I’d like to share something important with you today. I’m going to explain how the best service providers keep their clients happy, generate valuable referrals and build a great reputation.
It’s all about the difference between delivering what a client wants and delivering what a client needs.
Here’s an example
Think about some of the most powerful commercial logos. Apple, McDonald’s Nike, Mercedes, Facebook and Gap, etc. All of these are super simple. A child could reproduce any of them in a few seconds.
Now, imagine for a moment what happens when a business owner hires a great designer to create their logo. The designer then gets back to the client with a smart and simple design.
Because the business owner is not a design professional, they want MORE for their money.
If the designer gives the client what the client wants, the client ends up with a confusing piece of junk.
If the designer gives the client what the client needs, the client ends up with an effective, professionally designed logo.
How the best service providers get this right
The best service providers use education, to help the client understand what the client needs.
When the service provider does this correctly:
The client ends up with what they want and what they need.
The service provider ends up with a happy client, who has a great piece of work. That’s the kind of client who provides valuable referrals and the kind of work, which helps you build an excellent reputation.
This educational approach, is one of the key differences between the most successful service providers and the average provider.
Decide today to build a strategy that attracts great clients. These high value clients will pay you what you are worth and they will pay you on time. Their investment in you will inspire you to do your finest work… which in turn delights them and motivates them to recommend you to everyone.
Let your competitors wrestle over the average clients. But not you. You deserve better than that!
As a business owner, you have more power and potential today than ever before. In fact, there is an opportunity right under your nose, which was impossible to imagine until recently.
Allow me to explain
Just a decade ago, we were very limited in the number of people we could reach with our marketing message. To send a mailshot to just a few thousand people would cost us a small fortune. A nationwide radio campaign was way out of our budget.
There was no scalable, affordable way to reach all our prospective clients.
This gave the big guys a massive advantage over us. However, everything has changed and if you’re willing to embrace the change, there’s no real limit on what you can achieve.
The world is your oyster
Thanks to the advent of the Internet and free, global communications, the only barrier between you and your marketplace are the limitations you place on yourself.
What an amazing opportunity.
Of course, the challenge you now face is that the same zero cost marketing opportunity is open to everyone. This is why we are bombarded every minute of the day with interruptions. Social network updates, emails, text messages… all these and more combine to create a wall of noise.
Noise is your barrier today. Not money!
In other words, the only thing between you and the ability to market your services to thousands or millions of people, is your ability to make it through the noise.
It’s not about money any more. It’s not about knowing the right people. It’s in your hands, rich or poor.
So, what next?
Here’s what we know about those who fail and more importantly, those who succeed:
Those who succeed cut through the noise like a hot knife through butter. They attract attention by doing something meaningful. Next, they earn permission from the people they attract, to share useful information with them — usually by getting them to subscribe to a newsletter or blog. They then keep re-earning that permission, by remaining a source of value.
Make no mistake, it’s all in your hands. If you are willing to do what is required, the world is your oyster!
Here’s the challenge: You can either find this opportunity interesting or you can do something with it. Opportunity is knocking on your door, but only you can decide whether you will let it in or let it slide.
Do you know what’s really, really difficult? Trying to make money by doing something you’re not passionate about.
Yet, that’s exactly what the majority of business owners do. Paradoxically, it’s also why most will go broke or even worse, make just enough to survive in false hope that things will improve… THEN go broke.
Yes, every business needs a viable way to make money. However, money should be the inevitable result of doing what you love, extremely well. Not an end in itself.
Steve Jobs on money
The world’s most successful businesspeople already know this. The late Steve Jobs made the point beautifully:
“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money”.
Do you think Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or Sir Richard Branson go to work for 14 hours a day, because they need more money? No. Branson was wealthy from birth and has never needed to work! These people already have more money than they can spend. What drives the most successful business owners is the need to do something, which they are passionate about.
The money follows.
Working with great passion
When your work is driven by passion, it shines through everything you do. It gives you the energy and robustness required to do your best work. Passion is contagious too, which helps you attract the resources you need. It inspires customers, clients and investors to want to be a part of your vision.
