Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Page 19 of 191

So, you want more from your business? Try this!

To grow your business successfully, you need all 3 of the following:

  1. A substantial number of prospective clients, who you can locate and connect with.
  2. These prospective clients need to have a problem, which your service provides the answer to.
  3. Finally, they need to be willing and able to pay you for solving their problem.

That’s what you need for a successful business. And for most people, that’s all they want.

However, if you want even more from your business, something exceptional, you need to know the following.

Truly exceptional businesses are a little different

Exceptional businesses do 1 thing differently. To be exceptional, you need to change number 2 on that list, to this:

These prospective clients need to have a problem, which ONLY your service provides the answer to.

Yes, it takes more effort to develop a uniquely valuable product or service, but the rewards are disproportionately high. For example, you no longer have to compete for business based on fees. Also, by deliberately choosing the type of problem to solve, you can predetermine the quality of clients you work with.

Here’s a suggestion

Think about gaps in the market — problems that are currently not being solved by existing providers. Dig deep. Stick with it until you get some answers. Keep working on it. Give it the time and energy it needs.

Why? Because you only need to get this right once, for your whole world to change!

Tip: This will help you get started.

Is your site ready for the fastest growing group of Internet users?

In this article, I’m going to share maybe the fastest way to improve the results you get from your website or blog. I’m also going to share 2 great, free tools with you.

First, I need to ask you a question: How does your blog or website look on a mobile device?

Many of your prospective clients or customers will be accessing your site using phones or tablets. That number is set to rise, as PC sales drop and mobile devices increase in popularity. If your site is deliberately designed for mobile devices, that’s fine. However, if it isn’t, a poor mobile experience will cost you a fortune in lost client inquiries or sales.

Here are 2 useful, free tools to help you get it right.

How to see what your site looks like on popular mobile devices

Thankfully, there are a number of free online tools, which show you what your site looks like on mobile devices. Screenfly by Quicktools is a good example. You simply enter the address of your site and then click the various options in the menu bar, to see what your site looks like on different, popular phones and tablets.

A few things to look out for:

  • Your site should offer mobile readers clear, easy to read text and mobile friendly buttons.
  • Readers shouldn’t need to scroll from left to right, in order to read your mobile content.
  • Your header image should not be cropped.
  • Your navigation bar should be easy to read and easy to click.

Everything should be displayed so that it’s accessible and clear.

How fast does your site load?

People expect sites to load quickly and correctly. This is especially the case when using a mobile device, when they will often be looking for specific information, fast. If your site takes too long to load, you will be losing readers before they even see your site or read what you have to say.

Google has a tool you can use, which will show you how quickly your site loads on mobile devices as well as regular computers. The Google Page Speed Insights tool will grade your site from 1 to 100 — the faster your site, the higher your score. However, what makes this tool extremely useful is that it tells you where your site needs to improve and offers advice on how to make the changes required.

In short: If your website or blog isn’t delivering a great mobile experience, it’s losing you business. The only question is how much.

How NOT to write the perfect blog post!

The Internet is packed with damaging, generic advice on how to write the perfect blog post.

Here are a few common examples you may already know:

  • Your blog posts should be a certain length.
  • So should your blog titles.
  • You should use adjectives in your blog titles.
  • You should publish your posts at a special ‘peak time’ each day.

There are around a dozen more predictable rules, churned out by content marketing experts. So, if you adopt this generic approach to blogging, will it help you build a large, valuable readership?

Err… no. In fact, it will do the exact opposite.

How to be ignored

Following the same blogging format as everyone else is not only ineffective, it’s the perfect recipe for how to be ignored.

Think about it: You simply camouflage your blog posts, when you write them based on the same, predictable format as everyone else.

Oh, and if you publish your posts at that peak time they tell you to — your posts will be fighting for attention, along with every other blog post, published at that same, peak time!

How to make it work

The key is to put your time, energy and creativity into doing things YOUR WAY. Be useful. Provide value. Show us what you know. Turn up regularly. Lead, rather than follow.

That’s what attracts people’s attention. It’s also what inspires them to read your work, share your work, hire you and buy from you.

PS: Here’s some advice on building a great readership.

How to get people marketing your business for free

That headline isn’t a play on words. I’m going to show you how to motivate people to market your business for free.

Allow me to explain.

When we exceed expectations, something amazing happens. Our product or service starts to market itself.

Spreading the word

I recently bought a new MacBook Air. Apple promised “up to 12 hours” battery life. I actually got over 13 hours. In fact, everything about the machine was better than I expected. Apple made the machine sound great, but that was nothing compared to what they delivered.

I was so impressed that I recommended the MacBook Air to my friends and clients. I also tweeted about it, shared my delight on Google+ and now I’m telling you.

That’s what we do when a product or service exceeds our expectations. We talk about it. We share it. We create a wave of independent, 3rd party recommendations — which is extremely powerful.

A subtle improvement that creates huge gains

Interestingly, the gap between meeting expectations and exceeding them is relatively small. It’s tiny, in relation to the huge positive impact it creates. It just takes a little extra effort and some creativity.

NB: Here’s a whole website full of creative thinking ideas.

Here’s a great place to start: Identify what your prospective clients or customers expect from providers in your industry. Then look for ways to exceed these expectations.

Here’s a useful tip: Consider the products or service that exceeded your expectations. What can you learn from them, which you can adapt into your business?

Get this right and you will soon have an army of passionate advocates, marketing your business for you… for free!

How to describe your business so it stands out from the crowd

Here’s a summary of the advice I recently gave a group of creative professionals, which I believe you will find useful.

It’s all about the labels we use and how they shape the way the marketplace sees us.

