Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Author: Jim Connolly (page 90 of 176)

Are you ready, willing and able? Then show me!

For your marketing to work, you need your prospective clients to know that you are ready, willing and able to service their needs.  The challenge here, is that many small business owners only demonstrate 2 out of those 3 requirements.

Here’s what I see time and again with small business marketing:

  1. I know you are ready to attract more clients, because you are marketing your services to me.
  2. I know you are willing to work with me, because you have targeted me with a marketing message expressing your willingness.
  3. I have no idea if you are able, though!

Yes, you have testimonials on your website but so do all your competitors.  These testimonials provide me with little real insight as to your ability, because we all know they are usually written by the best case clients; so not as representative as I need them to be.

I see you have some badges on your website, brochure or letter head, but they mean nothing to me.  I’m not an expert in your industry and have no idea if they have any credibility.  Even if they are credible, I am likely to see them on your competitors sites and marketing materials too.  In other words, I still know zero about your knowledge or skills.

Show me

So, if you want me to find out how awesome you are, show me!

Start writing blog posts or newsletter articles, which demonstrate your knowledge to me.  Show me what you know and how valuable your information is.  Use your marketing messages to deliver information to me that has value; something I can use rather than just a sales pitch.  Educate me.  Cause me to position you in my mind as an expert in your field and the logical person to call, when I need paid-for help from someone in your industry.

Show your prospective clients that you are ready, willing and able.

The good news? Very, very few of your competitors are doing this right now!

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

Photo credit: Jessica Flavin

How to get the clarity and direction your business needs

If you want to grow a successful business, you need to know exactly where you are and where you want to be.  When that’s in place you need a plan to get you from A to B, based on your resources.

The way I achieve this with my clients is via a fact-finder, which I go through with them on our first session.  I think you may find this useful.  So, if you and I were working together today for the very first time, here’s part of what we would be doing right now:

  • I would go through a series of questions with you, in order for me to get a clear picture of exactly where your business is today.  This becomes the starting point of our journey.
  • Next, I’d work with you to discover where you would like your business to be – What I call your ultimate business goal.  If you are unclear or fuzzy regarding the specifics, I would work with you, so that you had the clarity you need.  This becomes our destination and allows us to have all your marketing directed on a clear objective.  (Many clients later say that after going through this with me, they achieved total clarity for the first time with their business.)
  • Then, I would begin working with you for a whole year, to guide you from where you are, to where you want to be, based on your resources.  All my work is based on attraction marketing, so your marketing would be designed to attract leads, clients or customers.  You would have zero need to chase new business.

Get clear regarding where you are today

This is more than knowing what your turnover and profits are.  It means looking at things like the type of clients you work for and the kind of fees you work for and determining if these are right for you.  If not, we need to change them.  For example, one of my current clients has increased her fees 3 times in the past year, achieving a massive increase in revenues and profits, whilst also attracting higher quality clients too.  This must be handled correctly, but if it is, the rewards can be amazing.

Get clear regarding where you want to be

Many small business owners know that they want things to be better or that they want to earn more, but that’s not enough.  You need to know what your ultimate goal for your business is.  Do you want to sell it for as much money as possible?  Do you want to pass it on to a family member?  Do you want to develop it into a residual income stream for when you retire, (a business that requires just a few hours a week for a full time income), etc?

A lot of small business owners suffer from what I call mind fog; a term I use to describe the kind of fuzzy thinking that leads to businesspeople working hard, but without making real progress.  This is like someone sailing their yacht, trying to find an island, but with no idea where that island is.  They wouldn’t know how to set their sail, to make the best use of the wind or even if they were going in the right direction.  Clarity is essential to your success, which is why I help provide crystal clear focus for my clients.  However you achieve it, you need that clarity too.

Develop a plan

Once you know where you are and where you want to be, you need a plan that will show you how to make it happen.  Your hard work needs to be directed effectively, so that you make the most progress, as swiftly as possible.  This is a common area where small business owners and entrepreneurs in general get it wrong.  Rather than developing a plan that’s been developed for their unique situation, resources and goals, they copy what they see others doing.  That’s extremely ineffective.

You know a great deal about your service or products and how they benefit people.  However, you probably know a lot less about how to develop your business, step-by-step, so that you are growing at the right pace, attracting the best clients and working for the most rewarding fees.  When I work with a client, we develop a plan based on their unique situation, goals and resources.  This is what you need.  If you have tried emulating what you have seen others doing and found it has not worked for you, you will already know how frustrating and unrewarding it is.  You need (and deserve) a better strategy than that!

