Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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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.

iphone 4, steve jobs, apple marketingWithin 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!

Your thoughts

I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on the coverage Apple get.  Equally, what are your thoughts on how small and medium sized businesses can learn from what much larger companies do?  Let us know!

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

Photo: Benm.at

How to avoid fee sensitive or cost conscious clients

Why would one person earn 10 times more than someone of the same age in the same profession?

I’ve spoken with service providers in the same town, serving the same marketplace and yet one person is out performing the other by over 1,000% in financial terms.  They work the same number of hours, so why would one of them be earning so much more than the other?

To have more, we must first become more

Although we are all equal as human beings, in the marketplace, we each have a market value.  This market value is determined by the amount of value we bring to the marketplace.  The greater the value, the higher we are rewarded.  The solution to earning more, is to become more.

This is why it’s so important NOT to follow the crowd and emulate what you see your competitors doing.  The more you comply to what’s seen as your industry average, the more average your market value will be and thus your results.  The more generic advice you take, the more you will develop a generic business.  That’s why people like me exist!

The industry average is substandard

Those who achieve at the highest levels in any industry, do so because they have cultivated their value accordingly.  They see the industry average as substandard.  You know what?  They are right!  The only people who actively seek out an average kind of service, are those who are focused on price.  These people have no understanding of value – so they buy services based on the lowest prices.

Naturally, the providers in every industry who offer an average service, are attractive to these fee-sensitive or cost conscious people.  They complain about people being fee sensitive, yet they do nothing to attract business from the higher end of their marketplace.

They leave the cream, to those providers who have increased their market value.  It’s insane!

Become more

Take every opportunity to increase your skills, especially those skills that boost your market value.  If you work in a highly competitive industry, like most of us, look for ways to add unique value to your services.  By continuously investing in yourself, you will become a more valued provider and will attract enquiries and leads from people who are focused on value, rather than fees.

What are you doing right now, to increase your market value and attract the right kind of clients?

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

Social media marketing – A more social approach

Some people have asked me, why I place so much emphasis on building a community rather than a following.  Yesterday, within a 30 minute period, I received 2 emails from people enquiring about my services.  I believe the way these emails begin, (see excerpt below), demonstrates the marketing value of community.

Email 1:
“Dear Jim,
You don’t know me, but I feel I know you very well through reading your blog for some time now.”

Email 2:
“Hey Jim,
I read your marketing blog and although we have never met I feel like I’ve known you for years.”

Clearly, in both cases the person enquiring felt comfortable writing to me.  There was no barrier in the way – I was approachable.  Equally, in both cases, the writer said that they felt like they knew me.

This is REALLY important!

Why?

Because one of the reasons so many business owners and marketers fail to transfer their online networks and social media activity into bankable results, is that they place too much distance between themselves and the people they network with.  Even if they do try and build a community, it’s a community that has them positioned as the leader, rather than a host.

I’ve written about the host approach to social media before.  Here’s a brief overview.

Social media hosts

For the past few years, business owners and marketers have been told to build a following or tribe and then market to them.  I’ve always been uncomfortable with that.  So, I use a very different approach, which is based on the idea of a level playing field, where everyone is equal – No tribal leaders.

Think of the host at a really enjoyable party.  He or she greets guests when they arrive and spends the evening mixing with everyone and making sure that a great time is had by all.  The host of the party is not the leader, but rather an attendee; with a responsibility to ensure that everyone has the best experience possible.  They are eating, drinking and dancing alongside you.  They are talking with you and laughing with you.  When you leave the party, you leave with a great, positive feeling.  My approach to social media marketing, is based on that same host model.

The pay off?

The pay off for the kind of approach I advocate, was demonstrated in those 2 emails from yesterday.  By developing a network of people around your work, who feel that they know you and that you are approachable, you also build a deep and wide prospective client pool.

I would really like to hear your thoughts on the whole idea of social media rock stars.  Is it time for a more social approach to relationship building?

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

You are on your way – But where?

In 3, 5 or 10 years time, your business will truly arrive!

The question is; “where?”

