Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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How to market your business… like Apple

Here’s a valuable marketing tip, from one of the world’s most successful companies. I’m going to share a marketing lesson from Apple, which you can apply directly into your business.

Throughout the last recession, Apple managed to break its sales records again and again. Whilst its competitors were floundering and cutting prices on far less expensive devices, Apple’s sales were growing quarter on quarter. At one point, Apple was the most valuable company in the world.

So, how does Apple sell so many premium priced devices, regardless of market conditions?

Apple bake marketing into their products

A huge part of the answer, can be found in the way that Apple constantly improves the value of its products. They make the new version of their products so much more valuable than the current version, that people, especially existing Apple customers, feel compelled to upgrade.

For example, when Apple launched the latest MacBook Air, it came with a huge benefit over the previous model: All day battery life. This was a huge technological and psychological breakthrough. It meant that people who are often away from the office all day, can charge their computer before they leave home and know they have 12 hours of battery life for the day ahead. No chargers to carry. No need to find somewhere to charge it.

The MacBook Air provided Apple’s core target market with huge value and huge perceived value. That value is what motivated people to buy the device. Of course, because Apple has invested years building better and better devices, there are some Apple fans who will buy almost anything Apple make.

Imagine that for a moment: A company that has FANS rather than customers.

What  your business can learn from Apple

By constantly improving what you offer and developing new, high value products and services, you provide a compelling reason for:

  • Existing clients or customers to keep buying from you and recommending you to their friends.
  • New clients or customers to be attracted to your products or services.

So, here’s a useful question for you to ask yourself:

What new products or services could you offer, which would provide clients and prospective clients with massive value?

Here are 2 places to look for answers:

  1. A new, premium version of your current offering, which provides greater value.
  2. A whole new product or service, based on the most pressing needs of your clients or customers. Apple did this with their 12 hour battery life.

Here’s the thing: Great marketing will get your message in front of the right people, at the right time, in as compelling a away as possible. However, that is only part of the journey.

When you match great marketing with a valuable (and thus highly desirable) product or service, your marketplace will buy from you, hire you and tell their friends about you.

PS: Here is more information on how you can bake marketing into your business.

Marketing 101: Success leaves clues

marketing tip

Think for a moment about:

  • The last service, which impressed you so much you told your friends.
  • The last marketing email, which persuaded you to take action.
  • The last blog post, which you were inspired to share. (Bloggers… read this!)
  • The last advertisement, which compelled you to make a purchase.
  • The last newsletter, which you were motivated to forward to your friends.

Now answer this question: What can you learn from them, which you can adapt into your own marketing?

In marketing, we find that success leaves clues… and the clues are all around you.

How to attract great word of mouth referrals

If you want to attract your ideal profile of client and get more word of mouth referrals, this post is written just for you.

The power of focus

When you focus on delighting a segment of your potential clients, rather than trying to appeal to all of them, you give them a reason to talk about you.

Here’s why.

Those who your work and marketing is targeted toward, will feel as if you truly understand them. Your marketing messages will also feel directly relevant to them. When people in your targeted niche feel that way about you and your work, they tell their friends. Many of these friends will have a similar mindset and value your approach too. Birds of a feather and all that.

Soon, not only are you attracting more targeted clients, you are attracting more word of mouth referrals than before. Just as importantly, you are attracting word of mouth referrals from people who are a great fit for you and your business.

Delightful

The key is to focus exclusively on delighting, (providing a Meaningful Difference), to a targeted niche of your marketplace. These should be the people, who are your ideal profile of client. No compromising.

In short: Be directly relevant to those you most want to attract. Delight them… then watch your work spread.

Why your business needs to be Meaningfully Different

Despite what many people believe, small businesses are not merely smaller versions of big businesses. They are different in one very important way.

Here’s the difference

The largest companies, from Apple to MacDonald’s, have to stick to a standardised way of doing things. It’s all about consistency. There is a company way of doing things and the employees need to operate within that framework. iPhones and Big Macs look the same at every store and the way they are served to you is also as close to identical as possible.

With a small business, success comes from doing the exact opposite. It comes from individuals within the small business, being human and expressing themselves… doing work that is meaningfully different.

The most successful small and medium sized businesses provide products, services or experiences, which are only available from them. They have figured out that by creating something that is meaningfully different, they become the only show in town, for clients who want that meaningful difference. They create a special value, which is only available from them. It works. Beautifully.

Most small business owners don’t get this

In fact, the massive majority of small businesses within the same niche, look almost identical.

  • They offer the same predictable range of services.
  • They make the same predictable marketing promises.
  • They have the same predictable looking websites, blogs and social networking accounts.
  • They offer the same predictable guarantees and have the same kind of testimonials.

They become cookie cutter duplicates of their competitors, then wonder why prospective clients are so fee sensitive. Clue: When you look just like the competition, prospective clients use your fee as their way to determine your value.

