Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: How to (page 1 of 23)

How to win against cheaper competitors

How to

Right now, Google is showing your prospective customers the details of all your competitors – including those competitors who charge less than you.

So, your prospective customers now know you’re not the lowest priced provider. The question is: How do you plan to convince them that you’re worth the extra money?

Generic marketing promises do not work

We are in one of the worst economic cycles in living memory and your prospective customers are thinking a LOT harder, before they spend their money.

They demand value.

It’s not enough for you to claim that you offer great customer service or that you go the extra mile or that you care more. Why? Because the bargain basement providers make those same generic promises. Those promises are so common now, that we are almost blind to them.

If you want someone to even consider spending money with you, when there are cheaper alternatives, you need to avoid generic promises and get specific.

The answer

You may already have an attractive proposition, which your cheaper competitors can’t match. If you do, you need to communicate it effectively and make it extremely visible in your marketing.

If you don’t already have a compelling, non-generic reason for prospective customers to buy from you, you need to create one. This is not about developing some snazzy marketing slogan! It’s about building something into your existing product or service, which has genuine value and is not already being offered by your competitors.

For example

You can be yet another accountant or the only accountant in your area, who offers a monthly networking event for their clients – so they become part of a community and not ‘just a client’.

You can be yet another web designer or the only web designer in your price range, who redesigns their client’s Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts – so they match your client’s beautiful new website.

You can be yet another window cleaner or the only window cleaner in your area, who also cleans the windows on your customers cars.

You get the idea.

Step outside of the ordinary

Take time to think of a genuinely valuable, attractive proposition to offer your prospective customers. A USP is not enough any more. There has to be something, which prospective customers can see as offering them genuine value. A Purple Cow may grab people’s attention, but there has to be value behind it if you want to attract paying customers and not just glances.

Put on your thinking cap and look at your products or services through the eyes of a prospective customer. What needs do they have, which you could serve by adjusting your offering?

Give this exercise the time it deserves. It’s what your prospective customers will be focused on for the foreseeable future.

How to win a new client. Unlike this guy!

How to

I was doing some gift shopping at a local store yesterday, when I decided to go for a coffee in their café. I noticed that a salesperson was speaking with the store owner, a couple of tables away from me.

Now, if you asked the salesperson what he was doing, he’d tell you he was pitching a new product line to the store owner.

But he’d be wrong.

The salesperson wasn’t pitching. He was arguing with the store owner.

He was trying to prove he was right and that the store owner was wrong. They were now on opposing sides. By the time my coffee arrived, the salesperson was shaking his head from side to side in disagreement, as the store owner spoke. A few minutes later, the salesman left. Of course, he left without a sale.

If I’d spoken to the salesperson, here’s what I’d have said

A better approach is to position yourself as an asset to their business. A partner in their success.

For example, ask the potential client or customer about their challenges. Then listen. Take notes. Once you have a handle on what their challenges are, show them how your products or services can help them.

This is not only a superb way to build your business, it’s also a great way to build valuable business relationships.

Tip — How to make your business more human and FAR more successful.

How to make your business irreplaceable

IRREPLACEABLE

How hard would it be for one of your clients or customers to replace you with an alternative provider?

I was thinking about this yesterday when a salesman came to my home. He asked if he could quote me a price to look after the trees and hedges, which surround all 4 sides of our house. I said that I wasn’t interested. He then said that if I told him what my current guys charge, he’d beat their price. I explained that I still wasn’t interested. I thanked him for his time and he left.

Just think about that for a second.

Apply that scenario to your business. Imagine being so valuable to your clients or customers that they send competitors away — uninterested in hearing about their lower price.

Being irreplaceable

If the salesman had been a little wiser, he’d have asked me what made my current provider irreplaceable. If he’d asked, here’s what I’d have told him.

The team who look after my hedges and trees have worked for us for years. They know exactly how we like things. They are extremely reliable and when we needed them in an emergency, they responded fast — removing a tree that had fallen down in a storm. They provide a great service, which they are well paid for. They’re happy and we’re happy.

