A guaranteed way to increase your chances of success

Business development

So, you’re working on a new idea or trying to improve your business results.

You have a couple of options open to you:

  1. You can go through the long, costly process of trial and error… work hard and hope it works.
  2. Alternatively, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. You can find out what needs to be done, and then proceed with confidence.

If you’re the kind of person who prefers the second option, try this. It’s guaranteed to work. [Yes, literally].

Be stingy with your time, but not your ideas

time management

Laura emailed me with a great question. She wanted to know why I give so many ideas away, for free, on the blog. She rightly pointed out that with no advertisers and no need for “traffic”, I could achieve all my marketing goals, writing far less often.

So, here’s why I strive to be helpful to as many people as I can, as often as I can.

The contribution mindset

I see it like this:

  • If you own 3 pieces of gold and you give 1 of them away, you are left with 2 pieces of gold. Give all 3 pieces of gold away and you’re left with nothing.
  • If you give someone an idea, you still have just as many ideas as you had before. Plus, you have just enriched the other person and maybe made a new friend too.

Scaling generosity

The key is to find a way to share your ideas, which scales.

  • If you give an hour of your time away to 10 individual people every day, you have just lost 10 hours. It doesn’t scale. It’s unsustainable.
  • If you give an hour of your time to your community every day, by writing a blog post that reaches 10 people or 10,000 people, you have still only invested 1 hour.

We need to be stingy with our time. The clock is ticking. We only have a limited supply. But when it comes to helping people, we can choose to be generous.

That’s why I give so many ideas away, for free, here on the blog.

P.S. Interested in blogging? Here’s how you can become an overnight success.

How to stop stalling and do your best work

How to

No, it doesn’t really matter what brand of computer you choose to work with. The same is true of the software you use. Leonardo da Vinci changed the world, writing with a quill.

No, it doesn’t really matter how you plan what you write. Best-selling author John Boyne, like many, doesn’t plan at all. He doesn’t even know where the story is going, until after he starts writing it.

No, it doesn’t really matter how inspired you feel. You don’t wait for inspiration to appear… you command it to appear.

What matters

What matters is that you get started. So learn to identify your stalling tactics. Then, call them out for what they are.

Now you’re free to focus on doing your best work.

Here’s what to do, when clients say you’re too expensive!

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Most small business owners still believe that their clients primarily care about fees or prices… and they are right!

However, this is only true because they fail to offer clients anything else worth caring about.

  • No, people will not pay you more than average, when your services are too similar to other similar priced services.
  • Yes, there are providers in every industry who earn 5X or 10X the typical fees. Why? Because they provide 5X or 10X the value.

Rather than complain that clients care too much about your fees, create something else for them to care about. It works. In fact, it can transform your business.

Tip: Here are some examples to help you sell on value and be in high demand.

Email marketing: How to massively improve your results

email marketing

Email marketing is extremely effective. So why do almost all small businesses get such uninspiring results from it?

That’s what this post is all about!

Email marketing: Free and easy?

The cost of marketing has changed massively over the years.

For small business owners, the cost of sending a marketing letter [direct mail] to just 1000 prospective customers was considerable. There was the price of the stamp, the printing, the ink and the paper. Then, you paid someone to fold all the letters and stuff them into the envelopes.

Today, sending a marketing email to 1000 prospects [or 100,000 prospects] takes seconds. There’s no paper, no ink, no envelopes, no envelope stuffing and no stamps.

The cost of email marketing is close to zero. Except… it isn’t. You now risk paying a different, far higher price!

Allow me to explain.

Different prices and different thinking

In 1995, my London-based marketing business was paying around £1000 to reach 1000 prospective customers via traditional mail. I used high quality stationery and printing, but that was still quite an investment.

Before spending that kind of money, small business owners used to think long and hard.

  • They made sure they were contacting people with a potential need for their offering.
  • They checked that the contact name and address were correct.
  • They used to work hard to optimize their copy or content. It needed to be just right.
  • They removed prospective customers from their list, if they failed to get a response after a set number of interactions. [Unlike now, where the person receiving spam email has to ask to be removed!]

