How to get the best free marketing advice for your business

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

There’s a lot of free marketing advice available online. Some is good, but sadly a great deal of it is ineffective and often toxic. Today, I want to help you identify the best advice and show you how to avoid the worst.

A new client with a familiar problem

I was inspired to write this, after my initial session with a new client this morning. I went through some questions with her, as I do with all my new clients. I quickly noticed that she was making a number of serious marketing mistakes. During our session, I asked her where she got those marketing ideas from and she named half a dozen marketing blogs.

I soon figured out what had happened. She had been taking advice from sources of ineffective and sometimes toxic marketing information.

Today, I want to help you avoid making the same, costly mistake. I want to start by drawing your attention to 2 types of marketing blogger.

1. The small business marketing blogger, who doesn’t have a business

Many marketing blogs are written by people who are employees. Some are regular employees with holiday pay and a boss, who write a blog that’s not directly connected to their employer. Other’s are junior employees, paid to produce lots of “content”.

Think about that for a moment: On sites like that, small business owners could be taking marketing advice from someone, who has either never had a small business or whose business failed, so they needed to get a job.

2. Guest bloggers on popular marketing blogs

Many of the top marketing blogs rely heavily on unpaid, guest bloggers. Guest bloggers write for free, in return for access to the popular blog’s large readership. With just 1 exception, every guest blogger I checked on the sites my client mentioned, had a low authority blog, with very little engagement or traffic.

Think about that for a moment: Their readers could be taking marketing advice from people, who feel forced to work for free, because they still haven’t figured out how to build a valuable enough readership, community or tribe of their own.

Check the source

No, not every employee who writes about marketing is clueless. Some, like Scott Monty, are highly respected and highly knowledgeable. No, not every guest blogger lacks a valuable community or tribe of their own, either.

What I’m saying is simply this: When it’s a name you’ve never heard of, it’s always best to check before you act on what they tell you.

This is especially the case if that stranger has never achieved what you need to achieve.

Well written and sincere

Lots of people write extremely well and make a compelling point… when what they’re telling you is incorrect. They may be sincere, but being sincere mustn’t be confused with being right. It’s possible to be sincerely wrong.

I estimate my new client has lost at least 5 years worth of business growth, and who knows how many thousands of dollars, thanks to following the same bad marketing advice as thousands of other small business owners.

Don’t let it happen to you. Check the source. Always, always check the source.

PS: Here are 7 valuable lessons I’ve learned, from 20 years as the owner of a successful marketing business.

How to get people to respond to your marketing, in just 2 steps!

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Are you tired of prospective clients or customers, who don’t get back to you when they say they will? If you are, then the following short post is just for you.

The biggest lie in business

When that person said they didn’t have the time to meet you, return your call or consider your offer… they were lying.

They had the time! They had time to do all the urgent or important things. They also had time to do the things that interested them or captured their attention. What they lacked wasn’t time.

What they really lacked was the motivation to do whatever you requested. It wasn’t important enough to them. It wasn’t a priority. So, it didn’t get done.

2 Steps to get people to take action

To get your prospective clients and customers to take action, you need to do the following:

  1. Make your offer as attractive as possible. Look at what you’re asking people to do and make it more captivating. More interesting. More motivating. More curious.
  2. Give them a deadline. Deadlines focus the mind. This is why so many kids do their assignment the night before it’s due.

Nothing inspires people to take action more than a highly compelling offer with a deadline. Get those 2 steps right and you’ll find the marketplace will always have time for you.

How to build a successful business that inspires you

professional development,

Today, I’d like to start by asking you a question.

Are the people around you, challenging you to take your business to the next level?

Think about your co-workers and clients. Are they inspiring you to do better work? Are they motivating you to try harder and move your business forward in a meaningful way?

Uninspired and average

If not, then maybe it’s time to reconsider the kind of people you work with. Co-workers who fail to inspire you are a liability. The same is true of average clients, with their average demands, average projects and average fees.

