A powerful marketing lesson from a 19th century artist

Back in the 1800’s, Edgar Degas said: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”.

The same is true of great marketing

Successful marketing paints pictures in the mind of a prospective client. It doesn’t list a series of facts or features. Instead, it talks directly to the needs and wants of your clients. It shows them how you can help them. It also shows them that you’re passionate about helping them. Everything is rooted in what’s best for the client. Everything.

Ineffective marketing paints a picture of the provider. It’s all about their business and the products or services they offer. It reads like a 1990’s sales brochure. It’s dry. It’s dull. It’s forgettable. It’s also extremely ineffective.

The message, my friend, is simple: If you want to attract better clients… paint better pictures.

How to grow your business in a uniquely valuable way!

get noticed, stand out, attraction

You are the biggest asset your business has. Those are not just kind words. They are based on fact.

Allow me to explain.

The Internet has presented business owners with a series of benefits and challenges. One challenge, is that it is now extremely easy for competitors to discover and copy one another’s best ideas. It’s little wonder then, that providers in just about every industry now offer an almost identical range of services.

Today, I’m going to show you how to overcome this challenge and build a massively valuable marketing asset for your business.

How to stand out in a meaningful way

Some things are easy to copy. For example, if a local restaurant starts opening an hour earlier and then attracts an extra hour’s worth of profitable trade, it’s simple for competing restaurants to do the same.

However, some things in business are extremely difficult to copy because they’re based on unique, human experiences. A wonderful example of this is the use of a newsletter or blog, to showcase your expertise and knowledge.

Here’s why it works

You are unique. You have a unique collection of life experiences, which your unique mind processes in a unique way. When you write (and speak) your communication style is unique too.

This uniqueness allows you to stand out from the pack and connect with your future clients!

Here’s an example of what I mean. Both Seth Godin and I write about marketing, yet we write very differently:

  • Seth grew up in a very wealthy family and was educated at Stanford — along with the CEO’s of many of the world’s leading companies.
  • I grew up in extreme poverty, the son of penniless immigrants.

It would be extremely difficult for either one of us to write like the other. For instance, when Seth thinks about being broke, he (thank God), won’t recall his mother begging for food to feed her children, the way I do.

So, when Seth and I write about business owners experiencing hard times, we will see the hard part extremely differently. This is reflected in what we write and how we write.

Your unique voice

Your life experiences will cause you to write very differently from your competitors. The only caveat here, is that you need to allow your personality to shine through your writing. If you try and sound like someone else, you lose your unique voice — the very originality that will allow you to stand out.

Now, compare that to the generic approach most business owners take with their newsletters and blog posts. Instead of delivering useful, valuable information from their own unique perspective, they churn out a series of thinly-disguised sales pitches. They then wonder why it isn’t working.

Allow your unique voice to communicate value. These brief tips may help:

  • Learn about the challenges facing your marketplace. A great way to do this is to connect with them on social networks and listen. [Compare this approach, to the typical service provider who uses social networks to broadcast.]
  • Provide answers to the most pressing challenges facing your marketplace. This positions you in the mind of your prospective clients, as a source of expert help and advice.
  • Share case-studies of how you have helped people, who had similar challenges to your prospective clients.
  • Turn up regularly! Treat your newsletter or blog as a high priority business activity. If you think it’s hard to write regularly, remember that writing is a lot like speaking — and you speak every day.

The unique connection these prospective clients form with you, is a massively valuable marketing asset.

Think of it like this: Who are they going to hire?

  • Some stranger they find on Google.
  • … or you, someone they feel a connection with and whose expertise and knowledge they already know about.

Yes. You win!

PS: This will help you — How to get more clients from your newsletter or blog.

5 Simple ideas that can massively improve your business

Business development

I jotted a few ideas down earlier, for an article I’m writing. I thought you may find them interesting. So, I’m sharing them with you.

  1. If you hear yourself wishing for better luck, remind yourself that what you actually need, is a better strategy.
  2. Your choices are what define how high you will fly. Not your abilities. The world is full of educated derelicts.
  3. A business succeeds when there’s congruence between what the business owner wants… and what the business owner does.
  4. Never complain about the economy or any other outside factors. Adapt. Put your success in your own hands.
  5. To achieve any kind of meaningful success, your business needs to be meaningfully different.

