Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Networking (page 1 of 15)

Puppies look cute when they beg, but business owners don’t!

When we see a puppy begging for attention, it looks incredibly cute.

When we see a business owner begging for attention, it makes us cringe!

We all need help at the start

At the very beginning, every business needs to push it’s message. No matter how remarkable, amazing or unique your business is, no one will know about it unless you get it in front of people.

Then, once you have pushed your business under the noses of friends and contacts, and advertised it to your target market, it’s time to listen. If your business is remarkable enough, you will see a snowball effect.

  • People will start talking about you.
  • They will share links to your website and pass your details to their friends.
  • They will call you, email you and ask you for more information.
  • As a result, more and more people will know about you, talk about you or hire you.

Or not.

So, what do you do if people hear about your business, yet it just doesn’t interest them enough to buy from you or talk about you?

When all you hear is crickets

If your business is more then 6 months old and your friends and your best contacts, along with those who saw your advertising, are not spreading the word, buying from you or you’re not attracting very regular inquiries, take heed. It’s time to find out why and fix it — to build a new proposition, which people are interested in.

Here’s what doesn’t work: Begging people to be interested in something that’s uninspiring. That approach is what happens when you refuse to fix the problem. It’s a low leverage, low profit, frustrating and reputation-damaging way, to slowly go broke.

  • Pestering people with unwanted phone calls.
  • Sending them emails they never asked for.
  • Sending needy messages using social networks.
  • Bugging people on forums and community groups.

These all have a negative impact on the way people think and feel about you.

The answer is as simple and as challenging as this

Instead of looking for new, cheaper ways to beg for attention, invest in developing a better proposition… something people will want to spend money on (and share).

Tip: Read this – How to build a successful business. It’s packed with ideas and examples for you to use.

Your business is telling you something. Are you listening?

now what

My good friend Jon emailed me this morning. He’d just used a new designer for a project and was so impressed with her work, that he wanted to show me what she did. He also said she was great to work with and recommended her to me.

Her work is indeed excellent and I passed her details to a contact of mine, who needs some work done.

Meanwhile…

All over the world, business owners will be getting up extra early. It’s the day they attend their weekly networking breakfast.

Here’s the thing:

  • If you have to attend networking events.
  • If you have to invest valuable time on Linkedin trying to generate leads.
  • If you have to pay referral fees or offer incentives for referrals.

… it’s time to listen to what your business is screaming at you! It’s telling you that your story isn’t compelling enough — that people can’t see enough value in what you do, to recommend you to their friends.

If your roof has a hole in it, placing a bucket below to catch the rain is not the solution. You need to repair the roof.

If your business isn’t attracting enough referrals, pushing an uninspiring story to more people is not the solution. You need to figure out why people are not talking about your business.

We have a choice

We can be like the designer I mentioned at the beginning, who is attracting high quality business leads because her service is worth talking about. Alternatively, we can push an uninspiring message, which too few people talk about.

If you’re tired (literally) of getting up ridiculously early, tired of wasting your time networking and tired of chasing people for referrals — stop chasing and start attracting.

Tip: Here’s one of the most important posts I have ever written. It explains how to make your business worth talking about!

How to work a room at a networking event

Someone just asked me for tips on how to work a room at a networking event.

Not the advice he expected

I explained that I wouldn’t spend too much time learning how to get the most from networking events.

No.

I’d focus on why I needed to go to networking events. I’d figure out, very quickly, why my clients, website, newsletter, customers and contacts weren’t providing me with the referrals and leads I need.

Create a story worth sharing, by providing a remarkable service. Then, the word will spread. People will talk about you, because that’s what we do when we encounter something that is remarkable.

Attracting word of mouth referrals is vastly more effective, than offering an average service and having to pester people for leads at networking groups.

Tip: Here’s how to make your business remarkable, so people spread the word!

How to make extremely valuable business contacts

This post is all about how to build an extremely valuable network, of influential people.

Think about it: We all know people who struggle to find new clients, even though they are members of networking groups and are connected to hundreds of people on Linkedin.

That should be impossible!

Surely, with all those contacts, these struggling business owners should be able to reach out with a message and generate more clients than they could possibly need.

But they can’t.

Why?

Because the typical small business owner builds networks that are of little real value. That’s why the most successful business owners use a very different approach.

Allow me to explain.

How successful business owners get connected

The most successful people in business are extremely well connected. They make it a habit to identify useful contacts and then nurture relationships with them. As a result, they have people they can go to for advice or assistance in any area of their business.

When they are faced with a problem, it’s often a case of: One call — problem solved!

How the average business owner connects

Typically, small business owners take the opposite approach. They focus on numbers, not value. Most commonly, they attend networking groups and connect with other business owners… who are only in that group because they too are struggling.

As a result, they end up with lots of low value business contacts and lack the influential connections required, to grow a successful business. So, when they need new clients or have a significant business problem, their equally struggling contacts are unable to help.

As someone once told me: Stick around struggling business owners for long enough and one day, everything they have will be yours!

Stop thinking about the numbers and focus on the value

As people, we are all of equal value. However, in business, our commercial value differs vastly. Successful business networking is about connecting with the right people.

In short: Be selective. Focus less on numbers and more on value. Go deep and narrow, rather than shallow and wide.

PS - Here are 21 powerful habits behind the most successful business owners.

The best way to spread the word about your business

How do you get people to spread the word about your business?