Get moving

You also need to get moving.  The best plan in the world will not work, unless you use it correctly.  It helps enormously in business, when you have someone you can turn to, for the inspiration, motivation and encouragement you need; especially if they have already achieved what you are seeking to achieve.  With my clients, I am on hand as their coach or mentor, to provide them with the motivation they need, in order to put their plans into action.  They benefit from my experience, having achieved financial independence before I was 30, after being flat broke aged 21.

A part of your journey

Thousands of people read my work every day and allow me, even if in just a small way, to become a part of their journey.

Others work with me on the development of their business, where I coach or mentor them on how to make the progress they deserve; using the most effective marketing ideas, insights and strategies I know.  They have me on hand, whenever required, to guide and support them or simply to share ideas with.  If you are a small business owner and you would like to find out how I can help you and your business, simply get in touch.  I will happily answer any questions you have.  I look forward to hearing from you!

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

Photo: Silver Fox09

How to CRUSH the fear that’s holding you back!

How do you deal with the tough decisions in your business?

Many business owners try to avoid them.

Here’s the challenge with that approach: It will place a very low ceiling on your potential.

When I was starting out in marketing in 1987, my manager gave me some great advice.  She told me that the hardest decisions are often the ones that lead to the best results and that most people struggled throughout their lives, because they allowed fear to stop them making these tough decisions.  I can confirm that without exception, every major progressive leap I have made in my business, was preceded by a tough decision.

Fear as your business compass

Time and again, I have heard leaders say that they use fear as a compass.  They know that if they believe a decision is correct, yet the thought of actioning that decision is frightening, there’s an extremely good chance that the decision will lead to major progress.

Here’s what I have found:

  • The easy decisions are made by the masses.  They don’t require us to stretch or leave our comfort zones.  They also lead to little real growth.
  • The tough decisions are made by the few.  They require us to leave our comfort zones.  They precede all meaningful growth.

I recall a quote from Zig Zigglar, where he said: “If you will be hard on yourself, life will be easy on you. But if you insist upon being easy on yourself, life is going to be very hard on you.”

How I overcome fear

If fear has been holding you back from taking action, you may find this useful.  It’s how I deal with the tough but necessary decisions in my own business (and life.)

When I know deep down I need to do something, I consider the likely results of allowing the fear to win.  Then, I consider the likely results of crushing the fear and doing what I believe needs to be done.  By looking at the consequences, it’s easier to make the right decision, even if it’s not the easiest one.

What are your tips for overcoming fear?

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

Photo: snigl3t

Chris Brogan in blog monetization shocker!

Today’s post is about something I saw on Chris Brogan’s blog.  It left me really curious about the different opinions people have, regarding what is OK, and what is not, when it comes to blog advertising.

[Please note, this post was written in 2011]

Monetizing this blog

This is a commercial blog, which generates 6 figures in income every year for my business.  Because I hardly ever put an affiliate link into my posts, have just 1 sponsor and no ads, the blog gives the impression to many readers that it is just an Aladdin’s Cave of free marketing information; rather than an Aladdin’s Cave of free marketing information, which pays my bills.  Trust me though, Jim’s Marketing Blog is very much a commercial site.

Other bloggers use different monetization approaches.  One of these is Chris Brogan from chrisbrogan.com.  Chris’ blog uses a number of effective monetization models.  These include ads, affiliate links and the promotion of his services.

Chris Brogan: A few extra ads in 1 popular post

I read a post on Chris Brogan’s blog today, where he felt the need to explain why he inserted some additional ads into a blog post he wrote, which he knew would attract a lot of traffic.  He then went on to offer a 2nd version of that post, with the ads removed for people who were offended!

You can see the shocking, original version of the post here.

CAUTION: Contains advertising some people may find useful!

I’m amazed that over a decade into the evolution of blogging, we still have people, who manage to get angry when a blogger does a form of advertising that they don’t like.  In this instance, Chris’ crime against blogging was to insert 4 ads into a very long blog post, which he knew would attract a lot more traffic than his usual posts.  This was a step too far for some of his readers, though many others said they used the opportunity to click his links and make purchases.

I find those very different responses to the same blog post really interesting.

It seems some blog readers want information from blogs for free, but are offended when the blogger offers ads, so that those same readers don’t have to pay!  On the post in question, Chris’ ads were clearly identified (they were banners) and the ads were for products, which he is strongly associated with and which appear on his site all the time.  Other readers saw the exact same post with the ads and were motivated to click and buy.  Same post, totally different response.

Payback?

If we read a blog on a regular basis, which we find useful, surely we should not only welcome the ads, but if they are for something we are thinking of buying, we should click on them too?  Now, if the ads are poorly targeted we will see them as of zero value, so no one will click on them.  The blogger will then either have to remove them, replace them or suffer the consequences.  But when the ads are targeted, they provide us with a way to repay the blogger for all the value they give us for free.

Remember: Free information on blogs is only free to the reader.  The blogger has to invest the time to create the content and the money to ensure it’s on a fast server and properly designed / maintained.

