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.

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.

21 Powerful habits behind highly successful business owners

habits

Over the years I have worked with thousands of business owners. Many of these were successful, some were hugely successful.

Acquiring the habits for success

I noticed that the most successful business owners shared certain habits. They did things, which the average business owner didn’t do. I decided to learn from them… to acquire their habits, to see if it would help me.

It did. It really did. In big, meaningful, measurable ways.

So, in brief, here’s what I learned from them:

  1. They are driven by a passion to do something big. Something that motivates them AND those around them.
  2. They personalise their business, so it’s uniquely theirs. One of a kind. Rare and valuable.
  3. They know success is about more than money… that if you’re rich and unhappy, you’re still broke.
  4. They show people, rather than tell people. Anyone can claim anything, so they walk the walk.
  5. They out-care their competition. It shines through everything they do.
  6. They out-smart their competitors too.
  7. They set standards, extremely high, self-imposed standards… and they achieve them.
  8. They ignore the manual and write their own rules.
  9. They focus on what they want, not what they fear.
  10. They are excellent decision makers. They get the information required, study it, request advice if needed, then decide.
  11. They avoid those costly detours, which come disguised as shortcuts to success.
  12. They work hard. You can’t sleepwalk your way to the top… or even the middle.
  13. They also relax. If you work smart during work time, you can relax when it’s family and friends time.
  14. They seldom watch TV. None (zero) of the most successful people I know, bother with TV.
  15. They are extremely selective who they associate with and who they recommend.
  16. They lead. The world already has enough followers and the followers need leaders.
  17. They manage their time extremely well.
  18. They deliberately build a valuable network of people — before they need them.
  19. They are willing to stand out. They know it’s the only way to be outstanding.
  20. They summon the courage to do what’s required, rather than what feels comfortable.
  21. They make promises… then keep them.

Those are just some of the habits I have discovered and road tested, which improved my business and life beyond recognition.

I hope you find them useful, but more importantly, I hope you decide to try and make at least one of them a habit.

How to learn from the best, without copying them

learn from best

One of the best ways to develop your business, is to learn from what already works.

It’s not about copying. It’s about using what works for others, as a source of creative inspiration for your own marketing. Allow me to explain.

Here are 3 examples of what I mean

1. Think of the last product or service you paid for. Now ask yourself, what were the main motivators, which persuaded you to make that purchase? Look for a way to uniquely incorporate those persuasive factors into the marketing of your own products or services.

2. Think of the last time you recommended a product or service to your friends. What were the key factors that motivated you to give it your endorsement? Look for ways to uniquely incorporate them into your business, so you attract more word of mouth referrals.

3. Think of the last newsletter you read, which inspired you to make a purchase, click a link, email the sender, etc. What was it about that newsletter [or the person who wrote it], which motivated you to take action? Look for ways to uniquely build that into your own newsletter, so more people take action when they read it.

As you may have already noticed, this approach can be applied to any area of your business that you want to improve.

Learning is more valuable than copying

A well known example of this approach came from Steve Jobs. When designing the first iMac computers, Jobs studied the design of sports cars for inspiration. Apparently, people would see him in the Apple parking lot, looking at the lines and curves of sports cars. His machines didn’t look like cars, but the ‘design lines’ of some Apple products were influenced by them.

The key thing to remember is that the value comes from learning, not copying. Look at what works and search for the lessons behind it. If you fully embrace this idea, it will be a powerful development tool for both you and your business.

How to attract customers… from your competitors!

How to

So, you’d like more customers or clients. The question is, why should they switch to you, rather than carry on with their current provider?

In today’s post I help you answer this important question!

Why should they leave their comfort zone?

It takes effort for people to switch from one provider to another. This means the reasons you provide for switching to you, need to be compelling. Your offer needs to inspire them to leave their comfort zone… to dump their familiar, safe, current provider and risk the unknown.

We know that being a little less expensive, a little faster or a little better isn’t enough.

Here’s why: Marginal differences have marginal impact. They lack the power required, to inspire people to take action.

In short: Your prospective clients need to see an obvious, clear, meaningful reason to switch providers.

This will help you get it right

Take a look at your business from the vantage point of a prospective client or customer. Look at the reasons you provide, to motivate them to leave their comfort zone and switch to you.