If work is a grind.
If you’re working hard for too little reward.
If you find yourself lacking the energy you need.
If you don’t spend enough time with your family.
If you feel too stressed, too often.
If prospective clients or customers are unenthusiastic when you tell them what you do.
If business leaves you feeling unfulfilled.
… there’s a very good chance you’re not doing something that inspires you. And that has to stop. Seriously. You can’t keep on like that. It’s pointless and 100% unnecessary.
The answer is as easy and challenging as this
Find something you’re passionate about and build a viable business model around it. Work really hard. Then watch your whole world improve.
If this is something you are struggling with right now, let me know. Here are my contact details.
This article is one of the most important I have ever written. It’s also a lot longer than my usual work, so you may want to bookmark it and return to it. There’s a lot to take in and think about.
It starts with a pretty simple question: Are potential clients looking for you… or looking for someone who does what you do?
That’s an extremely important question. A question, which is a more accurate indicator of your commercial future, than just about any other.
Yes, it’s THAT big a question.
Here’s why that question is so important to you
I get 100% of the Jim Connolly marketing inquiries. If someone wants to hire Jim Connolly, they already know how to find me. The key point here, is that they don’t go looking for a marketing provider when they want to hire me. They don’t go to Google or Bing… they email me or call me.
The difference is huge. No, bigger than that!
You see, although I get all the Jim Connolly marketing inquiries, I get a tiny fraction of inquiries from people using search engines, looking for a commodity marketing provider. If they just want a (any) good marketing provider, they have hundreds of thousands to choose from. Those providers then compete against one another.
I don’t need to do that. Ever.
Far more importantly, neither do you!
The 2 ways to position your business or your services
Right now you are in one of these 2 groups. You are either:
Just like all the others… but a little cheaper, faster or with a little better customer service etc. That’s what over 99% of small businesses do. It turns them into a commodity and is a key reason most small businesses continuously struggle… or go broke.
Uniquely you. Doing great work, your way, aiming to delight your customers or clients. This is what fewer than 1% of small businesses do.
Those in that first group are commodity providers. They offer what’s known as a commoditized service.
The danger of offering a commoditized service
Here’s a good dictionary definition of a commoditized business:
“To render (a good or service) widely available and interchangeable with one provided by another company.:
Here’s the thing: People buy commodities based on the lowest price.
It’s why we drive to the lowest priced provider when we need fuel (a commodity) for our car.
It’s why 2 equally qualified accountants, whose services sound fairly predictable, will have to compete on fees. They have commoditized their business. They have become interchangeable with their commoditized competitors. By the way, this applies to every service provider and not just accountants.
Every day that you choose (yes, it’s a choice) to offer a commoditized service, your business suffers. You suffer too. You deliberately (remember it’s a choice) rob your business of the individuality it needs and thrust yourself into an overcrowded pool of commodity providers.
Until one day… something clicks
… something lifts the fog from your thinking. Something inspires you to leave the overcrowded end of your market, where it’s impossible to succeed in any meaningful way. Something compels you to quit competing and start attracting. Something motivates you to stop being a commodity provider.
Hopefully, this message will be that catalyst for someone. Hopefully, one of the thousands of small business owners reading this, who is struggling in that dead-end 99%, will decide NO MORE.
No more looking to the future with apprehension.
No more lowering your lifestyle goals, to meet the limitations of your under performing business.
No more dealing with fee-sensitive clients.
No more working with people you don’t like, because you need the income.
I have helped hundreds of business owners with this. To stop your business from being a commodity provider, you need to be prepared for a couple of things.
Firstly, you have to stop fooling yourself
You have to stop pretending you’re in that 1% when you’re not. Here are just a few common examples of what a commodity provider looks like:
You get too few word of mouth referrals. Clearly, when your service is seen as a commodity, there’s nothing much to motivate people to tell their friends about you.