Trust

They’ve made themselves irreplaceable by building trust. They’ve earned that trust by doing great work over the long haul and being extremely reliable. I have recommended them dozens of times over the years to friends, all of whom are equally delighted with them.

There are 2 pieces of gold dust in the previous paragraph:

  1. The best way to become irreplaceable is to earn trust. It was during our first year with the tree company that they came out to remove that tree, which was blocking a road on a dangerous corner. They were here in 40 minutes and charged us the normal rate, when they could have exploited the situation.
  2. When a provider earns our trust and does great work, it’s easy to recommend them to our friends.

Clearly, every business owner should strive to make their business irreplaceable. It improves customer retention, whilst also generating a regular flow of word-of-mouth referrals.

How do you become irreplaceable?

It’s not about one huge action. It’s about the daily interactions we have with our customers. It’s a slow burn. We earn the position of being irreplaceable over the medium and long haul.

Every interaction should be used to increase our value to our customers. A superb way to accelerate the process is to be there when they are most in need. As I wrote recently, it’s when people are having a tough time that they most value our help.

That’s how we earn [then re earn] the position of being irreplaceable.

Yes, you need to re earn the position, because when you act like you’re permanently irreplaceable, you’ll soon be replaced by someone who out manoeuvres you.

Let’s look again at my opening question. Ask yourself, how hard would it be for one of your clients or customers to replace you? If you don’t like your answer, do something about it today… and every day, until they’d have to be crazy to switch to another provider!

How to crush the competition

crushed

Joe emailed me with a very direct and important question yesterday. Here it is, along with my answer.

Hi Jim. What’s the best way for me to crush my competitors?  I’m going to lose my business soon unless I turn things around and I’m sick of losing out to competitors that are no better than me!

I think crush is a strong word, but it certainly gets Joe’s point across.

Think about it.

  • You can outsmart your competitors. This means spotting or creating opportunities before they do.
  • You can out care your competitors. This means showing the marketplace that you care enormously about what matters to them.
  • Alternatively, you can out manoeuvre your competitors by doing both! By outsmarting them and out caring them, you leverage 2 enormously powerful strategies.

If someone turned up in your marketplace today with the out manoeuvre mindset, they would eventually attract many of the best quality clients or customers. They would crush the competition.

That someone… could be you! Yes, it requires a mindset adjustment, but the rewards can be huge. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

PS – Here’s some advice on how to compete and win against big businesses.

How to make better buying decisions

iphone 5s

I’ve been thinking recently about how it’s easy to make a costly mistake, when investing in new technology. As new devices hit the market, the temptation can be strong to always opt for the latest version of something, simply because it’s new.

However, there are times when the latest thing is not the correct thing for you or your business.

Here’s an example of what I’m referring to, based on a decision I made recently.

The new iPhone that’s not so new

My friend asked me why I bought a new iPhone 5s last week. He knows I am a technology geek and that I was going to buy my first ever iPhone. He wondered why I’d buy a brand new phone, based on a design that’s 12 months old, rather than the iPhone 6.

Here’s what swayed my decision.

Yes, the iPhone 6 is a big, beautiful phone. However, like millions of android customers, I’ve been using phones with the same large screen as the iPhone 6 for years.

I needed a smaller device.

  • Something that felt comfortable in my pocket.
  • Something I could hold and operate with one hand, whilst sipping a coffee with the other.
  • Something I could use on a crowded bus or train, allowing me to use my other hand to hold onto a rail.
  • Something with a great camera. I use instagram a lot and the photo quality of the iPhone 5s is great — very close to the iPhone 6. You can join me on instagram and see my photos, here.

So, the small and beautifully designed iPhone 5s was the perfect fit for me. I’ve had it for just over a week now and it’s ideal. I love it and use it more often than I used my more awkward, bigger screen phones.

The best solution for you

When investing in new technology, you need to focus on what’s the best solution for you. The latest version of anything doesn’t automatically become the best option.

Over the years I’ve found that you make better purchasing decisions, when you look at what you need and go for the best fit, based on your requirements. Yes, that is often the latest version of a product, but  not always.

