Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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What everybody ought to know about optimism

optimism, optimistic,

Photo by Niklas Hellerstedt

How optimistic are you about your business in 2011?

Optimism can be a wonderful thing.  It’s powerful to look to the future with optimism, knowing that the plans we are working on today are going to help us move closer to our goals or targets.

Optimism can also be the by-product of self-delusion.  It’s pure fantasy to look to the future with optimism, knowing that we are going to use the same core ideas that have failed us in the past.

Things don’t just magically get better for us

We have to make things better.  You can work hard hoping it will improve your results, you can deeply desire better results, but unless you are working to a better plan, your results will be largely the same.  If you spend twice as long driving in the wrong direction, even if you REALLY want to arrive at the right destination, you will still end up further and further away from where you want to be.

Now, if you already have a great plan, but have been sitting on your hands doing nothing, (which I doubt), adding hard work to the mix WILL get you closer to where you want to be.  But if you have just spent the whole of 2010; working hard, trying hard, helping others, being sincere and you are STILL not getting the results you want, you need to improve your strategy.

Thankfully, you are in the driving seat

You get to choose the direction you take.  You can opt for more of the same or something better.   The bottom line here is that if you want to arrive at the right destination in 2011, make sure you are using the right map.

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

How to get massively more word of mouth referrals

word of mouth, referrals,

By Rennett Stowe

Would you like to attract more word of mouth referrals?  If you would, here are a few simple questions to help you uncover the way word of mouth referrals work, based on your own experiences.

The idea of this post is to show you the process behind a word of mouth referral, so you can reproduce it with your own products or services (herein called products).  So, let’s get started!

  1. What was the last product you paid for, which you went on to recommend to people?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how good did you believe the product was when you recommended it?  Think of 5 as being a very average product, 7 as being a good product and 10 as being “best in class.”
  3. What motivated you, to want to share your feedback?  For example, did the provider make it super-easy for you to share your feedback?  Did you feel so positive about the product or service, that you wanted YOUR name to be associated with it?  Were you offered a commission or reward for the recommendation?  Did the product provider ask you to recommend them or their product?  Whatever your answer, write it down in as much detail as possible.
  4. How many people did you tell?  Did you just mention it to a friend or share it with your social network / business contacts?  Why did you tell so many or so few people?  Again, get this written down in as much detail as possible.
  5. Finally, go through the same exercise for 3 or 4 other products, which you recommended to people.

Word of mouth: Deconstructed

For you to benefit from that simple exercise, you need to consider how you can apply the same process that inspired you to recommend those products, to your own products.  Do you need to work harder on developing a better (more remarkable) product, or maybe become more proactive at asking for referrals?  Do you need to make it easier for people to tell their friends how great you already are?  Your answers will start to show you the areas where you need to focus your efforts, in order to get more referrals.

Word of mouth and being remarkable

Here is a prediction regarding your answers.  I would be very surprised if any of the products you recommended were just average.  In most cases, I would expect to see scores of 8 and above.  The key motivator that inspires word of mouth referrals, is when something is remarkable.  In short, if we want to be spoken about positively (or remarked upon) we need to be remarkable.  No one feels inspired to recommend something, if it’s unremarkable, average or dull.  I wrote a post about it, which you may like to read.

The Bottom line: No matter how much word of mouth business you already attract, you should always be seeking to improve upon it.

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

See how easily you can get more inquiries from your website or blog

Would you like to attract massively more, high quality inquiries from prospective clients?  If you would, here are 4 quick tips to get you on track!

sales inquiries, client inquiries1. Make sure your content is focused on your area of expertise

The more focused your content is, the easier you make it for people to position YOU in their mind, as the person they need to speak with or email, when it comes to whatever your area of expertise is.

Equally, the more focused your content is, the more likely you are to get targeted traffic from Google.  Google is always looking for the most relevant results.  A great way to show Google what your site is all about, is to provide lots of great focused content.  Speaking of Google…

2. Be as easy to find as possible

Learn the basics of good SEO (search engine optimisation.)  I recently wrote about Google’s free seo ebook, which covers a lot of the basics and tells you what Google is looking for, from your site. It’s well worth a read and it’s free, so check it out!

3. Be easy to contact

In order for you to be easy to contact, there are 2 things you need to consider.  The first and most obvious, is to give all your contact details on a dedicated contact page.  Equally important is the second element, which is for you to make it as comfortable as possible, for your readers to get in touch with you.  Let your readers know that you genuinely want to hear from them and that you welcome their emails or calls.

I always make it as clear as possible that I really love hearing from my readers and that they can ask me anything about my services, with zero obligation on their part.  Guess what?  I get emails every day from people all over the world.  These range from “thank you” emails, where my free advice has helped them, to inquiries regarding how we can work together on the development of their small business.

Be approachable, friendly and grateful!

4.  Give more than you think you should

Put your best foot forward on your site if you want to get more inquiries.  Many people offer just a diluted version of themselves online, because they fear that if they give too much away for free, they will get less paid work. 

That is the 180 degree, polar opposite of the truth!

