Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: How to (page 1 of 22)

How to make the right business decisions

I’d like to share some ideas with you today, about your role in your business.

You often hear small business owners talking about how many hats they wear. They’re referring to the number of different roles they play within their business. Whilst every business owner wears a number of different hats, it’s important to know the difference between what we should do and what needs an expert.

Specialist and non specialist areas of business

It’s fine for us to run the business, deal with clients and customers and control the areas of our business, where we are an expert. It’s fine for us to make the major decisions and deal with suppliers etc. However, when it comes to specialist areas of the business, we need expert help if we want to achieve the right results.

Common examples of how to lose a fortune, by wearing the wrong hat.

  • Yes, you probably could do your own accounts, but a qualified accountant will be able to lower your tax and spot problems, before they happen.
  • Yes, you probably could handle your own HR, but if you end up in a dispute with an employee, you could end up losing thousands or being sued out of business.
  • Yes, you probably could handle your own marketing, but you will soon reach a plateau, find it hard to grow, then hard to survive. A marketing professional will show you exactly what you need to do, to take your business to the next level and beyond.
  • Yes, you probably could design your own website, but a professional web designer will make it look polished and professional… rather than the work of a keen amateur.

It’s hard for a business owner to fail, when they work hard, doing the right things correctly, based on expert advice.

Conversely, it’s almost impossible to succeed, no matter how hard we work, no matter how passionate we are, if we’re wearing too many hats.

In short: You need to give your business the resources it needs, if you want it to succeed. To expect it to succeed on a mixture of general advice and DIY tactics, is a very costly and usually fatal mistake.

Why people criticise you and how to deal with it in just 3 steps

negative criticism, critics

Here is a simple, powerful 3 step process, to help you totally overcome the impact or fear of negative criticism.

Broadly, all of your critics can be divided into 1 of the following 2 groups:

  1. Those who want to help you and encourage you.
  2. Those who want to hinder you and see you fail.

It’s the second type of critic, which I want to talk to you about today. It’s that type of negative criticism, which stops many of us from being willing to stand out. It stops us putting our work or art out there. It encourages us to keep our head down. To follow the crowd.

The power of a critic

If you want your business to stand out, to attract lots of word of mouth referrals, it’s essential that you stop negative criticism from influencing you.

Why?

Because just about everything you need to do in order to market your business successfully, especially online, is visible and wide open to criticism. Anything you do, which is different enough for the marketplace to value it, is also visible enough for critics to criticise it.

So, you either learn to deal with it or do what most small business owners do, and run a business in the shadows, which is not a wise marketing move!

3 Steps to deal with negative criticism

Fortunately, dealing with negative criticism is relatively easy, so long as you learn to accept it for what it is. Once you understand why criticism happens, it eliminates its negative impact and allows you to focus all your effort on putting your best work out there.

Because I publish lots of material to a large audience, I get negative criticism regularly. In fact, the better my work, the more likely it is that at least one person will criticise it or criticise me for writing it.

Here are the 3 steps I used, to totally eliminate the negative impact of criticism.

1. Consider their motivation

When someone feels the need to negatively criticise your work, they are satisfying a need they have. It’s always about them, not you or your work.

Even if someone is negatively criticising you because they hope it will help you improve, it’s to satisfy their desire to help.

So, whatever the intention, criticism is always about the critic!

Understanding this is a key part of disempowering the critic’s influence over you and how you feel. When you accept that it’s NOT about you or your work, you see criticism for what it is – a selfish act perpetrated to feed a need the critic has – positive or negative.

Of course, even if the motivation is negative, if they are an expert in the field, you can still learn from what the critic says. Scientists often negatively criticise the work of their peers, people who really know their subject. That kind of criticism may be negative, but it can bring value with it.

This brings us nicely to the second step.

2. Consider the source

Is the person who is negatively criticising you, qualified to criticise you? Most criticism is unqualified. That’s to say, the person criticising your work doesn’t know enough about the subject or what you’re trying to achieve, to offer anything other than an uninformed opinion.

Negative criticism from an unqualified, uninformed source is of so little value that it’s meaningless. It makes zero sense to pay it any of your valuable attention.

3. Use negative criticism as weights in your mental gym

With each piece of criticism that you run through the previous 2 steps, you build your resistance to the negative impact of critics. Just as lifting weights builds your muscles, processing negative criticism builds your emotional defences. Each time you are criticised and see it for what it really is, it becomes easier. Less daunting. Less fearsome.

Pretty soon, you learn to be fascinated by criticism and what it tells you about the other person. You quickly learn that if no one is criticising you, you are either invisible, doing work that fails to stand out… or both.

Finally, don’t try and avoid negative criticism. It will rob you of your voice. No criticism means no impact!

How to write great content every day!

If you find it hard to write articles, blog posts or newsletters, I have a quick tip for you. It will help you write more frequently and in a way that people will understand.