I’m going to answer this question for you in today’s post. It’s based on a chat I had with an accountant yesterday.

The usual kind of thing

So, a local accountant wanted to know what was the best way to spread the word about his business. I asked him, what kind of accountancy services he provided. He replied with: “You know… the usual kind of thing, Jim.”

Here’s the key part of my reply.

  • If you want the story of a predictable business to reach 100 people, you need to tell 100 people. This is because dull stories don’t spread. You have to push them. You go to networking events, constantly advertise or pester people with emails, etc. The story itself doesn’t spread, because predictable stories don’t have legs.
  • If you want a great story, about a business doing meaningful work, to reach 100 people, you tell 1 person… and it spreads. That person tells several more. They do the same. This is because great stories have legs. You nudge them with effective marketing and watch what happens. It’s beautiful. And extremely successful.

Just a little better, faster or cheaper

No one feels compelled to tell their friends about an accountant, (coach, designer, trainer, marketing consultant or whatever), who is just a little better, faster or cheaper than the rest.

If you want the word to spread about your business, improve the story. Make it worth sharing. Be meaningfully different from your competitors.

Then, put your story into the marketplace and watch it travel from person to person. This generates word of mouth referrals, endless sales leads… and frees you up to focus on making your business even more remarkable.

Recommended reading: Is the dream behind your business inspiring enough?

How to create attractive, memorable marketing

When you market your business just like your competitors, you fade into the background. You lack impact. You become predictable and easy to forget.

For example:

  • Over the years, I must have had thousands of pushy strangers hand me their business card. How many of them can I remember? None of them.
  • Every day I receive impersonal marketing emails from people. How many can I remember? None of them.

That’s because superficial interactions wash over us. They leave no lasting imprint.

The human touch

What we do remember, are the people who sincerely reach out to us with something meaningful to share. We remember the people who recommend us to their contacts and friends. We remember the handwritten notes. We remember the people who respond, when we need feedback or support.

Business is all about people. If you want people to remember you, do something useful and memorable. Something that touches them. Something that requires thoughtfulness.

Hint: You can’t do this with copycat marketing or by automating your business relationships.

Recommended reading – How to make your business more human and far more successful too.

How to be successful without even trying!

It’s an interesting fact that very few of the world’s most successful businesspeople, set out with money or success as their primary target.

  • They aimed to be valuable.
  • They aimed to make the world or the marketplace a better place.
  • They aimed to make a difference.

However, money or success was not their primary focus.

Here’s how they did it!

Steve Jobs famously said,

“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”.

If Jobs was focused primarily on the money or success, he’d have been able to cash in when he was in his 20′s — super rich and exceptionally successful.

When Einstein said,

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”, he showed where his focus was. Again, it was about the value. Einstein carried on working until his death, even though he could have quit decades earlier with his reputation set in history forever.

To understand how the most successful and wealthy business owners achieved their success, we need to look at why most business owners struggle.

It’s easy to spot someone who is in it just for the money

You can usually tell pretty quick, when you encounter someone who is primarily in it for the money. This makes it very hard for them to succeed.

Here are some examples we see all the time, which you will recognise instantly:

  • They are the salespeople, whose eyes light up like a wolf when they spot a potential sales victim.
  • They are the affiliate marketers, who leave spammy links and comments on blogs.
  • They are the pests, who send us unwanted spam email.
  • They are the pushy business owners, who corner us at networking events. The ones who pretend they want to know about our business, when we know it’s that old, cringe-worthy networking tactic.
  • They are the ill-informed marketing gurus who STILL say the money is in the list, because they haven’t figured out the value is in the community.
  • They are the struggling restaurant owners, who use slightly lower quality ingredients and hire slightly lower quality chefs, and end up with a low quality restaurant that no one recommends.
  • They are the kind of business owners you thought of, as you were reading those examples.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy or successful. My point, is that it’s very hard to be either of those things, if they are our primary focus.

Here’s how to succeed without focusing primarily on the money

Consider for a moment the businesses out there, who struggle. They set financial targets and then push average products and average services to average clients who pay them average prices. These business owners then think people just won’t pay higher fees. This is factually 100% incorrect! People won’t pay above average fees for an average, commodity service. They happily pay above average fees and prices for premium, high value products and services.

Now consider the businesses who earn a fortune and succeed. They offer products or services, which are meaningfully different. Their products and services attract the attention of people looking for that special value.

They end up selling valuable products and valuable services to valuable clients, who pay them extremely well.

The way forward for smart business owners

Focus on value. Create products or services that are meaningfully different from the competition. Solve better problems. Create work you are proud of.

Persistently create value and make it visible. People are extremely attracted to value and they pay a premium for it too. Just ask the owner of any high priced Apple product, the owner of a luxury car or the client of any leading service provider.

Get this right and the money and success take care of themselves.

PS: You will find this useful. It explains how to make more sales or attract more clients, without ever having to lower your fees — Marketing 101: The Race To The Bottom.

Attention please

They have subscribed to your newsletter, followed you on a social network or emailed you for information.

You may think you now have their attention, however, you haven’t!

Attention is earned… then re-earned

You have only earned their attention at the point where they subscribed, followed or emailed you. You now have to re-earn their attention, regularly, if you want to remain relevant to them.

If you get too few inquiries from your readers, your subscribers or your networking contacts, focus on re-earning their attention. The challenge of course, is that it takes time, effort and creativity if you want to remain relevant to your marketplace.

No, it’s not easy. But it is required.

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