Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Be more interested in your client’s success, than your fee

There is a powerful success factor behind every great business, which you can implement starting today.

It can be summed up in just 4 words: It’s all about them!

It’s all about them

The most successful business owners have figured it out. They know that their success is always going to be an extension of what they do for their clients. So, they consistently look for ways to be of greater value.

In short: They are more interested in the success of their clients, than they are in their own fees or prices.

Why the me, me, me approach doesn’t work

The least effective business owners are focused on what they can get from their clients or customers.

  • They talk about closing the sale, rather than opening the relationship.
  • They talk about up-selling, rather than upping the value they provide to their clients.
  • They focus on what they can get, rather than what they can give.

That approach comes across in everything they do. As a result, their client retention is poor and they get few referrals from their clients, because we don’t recommend greedy, self-obsessed people to our friends.

Some ideas for developing the ‘them’ approach to business

It starts with an understanding that it’s all about what you do, not what you say. Every business owner claims to be client focused. So, you need to demonstrate that you are passionate about the success of their business.

For example:

  • Keep in regular contact and if you find they have a problem, offer to help.
  • Help them make connections. Think of people you know, who you can introduce them to… then do it!
  • Take a little time out every day, to help one of your clients in a way they were not expecting. This can be something as simple as sharing a useful blog post or newsletter article.
  • Find something valuable, which has a low delivery cost to you. Then add it to the service they receive from you… at no extra cost.
  • Keep your promises. Surprisingly few service providers can be totally relied upon. Become one of this rare group and your clients will notice (and tell their friends).

As the late Zig Ziglar used to say: You can have everything you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

PS - I recommend you read this: How To Build a Massively Valuable Business, using a More Human Approach.

How to blow the lid off your potential in 2014!

Fact: Your mindset will determine what 2014 holds for you.

We know this, because everything else you need in order to achieve the business and lifestyle you want, is already there, just waiting for you.

For example:

  • All the books you need are already out there. Thanks to the Internet, you have access to every great business book ever written. BUT unless you are motivated to read them, they can’t help.
  • All the expert, one-to-one help you need is out there. There are experts in every field of business and life, on hand to provide you with the professional help you need. BUT unless you are motivated to get the help you know you need, those experts can’t help.

If you truly want a better year in 2014, you have to accept 2 fundamental truths of success:

  1. It’s never about the lack of access to knowledge or expertise.
  2. It’s always about the lack of motivation, to seek out and use that knowledge or expertise.

With all that expertise and information already out there, just waiting for you, here’s a question to ponder: What are you going to do with it?

A super-simple decision

If you are looking to 2014 with excitement because of the progress you made last year, your decision is easy. Just carry on with the same mindset. It’s working.

If you are looking to 2014 with apprehension, because of the frustrations of last year, your decision is equally easy. You need to adjust your mindset, so that it is in line with what you want to achieve.

Once you know what to do in order to grow your business, plus you have the mindset required to make it happen, anything is possible!

I’d like to wish you all the very best for 2014!

PS: If you are genuinely ready for your most successful and rewarding year ever, read this.

How to win against cheaper competitors

Right now, Google is showing your prospective customers the details of all your competitors – including those competitors who charge less than you.

So, your prospective customers now know you’re not the lowest priced provider. The question is: How do you plan to convince them that you’re worth the extra money?

why

Generic marketing promises do not work

We are in one of the worst economic cycles in living memory and your prospective customers are thinking a LOT harder, before they spend their money.

They demand value.

It’s not enough for you to claim that you offer great customer service or that you go the extra mile or that you care more. Why? Because the bargain basement providers make those same generic promises. Those promises are so common now, that we are almost blind to them.

If you want someone to even consider spending money with you, when there are cheaper alternatives, you need to avoid generic promises and get specific.

The answer

You may already have an attractive proposition, which your cheaper competitors can’t match. If you do, you need to communicate it effectively and make it extremely visible in your marketing.

If you don’t already have a compelling, non-generic reason for prospective customers to buy from you, you need to create one. This is not about developing some snazzy marketing slogan! It’s about building something into your existing product or service, which has genuine value and is not already being offered by your competitors.

For example

You can be yet another accountant or the only accountant in your area, who offers a monthly networking event for their clients – so they become part of a community and not ‘just a client’.

You can be yet another web designer or the only web designer in your price range, who redesigns their client’s Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts – so they match your client’s beautiful new website.

You can be yet another window cleaner or the only window cleaner in your area, who also cleans the windows on your customers cars.

You get the idea.

