Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Business Development (page 1 of 99)

Why Time Management didn’t work for you AND how to fix it!

clearity

I want to share something important with you today. It’s something that has helped my clients achieve amazing results for almost 20 years. It has helped them master time management and make massively more progress than ever before.

Here it is.

Never enough time?

The average small business owner complains that they never have enough time. This is factually incorrect. They have 24 hours available to them every day, just like the most successful business owners.

What the average small business owner lacks isn’t time.

What they lack is direction.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will get you there.”

— Lewis Carroll

One of the main reasons that time management training is so ineffective, is that it teaches people how to get things done. Without direction, time management simply shows you how to do more of the wrong things. You end up with to-do lists and journals, with lots of things crossed off – yet you make too little progress. So, you try to get even more things done, thinking that’s what you need in order to succeed.

The net result: You end up working hard, getting stressed and feeling frustrated at your lack of progress.

I’ll let you into a secret

I’ve worked with and studied some incredibly successful people. None of them have a time management problem. Why? Simple. They have direction. They know what they want to achieve and this gives them the clarity to know what they need to do.

This skill is vital to your success, which is why I work on it with my clients. My clients know where they are today and they know where they want to be in; 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years time. This powerful sense of direction allows us to plan ahead with total clarity.

If you find yourself working hard, yet making too little progress, stop focusing on time management and learn how to find the direction you need.

As my clients have found, once you know exactly where you’re going, it’s a lot easier to plot your course!

Marketing your business: What you need to know!

Helen from Long Island, New York emailed me with an important marketing question. Maybe the most important marketing question there is! I’m going to share it with you, with her permission, along with my answer, as I believe you will find it interesting.

It’s all about a common attitude small business owners have, when it comes to marketing.

Here’s an excerpt from Helen’s email:

“My husband quit his job 2 years ago and now runs a training business. [...] Nothing he tries works when it comes to marketing and so I’m begging him to get some professional marketing help. Without my salary propping up his business he’d have no business. He says that getting expert marketing advice is a waste of money. How can I convince him he’s totally wrong Jim?”

Being amazing isn’t enough

There’s a difference between a best-selling author and a best-writing author. The difference? Marketing. An average author with great marketing behind them will always sell more than a wonderful author, whose work goes unnoticed.

The same is true of your business

If your good work is going unnoticed, your less capable, yet better marketed competitors, will win the best clients and harvest the best results.

Sure, some of your delighted clients will recommend you, but usually that happens too infrequently. This is because they expect a great service from you. So, whilst you’re likely to retain their custom, you can’t rely on them to market your business for you.

Since starting my business in 1995, I have never once met with the owner of a failed business, whose marketing was effective. In fact, I’ve found that marketing is easily the most neglected element of the average small business.

Winners have a very different attitude to marketing

Interestingly, marketing is a top priority in every successful business I have ever known. This is not a coincidence. It’s exactly what you’d expect. Why? Because marketing is what provides the lifeblood of your business. I’m talking about cash flow, sales, clients and customers. Without those, you have no business.

Make no mistake, there is a proven, direct link between what your business achieves and the way you choose to market it. Dabbling with marketing is costly. It’s ineffective. It’s frustrating. It causes you to waste months or years, time which you could be using to market your business correctly.

Dabble with DIY marketing or invest in effective, professional marketing? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Let go of the past. Embrace progress!

start

It’s easy to start. Easy to set grand goals. The tricky part is sticking with the project.

Back in January, business owners worldwide set goals. They committed to do what’s required, in order to significantly grow their business this year. By April, almost all of them had slipped back into old habits.

For most small business owners, the first day of January is not the start of a New Year. It’s simply another chance to relive the same disappointing year all over again.

Stop

If you’re sick of working hard and making too little progress, stop. Stop and ask yourself why you’re repeating the same errors. Ask yourself why you’re starving your business of the resources you know it needs. Ask yourself why you’ve accepted this totally unnecessary cycle of struggle… why it’s OK for you to waste year after year. None of us can afford to waste years going nowhere.

Then, if you are serious about improving things…

Take action!

Don’t wait for January to come along before you get serious about the future of your business. Instead, give your business a head start. Get moving today.

The message here is clear —  old ways won’t open new doors. So, let go of the old and embrace progress.

