2 Things to remember about shortcuts to success

professional development, marketing, business

The Internet is packed with people offering tricks, to make your business super successful, super fast.

It’s easy to see why. There are thousands of small business owners, worried that their business isn’t growing fast enough. To them, the promise of a shortcut or growth hack can be irresistible.

When things seem too good to be true…

These shortcuts to success have 2 things in common.

  1. They are not shortcuts.
  2. They don’t lead to success.

The fastest route to business success

Rather than looking for shortcuts to success, the smart business owner looks for proven paths to success. Instead of searching for the fast way to do something, they look for the correct way to do something.

Business success is the result of putting the correct strategies in place and working smart. That may not sound like a shortcut, but it’s the fastest route. Always.

3 Ways to attract more sales leads or client enquiries

word of mouth, marketing tips, referrals, stand out

If you want to attract more sales leads or client enquiries, today’s post is for you. It shows the 3 main reasons why sales leads dry up AND more importantly, gives you some ideas on how to put things right.

Let’s go!

How to open the floodgates

When sales, client enquiries and business leads slow down, there’s always a reason. This is good news. Once you identify the cause and put things right, the sales and enquiries come flooding in.

Since starting my marketing business in 1995, I have seen the same 3 causes of this problem repeated over and over again. Here they are, along with some ideas on how to open the floodgates!

1. The marketing message you’re using isn’t good enough

In which case, you need to create a more motivating message. You need to start by making sure your service is as valuable as possible, then communicate that value to your marketplace with crystal clarity.

I want to help you avoid a common mistake here. Spend some time reviewing the guarantees, promises and range of services offered by your competitors.

Why? Because without knowing what you are competing against, you don’t know how compelling your guarantees, promises and range of services are to a prospective client.

It’s possible that competitors have copied your U.S.P. or that something that was rare or unique when you first offered it, is now commonplace. You need to know, so you can adjust and stand out from the crowd again.

It’s also possible that competitors have “upped their game” and you need to improve your service accordingly, to regain a competitive advantage.

In addition, check that your website, blog and social networks have not become tired or outdated. The way your message is presented has a huge impact on the way people feel about what you say.

Plus, if your website isn’t mobile friendly, that alone will almost certainly be losing you enquiries. Here’s why this matters to your business.

2. The message is fine, but you’re not reaching enough new prospective clients with it

In which case, you need to find a more effective way to reach out to them. The best advice I can give you when it comes to reaching your prospective clients is this: Be where their attention is.

What do they read? Where do they go? Who do they listen to? What do they watch? Whose tribe are they members of? Find out and then look for opportunities to reach out and connect with them.

For instance, I built the initial readership of Jim’s Marketing Blog from a newsletter I’d started back in 1998. However, after switching to blogging, I got my NEW readers from outreach on Twitter. I discovered that Twitter had a massive community of small business owners… the exact market for my services.

I connected with small business owners on Twitter, then placed useful information on my blog, which I regularly shared on Twitter. It worked. By being where their attention was [Twitter], I was able to build a large blog readership, which has generated regular client enquiries ever since.

IMPORTANT: You also need to make sure you’re getting your message out there frequently enough.

For example, if you publish blog posts or newsletters, make sure you’re publishing them regularly. If you want to get more leads from your blog, start publishing useful posts at least a couple of times a week. If you use newsletters to reach prospective clients, publish something useful every 10 to 14 days.

Don’t expect an infrequently updated blog or occasional newsletter to be a daily driver of fresh sales, leads or client enquiries.

Tip: Here’s how Andy Warhol used this approach.

3. Your clients, former clients and contacts are not sending you enough referrals

In which case, you need to find out why. The answer is almost always connected to the customer experience you provide. Allow me to explain.

A remarkable customer experience gives people a story worth sharing. It gets them talking about you. It has never been easier for people to recommend you and their reach has never been bigger. There are currently well over a billion people on Facebook, with hundreds of millions more on Twitter and Linkedin etc. These people are actively looking for remarkable stories to share with their networks.

