Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Playing it safe is more dangerous than you think!

safety

People often talk about the cost of failure.

However, we seldom consider the huge price we pay, for avoiding failure. Here’s what this means for you and your business.

Fail safe?

I receive hundreds of emails every week, from 2 very different groups of business owners.

  1. Those who want me to help them grow their business.
  2. Those who want me to show them a fail safe, risk free way to grow their business.

The challenge with business owners in that second group, is that nothing in business of any value, comes with zero risk of failure. Their fail safe approach is actually the riskiest thing they can do.

The price you pay for playing it safe

By playing it safe, you:

  • Fail to get noticed. To get noticed you need to stand out, which is risky.
  • Fail to deliver exceptional work for your clients. To do exceptional work, you need to risk being different from the average provider. That’s risky.
  • Fail to be remembered. To be remembered, you need to risk doing something memorable.
  • Fail to attract word of mouth referrals. We only remark on a business when it does something remarkable. It’s risky to deviate from the norm.
  • Fail to attract the best clients. Only exceptional business owners attract the best clients and being exceptional is risky. What if people laugh at you or ignore you?
  • Fail to earn the most rewarding fees. It’s easy to quote for work, knowing your fee is around average. You risk losing quotes, if you quote what you’re worth.
  • Fail to work on the best projects. The best projects go to those who think outside the box… the mavericks. That’s riskier than doing average work.

Is that really the kind of safety you want?

Safe to fail

Instead of adopting a fail safe approach to business, maybe a safe to fail approach would serve you better?

No, I am not talking about deliberately setting out to do things wrong.

I’m talking about allowing yourself the freedom to step beyond average… to make mistakes occasionally, learn from them and improve. This is how all progress is made, yet very few small business owners embrace it. Instead, they keep on repeating the old, familiar, ineffective patterns — because it feels safe.

Overcoming the fear

If you find yourself working hard, for too small a reward, you are avoiding making at least one important decision, which you believe is too risky. The fact that you’re avoiding it, means the fear is winning.

Call the fear out. Look at the upside of making that decision. Ask yourself, what if it works?” Then, look at what’s happening right now, because you have been avoiding that decision.

If you want more of the same, do nothing. It’s your call!

Why offering free consultations can be an expensive mistake

alarm

I see a lot of struggling business owners, offering free initial consultations.

They give their time away like it’s of no value… like they are sat in a quiet office, with no clients and nothing to do. That’s a terrible impression to give to their marketplace.

Silencing the alarm doesn’t put out the fire

In other words, giving your time to strangers for free will not solve your marketing problem. It will not provide your business with the high quality leads you need.

  • It will generate interest from time wasters.
  • It will attract freebie hunters, who grab everything that’s offered for free and pay for nothing.
  • However, genuine prospective clients see free consultations as a warning sign. It tells them who to avoid, whose work is clearly not in demand. It repels the very people your business needs.

Never confuse activity with productivity. If you need more, high quality clients, improve your service and / or improve your marketing.

Social Media Marketing: A lesson from angry customers

Social networks

An unhappy customer today has enormous power. Think about it:

  • She can take her issue to Facebook or Twitter and tell 500 people how badly she was treated.
  • Some of those people will reshare her story, and within no time, 5000 people could be talking about it.
  • Then, some of those people will reshare her story too. Before you know it, 50000 or 100000 people could be sharing her story.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Same tools — different use

You see, the same tools that customers use to share their anger, can be used to share their delight.

So, make it a habit to go out of your way to delight your customers. Look for opportunities to leave them open-mouthed in happy amazement.

They already have the tools to tell the world how great you are. What they need from you, is a story worth sharing!

Tip: Here are some ideas and examples of how to delight your customers.

Internet Marketing: Aim for meaning, not traffic!

traffic

Would you like to turn your website or blog into a massively valuable asset for your business? If you just answered ‘yes’, it’s entirely possible you will need to change the way you think about Internet traffic or visitors and page views.

Allow me to explain.

The thing about traffic

Here’s what we know:

Internet Traffic doesn’t buy from you or hire you. No. It’s engaged people, who buy from you or hire you.

The challenge here, is that almost every blogger or small business owner is fixated on traffic. They have not yet figured out that 10 engaged readers, are of more value to their business, than 10000 people who only visited their site because of a click-bait headline or the latest, meaningless infographic.

As a result, we see people writing blog posts with titles like, “50 Magical Facts You Probably Never Knew About Marketing”, etc. People click the title, then leave. These bloggers then wonder why they get traffic, but no connection… no sales, business leads or subscribers. They think they have a conversion problem, when it’s their whole, traffic first approach, which is screwed.

In a nutshell: Sensationalist, keyword-weighted blog posts and articles attract clicks… not clients.

So, what is the answer?

Aim for meaning, rather than traffic!

Take a look at the titles below. They are the 10 most recent posts on Seth Godin’s blog – which is also the world’s most influential marketing site.

  1. There are Kracos.
  2. In search of meaningful.
  3. Most likely to succeed.
  4. The panda and the bicycle.
  5. Micro marketing and the called bluff.
  6. Worldview and stories.
  7. Even better than an app?
  8. Are you solving a problem or creating a problem?
  9. What if you could love what you get paid for?
  10. It’s not about you.

You will immediately notice that the titles are interesting, not sensational. They are honest titles, which treat his readers with respect. Paradoxically, the honesty of those titles makes them stand out among an ocean of click bait titles. And yes, the posts are always of value, which causes his readers to return and share his work with their friends.

What do you want from your site: Traffic or business?

