Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 18 of 189)

Stop working for low quality clients. Seriously. Stop it!

If you are tired of working for low value clients, I have an idea I would like to share with you. It has helped me attract the best clients, avoid the worst clients and build an extremely successful business. It can do the same for you.

A very deliberate choice

Before deciding to accept a new client, I ask myself the following question:

Is this prospective client worthy of my best work?

  • If the answer is Yes, I accept them as a client and provide them with the best work I am capable of.
  • If the answer is No, I don’t work with them.
  • If I agree to work with a client and later find they lied to me, to make me say Yes, I fire them.

Here’s the payback

As a direct result, I have never had a cash flow problem. I have never had to face a client I didn’t enjoy working with and always had the freedom to do my very best work. By being able to do my best work, my clients get great results, so my client retention is exceptionally high. Equally, my clients and former clients are a constant source of high quality referrals.

The opposite approach is to accept any client who says they want to work with you.

  • To work for clients who pay you late and ruin your cash flow.
  • To work for clients who are over demanding.
  • To work for clients who take the joy away from your work.

Every business owner, including you, makes the decision. You either decide to work with the people worthy of your best work or to compromise and work for those who are not.

Beggars can’t be choosers, Jim!

When I share this idea with business owners, the typical answer from those who will work with anyone, is that beggars can’t be choosers.

The thing is:

  • They are business owners, not beggars.
  • They are already choosing, by choosing to work for low value clients.

High value clients lead to more high value clients, as they recommend you to their friends and you become known for servicing the quality end of the market.

Low value clients lead to more low value clients, as you become pigeon-holed as servicing the cheap end of your marketplace.

In short, if your current client choices are not working for you, it’s time to try another approach.

PS: If you want me to help you get this right, read this.

10 Powerful ways to get people talking about your business

Here are 10 motivators, which inspire people to spread the word about you. See which ones you can adapt and apply into your business.

  1. People will share your message, if it makes them look clever. This is why social networks are packed with Einstein quotes.
  2. People will share your message, if it makes them appear generous to their friends or community.
  3. People will share your message, if they think it will make them look informed, ahead of the curve or cutting-edge.
  4. People will share your message, if it’s remarkable. Extremely satisfied customers tell their friends when they receive an amazing service.
  5. People will share your message, if they are paid to. Such as bloggers who write sponsored posts, affiliate marketers and advertising providers.
  6. People will share your message, if they are part of your community and want others to join in.
  7. People will share your message, if they believe it will help you and they care about you.
  8. People will share your message, if it’s baked into your product or service. When you see someone using an Apple MacBook in public, there’s an illuminated apple on the rear of their screen.
  9. People will share your message, if it says something they aren’t brave enough to say for themselves.
  10. People will share your message, if they believe it’s of great value and that their friends need to know.

You should be able to find at least a few ideas there, to help you motivate people to share your message.

4 Inspiring reasons to write regularly

There are many compelling, commercial reasons to write regularly. For example, blogging and newsletter writing can be hugely valuable.

Here are 4 less obvious benefits to writing regularly, which seldom get mentioned. In many ways, these are just as valuable.

  1. Writing makes you a better observer. As a result, you notice more of the world around you. You experience more from life.
  2. Writing helps you think with greater clarity. The process of getting ideas out of your head and onto the page, is a wonderful antidote for foggy thinking.
  3. Writing is a powerful development tool. To write effectively on any subject, you need to know about that subject. Even better, to write about a subject regularly, you need to constantly learn more.
  4. Writing is an act of contribution. When you share your ideas or stories with others, you invest in them.

PS: Here are 25 reasons to write a business blog.

Behind the scenes: The tools I use every day

I often get asked about the tools I use for my daily work. The image above is pretty-much the standard set-up for me… extremely minimal, with everything I need and nothing I don’t need.

Here’s some more detail, including the hardware and software I use.

