Try something new!

How often do you leave your comfort zones and try something totally new?

It has often been said that in order to grow, we need to stretch and that our potential is governed by how for we are prepared to stretch ourselves.

This makes sense to me.  I know people who are still pretty-much living the same year over and over again.  They have all the same old complaints and frustrations, because they don’t proactively DO ANYTHING to improve their position.  That’s because improvement means change.  So, they complain, but stay the same.  They work with the same company, listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows and have the same circle of friends etc.

Here’s the challenge:  With very little change, there is also very little improvement.

A child’s approach to growth

My son is almost 5 years old and has a chart, where he gets a star every time he tries something new.  This can be a new food, a new game, a new song – anything – so long as it’s new.  As you can imagine, he loves trying new things and takes great pride in adding his stars to his discovery chart.  Kids are like that.  They love to explore.

It seems that once we reach adulthood, most people begin a process where they exchange the excitement of discovery, for the comfort of predictability.  This desire for comfort, ironically, usually leads to a great deal of discomfort.  It stunts our potential and robs us of our chance to enjoy the rewards of a better lifestyle.  The less we stretch, the less we grow.

When was the last time YOU tried something new?

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Are your competitors being marketed professionally? Here are 5 clues!

Here are 5 tell-tale signs that your competitors are not marketing their services professionally:

  1. Their marketing contradicts itself.  For example, they will have a website that was clearly “built on the cheap” – Yet their cheap looking website will tell you that they focus on quality.  Clearly they do not!  This kind of fractured message immediately turns people away.
  2. When describing what they do, they use the word “solutions” instead of the word “services”.  For example; “we provide a range of small business solutions”.  This use of the word solutions totally fails as a marketing term and really irritates a lot of people.
  3. They have a section on their website called “news” that has not been updated in 6 months.
  4. Their written marketing is dull, filled with generic promises and far too wordy.
  5. When you ask them why their sales numbers are down, they blame the economy – NEVER themselves! This is despite the fact they have competitors; selling the same offering, to the same people, in the same marketplace, with great success.

So, what would you add to that list?

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Develop the action habit!

Isn’t “just” an interesting word?

  • If you want to achieve financial independence, you “just” need to copy what wealthy people do.
  • If you want to lose weight, you “just” need to eat less and exercise more.
  • If you want to develop the life of your dreams, you “just” need to start setting goals.

Here’s the problem:  It is “just” not that easy!

In order to achieve any kind of breakthrough with your business or your life in general, you need 2 things:

  1. You need the information required in order to achieve the breakthrough.
  2. You need the self-motivation to USE that information.  This second step is what defines your ultimate success.

It is one thing to be given information, and something COMPLETELY different to use that information.  This is why people still smoke cigarettes, despite the health information on every packet.  Information without action is worse than useless.

When I recorded The Motivation Master Class audio program, I knew it was going to be a success, because it gives you the skills you need, to use all the information you’ve gathered from all those books, lessons and programs you have studied.  It was designed to be a key, which you can use to unlock your potential and put all your ideas into play.  You can download a copy here and be listening in minutes!

Develop the action habit

Take some time out to start using the information you already have, rather than simply adding more and more unused ideas to your knowledge base.  Don’t be like the masses, who scour the Internet all day for ideas, then file them away and never use them.

Learn how to develop the action habit and watch what happens to your results in every area of your life!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Is wishful thinking killing your business?

Today’s post is a very personal one.  I have written it exclusively for those of you, who are going through a tough time with your business and want to put it right.

As a marketing professional with over 20 years experience, I can assure you that right now, there are people in your industry doing  very poorly, whilst others are enjoying incredible success.  They will be working the same number of hours and just as hard as each other, yet seeing completely different results.

Here’s why:

  • Those who are enjoying great success, are doing the right things correctly.
  • Those who are struggling, are not.

Thankfully, to massively improve your situation, you simply need to know what you are doing wrong and replace it with the strategy required for success.  I say “simply,” because it’s actually a lot easier, less expensive and less frustrating, to follow the path of success, than it is to waste your time, money and energy, working hard on the wrong things.

