Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Learning from the uphill climbs

I recently started cycling again, after a long time away from the saddle. One of the things that immediately struck me, was how hard it was to climb hills.

For the first couple of weeks, I’d see a hill ahead and dread it.

Then it struck me that the climbs were the most valuable part of the ride. Climbing hills built my stamina and worked the rest of my body more than the enjoyable, flat part of my route. The climb was my friend.

Soon, I started looking for routes that had hills. Hills equalled growth. Hills equalled progress.

The business cycle

In many ways, business is the same. We often achieve our most remarkable results, when faced with an uphill challenge — for example, the loss of a major client. These challenges force us out of our comfort zones.

  • They cause us to grow in a meaningful way.
  • They show us what we’re capable of.
  • They make us more resilient.

Embrace the climbs, my friend. After all, no challenges equals no progress!

Tip: Read this – What everybody needs to know about comfort zones.

Select your prospects then ignore the rest

A business owner has a couple of options, when deciding how to market her business.

  1. Try and appeal to everyone.
  2. Choose the kind of customers or clients you want to service… and ignore the rest.

Many small business owners select the first option

The thinking looks like this: If we try and appeal to everyone, we’ll have more prospective customers.

The reality is very different. By trying to be relevant to everyone, they end up being directly relevant to no one.

Smart business owners take the second option

They figure out exactly who they want to serve. They then focus exclusively on communicating with this highly profitable section of the marketplace. They learn what matters most to this group and learn their language. This allows them to market to prospective customers, with a directly relevant message, which will resonate strongly with them.

As a result, their marketing is massively more compelling… and that’s the kind of marketing, which generates sales.

Tip: Read this – A tested, proven way to attract sales leads.

How to do your best work

Here are a few things worth remembering, if you want a successful business.

  • People don’t give you their email address when they subscribe to your newsletter. They loan it to you.
  • People don’t give you their loyalty when they buy from you. They loan it to you.
  • People don’t give you their trust. They loan it to you.
  • People don’t give you their attention when they follow you on social networks or subscribe to your blog. They loan it to you.
  • People don’t give you their endorsement. They loan it to you.

You do your best work when you accept that you have to earn, then RE-EARN, all those assets.

How to tell a genuine business opportunity, from a scam!


In today’s post, I have some ideas to share, which will help you spot genuine business opportunities and avoid getting ripped off.

I was prompted to write this, after Tim emailed me (that’s not his real name). Tim has wasted around $15000 on various sure things — programs, seminars, social media gurus, schemes, software, networks and memberships, which promised amazing results. None of them delivered.

Here’s how to avoid the same thing happening to you.

Heads and tails

Every coin has 2 sides, heads and tails. The only exception here, is a fake coin. A forgery that’s used to trick people.

Business opportunities are exactly the same!

Every genuine business opportunity comes with a flip side. A down side. A chance it will fail. The only exception here are fake opportunities, the scams that swallow people in with the promise of a sure thing.

The attraction of risk free opportunities

Scammers are masters of selling you the idea that something is risk free. They know that most people are risk averse, so they pitch you with promises, fake bank statements, fake testimonials and fake supporting evidence, which PROVES to you that their thing, is a sure thing. Ironically, the people taken in by the scams are the same people, who refuse to invest in legitimate business opportunities, because of the potential risk.

Three things to remember if you want to make better decisions:

  1. Genuine business opportunities will never interrupt you. In other words, they don’t come via an email, phone call or social media message from someone you don’t know or hardly know. YOU have to seek genuine opportunities out.
  2. Never trust anyone, who claims they can make you rich.
  3. The best business opportunities seldom seem obvious. A genuine opportunity only exists, because no one else has spotted it yet.

If you think your friends will find this post useful, remember to share it with them. It could be exactly what they need right now, to stop them from being scammed!

Tip: Here’s some solid advice, with lots of examples: How t build a successful business.

Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!


The difference between good and great, is huge.

