Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: General Marketing (page 1 of 104)

How to predict your success in advance

will it work

People often ask me if their new business idea will succeed or not. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to ship the idea and see what happens.

The reason you can’t predict a successful project in advance, is that an idea, even a wonderful idea, can’t achieve anything by itself.

For example:

  1. A wonderful idea will flop without a willingness to hustle. It takes persistence, energy and motivation to drive a new project forward. No hustle, no momentum. No momentum, no success.
  2. A wonderful idea will also flop if the marketing is ineffective. You need to reach the right people with the correct message.

Predicting success in advance

Here’s what we know about those who go on to succeed and those who flounder.

  • Most small business owners will get the first part right. They are happy to work hard.
  • Far fewer will get the second part right. They prefer to dabble with marketing.
  • A small minority will get both parts right. These are the ones who succeed, by working hard AND working smart.

In essence, it doesn’t matter how good an idea looks on paper. It doesn’t matter how good an idea sounds when you ask people what they think of it.

If you want an idea or project to succeed, you need to back it up with intelligent activity.

How to Bake Marketing into your business

how to two

The most successful businesses bake marketing into their services. In this post, I will explain what that means and why you should do the same.

If you have not heard the term before, baking marketing into a service (or product) means creating something, which is of so much value and interest that people want to buy it and also tell their friends about it.

Most small business owners do the opposite

Look around you at your competitors and you will see that with few exceptions, they all seem remarkably similar. So, they try and undercut one another on prices or fees, out network one another or outspend one another on marketing.

They are focusing their time and money in completely the wrong direction. They are trying to get people interested in something, which isn’t interesting. This is a costly, avoidable mistake.

That’s why I want something far better for you and your business!

Bake marketing into what you do

Today, I am going to ask you to consider doing something bold. I’m asking you to consider adding value to what you market — your core services.

Why? Because you can waste years of your time trying to sell a service, which is simply not interesting enough to the marketplace. Great marketing is no substitute for an uninspiring service (or product).

Conversely, a service that is of exceptional value will often sell itself, as people are so impressed with it that they spread the word. I regularly speak with business owners who don’t need to spend a penny on advertising, because their customers and their marketplace are always recommending them.

Most small business owners use the opposite approach. Instead of inspiring people with the story behind their business, they try to motivate uninspired people to talk about them.

  • Some offer commissions.
  • Others try to pester people into recommending them.
  • Many join networking clubs, hoping that social pressure, reciprocity or rules of membership, will get people to talk about them.
  • Some spam us with unsolicited emails.

All of those work to a degree, but you can do massively better by shifting your focus 180 degrees!

Here’s what we know: People do not need to be pestered or pressured into recommending a GREAT service. They automatically spread the word when they encounter something exceptional. However, we must first give people something worth talking about… a story worth sharing.

When we do, they can’t help themselves. They shout from the rooftops.

A better approach

The alternative is to bake marketing into what you do. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Observe your marketplace and develop a product or service, which is based on what they want, rather than offering your version of what your competitors already provide.
  • Give people a story about you or your business that’s worth sharing. This means having the courage to be different. Easier said than done, but essential if you want to attract the interest of your marketplace.
  • Deliver a customer experience that stands out for all the right reasons. Pull out all the stops. Leave your clients and prospective clients feeling moved and roused by the experience of working with you, visiting you or connecting with you.
  • Demonstrate your passion for what you do and your desire to help others. Passion stands out. Passion is infectious.
  • Have outsiders. You can’t have insiders without outsiders. Insiders are the people who buy from you. Insiders are the people your services are aimed at. Don’t try and be all things to all people. If you do, your story will be vague and cease to motivate people.
  • Learn from the products and services that you recommend. Think about what drives you to spread the word about certain businesses. What lessons can be adapted from what they do and used in your business, to help you deliver something remarkable?

Just don’t fall into the trap of trying to get people inspired about an uninspiring service or product. It’s expensive, low leverage, frustrating and the least rewarding way to develop your business.

You probably need more critics. Yes. Really!

critic

You can’t please everyone. And do you know what? You shouldn’t even try to. If you do, you will end up playing it safe… being predictable and being ignored. Ouch!

That’s not a smart move for any business owner, who wants to grow a successful business. Why? Because it’s impossible to achieve any kind of commercial success, when you’re keeping your head down, working hard and being ignored.

The answer is to embrace criticism

Instead of blending into the background, you can choose to do work that matters. Tell it the way you see it. Put your own dent in the universe.

However, the moment you do, you will be criticised. It’s the price you pay for visibility and an indication that people are noticing you.

Critics seldom create anything. They are like the school bully, who hurts other kids because it makes them feel better about themselves. And that’s the point. Critics are only interested in themselves. It’s all about them. They are feeding a need they have, to get a response. To be listened to.

That’s why it’s insane to allow the fear of criticism to hold your business back. Feel the fear. Then immediately call it out for what it really is — an inevitable part of being noticed.

2 Things to remember about shortcuts to success

marketing 101

The Internet is packed with people offering tricks, to make your business super successful, super fast.