Now answer this question: Considering the perceived risk involved with them switching providers, are the reasons you give truly compelling enough?

If not, what meaningful, measurable benefit could you add, which would make switching to you feel:

  • Less risky. For example, offer them guarantees. Here’s how I make this work, using something called Risk Reversal.
  • Less hassle. For example, offer to help with any of the tasks involved, when switching from their old provider.
  • More beneficial to them than staying with their current provider. For example, develop a service that’s unique to your business. [Need some creative help? I’ve got you covered. Here’s a website full of creative ideas, written by me. Everything there is free!]

You need to remember that every provider claims to offer great customer service and to go the extra mile for their clients. This means you should focus on developing a meaningful, measurable and motivating difference. Get this right and it can be a game-changer for your business. Yes, it’s that important.

PS: Here’s how to stop your competitors taking clients from YOUR business: How to use the lock-in effect to retain your clients.

How to inspire your marketplace and attract the best clients

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Nothing is more average than the average business!

These are the businesses that work for average clients and earn average fees. These hardworking folk look to the future with apprehension, rather than excitement. Why? Because they know there’s no future in being yet another average business. It’s a constant struggle. It’s stressful.

Today, I’m going to show you how to avoid the average trap and grow a successful, inspirational business.

The inspiration premium

Whilst average businesses struggle, inspirational businesses thrive. Maybe the most famous example came from the last recession, where Apple achieved record sales and record profits. They did this, selling high priced devices, which inspired their fans to spend billions of dollars with them.

Did you notice that? Apple has fans, not customers. That’s because when you inspire your marketplace, people position you or your brand very differently in their mind. And yes, this works for small businesses, too!

Take a look at any area of your business, which you think is underperforming. Now, instead of comparing that area of your business with what your competitors are doing, I want you to set your bar massively higher.

For example:

  • If you want people to tell their friends how great your service is, provide a service that inspires word of mouth referrals. Like Disney.
  • If you want more repeat clients or customers, do something that inspires them to return. Like Apple.
  • If you want more enquiries from your newsletter, write content that inspires people to contact you. Like Evernote.

In short: Walk away from average. Embrace inspirational.

It’s easier said than done, Jim!

Yes, of course it’s easier said than done. However, it’s not that hard.

This is especially the case for small business owners. You can use your agility to make the necessary improvements, starting right now. Whether it’s Disney, Apple, Rolex or another inspirational brand, look at what they’re doing. Look at how they are inspiring their marketplace.

Learn from the best. Let them set the bar on what you expect from yourself and your business. It takes more effort, but it’s far easier than owning a business that works for average clients and average fees.

This will help you to get started: How to grow your business, with Agile Thinking.

This is a marketing message. Really. It is!

Content Marketing, copywriting, coppy, writing

In today’s post, I’m going to show you how to make your marketing so attractive, that people would miss it if it wasn’t there.

Think about it: Most of the marketing messages we receive are unwelcome. At best, they are the price we pay for being able to watch a YouTube clip or listen to a radio station. At worst, marketing messages are an unwanted, annoying intrusion.

The good news is, marketing doesn’t need to be this way.

How some brands get it right

Some of the marketing we receive is welcomed. For example, when Evernote send me their newsletter, I read it. Always. Why? Because it’s packed with tips on how to get the most value from the Evernote app, so users can organise their ideas and improve their work flow. As a daily Evernote user, these tips and ideas are of huge value to me.

Yes, I have made additional purchases because of the Evernote newsletter. However, they have never sold me anything.

Think about that for a moment. It’s extremely powerful!

Leigh inspired me to write today’s post

Earlier today I received a message from a reader. Leigh said that she reads my blog via email. The reason she got in touch is that she hadn’t had an email from me for 5 days. She wanted to make sure everything was OK. It turned out to be a problem with her new email provider. But that’s not the point.

The message behind Leigh’s email may not sound that important at first glance… but it is. It’s a powerful example of the effectiveness of content marketing.

I’ll explain why in a moment.

The best content marketing delivers value

Just like the Evernote newsletter I mentioned, the best content marketing is packed with independent value. [Note: By independent value, I mean that the content itself delivers value, independent of the reader needing to purchase anything].