Surround yourself with people who push you to create your best work. Make no mistake, the impact this can have on your business is enormous. This will help you.

Which gets expert attention: Your hair or your business?

Business development

Most business owners have been back to work for at least a few days, following the New Year holiday. Many will already be sensing a familiar feeling.

Their big ideas and dreams from New Year’s day will be starting to meet the reality of their real life decisions and actions. They are setting the scene for a repeat of 2014.

  • If 2014 was a year of breakthrough progress, carry on.
  • If you need to see better results. If you don’t want to spin your wheels for yet another year… then you need a better strategy and you need to work that strategy.

How do you find the right strategy to grow your business?

You get expert help. Someone with the answers you need and a proven track record of success. Someone who can stop you wasting years of your life and all of your money.

We know that most small businesses fail in the first 3 years. Millions more only exist a little longer, because the business owner is living on peanuts and funding their failing business from savings or an alternative income.

Hair styles deserve expert attention

Those same business owners will get an expert to style their hair. However, they take a DIY approach to the success of their business and the financial security of their family. The way their hair looks is treated with greater respect, than the development of their own business. It’s nuts.

For the rest of us, it’s time to decide. Are we committed to doing the right things correctly in 2015? If the answer is yes, then it needs to be backed up with action. Remember, old ways won’t open new doors. That means finding out what needs to be done from someone who knows.

Doing more of the same is only an option, if you want to see more of the same results.

How to get more done in less time AND improve your thinking!

Pro development topics r

Many people ask me how I manage to run a busy marketing business and still produce so much creative content every day.

So, here’s my secret!

My secret

I figured out a long time ago that there is never enough time to do everything.

However, I also discovered that you can always find time to do the important stuff, so long as you decide to stop reacting to the unimportant stuff.

Please allow me to explain.

Reacting or acting?

  • You can start the day by checking your email inbox and reacting to what you find. Alternatively, you can start your day by listing what’s most important and getting started on that – then opening your email.
  • You can react every time your phone alerts you to a text message. Alternatively, you can finish what needs finishing and then read any messages you’ve received.
  • You can react every time you see a social networking notification. Alternatively, you can wait until you’ve stopped for a coffee etc, then use that time to check your notifications.

Never miss the important and urgent

Tell your family, friends and clients that if they need to contact you for something that is both important and urgent, to call you. Then, if your phone goes and you can see it’s one of them calling, you know it needs answering. Otherwise, unless you are a fire-fighter, plumber, midwife etc, people will not expect you to respond instantly.

This gives you the freedom to regain control over your time, your focus and your output… without worrying that you have missed something that’s both important and urgent.

Regaining your time and your focus

One of the reasons small business owners find it such a challenge to get important things done, is that the distractions they react to, cause them to lose focus. This is especially the case, when they need to do something creative.

Here’s the thing: It’s extremely hard to focus on something that requires your creativity, when you allow yourself to be distracted and your focus to be scattered.

For example, if you want to write a newsletter article first thing tomorrow morning, but you decide to read your emails first, instead of focusing on your article, you will find your focus scattered between the article and all the questions and demands from your inbox.

By writing the article and then dealing with your emails, you can focus 100% on the article. You end up with a better article and then get to invest all your focus, on dealing with your emails.

Getting through the day or from the day?

Most small business owners are happy to just get through the day. However, the most successful business owners take a different approach. They get from the day. They start their day with a list of important objectives and then determine to master their time and their focus, so the important things are always taken care of, with their full attention, in reasonable time.

We all have 24 hours available to us each day. It’s what we do with our time, which makes all the difference.