Why do so many businesses fail then?

The challenge with this common sense approach to business success, is that most small business owners simply do not have the expertise to fix what’s wrong with their business.  They might know that they need to make a lot more sales or attract more high quality clients, but they have no idea how.  Amazingly, only a tiny percentage will ask an expert for help.

When I started out as a marketing coach, I used to wonder why so few small business owners used expert help, even when they knew they were in trouble and really needed it.  Like many people, I assumed it was all about money.  I quickly found out that was wrong!

Here’s what I found.

It has nothing, zero, zilch to do with money

The biggest misconception about those who hire expert help and those who do not, is that it is a purely a question of money.  It isn’t!

For example, many of my clients over the past 15 years were in serious financial difficulty when they hired me, only turning the corner afterwards.  Equally, I have spoken to people, who were easily able to afford expert help, yet decided not to and went broke needlessly.  I see examples of that kind of mindset every day and I am sure you do too.  One guy once told me that he spent $5 a day at Starbucks, (that’s around $1,300 a year) yet he couldn’t afford to pay a local copy writer to rewrite his shockingly poor marketing letters.  It’s totally down to mindset!

I have found that the decision to either hire expert help or avoid it, has a lot to do with wishful thinking over positive thinking.

Wishful thinking

Wishful thinking kills businesses!  I have literally lost count of the number of former business owners, who told me that they wasted years, waiting for things to ” just get better!”  Of course, we know that things do not just get better by themselves.

For your situation to improve, the actions you take need to improve.  This only happens, when you are making better quality decisions, based on knowing exactly what to do.  It’s basic cause and effect – a universal rule of life.  The wishful thinking approach tries to bypass cause and effect.

It’s like the farmer “wishfully thinking” he will have a bountiful harvest this year, even though he planted the wrong seeds at the wrong time in the wrong soil.  It’s nothing more than self delusion.

Positive thinking

Ironically, many people confuse positive thinking with wishful thinking, yet they are total opposites.

Positive thinking tells us that providing we do the right things correctly, we can achieve amazing results.  Positive thinking assures us (quite rightly) that we hold the key to our future success and no one else.  It’s a beautiful, liberating and extremely effective mindset.

Positive thinkers know what they want and refuse to lower their goals and dreams, to fit the disappointment of an under-performing business.  Wishful thinkers do the opposite.  Every wishful thinking business owner I have ever met, started out with dreams and ambitions about where they wanted to live and the lifestyle they wanted to achieve – then lowered and lowered their expectation, as their business reached a plateau.

Can people change?

Yes, they can.  I see it all the time in my business.  I work with clients, who are now enjoying enormous success; having previously wasted years with a business that was going nowhere.  In fact, 50% of my current clients fitted that description when they joined me.

The wonderful thing about life, is that anyone at any time can decide to change direction for the better.  Where you are today is not where you need to be tomorrow.  There are proven experts out there, who can give you the answers you need in all the key areas of your business.  The decision to use them, as always, is yours.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Get to the point!

One of the fastest ways to improve the effectiveness of your marketing messages, is to get to the point as soon as possible, in as few words as possible.

For example, I recently helped a new client increase the conversion rate of a page on his website by 450%, after reducing the number of words on that page by 75%.  I have also seen response rates from email marketing soar by over 700%, when rambling copy was changed into a shorter, compelling and more powerful message.

Most of the written marketing I see is at least 50% too long.  This is because amateur copy writers feel they have to include everything in every marketing message they write.  They feel compelled to tell the reader about every benefit of what they do.  They don’t want to miss a thing, so they go into way too much detail.  Thus, what needed to be a brief, focused message with impact, becomes a meandering, diluted message instead.

If you are disappointed by the conversion rates of your written marketing, it might be time to focus more on brevity.  Concentrate on delivering your most powerful points and do it with impact!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Increase your blog’s readership the easy way!

