Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Business Development (page 1 of 97)

The secret to marketing that spreads AND sells!

junk mail

I have a very effective marketing idea to share with you today. You’re going to love this!

I’m going to show you how to create marketing, which people will value and that’s powerful enough to inspire them to hire you or buy from you. It’s based on the work I do with my clients and includes a brief case study, which you can learn from.

So, let’s get started.

Receiving or paying attention?

It starts with understanding that there’s a huge difference between someone receiving your message and someone paying attention to it.

For example, TV viewers are sent targeted marketing messages (commercials) during TV shows. What do most of us do? We fast forward through them or if watching the show in real-time, we go and make a coffee. Just because they send their messages, doesn’t mean we are paying attention.

For your marketing to work, you need to get a great message in front of the right people. In order to get this correct, here’s the key question we need to ask ourselves:

If I stopped my email marketing campaign or I stopped publishing my blog posts, newsletter etc, would people really MISS them?

As a quick look at the marketing you receive every day confirms, for most people the honest answer to that question is NO! We get bombarded with dull, uninspiring sales messages all day and see them as an intrusion, rather than something of value.

Of course, for that tiny minority of small businesses who DO produce marketing, which people genuinely value and would miss if it were to stop, the sky is the limit.

I’m going to share the process required to make this work for your business later in this post.

First, we need to understand why there’s so much dull and ineffective marketing out there.

Dull is cheap. Dull is fast. Dull is simple!

It’s cheap, fast and simple to create dull marketing and get it in front of a lot of people. As a result, there’s no barrier to entry today.

Things were very different a decade ago. Back then, if a small business owner wanted to send a mail shot to 50,000 people, she’d have to spend some serious money.

  • She’d have to cover the cost of the mailing list.
  • Then she would need to pay for all that paper and the printing.
  • Next she would need to pay a company to get the letters folded and inserted into the 50,000 envelopes.
  • Then there’s the huge postage costs for those 50,000 pieces of mail.

All in all, it would cost many thousands. She would need to think long and hard about the value of what she put into those envelopes. Get it wrong and she would pay a hefty price!

Today, everything has changed

That same business owner today can hit 50,000 people using cheap email software and her laptop. It costs just a little of her time. If it fails, maybe tomorrow’s one will work. It’s never been cheaper or easier to push dull, uninspired, poorly thought out, uncreative marketing out the door.

So, that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing. This is why there’s so much junk in your email inbox and on your social networking accounts.

Here’s what you need to do to get it right!

There is an alternative approach I want to share with you, so people welcome your marketing, share it and hire you or buy from you. It requires that you take the exact opposite approach, to 99% of the marketing you see out there. 

It’s about shifting the focus of your marketing, so that it’s primarily of benefit to the people who receive it and secondarily of benefit to you. It’s about producing content (audio, video, blog posts, newsletters, mail shots, flyers, social networking updates etc), which provide independent value to those who receive it. This means they get genuinely valuable or useful information from it, independent of them needing to spend a penny with you.

An example of how this works, based on one of my clients

Imagine you are a dog owner and after a trip to the vet, you subscribe to their dog owner’s newsletter. It gives you tips and ideas, to help you keep your dog healthy, fit and happy. At the bottom of each email are their contact details, so you can call them when you need a vet. You find this free information so useful, that you send it to 10 of your dog-owning friends.

They subscribe and then do the same… then these new subscribers share it too, and on and on it goes. The amazingly valuable, highly-targeted readership grows and grows.

Soon, that vet (a former client of mine) was talking to thousands of local dog owners and positioned themselves in their marketplace, as THE place to take your dog for all its veterinary needs. Their newsletter was eagerly anticipated by it’s readers… yes, people wanted to hear from them and valued what they had to share.

Compare that vet’s approach to the typical marketing messages we see.

  • That vet doesn’t need to run expensive radio ads.
  • They have no need to buy mailing lists.
  • They don’t need to waste valuable hours at networking events.
  • They certainly don’t need to pester people on social networks or ask strangers for recommendations on Linkedin.
  • They don’t need to invest in anything, other than the creativity required to produce a genuinely valuable newsletter, with useful content.

That example shows how a business can grow a massively valuable marketing asset, by sharing real value — rather than pushing unwanted messages. If you invest in creating this kind of value driven marketing, it will improve your business beyond recognition.

In short: Stop pushing predictable marketing at people. Focus on attracting clients instead! This means sharing value, something your marketplace will embrace and share. Soon, you too can have a valuable, growing community of people, who position you in their mind as the obvious choice, when they need the type of service your business provides.

Here’s a Window of Opportunity for you and your business

I’d like to talk with you today about something important, which I haven’t covered previously. It’s about the price you pay, when you’re waiting on other people to make a decision.