7 Valuable lessons from 20 years in business

Business development

I started my business 20 years ago today. Here are 7 valuable lessons I learned along the way, which I wish I’d known at the start.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Don’t focus on closing sales. Instead, focus on opening relationships. You do better work when you see the acquisition of a new client as the opening of a relationship, rather than the close or end of a process.
  2. Consider firing your worst clients or customers. It will lower your stress. It will also give you more time to delight your best clients. Delighted clients stay with you for longer and are a wonderful source of referrals. They also tend to refer other great clients, [birds of a feather and all that].
  3. Customize the service you provide, so that it’s a reflection of your unique approach to business. This makes your business one-of-a-kind. I did this and no longer have competitors. More marketing professionals hire me than any other profession.
  4. Open your mind to new information. Things change. People change. If your opinions and views remain static, you will make bad decisions.
  5. Get the best accountant you can afford. I tried to save money with a cheap accountant in the early years and lost thousands as a result.
  6. Keep your body active. Do some kind of activity for at least 30 minutes every day. As Leonardo da Vinci said: “Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigour of the mind.”
  7. It makes sense to outsmart your competitors. It makes even more sense to outCARE your competitors too.

I hope you find these useful. More importantly, I hope there’s something here you can learn from my experience, rather than learn the hard way.

Here’s why the possibilities for your business in 2015 are endless

professional development,

Someone just emailed me to ask what my predictions were for small business owners in 2015. Here’s the best answer I can come up with right now:

I believe that 2015 is going to be a lot like 2014, 2013… and 1973.

What do I mean?

The tools have changed, but the basics of growing a successful business remain the same. As a result, here’s what we will see in 2015.

  • Business owners with the correct mindset will thrive, just as they always have. Others will flounder, just as they always have.
  • Business owners who seek out progress and opportunity will find it, just as they always have. Others will seek out security and make little if any progress, just as they always have.

The opportunity has never been better

One HUGE advantage we all have over business owners of previous decades, is that there has never been a more level playing field.

For instance, when I set my business up in 1995, you needed a hefty marketing budget if you wanted to reach thousands of prospective clients every month with your marketing message. Today, you can create a WordPress blog for free and reach thousands of people every day. Back then, if you wanted to connect with an influential person you needed to navigate endless so-called gatekeepers. Today you can reach out to influential people direct, using tools like Twitter. [You can join me on Twitter here.]

2 challenges we face in 2015

The opportunities ahead of us in 2015 are unparalleled. However, they present us with 2 pressing challenges.

  1. We need to be prepared to stand out, in order to attract and retain the valuable attention of our marketplace. This takes creativity and courage.
  2. There’s nowhere to hide in 2015. We have no more excuses. If we fail to make the progress we want, we can only blame ourselves… our inaction and our mindset.

It’s up to us what we decide to do, which is why we need to choose wisely.

Thank you!

Rest assured that in 2015, I will continue to provide you with tips and ideas to help you with your marketing, business development and professional development. I’m committed to helping you grow a great business… a business that rewards you for all your hard work and dedication.

I hope you and your family enjoy a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

Can you guess what’s inside this box?

guess what

Today’s post is a little different.

I want you to imagine you have a very special box, which you place on a table in front of a prospective client or customer.

  • You explain to the prospective client that the contents of this sealed box, will be of so much value to them that once they have it, they will wonder how they ever managed without it.
  • You tell them that other people are using what’s in that box, and they love it so much that they write to you and thank you.
  • You then tell the prospective client that the price for what’s in the box, is a fraction of what it’s worth.

You then ask them, “Would you like to see what’s in the box?”

Their eyes widen as they lean forward and say, “Yes please!”

So, what’s inside the box?

As a business owner, your job is to develop a product or service that fits inside that wonderful box. [Tip: This will help you]. In order for it to fit inside, your product needs to be able to deliver on those promises you just made, so when a prospective client sees it, they want it. Really want it!

Even great marketing is no match for an average or slightly above average product. That’s why the most successful businesses bake marketing into their products, so they are as desirable as possible.

When you adopt this approach, marketing becomes a lot easier and massively more effective.