Our job as business owners, is to make sure that we’re doing something worth sharing. They already have the sharing tools — what they need from us is the story!

Here’s the thing

Any small business owner who works on improving in those 3 key areas, is making an excellent investment in their business. So please, don’t just find these ideas interesting… use them.

2 Ideas to help you grow your business… fast

Business development, marketing tips, biz dev

The most talked about way to grow your business, is to attract new customers or clients, [herein called customers].

However, it’s not the only way. It’s certainly not the fastest way. In fact, if your main focus is just on attracting new customers, you’re needlessly leaving money on the table every day.

So, here are 2 additional ways to quickly and significantly boost your revenues and profits.

Increase the average transaction value

No, I’m not suggesting you simply increase your prices or fees; though if these are too low you certainly should.

Instead, I’m suggesting you find out more about the needs of your customers and provide products or services, which address those needs.

It’s massively easier, less expensive and quicker to sell a 2nd or 3rd product to an existing customer, than it is to attract 3 new customers.

The essential thing here, is that the new offering is based on satisfying their needs. It’s all about them. So, look after them and their interests. When you do this, you will be offering your existing customers, people who already trust you, highly valuable new products and services.

That’s a sustainable, high profit way to grow a business.

Increase how frequently they buy from you

Think about it: If your existing customers were to buy from you twice as often as they do now, your revenues would be twice as high. Often, profits would be more than twice as high… depending on the kind of business you own.

The process of increasing the purchasing frequency of your customers is relatively easy, with a little creative thinking.

For example, when my local coffee shop started providing a book club on Tuesday evenings, people who seldom visited now came at least once a week. Bookworms like me quickly told our friends and it became a smash hit. Of course, because these bookworms now know the team at the coffee shop and how great the coffee is, they use it as their regular coffee shop.

Look for ways to inspire your customers to buy from you more often. Make it easy and make sure it’s based on what’s best for them and their interests.

Bonus tip

If you want to make even greater gains, put a customer retention plan in place. Business owners often focus their marketing time and energy on attracting new customers, with too little thought for retaining their existing customers.

  • Survey your customers.
  • Ask them how you’re doing.
  • Invest in providing an exceptional customer experience.

Give them every reason to stay with you and no reason to switch to another provider.

And finally folks!

I hope you found these ideas useful. More importantly, I hope these ideas inspire you to do something, which helps you grow your business.

Tip — Here are some proven tips, with lots of examples, on how to build a successful business.

You pick your clients. Not the other way around!

Professional development, business, improvement, marketing tips

One of the keys to a successful business, is to pick the right clients or customers.

Many small business owners make the mistake of working with anyone, who has the ability to pay. They then end up with a random client list, ranging from wonderful clients to rude and over demanding, toxic clients.

The challenge with accepting toxic clients, is that they drain your energy and resources massively more than great clients.

For example:

  • You enjoy working with a great client and look forward to your next meeting with them. They inspire you to do your best work.
  • You dislike working with a toxic client and dread your next meeting with them. So, as the date of your next meeting or call approaches, their toxicity poisons your work flow.
  • When a toxic client regularly pays you late, it hurts your cash flow. Cash flow problems are a major cause of stress and also a key reason behind the failure of many small businesses.

In other words, toxic clients are massively more emotionally draining than great clients. This can have a huge, damaging impact on your business.

Your clients deserve your best work

You deserve great clients. You do not deserve to have clients who are rude to you or who demand more from you than they pay you for. Just as importantly, your great clients deserve your best work. You can’t do your best work, when your thinking and work flow is regularly interrupted with toxic clients.

The only winner here is the toxic client — you and your great clients pay the price. This situation is unsustainable. It needs to be resolved.


Because toxic clients are poisonous to your work-flow and your business. They stop you operating at your full potential. They rob you of the freedom to do your best work. Your best work is what retains your best clients and attracts new, high quality clients.

The solution?

The solution is as easy and as hard as this: Market your services to the kind of people or businesses you want to work with. Then, only accept clients after you’ve spoken with them and are satisfied they fit your client profile.