Hardware

I use MacBooks now for all my production work. I have a MacBook Pro for the office and a MacBook Air for writing on the move. For 20 years I was a Windows user, however, I switched to a Mac last summer and have never looked back. The design, usability, portability and speed of these machines makes them ideal for me.

I can get an idea out of my head, without having to wait or wrestle with the hardware / software. They boot up from cold in just 13 seconds and everything ‘just works’ without a hitch.

Interestingly, as I always bought high end Windows machines, I have saved hundreds by switching to Macs. Macs are only more expensive than PC’s, if you’re switching from low or mid-range PC’s. My last Lenovo Think Pad cost almost as much as my MacBook Pro and MacBook Air combined.

Thinking

I’m extremely visual, so I  have a notepad with me all the time and use it to capture ideas or simply doodle, whilst I am thinking.

It seems that the physical act of moving a pen or pencil on paper, aids my creativity. I keep all my old notepads and often go back to them months or years later, for inspiration or ideas. I love fountain pens and fine tip drawing pens. I use lots of different coloured ink. I also use mechanical pencils.

Software

Here’s the main software I use for work.

I use WordPress for blogging. There are other blogging platforms out there but none provide me with the flexibility or functionality I need, other than WordPress. It’s the only blogging platform I recommend.

I use Instagram, though in a slightly different way to most people. I use it for inspiration. I follow lots of designers and creators and often get inspired by seeing their imagery. You can join me on Instagram here.

I use iA Writer for most of my writing. It’s a distraction-free writing program, which presents you with a totally clear computer screen – no menu bars, just a 100% blank canvas.

I use Evernote mainly for capturing ideas from websites. It’s also useful as a cloud based way to organise notes, sounds and images.

I use Skype for client calls. I work with business owners worldwide and Skype allows me to not only speak with my clients, but share screens, video conference, share links and use a whiteboard together.

I use Microsoft Office. I have clients who hire me to write for them and they tend to use Word, so I use Word when writing for them. I also prefer Outlook to any of the Mac email apps.

I use PicMonkey for the graphics you see in my blog posts and social network posts. I use the premium version, though the free version does everything I need. I just like to pay developers, when I use their work. I wrote a short review of PicMonkey here.

That’s it.

Of course, it’s what we do with the tools we use that matters. However, we can make things a lot easier by selecting the correct tools for the job. I hope you found something there, which helps you with your work flow.

Main photo: Alejandro Escamilla

What every business owner needs to know about promises

Have you ever seen a business, which markets itself as being average? No, neither have I, yet that’s exactly what most businesses are.

Instead, businesses are marketed as offering great, amazing or exceptional products and services. Whilst lofty marketing promises are effective at attracting the attention and interest of your marketplace, they need to be delivered on.

Here’s why this matters

After the marketing has motivated someone to make a purchase, they are left with 3 possible outcomes.

It looks like this:

  1. They are delighted. The reality was even better than the marketing. Their expectations have been exceeded. They are impressed and the vendor now has a very happy customer. The kind of customer that tells their friends about how amazing the vendor is.
  2. They are satisfied. They got what they expected. They are neither happy nor disappointed. It’s certainly not remarkable enough to share with people.
  3. They are disappointed. They got less than they expected. The marketing was overstated. The vendor has a customer who feels like they were tricked. If they do tell their friends, it’s a negative, damaging story about the vendor.

The most successful business owners increase the value they provide, then market that value accordingly. They focus on delighting people and building a great reputation. They know that it’s pointless to attract disappointed clients and customers, with overstated marketing promises.

What can we learn from this?

By committing to match our marketing promises with services and products that delight, we become truly exceptional. We retain more clients and customers. We attract more word of mouth referrals and build a massively valuable reputation.

Yes, it takes a lot of effort and energy. It’s worth it though. In fact, it’s essential for any kind of meaningful success.

How to get people excited about your business

How enthusiastic are you about the work you are doing right now?

The reason I ask you that question, is that people notice. They notice if you’re enthusiastic about your business. Equally, they notice if you lack enthusiasm and are simply going through the motions.