Step outside of the ordinary

Take time to think of a genuinely valuable, attractive proposition to offer your prospective customers. A USP is not enough any more. There has to be something, which prospective customers can see as offering them genuine value. A Purple Cow may grab people’s attention, but there has to be value behind it if you want to attract paying customers and not just glances.

Put on your thinking cap and look at your products or services through the eyes of a prospective customer. What needs do they have, which you could serve by adjusting your offering?

Give this exercise the time it deserves. It’s what your prospective customers will be focused on for the foreseeable future.

A story, a great lesson and some ideas for your business!

I wrote a blog post once, entitled The sandwich shop that closed for lunch. Of course, it was just a title. In reality, no shop owner would close during their busiest period.

Actually, it turns out they would!

Here’s what happened, along with a useful lesson and a free resource.

The gift shops that closed for Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, I visited a local shopping area. I quickly noticed that lots of the shops didn’t bother to open. Amazingly, this included several gift shops… gift shops that closed for Christmas Eve!

The town was packed with Christmas shoppers and the shops that did open, were doing brisk business, with queues everywhere. I have never seen so many shoppers there.

It makes perfect sense to have a break, relax and close the doors after the festive rush. However, to close them the day before the busiest shopping day of the year, shows a jaw-dropping lack of commercial acumen.

Sale time!

This morning, I noticed one of the gift shops that closed on Christmas Eve, was open. They had a huge sale on. Merchandise, which the business owner could have sold at full retail price just 2 days ago, was being offered at up to 50% off. Ironically, the town was almost empty.

I know the business owner quite well and asked why he had closed on such a busy day. His answer was that he always closed on the 23rd. He then went on to complain that he hadn’t made a sale all morning and how bad trade had been this Christmas!

The lesson here

The worst reason to carry on doing anything, is because we have always done things that way.

Here’s an alternative approach: Why not use today, as an opportunity to look for any areas of our business, where we can make improvements? Usually, the best places to start looking are the areas of our business, which we tend to take for granted.

PS: This should help you. Here are 15 Powerful ideas to help you grow your business!

15 Powerful ideas to help you grow your business!

It’s said you are often just one idea away from the breakthrough you have been looking for.

So… here are 15 powerful ideas for you!

  1. Embrace brevity. People are busy and their attention has never been in more demand. Keep your marketing messages as short and valuable as possible. Kill the fluff.
  2. Do at least one thing each day, which your future self will thank you for!
  3. Remind yourself (often) that the process of giving and receiving starts with giving. Making selfish demands from strangers doesn’t work. It also damages your reputation.
  4. Fail more often in 2014 than you did in 2013. Why? Because if you’re not failing often enough, you’re sticking to things you already know. This means you are no longer growing. By the way: Steve Jobs famously reprimanded members of his team if they were not failing regularly enough.
  5. Stop aiming for perfectionism. It will stop you getting started, kill your creativity and block your progress. The next time you find yourself blaming perfectionism for your lack of progress, call it out for what it is… a stalling tactic. Instead of aiming for perfect, aim for the best you can do.
  6. If you write a blog or newsletter, ask yourself this question: Are you building a tribe or are you writing drive-by content? Almost everyone gets this wrong. Here’s why this is extremely important!
  7. Stop doing work purely because it pays the bills. Start doing work that makes a difference. This post explains why.
  8. Invest less time trying to get organic (unpaid) ‘traffic’ from Facebook. They just changed everything and ‘free’ isn’t part of the new Facebook Business Pages strategy.
  9. Get expert help in any area of your business, where you are under performing. Things don’t just change for the better because you hope they will. Hope is essential, but it’s not a business strategy. This will help you get it right.
  10. Remind yourself that you pick your clients… they do NOT pick you! This is true of 100% of the most successful business owners and consultants I know. Pick clients who value you and allow you to do your best work. Build your client base deliberately. Here’s what you need to know.
  11. Get serious about the value of your time. No one ever lay on their deathbed, regretting they hadn’t spent more time watching TV. Throughout the day, ask yourself, is this the best use of my time right now? If it isn’t, go and do something more productive.
  12. Make the decision now, to do the tricky stuff. Every business owner claims to give their business 100%. What they REALLY mean, is that they give their business 100% of the stuff that they are comfortable with. Decide to get less comfortable with the limitations of your comfort zone. This will help you.
  13. Learn to embrace your inner freak. This may be the best advice on this list.
  14. Get the most from your creativity. There are hundreds of free, creative thinking ideas here.
  15. Believe that almost anything is possible. No matter how bad things may be right now, with courage, hard work and passion, you can achieve almost anything. This post gives a great example of what I mean.
  16. Give people more than they expect. Don’t under-promise though. Instead, over-deliver.

