Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Professional development (page 1 of 82)

My personal story: The power of focus!

focused

I have something personal to share with you today. It’s a goal I reached this week, which carries a valuable lesson about the importance of focus.

When I relocated my business from London to a tiny village in South Yorkshire, I no longer had commercially viable access to clients. I knew I was taking a huge risk, because the only way for me to make a living was to switch to offering a 100% digital marketing business.

I believed I would be able to provide a better service to clients using Skype, telephone and email, than through traditional face-to-face meetings. Close friends warned me it was a bad idea.

Here’s what happened.

My goal

Rather than feel limited by the lack of local clients, I wanted to focus on a huge potential marketplace. As I started my marketing career working in New York, I set the goal of working with at least 1 client in every state of The United States.

Yesterday, I finally did it. It took me 12 years.

Focus on what you want

Had I decided to focus on the fact we’d invested all our money on a bigger home, with bigger overheads and with zero client income, I’d have made decisions based on fear. Just to be completely clear, I had my wife’s full support, knowing that had this not worked we’d have lost every penny we’d had. We would also have had to postpone starting a family, one of the key reasons we moved to the countryside.

Here’s the thing: By focusing on a massive international market, all I could see was potential and opportunity. It expanded my thinking. It presented exciting possibilities. Within a year I was earning as much money as my best year in London.

Today, as well as working with clients in every U.S. state, I’ve now worked with clients in 27 countries and sold my products into over 90 countries. The whole point of the goal was to open my horizons. To expand what was possible.

What are you focusing on?

The things we focus on determine how we feel. Our actions are driven by our feelings. In other words, much of what you decide to do is controlled by what you focus on.

If you’re not happy with the direction your business is taking, improve your focus. Focus on an inspirational, motivational goal. Focus on what you want, not what you fear.

Don’t stop until you’re proud

Proud

How hard should you work?

How successful should your business be?

How much should you care?

How long should you spend delighting your customers?

How many times should you try before quitting?

The answer

One way to decide is to keep going until you’re proud of what you’ve achieved. To keep pushing until you feel certain that you have given it everything – nothing left on the table.

I can’t think of many situations in business, if any, where that mindset won’t improve your performance enormously.

The next time you’re wondering what to do, remember: don’t stop until you’re proud!

A powerful business lesson from an absolute genius!

Warhol

The artwork above carries a massively valuable lesson. It explains one of the most important elements in the development of a successful business. Yes, it’s Andy Warhol’s masterpiece, Campbell’s Soup Cans.

Here’s the story!

When the collection was first exhibited in 1962, very few people attended. The exhibit was arranged by West Coast art dealer, Irving Blum. It was Warhol’s first solo exhibition. Those who attended the exhibition at the Ferus Gallery either made fun of the art, dismissed it or ignored it. Very little art was sold. It was a huge failure.

Blum decided to buy the Campbell’s Soup Cans canvasses. He paid Warhol $100 a month for 10 months. Just $1000. Though many believed it was $1000 more than they were worth.

Of course, despite his disastrous, first solo exhibition, Warhol refused to quit. He kept on creating his art. He also kept on hustling (getting his art in front of people), believing that if the right people saw it, they’d see it for what it was. Art that would change the landscape for ever.

Warhol hustled

He worked hard. Damn hard.

Instead of working from a studio like every other artist, he worked from what he called The Factory. This was a very deliberate strategy. He created as much art as he could and took every opportunity to showcase his work.

As you know, his belief and hustling finally paid off. Warhol became one of the most important names in art of the 20th century and his work is even more valued today.

Irving Blum’s $1000 investment in the Campbell’s Soup Cans, which people laughed at, was sold to New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1996 for $15MILLION.

This was seen partly as a gift from Irving Blum, as the art is valued at well over $100MILLION.

Warhol without the hustle?

Without hustling, there would have been no Andy Warhol. Certainly not the internationally respected artistic genius we know today.

  • Had Warhol decided to quit after his initial, disastrous exhibitions, a genius would never have flourished. At that time, he was being rejected by his peers and his work was being insulted.
  • Had Warhol created the same great art, but refused to work hard promoting it, both he and his art would have remained undiscovered.

Instead, Warhol hustled. Creating and promoting great art.

Business without the hustle

How many great business owners have worked hard without recognition, because they failed to promote their work correctly? How many business owners reading this post, are struggling financially because too few people know how amazing their products or services are? How many business owners are not putting their ideas into action, because they allow fear of failure or ridicule to stop them?

I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that some amazing people, providing great products and services, fail to get the rewards they deserve. Why? Because unlike Warhol (Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Walt Disney and every successful business in your area), they resist the hustle.

Instead of doing what’s required, they do 100% of the things they are comfortable with. They hate (yes, hate, not dislike) the idea of marketing their work correctly. They either fear investing in the help they need or they get expert help, but refuse to promote their business as enthusiastically as they should.

