What everybody needs to know about marketing advice

Pro development topics r

If you’re currently following marketing advice, yet your business isn’t achieving the results you need, this post is just for you.

The problem with general marketing advice

I’m fortunate to work every day with clients worldwide. Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked with clients in over 40 countries. This has given me a wonderful insight into the differences, when it comes to successfully marketing in various parts of the world.

What I have found, is that some very popular marketing publications and marketing blogs are either unaware of the differences or they choose to ignore them. Instead, they tend to offer general advice, which is provided as THE WAY to do something, when it’s often totally unsuitable for many of their readers.

One very often repeated piece of bad advice is, “the best time to publish your newsletter, blog post or social media updates”. There is no general, one-size-fits all answer to this.

Here’s the thing: Different countries have different working cultures. For example, my American clients usually start work earlier than my European clients, however, my European clients often work later. So, if your business is in Europe and you’re reading a marketing blog for American businesses [or vice versa], any information on the best time to publish something is incorrect.

Equally, even within the same countries, different industries work different hours. For example, designers, developers and those in the hospitality industry, often work later than other industries. So, using generic advice on the “best time to publish”, even if it’s from a locally-based marketing expert, is a waste of your time and is likely to make no meaningful difference.

There’s more

I see equally inaccurate information shared on content marketing blogs. No distinction is made between the kind of copy required to sell expensive, professional services — and the kind of copy needed to build an affiliate website or sell low priced items. A very different approach is required for each of these. As a result, I get emails from professionals with terrible blogs, newsletters and websites, who want to know why their readership isn’t growing and why they get few if any enquiries.

[Note: To find out what happened to one of my readers when she took that kind of advice, read this.]

Those examples of non-specific, general advice are sadly typical of what I see many hard-working small business owners waste time and money on. So, before you use general marketing advice, make sure it’s applicable to your business. If it isn’t, that free advice could lose you a fortune.

How to make your business massively stronger

Business development

Today, I’m going to show you how to protect your business, so that it will still thrive, even if you lose your biggest customer.

I need to start by asking you a question. It’s an important question, so take some time to consider your answer:

In financial terms, what would happen if you lost your biggest customer or client?

Many small business owners are heavily reliant on just 1 or 2 main customers. These major customers often account for a hefty percentage of their income. When [not if] the customer leaves or ceases trading, the vendor is left in an extremely precarious position. Despite this, small business owners will usually wait until the worst happens, before they proactively seek out new, major customers.

Why does this happen?

Small business owners understand the seriousness of their situation. It’s just that when times are good, there’s little motivation to invest in marketing or business development. So, they tend to put it off. Then, when they lose a major customer, they enter panic mode. They rush. They often make bad decisions, as fear influences their thinking.

This causes what is widely known as the feast and famine cycle.

A far better approach

The most successful business owners have a different mindset. They understand that the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. So, they make business development decisions from a position of strength, rather than wait for disaster to strike. They avoid the feast and famine cycle, because marketing is an ongoing part of their business.

I hope the sun is shining on your business right now. If it is, this is the perfect time for you to focus on attracting more high value customers or clients.

Are you doing your best work?

Most of us are capable of so much more.

I was reminded of this earlier, when reading the following quote from Dr Martin Luther King Jr:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’.”

I wonder how a business would improve, if instead of doing enough, the business owner did all their work to the very best of their ability.

A powerful lesson from Martin Luther King Jr: Love and light.

How to beat your biggest competitor

How to

Your main competitor is seldom an alternative provider.

Your main competitor is usually apathy… the decision to do nothing.

Before working out how you compare to competing providers, measure your service against the decision to do nothing.

  • Why should people risk placing their trust in you?
  • Why should they give you their attention?
  • Why should they go through the hassle of hiring you or buying from you? [Tip: This will help.]

Answer those questions correctly and you will have crafted a clear, motivating story for your prospective clients.

Here’s something extra for your business


We already know where the bar is set, when it comes to delighting your clients and customers. Their experience of you needs to be so good that it leaves them thinking:

“That was far better than I expected.”

Get that right and they will come back for more. They’ll tell their friends too.

The challenge here is obvious

The business owner who commits to this model, needs to consistently look for ways to improve. That’s because once you set the bar this high, what’s expected of you also increases and thus a cycle of excellence is created.

I have to warn you, exceeding expectations isn’t as easy as simply meeting expectations. However, in my experience the rewards are well worth the effort. You will attract the best clients and build a great reputation too.

On a personal note

This approach has inspired me to achieve amazing results for countless clients. It stretches me to do my best work… to over-deliver for them. As a result, I’ve taken clients from desperation or frustration, to life-changing commercial successes.

If you are not already doing so, I strongly recommend you use the same approach.

How to be successful without even trying

How to

It’s an interesting fact that very few of the world’s most successful businesspeople, set out with money or success as their primary target.

  • They aimed to be valuable.
  • They aimed to make the world or the marketplace a better place.
  • They aimed to make a difference.

However, money or success was not their primary focus.

Here’s how they did it!

Steve Jobs famously said:

“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money”.