How to stop The Blame Game from destroying your business

you

I spoke with a small business owner earlier, who was blaming his customers for the slowdown of his business. He went on to explain that his customers were fools for turning to other suppliers, who are a little less expensive than him.

He was wrong

Here’s the thing: Blaming your customers for the failure of your business, is like blaming your car for grinding to a halt, because you neglected to put fuel into it. The customers you attract, the amount they spend with you and their decision to recommend you via word of mouth… is all down to YOU.

As the owner of a business, you direct the path of the business.

  • You decide whether to adapt your business based on the economy or blame the economy for the failings of your business.
  • You decide whether you market your business professionally or rely on ineffective, DIY marketing.
  • You decide whether you give customers an experience that they want to tell their friends about, or an average experience.
  • You decide whether to invest in the expert help your business needs or invest in a nicer car / vacation / gadget.
  • You decide whether to sell based on price or sell based on value.

It’s YOU who decides. Always!

That’s what a business owner does. She makes decisions, which direct the course of her business. If she doesn’t like the direction her business is heading in, she adjusts her course.

To blame the marketplace, economy, weather, government, competition or anything else for the failings of your business makes no sense. Why? Because others with the same challenges, do what’s required and overcome them.

Excuses are easy to come up with. And that’s the problem. If you practice making excuses for long enough, your excuses will be so convincing that people, including you, start believing them!

The bottom line: It’s down to you.

Your move!

How to turn your ideas into bankable results

If you want to start turning your ideas into bankable business results, this quick tip could be exactly what you need!

Geoff sent me an email this morning, which contained the following, powerful statement.

“I waited so long to get things perfect that by the time I was ready to go, it was too late and the opportunity had passed.”

Perfection isn’t required

Geoff is not alone. The road to perfection is littered with lost opportunities and broken dreams. The crazy thing is, not only is perfection pretty-much impossible, it’s never even required!

Think about it, is there a single product or service, which cannot be improved upon in some way? No. Nothing in the marketplace is perfect.

So, here’s a suggestion

Instead of planning until everything is perfect, plan until you have something that will work, then, as Steve Jobs used to say, “ship it!” That’s all you need.

Take a look at an idea you have been working on, which isn’t quite perfect for the market yet. Then, consider what you need to do, in order to make that idea good enough to work. Remember, you will be able to refine and improve it as much as required, after it’s launched. That’s what every successful business in history has done.

In short — Stop aiming for the impossibility of perfection. Instead, focus your thinking power on the achievable goal of making something, which is good enough to work.

Tip: Here’s how Google used this approach to build one of the world’s biggest companies.

Why Time Management didn’t work for you AND how to fix it!

clearity

I want to share something important with you today. It’s something that has helped my clients achieve amazing results for almost 20 years. It has helped them master time management and make massively more progress than ever before.

Here it is.

Never enough time?

The average small business owner complains that they never have enough time. This is factually incorrect. They have 24 hours available to them every day, just like the most successful business owners.

What the average small business owner lacks isn’t time.

What they lack is direction.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will get you there.”

— Lewis Carroll

One of the main reasons that time management training is so ineffective, is that it teaches people how to get things done. Without direction, time management simply shows you how to do more of the wrong things. You end up with to-do lists and journals, with lots of things crossed off – yet you make too little progress. So, you try to get even more things done, thinking that’s what you need in order to succeed.

The net result: You end up working hard, getting stressed and feeling frustrated at your lack of progress.

I’ll let you into a secret

I’ve worked with and studied some incredibly successful people. None of them have a time management problem. Why? Simple. They have direction. They know what they want to achieve and this gives them the clarity to know what they need to do.

This skill is vital to your success, which is why I work on it with my clients. My clients know where they are today and they know where they want to be in; 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years time. This powerful sense of direction allows us to plan ahead with total clarity.

If you find yourself working hard, yet making too little progress, stop focusing on time management and learn how to find the direction you need.

As my clients have found, once you know exactly where you’re going, it’s a lot easier to plot your course!

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