  • It’s easy, because it’s under your direct control. It’s your choice who you work with. Your decision.
  • It’s hard, because many business owners find it difficult to turn a new client away… even a bad one.

In business, we find that we get the type of clients that we deserve. If we are prepared to work with toxic clients, we deserve to pay the hefty price.

However, if we market to the right kind of prospective clients and choose only to work with them, we deserve the joy of running an exciting business, which rewards us on every level.

Remember, you choose who you work with. Not the other way around.

Tip — Here’s some detailed advice with examples, on how to build a successful business.

Question: What’s holding you back?

professional development, marketing, business

Waiting for the right time is simply a delaying tactic.

  • They tell us: “I have this great idea, but I’m just waiting for the right time”.
  • What they mean is: “I have a great idea, but I’m too scared to make it happen”.

That fabled perfect moment, when you finally have all the money, time, clarity, security and energy you need, is extremely elusive. Few people ever find it.

So, those who use the perfect moment excuse, grant themselves permission to do nothing.

The winners get moving

The most successful people take action on their ideas, while the idea is still hot. They know that NOW is the perfect time to get started. They get moving, often when they have very little money, time, clarity, security or energy. But… they get moving anyway.

It boils down to a decision. You can either look for excuses to do nothing or reasons to overcome the fear and succeed.

How often should you publish blog posts?

blogging, content marketing, blog tips, marketing

Karen from Delaware emailed me with a question earlier.

“I’d love for you to post on your blog every day like Seth Godin does.  Is there a strategic reason why you don’t?”

That’s a good question. The answer is that you need to match your publishing model to the business model behind your blog. Allow me to explain.

My publishing model

It’s easy… very easy, for me to publish something every day. However, my business model doesn’t require me to keep tapping you on the shoulder with daily posts.


I market just 2 services via my blog. There’s a limited number of clients I can work with and every post generates client enquiries.

Daily publishing, [which I did a few years ago], caused me to receive way too many enquiries. The huge momentum created by daily publishing is disproportionate to the few additional posts I was publishing each week.

If I decide to change the blog’s business model, so my income is primarily from the sale of products or advertising, I will need to adopt a daily publishing model of at least one post a day.

The daily publishing model

Whatever his motivation, Seth Godin uses a publishing model that rewards daily blogging. His blog is a kind of single author book store. Every post displays a carousel [on the left of each post], which is stacked with 18 of his books.

His well-crafted, daily posts are what create traffic to his book store. They also pre-market his books, by referencing new books in his posts long before they are published.

  • If you like Seth’s posts, you may buy a book.
  • If you don’t buy a book, you may still decide to share the post you’re reading, with your social networks.
  • By sharing the post, others will visit Seth’s blog.
  • They too may decide to buy a book or share the post.
  • A cycle is created, which is fed by daily content.

That model clearly rewards daily publishing. Fewer posts would equal less traffic, fewer shares and fewer sales.

In short: Your publishing model should support whatever you want to achieve. So, choose the best frequency for your business, rather than copy what someone else is doing. Their approach could be totally wrong for you.

Tip — Here are 25 reasons why you should write a business blog!

How to be extraordinary

How to png

Fact: You are capable of extraordinary things.

There are no ordinary people. It’s just that some of us settle for ordinary results. So, we make ordinary decisions and take ordinary actions.

It’s easy to be ordinary. We simply need to follow the masses. It requires no courage and no creativity. It’s like living on autopilot. This is why millions of extraordinary people live ordinary, unfulfilled lives.

So, how do you become extraordinary?

You don’t need to do a thing! You are already extraordinary. You were born that way. However, there are 2 things you should do, to live an extraordinary life.

  1. Make extraordinary plans. This means deciding what you want, rather than settling for the ordinary.
  2. Summon the courage to put your plans into action. It’s tricky to break free from the masses and do your own thing. Remember those periods of your life, where you needed to be brave? That’s proof that you have the courage required. You need to dig deep down and summon that courage.