So they dabble. In one of the most competitive economies in living memory, they choose to dabble. I find that fascinating.

Embrace the work. ALL the work!

The alternative is simple. By simple, I mean anyone reading this can do it. Anyone reading this can turn an average business into a successful business or a successful business into an even more successful one.

So long as… you embrace all the work required in order to succeed.

This means changing things. You can’t improve without change. It also means giving your business 100% — working hard and working smart. Doing great work and proudly hustling the value you bring, so people get to see how amazing you and your business are.

You don’t need to waste time between now and the first day of January to make the commitment… to resolve to crush your old ways and replace them with something highly effective.

I know you can do it. I believe in you.

Your move!

Don’t let Easy Street destroy your business!

easy street

The Internet is incredible. It has placed a world of knowledge at our fingertips. It has also allowed us to communicate with people worldwide at no financial cost, thanks to services like Gmail and the multitude of social networks.

So, we can now learn or research anything and there’s no charge for connecting with people.

Equipped with this opportunity, an opportunity unmatched in all human history, what do most people do? The answer is… very little!

The same as it always was

The business owners harnessing the opportunities afforded to them by the Internet, are the same ones who would have harnessed the opportunities around them, had the Internet never existed.

Those who ignore the potential of the Internet are the same ones who would have floundered, had the Internet never existed.

The only difference today, is that those in that second group have nowhere to hide. They can’t blame their lack of education, their lack of contacts or their lack of money, for their lack of success.

But why?

Why do just a small minority of business owners truly benefit from the potential at their fingertips?

The answer is simple: The masses are always, always looking for the easy route. No matter how much easier the Internet has made things, it’s still not easy enough for them.

For example, whenever I write a blog post, article or social network update that offers a simple solution to a problem, the most common reply is always; “It’s not that easy, Jim.”

What that person really means is: “It’s not easy enough for me, so I’m making the decision to do nothing productive. Instead, I’ll waste my time making excuses.

Here’s the thing

It’s easy to run an average, struggling business. It requires nothing more than a willingness to work and the decision to take an easy route when faced with a challenge. If anything looks risky or likely to take you out of your comfort zone, you can just avoid it.

Running a successful business isn’t easy. It requires a willingness to do what is right, even when it isn’t the easy option. It means embracing the hustle — being prepared to do all the work, not 100% of the easy stuff.

Everything of meaningful value to your business, absolutely everything, lives just outside your comfort zone.

Tip – Read this. How to build a successful business. It contains lots of examples and workable ideas you can use.

Is there a business case for human kindness?

We are encouraged from childhood to be kind to others. However, is there a business case for human kindness? Here’s my experience after almost 20 years of running an extremely successful business!

Your clients, former clients, prospective clients and never-to-be clients will remember how you treat them, when they’re going through a tough time. Your kindness will remain with them long after your actions have finished.

Of course, many of the people you help during their hour of need will turn things around. They will come out on top. They will become hugely successful. They will be in a great position to help you when you need it most.

But that’s NOT the reason to extend kindness to others

The reason to help people when they’re going through tough times, is because it’s where you can make the biggest, positive difference. It’s where you can have the greatest impact. It’s where your influence is valued most. Plus, you’re a good person. Being kind will make you feel better.

Helping those who don’t really need it… that’s a different story.

Think about it: If you help someone when they’re doing great and have no real need for your help, it makes very little difference to them. You invest just as much time, effort or money, yet your impact is minimal.

A business case for human kindness?

Is there a business case for helping people when times are tough for them? I believe the answer is a resounding “yes”.

I’ve found that business becomes easier and more pleasurable, when a growing group of people respect you for helping them when they needed it. This is without even considering the power of reciprocity.

The connections I have made with people, who were struggling when I helped them, are among the most commercially valuable. Many of these great people have repaid my initial kindness. Sometimes, without even telling me. Often they have repaid me to a higher degree than my initial kindness.

Business is all about people. In our rush to automate the business of business, it pays to remember the real wins usually come from the human touch.

How to earn massively more by solving better problems

Money

I want to talk to you today about money. Specifically, I’d like to share an idea with you about how to earn more money, lots more money, without you needing to work more hours.

Whilst aimed primarily at service providers, all business owners can benefit mightily from this idea.

How to earn more money

If you want to earn more money, the answer is pretty straightforward. You need to either:

  1. Work longer hours. The challenge here is that there are only so many working hours available to you. It doesn’t scale. This puts a low ceiling on your income.
  2. Solve better problems. A brain surgeon earns 2 thousand percent more than a strawberry picker, even though they work the same number of hours a day. Why? Because a brain surgeon solves a bigger, better problem than the fruit picker. The bigger the problem you solve, the greater the financial reward.

As most people reading this are already working long hours, I’d like you to consider the second option. I’d like you to think about working the same number of hours or even working fewer hours, but using those hours to provide greater value by solving better problems.

