Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

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Marketing Tip: Get specific!

get specific, target marketing

Here’s a quick tip, to help you dramatically improve the effectiveness of your marketing.

One of the core factors behind ineffective marketing, is a lack of focus. Just as it’s impossible to hit a target when you don’t know what or where the target is, it’s just as hard to attract your ideal profile of client, when you are not clear about who they are.

Name names

Here’s a quick marketing tip, to demonstrate how clarity and focus can make your marketing far, far more effective.

I want you to ask yourself the following question: Who are the next 10 clients or customers I would most like to work with?

Next, answer that question AND name names! List the names of the next 10 people or businesses, you want to work with. Once you have this list, it’s easier for you to:

  • Listen to their needs and wants. (Social networks are great for this.)
  • Tailor your marketing message, so it’s directly relevant to them.
  • Build pre sale relationships with them.

Get specific

I’m not suggesting or recommending that all your marketing efforts are focused on these 10 prospective clients. This is just 1 focused way to add clarity to your marketing. The key is to get specific, because the more focused your efforts are, the better your results will be.

Otherwise, you can waste a great deal of time, opportunity and money, being vaguely relevant.

It’s competition time


Although regarded by many business owners as a negative, there is something wonderful about competition in the marketplace.

  • It motivates us to raise our standards.
  • It encourages us to differentiate ourselves.
  • It inspires innovation.
  • It creates better products and services for the marketplace.

Innovate, differentiate and set higher standards

The decision we face is this: Do we wait for a competitor to take the lead and find ourselves playing catch up – or do we initiate?

PS: Here’s how to compete against the best in the world.

Why your marketing messages must be backed up with action


Society places huge value in people, who deliver the goods. It’s easy to see why, when you consider that we have all been let down at some point by people, products or services.

Keeping a promise

In their eagerness to craft a massively powerful marketing message, some brands seem to forget that their marketing message is a promise. A promise that sets an expectation – an expectation that must be met or exceeded.

The thing is:

  • Telling prospective customers that you will provide them with exceptional customer service is easy, which is why almost every provider says it.
  • Delivering exceptional customer service is harder, which is why so few providers manage it.

Getting the balance right

Either make smaller promises that you know you can deliver or make bold promises, which you will find a way to deliver. The smartest small business owners focus on the latter. It’s what sets them apart and makes them so valuable.

Does your work carry your signature?

If you know the work of any famous painter, it’s relatively easy to identify their art.


Great artists stand out, because their style is almost like a signature. It’s something unique to them. They may use the same type of paint, brushes and canvas as thousands of others, but what they do with those materials is uniquely ‘them’.

Interestingly, we find when studying the work of any successful business person, that his or her work is just as individual as a famous painter. They may use the same business tools as thousands of others, but what they do with those tools is uniquely ‘them’. It’s their signature.

What are you focusing on, the tools or what you do with them?

That’s an important question. For example, lots of business owners use email marketing, yet their message is predictable and lacks their unique signature. Millions of business owners use social networks, mostly in a very predictable way, with no unique signature.

Success comes from stepping away from the masses and doing things your way. For example.

  • If you want more followers, do something worth following. Don’t copy what everyone else is saying.
  • If you want more word of mouth referrals, do something worth talking about. Don’t copy what everyone else is doing.
  • If you want to attract higher fees, do something worth paying more for. Don’t copy what everyone else is offering.

In my experience, Dr. Seuss was right when he said, Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Your uniqueness is your greatest asset.

The Art of Work

Johan Hansson

There are artists in every line of business, usually doing a wonderful job and loving it. I was thinking about this earlier today, when I witnessed something that was quite remarkable.

An enlightening experience

A rear light bulb in my wife’s car had blown, so I went to a local car parts shop to get a replacement. I looked on the shelves and there was a dizzying array of choices, rows and rows of bulbs which were slightly different from each other.

The shop manager, seeing I was clearly puzzled with so many choices, asked if he could help. He was standing about 20 feet away. He looked at the bulb in my hand and immediately walked straight to a shelf, picked up a bulb and handed it to me.

‘You need this’, he said.

‘Thanks’, I replied.

Then it struck me…

It was only as I was paying for the bulb, that I realised what had just happened. He’d spotted and correctly identified the bulb I needed, from a massive array of alternatives, from around 20 feet away, with no help from me whatsoever. He checked the package on closer inspection of the bulb I brought in, and confirmed he’d given me the right replacement.

‘How did you do that?’, I asked.

He replied, ‘I have been handling car parts for 25 years. I know all their subtle differences from pretty-much any angle. Even with such a small light bulb and from a bit of a distance, I knew exactly what you were looking for. It takes years of practice.”