A great accountant, coach, lawyer, designer, etc., can sell her time for 3 times or 5 times more than a good one. She is also likely to have a waiting list, whilst her lower priced competitors are pestering people for leads at networking events.

From good to great

Great service providers earn more, work with better clients and attract more referrals… far more referrals than they need. Why then, are there so many good providers out there and so few great ones?

It looks like this:

  • Good feels familiar and comfortable. A good provider is someone who works hard, doing what’s expected of them, as well as they can. They were trained at school that you got the best results, if you fit in and studied hard. So, they took that mindset into the workplace.
  • Great feels risky and uncomfortable. A great provider is someone who stands out, by adopting the opposite approach to the good providers. They lead. They embrace change. They do work, which is meaningfully different. There’s no guidebook or dummies guide on how to be great, so they navigate their own route.

A great mindset or a good one?

Good service providers and great service providers are separated not by intelligence or work ethic, but by their mindsets. This difference in their mindsets is reflected in their decisions, causing them and their work to either blend in, or stand out.

I was prompted to write today’s post, after reading Dr Seuss with my son. Here’s a quote he really enjoyed:

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”

That’s a very good example of the mindset behind great service providers. A little risky, sure… but massively more exciting and rewarding.

PS: To improve your business, let go of the Failing Familiar!

Be the first. Be the best. Be remarkable!

After reading this post, a reader emailed me to ask what made the designer I mentioned so remarkable. He said he wanted to know, so he could do the same and make his design business remarkable too. He explained that he needed to attract more high quality referrals.

The thing about being remarkable, is that it can’t be copied. If someone in your industry is doing something remarkable, and you copy their example, your copy isn’t remarkable. You’re in their shadow.

Allow me to explain.

A remarkable first

When Sir Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes, it was remarkable. When the next runner did it, breaking Bannister’s record, it wasn’t remarkable. The second guy was faster, but Bannister was remarkable, because he was the first person to reach that milestone of human achievement.

If you want to be remarkable, I’ve found that the best place to start, is to embrace the edges. I explain what that means here.

Video: What makes a logo memorable?

How valuable do you think a great logo is?

Most small business owners pay too little attention to the design of their logo. They will often opt for a cheap logo or one they made themselves. In this interesting and informative video, acclaimed designer Michael Bierut, explains the value of an effective logo. [If you can't see the video, click here.]

Logos and being memorable

Bierut looks at what makes a logo endure over time and how some of the most memorable logos are the most simple.

Those of you interested in design will find the start of the video extremely interesting, when Bierut talks about working with his mentor, the late Massimo Vignelli. Vignelli was a design legend. Among other things, he designed both the signage for the New York subway and the New York subway map.

The video was created as part of a series called The Creative Influence, directed by Mario De Armas and produced by Sandbox Studios. You can watch the other videos in the series here.

When the vision pulls you, you don’t have to be pushed

Steve Jobs vision

Following yesterday’s post about building a successful blog, a number of readers emailed me with the same question. They wanted to know how I motivate myself to write and publish blog posts as often as I do.

Here’s the answer.

Push or pull?

This quote from the late Steve Jobs answers that question beautifully:

If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.

— Steve Jobs.

If your vision of blogging is that it’s a necessary evil, you will fail on every metric:

  • You will fail to write as well as you can, because when you work through gritted teeth, it shows.
  • You will fail to show up with new information, often enough.
  • You will fail to engage people.

My blogging vision was different

I saw it as a professional and personal development opportunity. I knew that in order for me to share useful information regularly, I needed to keep feeding my mind with useful information regularly. I quickly found another massive benefit to blogging, which is that writing regularly makes you a better communicator — a huge asset for anyone in business.

So, even if I failed to attract a commercially valuable reader community, I’d still be better informed and a better communicator, than I would have been had I not written all those articles. This made it impossible for me to fail.

If you’re struggling to publish posts regularly enough, don’t carry on working through gritted teeth — change your vision.

Yes, this works on every area of your business and your life… not just blogging.

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