Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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What everybody needs to know about marketing advice

If you’re currently following marketing advice, yet your business isn’t achieving the results you need, this post is just for you.

The problem with general marketing advice

I’m fortunate to work every day with clients worldwide. Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked with clients in over 40 countries. This has given me a wonderful insight into the differences, when it comes to successfully marketing in various parts of the world.

What I have found, is that some very popular marketing publications and marketing blogs are either unaware of the differences or they choose to ignore them. Instead, they tend to offer general advice, which is provided as THE WAY to do something, when it’s often totally unsuitable for many of their readers.

One very often repeated piece of bad advice is, “the best time to publish your newsletter, blog post or social media updates”. There is no general, one-size-fits all answer to this.

Here’s the thing: Different countries have different working cultures. For example, my American clients usually start work earlier than my European clients, however, my European clients often work later. So, if your business is in Europe and you’re reading a marketing blog for American businesses [or vice versa], any information on the best time to publish something is incorrect.

Equally, even within the same countries, different industries work different hours. For example, designers, developers and those in the hospitality industry, often work later than other industries. So, using generic advice on the “best time to publish”, even if it’s from a locally-based marketing expert, is a waste of your time and is likely to make no meaningful difference.

There’s more

I see equally inaccurate information shared on content marketing blogs. No distinction is made between the kind of copy required to sell expensive, professional services — and the kind of copy needed to build an affiliate website or sell low priced items. A very different approach is required for each of these. As a result, I get emails from professionals with terrible blogs, newsletters and websites, who want to know why their readership isn’t growing and why they get few if any enquiries.

[Note: To find out what happened to one of my readers when she took that kind of advice, read this.]

Those examples of non-specific, general advice are sadly typical of what I see many hard-working small business owners waste time and money on. So, before you use general marketing advice, make sure it’s applicable to your business. If it isn’t, that free advice could lose you a fortune.

How to make your business massively stronger

How to

Today, I’m going to show you how to protect your business, so that it will still thrive, even if you lose your biggest customer.

I need to start by asking you a question. It’s an important question, so take some time to consider your answer:

In financial terms, what would happen if you lost your biggest customer or client?

Many small business owners are heavily reliant on just 1 or 2 main customers. These major customers often account for a hefty percentage of their income. When [not if] the customer leaves or ceases trading, the vendor is left in an extremely precarious position. Despite this, small business owners will usually wait until the worst happens, before they proactively seek out new, major customers.

Why does this happen?

Small business owners understand the seriousness of their situation. It’s just that when times are good, there’s little motivation to invest in marketing or business development. So, they tend to put it off. Then, when they lose a major customer, they enter panic mode. They rush. They often make bad decisions, as fear influences their thinking.

This causes what is widely known as the feast and famine cycle.

A far better approach

The most successful business owners have a different mindset. They understand that the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. So, they make business development decisions from a position of strength, rather than wait for disaster to strike. They avoid the feast and famine cycle, because marketing is an ongoing part of their business.

I hope the sun is shining on your business right now. If it is, this is the perfect time for you to focus on attracting more high value customers or clients.

Are you doing your best work?

Most of us are capable of so much more.

I was reminded of this earlier, when reading the following quote from Dr Martin Luther King Jr:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’.”

I wonder how a business would improve, if instead of doing enough, the business owner did all their work to the very best of their ability.

A powerful lesson from Martin Luther King Jr: Love and light.

3 Great opportunities, which you can start on today

Here are 3 amazing opportunities, which you can invest in right now.

  1. Look for opportunities to make promises, and then keep them. This is a wonderful way to earn trust and build a great reputation.
  2. Look for opportunities to invest in others. Leave the people you connect with in a better position than when you found them. Even something as simple as a smile from you can make a difference to someone. It may be the only sunshine they see today!
  3. Look for opportunities to learn. Commit to lifelong learning. It’s one of the best investments you will ever make.
  4. Bonus: Look for opportunities to do more than people expect from you. There are no traffic jams on the extra mile, because although every business owner claims to go the extra mile, very few do. Be one of the rare few.

I hope you find these opportunities interesting. More importantly, I hope you do something with them.

How to beat your biggest competitor

winning

Your main competitor is seldom an alternative provider.

Your main competitor is usually apathy… the decision to do nothing.

Before working out how you compare to competing providers, measure your service against the decision to do nothing.

  • Why should people risk placing their trust in you?
  • Why should they give you their attention?
  • Why should they go through the hassle of hiring you or buying from you? [Tip: This will help.]

Answer those questions correctly and you will have crafted a clear, motivating story for your prospective clients.

Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10000 daily readers?

In this post, I’m going to share what is easily the single best piece of blogging advice I know.

Here it is: Drum roll please…

If you would like more great people to read your blog, start off by asking yourself the following question:

“If I already had 10,000 prospective clients reading my blog each day, how much time and money would I be prepared to invest in developing it and delivering useful content?”