You find yourself competing on fees. When your service looks too similar to your competitors, potential clients will use your fee to determine your value to them.
You struggle to attract enough inquiries. A commodity provider is constantly competing against all the other, similar providers in that 99%.
Your business struggles for visibility. So, you need to buy ads, attend networking events etc.
You need to ask people to recommend you, because they are not doing this automatically.
Secondly, you need to put the cookie cutter down
The only way to stop being seen as a commodity provider, is to stop providing a commodity service. This means leaving the fake comfort that comes from being a predictable commodity and embracing the change required, to stand out.
It means looking at your services and adapting them, so they are what the client wants and needs — rather than your version of what your competitors provide.
It takes courage.
Therein lies the problem
Although the riskiest thing a small business owner can possibly do, is to be seen as a commodity provider, it feels safe. It feels safe, ironically, for the same reason it kills small businesses.
It feels safe, because almost everyone is doing it!
By playing it safe you will, with 100% certainty, at best, struggle to make a living. However, it FEELS safe… and that’s enough to stop 99% of small business owners from doing what they know they need to do.
I have no idea where you or your business is right now.
You could be in the 1%.
You may be a commodity provider, who’s comfortable working hard and going nowhere in that super-dangerous 99%.
But perhaps you’re a commodity provider, on a mission to leave that 99%!
If you are in that final group, this post is for you. In fact, everything on this blog is written for you and those already in the 1%.
Why? Because no marketing on the planet can save a commodity business.
No one can help a business, owned by someone who lacks the courage to be better than average. Commodity providers who are happy being average, come here looking for tricks. They want a ‘killer way’ to attract people to their average service, which no one is talking about because it’s so… well… average. They will search for tricks, until they run out of money or time.
For those with the courage to want more
If you’re interested in being more than a commodity provider, I can help. There are thousands of ideas on Jim’s Marketing Blog, yours to use for free. Just use the search box, midway down the right hand side.
If you want to find creative ideas, for free, to help you make your business more than a commodity, I’ve built a website just for you. It’s packed with free ideas, resources and insights and you can find it here.
I hope you’ve found this useful… more importantly, I hope I have inspired you to do something!
We also attract the best clients — those who value and are willing to pay for a great experience.
As you go through your work today, ask yourself if what you are doing will meet or exceed expectations. If you feel it’s pretty-much what people expect, make at least one improvement that will push it over the top.
The most successful marketing today, is not marketing that’s pushed at people.
The most successful marketing today, is marketing that people share with their friends.
Pestering people is cheap
The reason we receive so many spam emails and see all those unwanted sales messages on social networking sites, is that it has never been cheaper (in every sense of the word) to pester huge numbers of people. There’s no barrier to entry today. Now, if we go back just 10 or 15 years, if you wanted to get a message in front of 100,000 people it was expensive. Today, it can be done for peanuts.
Pestering people is cheap, has little risk attached and requires little creativity. As a result, it’s everywhere – even though people are getting better and better at ignoring it.
The inspiration deficit
Where we see a shortage, is in business owners who have crafted a compelling story, which people want to share. I call this the inspiration deficit.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other platforms are PACKED FULL of hundreds of millions of people, who are looking for something interesting to share with their friends. We even have a name for people who spend their social networking time sharing other people’s information. We call them curators.
There’s no lack of people willing and ready to share our message.
The deficit is caused by the lack of business owners, who are willing to invest the time, effort, energy and creativity to build a story about their business that’s worth sharing.
The BIG inspiration pay off
As business owners, we must learn to stop pushing an uninspiring story. No, people are not interested in yet another provider, who is just a little less expensive or who delivers just a little faster than average. Instead, we need to learn to feed the marketplace with a compelling story and allow the marketplace to spread our message for us.
Is it worth the extra effort, to create a compelling service or customer experience, which people will feel motivated to talk about? Well, think of it like this. Right now, there are hundreds of millions of people waiting for you to give them a story worth sharing.
That’s a pretty compelling reason to invest the extra effort.