9 Useful ideas to make this your best year ever

business development topics r

It has often been said that you are never more than 1 good idea away from the breakthrough you need. With that in mind, here are 9 ideas to help you and your business in 2015, along with some links to extra resources.

  1. Do at least one thing each day, which your future self will thank you for. This is the basis of all meaningful progress.
  2. Fail more often in 2015 than you did in 2014. Why? Because if you’re not failing often enough, you’re sticking to things you already know and no longer growing. Unless you give yourself permission to make mistakes, you will seldom try anything new.
  3. Stop aiming for perfectionism. It will stop you getting started and block your progress. Instead of trying to be perfect, aim to be better than you were yesterday.
  4. Get expert help in any area of your business, where you are under performing. Things don’t just change for the better because you hope they will. Hope is essential, but it’s not a business strategy. This will help you get it right.
  5. Walk daily for 30 minutes. Studies have shown that walking helps to reduce stress and gives you a general feeling of well-being. Walking also helps you manage your weight and can lower your blood pressure. When you feel better you work better. Start with short walks, then do a little more. Talk to your doctor first, if you have any underlying medical conditions.
  6. Get serious about developing your creativity in 2015. It will help you solve problems and grow a uniquely valuable business. There are hundreds of free ideas for you, here on my creative thinking website.
  7. Stop doing work purely because it pays the bills. Start doing work that makes a difference. This post explains why.
  8. Give people more than they expect. Don’t under-promise though. Instead, over-deliver. This is one of the most powerful ways to retain your clients and get them recommending you to their friends and contacts.
  9. Learn to embrace your inner freak. This idea changed my life.

I really hope you find these ideas and suggestions useful and that they help you achieve your best year ever in 2015!

12 Powerful tips to blow the lid off your business!

12 tips

Let’s get started.

  1. Think big. No. BIGGER than that.
  2. Stop aiming for perfection. Instead, aim to be better than you were yesterday.
  3. Be a source of encouragement. Highlight people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
  4. Back up your plans with action. An ounce of action is worth more than a ton of intention.
  5. Do what you believe is right, rather than what is easy.
  6. Commit to lifelong learning. Feed your mind with information that educates, motivates or inspires you.
  7. Deliver on your promises. This is a great way to build a world class reputation.
  8. Look for the learning in every situation.
  9. Stop following and lead. Your marketplace is always short of people willing to lead.
  10. Start your projects with the end in mind. Get crystal clear on your outcome, before you start the work.
  11. Watch as little TV as possible. It’s called programming for a reason.
  12. Be fast to forgive others. While you’re holding a grudge, they are out dancing.

Bonus: Here are over 180 marketing tips and ideas for your business!

How to win against cheaper competitors

marketing topics r

Right now, Google is showing your prospective customers the details of all your competitors – including those competitors who charge less than you.

So, your prospective customers now know you’re not the lowest priced provider. The question is: How do you plan to convince them that you’re worth the extra money?

Generic marketing promises do not work

We are in one of the worst economic cycles in living memory and your prospective customers are thinking a LOT harder, before they spend their money.

They demand value.

It’s not enough for you to claim that you offer great customer service or that you go the extra mile or that you care more. Why? Because the bargain basement providers make those same generic promises. Those promises are so common now, that we are almost blind to them.

If you want someone to even consider spending money with you, when there are cheaper alternatives, you need to avoid generic promises and get specific.

The answer

You may already have an attractive proposition, which your cheaper competitors can’t match. If you do, you need to communicate it effectively and make it extremely visible in your marketing.

If you don’t already have a compelling, non-generic reason for prospective customers to buy from you, you need to create one. This is not about developing some snazzy marketing slogan! It’s about building something into your existing product or service, which has genuine value and is not already being offered by your competitors.

For example

You can be yet another accountant or the only accountant in your area, who offers a monthly networking event for their clients – so they become part of a community and not ‘just a client’.

You can be yet another web designer or the only web designer in your price range, who redesigns their client’s Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts – so they match your client’s beautiful new website.

You can be yet another window cleaner or the only window cleaner in your area, who also cleans the windows on your customers cars.

You get the idea.

Step outside of the ordinary

Take time to think of a genuinely valuable, attractive proposition to offer your prospective customers. A USP is not enough any more. There has to be something, which prospective customers can see as offering them genuine value. A Purple Cow may grab people’s attention, but there has to be value behind it if you want to attract paying customers and not just glances.

Put on your thinking cap and look at your products or services through the eyes of a prospective customer. What needs do they have, which you could serve by adjusting your offering?

Give this exercise the time it deserves. It’s what your prospective customers will be focused on for the foreseeable future.

