Use what you have, to get what you want

business development topics r

Think about it:

  • You can wait for the economy to improve. Or you can adapt to the opportunities available today.
  • You can wait for inspiration to appear. Or you can command it to appear. [Here’s what Steve Jobs and Picasso said about inspiration.]
  • You can wait for your competitors to raise the customer service bar. Or you can lead the way on service excellence.
  • You can wait for permission. Or you can take the initiative.

Focus on what you can control

It’s useful to remind yourself that your actions are what will determine your results. You only become a victim of poor commercial circumstances, if you passively allow those circumstances to control the direction of your business.

So, stay agile. Focus on what you can control. Set your own sail. Work with the things you can influence.

Do all you can with all you have… until you achieve the results that your agile thinking and hard work deserves.

How to make your content marketing more compelling

content marketing, compelling content, traffic

Which of these approaches do you find the most compelling?

  1. I wrote this blog post, now I need you to read it.
  2. There’s an idea I believe you will benefit from, so I wrote about it.

And which of these 2 do you prefer?

  1. I made this audio program, and now I need you to buy it.
  2. Small business owners needed help with this challenge, so I made an audio program about it.

Most people are far more attracted to the second approach in those examples. Despite this, almost every marketing message I see from small and medium-sized businesses, is based on the first approach. They come from a self-focused mindset, rather than being focused on the needs [or wants] of the other person.

Smarter marketing

Your marketing needs to be smarter than that if you want people to embrace your message and hire you or buy from you.

Telling someone that you know there are competing products, but they should buy yours, because you made it, won’t work. The prospective client or customer doesn’t care what you want. They care about answers to their problems. They care about their wants.

When you create your marketing based on what the other person wants, what’s important to them… it immediately improves how your marketing is received. It also improves how the prospect feels about you. This is the cornerstone of all effective marketing.

What next?

I recommend you spend some time reviewing your marketing. Shift the emphasis of any self-focused copy, from what you want to what they want.

The worst that can happen is that your marketing will be focused on the wants and needs of your marketplace. Get it right and it’s also likely to significantly improve your client acquisition / sales numbers.

If only they knew how amazing your business is

amazing

Small business owners lose out on sales or new clients all the time, because of a common and costly marketing mistake. In today’s post, I want to show you how to stop this error from hurting your business.

A common and costly problem

Think about it:

  • If only they knew how amazing your business is, you would have more great clients.
  • If only they knew how amazing your business is, you would be able to charge what you are worth.
  • If only they knew how amazing your business is, you would escape the feast and famine cycle.
  • If only they knew how amazing your business is, you could look to the future with confidence.

The challenge here is that in the vast majority of cases, small business owners are lousy at getting that message across. You need to avoid making the same mistake.

Here’s a great place to start.

It’s time to get specific

Explain what makes your business stand out. Highlight the benefits of working with you, rather than an ‘average quality’ alternative provider. Showcase your unique strengths.

General marketing claims like, “we try harder”, “we go the extra mile” and “our service is second to none”, don’t work. Everyone makes those generic promises. By repeating similar claims, your message gets lost in an ocean of predictable marketing.

If you want your marketplace to know how truly superb your business is, you need to transition from generic — to specific. A powerful way to do this is to provide supporting information for your claims. Show them, specifically, what makes your business a better proposition for them.

For example, almost every business claims to offer great customer service. You can rise above the noise and get noticed, by showing prospective clients how you invest in customer service training. You can show them the additional opening hours you provide. If you have customer service awards, showcase them in your marketing.

When people finally see just how amazing your business is, you will find you attract the best clients, the best fees and the most rewarding projects.

The best kept secret

You don’t want to be the best kept secret in your industry. It’s frustrating to know you are better than other providers, who are more commercially successful then you. This is why you need your marketplace to know who you are AND that hiring you or buying from you makes perfect sense.

This is a function of marketing… effective marketing, to be exact. It’s about knowing who your ideal client or customer is and then crafting a powerful message, which you motivate them to read or listen to.

If you make that message [or story] remarkable enough, they will tell their friends about you too.

Tip: You may find this useful: Be the first. Be the best. Be remarkable.