Over the past 15 years, I have worked with thousands of business owners all over the world and in my experience, people tend to focus too much on instant gratification.  They are unwilling to invest in ideas unless they believe there will be a super-fast return. This is why so many scammy products exist; offering us super-flat abs in 3 weeks or Internet millions in 3 months!

Paying the price in advance

I’m fortunate to know many self-made millionaires and one of the major differences between them and the other 99.9%, is that the most successful businesspeople are prepared to pay the price for success, in advance.  They know that before they can reap, they have to sow.

For example:

  • They take time to learn the business of business.  They know how a successful business is supposed to work.
  • They take time to research the needs of their marketplace and the best way to service those needs, with the most value possible.
  • They take time to deliberately build contacts with the right people – Not the people who just happen to attend networking events.
  • They take time to understand the meaning and value of integrity.
  • They take time to read the success stories of other successful people, so they can develop their own recipe for success.
  • They know that success is not about money, but lifestyle.  You won’t find them jetting off all over the world doing business, missing their kids growing up.  That’s not success.  It may lead to financial wealth, but success is valuing the things that money can’t buy WAY MORE than the “toys” that money CAN BUY.

For most businesspeople, January does not signal the start of a new year.  It’s simply another chance to live the same old year, all over again. The same financial frustrations.  The same business worries.  The same bullshit that they hope, will one day “just stop.”

If you want a better future, you have to be smarter than that!  This starts with a commitment; to spend less time looking for quick fixes and more time deliberately planning (and working toward) the kind of future you REALLY want.

Never, ever settle for less.  You deserve far more than that!

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

Photo: Carlos Freita

How to make better marketing decisions

If you want to make better marketing decisions, you may find today’s post really useful.  It’s all about something I call bad numbers.

Allow me to explain!

Bad numbers = Bad data

Imagine you wanted to know what the average small business owner thought about social media.  If you asked that question via a poll on something like Facebook or Twitter, the results would be inaccurate and potentially damaging.

Why?

Because you would not be asking the average small business owner!  You would be asking the average small business owner, who already uses social media.  That group would give a very different response, than you would get from a true, random sample of small business owners.  Any decisions you made based on that data would be based on bad numbers.

Everyone says…

I spoke with a fellow blogger recently, who changed the size of the font he used on his blog, because; “everyone said the font size was too big.” When I checked it out, everyone was actually just 3 people who commented on his blog.  The first person said that he found the font size was a little large, then 2 of their friends said that they thought it was on the large side too.  This guy gets around 300 unique visitors a day, so he based his decision on a flawed group of just 1% of his readership!  After making the change, he immediately saw the average time people spent on his site drop by 15%.  He has now reverted back to the original size font and has regained that 15% again.

Before you make a business decision based on numbers, it’s extremely important that the data you are working with is good.  This means you need to be able to rely on the quality of the data and the size of the data sample, needs to be statistically relevant too.

For example, I spoke with the owner of a new, London based accountancy practice a few years ago.  He told me that his last mail shot provided a zero response rate.  As a result, he said he was no longer going to use mail shots as part of his marketing mix.  I looked at the letter he used, and it was actually pretty good (for a change.)  I then asked where he got the database that he used for the mailing, and it was one of the world’s leading suppliers of databases.

I then asked how many letters he sent.  Here was his reply: “We sent 12 letters out, because we got 12 contact names and addresses for free, to evaluate the database they wanted to sell us.” He was basing his decision that mail shots did not work, on a mailing to just 12 people!

Before you make any decisions with your marketing, make sure you are basing those decisions on good numbers.

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

Photo: James Cridland

The price is easy when the promise is clear

How clear are you about EXACTLY what you want to achieve from your business and your life?

Here’s one of my favourite sayings: The price is easy when the promise is clear!

Those rare people, who know what they want from life, find it easy to do whatever is required to succeed.  They are happy to pay the price for success, because they can see what it is leading to.

Conversely, the vast majority of people really don’t know what it is that they want from life.  They think in fuzzy terms, like; “I want things to be better,” or “I want to be financially secure,” BUT they don’t get specific.  They go through life, like a driver who’s heading off on an important journey, without knowing where it is that they are going.  They know they don’t want to be where they are and they know they want something better – But that’s it.  They don’t know if they are on track or heading in the wrong direction.  They waste years going round in circles, working hard and getting nowhere.