The secret behind Jim’s Marketing Blog

Jims marketing blog

It’s been a great year for Jim’s Marketing Blog. It achieved it’s largest ever annual readership growth and was quoted in even more newspapers and respected websites. It also saw Search Engine Journal, rank it as their top UK marketing blog:

“There may be another blog in the UK that could top Jim Connolly’s impressive resume – but we weren’t able to find one!”

Search Engine Journal

Now I’d like to share what I believe to be a key factor, which has given me a massive advantage over other blogs.

My secret sauce!

The single most common feedback I get about Jim’s Marketing Blog, is from readers who appreciate the brevity of my work. They value me using as few words as possible when I share ideas. It means they can read every word, rather than skim read.

However, although readers love short, information-rich posts and articles, they are very rare. I believe this has given me a huge advantage over the years.

Here are the 3 main reasons why so many blog posts are way too long.

1. Lots of bloggers write for SEO first

Google’s extremely limited algorithm isn’t smart enough to work with short blog posts. So, if you’re all about getting traffic rather than engaging readers, you need between 500 and 2000 words in your posts. This number depends on which SEO expert you listen to. It also depends on what Google is rewarding currently. A key challenge of writing for Google is that they change things all the time. What works today could hurt you tomorrow.

I’ve already written about the danger of writing primarily for search engines. I recommend you read this: Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

SEO is a valuable part of building a blog or website, especially in the early days when few people are sharing your work. But get the balance right. Write for people first. Otherwise, search engine traffic will arrive on your site, find a wordy, keyword-stuffed piece of crap and leave again!

2. It takes more skill to write with brevity

It takes longer to condense an idea into fewer words. It’s a skill you need to develop. I learned it back in the mid 1980’s, studying the legendary David Ogilvy.

Ogilvy famously said: “Don’t say it in 10 words if you can say it in 5.”

In broad terms, it’s twice as easy to write a 1000 word post on a topic, as it is to write a 500 word post. When you have fewer words to work with, there’s no room for waffle. No space for fluff. This means you end up with information rich content, which is far more valuable to the reader.

It’s important to remember that your readers are busy people. They’ve never had so many things calling for their attention. They want the key information and quickly. If you can provide them with what they need, without the waffle words, they will come back for more… and more.

3. It takes courage

It takes more courage to write short articles and posts than it does to write long ones.


Because with shorter content, you can’t possibly cover every angle. You can’t make every point. You can’t answer every question that every reader may have. As a result, you leave yourself open to criticism like “what you totally failed to mention is…”.

Having written thousands of blog posts and articles, I’ve found that no matter how many words you use, some people just won’t get it. If you try and write for those people, you will end up writing child-like junk. Don’t even try! Write instead for your target readership.

I hope you found this useful. More importantly, I hope you borrow some of the ideas for your own blog or website.

Don’t let these people crush your business!

business development topics r

Have you ever stopped using a supplier or service provider, because one of their team was a pain in the ass, rude or incompetent? That’s a rhetorical question, because we all have from time to time.

If you have ever wondered why anyone would employ someone that drives customers away, you’ll find today’s post useful. It could also stop someone you know from making the same mistake, because as you’ll see, the business owner is often unaware that the problem exists.

The toxic head waiter

I was prompted to write this, after meeting up with an old friend yesterday. He owns a restaurant in Soho, London. He told me that he’d been forced to fire his head waiter last summer. Following the firing, takings rose significantly.

No, the head waiter hadn’t been stealing from him. Instead, he was driving customers away with his attitude. He was a life-long, personal friend of the restaurant owner. However, my friend discovered that the head waiter was rude and obnoxious to customers he didn’t like, and that these included some of the restaurant’s best customers.

It only came to light after a former customer called the restaurant to cancel his anniversary party. My friend asked why and the customer explained that the head waiter was ruining the atmosphere, before naming half a dozen of his friends, who had also stopped using the restaurant because of the head waiter’s attitude. My friend called these former customers and they all confirmed it. His losses from these corporate customers alone run into tens of thousands. He later found many more former customers had stopped eating there because of the toxic waiter.

The toxic P.A.

I saw something very similar happen first hand, with a former client’s business. He hired a new P.A., who was a very good worker and extremely efficient. She massively improved my client’s work flow and even freed him up to have more family time. In his eyes, she could do no wrong.

However, she was nasty to other members of his team and to some clients too. Despite regular complaints, he chose to do nothing about it. He told me that he’d assumed they were jealous of her,

Eventually, her rudeness cost him his biggest client and as this client was related to his 3rd biggest client, he lost that client too! They were responsible for around 20% of his revenue. It was only when he met with the former client to try and win them back, that he finally learned how toxic his P.A. was to his business.