All the while you’re waiting on a prospective client or customer to give you their decision, they occupy a significant chunk of your mind. Their indecision can also be a significant cause of stress, as the will-they-or-won’t-they dance is carried out in your mind.

How I solved this problem and how you can too

It’s hard to think with clarity about future plans, when the indecision of others is weighing heavily on your mind. So, it’s important to have a strategy in place to ensure you protect yourself and your business. The strategy I use is based on what I call Windows of Opportunity.

Allow me to explain.

How my Windows of Opportunity work

Whenever a prospective client makes an inquiry about working with me, I open a Window of Opportunity in my diary.

It looks something like this:

  • The Window of Opportunity has a start date and an end date. The end date is based on how much time I am prepared to invest, to take them from a prospective client… to a client.
  • During their Window of Opportunity, I’m committed to providing them with everything they need in order to make the right decision for their business.
  • However, once their Window of Opportunity is closed, if they are still unable to make a decision, I invest my time and focus elsewhere.
  • I also consider their inquiry closed, meaning I no longer factor their decision into my plans moving forward. This helps me retain total clarity regarding my business. It’s hard to make future plans or determine future capacity, when you’re factoring in “potential” income from “potential” clients — many of whom are time wasters.
  • If they reply after this date asking to work with me, and I am still willing to work with them, I have a single, additional conversation with them. They could have had a perfectly good reason for delaying. In such cases I am always happy to provide an additional conversation.

If indecisive prospective clients or time-wasters are taking their toll on you and your business, consider taking control of the situation by working within your own Windows of Opportunity. This will give you the freedom to plan ahead with clarity, rather than the mind-fog that hampers so many hard working small business owners.

Not only will you enjoy clearer thinking and less stress, you will save a huge amount of time too.

Stop looking for certainty. Seriously. Stop it!

One of the most valuable skills in business, is the ability to make decisions. The reason this skill is  so valuable is that it’s extremely rare.

I receive hundreds of emails every week from small business owners with problems. In most cases, the primary reason their businesses struggle is their inability to make a decision. They want certainty before they commit — this, in a world without certainty!

Here’s what the most successful business owners and entrepreneurs do:

  • They do the research.
  • They get the facts.
  • They seek expert advice, if required.
  • They make a decision.
  • They take action.

At no point do they seek out certainty. If they did, they’d never do anything!

5 Tips to keep your business on track

Here are some quick tips, to inspire you to make better decisions.

  1. If you have an idea, don’t poll your friends. Great ideas are not anointed — they fly or die based on merit and hard work.
  2. When they told you: “Don’t work hard, work smart!”, they lied. It’s not about working smart instead of working hard. Success requires both.
  3. Steve Martin was right. The best way to get noticed, is to be so good that they can’t ignore you.
  4. Avoid offering free consultations. Firstly, they massively undervalue your work. Secondly, they attract time-wasters like light attracts moths.
  5. The money is not in the list.

I hope you found this useful.

Does email marketing work?

Yes, email marketing does work… so long as you do it correctly.

Allow me to explain

Last month, my friend Irene sent an email marketing message to the community of newsletter readers, which we have nurtured for her lighting business. I’ve been helping with her marketing and was delighted, when a very impressive 18% of her readers made a purchase.

I was even happier for Irene, when within 9 days, she’d generated just over $32,000 in sales, with an average profit margin of 55%. The business is just 11 months old.

When email marketing doesn’t work

Most small business owners handle their own email marketing. They buy lists or build lists, when they should be building a community. They then send a marketing message to their list, which they write themselves. Their home made marketing message fails to inspire their readers to take action. It fails to compel their readers to make a purchase.

Of course, it fails the business owner too. An average list coupled with DIY content, produces predictably bad results.

In a nutshell: Email marketing is like every form of marketing, in one important respect. An amateur approach will always lead to amateur results. New clients or new sales are the lifeblood of your business. It’s too important for an amateur approach.

How to make the right business decisions

I’d like to share some ideas with you today, about your role in your business.

You often hear small business owners talking about how many hats they wear. They’re referring to the number of different roles they play within their business. Whilst every business owner wears a number of different hats, it’s important to know the difference between what we should do and what needs an expert.

Specialist and non specialist areas of business

It’s fine for us to run the business, deal with clients and customers and control the areas of our business, where we are an expert. It’s fine for us to make the major decisions and deal with suppliers etc. However, when it comes to specialist areas of the business, we need expert help if we want to achieve the right results.

Common examples of how to lose a fortune, by wearing the wrong hat.

