Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Read this before you speak with your next prospective client

I spoke with a service provider yesterday. He’s working hard, working long hours too… yet he’s still really struggling.

Why?

He’s competing for clients by trying to make his fees as low as possible. He’s in a race to the bottom with a handful of equally misguided competitors.

Now, his fees are too low for him to make a decent living and too low for him to provide a great service. So not only are his clients barely profitable to his business, he gets very few referrals from them. That’s a toxic, unsustainable mix!

Cheap or valuable?

As service providers, we can either market our work based on it being valuable or we can market our work based on it being cheap. However, we first need to accept that there’s a huge difference between the two.

Cheap work is seldom, if ever, valuable. Usually, it’s just cheap.

P.S. – Here are 3 Ideas to help you, the next time they say you’re too expensive.

What every business owner needs to know about Dabbling

open

If your business isn’t growing as fast as you want it to, today’s post is written just for you.

It always looks closed

I took my friend to his chiropractor recently. As we arrived, I asked him if he was sure he had the correct appointment time, as the place wasn’t open. “Oh, it is open”, he replied. “It just always looks like it’s closed”. There were no lights visible from outside, the door was closed and there was no open sign on the door. It looked to all the world as if it was closed.

I was introduced to the chiropractor and as always when I meet a business owner, I asked him how business was. He explained that business was very slow. Hardly surprising, as he’s losing the vast majority of the passing trade he’s paying for, by locating his business on the high street.

Ignorance is not bliss

Like the chiropractor in that example, many small business owners are totally unaware of the marketing mistakes that are hurting their business. They wrongly assume their poor results are due to the economy, lack of demand or aggressive competition.

In reality, a poorly performing business is paying the price [literally] for the owners decision NOT to do the right things, correctly.

Instead, they dabble. Why? Usually, it’s because they think driving their business into the ground is less risky than getting the expert help their business is screaming out for.

The lesson here is simple

Don’t look outside for excuses when a business isn’t doing well. Instead, look inside for ways to improve the elements you can control. Thankfully, it’s the things you can control that make all the difference.

When a business isn’t growing the way a we would like, we have a decision to make. Do we dabble like an amateur or invest in the help we need? Your answer to that question will tell you a lot about your commitment to your business… and what 2015 is likely to bring for you. Choose wisely.

Be irresistible to prospective clients in just 3 steps

irresistible, attract clients

If you want clients and prospective clients to think of you as the go-to person, for whatever service you provide, I believe you’ll find this post really useful.

It’s based around 3 steps you can take, which will change the way people think and feel about you, so you become their irresistible choice.

What is a go-to person?

Firstly, I’d like to confirm what I am referring to when I use the term, go-to person. I’m talking specifically about those valued people in business, who we immediately think of when we have a need, related to their area of expertise.

When someone thinks of you as their go-to person for a particular need, they go direct to you.

  • They don’t ask a friend for a recommendation.
  • They don’t poll their friends on Facebook.
  • They don’t take their need to a search engine.
  • YOU get the call!

Clearly, the commercial value of being the go-to person for your marketplace is huge. Not only will you retain your existing clients for longer, you will also attract more inquiries from prospective clients.

To earn this valuable position, we need to focus on 3 core areas.

1. Demonstrate that you know your subject

A newsletter or blog is a great way to achieve this. By sharing useful ideas and information, people come to think of you as a valuable resource.

This is why it’s so important to avoid the common mistake, of only offering diluted information to your readers. If you hold back the good stuff, the really useful ideas, you will cause your readers to assume that shallow information is all you know!

Give away as much value, freely, as possible. Now, at this point some of you will be concerned, that if you give lots of valuable information away for free, people won’t bother hiring you. That is actually the exact opposite of how it works.

Here’s what really happens, when you offer extremely useful information for free in your newsletter or blog posts:

  • Some people will use your free ideas, with no intention of hiring you. As they were never going to hire you anyway, you lose nothing.
  • Some people will use your free ideas and get part of the way, then realise they need your expert help. These people will call you. Had you not given so much free information away, you’d never have positioned yourself as their go-to person.
  • Some people will see the value of what you do, then figure out very fast that it’s far better to hire you to do it for them.