Those 2 steps are all that separate us from enjoying an extraordinary life.

Questions and answers

Is it easy? No. It’s challenging.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Can you do it? Yes… 100%. You’re extraordinary and capable of almost anything you set your mind to.

Do you want it? That’s for you to answer.

How to use The Lock In Effect

marketing tips, arketing ideas, marketing advice

One way to retain more of your customers is a tactic called The Lock In Effect. The Lock In Effect is almost universally frowned upon. And with good reason too. It’s a selfish and manipulative approach to business.

However, in this post, I am going to show you a powerful, ethical and profitable way to use The Lock In Effect to grow your business.

So, what is The Lock In Effect?

The Lock In Effect is a term, which is typically used to explain a practice, where a company makes it extremely hard for their customers to leave them, even if the customer wants to.

A couple of lock in examples:

  • UK banks are notorious for making it far more difficult to move to another bank, than it needs to be. Bill payments are often missed and a process that should take minutes electronically, can drag on for weeks or more. You feel locked in, because the pain and frustration of moving banks is so high.
  • If your company is set up to use a certain software package, which all your employees have mastered, it makes it a lot harder to drop that software when a better alternative appears. The cost of buying the new software, the time and cost required to retrain everyone and the potential for lost data, makes you feel locked in.

An alternative Lock In Effect

Yes, there will always be businesses that deliberately offer a very average service and try and lock their customers in using trickery. However, people with that kind of mindset don’t read this blog.

For people like you and I, there is a far better way to use The Lock In Effect. It’s more effective. It’s more ethical and it leads to massively better results.

We can create so much value through our products and services, that our clients or customers lock themselves in. This approach to business has been used by companies like Apple and Zappos – where we see their customers not only going back to them again and again, but also telling everyone about them. That’s why the best Apple salespeople… are Apple’s own customers.

The goal here is to lock clients or customers into your business, by delivering an experience that is so good, they would be crazy to leave you.

Finally, always remember that your customers have the freedom to buy from whoever they choose. Make it your goal to consistently inspire them to keep on choosing you.

That’s the most effective way to make the lock in effect work for you and your clients.

Is this why your marketing isn’t working?

Professional development, business, improvement, marketing tips

Regardless of the results you may be seeing, marketing works. In fact, it works extremely well.

Look around you. Everything you own is proof that marketing works. The device you’re reading this on, for example, was marketed to you successfully; either by a company or the word of mouth recommendation of a friend.

If marketing works, why doesn’t it work for me, Jim?

Ineffective marketing, the kind we see from the vast majority of small business owners, doesn’t work. Their marketing seldom reaches the correct people and when it does, it fails to influence them to make a purchasing decision.

Here’s what happens:

  • Your marketing results are determined by a choice you have made, often unconsciously. [To either use effective marketing or to dabble with DIY marketing].
  • And that decision was determined by the story you have told yourself, about growing your business.
  • If you believe investing in doing things correctly is too expensive or risky, you will dabble.
  • However, if you see dabbling as a certain route to failure, you will invest in marketing your business correctly.

In short, if you want a more successful business, start by telling yourself a better story. Read this. It will help you get it right.

How to make extremely valuable business contacts

make business contacts, get contacts, networking

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

Think about it: We all know business owners 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 very little commercial 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 in advance 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 have 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 same networking group because they too are struggling.

As a result, they end up with lots of low value business contacts. They lack the type of influential connections, which are required in order 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.

Make the power of association work for you

There’s another important reason not to network with struggling business owners.

I’ve found that time and again, those who associate with business owners who are going nowhere, tend to find their own business heading in the same downward spiral. It’s the same power of association we saw at school, when a good kid started hanging with the wrong crowd and soon saw their grades drop.

Fortunately, the power of association works both ways.

Just as associating with struggling business owners can hurt your business, associating with successful business owners can inspire you to raise your game. It’s hard to overstate the value of associating with great people and learning from their experiences.

Think about that for a moment.

Stop focusing on the numbers. It’s all about 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.

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

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