Business owners: Don’t mistake silence for satisfaction

silence

In business, we need to ensure we don’t mistake silence for satisfaction.

Why? Because many people, perhaps most people, dislike confrontation. So, when they experience an average or even below average service, rather than complain they will simply say nothing.

At least not to the business owner! This often leaves business owners with a silent problem that could be hurting their business.

Here’s the challenge this creates

  • Some customers are too polite to complain about a product that disappoints them. However, they won’t buy from the provider again and they will tell their friends.
  • Some diners are too polite to complain about poor quality food at a restaurant. However, they won’t eat there again and they will tell their friends.
  • Some clients are too polite to complain about the poor service they receive. However, they won’t use that service again and they will tell their friends.

As a business owner, you need to look past the silence. Here are just a small number of clues that could suggest you have an issue:

  • If you don’t receive regular word of mouth referrals from your clients.
  • If your attrition rate is poor [the length of time you retain your clients].
  • If you seldom receive praise or gratitude from your clients or customers.
  • If too few clients or customers use your service / buy from you, and don’t return.

If you want to know what your clients are really thinking, look at their actions. Talk to them, sure, however, pay very close attention to what they do… and what they fail to do.

If it feels safe, it’s not moving you forward!

safe work, fear

If the work you’re doing feels safe, it’s probably not moving you forward.

Why? Because our best work doesn’t feel safe. It doesn’t feel comfortable either.

Our best work is very different

Our best work causes us to stretch… to embrace the edges. If you feel comfortable with your work for too many days in a row, stop. Check that you’re not mistaking activity for productivity.

Otherwise you can end up working hard, working long hours, working safe — and making very little progress.

The 3 paths to financial wealth

financial wealth

There are 3 ways to become wealthy. Here they are, starting with the easiest.

1. The easiest way to get rich is to be born into a wealthy family

Examples here include Seth Godin and Sir Richard Branson. Being born into a wealthy family, you get the benefits of growing up in a financially stable environment, with family members who can support you and make sure you go to “the right” school or university. Seth, for example, went to Stanford.

With financial support and a place at the right university, you’re free to make world-class connections. These connections are priceless in adulthood, when you have a project to fund or business to sell, etc.

When we look at all the wealthy families, who have passed wealth down through many generations, we see how family wealth cascades down to more family wealth.

Clearly, the lottery of birth means we can’t choose what kind of family to be born into. On the subject of the lottery, let’s look at the second easiest way to get rich.

2. Win millions on the lottery or inherit a fortune, etc

This is less easy than being born wealthy, because you have no experience of dealing with huge sums of money. It’s also why so many lottery winners end up broke, despite advice from financial experts.

Without the advantage of growing up in a wealthy family, the average lottery winner needs to quickly learn how to think like a millionaire. Many do, but sadly, many don’t and lose everything. Here are some examples of lottery winners who went broke.

The challenge with this second route to getting rich, is that you have very little chance of winning millions on the lottery. So, let’s look at the third route to wealth, which is also the most rewarding and most realistic route.

3. Earn every darn penny!

This is the situation most people reading this started from, including myself. We need to accept that it will be easier said than done. We need to start from zero, make our own contacts, build our own bridges, work smart, work hard… all without any guarantee of success or a rich family to fall back on.

You know what though? We can do it!

It’s harder without all the money and contacts, but it’s possible. We see examples everywhere, of people who started with no money, no contacts, no influence, yet become happy, wealthy people. I know dozens of people who fit into this category and they are all inspirational.

There’s literally no limit on what we can achieve. Yes, literally! Remember, Steve Jobs was born into an average income family, dropped out of college and never won the lottery, yet he built the world’s most valuable company. Steve Jobs was exceptional. I only use Jobs as an example, because he proved that there’s no upper limit on what we can achieve.

The recipe for the 3rd easiest route

Time and again, I have found that the most successful business owners had the following in common. It looks something like this:

  • They decide what they want.
  • They do the research.
  • They plan it out.
  • They commit to do whatever is required, not just the things they’re comfortable with… EVERYTHING!
  • Then they get to work. They adjust as required along the way, but commit to doing whatever it takes.

Yes, it’s easier said than done. This is true of everything of value in life. Also, we’ve established that unless you were born rich or have won the lottery, the easy route isn’t an option.

However, the very fact that it isn’t easy is what makes it so valuable.

That’s what places this amazing opportunity right in front of you, right now!

A lesson from the best decisions you ever made

Professional development, business development

Have you noticed something about the best decisions you ever made?

They were all BIG decisions. The decision to get married, to start a family, to buy a home, to start a business … these life enriching decisions are huge and come with no guarantee of success.

The same is true in business

Our biggest commercial successes also come from making big decisions. As such, there’s a direct link between our willingness to make big decisions and the potential of our business.