The labels people use

When I help creative agencies to improve their output, I start by asking them why they insist on labelling themselves as a creative agency.

Think about it: If a creative agency is truly creative, surely it wouldn’t copy a dull, generic term to describe what it does. It wouldn’t limit itself like that.

That kind of labelling works fine for some other businesses, because those businesses are generic.

For example, restaurants provide an identical core service: You eat and drink and then pay the bill. This is true, whether you go to a fast food restaurant or the most expensive restaurant in town. All that changes between restaurants is the food, the experience and the cost.

Conversely, creative agencies are supposed to think without limitations. The nature of what they do, is to think differently. Unlike restaurants, very few creative agencies, if any, should offer an identical service.

Benjamin Zephaniah is more than a poet

The best creative professionals, like all artists, are exceptions to the labelling rule. Is Benjamin Zephaniah a poet? Yes, but he’s so much more, so he’s never labelled simply as a poet. I’ve followed Benjamin’s work for decades and he’s usually introduced with any or all of the following statements:

  • He’s a social commentator.
  • He’s a recording artist.
  • He’s an activist.
  • He’s a master story teller.
  • He’s a trouble maker.
  • He’s an educator.
  • He’s a progressive thinker.
  • He’s a catalyst for change.
  • And he’s a poet… a really good poet.

Benjamin Zephaniah defies a simple label. The same was true of Andy Warhol. Warhol wasn’t a studio artist, he invented his own artistic niche with Pop Art.

My point here, is that creative professionals who embrace the creative agency label are, at best, causing people to think of them within a narrow, limiting box. At worst, it will restrict what the agency team do, as they start to conform to what they think ‘the typical agency’ does.

Neither of those are great outcomes. In fact, they’re common to every struggling agency I have ever helped.

A creative alternative?

Lose the label. Create your own niche. Do your own unique brand of work. Set yourself apart. Be meaningfully different.

When you lose that uncreative label, you get to define what you do.

This isn’t the 1990’s and you don’t need to be listed in business directories, under an idiot-proof label or category. Today, you can put your creativity out there and attract the attention of those interested in your unique, creative approach.

Show us what you’ve got. If it’s remarkable enough, we’ll hire you and share your story with our friends.

How to make extremely valuable business contacts

This post is all about how to build an extremely valuable network, of influential people.

Think about it: We all know people who struggle to find new clients, even though they are members of networking groups and are connected to hundreds of people on Linkedin.

That should be impossible!

Surely, with all those contacts, these struggling business owners should be able to reach out with a message and generate more clients than they could possibly need.

But they can’t.

Why?

Because the typical small business owner builds networks that are of little real value. That’s why the most successful business owners use a very different approach.

Allow me to explain.

How successful business owners get connected

The most successful people in business are extremely well connected. They make it a habit to identify useful contacts and then nurture relationships with them. As a result, they have people they can go to for advice or assistance in any area of their business.

When they are faced with a problem, it’s often a case of: One call — problem solved!

How the average business owner connects

Typically, small business owners take the opposite approach. They focus on numbers, not value. Most commonly, they attend networking groups and connect with other business owners… who are only in that group because they too are struggling.

As a result, they end up with lots of low value business contacts and lack the influential connections required, to grow a successful business. So, when they need new clients or have a significant business problem, their equally struggling contacts are unable to help.

As someone once told me: Stick around struggling business owners for long enough and one day, everything they have will be yours!

Stop thinking about the numbers and focus on the value

As people, we are all of equal value. However, in business, our commercial value differs vastly. Successful business networking is about connecting with the right people.

In short: Be selective. Focus less on numbers and more on value. Go deep and narrow, rather than shallow and wide.

PS - Here are 21 powerful habits behind the most successful business owners.

What everybody ought to know about being boring!

I received a spam email earlier. A PR company decided to send me a press release, to announce that a camera maker was going to sponsor an event. They wanted me to write about it.

No one cares

The thing is, it’s a mind-numbingly dull message.

  • It’s a non story.
  • It’s completely unremarkable.
  • It’s boring. Really boring.
  • It’s also too unimportant to be news.

Other than the camera company’s marketing department, the PR company and whoever organised the event – no one cares.

Pushing a dull message is simple. It requires no creativity. No art. No thought. However, it’s also extremely ineffective.

Alternatively

An alternative approach is to take a little more time and attract people’s attention, doing something worth talking about. People share remarkable stories all day long. No pushing required.

Make it remarkable. Then, people will remark on it. It’s that simple… and that difficult.

This will help: Increase word of mouth referrals with this simple idea.

It’s your business. You’re in control!

I have a very important message for you today.

Please consider the following

You are in control of your business. Therefore, you never have to worry about earning too little, making too few sales or having too few clients. You have the power, right now, to improve your results in any area of your business, by making better decisions.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • Instead of wondering where your next business lead will come from — use a great lead generation plan.
  • Instead of wondering why you get so little business from Facebook, Twitter etc — use a great social network marketing plan.
  • Instead of wondering why you get too few new clients or customers from your email marketing —  use a great email marketing plan.
  • Instead of wondering how many clients or customers you will lose this year — use a great customer retention plan.
  • Instead of wondering why too few influential people recommend you — use a great outreach plan.
  • Instead of wondering why you attract too few, high quality clients — use a great client acquisition plan.

No ceiling on what you can achieve

It’s your business. There is no ceiling on what you can earn from it. No ceiling on what you can achieve. The key, is to make sure you are doing the right things, correctly.

Every day, I help small business owners take control of their marketing. I help them plan ahead with confidence and clarity. I show them exactly what they need to do and then guide them, every step of the way.

If you are interested, I can help you too. Read this to find out how.

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