Now think for a moment about the poorly targeted emails that flood your inbox.

It’s clear that way less thought goes into them. The vast majority are junk and totally irrelevant to you or your needs. You regard those who send these unwanted emails as pests.

And this is where the cost comes in for email marketers in 2015!

Reputation points: The price you pay for average email marketing

Every time you send a poorly conceived email marketing message to someone, you pay a price.

However, unlike before, the cost to you isn’t directly monetary. You pay with something even more valuable. You pay with your reputation. You pay using the currency of reputation points.

For example, when you decide to add someone’s name to your list without their consent, you lose reputation points. When you email people too often, you lose reputation points. When your message is pushy or needy, you lose reputation points. When your offer is irrelevant to the recipient, you lose reputation points.

Business owners who service a regional marketplace can soon find their name and reputation seriously damaged. They can only alienate their marketplace so many times, before people get sick of them.

The solution

It starts by accepting that email marketing isn’t free or easy. There is a hefty price to pay for a casual approach — both in reputation damage and lost opportunities.

So, get permission to email prospective customers. Then send them targeted, expertly written, relevant information. Do this only as frequently as they need it to be.

It works. Here’s how I helped Irene make over $32,000 in 9 days, with email marketing.

Do something today, which your future self will thank you for

Pro development topics r

Here are 10 suggestions to get you started.

  1. Dream bigger dreams. They are more motivating than puny goals.
  2. Get into the habit of walking daily for 30 minutes. It will improve your life in so many ways.
  3. Too busy for a 30 minute walk? Get serious about solving your time management problem. This will help you.
  4. Focus on what you want. Not what you fear.
  5. Stop aiming for perfection. Instead, strive to be better than you were yesterday.
  6. Look for opportunities to step up and lead. Your marketplace desperately needs leaders.
  7. It isn’t the 1980’s — So, instead of focusing on closing sales, focus on opening relationships.
  8. Start a blog or a newsletter. If you already have a blog or newsletter, start taking it seriously. Here’s how to become an overnight blogging success.
  9. Avoid toxic influences. Everyone and everything you connect with has an impact on you. Choose wisely.
  10. Stop waiting for things to improve. Instead, plan for improvement, then work the plan.

I hope you found those useful.

How to increase sales and build an excellent reputation

marketing topics r

There’s something amazing about deadlines, which very few business owners tap into. When used correctly, deadlines can help you improve your sales results and build a great reputation too. I’ll show you how this works in a moment.

First, let’s consider just how valuable deadlines are:

  • By giving someone a deadline, you have stated precisely when you expect them to deliver.
  • By accepting a deadline, you have put your reputation on the line. You have committed to deliver by an agreed time.

So, how can you and your business benefit [enormously] from all this?

The marketing power of precise, self-imposed deadlines

The smartest business owners look for opportunities to commit to precise deadlines. They know that their clients and prospective clients value certainty and clarity.

For example, the power of a promise like, “It will be completed and emailed to you at 9am Tuesday”, is far greater than the typical, weak, “It will be with you in the next few days”. Clear, committed marketing statements attract people’s attention and generate word of mouth referrals, because in most industries they are exceptionally rare.

Yes, it takes courage to offer your clients a precise deadline, knowing you have to deliver on that promise. However, it’s a massively valuable marketing move and one of the fastest and finest ways to build a great reputation.

How to predict your success in advance

Pro development topics r

People often ask me if their new business idea will succeed or not. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to ship the idea and see what happens.

The reason you can’t predict a successful project in advance, is that an idea, even a wonderful idea, can’t achieve anything by itself.

For example:

  1. A wonderful idea will flop without a willingness to hustle. It takes persistence, energy and motivation to drive a new project forward. No hustle, no momentum. No momentum, no success.
  2. A wonderful idea will also flop if the marketing is ineffective. You need to reach the right people with the correct message.

Predicting success in advance

Here’s what we know about those who go on to succeed and those who flounder.

  • Most small business owners will get the first part right. They are happy to work hard.
  • Far fewer will get the second part right. They prefer to dabble with marketing.
  • A small minority will get both parts right. These are the ones who succeed, by working hard AND working smart.