It’s also why ongoing business problems can usually be traced back to a tough decision, which is being avoided.

That’s worth remembering, the next time you find yourself plagued with a persistent business challenge.

Tip: Here are 21 powerful habits behind highly successful business owners.

3 Ways to turn testimonials into marketing gold dust

testimonials

Your clients love you and you have some great testimonials. Today, I want to show you how to transform those testimonials into a massively valuable asset for your business.

I was prompted to write this, after I added some testimonials to a page that promotes my individual marketing sessions. In just 72 hours, using the 3 ideas I’m about to share with you, bookings surged by almost 50%.

Here’s what I did and how to make it work for you and your business.

The 3 Key factors

First of all, here’s the page I’m going to be referring to. If you take a look, you will see that I have used the testimonials in a very specific and highly effective way.

Here are the 3 key factors behind the success of those testimonials.

1. The testimonials are in the correct place

Many business owners have a dedicated testimonials page. This is extremely ineffective. Your prospective clients need to see testimonials in context! Testimonials need to be right there, as a part of the message they’re reading.

This makes your marketing message stronger, because an independent 3rd party is confirming how valuable your offering is, at the exact point where the prospective client is forming their opinion.

2. The testimonials stand out, rather than get in the way

Even when a business owner places them on the same page as their marketing message, they usually use the wrong format. Typically, the testimonials will be placed into the text of the marketing message.

The challenge with that approach is that it breaks up the flow of your message. It gets in the way. It weakens what you have to say.

If you take a look at what I did, you’ll see that the testimonials are delivered as images… clean, clear white text on a deep grey rectangle. These text images are placed to the right of the actual content, so they are there to be seen, yet without them breaking the flow of the message. This allows you to get the balance right, between making the testimonial highly visible, yet not putting it in the way of your marketing message.

3. The testimonials are short and relevant

Most testimonials you see business owners using are way, way too long. Using lengthy testimonials wrongly presupposes that your prospective client is going to wade through the fluff, to find the key, relevant reassurance she needs.

Lengthy, diluted testimonials lack the impact of a short, relevant statement. They are also too long to use within your marketing message. So, find the key point or points of the testimonial and discard the fluff.

Remember: You worked hard to earn your testimonials. Now it’s time to make your testimonials work for you.

Successful marketing leaves clues

success leaves clues

When it comes to marketing, success leaves clues. By following these clues and learning from them, it’s possible to significantly improve your marketing.

For example, spend a few minutes thinking about the following:

  • The last marketing email, which you were motivated to open because it had a powerful subject line.
  • The last marketing email you read, which persuaded you to take action. [To ask for information, pick up the phone, make a purchase, etc.]
  • The last blog post you read, which you were motivated to bookmark, save or share.
  • The last advertisement you saw or heard, which led to you making a purchase.
  • The last service you experienced, which impressed you so much that you wanted to tell your friends about it. Read this. It will help.
  • The last newsletter you received, which you forwarded to your friends.

Turning clues into results

Each of those examples contains a clue. To uncover the clue, you need to answer this question:

What can I learn from this example of marketing success, which I can adapt and apply to my own marketing?

By studying marketing success, it’s possible to make better marketing decisions. The good news here is that there are examples of successful marketing all around you.

Bonus: You can also learn a great deal by studying terrible marketing and uncovering why it was so ineffective. Knowing what to avoid is enormously valuable, too.

How easy would it be for your clients to replace you?

easy replace

It’s easy to find another service provider. The marketplace is flooded with them. They’re out there right now, offering a commodity service and fighting for attention.

It’s hard, really hard, to find an excellent service provider. These valued professionals are rare. Their clients love them, stay with them and recommend them.

No service provider sets out to be average

Most average service providers truly believe they are excellent. That’s why there are so many average [or below average] providers in every industry.

What happens, is they underestimate the services offered by their competitors and overestimate their own services. They fail to accept the passion their competitors have… how hard their competitors work and how dedicated their competitors are to serving their clients.

How replaceable am I?

It’s worth asking ourselves the following, difficult question from time to time: How easy would it be for my clients to replace me? By being totally honest with our answer, we get an invaluable insight into whether we’re an average or excellent provider.

This may help you. Think about your competitors and consider your answers to the following questions:

  • How average are your fees?
  • How average are the range of services you offer?
  • How average are your opening hours?
  • How average are the guarantees and promises you provide?
  • How average is your client retention?
  • How average is the number of client referrals you receive?

If your business seems a little too similar to what your competitors are doing, I very strongly recommend you read this. It has lots of useful advice on how to turn things around. It’s maybe the most important post I have ever written.

