Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Announcement: New Internet marketing site!

I have some great news to share with you today!

Are you ready?

(drum roll)

I’m launching a new site, dedicated to Internet marketing!

I started work on a new site recently, which will provide you with EVEN MORE free marketing information.  The new site is focused exclusively on Internet / online marketing and goes live later this month!  If you want to make better use of the Internet and online services as a way to market your business, you will love it!

The new site comes as a result of a series of marketing research projects I did last year; to find out the areas of marketing that small business owners and entrepreneurs were most interested in.  You may even have taken part in one of these projects yourself, I called it the thunky project.  I did a lot of listening and I’m so glad I did!

The importance of listening

The research combined to provide some extremely valuable feedback.  The single biggest message, was that there was a huge demand among respondents for clear, common sense Internet marketing information.  Many small business owners find Internet marketing exciting, but confusing.  They see so much opportunity and choice, but also a lot of confusion, bullshit and hype.  Many have tried various forms on online marketing, invested a lot of their time, but have little tangible or bankable to show for it.

People told me they wanted plain English, buzzword free information, on how to use the Internet and online services to boost their revenues and profits.  They want to know how to use online marketing effectively, so they can reach more potential clients, engage more people, build better relationships, attract more inquiries and generate more business.  That’s what the new site is all about!

The new blog is a companion to this one.  Posts on this site will not appear on the other and visa versa.  Each site is designed to compliment the other and I believe you will find both blogs to be a useful source of free marketing information for your business.

Finally, I would like to thank those of you, who provided feedback to my surveys and questions last year, and the thousands of you who contributed to my thunky project.  That information has allowed me to provide you with the perfect companion to this blog and focus specifically on an area of marketing, which I believe the vast majority of you will find extremely valuable.

I have set up a Twitter account for the new site, which you are very welcome to join me on.  Just “follow” the account and say hi, and I will follow you back.

If you have any questions or requests regarding the new site, Tweet me!

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

Photo: Robert Couse-Baker

The power of love

Remember the dreams and goals you had, when you first started your business?  I want you to fall back in love with those dreams.  I want you to spend the next few minutes with me, using that power as a way to massively improve your business and your entire quality of life.

I once heard a business expert on stage, telling her audience that they needed to be prepared to pay the price for success.  In my experience, it’s failure that we pay the price for.  We enjoy the price of success.

Many small business owners are paying the price right now.  They don’t really run their business.  Their business run them.  Many work extremely long hours, often because they underestimate the value of their time, sell it too cheaply, to the wrong people, and get stuck in the trap of not being able to afford the help they need.  They are constantly under-resourced.  They are paying the price and it’s a hefty one.  But it’s not the price of success.

We enjoy the price of success

No one pays the price for success, at least not in the traditional way.  Before starting my business, back in 1995, I was paying the price for having a highly paid job.  By most people’s opinion, I was successful.  I was in my late 20’s and was earning over 10 times the average UK salary.  However, I regularly worked 14 hours a day and spent a lot of time away from home.  I worked a minimum 6 days every week, often engaged in activities that were necessary, but extremely dull.

The days were too long and emotionally unrewarding.  I used to feel drained and slept poorly.  I hated it.  I had I earned a ton of money, but I was not successful.  I lost contact with many good friends.  My quality of life was shit.  I was paying the price of failure.

Turning it around!

Then, when I started my business, I decided to live by deliberate design.  I chose to build a business where I was able to make the money I needed, by doing the things I loved and working with great people.  I wanted to be there for my family and friends.  In short: I wanted to be one of those people I read about, who LOVED what they did for a living.  So, in 1995 I started my own business and began enjoying the price of success. Work ceased to be “work” from that day on.  Yes, I worked some very long days (and still do occasionally), but it didn’t feel like work.  I doesn’t honestly feel as if I have worked a single day since 1995.

Today, I’m enjoying the price – And you should be enjoying it too!