I think it’s wrong to assume that there is no art or craft, in what most people consider to be non artistic jobs. There is. No, not everyone in every profession performs like an artist. We all meet people who are clearly in the wrong job. We all encounter people who look bored with their work.

However, there are some quite amazing people out there, in every profession, who make a craft of what they do. We just need to be open-minded enough, to see them.

Is your business making a difference?

If you want to say goodbye to fee sensitive clients or cost conscious customers, this post is just for you!

The Apple Mac difference

During the worst economy in decades, Apple Inc. managed to achieve record breaking profits, whilst others in the same industry selling lower priced alternatives, really struggled.

Apple MacBook Pro

So, why is that?

In my experience, the difference is not about the speed, design, build quality or the operating system on a Mac. It isn’t about being part of the Apple tribe or making a fashion statement either.

The difference is the combination of all those things and more, to create something that will be extremely attractive to a certain type of consumer – someone who values that difference enough to pay a premium for it. It’s a great demonstration of the value of creating a product, which is useful and demonstrably different from alternatives.

Insiders and outsiders

With every successful product or service, there are insiders and outsiders. Apple has focused hard on being directly relevant to their insiders and thus are pretty-much irrelevant to everyone else (their outsiders). Those who believe Macs are overpriced, can’t understand why others ‘waste their money’ on them. They quote the specifications of their PC’s to Mac users and the price they paid, to demonstrate what a terrible choice Macs are. Mac users then seem amazed that the PC users ‘don’t get it’ when it comes to the Mac difference.

Had Apple tried to create computers that appealed to everyone, from the budget conscious to those looking for expensive, high specification computers, they would be directly competing against great companies like; Dell, Samsung, Lenovo, Acer, Toshiba, Asus and others. Instead, they have created a segment of the computing marketplace, which they own 100%. If you want a MacBook Pro, a MacBook Air an iMac, a Mac Pro or a Mac Mini – Apple get the sale.

Making it work for you and your business

When it comes to most small businesses, the products or services they provide (or something pretty similar), can be purchased from someone else. They find themselves competing in a crowded marketplace, which THEY decided to join, by failing to differentiate themselves.

However, some very smart and extremely profitable small business owners, have stepped away from the masses and focused on delivering something that is uniquely valuable. These include:

  • Designers, who have allowed themselves to develop a unique style, which you can only get from them.
  • Coffee shop owners, who have created an enjoyable, very special atmosphere, which appeals directly to a certain type of customer.
  • Accountants, who are not offering the same, dull list of services as all their competitors.
  • Trainers, who have developed a uniquely effective training style, which sees them in very high demand.
  • Photographers, who know that they create art with every photo they take and who are irresistible to those who appreciate their art.

Yes, it takes creativity and courage to develop your own niche or segment of the marketplace. No, it isn’t easy, either. That’s why so few small business owners attempt it. However, it can be a hugely effective way to grow an extremely successful, profitable business.

Steve Jobs and the power of focus

Steve jobs, focus, ideas

How many new projects are you working on right now?

I ask you this, because one of the fastest ways to massively improve your effectiveness, is to give your full focus to as few projects as possible.


When you are a small business owner or consultant, you have a limited number of resources. By spreading yourself too thinly, across too many ideas or opportunities, you dilute how effective you can be at any one of those projects.

By deliberately choosing to focus on one good business idea at a time, and saying ‘no’ to the hundreds of other ideas demanding your attention, you get to give your full mental resources to the development of that idea. You also eliminate Mind Fog – that fuzzy thinking, which can come from focusing on too many things at one time.

Steve Jobs on focus

Steve Jobs shared his thoughts on the power of focus, at the Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference in 1997:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
- Steve Jobs

In short: Go for clarity of focus. Don’t spread your resources too thinly.

A few words of encouragement

encourage people

From time to time, we all need a few words of encouragement.

The thing is, people in need of encouragement do not always tell us. On the outside, they may seem fine. Confident and courageous even. However, on the inside, they may really need to hear our words of encouragement. They could be at a crossroads, about to quit, looking for external confirmation that they can turn things around.

Become a catalyst of encouragement

We often underestimate how important our words are, to others. Think about it, even a smile from a stranger can lift our spirits, let alone some words of encouragement from someone we know. I believe we all have the ability to leave the people around us in a better position, than before we spoke to them.


  • If you have faith in a person’s ability, tell them.
  • If you value their input, tell them.
  • If you think they look great, tell them.
  • If they have impressed or inspired you lately, tell them.

Sometimes, just a few words of encouragement can make a world of difference, to someone who needs to hear them. Why not make them your words?

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