Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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A valuable business lesson, from Twitter!

Twitter

If you want to learn from the success of others, copy their strategy rather than their tactics.

Just like Twitter

Twitter succeeded because it was the first, mass market, micro blogging service.

The hundreds of start-ups who tried to copy what Twitter did, failed. They copied Twitter’s tactics, rather than their strategy. Twitter’s strategy was to create a unique form of communicating and connecting.

If those start-ups had built their own, unique way to communicate and connect, they would have created something with the potential to succeed. Instead, they failed, because the people who wanted a service that was just like Twitter… used Twitter!

It works like this

By copying the tactics of a successful business, we become a clone. A copy. Something unremarkable.

By copying the strategy of a successful business, we can create something of our own. A remarkable original. A valuable proposition.

Tip – Here’s the best post I’ve written on this subject: My name is Jim Connolly and I am a freak!

Puppies look cute when they beg, but business owners don’t!

When we see a puppy begging for attention, it looks incredibly cute.

When we see a business owner begging for attention, it makes us cringe!

We all need help at the start

At the very beginning, every business needs to push it’s message. No matter how remarkable, amazing or unique your business is, no one will know about it unless you get it in front of people.

Then, once you have pushed your business under the noses of friends and contacts, and advertised it to your target market, it’s time to listen. If your business is remarkable enough, you will see a snowball effect.

  • People will start talking about you.
  • They will share links to your website and pass your details to their friends.
  • They will call you, email you and ask you for more information.
  • As a result, more and more people will know about you, talk about you or hire you.

Or not.

So, what do you do if people hear about your business, yet it just doesn’t interest them enough to buy from you or talk about you?

When all you hear is crickets

If your business is more then 6 months old and your friends and your best contacts, along with those who saw your advertising, are not spreading the word, buying from you or you’re not attracting very regular inquiries, take heed. It’s time to find out why and fix it — to build a new proposition, which people are interested in.

Here’s what doesn’t work: Begging people to be interested in something that’s uninspiring. That approach is what happens when you refuse to fix the problem. It’s a low leverage, low profit, frustrating and reputation-damaging way, to slowly go broke.

  • Pestering people with unwanted phone calls.
  • Sending them emails they never asked for.
  • Sending needy messages using social networks.
  • Bugging people on forums and community groups.

These all have a negative impact on the way people think and feel about you.

The answer is as simple and as challenging as this

Instead of looking for new, cheaper ways to beg for attention, invest in developing a better proposition… something people will want to spend money on (and share).

Tip: Read this – How to build a successful business. It’s packed with ideas and examples for you to use.

Why the average business fails and how to avoid it!

Here’s what we know, for certain, about your industry: The average slot has already been filled. There are more than enough average providers, offering an average service.

Trying to out-average your average competitors

This represents a huge challenge, for those who want to grow an average business. How do you out-average all those average service providers?

Of course, you can’t.

This is why the average business goes broke within a few years and why those that survive, only do so because the owner has resigned themselves to working hard, for very little reward.

An alternative approach

Another way to grow a business, is to walk away from average. Average may feel familiar, but it’s not your friend. It’s hurting your business, which means it’s hurting you and your family.

Instead, get specific. Get specific about what you want to achieve and the kind of clients or customers you want to work with. Then, become obsessive about providing that valuable niche with exactly what they want.

It’s a lot more rewarding, than wasting another 5 or 10 years trying to grow an average business.

How to create marketing, which people WANT to receive!

Maybe one of the most important questions in marketing, is this:

Would people miss my marketing, if it went away?

If the answer is no, then your marketing is simply adding to all the noise out there. The challenge, is that people do everything possible to avoid the noise. So, your marketing is largely ignored.

However, it doesn’t need to be that way!

An alternative approach

Instead of selling, build a relationship with your prospective clients or customers. Become a valuable asset to them, before they need you.

How?

Here’s a tip: This blog post is marketing. Think about that for a moment…

How to find an extra 35 hours a week

By far, the question I get asked more than any other, is: How do you find the time to write as often as you do?

Here’s the answer

I don’t watch TV. The ‘average’ person watches between 5 and 6 hours of TV a day (it varies from country to country). By avoiding it, I have an extra 35 hours a week available. I use some of that time to write.