Here’s a quick marketing tip, to help you increase the readership of your blog.  To get started, I would like to ask you a quick question:

“Do you offer people the option to subscribe to your blog, via email?”

If not, you should!  Why?

Reading blogs via email RSS

Email is one of the single most popular ways for people to read blog posts.  For example, over 50% of this blog’s subscribers, read this blog via email – NOT via the Internet!  That box on the upper right hand side of the blog, allows people to have this blog delivered to your inbox and that’s exactly what they do.  I’m suggesting you offer your readers the same option.

How to offer YOUR blog posts via email

feedburner, rss, how to,I use and recommend a very popular free service called Feedburner, for delivering my blog posts via RSS (Really Simple Syndication.)

Feedburner allows you to do a lot more than just deliver your blog posts via email or RSS readers.  For example, it offers lots of useful stats, to show you how people read your posts, which links they click and dozens of other metrics.  You can also tell Feedburner when to send your posts via email, allowing you to reach your readers at just the right time.  It’s a great service.

The key thing is not to worry too much about the terms I’m using here, it’s simply a matter of setting up a Feedburner account and following the set-up process.  Here’s a nice guide to setting up your Feedburner account, though there are also YouTube video tutorials, if you prefer a more visual approach.

UPDATE: In the years since this post was written, I have switched to a service called Mailchimp. You can get my blog delivered for free, by clicking here.

Make your RSS options visible

Once your Feedburner account is active, make sure it is highly visible on your blog.  If you check out most professional marketing blogs, you will see that we place our RSS subscriber options very close to the top of the page – so EVERYONE can see it.  You can also publicise your Feedburner RSS feed in the signature file of your regular business emails, using a simple piece of code.

The bottom line:  If you have not been offering your readers the opportunity to subscribe to your blog via email, I strongly recommend you start.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Why I believe it’s wrong to “give until it hurts!”

Have you ever heard the saying; “give until it hurts” and wondered what it means?

I believe that many misunderstand the statement.  They think that it means we should just give, give, give and only stop when we are out of resources; (time, money, energy etc.)

The wise man or woman knows that the time to stop giving, is BEFORE they feel the pain of giving so much, that they end up hurting – and unable to help anyone else.

Andrew Carnegie, perhaps one of the world’s best known philanthropists, is reported to have decided as a young man, that he would spend half his working life building a massive fortune, so that he could spend the second half, giving all his billions away.  Yes, he helped people along the way, but not to the point where it hurt him or his business so much, that he was unable to help all those millions of people later in his life.

This may sound like a contradiction, but I believe the key to successful giving, is to help as many people as you can!

Help as many people as you can, but as efficiently as possible

Through this blog, I provide free marketing tips and advice to thousands of people.  At the moment, I spend around 3 hours a week writing content; which I can do without it “hurting” or harming my business.  Just think how much LESS of an impact it would have, if I used those same 3 hours each week, to give 3 people an hour of my time.  If you are currently giving until it hurts, you may want to consider a similar approach.  Try putting your expertise in one place and then allowing as many people as possible to benefit from it. 

I believe we each owe it to our families and ourselves, to get the balance right – So that we learn how to help as many people as we can, without the pain of neglecting our families or our own businesses in the process!

Do you have any experience, of giving too much away or giving until it hurt, which you would like to share with us?

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

The marketing power of confidence

Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to attract new clients or customers when business is already going well, and that it’s harder to attract them when your business is struggling.  One of the primary reasons this happens, is that business owners tend to act, communicate and make decisions very differently, when times are good than when times are tough.

Marketing in good times: Typically, business owners act with confidence when times are good.  They speak in positive terms about their business, their marketplace and their future.  They make decisions based on what they want to achieve.

Marketing in tough times: Typically, business owners act with trepidation when times are tough.  They speak in neutral or negative terms about their business, their marketplace and their future.  They make decisions based on what they fear.

Marketing and confidence

Confidence plays a massive part in the success of any business, for example:

  • We buy from people, who we feel confident about.
  • We recommend people, who we feel confident can deliver.
  • We follow people, who we feel confident can lead.
  • We buy products that we are confident we can trust.