That’s it. Short and sweet. Have a great day!

Is your service answering a question, which your ideal clients are asking?

business development, business growth,

Here’s a simple, powerful tip, to help you create an extremely profitable new product, service or business.

The next big thing

I get emails daily, from people who want me to invest in their new project. Almost all of them are trying to be the next Amazon.com, Craigslist or Twitter, etc.

With little or no funding, no gap in the market and no one looking for a clone business, their projects have no legs. In other words, no one is talking about them or asking to get involved. Why? Because these look-a-like projects are answering a question, which no one is asking.

A better way to succeed

Start by answering a compelling question, which potential customers are asking and willing to pay for the answer to.

A scalable, affordable way to do this is to listen to your marketplace, via social networks. Look for common problems they face — things that frustrate them, cost them too much time, etc. Do the research and see if you’ve identified a gap in the market. Look at the numbers and if it all stacks up, give it the focus and energy it needs.

Building an answer to THAT question, will massively improve your chances of success.

Marketing tip: Never sell to a stranger again

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Smart people speak, because they have something to say.

Dull people speak, because they have to say something.

And the difference between those approaches is huge!

The same is true in business

When smart business owners connect with their marketplace, they have something interesting to share. When the average business owner connects with their marketplace, it’s usually a selfish sales message or special offer.

Most small business owners connect with their marketplace when they need something. They need more clients, customers or sales… so they interrupt strangers with a sales pitch. They have nothing of interest to say.

Yes, the business owner is interested in gaining clients, customers or sales, but that’s only of interest to the business owner. The marketplace just sees another needy sales message from a stranger… and ignores it.

A far better approach to marketing

The most successful small business owners do things very differently. They remain in contact with their marketplace, on an ongoing basis. They use blog posts, newsletters and social networks to share valuable ideas and information. This keeps the smart business owner front of mind. But it does more than that. It causes their marketplace to think of them as a useful asset to their business.

So, when the smart business owner DOES have a marketing message to share, it’s received with enthusiasm. It’s received by people who, before they even read it, already know and value the source of the message.

And it massively improves their results.

More importantly, it can do the same for you and your business.

Read this, it will help: How to make your content marketing more compelling.

Want to improve your marketing? Get emotional. Here’s why!


Someone recently asked me why her business needed a story. She thought it was “a load of trendy nonsense”.

When I answered her question, she emailed me back to say it had changed her perception completely. She said it would improve her approach to marketing forever.

I decided to share my answer with you, and I hope you find it just as useful.

Why your brand needs a story

My answer begins with a quote from advertising legend, David Ogilvy.

“There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same”. “[…] The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit”.

That message isn’t new. It was written decades ago, as you can tell from the examples he uses. Yet it’s even more valid today.

Think about it: Apple’s iPhone is the best selling mobile phone in the world, despite being one of the most expensive. It doesn’t have the best display, the best camera, the best signal reception or the best battery life. But it does have the best story.

Emotions drive decisions

Your prospective clients or customers are motivated by emotions, more than logic. The way they feel about your brand, is what will drive their decision to hire you, buy from you and recommend you. And it’s your story, which determines how they feel about you.

Tip: Read this, it will show you how your story can help you attract more word of mouth referrals.

Stop offering freebies. Really. Stop it!

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Time. It’s our most valuable commodity. So why is it that business owners tend to massively undervalue it, by offering freebies?

Freebies send a toxic message to your marketplace

Offering free consultations is an extremely risky marketing strategy. That’s because the freebie message carries a damaging subtext.

It tells people that you are under-employed. That you have too few clients and too much dead time. This causes prospective clients to wonder why… why you’re not attracting enough new clients or enough paid work from delighted, ongoing clients.

Free consultations, free assessments, free advice, free 30 minute evaluations — they all have one thing in common. FREE.

When you use free as bait, guess what you attract?