It’s important to have goals for your website or blog, which are consistent with your business goals. For example, would 1000 more drive-by readers a day actually help your business in a meaningful way?

If what you really want from your site is a regular stream of high quality sales or client inquiries, stop trying to attract drive-by traffic with drive-by content.

Instead, aim to be useful and engaging. Showcase your expertise to your marketplace, by sharing valuable information in a compelling way. They will share your work with like-minded people, helping you reach more prospective clients or customers. Your readership will grow. You will be building a community or tribe, which increases in value all the time.

That’s where the value is — not chasing drive-by traffic!

How to find the answers you need

Here’s a powerful, creative thinking tip, to help you the next time you need answers or ideas.

I’m going to start by asking you a question:

How often do you give yourself space, in order to focus exclusively on the answers you need?

The incoming

Emails, text messages, social networks, rolling news and phone calls etc., fight for our attention. They interrupt us. They shift our thinking to whatever they want us to focus on. This makes it extremely hard for us to focus on the ideas and answers we need.

Those interruptions happen all day long, unless we deliberately choose to disconnect from the incoming.

How to disconnect

The next time you find yourself wrestling with an idea, turn your phone off and go for a walk. When you unplug your mind from the incoming, you can focus without interruption on what matters to you.

That uninterrupted focus, combined with the psychological benefits of walking, will allow you to think differently than if you stayed at your desk. I have used this technique for years and it has improved my creative thinking immeasurably. It can do the same for you.

Tip: There are hundreds of free, creative thinking ideas and resources for you here.

How to turn your wishes into results

When you wish for something, you’re just 2 steps away from making it happen.

Wishing + Learning + Action = Success

We all wish for things, from time to time. However, by adding 2 components to what we wish for, we stand a great chance of turning the wish into a reality.

We need to back our wish up with:

  • Learning (or education).
  • And action.

For instance, when my wife and I found ourselves wishing we lived in the countryside, we decided to do something about it. We were living in London and knew it meant making some tough decisions and backing those decisions up with action. So, we learned what needed to be done. Then, we determined to do whatever was required.

Within 12 weeks, we were living in a tiny village. Our wish came true.

Some examples

  • Don’t wish it was less expensive — learn how to earn more. Then take action.
  • Don’t wish it would happen sooner — learn how to make measurable progress in reasonable time. Then take action.
  • Don’t wish it was the weekend — learn how to make every day enjoyable. Then take action.
  • Don’t wish your business was in better shape — learn how to make better decisions. Then take action.

In short: The next time you find yourself wishing for something, try adding those 2 steps. Learn whatever you need to know, then take action.

Tip: You can download my audio program and learn how to motivate yourself to take action. It runs for almost 2 hours and is narrated by me!

A tested, proven way to attract more sales leads

Today, I want to help you attract more high quality sales leads and referrals, with a tested and proven idea.

I need to start by asking you an important question: How easy is it for people to describe what makes your service special?

Here’s why this question is so important.

Make it easy to spread your message

If you want people to spread the word about your business, you need to make it as easy as possible for them. You also need to ensure they share the correct message, so the marketplace gets the right impression of what makes your business remarkable.

Whilst many small business owners develop an elevator pitch, a script they can use to quickly describe their business to a stranger, very, very few create a script for their clients or customers. As a result, it’s hard for people to know what to say about you. They may tell their friends that they value working with you or that they recommend you, but that’s way too vague.

What you need, is for people to have a very short, powerful script that inspires interest in you. Something that will motivate people to check you out!

A very different kind of script

I’m not talking about handing your clients a script and telling them to recite it to their friends.

No.

I’m talking about creating a 4 or 5 word script that follows your work. Something that is printed onto your packaging, added to your emails and featured prominently on your website or blog.

Do not confuse this with one of those generic mottos or tag-lines you see some businesses using! It’s pointless to say “we try harder”, “we’re obsessive about quality” or “we always go the extra mile”. EVERYONE makes those claims.

This is an example of how to get it right.

A finger lickin’ good message

Here’s how an international brand used this idea with huge success:

The team behind Kentucky Fried Chicken wanted to give their diners a simple way to describe how tasty the chicken was. So, they made it super simple. They placed a short, powerful script on all their packaging. It described their food as, “finger lickin’ good”. Those who ate and enjoyed their chicken, now knew exactly what to tell their friends. Moreover, they were delivering an amazingly powerful, professionally written script!

Regardless of what you happen to think about deep-fried chicken, the mental imagery conjured up with that script is powerful. The idea of people enjoying their food SO MUCH that they licked their fingers, would surely motivate their hungry friends to give KFC a try.

And that’s what happened. Millions of times. Worldwide.

Your script

Take some time to think about your business and what you would like people to say about you. Then, spend as much time as necessary crafting a powerful, extremely short script that captures the key benefit of your product or service. You may find it helps, to research the scripts already used by successful brands in different industries to your own.

If you don’t have the time or expertise to get this right, pay for a professional to do it for you. Just don’t miss out on great word of mouth referrals or targeted sales leads, because people aren’t sure how to recommend you.

Tip: Here’s some advice and examples, on how to attract word of mouth referrals – Why your business needs a story.

How to feel inspired every day

The best way to feel inspired, is to inspire others.

Why? Because by giving inspiration, we become a source of inspiration.

We become the source of what we need!

An unending cycle of inspiration

Look for opportunities to inspire the people you connect with. This sets a positive cycle in place, which benefits you and those around you.

Tip: What is inspiration? Steve Jobs and Picasso provide some insights!

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