Here’s why this matters to you

Enthusiasm is contagious. When someone talks to us with enthusiasm, we feed off their excitement and energy. We lean forward and pay attention. It’s a positive experience, which leaves a lasting impression on us.

The lack of enthusiasm is just as contagious. When someone talks to us about their business in the typical, predictable way, we feed off their lack of interest. We politely nod. We soon forget them and whatever they said.

We can’t expect our staff, clients, customers, contacts or the marketplace in general to be enthusiastic about our business, if we’re not.

The bottom line: If you feel enthusiastic about your business, don’t hold back. Let it shine! If you’re not enthusiastic, find out why and work on it.

How to lift your business to a whole new level

If your business has been spinning it’s wheels or it’s growth is slower than it should be, this post is just for you.

I’m going to show you how to get your business flying, based on 2 questions that every successful business needs to answer. Yes, I’m going to help you find your answers too!

Here are the questions:

  1. What do I want to achieve with my business?
  2. Am I willing to pay the price?

What do you want to achieve with your business?

Many small business owners have no clear idea of what they want to achieve. They say things like they want a successful business or they want to be wealthy, but they never get specific. Here’s the thing: You can’t know if you are on track or not, with no clear destination.

The key, is to get specific. Describe in detail, what you want to achieve with your business.

A great way to get clear on this, is to ask yourself the following question: If my business was perfect in every way, what would it look like?

Then, start writing your answer down!

Avoid general terms and use specifics. Also, use numbers in your answer whenever possible.

For example, include things like:

  • How much you want your business to generate in revenue and profits over the next year, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years.
  • How much you want to earn.
  • How much you want your business to sell for, if your exit route is to cash in at some point.

Then, describe things like the type of clients or customers you want, what your typical work day would look like and where your business would be located, etc.

Build as clear a picture as possible and include everything that matters to you.

Once you have the specifics written down, it’s time to answer the next question.

Are you willing to pay the price?

The challenge with this question, is that business owners tend to give the wrong answer. We tend to say we work hard and that we work long hours.

That is not what the question asks!

The question is about our willingness to do what’s required in order to succeed. It asks us if we’re willing to leave our comfort zones… again and again. Paying the price for success means doing 100% of what’s required, not cherry-picking the things we feel comfortable with. It means committing to pay the price of success in advance, with no guarantees.

Here’s why we make the extra effort

It looks like this:

  • Success belongs to those who take time to decide exactly what they want to achieve and who then determine to pay the price for success.
  • Those with less clarity and less commitment, find themselves working hard and making too little progress.

Interestingly, although the difference in the rewards between those approaches is immeasurable, the extra effort required is relatively small.

The good news is that as you become more familiar with leaving your comfort zone, it gets easier and easier. Equally, the motivation to pay the price becomes greater, when you start to see the results and rewards coming in.

Tip: I recommend you read this — What everybody ought to know about Comfort Zones.

How to build a great business, doing things YOUR way

If you want to work with better clients and never need to compete based on fees again, here’s something to consider.

Doing things your way

The moment you stop offering a similar service to your competitors, you stop competing with them. The great news here, is that no matter what industry you are in, you can do things your way and build a highly profitable niche of your own.

Here are 4 examples, from very different industries:

  • The accountant, who set up a forum for his clients, so they can network together, help one another and buy from one another.
  • The coffee shop owner, who offers customers poetry evenings and creative writing events.
  • The dentist, who provides classes for people who have an irrational fear of dentists.
  • The gardener, who not only keeps your garden looking great, but also provides all the garden consumables you need and delivers them.

How to make it work for you

Think about your ideal client. Consider their challenges and needs. Now, think of a new service that could help them with those challenges. Alternatively, look for additional, valuable elements, which you can add to one or more of your existing services.

Tip: A great place to find ideas you can use, is to look outside your industry for inspiration. Something that’s extremely common in one industry, is often unheard of in another.

If you need a little help getting your ideas into action, I strongly suggest you read this.

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