Falling in love again

Remember when you set your business up?  You had dreams or at least goals, that you would enjoy a better quality of life and more freedom, right?  If you are like most small business owners, you may love what you do, but you have lowered your dreams / aspirations, to fit the reality of how your business is performing.  That’s the start of a cycle that you must break free from.

My suggestion is that you do the exact opposite!

My suggestion is that you fall back in love with the dreams that inspired you to start your business and rather than lowering your expectations to fit the limited resources of your current business, INCREASE the performance of your business, so that it provides you with the lifestyle you wanted to begin with.  More free time, better working conditions, working with people who truly value your time.

It’s hard to be inspired, going to work each day worrying about money and feeling frustrated about the things you can’t have.  Once you get into that trap, it can be like Ground Hog Day:

  • You feel uninspired, so perform poorly – You then perform poorly, because you feel uninspired.

You need to break that cycle.  You need to take a fresh look at your business, from the ground up and make some decisions.  For example:

  • Look at your workload.  Are you working smart enough?  Do you manage your time correctly?
  • Look at your client list.  Do you want to work with these people?  Do they pay you enough for your time?  If not, stop playing with your marketing and professionally market your services to people who WILL pay you what you deserve.
  • Look at your systems.  Can they be improved, so that you spend less time on unimportant things and more time developing your business?
  • Look at your contacts.  Are these really the people you need around you?  Are they capable of giving you the top flight support and advice your business needs in order to succeed, or are they just people you met?
  • Are you really committed to doing what is required for success, or happy to just keep your head down and hope things “just get better” some how?

The day you decide to INCREASE your expectations and make your business perform to your increased expectations, is the day you start enjoying the price of success.

It’s not always easy, but it is always possible.

No, it doesn’t happen in an instant.  It can take a while.  You can’t turn a ship around in an instant either, but you CAN change it’s course in a second.

Break the cycle.  Fall back in love with those dreams or goals you had.  Make today the day you start enjoying the price!

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

Photo: Jim Scott IMD

Get rid of fee sensitive clients, once and for all!

Are you looking to attract more clients or customers right now?  If you are, here is a very powerful piece of advice, contained in just 2 words.

Excellence sells

The massive majority of your competitors do not offer excellence.  They may be average, good or even very good, but few businesses offer genuine excellence. Take a look at your competitors websites and you will see them offering an almost identical range of services and the same tired promises or guarantees.  If one of them (say you) were to break out of that limited way of thinking, so you stood out for all the right reasons, you can own the marketplace; or at least the part where the most valuable clients are!

Doing the right things, uncommonly well: That for me is the essence of every company I know, who provides true service excellence.

This is the opposite of the generic approach I mentioned a moment ago.  Don’t offer a range of services, because it’s what the other guys offer.  If you do, you will simply blend into the background and attract fee-sensitive prospective clients.  These people use fees or prices as a way to differentiate the average providers, as they seem so similar.  When a prospect meets or speaks with 3 potential providers, making the same promises, offering the same kind of services and the same kind of testimonials and the same guarantees etc, there’s little left other than fees, to base their decision on.  All things being equal, the least expensive seems the best value.

I strongly recommend you avoid that approach!

Developing service excellence

Develop services or products based around the needs and wants of your marketplace.  For example, if they want a provider who answers the phone at 8am and none of your competitors do that, DO IT!  It gives you an immediate competitive advantage and costs peanuts to provide.  Listen to what your marketplace wants and then figure out how to deliver it.  Oh, and don’t worry about delivering it cheap.  When you are offering service excellence, people are happy to pay an excellence premium.

If you look at most industries, there are usually just a tiny minority of providers, who are at the very top.  They tend to get the best clients, charge the highest fees and operate the most valuable businesses.  The bottom of the industry is a little larger, but not much.  In fairness, as a percentage there are very few really poor providers in most industries.  However, there is a HUGE middle, occupied my average providers.

Of course, these average providers will tell you that they offer a very good service, but when you compare them to their counterparts, they are usually very similar.  They don’t set out to be average and most don’t even realise they are average, which is why there are so many people in that “average” space.