It’s always unintentional

No sane business owner would set out to deliberately hire someone, who was damaging their business. It’s unintentional. In the examples I mentioned here and many others I am aware of, the business owner had no idea that the toxic employee was causing so much damage.

As business owners, we need to be smarter than that. We need to take time to speak with our clients or customers and ask them about the quality of the service they receive. We need to do exit interviews whenever possible, when a client switches to another provider or when a member of the team leaves.

We all know about the importance of stock taking in our business. However, we also need to ensure we take stock… and take a long look at the people and processes within our businesses.

Tip: Don’t let THIS guy ruin your marketing!

How to win a new client. Unlike this guy!

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

I was doing some gift shopping at a local store yesterday, when I decided to go for a coffee in their café. I noticed that a salesperson was speaking with the store owner, a couple of tables away from me.

Now, if you asked the salesperson what he was doing, he’d tell you he was pitching a new product line to the store owner.

But he’d be wrong.

The salesperson wasn’t pitching. He was arguing with the store owner.

He was trying to prove he was right and that the store owner was wrong. They were now on opposing sides. By the time my coffee arrived, the salesperson was shaking his head from side to side in disagreement, as the store owner spoke. A few minutes later, the salesman left. Of course, he left without a sale.

If I’d spoken to the salesperson, here’s what I’d have said

A better approach is to position yourself as an asset to their business. A partner in their success.

For example, ask the potential client or customer about their challenges. Then listen. Take notes. Once you have a handle on what their challenges are, show them how your products or services can help them.

This is not only a superb way to build your business, it’s also a great way to build valuable business relationships.

Tip — How to make your business more human and FAR more successful.

Are your fees too high or are you marketing to the wrong people?

marketing topics r

Yes, your prices or fees could be too high.

Alternatively, you could be marketing to the wrong people.

Insanely expensive or a wonderful deal?

I was with a friend yesterday, who has just bought a car. Someone overheard him telling me what he paid for it and immediately told him, he must be insane and that the price was way too high.

Here’s the thing: The guy that said the car was too expensive, knows nothing about the market value of a 4 month old Aston Martin. The guy who bought the car, is an Aston Martin specialist. He has owned half a dozen of them, he follows the market and he knew he’d just got an incredible bargain. To qualify that, he could resell the car in a week and make £20,000 profit, if he wanted to.

So, here’s what we have

The same car.

The same price.

Yet, one person thinks it’s insanely overpriced. One person knows it’s an amazing deal.

What this means to you

If your business provides a product or service with an Aston Martin level of quality, it will always be too expensive, if you’re marketing it to the wrong people.

In short: Decide who your ideal client is and market exclusively to them. They will eagerly buy from you, because they are in the market for your ‘Aston Martin service’ and value the quality you provide.

PS – Here is a 3 part series I wrote, on how to work for the best clients and the highest fees:

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 1.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 2.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 3.

What are you focusing on?

Pro development topics r

It’s amazing how much control you have over your results, so long as you’re willing to accept responsibility.

  • You can’t control another person’s attitude, but you can control how you react.
  • You can’t control the economy, but you can control how you adapt.
  • You can’t control your past, but you can control your present.
  • You can’t control what your competitors do, but you can control your strategy.

Focus on what you can control. It’s one of the most powerful and liberating things you will ever do.

Tip: Read this — Steve Jobs and the power of focus.

Tell them what you stand for

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

When someone reads your social network updates, your blog posts, newsletter articles or the marketing pages of your website:

  • Does it tell them what you stand for?
  • Does it explain why they should give a rat’s ass about your business?
  • Does it show them why they should dump their current provider and switch to you?

If any of those messages are not being clearly communicated, it’s losing you a fortune.

Stop using buzzwords in your marketing. Really. Stop it.

Content Marketing, copywriting, coppy, writing

There is no shortage of buzzwords or people who feel the need to use them.





… these buzzwords and many others, are used by people in an effort to appear informed, fashionable or relevant. Interestingly, buzzwords do neither of these. In fact, they have the exact opposite effect when people read them or hear them.

Here’s how buzzwords work against you:

  • They make informed people cringe. Not a great idea, if you want your peers to take you seriously.
  • They confuse the uninformed. A bad choice, if you want people to understand your message.

In either case, buzzwords work against you. When it comes to marketing, write your copy in a way that your ideal client will find easy to understand.

Always aim for clarity.


Because clarity sells!

PS: Here’s how to develop effective, clear, compelling marketing.