It works. People in that 2nd and 3rd group make up almost all of my non-referred clients!

2. Demonstrate that you are approachable

If we want people to get in touch with us, we need to be as approachable as possible to them. This means taking every opportunity to demonstrate that we are friendly and professional.

Unbelievably, many business owners are cranky or confrontational, even when they are sharing their thoughts online, for the world to see. This is, of course, their prerogative. However, there is a price to pay for being cranky or confrontational. It makes us far less approachable. If we want people to feel comfortable approaching us, we need to be approachable. We need to show humility. We need to remove any barriers.

3. Demonstrate your reliability

Again, publishing a newsletter or blog posts is a great way to demonstrate your reliability. Of course, this is only the case if you have reliably published content over a reasonable period of time. If you write a newsletter or blog and the last thing you published was several months ago, it works directly against you. Instead of demonstrating your reliability and stick-ability, you do the opposite.

If you have been in business for a long time, let people know. When a prospective client reads my about page, they can see that I set this marketing business up in 1995 and that I have worked in marketing all my adult life. That, along with almost 6 years worth of publishing ideas via Jim’s Marketing Blog, offers those thinking of hiring me a huge confidence boost. You should do the same for your prospective clients and customers too.

IMPORTANT: Drawing a line

It’s important at this point, to make a very clear distinction between positioning yourself as the go-to person and positioning yourself as the freebie person.

Yes, it’s a privilege to be regarded by our family and friends as a person they know they can rely on for whatever they need. However, in business, we need to draw a line between what we are prepared to do for free and what we will offer as a paid service. Otherwise, we are likely to become a magnet for freebie hunters. Freebie hunters are people who abuse the nature of others, with selfish demands for free goods and services.

For example, I occasionally get emails from people, asking me to do unpaid work for them. These range from things that would take me a few hours, to tasks that would take me a week.

It’s worth mentioning that many of my clients started off as readers, yet none, not one, of my clients came to me after asking for freebies.

How to get the balance right: The one-to-many approach

There best way to offer free information, which is scalable and sustainable, is to adopt the same approach I use here. I call it the one-to-many approach.

Here’s how I do it: All the free work I do for people is offered via Jim’s Marketing Blog and the email version of the blog. I call it the one-to-many approach, because I create one piece of work and it benefits many people.

Offering one-to-one work for free, simply does not scale. It makes no sense for me to give an hour of my time to 1 selfish person, when I can use that same hour to write something, which will benefit thousands of people.

Finally

For some business owners and consultants, there is a huge mindset change required, to adopt the idea of freely sharing, valuable content. However, for those who embrace the idea, the rewards are huge. It’s the primary marketing model I have used for years and is the most powerful form of marketing I have ever seen. I can’t recommend it highly enough to you.

Taking care of your mind and body

Hard work. Meeting deadlines. Overcoming Challenges. Delighting customers and clients. These are just part of what it takes to create and grow a great business.

As our passion for business drives us forward, it’s extremely important to make sure we’re not neglecting our health.

Look after your body

It makes no sense to grow a successful business, if the price you pay is that you damage your health. I discovered this the hard way.

My story: As my business grew increasingly successful, I found myself getting heavier and less fit. Although my diet was good, plus I don’t drink any alcohol or smoke, I’d been spending more time at my desk and less time outdoors on my bike, walking or hiking. Lesson learned.

I was fortunate enough to turn things around before any real damage was caused. These days I make sure to cycle or walk daily. The photo above is from my walk yesterday, in Sherwood Forest. I’m physically and mentally fitter than I have been in years.

Here’s the thing: It’s easy to get unhealthy or pile weight on if you get the balance wrong. Work hard, sure, but make sure you rest too and look after your body. Take heed of your diet and get yourself out and about every day, no matter how busy you are. Walk. Cycle. Dance. Swim… whatever you’re able to do.