The kind of people who are only interested in your free stuff, were never going to become a client.  Equally, the people who are actually looking for professional help are MORE likely to hire you, if you show them you know your subject, by providing genuinely useful information to them via your site, up front.

I have given away thousands of marketing and business development ideas via this site, yet my clients still called me to work with them.  Why?  Because they knew that there’s a massive difference between what they can achieve from reading my blog, and the kind of results they can enjoy with me mentoring them.

Of course, by giving better quality information, you also encourage more people to link to you and share your work with their friends on social networks.  That helps you grow a bigger, targeted readership and generate even more targeted inquiries.

Finally, make sure you ASK people to get in touch with you.  A simple call to action is often a great reminder that you are open for business and keen to help.

I also practice what I preach: So, if you would like to discover how I can help you, as your marketing and business development mentor, get in touch with me here. I look forward to hearing from you.

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

Photo: Keith Williamson

A 60 second check, to help you improve your business results

Do you want more from your business in 2011 than you had in 2010?  If you do, then I have a quick test for you, which will set you on the right track!

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest, I want you to score the following people, who supply your business with your key services:

  1. Your accountant.
  2. Your marketing advisor.
  3. Your lawyer.
  4. Your IT consultant (hardware/software or Internet.).
  5. Your bank manager.

The cost of average advice

If your scores were 7 or below in any of those areas, you need to ask yourself why you are wasting your time, taking advice that is average or little better than average.  Just as you can tell a lot about a person, by looking at the kind of people they hang out with, you can also predict how successful a business will be, based on the quality of the people it calls upon for advice.  Unless you want an “average” business (and you don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog), you must avoid taking average advice.

Surrounding your business with average providers is never a good idea, but as we progress through the worst economy in living memory, it’s a recipe for trouble!

The value of great advice

Interestingly, you do not always have to pay more, to find a better quality advisor or provider.  Some low quality providers charge too much for their services and others seem to undervalue just how great they are.  So, why not spend some time reviewing the people you rely on for advice, support and guidance.

Look particularly for new people in the areas where your business is weakest, as those advising you currently in that area, are clearly failing you!

This relatively straight forward process can help you massively improve your business results very quickly!

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

Work fewer hours, make more money and have more fun!

business development, business model, time management

By Audrey

If you would like to work less, earn more and start enjoying your life more, this is for you.

I was just sitting down with my 5 year old son, drawing some pictures and talking about the different things he was creating.  He drew his mummy a picture of a butterfly, and was colouring it with some very bright pencils and glitter.  I asked him why he picked a butterfly to draw and he said it was the butterfly we took pictures of in the garden last summer.

I remember that day really well, because it was the day before his trampoline was delivered and we were getting the garden ready for it.  As we tidied that section of the garden up, a beautiful orange butterfly came and perched itself next to where we were.  My son had never seen such a brightly coloured butterfly that close up before – it was inches away from his nose!

Although my little boy loves his trampoline, the key thing he remembered from that 24 hour period, was the time he shared, looking at (and talking to) that little orange butterfly.

I’m glad I was able to be there to share the moment with him, so we could remember it together.  I build time every day into my schedule, where I get to see and play with him.  We spend an hour together every morning, having breakfast and then feeding his pet guinea pigs.  When he gets in from school, we spend time talking about his day and then, before he goes to bed, we sit down together and have a story.  That time is blocked off in my diary.  It’s not for sale.

Working smart

Someone once told me that although it’s good to have the wonderful things that money can buy, it’s even more important not to forget or neglect the things money can’t buy.  Many hard working small business owners are working such long hours in order to make a living, that they miss years worth of the precious things, which money can’t buy.

Any business model or entrepreneurial venture, that stops you from having the things money can’t buy, is a waste of your time. It’s a broken plan!

You don’t need to work crazy hours in order to achieve your commercial objectives.  The answer is not to throw more hours at a business model that’s failing you and those you love.  Instead, figure out why you need to work so many hours. For example:

  • Are you charging too little for your time, so need to work too many hours?
  • Are you wasting major working time, on minor things?
  • Do you need to improve your time management or project management skills?
  • Are you giving too much of your time away and then playing catch-up?

The key to business success is NOT hard work and long hours.  If it was, our grandparents would have been millionaires!  In my experience, it’s about working hard and smart during working hours, putting effective plans into place, to create a business that’s as profitable as possible.

Find a way to develop a better business, where you can work DAMN hard during work hours and still have time to smell the roses!

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

What everybody ought to know about growing a successful business

I had a big, unexpected problem occur earlier.  This post is about my reaction to the challenge, and how you can use a similar approach to make better decisions and grow your business!

In short: Whenever I’m confronted with a problem, I start by identifying exactly what the challenge is and then, I look for the best way to get the situation fixed.  I never aim to make things as good as new. I always look to make things even better then they were before, as this allows me to really stretch my thinking and pushes the barriers of my creativity.

Many times, the answer requires specialist input from outside my own area of expertise.  That’s what this post is all about.

So, who did I turn to in this instance?

I went to the mountain of information I have from my mentor: The late, great Jim Rohn.