If your service provision is truly excellent, you need to make sure that this comes across in your marketing. An excellent business with average marketing is a travesty. It means you’re achieving a fraction of what you deserve. Don’t worry, I know a guy who can help you. Guaranteed!

Whatever your answer is, there’s important work to be done. So, what are you waiting for?

Marketing Tip: Seek out the dissatisfied

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Here’s an important fact of business: People who are happy with the service they get from one of your competitors, are not looking for whatever your business is offering.

Satisfied customers and clients are exactly that… satisfied. They ignore marketing messages, because they’re not in the market for a new (whatever).

So, even if you’re providing amazing value. Even if you are less expensive. Even if you are faster or more reliable, your value will be virtually invisible to those who are not interested.

Focus on the dissatisfied

Of course, it’s important to build an awareness of how great your product or service is. This is essential, so people know who you are and where you are, when they become dissatisfied.

However, if you want to have the full attention of the most motivated buyers, [people ready to make a purchasing decision right now], seek out the dissatisfied.

It’s far more rewarding than trying to convince the disinterested. It’s also a a faster and more sustainable way to build a successful business.

Tip: Here’s some free advice on how to build a successful business, which includes lots of ideas and examples.

Reach out, pay it forward and watch your whole world improve!

Biz dev

Here’s a suggestion: When you connect with people today, leave them in a better position than you found them.

The temptation is for us to treat people with respect, but not to invest in them. Sure, we say please and thank you, but seldom look for an opportunity to invest in them.

The thing is, a few words from you can have a genuine, positive impact on someone who needs it.

For example:

  • Your words can boost their confidence, when they were starting to doubt themselves.
  • Your words can help shift their focus from negative or neutral, to positive.
  • Your words can encourage them, when they were beginning to lose faith.
  • And your smile may be the only sunshine they see today. Many people outwardly look happy, yet inside they are hurting. Something as simple as a smile or a sincere “thank you” can make a huge difference.

So, why did I refer to all this giving as an investment?

A non typical Investment

Many businesspeople fail to understand that some things are hard to measure immediately on a spreadsheet. If they can not see an obvious financial reward for doing something, they don’t do it. Investing in others fits into this category.

Business is all about people. Running a business with the kind of mindset I have just shared, improves how people feel about you. I have lost count of the times that someone I encouraged, has later been of just as much help to me… sometimes more.

You know what though? The sceptics are wrong!

Ironically, when we look back and, as Steve Jobs said, “join the dots,” we find that these hard to measure acts often end up having a direct, measurable impact on our own success. Oh, and if you want to start paying it forward immediately, why not share this message with your friends.

How NOT to write the perfect blog post!

blogging topics r

The Internet is packed with inaccurate, generic advice on how to write the perfect blog post.

Here are a few common examples you may already know:

  • Your blog posts should be a certain length.
  • So should your blog titles.
  • You should use adjectives in your blog titles.
  • You should write clickbait titles, like: “21 Ways to excite your readers — number 6 made me scream!”
  • You should publish your posts at a magical ‘peak time’, on certain days of the week.

There are dozens more of these predictable rules, churned out by content marketing experts. So, if you adopt this generic approach to blogging, will it help you build a large, valuable readership?

Err… no. In fact, it will do the exact opposite.

How to be ignored

Following the same blogging format as everyone else is not only ineffective, it’s the perfect recipe for how to be ignored.

Think about it: You simply camouflage your blog posts, when you write them based on the same, predictable format as everyone else.

Oh, and if you publish your posts at that peak time they tell you to, consider this: There is no such thing as a optimum publishing time.

It varies from industry to industry and country to country.

For example:

  • If your target market are people who run hospitality businesses, bars, hotels, etc., they work late and start later than most businesses. If your target market are graphic designers or web developers, they also tend to work very late and start later too.
  • Different cultures have different working hours. I work with companies all around the world. My American clients are generally in their office earlier than my European clients. My European clients tend to work later.
  • Middle Eastern business owners often have a working week, which runs from Sunday to Thursday.
  • And… if you do publish your posts at the so-called peak time recommended by all the content marketing gurus — think about it: Your posts will be fighting for attention, along with every other blog post, published by people who fell for the same toxic advice!

In short: One size does not fit all. If you’re following generic blogging advice and your blog isn’t growing the way you want it to, it’s time for a more sensible approach.

How to make it work

The key is to put your time, energy and creativity into doing things YOUR WAY. Be useful. Provide value. Show us what you know. Turn up regularly. Lead, rather than follow.

That’s what attracts people’s attention. It’s also what inspires them to read your work, share your work, hire you and buy from you. I used this approach and built one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs. I have also never needed to speak at blogging conferences in order to make a living or write guest blog posts, in order to reach more people.

PS: Here’s some advice on building a great readership.