Success leaves clues

I wrote recently about life-long learning and why we need to constantly invest in ourselves, if we want to reach our full potential.  This is equally important, for those of us who seek to offer service excellence.  Thankfully, success leaves clues.  This means we can study the most successful people and brands and discover what they did in order to achieve so much.  Yes, it takes time and no, it’s not easy – But the rewards can be amazing!

How familiar are you with the businesses at the very top of your industry?

How did they become so respected and successful?

When we become students of excellence and invest what we discover into our businesses, we start moving away from the camouflage of average providers in our industry.  Marketing your services, when you are offering something that is genuinely, clearly of more value than your competitors, is the foundation of great success.

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

Do you make this common marketing mistake?

How do you feel about using new marketing ideas?

If you’re not prepared to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary

It amazes me how many people refuse point-blank, to make the changes required for their business to succeed.  They will attend the same dead end networking groups, waste money on the same ineffective advertising, send the same under performing mailings out; in fact they will do ANYTHING, so long as it’s familiar to them.  It’s the mindset of stagnation.

The most successful small business owners actively seek out new ways to develop their businesses.  They understand that progress is only possible, when we improve what we do and how we do it.

The drive for improvement, by default, means a willingness to change.

How prepared are you, to try something new in order to improve your marketing results?  In my experience, your willingness to embrace new ideas and test new tactics and strategies, will determine how far you can go with your business.

Those with self-imposed limitations place a very low ceiling on their potential.

Those with the courage to try something new, can move mountains.

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

Photo: Melody Campbell

The secret to learning everything you need in order to succeed

Have you ever heard of the inoculation theory of education?

This is where people go through school or college, get a diploma, degree or whatever, and then use that to inoculate themselves from having to do any more studying.  I member the late, great Earl Nightingale recounting a conversation he had with a young man, who had recently graduated.  He told Earl he would never read another non-fiction book again.  He was done with learning and wanted to start working.

The challenge with that extremely common approach was highlighted by Jim Rohn.  Jim used to tell us:

A formal education can make you a living, but a self-education can make you a fortune.

Life-long learning

I was a very poor student at school, but committed at the age of 21 to dedicate myself to life-long learning. I determined to read the books, attend the courses and do whatever was required, for me to be the best that I could be.  Almost 25 years later, I am still a ferocious reader and am more committed to learning than ever.  I can tell you with total certainty that my decision to embrace life-long learning, is directly responsible for every success I have achieved.

In my experience, learning, true learning, means more than just blindly accepting everything you read or hear from an expert.  It means gathering information from the best sources you can find, and questioning what they say! Those you see online, accepting and agreeing like drones with everything their gurus tell them, are learning nothing.  They are simply gathering information, of often dubious value, from people who are just as fallible as you or I, and treating it as fact.

I see the process like this:

  • Read the books
  • Attend the courses
  • Listen to the audio programs
  • Put what you have discovered to the test
  • Measure your results and keep what works
  • Repeat

What is your approach to learning?  Do you set time aside to read?  Do you challenge what you learn?  I would love to know your thoughts on this!

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

Photo: WalknBoston

 

The cost of attacking your competitors online

bad mouthing competitors

Have you ever heard the saying, that when you bad-mouth a competitor, it actually makes you look bad and not them?  Well, the same holds true when you decide to invest your time attacking competitors online.

It seems a popular way to gain traffic to YOUR blog, is to attack the top bloggers in your niche.  If you piss them off, they may mention you, putting you on their readers / followers radar.  If your attack is nasty enough, they may even blog about what you said.  This might gain the attacker a short-term traffic spike, but at what cost?  I honestly don’t think these people realise just how bitter it makes them look, to try and destroy a competitors credibility or dent the business, which their victim uses to put a roof over their family’s head, just for traffic.