  • Yes, you probably could do your own accounts, but a qualified accountant will be able to lower your tax and spot problems, before they happen.
  • Yes, you probably could handle your own HR, but if you end up in a dispute with an employee, you could end up losing thousands or being sued out of business.
  • Yes, you probably could handle your own marketing, but you will soon reach a plateau, find it hard to grow, then hard to survive. A marketing professional will show you exactly what you need to do, to take your business to the next level and beyond.
  • Yes, you probably could design your own website, but a professional web designer will make it look polished and professional… rather than the work of a keen amateur.

It’s hard for a business owner to fail, when they work hard, doing the right things correctly, based on expert advice.

Conversely, it’s almost impossible to succeed, no matter how hard we work, no matter how passionate we are, if we’re wearing too many hats.

In short: You need to give your business the resources it needs, if you want it to succeed. To expect it to succeed on a mixture of general advice and DIY tactics, is a very costly and usually fatal mistake.

Why people criticise you and how to deal with it in just 3 steps

negative criticism, critics

Here is a simple, powerful 3 step process, to help you totally overcome the impact or fear of negative criticism.

Broadly, all of your critics can be divided into 1 of the following 2 groups:

  1. Those who want to help you and encourage you.
  2. Those who want to hinder you and see you fail.

It’s the second type of critic, which I want to talk to you about today. It’s that type of negative criticism, which stops many of us from being willing to stand out. It stops us putting our work or art out there. It encourages us to keep our head down. To follow the crowd.

The power of a critic

If you want your business to stand out, to attract lots of word of mouth referrals, it’s essential that you stop negative criticism from influencing you.

Why?

Because just about everything you need to do in order to market your business successfully, especially online, is visible and wide open to criticism. Anything you do, which is different enough for the marketplace to value it, is also visible enough for critics to criticise it.

So, you either learn to deal with it or do what most small business owners do, and run a business in the shadows, which is not a wise marketing move!

3 Steps to deal with negative criticism

Fortunately, dealing with negative criticism is relatively easy, so long as you learn to accept it for what it is. Once you understand why criticism happens, it eliminates its negative impact and allows you to focus all your effort on putting your best work out there.

Because I publish lots of material to a large audience, I get negative criticism regularly. In fact, the better my work, the more likely it is that at least one person will criticise it or criticise me for writing it.

Here are the 3 steps I used, to totally eliminate the negative impact of criticism.

1. Consider their motivation

When someone feels the need to negatively criticise your work, they are satisfying a need they have. It’s always about them, not you or your work.

Even if someone is negatively criticising you because they hope it will help you improve, it’s to satisfy their desire to help.

So, whatever the intention, criticism is always about the critic!

Understanding this is a key part of disempowering the critic’s influence over you and how you feel. When you accept that it’s NOT about you or your work, you see criticism for what it is – a selfish act perpetrated to feed a need the critic has – positive or negative.

Of course, even if the motivation is negative, if they are an expert in the field, you can still learn from what the critic says. Scientists often negatively criticise the work of their peers, people who really know their subject. That kind of criticism may be negative, but it can bring value with it.

This brings us nicely to the second step.

2. Consider the source

Is the person who is negatively criticising you, qualified to criticise you? Most criticism is unqualified. That’s to say, the person criticising your work doesn’t know enough about the subject or what you’re trying to achieve, to offer anything other than an uninformed opinion.

Negative criticism from an unqualified, uninformed source is of so little value that it’s meaningless. It makes zero sense to pay it any of your valuable attention.

3. Use negative criticism as weights in your mental gym

With each piece of criticism that you run through the previous 2 steps, you build your resistance to the negative impact of critics. Just as lifting weights builds your muscles, processing negative criticism builds your emotional defences. Each time you are criticised and see it for what it really is, it becomes easier. Less daunting. Less fearsome.

Pretty soon, you learn to be fascinated by criticism and what it tells you about the other person. You quickly learn that if no one is criticising you, you are either invisible, doing work that fails to stand out… or both.

Finally, don’t try and avoid negative criticism. It will rob you of your voice. No criticism means no impact!

How to stop fear from crushing your business!

Nothing of value in business can be achieved without courage. At least, without more courage than the typical business owner.

Think about it… it takes courage to:

  • Turn away the wrong kind of clients.
  • Develop a new type of product or service.
  • Do things your way.
  • Refuse to do average work.
  • Set deadlines and achieve them.
  • Charge 200% more for your time than the industry average.
  • Embrace opportunities, knowing that with every real opportunity there will be risk involved.
  • Lead.

How to get the balance right

When I work with a new client, we start by removing the fears that have held them back. Next, we create their strategy, which they now have the strength, energy and courage to achieve. It works. Extremely well.

I recommend you do the same. Otherwise, you will end up with a good strategy, which you won’t execute or you will develop a risk free strategy, which can’t possibly work.

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