How to create a new product or service, which people will love

The world’s most successful businesspeople have something in common with the world’s greatest inventors. It’s simply this:

Instead of answering the questions people are already asking, they look for new, better questions to answer.

The thing about business is that it’s already overflowing with vendors, offering the marketplace whatever the marketplace is asking for.

The challenges here are twofold:

  1. By offering what your marketplace wants, you leave very little room for innovation — the very thing that you need in order to stand out and be noticed.
  2. The marketplace doesn’t usually know what it wants, until someone creates it. As Henry Ford famously said; “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. There was also zero demand for tablet devices, until Apple created the iPad. Today, the iPad is a mass-market consumer item.

So, how do you spot what your marketplace wants, before they ask for it?

Look for unspoken challenges

Over the years, I have helped clients worldwide to develop new products and services, which are hugely popular and profitable. In every instance, I started by asking the client a series of questions. One of these questions, which you can work on today without my one-to-one help, is this:

What unspoken challenge is your marketplace faced with, which you could provide an answer to?

For example, the iPad was Apple’s answer to the netbook problem. Remember netbooks? They were small, cheap, underpowered laptops, which people used primarily to surf the net [hence the name netbook]. They had low quality displays and were awkward to use. However, they sold by the million, because they were easier to carry than a laptop and had better battery life.

The huge popularity of netbooks showed that there was a demand for what we now call consumption devices —  devices which people used to consume information and chat on social networks. Although you could get things done with even the first iPad, it immediately plugged the consumption gap.

It was an elegant, great looking answer to a problem, which the marketplace didn’t even know it had. It has been so successful, that tablet sales have eaten into a huge chunk of the laptop market. It’s one of the best selling electronic products in history — even though NO ONE was asking for a tablet!

Here’s a suggestion

Take some time out to think about the challenges facing your marketplace. Look for solutions, which people will value. No, this isn’t easy, which is why people work with me in order to get the answers they need, but if you get it right, it can improve your business beyond recognition.

3 Easy ways to boost your productivity

Social networks

Think about it: Technology makes it easier than ever to get things done.

  • Processes that used to eat our time can now be automated.
  • Meetings that used to require travel, can now be conducted using Skype, FaceTime etc.
  • We carry a phone in our pocket, which is a powerful computer, allowing us to get answers we need instantly no matter where we are.

Yet, we still have too little time each day. We have projects that are behind. We have things left undone, which we know we need to do.

Here’s how to turn that around!

The incoming

A major reason we struggle to get things done, is that we pay way too much attention to the incoming; Facebook, Linkedin, email, Twitter, text messages… all these incoming signals and more, shout for our attention. They train us to check for updates and each time we do, we surrender our time and our attention.

Here’s the thing: What we pay attention to changes how we feel and the way we feel is responsible for what we do. So, not only does the incoming suck up our time while we check for updates, it can also lead us into an unproductive state.

Thankfully, we are in control of the incoming. With just a few simple adjustments, we can become far more productive and focused. Here’s how to regain control in 3 easy steps.

1. Limit the number of people you follow on social networks

The fewer people you follow, the less distracting the incoming becomes. Do you REALLY need to follow 500 or 5000 people on Twitter? Do you absolutely have to be in so many Linkedin groups or Facebook groups? Focus on value rather than volume.

2. Change the notification settings on your social networking apps

By default, many social network apps will notify you every time there’s activity on your account. This means you can get distracted from your work, simply because Bob liked one of your Facebook comments or Barbara sent you a smiley face on Twitter. As you may have already discovered, it’s hard to ignore your phone when it’s beeping at you or has a light flashing!

Go into the notifications settings of your social networking apps and set them to only notify you, if something worthy of your immediate attention happens. Alternatively, you can do as I do and turn automatic notifications off. You will then be able to catch up on everything, when it suits you.

3. Make email work for you, not the other way around

If someone needs you urgently, you will get a phone call. Your kids, the school, your partner, friends and clients will call you if there’s a time sensitive emergency. So, rather than have your email app running in the background checking for new messages all day, turn it on only when you have the time to read and reply to messages.

In short — Take deliberate control of the incoming, rather than being notified constantly all day. Get this right and it will make you more productive, improve your focus and allow you to think with greater clarity.

How to build a successful business

how to build a successful business, grow business

It’s a very broad question, but a lot of people ask me for help with how to build a successful business.