Yes, if you identify that someone is making what you believe to be a mistake, it’s good to let that person know.  A while back, Yael Rozencwajg from Yopps.com noticed an error with the way my blog’s email RSS was working, so she emailed me to let me know.  She didn’t write a blog post to say what an idiot I was for missing the error or what a smart-ass she was for spotting it.  That’s because her intention was purely to help me, rather than attack me in order to get a response that she could convert into traffic.

The law of return

As a person of faith, I have a great deal of respect for the world’s Holy books.  In each of those I have studied, there is a belief that we tend to reap what we sow.  This is something professional development experts refer to as the law of return.  It works on the sound premise, that we tend to get back whatever we put out there.

Negative seeds (actions) produce a negative harvest (results) and positive seeds produce a positive harvest.  For example, Yael’s kindness in taking the time to offer me some help, has just resulted in her being highlighted to my readership, in an extremely positive way.

Of course, the negative feelings we have about those who bad-mouth their competitors, are formed by that same law of return.  Their attacks tend to damage themselves, rather than their intended victims.

I sometimes see people offering poor or misleading marketing advice.  In each case, I write a blog post to ensure my readers avoid making mistakes by following that kind of bad advice.  However, I do this without calling out the person.  This means my message gets out, is seen in a 100% positive light and is actually more likely to be acted on.  If I ever woke up feeling like I needed to attack Seth Godin or Jay Abraham, in order to gain readers, I would like to think I would recognise it as a sign that I ACTUALLY needed to work harder on MY OWN business.

Yes, you can gain traffic by attacking your more successful or better known competitors, but who needs to attract that kind of reputation?

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

Photo: Sara Golsmith

The secret to business success that even Tony Robbins missed!

intelligent action

In recent months, a number of people have asked me about a term I use a lot, here on the blog: Intelligent action.  They wanted to know what intelligent action actually means.

I developed the term a decade ago, by questioning something that self-help guru Tony Robins said, in his Personal Power audio program.  He claimed that the following 2 sayings were contradictions of each other.

  • Look before you leap
  • He who hesitates is lost

To me, those sayings are not only extremely complimentary, they also combine to form the basis of how all successful decision makers operate.  Here’s what I mean:

Look before you leap: Before you take action (or leap), you should get the information required (or look) to ensure you make the best decision.

Then…

He who hesitates is lost: Once you have the information required in order to take action – Use it! Opportunities in business, and in life generally, are often time-sensitive.  That is to say, you can miss out on an opportunity, by hesitating for too long.  Before you know it, the moment has passed and the opportunity is no more.

Intelligent action

Success comes to those, who take intelligent action.  Intelligent action is the fusion of research and activity.  Combine those 2 together and you can achieve real progress in any area of your business.

So, look before you leap, but once equipped with the information you need, remember that he (or she) who hesitates is lost – So take action.

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

Photo: Neosnaps

3 simple ideas to improve your marketing results

How well do you know your prospective clients?

For marketing to work, it needs to strike a chord with the recipient.  It needs to ask a question or make a statement that stops them in their tracks and grabs their attention.  To do this, your question or statement needs to be directly relevant.

This means you need to know what THEY consider relevant and important.

Here are a few simple ideas, which can quickly give you a much clearer picture of the needs of your marketplace and allow you to target them more effectively:

  1. Whenever possible, ask your existing clients about what they see as the threats and opportunities facing their business and their industry.  Look for the most common replies.
  2. Put a survey on your website, for non-clients.  Make it as brief as possible and offer some kind of reward for filling it in.
  3. Listen to your marketplace using social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.  Many small business owners treat social media as a way to sell, yet it can be of enormous commercial benefit, to simply listen and learn.

That kind of market data can be worth a fortune to you, and not simply as a way to better target your marketing messages!  It can also help you develop new products and services, based on what your marketplace actually wants, rather than what you assume it wants or needs.

When your services and your marketing are developed around the needs and wants of your prospective clients, it makes everything you do massively more effective.

How do you remain relevant with your marketplace?

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

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