For those who do not know, Jim Rohn was Tony (Anthony) Robbins’ boss and one of the most respected professional development experts in the world.  Jim Passed away almost a year ago, yet his influence is still a key part of my life, as today’s adventure highlighted to me yet again.  Within 30 minutes of revisiting some of Jim Rohn’s ideas, I was putting a solution in place, and gathering the right people around me for the challenge.

Within an hour, we had turned things around.  It’s no longer even a problem.  It’s just a solution in progress.

The reality is that business is a series of challenges.  However, most small business owners have a very haphazard way of dealing with these challenges and their results echo this.

Here’s what happens to most small business owners

The business owner finds that his or her business grows to a certain size and then hits a plateau or levelling point.  From there onward, they find that no matter what they try or how hard they work, they make very little, if any, real progress.  Their business is crying out for specialist help in order to progress, but they decide to just keep on with the same, ineffective approach, spinning their wheels.

It’s frustrating and completely unnecessary.

Building your arsenal of resources

When business hands you challenges, such as a lack of sales or too few inquiries, it’s important to have trusted, informed people and resources available to you.  A well meaning friend is invaluable, but when you require specialist answers to specific business challenges, you also need expert help in that key area.  In fact, you can usually tell how well a business is doing, just by looking at who the business owner calls on for help.

In my experience, it’s never too early to start developing your own pool of resources.  It’s always best to have the people and information in place, before you need them.  This not only saves you time and money, it allows you to make progress with your business and plan ahead with confidence and peace of mind!

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

The secret to becoming a prolific blogger!

blogging, copywriting, content marketing

Image: Maria Reyes-McDavis

Do you find it a little challenging, writing regular content for your blog or newsletter?  If you do, here are a few ideas to help you increase the quality and volume of your creative written output.

Is the 15 minute blog post a lie?

Most of the prolific bloggers I read, state that it takes them around 15 or 20 minutes to write a blog post.  When I was writing half a dozen posts a month, I found those claims a little hard to believe.  Today, I write posts every day and tend to get posts written in around 20 minutes myself, sometimes half that.  This glass half full post from Monday took less than 10 minutes to write up.

So, what’s the secret behind prolific bloggers?

It’s simply this: The more you write, the easier it becomes!

Getting ideas for blog posts

As blogging became a regular part of my life, I started getting ideas for blog posts more and more frequently.  It’s a little like when you buy a new red car and suddenly start seeing new red cars everywhere.  The cars were always there, it’s just that you never noticed them before.  When you start blogging regularly, you begin to notice ideas for blog posts that would have passed you by, before you had an outlet for them.  Currently, I have over 200 ideas waiting to be turned into posts.  I capture these ideas using a digital voice recorder.  It’s faster and a lot more practical than using a pen and pad, as I tend to get my best ideas when I am out walking or cycling etc.

Turning your ideas into blog posts

Here’s how I do it.  I tend to write early in the mornings, before my wife and son wake up.  I start by listening to the audio notes I have and find a topic that feels right.  Then, I begin writing.  My posts tend to start by asking you a question, occasionally they begin with a statement.  I then write the core points that I want to share with you.  Next, I flesh them out a little and then place them into order.  I usually end a post with either a question or a suggestion.

Like many people, I have found that the actual writing process speeds up, the more often I write.  I didn’t try to write faster.  It just happened naturally, as I wrote more and more often.  I’m not talking about my typing speed, that’s always been pretty fast.  I’m talking about the time it takes to get an idea out of my head and into readable text.

The mechanics of blogging

I tend to keep things really simple.  I use the WordPress blogging platform and find that it is extremely easy to work with.  This means that once I have a post written, it usually takes just a minute or two, to get it formatted and ready to publish.  I write posts in advance and then use WordPress to schedule when they are published.  This post was written on 11th November.

It’s a fact: Some people are better writers than others.  In my opinion, your task should always be to become the best writer or blogger or content provider that YOU can be.  By studying the craft, practising it regularly and seeking to improve all the time, you can make amazing progress.

So, what tips or suggestions do you have, for people who want to increase the quality and / or the volume of their blogging output?  Any thoughts you’d like to share?

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

Here’s a quick way to improve your decision making

marketing focus, business development, professional development

I love to start the day with a brisk walk around the beautiful village where I live. This morning was a great morning for a walk. The sun was up and there was a heavy ground frost. It looked beautiful and the leaves were crunchy under my feet.

Anyhow, as I walked my usual route, I bumped into 2 people who were also taking a morning walk. The first person commented what a beautiful, sunny morning it was. The second person complained about how cold it was, pointing to the white sheet of frost covering the fields around us.

The same situation… different perspectives!

Both the people I spoke with were 100% correct in what they said. It was a beautiful sunny morning, but it was also frosty. What changed was THEIR interpretation of what they saw. Their perspective. One focused on the sunshine, one focused on the frost.

Having worked with thousands of businesspeople, here’s what I have found: What matters most is not what life throws at you, but what you decide to do with it.

It’s what you do, with what you’ve got, that will determine how happy you are and how commercially successful your business will be.å

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