Hold nothing back. Give it everything. Here’s why!

I used to say that the biggest mistake I made when I started my business, was that I burned my bridges. Back then, the 29 year old Jim Connolly was offered, and declined, freelance work from 2 former employers. I could have done with the regular retainer fees they offered, but I wanted to go out on a limb and start from scratch.

Why?

  • I wanted a new beginning.
  • I wanted to attract the right kind of clients.
  • I wanted to build a marketing business, that was unique, progressive and exciting.

In praise of burning bridges

Now, 20 years later, I understand that burning my bridges was the best thing I could have done. It motivated me to do what was required, rather than what was easy. It motivated me to work hard and work smart. It caused me to grow in a way I would never have, if former employers were paying me regular fees.

When it comes to business success, there’s no room for half measures. If you want to succeed, you must go for it with everything you have. Hold nothing back. Give it your all. Then watch just how high you can fly!

Marketing Tip: Sell them ideas!

marketing topics r

The most successful business owners have discovered that you do not sell a product or service: You sell the idea. Today’s post explains why they do it and why YOU should consider doing the same!

Steve Jobs famously said that the iPhone was not a product, it was a lifestyle. Apple marketing went on to sell the idea of owning an iPhone and living the iPhone lifestyle. It was a product that became more than a phone: It became a statement, about those who owned it.

Sell ideas and capture imagination

Over and over, we see that the most successful people in business focus on selling the idea, rather than the product or service.

For example:

  • The most successful alcohol brands do not sell you booze. They sell the idea of the fun lifestyle, which they have attached to booze.
  • The most successful restaurants do not sell food. They sell the idea of enjoying a wonderful, memorable, culinary experience.
  • The most successful coffee shops do not sell hot beverages. They sell the idea of being part of the cool, coffee shop tribe.

Switching from selling products / services, to selling ideas

What is the idea behind the products or services you provide? If you save people money, save people time or make people more productive etc., that’s what you need to market to them.

For example, if you sell accountancy services, don’t just list the services you provide and tell them how much you care, then quote a fee. No! Instead, sell the idea of how it feels to know your financial situation is being looked after by experts, who will ensure you never waste a penny. Sell them peace of mind, not features.

In short: Spend some time thinking about the benefits of what you provide. Then, consider marketing the idea behind those benefits – rather than marketing the core product or service itself.

Here’s a simple way to attract more great clients

Get noticed

Why do prospective clients decide to use a different provider, even after you’ve clearly explained that your service is a better option for them?

I was thinking about that yesterday, after a friend of mine bought an SUV that carries 7 people. He’s married, with no children. I asked him why he bought such a large vehicle and he replied, “I don’t know. I just really like it”.

The problem with logic

The thing is, many of the purchases we make seem to defy logic. There’s a reason for that. People don’t tend to buy based on logic. Instead, we buy something because of the way we feel. We buy something because of what we believe and the stories we tell ourselves.

If too many of your prospective clients choose competitors, even after you have explained why your service is a better fit for their needs, try focusing less on the logic. Fewer graphs. Fewer numbers. Fewer facts.

Instead, tell them a better story. This will help you get started.

How to get the results your business deserves

Business development

You work hard. You offer a wonderful service. You care about your clients or customers. However, that great business of yours isn’t getting the results you want. If that sounds familiar, today’s post is just for you.

I was prompted to write this, after receiving an email from a small business owner. He explained that he’d tried email marketing and, “it doesn’t work”. I’m guessing he didn’t read how I helped Irene make over $32,000 in 9 days, with email marketing. He then went on to say “[…] marketing doesn’t work for our business”.

What he meant was that ineffective, amateur marketing doesn’t work.

Marketing that fails

Marketing is like everything else in life: If you do it incorrectly, it doesn’t work. At least 99% of the small business marketing out there is totally ineffective. Think about it, you’re being pestered by bad marketing every day on social networks, by email, traditional mail, text messages and cold calls, etc. This shapes how you feel about marketing.

More worryingly, if you’re a typical small business owner who dabbles with marketing, you will copy some of these tactics assuming they must work, at least to some degree. They don’t work. They simply interrupt people and make you look needy. That’s a bad look.

So, what’s the answer?

The answer is to understand that ANY good business can be marketed successfully and can thrive. Really thrive.

Let me be perfectly clear on this:

If your business offers a good quality service and it isn’t growing the way you want it to, it’s because your marketing isn’t working. Start marketing your business correctly and it will grow. Moreover, it will grow the way you want it to. That’s what professional marketing is all about.

Business success is a decision

The great news here is that the success of your business is in your hands. There’s nothing elusive about building a very successful business. You can start the process of improving your business and your future today, right now, by making a decision.

Decide to choose success and then act accordingly. To choose success, yet follow the same amateur business development path as the failing masses, is insane.

What story are you telling yourself about your business?

story

If you want to see a massive, measurable improvement in your business, today’s post is just for you!

I want to start with an interesting question: Why do businesses in the same industry, serving the same marketplace, have such different results? Some will thrive, whilst others stagnate, struggle or go broke.