Look after your mind

Business can be stressful regardless of how well or how poorly a business is doing. This is why it’s vitally important to ensure that you get the rest you need, the time with family you need and the relaxation you need.

Yes, I could earn a lot more if I were to work longer hours, but the money is massively less valuable to me than a great relationship with my family and peace of mind.

[Worth a read: Here’s what my working week looks like – Just 5 hours a day.]

I have always believed and advocated the following: Money without happiness… you’re still broke!

If your business model means that you work too many hours and place too many demands on yourself, it’s time to stop and find a better strategy. Overloading yourself with work isn’t sustainable. It leads to all kinds of problems, which you can avoid if you decide to do something about it.

And finally

Never take health or fitness advice from someone who isn’t qualified.

My friend Sam became extremely ill, from eating liquorice root to help with his eczema, after reading a health and fitness website. Sam wasn’t aware that liquorice can cause dangerously high blood pressure. It was only when he was rushed to hospital and his wife answered a questionnaire about his diet, that a doctor spotted the problem.

Always speak with your doctor before you make any significant changes to your diet and before you start exercising. Your doctor will know if what you’re proposing is in line with what your body needs.

I hope you found this useful. More importantly, I hope it inspires you to look after yourself.

How to make 2015 your best year ever

best year

It’s December. The final month of the year. There’s a very important question you need to ask yourself, as you prepare for 2015:

Looking back, was January 2014 the start of a New Year… or was it just another chance to relive the same old year and frustrations, all over again?

At some point, a business owner needs to make an important decision — a decision that will determine their whole future. They need to decide what they are settling for.

Settling for too little

In my experience, the answer is that they settle for way too little.

They don’t deliberately settle for too little. It’s something that just happens after years of struggling. They lose touch with the excitement, dreams and goals they had when they started. They see survival as their main goal and are happy if they see even marginal growth.

Little wonder then, that these business owners lack the energy and drive they used to have.

It’s as if they have forgotten that as the owner of their business, there’s no limit on what they can achieve. No limit on what they can do. No limit on what their future can bring.

So, consider this message as a wake-up call to those who need it. And a rallying cry to those who want to do something about it!

Decision time

Decide today that you want more in 2015. Far, far more!

Decide that you want a business that allows you to live the lifestyle you want. A business that allows you to build a wall of financial security around those you love. A business that’s worthy of you and the goals you had at the beginning. I did it and you can do it too. I know this because I help people achieve it every working day of my life.

Get the business development help you need, so you know you’re doing the right things, correctly. Then, work your plan throughout 2015. The results can be life changing.

I’ve used this approach with small business owners for almost exactly 20 years and can assure you it works. Beautifully and predictably.

How to run a successful business, working 5 hours a day

smart

Another day. Another Don’t work hard, work smart expert pushing that toxic message. Today, I’d like to explain why that message makes zero sense and also, show you how I run a successful international marketing business, working an average of just 5 hours a day.

Don’t work hard, work smart!

I was prompted to write about this, after I saw a productivity guru earlier, who was telling business owners to work smart, instead of working hard. His contention was that if you followed his system, you could work smart and not need to work hard, yet magically create a wildly successful business.

There’s a very obvious error in his message. In fairness, lots of authors and gurus make the same mistake.

Why not work hard AND work smart?

Why choose? Surely it makes massively more sense to work hard AND ALSO work smart. Surely this seems like the smartest way to make your fortune. Of course, it seems to make sense because it’s exactly what 100% of the world’s most successful business people do.

It’s crazy to tell people to work smart, [to do the right things correctly and avoid costly detours] — and then tell them not to work hard.

Here’s an example from my own business.

I work hard

In fact, I work damn hard. However, I don’t work long hours.

The “Don’t work hard, work smart” experts almost always confuse working hard, with working long hours. They totally fail to understand that you can work hard and work smart, working less than half as many hours as a typical business owner.

For instance: I am there for my son every morning at breakfast, while his mother gets herself ready for the day. My son and I make breakfast together, have breakfast together and I’m with him until he leaves for school. I am also there for him every evening when he returns from school at 3:45pm.