It’s easy to see why. There are thousands of small business owners, worried that their business isn’t growing fast enough. To them, the promise of a shortcut or growth hack can be irresistible.

When things seem too good to be true…

These shortcuts to success have 2 things in common.

  1. They are not shortcuts.
  2. They don’t lead to success.

The fastest route to business success

Rather than looking for shortcuts to success, the smart business owner looks for proven paths to success. Instead of searching for the fast way to do something, they look for the correct way to do something.

Business success is the result of putting the correct strategies in place and working smart. That may not sound like a shortcut, but it’s the fastest route. Always.

3 Ways to attract more sales leads or client enquiries

three 3 3

If you want to attract more sales leads or client enquiries, today’s post is for you. It shows the 3 main reasons why sales leads dry up AND more importantly, gives you some ideas on how to put things right.

Let’s go!

How to open the floodgates

When sales, client enquiries and business leads slow down, there’s always a reason. This is good news. Once you identify the cause and put things right, the sales and enquiries come flooding in.

Since starting my marketing business in 1995, I have seen the same 3 causes of this problem repeated over and over again. Here they are, along with some ideas on how to open the floodgates!

1. The marketing message you’re using isn’t good enough

In which case, you need to create a more motivating message. You need to start by making sure your service is as valuable as possible, then communicate that value to your marketplace with crystal clarity.

I want to help you avoid a common mistake here. Spend some time reviewing the guarantees, promises and range of services offered by your competitors.

Why? Because without knowing what you are competing against, you don’t know how compelling your guarantees, promises and range of services are to a prospective client.

It’s possible that competitors have copied your U.S.P. or that something that was rare or unique when you first offered it, is now commonplace. You need to know, so you can adjust and stand out from the crowd again.

It’s also possible that competitors have “upped their game” and you need to improve your service accordingly, to regain a competitive advantage.

In addition, check that your website, blog and social networks have not become tired or outdated. The way your message is presented has a huge impact on the way people feel about what you say.

Plus, if your website isn’t mobile friendly, that alone will almost certainly be losing you enquiries. Here’s why this matters to your business.

2. The message is fine, but you’re not reaching enough new prospective clients with it

In which case, you need to find a more effective way to reach out to them. The best advice I can give you when it comes to reaching your prospective clients is this: Be where their attention is.

What do they read? Where do they go? Who do they listen to? What do they watch? Whose tribe are they members of? Find out and then look for opportunities to reach out and connect with them.

For instance, I built the initial readership of Jim’s Marketing Blog from a newsletter I’d started back in 1998. However, after switching to blogging, I got my NEW readers from outreach on Twitter. I discovered that Twitter had a massive community of small business owners… the exact market for my services.

I connected with small business owners on Twitter, then placed useful information on my blog, which I regularly shared on Twitter. It worked. By being where their attention was [Twitter], I was able to build a large blog readership, which has generated regular client enquiries ever since.

IMPORTANT: You also need to make sure you’re getting your message out there frequently enough.

For example, if you publish blog posts or newsletters, make sure you’re publishing them regularly. If you want to get more leads from your blog, start publishing useful posts at least a couple of times a week. If you use newsletters to reach prospective clients, publish something useful every 10 to 14 days.

Don’t expect an infrequently updated blog or occasional newsletter to be a daily driver of fresh sales, leads or client enquiries.

Tip: Here’s how Andy Warhol used this approach.

3. Your clients, former clients and contacts are not sending you enough referrals

In which case, you need to find out why. The answer is almost always connected to the customer experience you provide. Allow me to explain.

A remarkable customer experience gives people a story worth sharing. It gets them talking about you. It has never been easier for people to recommend you and their reach has never been bigger. There are currently well over a billion people on Facebook, with hundreds of millions more on Twitter and Linkedin etc. These people are actively looking for remarkable stories to share with their networks.

Our job as business owners, is to make sure that we’re doing something worth sharing. They already have the sharing tools — what they need from us is the story!

Here’s the thing

Any small business owner who works on improving in those 3 key areas, is making an excellent investment in their business. So please, don’t just find these ideas interesting… use them.

2 Ideas to help you grow your business… fast

grow

The most talked about way to grow your business, is to attract new customers or clients, [herein called customers].

However, it’s not the only way. It’s certainly not the fastest way. In fact, if your main focus is just on attracting new customers, you’re needlessly leaving money on the table every day.

So, here are 2 additional ways to quickly and significantly boost your revenues and profits.

Increase the average transaction value

No, I’m not suggesting you simply increase your prices or fees; though if these are too low you certainly should.

Instead, I’m suggesting you find out more about the needs of your customers and provide products or services, which address those needs.

It’s massively easier, less expensive and quicker to sell a 2nd or 3rd product to an existing customer, than it is to attract 3 new customers.

The essential thing here, is that the new offering is based on satisfying their needs. It’s all about them. So, look after them and their interests. When you do this, you will be offering your existing customers, people who already trust you, highly valuable new products and services.

That’s a sustainable, high profit way to grow a business.