When people connect with effective content marketing, they feel like they have gained something. Because of this, they welcome it in a way that’s impossible to achieve with a sales pitch.

A great way for you to get this right, is to ask yourself the following question: “If I stopped publishing my newsletter, blog posts, email marketing or social networking updates, etc., would people miss them?”

This is a marketing message. Seriously!

If you think my blog posts aren’t marketing messages, think again. Yes, I give you useful information for free, without pitching you anything, but consider this:

  • Hundreds of people email me every week, because of something they read on my blog or in the email version of the blog.
  • A subset of these great people will become clients of mine or customers of my audio program.
  • Other readers become advocates and recommend my services to their friends.
  • Some share my blog posts, helping me reach more people.

Now consider this:

Think for a moment how useful it would be for your business, if you were receiving emails and phone calls all day every day, from interested people who already knew all about you and what you do.

What next?

Provide your marketplace with useful information, not sales pitches. Make your content marketing about the reader, not about you. Help them solve their challenges with your expertise. And let people know what you can do for them [like that short message below], so they know where to come when they need expert help they can trust.

Remember… the process of giving and receiving starts with the giving part.

Read this. It will help you: How to make your Content Marketing more compelling!

How to attract more clients, using deadlines!

marketing tips

Most small business marketing lacks urgency. And it’s losing those businesses a fortune.

If you want people to take action, you need to motivate them. A proven way for you to do this, is to set a deadline.

The thing about deadlines

Deadlines focus the mind. They take something that’s interesting and make it both interesting and urgent.

It looks like this:

  • Without a deadline, people will think your offer is interesting and decide to check it out later… then forget all about it.
  • With a deadline, people will think your offer is interesting and take action now… to hire you, buy from you, email you or call you.

If you’re not including a deadline as part of your marketing mix, you’re leaving money on the table.

Bloggers: Why too few people read your blog and how to fix it!

blogging, blog tips, content marketing

This is a very important post. If you want to get more business, feedback and recognition from your blog, this could be exactly what you need to know.

The post was inspired by an email I received from Shannon. She kindly gave me permission to share part of it with you. Here’s the core challenge she wanted help with, along with my answer and lots of tips and examples to help you build a successful business blog.

Here’s what Shannon wanted to know:

“I’ve been blogging for close to three years now. It’s been frustrating to say the least! […]  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I’ve followed the advice from [she mentioned a very well known blogging site] totally.  I’m just about ready to quit.  Can you take a look at my blog and tell me what I’m missing?”

I did take a quick look at her blog and it’s exactly the same as countless other business blogs, following the same, general blogging advice.

Here’s what the challenge is and how to resolve it!

Blogging is exceptionally effective

I’ve worked in marketing since 1987 and nothing I have used, studied or witnessed, comes close to the marketing power of an effective blog. Period.

So, why has Shannon and the vast majority of business owners, seen such poor results?

Without doubt, the main reason is that blogging is often touted, incorrectly, as the written equivalent of painting by numbers. In other words, you follow a set of rules and success will follow. This myth persists because it’s repeated by well known bloggers, selling generic guides and programs on how to grow a successful business blog.

The polar opposite is actually true: The closer you follow the same general format, rules and techniques as everyone else, the less likely you are to achieve anything worthwhile from your blog.

Here’s how I created one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs, using a more individual approach.

I didn’t SEO my posts

I decided to write for my readers, not Google. This gave me the freedom to express my thoughts, rather than SEO my thoughts.

Shannon’s blog posts are written using SEO software. This means they are often too long, just so she can reach her minimum SEO word count and keyword density. Posts that should be information rich and 250 words long, are filled with fluff to make them more SEO friendly. It has totally robbed her of her voice and individuality.

Google likes it. However, it reads like crap. As a result, Shannon attracts drive-by traffic, rather than client enquiries.

Tip: Read this – Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

I didn’t guest blog

I focused on building my readership, by producing the most useful content I could and then made it extremely easy for people to share it.

This approach works even better today than when I started in 2008, thanks to the popularity of social networking sites.

Many bloggers waste their best material on other people’s blogs, because their blog guru convinced them it’s a great idea. It’s one way to build your readership, but certainly not the best. Or the second best. Shannon told me that she has guest blogged a lot, with nothing to show for it. She’s not alone.