So, here’s some of the best business development advice I know, along with lots of examples. I hope you find it useful!

Build a successful business… by doing all the work

Maybe the biggest difference between the most successful business owners and everyone else, is this:

  • The most successful business owners do 100% of what’s required to succeed.
  • The average business owner does 100% of the things required… so long as they feel comfortable doing it.

The difference in results between those 2 mindsets is enormous. The successful business owner sees her business needs something, and does it. The typical business owner sees the same thing, then weighs it up based on how comfortable they are about it. If it feels too uncomfortable, even though their business needs it, they don’t do it.

For example: I recall speaking with a business owner once, who sold his business to a guy, who tripled its turnover in 6 months. The former owner told me how frustrated he was, as all the things the new owner did were things he had already thought of doing, but failed to do because they were ‘too risky’. Over the 10 years the former owner had the coffee shop, he believes his aversion to stepping out of his comfort zone lost him at least $15,000,000.

If your business needs something, do it. Puff out your chest, leave your comfort zone and make the right decision rather than the easy decision.

So, to build a successful business do all the work required.

Build a successful business… by connecting with the right people, in advance

To build a successful business, you will need the help and support of others. As I have said here many times over the past 5 years, business is all about people.

One of the key differences between successful business owners and those who struggle, is the way they connect with people.

Successful business owners think of the people, whose help they will need, in advance. They deliberately, regularly make connections with key people. Then, months or years later, if they need their advice or help, it’s there. I know of no exceptions to this rule.

Struggling business owners wait until they need help, then they pester strangers with selfish requests.

For example: I get emails every day, from total strangers who want me to do things for them. Some ask me for detailed marketing advice. Others have just written a book or launched something, and ask me to write about it, because they know I have a great readership.

Never, ever start a business relationship, by asking a total stranger for a selfish favour. Make the connections first. Get to know people. Show some respect. Be human.

The most successful business owners, go beyond this… they actively look for ways to be of value to others, in advance. They know that ‘giving and receiving’, begins with the ‘giving’ part.

So, to build a successful business, make the right connections in advance.

Build a successful business… by having a wide spread of clients or customers

The most successful business owners know the danger of having too few, high paying clients. They make sure they have a wide spread of business, rather than a few clients, who are responsible for a large percentage of their income.

For example: My wife is a very good Amazon customer and spends several thousand there every year. We have deliveries from Amazon every week, often 2 or 3 times. Do you have any idea how big a problem it would be for Amazon, if my wife stopped shopping with them? None. Zilch. Zero. That’s because Amazon has a massive number of customers. They can afford, literally, to lose 50,000 people who spend just as much as my wife, without breaking a sweat.

The typical small business owner does the opposite. Especially service providers. They usually have a small number of clients, who represent the majority of their income. If they lost even one, it would have a serious impact on their business. In some cases, it can put them out of business.

To grow a successful business, your business needs to be resilient. It needs to be robust. It needs to have a wide spread of clients or customers, none of whom have too big a share of your turnover or revenues.

If you currently find yourself too reliant on a small number of clients, make remedying the situation your number one priority. It’s a lot easier to improve your spread of business now, than when you have just lost a major client or customer.

So, to build a successful business, don’t have too many eggs in one basket.

Build a successful business… by using proven strategies, not tactics

One of the biggest mistakes people make, when trying to build a successful business, is to copy the tactics of other successful businesses, rather than learn from their strategies.

For example: Hundreds of ‘new’ social networking sites fail every month, because they try and copy what Facebook or Twitter does, (tactics) and end up creating a very similar network, that has no users. This approach can’t possibly work. Why would anyone use a new version of Facebook, which none of their friends are on?

If instead, they focused on the strategies that worked for Facebook or Twitter, such as developing something sufficiently unique, viral and valuable, they would have stood a better shot.

When you copy someone’s tactics, you simply become a copy of the original. Copies are of little value. The original Mona Lisa is priceless… you can buy a copy though, for the price of a coffee!

The challenge with discovering a successful strategy, is that it’s often hidden. We can see the tactics successful business owners use, because they are visible. However, discovering the strategies behind those tactics takes a lot more detective work. Fortunately, many of the world’s most successful business owners have written books on how they did it. Others are often interviewed, allowing us insights into the strategies they use or have used.