My son is just 9 years old, but he’s already spent way more time with his dad, than many son’s spend with their business-owner fathers in their entire childhood.

Here’s how I manage it.

Hard work — 5 hours a day

Although my day varies quite a bit, I usually do an hour early in the morning, three hours during the day and an hour in the early evening. Yes, sometimes I work 8 hours in a day. Other days I work for just one hour or less, with my average day consisting of 5 hours of hard but enjoyable work.

However, during those 5 hours I work hard, I work smart and I work to a plan. I don’t take non-urgent calls or reply to non urgent emails. I see what needs to be done and I do it.

Working hard, working smart and working lots of long days

Here’s something essential for anyone looking at my 5 hour day and wondering how it’s possible.

When my business started and my name wasn’t yet established, I worked hard, smart and I worked very long hours.

I worked 6 days a week, sometimes 7, often putting in 16 hour days. Sometimes I worked through a full 24 hours. I knew that if I hustled hard at the beginning, I eventually wouldn’t need to. I believed that if I worked smart enough, hard enough and for long enough, that my name and reputation would open doors for me. That’s exactly what happened.

What you can’t do, unless you want to be ill or have no family life, is to carry on working crazy hours. It’s not sustainable and will make you sick.

Finally

I guess what I’m saying here is that you can waste a lot of time going nowhere, if you take advice from people selling business tricks. Be careful of anyone saying you can grow a successful business without the hard work. It’s wrong.

Work the long hours at the beginning, work hard and work smart. If you’re doing it correctly, your business will soon become established, like mine did, and you can drop the long hours… and work hard and work smart.

Remember, working long hours is a temporary thing, until you gather the momentum required. It’s not part of an effective business strategy. In fact, if you keep needing to work long hours, you should change your business strategy because it isn’t working.

If you still find yourself needing to work long hours, you’re either not working smart enough, not working hard enough… or both.

Who are the happiest people in business?

Happy

The happiest people in business are easy to spot. They love what they do. And just as it shows when people work through gritted teeth, we also notice when people are enjoying what they do.

Here’s what we can learn from them and why owning a business you love is essential, if you want to be successful.

YESSSS! It’s Friday!!!

I have to admit finding it really weird, that anyone would build a business that they don’t love. Yet, we see it all the time. Look at any social network on a Friday and what will you see? You’ll see business owners so ecstatic their terrible working week is finally over, that they feel they must shout it out to everyone who follows them. None feel compelled to show that level of excitement about their business during the week.

In stark contrast, I know a lot of very successful business owners and every one of them is passionate about their business. They have deliberately created businesses, which are consistent with their values and beliefs. Work, in many ways, doesn’t feel like working. So, they work every day in a business that makes them feel energized, fulfilled… and happy!

Here’s why this makes all the difference

Because they love their businesses, they willingly embrace the hustle. In other words, they do 100% of the work, not 100% of the things they feel comfortable with, like most business owners.

Think of it like this:

Someone who passionately wants to become a rock star, will willingly practice the guitar every day. Their vision of being a rock star is so compelling, that they happily, willingly do the work of practising the same chords over and over again. A kid forced by their parents to learn the guitar, will do as little as possible. They will look for excuses not to practice.

The lesson here is clear. Build a business you love. It’s your business and you have freedom to either transform it into something that inspires you — or start a new business with the lessons learned.

It makes no sense on any level, to own a business, to have full control… and not build something that you love with a passion.

Your time. Your focus. Your choice.

workspace

The people you surrender your attention to, control what you do.

The endless stream of emails, messages and social media updates consume both your time and your focus.

  • Time you can never regain is lost reacting to the immediate, yet unimportant calls for your attention.
  • Your focus is pulled away from your most important work, making it hard for you to concentrate.

You then look back on the day and wonder why you worked so hard, feel so tired, yet made so little progress.

Be extremely selective who you surrender your attention to. It’s one of the most important decisions you make throughout your working day.

Tip — Read this. It will help you get the direction and clarity you need.

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