Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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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.


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.


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.

What’s the link between ABC News and me?

I want to share an extremely powerful form of link building with you. However, this is not about SEO. Allow me to explain.

A reader pointed out that ABC News didn’t link to me when they interviewed me recently. I disagreed, even though there’s no link from the article to my blog.

Here’s why!

Different values

The reader is an SEO guy. For him, the value of that article was all about getting a backlink or hyperlink, from ABC News.

The value to me, is being the guy who got the call, when ABC News needed an expert marketing opinion.

Different links

Interestingly, the SEO guy and I were both talking about links. However, we were focused on different types of link building:

  • He was talking about the kind of link building, which can help with higher search engine rankings.
  • I was talking about the kind of link building, which connects your marketplace to you and your business, when they need a product or service that you provide.

Link building strategy

Just as SEO experts use link building strategies, to cause influential websites to link to your website, the enlightened business owner strategically builds links with his or her marketplace.

Do something today, to form links in the mind of your marketplace, between what they need and what you offer. Then, do the same tomorrow. Repeat.

Quick Tip: Talk is cheap. People are more influenced by what you DO than what you SAY. Your actions are what create the strongest, most powerful links.

Here’s the fastest way I know, to increase your sales and profits!

If you want to generate high quality sales, extremely quickly, here’s a suggestion. It’s based on an idea I have used and seen used, many times, with amazing results.

3 Facts and a question

I want you to consider the following 3 facts about your clients:

  1. Your clients trust you.
  2. Your clients are used to trading with you, receiving invoices and paying them.
  3. Because of the previous 2 points, making additional purchases from you is seen as low risk or no risk.

Now answer this question:

What additional, useful product or service could you offer to your existing clients (or customers)?

Here’s why this works so well

Selling to your existing clients has 2 massive advantages over selling to strangers:

  1. The process is very quick, because of the 3 facts I just mentioned.
  2. By offering more, high value services to your clients, you become more valued as a provider. This makes them less likely to switch to an alternative provider.

If you’re looking for the quickest, least expensive way to generate far higher revenues and profits, this may be it. If not, it’s pretty darn close.

Yes, it requires a little creativity, but WOW – the results are worth it!

PS: Here’s some advice on how to create a new product or service, which people will love.

Here’s a delightful, profitable way to do business

What daily habits do you have?

I’d like to suggest you add one more daily habit to your list. It’s easy to do, takes very little time, yet is extremely rewarding. It’s simply this:

Find something you can do each day, which will delight one of your clients or customers.

There are just 2 rules:

  1. You need to delight them, by doing something that’s not a normal part of the service they receive from you.
  2. You need to delight a different customer each day.

Going beyond what’s expected

Yes, I know you work hard to look after all your clients, all the time. That’s NOT what I am referring to here. Your clients expect that and rightly so. I’m referring to going beyond what is expected, in a small but meaningful way.

For example:

  • Send them a hand written note, to thank them for their continued custom.
  • If you have discovered a website or application, which you think they will find useful, share it with them.
  • Recommend their business to your contacts.
  • Link to them from your website.
  • Send cupcakes.
  • Offer to meet them for a quick coffee, when you’re next in their area.

You get the idea. It’s not about spending lots of time or money. It’s the thought behind what you do that counts.

Delighting a different client every day

All of your clients or customers deserve to feel special… to be delighted.

The nature of human relationships, is that we bond better with some people then others. In business we need to go beyond that. It’s about building wonderful working relationships with all our clients, not a select few who we gravitate toward.

Why bother delighting your clients?

It matters. It really matters. We each have an inbuilt need to feel recognised and appreciated. When people show us recognition and appreciation, it dramatically improves how we feel about them. Yes, in purely commercial terms, that’s a strong enough case to justify delighting our clients — clearly, the stronger your client relationships are, the better.

I believe it’s about more than that!

As business owners, we work hard and we often work long hours. So, it makes perfect sense to improve our working environment… to make business as enjoyable as possible.

A superb way to achieve this, is to combine the excellent service you provide, with an ongoing commitment to delighting your clients.

PS: I recommend you read this – How to lift your business to a whole new level.

Let your past make you better, not bitter!

What do the following have in common?

  • Parents.
  • Money.
  • Education.
  • Contacts.

They are all excuses I have seen people give recently, for failing with a business or a project. Interestingly, we find that other people with those same challenges, succeed.

An important decision

Ultimately, we are all faced with the same important decision:

Do we allow our past to make us better or make us bitter?

This is one of the biggest decisions we will ever make. It will help determine our happiness and how much of our potential we reach.

If we choose wisely, we will find ourselves looking for reasons to succeed, rather than excuses to fail. The impact this has on our results is immeasurable.

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