I have never seen a successful business that’s made up of a series of tactics. They are all strategic.

So, to build a successful business, think strategic.

Build a successful business… by getting the help you need

Very, very few successful business owners are equally great at every business discipline. It’s natural for all of us to be stronger in some areas and weaker in others. Commercially, our areas of weakness can have a huge, negative impact on our overall business success, if we allow them to.

This leaves us with 2 options:

  1. Learn to become strong in the areas where we are weak.
  2. Hire expertise in the areas where we are weak.

Ongoing learning is essential to your business success, however, none of us can learn to be an expert in every area. So, we need to choose wisely.

For example: If you need a new website, which looks professional and isn’t simply based on a template used by a million other sites, it pays you to hire a talented designer. Otherwise, it may take you years to learn how to write code and study design, to the point where you can do work as polished as a talented professional web designer. You ‘save’ nothing by either creating a crappy looking DIY website quickly, or by robbing your business of hundreds of hours of your precious time, to learn how to design a great site.

Every successful business I have ever studied, has hired the help it needed. Conversely, every failed business I ever looked into, tried to do it all themselves. DIY is best kept to the home. Do It Yourself accountancy, IT, marketing and legal work, etc, makes zero sense… especially in today’s super competitive economy.

So, to build a successful business, get the help you need.

Finally

I hope you found these ideas useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with them.

Stop dumbing down your marketing. Really. Stop it!

dumbing down

It’s tempting to dumb down your marketing message. Surely, if you dumb it down enough, everyone will understand it. Everyone will have their questions answered. Everyone will be happy.

The challenge is, you don’t sell to everyone. So, you’re marketing to the wrong people!

A smarter approach

The most effective and powerful marketing messages are those, which your clients or customers understand. Messages that are highly relevant to them. Messages that speak to them directly. Messages that inspire them to take action and motivate them to hire you or buy from you. You can’t achieve that by dumbing down for the masses.

If you’re not making enough sales or attracting enough clients, I have a suggestion for you. Instead of dumbing down your marketing message, look for ways to smarten it up. True, not everyone will understand your message. However, your prospective clients or customers may think you’re exactly what they’re looking for.

Oh, and here’s some important advice that will help you!

A powerful marketing lesson from the new iPhone

I want to share a marketing tip with you today, which Apple used recently with enormous success. It starts with a question.

How big is the iPhone 6?

Ask an iPhone user and they will tell you it’s large. That’s because until now, iPhone users have been using 4 inch screens. Compared to a 4 inch screen, a 4.7 inch screen is large.

Ask an Android user how big the iPhone 6 is and they will say it’s average size, because they’ve had screens that size for years.

So, when Apple used the phrase, “Bigger than bigger”, to market the new iPhone models, they were talking directly to existing Apple customers. Of course, they also attracted the attention of Android users, who were holding out until Apple produced a bigger device.

What does this have to do with you and your business?

Your marketing promises

Think about some of the promises you make with your marketing. For example:

  • We offer outstanding value.
  • We provide a great service.

In each case, your prospective customer will be comparing your promise against their expectations.

So, who are you marketing to and what do they expect?

  • If you’re marketing to people who are used to below average service and value, you can offer an average service and still meet their expectations.
  • However, if you market to people who receive an average service, the service and value you promise will need to be significantly better than average. Otherwise, your marketing promises won’t match their expectations.

How to get it right

Before you claim to offer an outstanding service or amazing value, you need to know who your target customer is comparing you to. If you make grand statements with your marketing, yet prospective customers or clients think it sounds average when they review what you actually offer, you lose.

Most small business owners overestimate how good their services are and underestimate their competitors. They forget how passionate their competitors are and how hard they work. They know their own level of commitment and assume the others can’t possibly be trying as hard.

Here’s what to do next

Spend some time researching what your competitors offer. Google makes this relatively simple. Look at the range of services your competitors provide, the guarantees they offer and when possible, their fees or prices.

That will help you get a more accurate picture of what prospective clients see as average.

Then, look for ways to pump more value into what you provide. How much value? So much, that when a prospective customer matches your marketing promises with what you actually deliver, it  exceeds their expectations. This is what motivates them to hire you or buy from you.

Tip: Read this – 3 Ideas to help you the next time they say you’re too expensive.

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