A very personal message

For many small business owners, 2014 is already starting to look a lot like 2013.

The good intentions of just a few weeks ago are starting to fade, as the average business owner lowers their sights. They slowly slip back into the comfort of settling for average again. Maybe next year they will take their business seriously. Maybe next year, they will drop their employee mindset and make decisions like an entrepreneur.

As a business owner, you need to choose:

Here’s something to remember: The clock is ticking. You may delay, but time will not. None of us, regardless of our age, can afford to repeat the same old year over again.

Important

If you are happy with ‘average’, you’re really wasting your time and my bandwidth, reading my work. Feel free to unsubscribe.

HOWEVER: If this post has inspired you to make some important decisions — or you are already committed to being the best you can be, I salute you. You are my kind of person. You inspire me to write.

I’m here for you and will carry on providing you with as much value as possible… just as I have since 1995.

3 Tips to help you get massively better sales results

Here are 3 tips, to help you get massively better results from your advertising, email marketing, mail shots and blog marketing messages.

Let’s go!

1. Get your message right

Message

No matter how great your product or service is, unless it’s marketed with compelling copy (wording), you will struggle to achieve the sales results you want. People need to read your message and then feel inspired to take action; to buy from you, call you, email you, visit your store, etc.

Pedestrian copy lacks the impact required to motivate readers to do anything. Either learn how to write great marketing messages or hire someone, who already knows how to. Don’t let your business be one of those, which loses a fortune in sales needlessly, because of ineffective copy.

2. Get your audience right

So much marketing fails, purely because it doesn’t get in front of the right people. Once you know who your prospective clients or customers are, you need to think about the best way to target them, so they see your message.

For instance, Jim’s Marketing Blog is a highly targeted publication, which is read by owners of small and medium sized businesses. If you wanted to reach business owners with your marketing message, this blog would be a great place to do it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Build a list of readers. Don’t buy the list! If you use email marketing, are you certain that your ‘list’ is highly targeted? Also, if you purchased the list, there’s a good chance that the people on it have had their email address sold to thousands of other businesses and were getting deluged with relentless spam. These people often either set up a strong junk mail filter, allowing only white-list emails through – or they will have abandoned the email address completely. As a result, you may think your email marketing messages are reaching 10,000 people, when they are only being read by a small fraction of that number.

If possible, and it’s always possible, build your own email marketing list. This is a key area I focus on with my clients and I suggest you learn how to build a great list, too.

3. Get your timing right

Great comedy and great marketing have one thing in common… timing! So, here’s a great question to ask yourself, when planning your marketing: ‘How relevant is my message, at the point where people connect with it?’ For example, it’s harder to sell certain products on the 3rd week of a month, than at the very end of a month, because of people’s monthly pay cycles.

Know your market and learn when they prefer to buy. Then focus on getting your marketing message in front of them, at the best possible time.

How to attract better clients and higher fees

Are you tired of attracting fee sensitive clients or customers?

Create a meaningful difference

If you are, answer the following question: How can I make the service I offer, different from what my competitors offer, in a meaningful way?

In other words, create a meaningful difference, then market that difference correctly. If you get this right, you will never need to deal with low quality, fee sensitive clients again.

A world of opportunity is waiting for you

Once, the proximity of your business to your prospective clients, was based on your geographical distance from them. In other words, your clients or customers needed to be within a certain number of miles from your location.

That is no longer the case.

The new proximity

Today, the proximity of your business is not defined by how close you are in miles from a prospective client, but how closely you are aligned with their thinking, needs and values etc. If you want to hire someone because their work is amazing, thanks to low cost or free digital communications, you can.

In short: Geography is no longer a barrier for many service providers. In 2014, it’s about human proximity… not miles.

For example:

  • If you need a copywriter and there’s one whose work you love, but he’s 5000 miles away, no problem. You can work together just fine.
  • If you need a graphic artist and find someone who does great work, the fact they are in a different country makes no difference.
  • If you need someone to translate your work from English to Spanish, you can pick a translator who you trust, regardless of where they are.
  • If you need a great web designer and you find someone, but she’s in a different country, you can work together just fine.
  • In 2013 alone, I worked with clients in; 8 U.S. states, Canada, South Africa, Denmark, Dubai, The UK, France and Germany. All of whom I shared proximity with, although I am located in England.

Are you embracing the new proximity?

So, with proximity now being defined by shared mindsets, aligned outlooks, common values and the love of another person’s work — what are you doing about it? If you offer a service, which can be delivered via digital communications, I strongly recommend that you consider embracing the new proximity.

There’s a world of opportunity out there, just waiting for you.

Attention please

They have subscribed to your newsletter, followed you on a social network or emailed you for information.

You may think you now have their attention, however, you haven’t!

Attention is earned… then re-earned

You have only earned their attention at the point where they subscribed, followed or emailed you. You now have to re-earn their attention, regularly, if you want to remain relevant to them.

If you get too few inquiries from your readers, your subscribers or your networking contacts, focus on re-earning their attention. The challenge of course, is that it takes time, effort and creativity if you want to remain relevant to your marketplace.

No, it’s not easy. But it is required.

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.

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