Thankfully, as soon as you give yourself some clear, specific, measurable goals or targets – everything changes.  Suddenly, it’s easy to spot if you are on track or not.  It becomes easy to identify the key people you need to connect with.  Yes, there will be a few detours, but because you know what your destination is, you simply keep heading in the right direction.

If you want more from your business or your life in general, take some time to explore the areas of your life, which you want to improve and then, set some clear, specific, measurable goals for each of them.

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

Are you REALLY prepared to pay the price for success?

If we want commercial success, there is always a price to pay!

That price is the courage to do all the things we need to do, in order to succeed; rather than cherry-picking the things we find easy, and ignoring the rest.

Think of it like this:  If you were to try and bake a cake, but decided to miss out some key ingredients, like flour and water, the cake would be a mess.  Well, when someone decides to avoid the key ingredients for business success, they end up with the same kind of disappointing end result.

My mentor, the late, great Jim Rohn, used to put it like this:
“For every promise, there is a price to pay.”

The courage to succeed

One of my clients told me on Wednesday morning that she has seen around a 300% increase in her turnover/revenue in the past few months, whilst working with me.  This made me particularly proud, as this lady did a number of marketing activities that were new to her, and outside of her old way of thinking.  This lady is a regular commenter here and if she recognises herself from that description, she may want to let you know who she is.  She deserves a massive amount of credit for what she has achieved in such a short time!

In my experience, most business owners and entrepreneurs already know many of the things they need to do, in order to succeed; but they lack the confidence / courage to put them into action.  I’ve seen their bookshelves – Packed with worldclass marketing information, which they have never used.  This is why I work to inspire my clients, rather than “just” give them the marketing ideas and answers they need.

A solution

If there are marketing activities you know you should be doing, but have stopped yourself from doing from fear of failure (or fear of success), why not try doing just one of them today?  Here are 140 marketing ideas to get you started.  The results can often be amazing and create a momentum, which motivates you to carry on driving yourself forward.

I would be interested to know if you have experience of motivating yourself to do what was required, and then seeing a direct improvement in your results.  Let us know!

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

Marketing, persistence and pests!

Don’t you find it amazing that in 2010, people are still using the 1980’s sales and marketing model of pestering and pursuing people?

Here’s the problem with that approach: People hate being pestered and pursued.

For example, I received an email last week, whilst I was on holiday with my wife and 4 year old son.  The email started with the line; “I know you are on holiday with your family but…” then he hit me with a sales pitch.  He showed me zero respect and instantly alienated me.  The same guy then emailed me again today with the same pitch and said he hoped I “respected his professional persistence.”  There’s nothing professional about what he did.  In fact, the message he gave me was; “Yes, I know you are on holiday but I really don’t give a shit about you – buy this now!”

Permission marketing & professional marketing

For over 2 decades, I have successfully used and advocated the use of, what some people today call permission marketing.  Back then, we simply called it professional marketing.

Professional marketing is about treating the marketplace with respect.

It’s about operating with class.

It’s about building a strong, professional reputation.

It’s about building relationships.

It’s about trust.

It’s about professionally researching your marketplace.

It’s about considering the person behind the “sale” and not just thinking of everyone as a number.

It’s about engaging with people, who have a genuine, potential need for whatever you are offering and who have given you permission to market to them.

That’s how to build a very successful marketing function!

It’s ironic when you consider the example I gave earlier of a pushy marketer, but email marketing is one of my favourite forms of marketing.  That’s because it lends itself beautifully to the professional marketing model.  When used correctly, it can be super-effective and generate incredible results.  Of course, very few people use email marketing correctly – choosing instead to buy lists or copy them from websites, and then pester people with unwanted sales pitches.  They may get 1 person in 5,000 to place an order, but they will have just sent what felt like spam to the other 4,999! 

A company using that approach for long enough, will actually make their prospective customer base smaller and smaller, with each unwanted email they send.

Have you been pestered by pursuit marketers?  How does it make you feel about the people behind those tactics?  Let us know!

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

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