One way to understand why this happens is to consider the following scenario.

Imagine you’re at a boating lake

You spot someone, who is standing with one foot in a boat and the other foot on the bank of the lake. Instead of either stepping into the boat or stepping onto dry land, they can’t decide what’s the best thing to do. So, they stand there between the two, flailing their arms around trying to keep their balance. Unless they take decisive action, they will fall into the lake.

Business owners who struggle are like the person trying to balance between the boat and the lake. They know their business needs them to take decisive action, but they don’t want to leave their comfort zone and do what’s required. So, they have one foot in their comfort zone and one foot in their business. They want improvement without change. Improvement without change is impossible.

The stories we tell ourselves

Every day I hear business owners complain about their business, as if their challenge was somehow unique or unsolvable. They have a story they share. You’ve heard it too. They say, “I’ve tried everything to grow my business, but nothing worked”.

What they really mean is that they tried everything within their comfort zone and nothing worked.

Rather than leave their comfort zone and grow, they choose to tell a story to themselves.

They say that their business somehow defies the laws of business… that marketing only works when other businesses do it. They repeat this story, instead of accepting that their DIY marketing is a waste of time and money. They repeat the story, because it’s easier than leaving their comfort zone to get the help they need. They see less risk in doing what’s familiar, even when it’s failing, than doing what’s right.

Two questions you need to answer

What story are you telling yourself about your business? More importantly, how well is that story working for you and your business? If you want better results, it’s time to make better decisions. Tell yourself a story about your business, where you are in control of your future.

Then make the decision to take action. To do what’s required. To leave your comfort zone and get the help you need for your business to succeed.

How to build a massively valuable client list

Content Marketing, copywriting, coppy, writing

If only your prospective clients knew how great your service was, they’d hire you. Right?

Well, I’m going to show you how to totally overcome that marketing challenge!

How your competitors ruin your marketing promises

Almost every small business owner claims to offer an amazing service. Especially the really terrible providers!

So, as you are one of the few who genuinely produces work, which is meaningfully different, your marketplace needs to know. They need to know that you are the real deal. That it’s not just words or empty promises.

How?

It works like this:

  • Put your work out there, where people can see it. Use either a blog or newsletter to showcase what makes you meaningfully different from your competitors.
  • Show us, without holding back, exactly how your work is meaningfully different. In other words, don’t just make claims about how great your services are — show us. Remember, your average competitors all claim to be great.
  • Make your blog posts, articles or newsletters visible and make them easy to share. If you are doing great work, people will want to tell their friends. Make this as easy as possible, with a small number of reliable sharing options.

Why bother doing all this? Because as I am about to explain, it is extremely effective.

Something about me you never knew!

For the past year, I have successfully provided a service, which I have never (even once) marketed to anyone.

What is it?

I write articles and marketing material. My fee is £1000 for an article or marketing piece (around $1600 USD at today’s exchange rate). There is currently an 8 week waiting list for the service. All that, without marketing the service even once.

Instead, people have come to me.

Why? Because they read my articles and blog posts, see the value and want their magazine, website, blog or whatever, to be just as valuable.

Others needed to see sales results from their marketing. They figured out that if they hire me to write the main conversion page of their website, it could be the difference between them motivating potential clients to hire them — or being ignored.

Why would any savvy business owner risk losing out on a fortune, by using ineffective, amateur copywriting? Exactly!

Show them who you are and what you do

The marketing promises and claims you make are largely ignored by your prospective clients. They have seen them too many times before.

If you want to earn the trust of your prospective clients, (which is essential if you want them to hire you), you need to demonstrate what makes you better than your competition.

No one hires me wondering if I can deliver. They already know me and my work.

Now show YOUR prospective clients what YOU are capable of.

3 Questions worth answering

3 opportunities

What additional, valuable product or service could you offer to your existing clients? This is the fastest way to increase your turnover and profits. It’s also a wonderful way to be of even greater service to your clients. Win, win!

Is [whatever you’re doing] the best use of your time right now? If it isn’t, go and do something more valuable.

When was the last time one of your clients recommended you? If it was too long ago, you need to know why. Ask them for their feedback on how you’re doing. A lack of referrals is usually followed by client retention issues.

I hope you find these questions useful. More importantly, I hope you pick at least one of them and work on it.

How to create marketing that people will believe

How to

One of the most important questions in business, is this:

“Why should a prospective client [or customer] trust me?”

Here’s why that question is so important.

Trust and belief

Unless people believe what you say, none of your marketing is worth a dime. Trust is what builds belief. Trust is essential before someone will hire you. Trust is also what makes people feel comfortable recommending you. Trust is the foundation of your marketing. Period.

Take a look at your marketing and consider the following:

  • Are you building trust with supporting information [like this] … or just making a series of marketing promises?
  • Are you telling people how good you are… or showing them proof from past projects, media mentions, awards and case studies?

The bottom line here is clear. Without trust there is no belief and without belief, your marketing promises mean nothing.