The opportunity right under your nose

Think about it: You have a lifetime of experiences. Thanks to the Internet, you have access to the combined intelligence of millions of people. You also have access to free, global digital communications. This opens up an incredible resource to you, unmatched at any point in history.

This is the golden age, which business owners have talked about for decades. Today, equipped with the right mindset, a laptop and an Internet connection, you can achieve things unthinkable in previous generations.

Now consider this: What does the average small business owner do with these amazing resources? They focus on solving the same low value problems, as they did a decade or more ago. Sure, they are able to get more done thanks to technology, but their competitors are all able to do the same, so it’s of no additional value to them.

More importantly, what are you going to do with all this potential?

That’s a great question for you to focus on.

  • Maybe you’re going to use technology to allow you to collaborate with new partners, so you can provide a better, more valuable service to your marketplace.
  • Perhaps you will take advantage of online learning, to increase your knowledge so you can solve bigger, more valuable problems.
  • You may decide to leverage tools like Skype and work with clients worldwide, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for you.
  • And you could decide to create some digital products, as many of my clients have, which you can earn additional streams of income from.

It starts with the decision to look for better problems to solve. When you do, the possibilities for you are pretty-much endless. It’s limited only by how far you are willing to go — how big the problem is, which you’re willing to solve.

All the help you need is out there. So, what are you waiting for?

Grow your business by 200% with this simple idea

As you approach the final weeks of 2014, it’s a great time to review the progress your business is making and look for ways to improve in 2015. Obviously, the cornerstone of your strategy for 2015, should be the growth of your business.

So, here’s something for you to consider if you want your business to grow significantly in the year ahead.

It’s based on an idea I shared with a friend, which saw him increase profits and turnover by more than 200% over the past 12 months.

Meaningful improvements lead to meaningful progress

Here’s what we know: The only way to grow your business in a meaningful way, is to make meaningful improvements. It’s simply not enough for you to do what you did this year, only a little better. At best, that strategy may allow you to tread water. To spin your wheels. To waste another year.

However, it certainly won’t lead you to anything worthwhile.

Add some zeros

My friend Harry saw a 200% increase in his revenues last year, with an even greater increase in his profits. How did he achieve this? Instead of focusing on how to grow his business by 25%, I suggested he should add a zero to his target. He then sat down at the end of last year and set himself an inspiring challenge: How can I increase my turnover and profits in 2014 by 250%?

Harry explained that by focusing on a target of 25% growth, his thinking was limited. A pretty small target required pretty small thinking. The target also lacked any pull — yes, a 25% lift is good, but it wasn’t going to change his life in a meaningful way.

However, by setting himself a huge growth target, one that was 10 times bigger than ever before, he was able to blow the lid off his thinking. He was able to set his full potential to work on the challenge. Plus, because growing his business by 250% would massively improve his lifestyle, he found it exceptionally motivating.

So, he’d set himself an inspiring target that allowed him to think big AND he was more motivated than ever before. He missed his target. Instead of growing his business by 250%, he only managed just over 200%. His business is 3 times bigger and over 3 times more profitable. He’s also pretty sure he can hit that 250% in 2015. I believe him too.

How you can succeed like never before in 2015

Steve Jobs famously said that when you’re working on something exciting, the vision pulls you. I’m paraphrasing there, but the message is both powerful and accurate.

Most small business owners stay small, because they set themselves targets or goals that fail to inspire them. Puny goals restrict your thinking. They also rob you of the energy, which only comes when you’re being pulled by a compelling vision.

So, why not do what Harry did — If you want better results and more energy in 2015 than you had in 2014, add some zeros!

PS: This will help you. How to build a successful business. It’s packed with ideas and examples you can use.

How the Brooklyn Bridge changed my life

Brooklyn Bridge

I’d like to share a personal story with you today.

I was eating my lunch one afternoon, looking out the window at the Brooklyn Bridge. I was a 22 year old kid from London, learning all about marketing the hard way, in my new career in a new country. I wasn’t having a great week and my manager decided to help me gain some perspective.

Here’s what he told me.

“You know Jim, it took over a decade to build that bridge. It was hard, dangerous work and almost 30 people died during its construction. Now, remind me what it is about your job that has you feeling so sorry for yourself today?

Suddenly, the 22 year old me understood that in the grand scheme of things, life was good. Life was great, in fact. I was living away from home on a great adventure, in a country I had been fascinated with all my life. The land of opportunity was there in front of me and it was my job, to make the very best of every moment.

It changed my life completely.

The power of perspective

I never looked at life, work or marketing in quite the same way again. What I discovered was that it often takes a shift in perspective, for us to identify the opportunities around us. A shift in perspective can also help us summon the courage and motivation required, to turn opportunities into wonderful outcomes.

Usually, the business opportunities we need are right there, under our noses. To see them and benefit from them, we simply need to look at things from a fresh perspective.

In short — Just as “old ways won’t open new doors”, old perspectives won’t lead us to new opportunities.

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