I really hope you find these ideas and suggestions useful and that they help you achieve your best year ever in 2014!

How to get your teeth into your business!

If your business is growing too slowly, today’s post is written just for you.

It’s based on a talk I gave to young entrepreneurs. It shows how small business owners can massively improve their business results… by looking after their business the same way they look after their teeth!

A small business owner with a tooth problem

If you have a problem with one of your teeth, you go to a dentist. If possible, the dentist will fix your tooth. If the tooth is too damaged, she will remove it for you.

In that scenario:

  • The small business owner sees they have a problem (toothache).
  • They then seek professional advice (dentist).
  • They then either have their problem resolved or removed (treated or extracted).

A typical small business owner with a business problem treats it very differently.

  • The small business owner sees they have a problem. In many cases, they will just hope it magically goes away. They hunker down and hope for the best. Hope is essential, but hope isn’t a business strategy.
  • They then dabble with their problem. They ask unqualified friends. They ask strangers on social networks. They ask people, who lack the expertise they need. Just last week, I saw a business owner on Google+ ask an accountant for marketing advice. The accountant’s answer was not only incorrect, it was toxic. In other words, it will damage their business if they do as the accountant said.
  • Their problem then persists or gets worse. They suffer with the commercial equivalent of severe toothache. With severe toothache, even in a worst case scenario, you can fix things by having the tooth extracted. That pain is nothing, compared to the pain the business owner suffers, when their business goes broke.

Many small business owners I speak with, admit that they work an insane number of hours and that they would earn more if they had a regular job. Their commercial toothache is numbed with painkillers, rather than professionally treated. They tell themselves things will ‘just get better’ if they hunker down, which acts as a narcotic to ease the pain of the reality of their situation.

The answer?

We need to look after our business the same way we look after our teeth!

It starts with accepting that you have a problem, rather than burying your head in the sand. Then, get the expert help you need. If your sales are going nowhere, speak with a marketing expert. If cash flow is a problem, talk with an accountant. If you have a legal issue, talk to a lawyer. Just make sure you only take expert advice, from experts. Then put their advice to work.

Yes, you will need to pay a competent professional for her help. However, that investment is far lower, than the cost of starving your business of the help it needs.

In short: If your business needs help, think DENTIST not DABBLE.

Here’s the most valuable thing I learned last year!

Daft Punk Get Lucky

I have spent a lot of time this week, looking back at 2013. I have been looking for lessons, which I can invest into the year ahead.

In this post, I share my biggest, most valuable lesson with you… PLUS a truly inspirational story!

Almost anything is possible

What did I learn? Well, it was not so much a lesson and more of a powerful reminder.

It was this: Almost anything is possible. No matter how bad things may be right now, with courage, hard work and passion, you can achieve almost anything.

Here’s what happened

Jim with Nile RodgersI had no idea at the start of 2013, how big an impact a music track was going to have on me.

The track was Get Lucky, by Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and my friend, Nile Rodgers. The tune was to become a record-breaking, worldwide smash hit.

The success of Get Lucky (and the whole Random Access Memories album), helped catapult Nile Rodgers back to the top of his industry.

Here’s the thing: Just a few years ago, Nile’s 2013 success with Daft Punk would have seemed impossible!

Why?

Because in late 2010, Nile was diagnosed with aggressive, stage 3 prostate cancer! This was just before I got involved with the promotion of his autobiography, Le Freak.

No luck required

The irony of the title ‘Get Lucky’, is that I have never met a harder working person than Nile Rodgers. The success he achieved had nothing to do with luck. His rise back to the top (he was already one of the most successful record producers in history), was about courage, hard work, passion and belief.

His continued success since his 2010 health bombshell has been incredible. Nile Rodgers has been an inspiration to me for years, but never more so than today.

In short: No matter how bad your situation is, never quit. With courage, hard work, passion and belief, you can turn almost anything around.

Image: Columbia Records

The business owners who will succeed in 2014 are…

The business owners who succeed in 2014 will be a lot like those who succeeded in 2013. They will provide a service or product, which is hard to get elsewhere.

Here’s why: The transaction of acquiring a new client, means YOU need to have something of value to trade. The easier it is to find a service just like yours, the less interest you will attract and the lower your price or fee will need to be.

A question worth pondering

How easy is it for a potential client, to find providers offering a similar service to yours, with the same kind of promises you offer?

If you’re not sure, Google the name of your industry. Check out some of the millions of results. Look at a handful of websites and see if you are truly offering something different.

If not, now would be a great time to get thinking about the changes you will need to make.

PS: This might be just what you need. It’s an article I wrote for Barclays Bank (client), on how to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

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