), you need to identify and remove these people from your business as soon as possible.  You see, that “free” advice is only free for them! That so-called free advice costs you, in lost productivity and the inevitable slump you feel, after realising you have been suckered!

How to spot the time wasters

If there is someone right now, who you suspect is just trying to get as much free advice from you as they can, with no intention of repaying you for all that great information, I have a simple tip for you.

Try this: Ask them for some measurable time scales!

For example, ask them when they will have the funding in place.  Ask them when they plan to get started with you.  If they give you vague answers like “soon” or some other general answer, ask them for clarification.  If they are serious, they will value and respect your need for clarity.  It shows them that you are keen, interested and professional.  However, if they were not genuinely interested in working with you, they will immediately realise that their game has been tumbled.  They will then go and find another victim to drill for free information and you will have lost nothing.

Of course ultimately, the way you decide to allocate your time is down to you.  If you want to spend more of your time speaking with people, who have a genuine interest in your services, you may find that simple idea useful.  It has worked for my marketing business for more than a decade and saved me more time than any time management strategy I know.

Do you have any experience of dealing with time-wasters?  Let us know what you think!

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

Photo: Zoutedrop

Want to massively improve your marketing? Then get specific!

There’s a big difference between learning something and learning something of value.  When I speak with people about my services, I often say;

“Some coaches teach so others can learn – That’s not me!
Some coaches teach so others can accomplish – That IS me!”

This is because not all information is the same.  I meet with businesspeople all the time, who tell me how much they enjoyed a certain book or how interesting they found a seminar or workshop they attended – BUT that they still have the same problems or challenges.  They were educated, but with the wrong information for their unique situation.

What are your specific marketing challenges?

I’m guessing that every person reading that question, will have similar answers.  They may want to:

  • Make more sales.
  • Make the same number of sales, but make those sales higher quality.
  • Boost their profits.
  • Find new markets for their products / services.
  • All the above

Here’s where the challenge begins for most small businesses.  You see, although they generally want to achieve one or more of the above outcomes, their situations are unique.  For example, they have differing skills, time resources, finances and unique likes and dislikes.  So, if they apply a ‘general’ marketing idea that they pick up from a; book, seminar, website or newsletter, it’s usually pretty ineffective.

Another month / year’s worth of business progress is lost. (Ouch!)

When I put a marketing strategy together for one of my clients, I always match what they want to achieve, with their unique resources.  For those of you intent on going it alone with your marketing, I strongly suggest you try and do the same.

Here’s just a handful of things you need to ask yourself, before you use marketing ideas you find in a book, seminar, website etc:

  • Does it fit in with your time resources?  Do you have the time available to start it off and to see it through to the end?
  • Does it fit in with your finances?  Can you afford to implement it correctly in the short, medium and long-term?
  • Will it provide the results you need quickly enough?  When do you need to see a bankable return (MONEY) from it?  Do you believe it will get you where you need to be in time?
  • Is it consistent with your personality and your reputation?  If you put (whatever) marketing in place, will it be consistent with your commercial image?
  • Can you clearly see the direct benefit it will bring?  Is it going to generate; readers, follows, retweets, Facebook friends OR is it going to generate the bankable results you need?
  • How might it impact your relationship with your existing clients and customers?  For instance, if you are thinking of offering a super deal for new clients, how might this make your existing clients feel – knowing they are getting a worse deal?
  • Is the end result likely to generate the profile of client or customer you want?  Are you sure that doing (whatever) marketing, is going to deliver the type of new business you want?

The point of this post is to highlight that your unique situation will only improve, when you start using strategies that compliment it correctly.

Whatever do you, don’t waste another year doing the wrong things really well!

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

Make it happen!

Most people spend their lives wishing, instead of doing. The problem with that approach is that it doesn’t work!

Dreaming is great, but if we seriously want to see our wishes become a reality, we need to get off our rear ends and take action.

  • Don’t wish it was easier – Make yourself stronger.
  • Don’t wish it was less expensive – Make yourself wealthy.
  • Don’t wish there was less competition – Make your service beyond compare.

The next time you find yourself wishing for something, write it down, in detail, and then start putting a plan together to make it REAL.

Photo: Alice Popkorn

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