Here’s a fun way to attract enquiries and sales leads

Get noticed

If you want to grow your business, your network, your influence and really enjoy the process, you will love this simple, yet effective idea.

It’s simply this: Be helpful, often

Think about this for a moment:

  • The process of sowing and reaping, starts with the sowing part.
  • The process of cause and effect, starts with the cause part.
  • The process of giving and receiving starts with the giving part.

By regularly looking for opportunities to help your clients and your prospective clients, you put a series of processes into play, which improves how people feel about you. As business is all about people, improving the way people feel about you has a measurable, positive impact on your business.

I’ve learned that looking for ways to connect people, share ideas, open opportunities, etc, can become a natural part of your day. It isn’t that time consuming either. Even if you want to help thousands of people every day, you can do it without it eating into too much of your time.

Allow me to explain.

Being helpful scales to infinity

Thanks to the technology at our fingertips, being helpful scales. In fact, it scales beautifully. Using what I call the one-to-many approach, you can help dozens, hundreds or thousands of people every day.

It works like this: You invest one piece of your time, which helps many people.

An wonderful example of this one-to-many approach is blogging. The reason I write for you on Jim’s Marketing Blog and via the email version of the site, is that it allows me to be helpful to many people, using just one block of my time. In the time it would take me to reply to one specific email for marketing help, I can be of service to thousands of people.

The payback?

Firstly, running a business from a mindset of contribution is a lot more fun. I get wonderful emails all day from people who find my work useful. I’m one of the few business people I know, who enjoys getting well over 100 emails a day.

Secondly, it’s an extremely rewarding and effective way to grow your business. That’s because people are attracted to those who help and encourage them. I started my business back in 1995 and have never needed to attend a networking event. I have no need for a Linkedin account either.

That’s because I get client inquiries all day from business owners I’ve helped with the marketing ideas I freely share. These good people know me, without ever meeting me. My work went before me. So, when they decide it’s time to get expert marketing help for their business, they get in touch. It’s that simple.

Striking the right balance

As with all things, balance is required. It’s really important not to confuse being proactively helpful, with being a doormat. If you think you are helping people by doing lots of unpaid work for them, you are not. You are being taken advantage of.

Occasionally, I will get an email from someone who selfishly asks me to work for them, for free, and solve their specific marketing problems. Of course, I don’t do it. Why? Because for me to get all the information required to help them, then plan out what’s wrong and how to fix it, would take hours. I could invest that same time to write 4 or 5 blog posts and help thousands of people, using my one-to-many approach.

People who ask you for freebies are being wholly selfish. They’re showing zero respect for you or the value of your time. Time is not money – time is massively more valuable than money.

Getting it right

The key is for you to leverage your time and knowledge, so that you can help as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

When you get the balance right, more and more people in your marketplace will know who you are. Prospective clients will regard you as a source of ideas, answers and inspiration. That’s a valuable reputation for any business owner to have.

In short: If you are not receiving enough right now… give more. Do it often.

Here’s a tactic to turn your challenges into breakthrough results

Business development

If you are a proactive business owner and you want to improve your sales or attract more high quality clients, this post is for you.

Jennifer, not her real name, emailed me yesterday to book a one-to-one “pick my brain” session with me. [If you read my work via email, you won’t know what that service is – read this.]

Jennifer’s business isn’t attracting enough clients and she doesn’t know what to do. Here’s an excerpt from her email:

“In the past I managed to get by thanks to client recommendations but these are unpredictable in both quality and regularity.” She went on, “[…] I’m tired of waiting for an enquiry to come in but I don’t know what to do.”

This is an extremely common challenge for service providers, so I’d like to share a few thoughts with you, which may help.

Acknowledge the urgency of your situation

The first step in resolving a challenge like this, is to acknowledge the urgency of the situation. That’s exactly what Jennifer has done. A challenge like this doesn’t magically vanish. It needs to be addressed and resolved. Doing more of the same won’t work.

Take intelligent action

The next step is to decide to take intelligent action. Knowing your business isn’t growing the way you want it to is very different from knowing you need to do something.

Many business owners put off taking action for months or years, hoping that things will just get better. I get emails daily from business owners worldwide, who are now almost broke. Unlike Jennifer, they waited too long to do something. Jennifer has a good business and booked a marketing session with me, before her challenge became a problem.

The lesson here is clear. Don’t delay. Once you acknowledge your business needs to improve, do something about it.

[Note: Intelligent action means doing exactly what you need to do, to get the results you want — rather than guessing and dabbling.]

What next?

My marketing business is 20 years old and in that time, I have spoken with thousands of business owners. I’ve found that they respond very differently when faced with the kind of challenge Jennifer has.

Sadly, most will wait until they are forced to do something because of the severity of their situation. They react when they have a problem, rather than act when they only have a challenge to deal with. That’s an extremely risky approach.

Others, like Jennifer, are proactive. They take intelligent action before things get critical and learn exactly what they need to do.

If you’re a proactive business owner and you would like a one-to-one marketing session with me, read this. It includes everything you need to know, including the fee.