Embrace your uniqueness

Build a business that is meaningfully different. Not only will you have no competitors, you will be free to charge what you are worth, to clients who value the meaningful difference you provide.

PS: For more information on how to attract the best clients and fees, read this.

Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

In this post, I’m going to share what is easily the single best piece of blogging advice I know.

Here it is – Drum roll please…

If you would like more great people to read your blog, start off by asking yourself the following question:

If I already had 10,000 prospective clients reading my blog each day, how much time and money would I be prepared to invest in developing it and delivering great content?

When I ask people that question, they often say things like:

  • Wow… with 10,000 readers each day, I’d invest as much time as I possibly could in the blog and make it a priority.
  • I’d invest in a professional design for the blog. With all those readers, I wouldn’t want to look cheap.
  • I’d publish posts most days and really work hard to make the content as useful as possible.
  • I’d invest in some good quality hosting, so the blog always loaded fast and was reliable.

Cause and effect

After listening to their answers, I sometimes take a look at their blogs and usually find that they have not invested much time, money or energy into them. They want a highly valuable blog, but they won’t make the commitment required, until after their blog is a success.

That approach is a little like a restaurant owner saying she refuses to serve great food, until after her restaurant if full every night!

My mentor used to say that it would be crazy to walk up to an empty fireplace and expect heat. We know we need to do the work of building the fire and lighting it, before we can enjoy the warmth.

We don’t need to be geniuses to build a successful blog, but we do need to be wise enough to understand that our results will be guided by our actions.

A leap of faith

The people that already have thousands of daily readers, did the work and made the investments before their blog was a success.

That takes a huge leap of faith, but unless you show faith in your blog, you can’t expect others to.

PS: If you’re thinking of starting a business blog, I believe you will find this useful: 7 Benefits of business blogging.

A very personal message

For many small business owners, 2014 is already starting to look a lot like 2013.

The good intentions of just a few weeks ago are starting to fade, as the average business owner lowers their sights. They slowly slip back into the comfort of settling for average again. Maybe next year they will take their business seriously. Maybe next year, they will drop their employee mindset and make decisions like an entrepreneur.

As a business owner, you need to choose:

Here’s something to remember: The clock is ticking. You may delay, but time will not. None of us, regardless of our age, can afford to repeat the same old year over again.

Important

If you are happy with ‘average’, you’re really wasting your time and my bandwidth, reading my work. Feel free to unsubscribe.

HOWEVER: If this post has inspired you to make some important decisions — or you are already committed to being the best you can be, I salute you. You are my kind of person. You inspire me to write.

I’m here for you and will carry on providing you with as much value as possible… just as I have since 1995.

3 Tips to help you get massively better sales results

Here are 3 tips, to help you get massively better results from your advertising, email marketing, mail shots and blog marketing messages.

Let’s go!

1. Get your message right

Message

No matter how great your product or service is, unless it’s marketed with compelling copy (wording), you will struggle to achieve the sales results you want. People need to read your message and then feel inspired to take action; to buy from you, call you, email you, visit your store, etc.

Pedestrian copy lacks the impact required to motivate readers to do anything. Either learn how to write great marketing messages or hire someone, who already knows how to. Don’t let your business be one of those, which loses a fortune in sales needlessly, because of ineffective copy.

2. Get your audience right

So much marketing fails, purely because it doesn’t get in front of the right people. Once you know who your prospective clients or customers are, you need to think about the best way to target them, so they see your message.

For instance, Jim’s Marketing Blog is a highly targeted publication, which is read by owners of small and medium sized businesses. If you wanted to reach business owners with your marketing message, this blog would be a great place to do it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Build a list of readers. Don’t buy the list! If you use email marketing, are you certain that your ‘list’ is highly targeted? Also, if you purchased the list, there’s a good chance that the people on it have had their email address sold to thousands of other businesses and were getting deluged with relentless spam. These people often either set up a strong junk mail filter, allowing only white-list emails through – or they will have abandoned the email address completely. As a result, you may think your email marketing messages are reaching 10,000 people, when they are only being read by a small fraction of that number.

If possible, and it’s always possible, build your own email marketing list. This is a key area I focus on with my clients and I suggest you learn how to build a great list, too.

3. Get your timing right

Great comedy and great marketing have one thing in common… timing! So, here’s a great question to ask yourself, when planning your marketing: ‘How relevant is my message, at the point where people connect with it?’ For example, it’s harder to sell certain products on the 3rd week of a month, than at the very end of a month, because of people’s monthly pay cycles.

Know your market and learn when they prefer to buy. Then focus on getting your marketing message in front of them, at the best possible time.

How to attract better clients and higher fees

Are you tired of attracting fee sensitive clients or customers?

Create a meaningful difference

If you are, answer the following question: How can I make the service I offer, different from what my competitors offer, in a meaningful way?

In other words, create a meaningful difference, then market that difference correctly. If you get this right, you will never need to deal with low quality, fee sensitive clients again.

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