In essence, it doesn’t matter how good an idea looks on paper. It doesn’t matter how good an idea sounds when you ask people what they think of it.

If you want an idea or project to succeed, you need to back it up with intelligent activity.

How to Bake Marketing into your business

How to

The most successful businesses bake marketing into their services. In this post, I will explain what that means and why you should do the same.

If you have not heard the term before, baking marketing into a service (or product) means creating something, which is of so much value and interest that people want to buy it and also tell their friends about it.

Most small business owners do the opposite

Look around you at your competitors and you will see that with few exceptions, they all seem remarkably similar. So, they try and undercut one another on prices or fees, out network one another or outspend one another on marketing.

They are focusing their time and money in completely the wrong direction. They are trying to get people interested in something, which isn’t interesting. This is a costly, avoidable mistake.

That’s why I want something far better for you and your business!

Bake marketing into what you do

Today, I am going to ask you to consider doing something bold. I’m asking you to consider adding value to what you market — your core services.

Why? Because you can waste years of your time trying to sell a service, which is simply not interesting enough to the marketplace. Great marketing is no substitute for an uninspiring service (or product).

Conversely, a service that is of exceptional value will often sell itself, as people are so impressed with it that they spread the word. I regularly speak with business owners who don’t need to spend a penny on advertising, because their customers and their marketplace are always recommending them.

Most small business owners use the opposite approach. Instead of inspiring people with the story behind their business, they try to motivate uninspired people to talk about them.

  • Some offer commissions.
  • Others try to pester people into recommending them.
  • Many join networking clubs, hoping that social pressure, reciprocity or rules of membership, will get people to talk about them.
  • Some spam us with unsolicited emails.

All of those work to a degree, but you can do massively better by shifting your focus 180 degrees!

Here’s what we know: People do not need to be pestered or pressured into recommending a GREAT service. They automatically spread the word when they encounter something exceptional. However, we must first give people something worth talking about… a story worth sharing.

When we do, they can’t help themselves. They shout from the rooftops.

A better approach

The alternative is to bake marketing into what you do. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Observe your marketplace and develop a product or service, which is based on what they want, rather than offering your version of what your competitors already provide.
  • Give people a story about you or your business that’s worth sharing. This means having the courage to be different. Easier said than done, but essential if you want to attract the interest of your marketplace.
  • Deliver a customer experience that stands out for all the right reasons. Pull out all the stops. Leave your clients and prospective clients feeling moved and roused by the experience of working with you, visiting you or connecting with you.
  • Demonstrate your passion for what you do and your desire to help others. Passion stands out. Passion is infectious.
  • Have outsiders. You can’t have insiders without outsiders. Insiders are the people who buy from you. Insiders are the people your services are aimed at. Don’t try and be all things to all people. If you do, your story will be vague and cease to motivate people.
  • Learn from the products and services that you recommend. Think about what drives you to spread the word about certain businesses. What lessons can be adapted from what they do and used in your business, to help you deliver something remarkable?

Just don’t fall into the trap of trying to get people inspired about an uninspiring service or product. It’s expensive, low leverage, frustrating and the least rewarding way to develop your business.

You probably need more critics. Yes. Really!

Get noticed

You can’t please everyone. And do you know what? You shouldn’t even try to. If you do, you will end up playing it safe… being predictable and being ignored. Ouch!

That’s not a smart move for any business owner, who wants to grow a successful business. Why? Because it’s impossible to achieve any kind of commercial success, when you’re keeping your head down, working hard and being ignored.

The answer is to embrace criticism

Instead of blending into the background, you can choose to do work that matters. Tell it the way you see it. Put your own dent in the universe.

However, the moment you do, you will be criticised. It’s the price you pay for visibility and an indication that people are noticing you.

Critics seldom create anything. They are like the school bully, who hurts other kids because it makes them feel better about themselves. And that’s the point. Critics are only interested in themselves. It’s all about them. They are feeding a need they have, to get a response. To be listened to.

That’s why it’s insane to allow the fear of criticism to hold your business back. Feel the fear. Then immediately call it out for what it really is — an inevitable part of being noticed.