Drum-roll please…

Write the way you speak

Think about it: When you talk, people understand you. They listen to you. You engage them.

You don’t get talkers-block either!

So, don’t treat your written words differently from your spoken words. Just type them, rather than speaking them. This is the approach I used when I started as a writer and it has never failed me. And yes, the more you do it the better your writing will become.

The challenge with this approach is that it robs you of any excuse not to write more frequently. Sorry :)

Tip – Read this: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

How to build a better business by solving better problems

Think about it… the value of your work and the demand for your work are determined by the type of problems you solve.

This is why one of the best ways to grow your business, is to:

  • Look for better problems than those solved by your competitors.
  • Create a solution to the problem.
  • Offer the solution to your market place.

You can do this by expanding the utility of an existing product or service you provide or by developing something new. It’s up to you. Both can work amazingly well.

Is this easy? No.

Is it worth it? Absolutely!

This will help you get started: How to find the answers you need, Einstein style!

How to find the income, energy and inspiration you need!

Let’s talk about money.

Do you know what’s really, really difficult? Trying to make money by doing something you’re not passionate about.

Yet, that’s exactly what the majority of business owners do. Paradoxically, it’s also why most will go broke or even worse, make just enough to survive in false hope that things will improve… THEN go broke.

Yes, every business needs a viable way to make money. However, money should be the inevitable result of doing what you love, extremely well. Not an end in itself.

Steve Jobs on money

The world’s most successful businesspeople already know this. The late Steve Jobs made the point beautifully:

“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”.

Do you think Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or Sir Richard Branson go to work for 14 hours a day, because they need more money? No. Branson was wealthy from birth and has never needed to work! These people already have more money than they can spend. What drives the most successful business owners is the need to do something, which they are passionate about.

The money follows.

Working with great passion

When your work is driven by passion, it shines through everything you do. It gives you the energy and robustness required to do your best work. Passion is contagious too, which helps you attract the resources you need. It inspires customers, clients and investors to want to be a part of your vision.

  • If work is a grind.
  • If you’re working hard for too little reward.
  • If you find yourself lacking the energy you need.
  • If you don’t spend enough time with your family.
  • If you feel too stressed, too often.
  • If prospective clients or customers are unenthusiastic when you tell them what you do.
  • If business leaves you feeling unfulfilled.

… there’s a very good chance you’re not doing something that inspires you. And that has to stop. Seriously. You can’t keep on like that. It’s pointless and 100% unnecessary.

The answer is as easy and challenging as this

Find something you’re passionate about and build a viable business model around it. Work really hard. Then watch your whole world improve.

If this is something you are struggling with right now, let me know. Here are my contact details.

How to get your marketing shared on social networks

The most successful marketing today, is not marketing that’s pushed at people.

The most successful marketing today, is marketing that people share with their friends.

Pestering people is cheap

The reason we receive so many spam emails and see all those unwanted sales messages on social networking sites, is that it has never been cheaper (in every sense of the word) to pester huge numbers of people. There’s no barrier to entry today. Now, if we go back just 10 or 15 years, if you wanted to get a message in front of 100,000 people it was expensive. Today, it can be done for peanuts.

Pestering people is cheap, has little risk attached and requires little creativity. As a result, it’s everywhere – even though people are getting better and better at ignoring it.

The inspiration deficit

Where we see a shortage, is in business owners who have crafted a compelling story, which people want to share. I call this the inspiration deficit.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other platforms are PACKED FULL of hundreds of millions of people, who are looking for something interesting to share with their friends. We even have a name for people who spend their social networking time sharing other people’s information. We call them curators.

There’s no lack of people willing and ready to share our message.

The deficit is caused by the lack of business owners, who are willing to invest the time, effort, energy and creativity to build a story about their business that’s worth sharing.

The BIG inspiration pay off

As business owners, we must learn to stop pushing an uninspiring story. No, people are not interested in yet another provider, who is just a little less expensive or who delivers just a little faster than average. Instead, we need to learn to feed the marketplace with a compelling story and allow the marketplace to spread our message for us.

Is it worth the extra effort, to create a compelling service or customer experience, which people will feel motivated to talk about? Well, think of it like this. Right now, there are hundreds of millions of people waiting for you to give them a story worth sharing.

That’s a pretty compelling reason to invest the extra effort.

PS: Need some free help on how to create inspirational ideas, products and services? Here are dozens of free articles, just for you!

How to grow your business in a uniquely valuable way!

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.

How to get what you want from your business

Sadly, most business owners fail to achieve their goals.

A key reason they fail, is that instead of doing one hundred percent of what’s required, they do one hundred percent of what they’re comfortable with.

One hundred percent

To give one hundred percent, is to give everything:

You can’t have what you want to have, without doing what you need to do.

The solution

The solution is always the same.

It’s as easy and as hard as this: Find what you’re avoiding, then summon the courage and knowledge to conquer it.

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