Here’s why your business needs a great support network

network

To build a successful business, you need a great team of people around you. I’ve personally seen why this is so important over the past 72 hours… [more on that in a moment!]

Think about it:

  • You need to know what to do when faced with a challenge that’s outside your skill set.
  • You need to have someone to call, when only an expert will do.
  • You need people, who you can trust to help you when you need it most.

Here’s my first hand example of how a couple of potentially damaging issues were solved, thanks to having the right team around me.

There’s a very valuable lesson here for you and your business. Allow me to explain.

My blog vanished

On Sunday, the new-look Jim’s Marketing Blog went live. You can see how the new site looks, here. Everything went great, until I decided to make a few tweaks. Suddenly, my blog vanished!

So, it was 5pm Sunday. That’s absolutely not the best time to need expert help. Usually, that would have been a stressful situation. However, I knew everything would soon be fine. I emailed my developer, Gregor from Mass Media Design, and in no time the blog was back.

My server was attacked

Then, just before 11pm Tuesday night, my web server came under a heavy attack. Jim’s Marketing Blog had slowed down to a crawl. I called tech support at my hosts, WebFusion, and they took control. The problem was soon eradicated. I was able to go to sleep happy, knowing Rob and his colleagues were awake and making sure my server was fine.

Disclaimer: WebFusion sponsor my blog, however, I was a very happy customer of theirs for years before they sponsored me. It’s easy to see why I recommend them.

Without those key partners in place?

Had it not been for the team around my business, the past few days would have been extremely stressful. Without a great web developer, my blog would have been offline until at least 9am on Monday morning.

If I’d chosen cheap hosting, I could have been waiting 24 hours for a support ticket to be acted on. Then there’s no saying how long it would have taken them to resolve the problem. I’ve known sites on cheap hosting to be offline for 3 or 4 days.

The team behind your business

Here’s an important question to ask yourself about your business. When you need expert advice regarding; law, tax, technology, marketing, accounts, etc., who’s on your team?

The service providers you rely on for your business will have a huge impact on what you achieve. Get the best you can afford. Put them in place as soon as you can. This frees you up to focus on what you’re best at.

It also lets you plan ahead with confidence, knowing you have the key areas of your business covered and that you’re doing the right things, correctly.

Here’s a super fast way to boost your profits

marketing topics r

If you want to generate high quality sales extremely quickly, I have a powerful, proven idea for you. It’s based on a strategy I use with my clients, which has produced amazing results.

It can work for you too. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s based on 3 Facts… and a question

I want you to think about the following 3 facts, regarding your clients or customers:

  1. These good people trust you.
  2. They also have an existing trading relationship with you. In other words, they are used to working with you, receiving invoices from you and paying you. They also know you provide them with an excellent service.
  3. Because of those 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 strategy 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. This makes it perfect, if you want or need to increase your revenues and profits quickly.
  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. So, as well as making your clients more profitable, you also increase your chances of retaining their custom.

The bottom line here is this: If you’re looking for the fastest and least expensive way to generate far higher revenues and profits, this could be it. If not, it’s pretty darn close.

Oh, and if you want some help developing a new, attractive product or service, here are some ideas to help you.

Attract more sales enquiries with these 4 tips

Get noticed

How easy do you make it for prospective clients or customers, to spend their money with you?

That may sound like an odd question. After all, every business owner should be making the purchasing process as effortless as possible. As you know, this is not always the case. In fact, we regularly encounter hurdles that stop us from choosing a particular vendor.

The good news: It’s possible to significantly improve your product sales or client acquisition numbers, by paying attention to the following 4 areas.

1. Be open for business when they need you

Most businesses copy the opening hours of their competitors. A better model, is to base your opening hours on the needs of your marketplace. If you’re not available when your marketplace is ready to buy, you lose.

2. Offer flexible payment options

I’m often amazed at the limited payment options offered by small businesses. A lack of flexible payment alternatives, means those businesses are leaving money on the table. Worst of all, it’s totally avoidable.

Thanks to services like PayPal, it has never been easier for small business owners to accept payment via credit card, debit card and charge cards. If you factor the payment fees into your prices correctly, all those additional transactions needn’t cost you a penny.