Which of these 3 types of small business owner are you?

which are you

For millions of small business owners worldwide, it’s decision time. Pretty much every business owner will want to do better in 2015, however, their decisions regarding how to improve things will differ massively.

They will fit into one of the following 3 broad groups. Do any of these seem familiar to you?

1. Fear focused business owners

Those in the first [and by far the largest] group are motivated by fear. They are the reason we see those statistics, showing how the vast majority of small businesses go broke. They run a business with an employee mindset, scared of doing what’s required to grow or even save their business.

Ironically, these business owners often work just as many hours as those in the next 2 groups, but for very little reward. They think that if they work hard enough, things will be OK. They’re unaware that no matter how hard you row a boat in the wrong direction, you won’t magically end up where you need to be. If hard work alone were the key to success, our grandparents would have been millionaires.

Small business owners in this first group will stay in their comfort zone.

They will waste another year, because their fear of doing what’s required, is greater than their fear of failing slowly doing what they are comfortable with.

2. Business owners who dabble

Those in the second group have a better business mindset than the previous group. Some are almost entrepreneurs. However, unlike an entrepreneur, these folks are dabblers.

These are the small business owners who always think that they are just one blog post, webinar or infographic away from the breakthrough they want. Of course, they are not!

The small business owners in this group haven’t lost enough money yet or wasted enough time, to know that in a super-competative economy, you can’t grow a successful business with a DIY approach. They haven’t figured out yet that their clients and future clients are being approached by professionally marketed competitors.

Dabbling is easily the riskiest, slowest and most expensive way to try and develop a business.

Some will figure it out in time and switch into the 3rd group.

3. Courageous business owners

The business owners in this third group are remarkable.

They have often been in that previous group, but somehow they summoned the courage to step outside their comfort zone. These are my kind of people. I have huge respect for them. It’s also no coincidence that it’s only the people in this group, who contact me to see how I can help them grow a great business. They’ve worked out that they can vastly improve their chances of success in 2015, if Jim Connolly is guiding them to do the right things, correctly.

P.S.

The following 14 days are the busiest 2 weeks of the year for me. I will get around 600% more inquiries from small business owners than usual. If you’re one of them, I look forward to hearing from you. However, it may take me a little longer to reply to emails than usual.

[Important: Please read this before you get in touch.]

9 Useful ideas to make this your best year ever

business development topics r

It has often been said that you are never more than 1 good idea away from the breakthrough you need. With that in mind, here are 9 ideas to help you and your business in 2015, along with some links to extra resources.

  1. Do at least one thing each day, which your future self will thank you for. This is the basis of all meaningful progress.
  2. Fail more often in 2015 than you did in 2014. Why? Because if you’re not failing often enough, you’re sticking to things you already know and no longer growing. Unless you give yourself permission to make mistakes, you will seldom try anything new.
  3. Stop aiming for perfectionism. It will stop you getting started and block your progress. Instead of trying to be perfect, aim to be better than you were yesterday.
  4. Get expert help in any area of your business, where you are under performing. Things don’t just change for the better because you hope they will. Hope is essential, but it’s not a business strategy. This will help you get it right.
  5. Walk daily for 30 minutes. Studies have shown that walking helps to reduce stress and gives you a general feeling of well-being. Walking also helps you manage your weight and can lower your blood pressure. When you feel better you work better. Start with short walks, then do a little more. Talk to your doctor first, if you have any underlying medical conditions.
  6. Get serious about developing your creativity in 2015. It will help you solve problems and grow a uniquely valuable business. There are hundreds of free ideas for you, here on my creative thinking website.
  7. Stop doing work purely because it pays the bills. Start doing work that makes a difference. This post explains why.
  8. Give people more than they expect. Don’t under-promise though. Instead, over-deliver. This is one of the most powerful ways to retain your clients and get them recommending you to their friends and contacts.
  9. Learn to embrace your inner freak. This idea changed my life.

I really hope you find these ideas and suggestions useful and that they help you achieve your best year ever in 2015!