When we listen to people who speak with confidence, we tend to believe in them.  However, when we listen to those who lack confidence, we don’t.  In both cases, the speaker transfers either their confidence or their lack of confidence to us, depending on their disposition.  This is why leaders in every area of life, are those who can inspire confidence in their message; be that in a boardroom or sports arena.  By the way, I wrote about another aspect of marketing with confidence here.

The great news, is that confidence starts from within.  WE get to decide whether we project confidence or concern.

Marketing tip: Take a look at the information you currently feed into your marketplace.  This includes your interactions on social media sites, as well as marketing-specific messages and business conversations.  Now, check them to see how likely they are, to inspire confidence in you or your services.  If you think there’s room for improvement, seek to inject a more positive, confidence inspiring message from here on!

What makes you feel more confident about a potential provider?  What can providers do, to help you feel more confident about them and their business? Share your thoughts!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Marketing ideas and answers at your fingertips

There are thousands of marketing ideas and answers here on the blog, spread over hundreds of pages and that number is growing daily.  Of course, as new material is being added, it can get harder and harder to find what you are looking for.

So, to make it easier for you to find the marketing ideas and answers that you need, I have added a new search box – That’s it on the right.

Give it a go

If you haven’t already used it, give it a go – Just type in some words that are related to your marketing query and watch the results!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Steve Jobs, iPhone 4 and the Apple marketing experience

Steve Jobs and Apple in general, never cease to amaze me.  This week, Apple announced their latest product, the iPhone 4 and received, as always, millions of dollars worth of free publicity.  I watched a live video of the iPhone launch event at the World Wide Developer’s Conference, and saw journalists (literally) cheering and shouting as Steve Jobs listed features of the phone.

Within minutes of Steve Jobs’ presentation, there were thousands of iPhone 4 news reports and blog posts.  People were guessing how many millions would sell in the first year and how the new features would change the way people use phones.  The coverage Apple received was something that other businesses and brands can only dream of.

Steve Jobs and Apple – It’s more than a brand

People who buy and use Apple products tend to be more than users – They tend to be advocates or ambassadors.  If you DARE to mention something negative about Apple or any Apple product, in a blog post, article or on Twitter, for example, you will quickly get chastised by Apple users, who will quickly tell you that whatever you said was wrong.  This kind of brand loyalty is gold dust.  It’s not born from smoke and mirrors either, Apple make some amazing products, but they fuse their great products with equally good marketing and PR.

What Apple can teach small & medium sized businesses

Apple offer great quality: Your services or products need to be excellent quality, if you want people to rave about them.  It’s hard work and really low leverage, to market average quality products or services.  In fact, if all you have to offer the marketplace is a similar sounding service to your competitors, stop reading this and start looking for ways to massively improve the unique value of your offering.

Apple have a network of advocates: The Apple team has crafted a network of people, who proactively cover and recommend their products.  I suggest you do the same!  Start getting to know the bloggers, newsletter providers and networkers, who have access to your prospective clients and customers.  When you have something interesting or newsworthy, share it with them.  (This is a subject I will cover in future posts.)  This is a great way to generate word of mouth publicity.

Apple remain relevant: Just as Apple have continued to evolve their design and product lines over the years, you should too.  If your service has remained largely unchanged for a year or more, it’s time to check that it’s still relevant to the marketplace.  We live in a time of great change.  The most successful businesses know this and adapt their offering accordingly.  If your competitors are still offering a stale set of services and you adapt your services to be more relevant, you give yourself a powerful advantage!

Steve Jobs speaks with passion: When I saw Steve Jobs take the stage, a year or so after a liver transplant, and then speak with such passion about the new iPhone, I was left with a feeling of awe.  I hear from businesspeople all day, who are in great health and have 1% of Jobs’ drive and passion.  Have something worth saying and say it like you mean it.

If you are not clearly passionate about your business, products and services, no one else will be!