If Jobs was focused primarily on the money or success, he’d have been able to cash in when he was in his 20’s — super rich and exceptionally successful.

When Einstein said,

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”, he showed where his focus was. Again, it was about the value. Einstein carried on working until his death, even though he could have quit decades earlier with his reputation set in history forever.

To understand how the most successful and wealthy business owners achieved their success, we need to look at why most business owners struggle.

It’s easy to spot someone who is in it just for the money

You can usually tell pretty quick, when you encounter someone who is primarily in it for the money. This makes it very hard for them to succeed.

Here are some examples we see all the time, which you will recognise instantly:

  • They are the salespeople, whose eyes light up like a wolf when they spot a potential sales victim.
  • They are the affiliate marketers, who leave spammy links and comments on blogs.
  • They are the pests, who send us unwanted spam email.
  • They are the pushy business owners, who corner us at networking events. The ones who pretend they want to know about our business, when we know it’s that old, cringe-worthy networking tactic.
  • They are the ill-informed marketing gurus who STILL say the money is in the list, because they haven’t figured out the value is in the community.
  • They are the struggling restaurant owners, who use slightly lower quality ingredients and hire slightly lower quality chefs, and end up with a low quality restaurant that no one recommends.
  • They are the kind of business owners you thought of, as you were reading those examples.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy or successful. My point, is that it’s very hard to be either of those things, if they are our primary focus.

Here’s how to succeed without focusing primarily on the money

Consider for a moment the businesses out there, who struggle. They set financial targets and then push average products and average services to average clients who pay them average prices. These business owners then think people just won’t pay higher fees. This is factually 100% incorrect! People won’t pay above average fees for an average, commodity service. They happily pay above average fees and prices for premium, high value products and services.

Now consider the businesses who earn a fortune and succeed. They offer products or services, which are meaningfully different. Their products and services attract the attention of people looking for that special value.

They end up selling valuable products and valuable services to valuable clients, who pay them extremely well.

The way forward for smart business owners

Focus on value. Create products or services that are meaningfully different from the competition. Solve better problems. Create work you are proud of.

Persistently create value and make it visible. People are extremely attracted to value and they pay a premium for it too. Just ask the owner of any high priced Apple product, the owner of a luxury car or the client of any leading service provider.

Get this right and the money and success take care of themselves.

PS: You will find this useful. It explains how to make more sales or attract more clients, without ever having to lower your fees — Marketing 101: The Race To The Bottom.

How to motivate people to buy from you or hire you

marketing topics r

I have a plea for you today: If you want your marketing to work, stop trying to please everyone.

The purpose of your marketing is to motivate just a small section of people. You need to inspire those who:

  • Buy the type of products you sell.
  • Buy the type of services you provide.

That’s it.

Directly relevant

Be directly relevant to your ideal profile of client and ignore the rest. For example, if you offer a high quality service, which is priced higher than most of your competitors, market it exclusively for those who appreciate quality and are happy to pay for it. They will immediately connect with your marketing message, because it was written exclusively for people like them.

Conversely, by marketing to the masses, your marketing is directly relevant to no one. At best, your marketing will be vaguely relevant to some people. The challenge here, is that being vaguely relevant isn’t enough to motivate people to buy from you or hire you.

So, get specific.

P.S. This will help you: Don’t let this guy ruin your marketing!

How to find a winning idea

How to

It’s entirely possible you have a winning idea tucked away right now, without even knowing it. The thing about great ideas is that they often look like bad ideas, until they become hugely successful.

The laptop fad

In 1985, The New York Times asked; “Whatever happened to the laptop computer?” They pondered why laptops failed:

“[…] I.B.M. never legitimized the market with its much rumored ”Clamshell,” probably because the company realized that laptops are a small niche market, not a mass market.”

Similarly, when the electric light bulb was invented, some people said it would never become a mass market product. It was thought that there was no affordable way to get electricity to every home.

Is your idea a winner?

I speak regularly with business owners who want to know what I think of their business ideas. The challenge here, is that good ideas are not anointed. It doesn’t matter what I think or what your friends think. That’s not what makes an idea a winner.

If you want to know how good your idea is, you need to ship it. Get it out there. If you do, you will find it’s almost impossible to fail. It’s a win, win thing.

Here’s why:

  • If it flops, you will learn something, which you can invest in the next idea and greatly increase your chances of success.
  • If it flies, you have a success on your hands.

So, put your idea out there and give it a chance to fly!

P.S. — Here are 6 ideas to make prospective clients fall in love with your business.

Increase word of mouth referrals with this simple idea

Word of mouth

Give this a try:

  • Think of 3 amazing things, which you would LOVE your marketplace to be saying about you or your business.
  • Write them down.
  • Next, put a plan together of the things you will need to do, in order for your marketplace to be spreading those amazing stories about you.

Switching focus

Every small business owner wants to attract more word of mouth referrals, yet they almost always focus on the wrong area. Instead of creating an experience, which becomes a remarkable story worth sharing – they focus on how to motivate people to share an unremarkable story.

People are hard-wired to want to communicate with each other. Give them an experience worth talking about and that’s exactly what they will do.