What do you think?

How do you feel about business bloggers monetizing their posts:  Is targeted advertising OK?  What about placing ads directly into blog posts, when you have a post you think will attract a lot of targeted readers?

I’d like to know your opinions on this.  Is it unacceptable to you or do you think it’s OK?

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

Photo: Images of money

What do you think?

I took the picture above earlier this week, when I stopped off at a local coffee shop for a think.

People often tell me it’s weird that I dedicate time each day just for creative thinking. I find it even weirder that most people wait until they have a problem, before they start looking for ideas and answers.

Problems turned into gold dust

How many times have you heard someone tell you that as a result of a problem they had, they came up with an idea or a new product, which was a huge success?  Well, just imagine the progress that can be made when you get into that same mindset, for a period of time every week and NOT just when there’s a problem.

Usually, business owners will wait for a problem to motivate them to get creative.  As a marketing guy, I see it all the time, when a business owner starts frantically marketing their services, because they lose a major client and are trying to replace all that lost income.

32 Questions to get you started!

The best way to get the answers you need is to ask yourself the right questions.  To help  you with this, here are 32 great questions you can ask yourself, which I use on a regular basis to generate more valuable ideas than I can even use.

If you already use dedicated, uninterrupted thinking time in your business, I would love you to share how it works for you!

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

How to get your prospective client’s attention

If you want to earn the attention of your marketplace, you need to give them something important to focus on.  Here’s the thing.  They will only focus on what’s important to them, not what’s important to you.

convert traffic, convert readersA lot of marketing tends to do the complete opposite and focus on the provider, rather than the prospective client.  We see lots of broadcasting about how great they are, how great their service is yet very little emphasis placed on solving the specific challenges facing their prospective clients.

That’s the wrong balance.

Earned attention

Broadcasting your special offers will never earn you the attention of your marketplace.  The key word there is earn.  You earn people’s attention by delivering them-focused information – Information that is all about helping them.  My focus here, for example, is to deliver as much useful marketing and business development information to as many small business owners as possible.  I don’t write post after post about me and what I want from MY business.  I know that people come here for answers and ideas, so that’s what I work hard to provide.

By focusing on the needs of my readers, you connect with me and allow me to be a part of their business development.  A subset of you will hire me, without me emailing you with “special offers”.  There’s real magic there.

How can you earn the attention of your marketplace?

Give! Give them as much genuinely useful information and help as you can.  Then give them even more.  Help them solve problems, so they learn to regard (position) you as the go-to person in your industry.  This takes time rather than money; creativity rather than force.  Connect with people.  Educate, don’t sell.

Get this process right and it changes everything.  You start attracting qualified, high quality inquiries from people who already know you are a specialist in your field.  It’s one of the most enjoyable, profitable and professional ways to grow a business.

Reaching out

What do you currently do, which reaches out to your prospective clients and helps them?  What could you be doing to reach them and connect?

Share your experiences or questions with a comment!

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

Photo: Nina Matthews Photography

Your business. Your choice.

If you are tired of making too little progress with your business, consider this:

  • If the engine in your car stops working, the solution is not to push your car everywhere. You need to fix your car’s engine.
  • If your business is not generating the inquiries you need, the solution is not to push more ineffective marketing on people. You need to fix your marketing engine.

Most small businesses I see, are doing the wrong things, very poorly.  Some are doing the wrong things quite well and some are superstars, when it comes to getting it wrong on a grand scale.

For example, they fail to get the results they want from networking, blogging, email marketing etc, so they do more and more of it; often copying others who are in just as big a mess as they are.

Your choice

You need to break free from that position.  You need to know what the right marketing is for your business and then, how to use it correctly.

Thankfully, it’s always your choice.  You can get the help you need and stop wasting your time and money whenever you wish.

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

Attract more clients or customers with these 5 simple steps!

Here’s a quick marketing tip, which can help you improve your marketing results extremely quickly.

  1. Think of the last 5 purchases you made, which cost you approximately the same as you charge for your own products or services.
  2. Name the people or companies you made those purchases from.
  3. How did you find those providers? (Word of mouth, search engines, advertising etc.)
  4. What made you decide to spend your money with them, rather than someone else?
  5. Write your answers down!

This simple exercise gives you a useful glimpse into how other people or companies are successfully making sales, in your price range.

Pay particular attention to anything those 5 vendors did that was common to 2 or more of them, but which you don’t currently do.  This brief exercise can help you spot elements missing from your own marketing, which were powerful enough to convert you into a customer / client.

Plus, as those 5 examples will probably have been from outside your own industry, if you do spot an opportunity, it’s very possible your competitors won’t be doing it, making it massively more powerful for you.

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

Photo: House of sims

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