Yep, you attract freebie hunters. These never-to-be-clients are attracted to freebies, like moths are attracted to flames. Freebie hunters generally fit into one of the following:

  • People who have no intention of paying anyone for advice. Also known as cheapskates.
  • People who have no way to pay because they’re broke.

Here’s the thing: Neither of those groups provide a fertile marketing environment.

Yes, it’s entirely possible you will attract a paying client by offering freebies. However, you’re unlikely to attract the kind of client you want, deserve or need.

Offering your time for free is one way to market your services. It’s not the best way though. Not even close.

Tip: Read this, it will show you how to market your services correctly, by giving value away.

Social media influencers: Don’t let their BS baffle you!

eyes open

Is there anything less influential, than a self-proclaimed social media influencer?

There’s a lot of chatter online about so-called influencers. I’m not talking about influential people or influential brands. I’m actually referring to the exact opposite: People who have very little real-world influence, yet market themselves as influencers.

Allow me to explain.

Famous quotes and endless updates

Self-proclaimed influencers may lack influence. However, what they never lack is spare time. They certainly have more than enough time to game services like Klout.

It’s extremely easy.

They will often have over a dozen active social networking accounts connected to Klout. Then, because they seldom have anything of their own to say, they build their fake influence by pumping their social networking accounts with junk. Usually, this is an automated mix of famous quotes, cute photos of animals or ReTweets / reshares of other people’s work. They seldom create anything themselves.

They also use software, which I refuse to mention here, that allows anyone to build artificially high follower counts on social networks.

Between the constant updates and the fake follower counts, these under employed individuals can game the Klout system and claim to be influential. Amazingly, some brands regard a person’s Klout score as an accurate measurement of their influence. By acting foolishly, these brands are being fooled.

More importantly, some small business owners are wasting their money, on the junk being offered by these fake influencers.

My point?

I’ve worked with 2 of the 10 largest companies in the world, 2 Grammy Award winners and countless self-made millionaires. None of them claim influence. Yet, they are all extremely influential. These are people who can make things happen. They’re extremely well connected.

And none of them are available all day every day on a dozen social networks!

There’s an old saying, which goes like this: The guy who tells you he’s the smartest person in the room… isn’t.

The same is true of self-proclaimed influencers.

Exposed: The great BIG marketing lie!

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Ask any struggling business owner about marketing and they will tell you the following: “I don’t have enough time for marketing”. And it’s a lie.

Whether these business owners know it or not, they are marketing their business all day every day. That’s because everything in business is marketing.

It’s all marketing. It’s telling people a story about your business and what you stand for. It’s setting expectations. It’s building or eroding confidence in your business.

If you run a business, you are already engaged in marketing. And you’re doing it all day, every day. So, the question isn’t whether you market your business or not.

The question is this: Are you doing it correctly or are you losing a fortune?

Content Marketing: How to avoid a common, costly mistake!

Content Marketing, copywriting, coppy, writing

Did you know that your marketing message can fail, even before people read what you have to say?

Well, it’s true. And it happens all the time.

Spammers pointing lasers into my eyes!

I was prompted to share this with you, after I received a spam email earlier. It’s from a UK company that wants to sell me laser eye surgery. They even offered me a £300 discount. They assumed I’d be happy to place my health in the hands of spammers. They thought I’d be perfectly okay, about a spammer pointing lasers into my eyes.

Of course, they were wrong.

What your content marketing says about you

Now, that company may use the most highly trained laser surgeons. They may have the best possible equipment. But when we’re spammed by a company, all we know for 100% certain, is that they’re spammers. And it makes no difference whether they spam us with email or social network messages. Spammers are considered to be annoying, desperate and unprofessional.

Here’s the thing: The way you market your business is part of your story. It shows your marketplace what you believe to be acceptable. It shows them what your business standards are. It shows them how professional you are.

And that all happens, before they even see the content of your marketing message!

What next?

Take a look at the way you market your business, through the eyes of someone who doesn’t already know how great you are. If the kind of marketing you use inspires confidence in your business, then it’s a case of more of the same.

But if your marketing strategy is eroding confidence in your business, it’s time you switched to a better strategy. Today, preferably. Yes, it’s that important.