Increase how frequently they buy from you

Think about it: If your existing customers were to buy from you twice as often as they do now, your revenues would be twice as high. Often, profits would be more than twice as high… depending on the kind of business you own.

The process of increasing the purchasing frequency of your customers is relatively easy, with a little creative thinking.

For example, when my local coffee shop started providing a book club on Tuesday evenings, people who seldom visited now came at least once a week. Bookworms like me quickly told our friends and it became a smash hit. Of course, because these bookworms now know the team at the coffee shop and how great the coffee is, they use it as their regular coffee shop.

Look for ways to inspire your customers to buy from you more often. Make it easy and make sure it’s based on what’s best for them and their interests.

Bonus tip

If you want to make even greater gains, put a customer retention plan in place. Business owners often focus their marketing time and energy on attracting new customers, with too little thought for retaining their existing customers.

  • Survey your customers.
  • Ask them how you’re doing.
  • Invest in providing an exceptional customer experience.

Give them every reason to stay with you and no reason to switch to another provider.

And finally folks!

I hope you found these ideas useful. More importantly, I hope these ideas inspire you to do something, which helps you grow your business.

Tip — Here are some proven tips, with lots of examples, on how to build a successful business.

You pick your clients. Not the other way around!

decide

One of the keys to a successful business, is to pick the right clients or customers.

Many small business owners make the mistake of working with anyone, who has the ability to pay. They then end up with a random client list, ranging from wonderful clients to rude and over demanding, toxic clients.

The challenge with accepting toxic clients, is that they drain your energy and resources massively more than great clients.

For example:

  • You enjoy working with a great client and look forward to your next meeting with them. They inspire you to do your best work.
  • You dislike working with a toxic client and dread your next meeting with them. So, as the date of your next meeting or call approaches, their toxicity poisons your work flow.
  • When a toxic client regularly pays you late, it hurts your cash flow. Cash flow problems are a major cause of stress and also a key reason behind the failure of many small businesses.

In other words, toxic clients are massively more emotionally draining than great clients. This can have a huge, damaging impact on your business.

Your clients deserve your best work

You deserve great clients. You do not deserve to have clients who are rude to you or who demand more from you than they pay you for. Just as importantly, your great clients deserve your best work. You can’t do your best work, when your thinking and work flow is regularly interrupted with toxic clients.

The only winner here is the toxic client — you and your great clients pay the price. This situation is unsustainable. It needs to be resolved.

Why?

Because toxic clients are poisonous to your work-flow and your business. They stop you operating at your full potential. They rob you of the freedom to do your best work. Your best work is what retains your best clients and attracts new, high quality clients.

The solution?

The solution is as easy and as hard as this: Market your services to the kind of people or businesses you want to work with. Then, only accept clients after you’ve spoken with them and are satisfied they fit your client profile.

  • It’s easy, because it’s under your direct control. It’s your choice who you work with. Your decision.
  • It’s hard, because many business owners find it difficult to turn a new client away… even a bad one.

In business, we find that we get the type of clients that we deserve. If we are prepared to work with toxic clients, we deserve to pay the hefty price.

However, if we market to the right kind of prospective clients and choose only to work with them, we deserve the joy of running an exciting business, which rewards us on every level.

Remember, you choose who you work with. Not the other way around.

Tip — Here’s some detailed advice with examples, on how to build a successful business.

How often should you publish blog posts?

content marketing tips

Karen from Delaware emailed me with a question earlier.

“I’d love for you to post on your blog every day like Seth Godin does.  Is there a strategic reason why you don’t?”

That’s a good question. The answer is that you need to match your publishing model to the business model behind your blog. Allow me to explain.

My publishing model

It’s easy… very easy, for me to publish something every day. However, my business model doesn’t require me to keep tapping you on the shoulder with daily posts.

Why?

I market just 2 services via my blog. There’s a limited number of clients I can work with and every post generates client enquiries.

Daily publishing, [which I did a few years ago], caused me to receive way too many enquiries. The huge momentum created by daily publishing is disproportionate to the few additional posts I was publishing each week.

If I decide to change the blog’s business model, so my income is primarily from the sale of products or advertising, I will need to adopt a daily publishing model of at least one post a day.

The daily publishing model

Whatever his motivation, Seth Godin uses a publishing model that rewards daily blogging. His blog is a kind of single author book store. Every post displays a carousel [on the left of each post], which is stacked with 18 of his books.

His well-crafted, daily posts are what create traffic to his book store. They also pre-market his books, by referencing new books in his posts long before they are published.

  • If you like Seth’s posts, you may buy a book.
  • If you don’t buy a book, you may still decide to share the post you’re reading, with your social networks.
  • By sharing the post, others will visit Seth’s blog.
  • They too may decide to buy a book or share the post.
  • A cycle is created, which is fed by daily content.

That model clearly rewards daily publishing. Fewer posts would equal less traffic, fewer shares and fewer sales.

In short: Your publishing model should support whatever you want to achieve. So, choose the best frequency for your business, rather than copy what someone else is doing. Their approach could be totally wrong for you.

Tip — Here are 25 reasons why you should write a business blog!

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