When I ask people that question, they often say things like:

  • Wow… with 10,000 readers each day, I’d invest as much time as I possibly could.
  • The  blog would be worth a fortune, so I’d invest in a professional design. With all those readers, I wouldn’t want to look cheap.
  • I’d publish posts most days and really work hard to make the content as useful as possible.

Cause and effect

After listening to their answers, I sometimes take a look at their blogs and usually find that they have not invested much time, money or energy into them. They want a highly valuable blog, but they won’t make the commitment required, until after their blog is a success.

That approach is a little like a restaurant owner saying she refuses to serve great food, until after her restaurant if full every night!

My mentor used to say that it would be crazy to walk up to an empty fireplace and expect heat. We know we need to do the work of building the fire and lighting it, before we can enjoy the warmth.

We don’t need to be geniuses to build a successful blog, but we do need to be wise enough to understand that our results will be guided by our actions.

A leap of faith

The people that already have thousands of daily readers, did the work and made the investments before our blogs became popular. We paid the price for success in advance.

That takes a huge leap of faith, but unless you show faith in your blog, you can’t expect others to.

P.S. Still not convinced? Here are 25 Reasons to write a business blog.

Here’s something extra for your business

extra something

We already know where the bar is set, when it comes to delighting your clients and customers. Their experience of you needs to be so good that it leaves them thinking:

“That was far better than I expected.”

Get that right and they will come back for more. They’ll tell their friends too.

The challenge here is obvious

The business owner who commits to this model, needs to consistently look for ways to improve. That’s because once you set the bar this high, what’s expected of you also increases and thus a cycle of excellence is created.

I have to warn you, exceeding expectations isn’t as easy as simply meeting expectations. However, in my experience the rewards are well worth the effort. You will attract the best clients and build a great reputation too.

On a personal note

This approach has inspired me to achieve amazing results for countless clients. It stretches me to do my best work… to over-deliver for them. As a result, I’ve taken clients from desperation or frustration, to life-changing commercial successes.

If you are not already doing so, I strongly recommend you use the same approach.

How to be successful without even trying

It’s an interesting fact that very few of the world’s most successful businesspeople, set out with money or success as their primary target.

  • They aimed to be valuable.
  • They aimed to make the world or the marketplace a better place.
  • They aimed to make a difference.

However, money or success was not their primary focus.

Here’s how they did it!

Steve Jobs famously said:

“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”.

If Jobs was focused primarily on the money or success, he’d have been able to cash in when he was in his 20’s — super rich and exceptionally successful.

When Einstein said,

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”, he showed where his focus was. Again, it was about the value. Einstein carried on working until his death, even though he could have quit decades earlier with his reputation set in history forever.

To understand how the most successful and wealthy business owners achieved their success, we need to look at why most business owners struggle.

It’s easy to spot someone who is in it just for the money

You can usually tell pretty quick, when you encounter someone who is primarily in it for the money. This makes it very hard for them to succeed.

Here are some examples we see all the time, which you will recognise instantly:

  • They are the salespeople, whose eyes light up like a wolf when they spot a potential sales victim.
  • They are the affiliate marketers, who leave spammy links and comments on blogs.
  • They are the pests, who send us unwanted spam email.
  • They are the pushy business owners, who corner us at networking events. The ones who pretend they want to know about our business, when we know it’s that old, cringe-worthy networking tactic.
  • They are the ill-informed marketing gurus who STILL say the money is in the list, because they haven’t figured out the value is in the community.
  • They are the struggling restaurant owners, who use slightly lower quality ingredients and hire slightly lower quality chefs, and end up with a low quality restaurant that no one recommends.
  • They are the kind of business owners you thought of, as you were reading those examples.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy or successful. My point, is that it’s very hard to be either of those things, if they are our primary focus.

Here’s how to succeed without focusing primarily on the money

Consider for a moment the businesses out there, who struggle. They set financial targets and then push average products and average services to average clients who pay them average prices. These business owners then think people just won’t pay higher fees. This is factually 100% incorrect! People won’t pay above average fees for an average, commodity service. They happily pay above average fees and prices for premium, high value products and services.

Now consider the businesses who earn a fortune and succeed. They offer products or services, which are meaningfully different. Their products and services attract the attention of people looking for that special value.

They end up selling valuable products and valuable services to valuable clients, who pay them extremely well.

The way forward for smart business owners

Focus on value. Create products or services that are meaningfully different from the competition. Solve better problems. Create work you are proud of.

Persistently create value and make it visible. People are extremely attracted to value and they pay a premium for it too. Just ask the owner of any high priced Apple product, the owner of a luxury car or the client of any leading service provider.

Get this right and the money and success take care of themselves.

PS: You will find this useful. It explains how to make more sales or attract more clients, without ever having to lower your fees — Marketing 101: The Race To The Bottom.

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