Here’s a great question for you: What would YOU choose to do, if you were able to find an extra 35 (or even 5) hours every week?

Bonus question: How would that improve your life?

How to get people to market your business… for free!

There’s a huge difference between marketing an average product and baking marketing into a product. One needs to be marketed relentlessly to drive sales. The other doesn’t. In fact, people will market the product or service for you.

[NOTE: You can find out how to bake marketing into a product, service or business, here.]

Brand ambassadors

I was approached by a large computer manufacturer last week. They want me to be a brand ambassador for their new ultraportable notebooks. I was offered a ‘free’ $1900 notebook, plus access to some conferences and exhibitions. All I had to do, was share how amazing their hardware is with my readers and those who connect with me on social networks. I thanked them, but declined.

Earlier that same day, I was sitting in a coffee shop editing an article on my creative thinking website, which included the above photo. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see that same brand of computer appears on the background image of my Twitter account.

Not only didn’t Apple pay me, I’ve paid them thousands to buy the 3 Macs I use. No one at Apple asked me to be an ambassador for their brand either. They didn’t need to.

Here’s the thing

When your product or service is just another (whatever), you need to push it to promote it. When your product has marketing baked in, people push it for you.

Moreover, they do it eagerly and without being paid.

3 Critical steps for a profitable, successful business

If you’re tired of working for average fees, working for average clients or achieving average results, this could be exactly what you need to know.

Things have changed… massively!

It has never been harder to make a living, by offering an average service.

Thanks to social networks, the people and businesses offering a remarkable service are now owning the most profitable segment of their marketplaces. They get all the buzz. All the word of mouth referrals. They spend very little on marketing and can charge a premium for their service. It’s a high profit way to build a hugely successful business.

All that’s left for the average provider, is to pester people for attention or buy their attention, with advertising and promotional offers. Then, sell based on low or average fees. It’s a low profit, frustrating and risky way to run a business.

The question is…

Why do so few business owners invest in doing what’s required, to take their business from average to remarkable?

There are a few extremely common reasons:

  1. It’s partly because of ignorance. Some are genuinely unaware that the service they provide is average. They grossly underestimate what their competitors are doing, so assume their own service is a lot better than it really is.
  2. It’s partly out of fear. The decision to up your game, to reach higher and to stand out, takes a lot of courage. Hiding in the middle ground feels safer, despite being the riskiest thing they can do.
  3. It’s partly because they don’t know how. Many business owners have no real idea what to do, in order to make the service they provide remarkable and highly desirable. They know they need to do something, they just don’t know what.

So, which, if any, of those 3 broad groups would your business fit in?

  • If your clients or customers seldom refer you, you’re in that first group. The same is true if your fees are around average and you tend to attract average clients.
  • If you know your business needs help, but you’re refusing to give it the resources it needs, you’re in the second group. The fear of change is blocking you from making the improvements required. Paradoxically, this is the riskiest thing you can do. When you starve a plant of the sunshine it needs, it stops growing… then dies. Starving a business of the resources it needs leads to the same result.
  • If you are ready to make the improvements required, but you’re not sure what to do, you’re in that third group. You’re also working from the same mindset as the most successful business owners, having overcome the fear of those in the second group and the ignorance of those in the first group.

Whichever group (if any) you find yourself in, the time to move from average to remarkable is now. It’s too important to delay.

Now what?

3 Steps to becoming remarkable

The first step is to acknowledge the need to improve.

The second step is to overcome the fear of change.

The third step is to do something about it.

Growth Hacking, shortcuts and building something of value

What kind of work (or art) are you going to produce today?

I was prompted to ask this question, after remembering a radio interview with Cyndi Lauper. Cyndi was talking about her career, when the interviewer asked her, what advice she had for aspiring artists. I’m paraphrasing here, but Cyndi’s reply was to never compromise your work for short-term gain. Instead, think about your legacy.

Cutting corners

In the age of Growth Hacking and shortcuts, it’s worth remembering that our reputation and legacy is built on the quality of our work.

It’s about the value of what we do… not how quickly we do it or how many corners we cut.

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