3. Offer a money-back guarantee

I do this with my Pick My Brain service and clients love it. It reverses the risk from them to me. It means they can hire me with total peace of mind.

Clearly, this type of risk reversal doesn’t work for every business model. However, if you think it could work for you it’s worth exploring.

4. Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you

A common mistake some small business owners make, is to require too much information on their contact forms. When someone is making an initial enquiry via your website, you need their email address, name and message. That’s it.

By demanding their postal address and / or their telephone number, you immediately reduce the number of enquiries you will receive. People know that some businesses collect and then sell their addresses and phone numbers.

Ask for the minimum initial information to get the maximum number of enquiries.

Take a moment to review the suitability of those options for your business. Any one of them could potentially make a significant improvement to your business.

Stop marketing your services. Really. Stop it!

marketing topics r

Afternoon tea at The Savoy in London is over ¬£110 and there’s usually a waiting list.

Of course, no one pays The Savoy all that money for afternoon tea. No. They can buy tea and cake from a shop down the street for 90% less. However, it’s not the calories people pay for.

They pay for The Savoy experience: The outstanding service. The amazing quality. The story they can share with their friends.

Sell them the experience

The vast majority of service providers sell the calories of what they do. These coaches, accountants, designers, trainers etc., offer the same predictable services and make the same predictable promises. They have turned their service into a commodity. They then attract fee sensitive clients, because clients buy commodity services based on price or fee.

However, the best service providers in every industry use the same approach as The Savoy. They discovered that they could massively improve their income and profits, by making the experience of working with them so uniquely valuable, that people will pay a premium for it.

If you’re having to compete on fees or you’re finding it hard to stand out from the crowd, invest in creating an amazing experience, then sell the experience. Get this right and it will improve your business beyond recognition.

Tip: You will find this post extremely useful: The number 1 thing your business must know in order to succeed.

A guaranteed way to increase your chances of success

business development topics r

So, you’re working on a new idea or trying to improve your business results.

You have a couple of options open to you:

  1. You can go through the long, costly process of trial and error… work hard and hope it works.
  2. Alternatively, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. You can find out what needs to be done, and then proceed with confidence.

If you’re the kind of person who prefers the second option, try this. It’s guaranteed to work. [Yes, literally].

Be stingy with your time, but not your ideas

time management

Laura emailed me with a great question. She wanted to know why I give so many ideas away, for free, on the blog. She rightly pointed out that with no advertisers and no need for “traffic”, I could achieve all my marketing goals, writing far less often.

So, here’s why I strive to be helpful to as many people as I can, as often as I can.

The contribution mindset

I see it like this:

  • If you own 3 pieces of gold and you give 1 of them away, you are left with 2 pieces of gold. Give all 3 pieces of gold away and you’re left with nothing.
  • If you give someone an idea, you still have just as many ideas as you had before. Plus, you have just enriched the other person and maybe made a new friend too.

Scaling generosity

The key is to find a way to share your ideas, which scales.

  • If you give an hour of your time away to 10 individual people every day, you have just lost 10 hours. It doesn’t scale. It’s unsustainable.
  • If you give an hour of your time to your community every day, by writing a blog post that reaches 10 people or 10,000 people, you have still only invested 1 hour.

We need to be stingy with our time. The clock is ticking. We only have a limited supply. But when it comes to helping people, we can choose to be generous.

That’s why I give so many ideas away, for free, here on the blog.

P.S. Interested in blogging? Here’s how you can become an overnight success.

How to stop stalling and do your best work

How to

No, it doesn’t really matter what brand of computer you choose to work with. The same is true of the software you use. Leonardo da Vinci changed the world, writing with a quill.

No, it doesn’t really matter how you plan what you write. Best-selling author John Boyne, like many, doesn’t plan at all. He doesn’t even know where the story is going, until after he starts writing it.

No, it doesn’t really matter how inspired you feel. You don’t wait for inspiration to appear… you command it to appear.

What matters

What matters is that you get started. So learn to identify your stalling tactics. Then, call them out for what they are.

Now you’re free to focus on doing your best work.