Build your own platform. Put the primary value on your own turf. Don’t be someone else’s unpaid content provider.

I removed comments

It was summer 2013, when I removed the commenting feature from my blog. Blog commenting is a vestige from the days before social networks. It was also a huge time suck for me, as I often got 2500 spam comments a day.

It was still a tough decision though. The only other person I knew who’d done it was Seth Godin, and he had a very different reason. But it was the right thing to do. So I did it.

Back then, I was attacked. Social media gurus said you HAD TO have comments on your blog or it wasn’t a blog.

Today, the mood is changing.

Since I removed comments, other popular blogs including; copyblogger, Chris Brogan and Michael Hyatt, have done the same. And they’re absolutely right.

My point is that you need to question perceived wisdom. Then if you believe something needs to change, do it your way. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you — be prepared to lead. We need more leaders.

Shannon has comments enabled and she gets very little feedback. Many comments are from people trying to get backlinks or score free advice from her. This lack of so-called social proof, does nothing to enhance Shannon’s reputation. It also makes her blog look like a ghost town, when prospective clients check her out.

I didn’t fill the blog with affiliate links

When I recommend something to a reader, it’s a genuine recommendation and I don’t get a penny for it. The trust of my reader community is worth far more to me than affiliate money.

Shannon’s blog home page has affiliate banners for 3 products. None are related to her profession. It makes her site look cheap, which is toxic for a service provider.

I didn’t pump my posts with buzzwords

Disrupt, ruckus, growth hacking, big data, intersection… buzzwords like those fail twice.

  • Firstly, they make informed people cringe.
  • Secondly, they confuse the uninformed. That’s a bad idea if you want people to understand your message!

Shannon’s blog uses lots of content marketing buzz words. This, combined with the keyword loading she does for her SEO, means readers have no personality to connect with.

I made 1 rule and stuck with it

I made a rule, which I have stuck to since summer 2008. It’s simply this

I will only publish a post when I have something useful to share and I’ll make sure I find something useful, often.

This means I often write when it’s easier not to. I update older posts daily, to keep the information relevant. Blogging is a primary business activity for me, rather than something I fit in. As a result, I write when I’m extremely busy, when I am tired and even when I’m not feeling great.

Your rules

The Internet is packed with sites that offer largely the same, general advice on how to build a successful blog.

Their advice seems to make sense, until you consider that by following it, you become invisible – lost in an ocean of millions of other bloggers using the same, general advice.

If you’re following what they say, you will be able to identify with Shannon’s situation.

In short: Your blog needs to be as individual as you are. Otherwise, you’re invisible.

Tip: This post asks an important question: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

Exposed: The great workaholic lie!

workaholic

Workaholics are not really workaholics.

It’s never work, which the so-called workaholic is addicted to. Instead, they’re hooked on the feelings that come from doing something they love. That passion and joy is what inspires them all day, every day.

When you do something you love, it’s natural to want to keep doing it.

  • It’s why Nile Rodgers still creates and performs.
  • It’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger is still making movies.
  • It’s why Bill Gates is still making a difference.

ALL of those guys are in their 60’s. NONE of them need the money. What they do need, are the feelings associated with their “work”.

Conversely, someone who finds their work frustrating, boring or stressful, pays to go on vacation… to get away from work. They spend a tiny amount of time each year, doing what they love. They have the equation completely the wrong way around.

No one is addicted to meaningless work

If you get paid for doing what you love, you may be a passion-aholic. You could be a joy-aholic or even a pleasure-aholic. But you’re not a workaholic. No one is addicted to working, just for the sake of work.

  • Work without meaning is a way to pay the bills.
  • Work without meaning is empty.
  • Work without meaning leaves you doing things you don’t want to do, for the majority of your adult life.

If work feels like work for too many days in a row, switch sides. Join us!

Become a passion-aholic. Find what you love and make that your “work”. Transform your business from something you work in, to something that fills you with joy and passion… every day.

Can you do it? Yes, yes you can. I know because I’ve helped business owners worldwide to make it happen and experienced it in my own life since 1995. All you need is the right strategy and the courage to put it into place.

If you do that, I promise you will never work another day in your life.