Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Join me on the new Jim’s Marketing Blog Twitter account

If you would like to follow (and be followed) by Jim’s Marketing Blog on Twitter, there is a new, dedicated Twitter account for you. It’s here at @ThisIsJimsBlog.

As I receive so much feedback from Twitter regarding this blog, I wanted a dedicated account where I could not only get your feedback but also follow what you are doing too. Unlike my @JimConnolly Twitter account, which covers everything I do and all the sites I write for, @ThisIsJimsBlog focuses only on this blog, the people who read the blog and their conversations about the topics covered here.

To get involved, simply ‘follow’ @ThisIsJimsBlog and say hi. As soon as I see your message, I’ll follow you back.

I look forward to connecting with you and hopefully, getting to know you a little better too.

How to master the art of business success

Here are some ideas on how to develop a massively more rewarding and successful business, by adjusting the way we think about our business and our work.

I was inspired to write this post, after learning that today is national poetry day, here in the UK. For some reason, on hearing this I recalled a 3 word phrase from WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg.

Code is poetry

Matt uses that phrase regularly in WordPress documentation and it makes a really valuable point: For those who care about the code they write, code IS poetry. It’s elegant. It’s smart. It makes a difference. And for some coders I know, when they see beautifully crafted code, it takes their breath away.

So, what has this talk of poetry and code got to do with people like you and me?

How can it help us build a more rewarding and successful business?

An interesting mindset

It got me thinking about the mindset, where someone cares and connects so deeply with their work, that it feels like poetry. I wonder how differently our work would feel to others and ourselves, if we too saw it as our poetry. No, I’m not talking about the words we write. It includes that, but it’s much more than that. I’m thinking about working from a core belief that the work we produce is our craft – our art.

Work that matters

One of the major differences between the most successful business owners and their less effective counterparts, is that they do work that matters, instead of doing work that pays.

Here are a few ways this manifests itself:

  • They apply their craft, rather than push a project out the door.
  • They build relationships, rather than build lists.
  • They practice integrity, rather than proclaim it.
  • They steal like an artist, rather than copy other people’s work.
  • They invest in their business, rather than complain about their results.
  • They use their past as a school, rather than use it as an excuse.
  • They embrace their freak, rather than conform.

I believe with all my heart that there is poetry or art in ALL of us and that we can apply it to anything and everything we choose.

First though – we need to choose!

How to turn fear into a valuable asset for your business

I’d like to start by asking you a question, which could have a massive, positive impact on your business.

The question is this:

What one thing would you do with your business, if you knew for certain that you could not fail?

2 Valuable pieces of information

If any business owner ponders that question for long enough, they will see that it presents them with 2 extremely valuable pieces of information:

  1. You will uncover an idea, which demonstrates just how BIG you are capable of thinking.
  2. You will also uncover the thing that’s stopping you from achieving that BIG, inspirational goal.

We already know how to think big. Plus, we have access to more collective intelligence and better tools than ever before. So, the answers we need have never been easier to find.

It’s the fear of failure that stops us becoming the best we can be!

Fear and me

For years, I allowed the fear of failure to stop me doing what I was capable of. I then discovered that the fear of failing was nothing like as bad, as the pain of regret.

Yes, I still feel the fear when starting a big project, but I have learned that every big advance in my life was preceded by fear. Quitting my well paid job to start a business, getting married, relocating from where all my clients were to live in a tiny village, starting a family – none of those wonderful experiences would have happened if I’d allowed the fear to stop me.

Using fear as your compass

I’d like to suggest that at least in business, you allow fear to be your compass. When you get what you believe is a great idea, then feel the fear creep in, see the fear for what it is – a sign that the idea/project will stretch you and cause you to grow.

Using fear as your compass does not guarantee that every big decision you make, will instantly be perfect.

However, it does give you total freedom to grow and achieve your full potential. You deserve nothing less!

What is inspiration? Steve Jobs and Picasso provide some insights

So, what is inspiration and how can you tap into it when you need to become inspired?

inspiration, steve jobs

In today’s post, I’m going to share one of the ideas used by Pablo Picasso and Steve Jobs, when they were looking for creative inspiration. I’m also going to share a couple of tips of my own, but first, let’s take a brief look at the definition of inspiration.

Inspiration defined

The Oxford Dictionary defines inspiration as: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Commonly we think of people being randomly struck by a flash of inspiration, so we see inspiration as a feeling that occurs almost by accident. However, as the start of that dictionary definition states, inspiration is a process. We become mentally stimulated (inspired) to do something. The key here, is to learn how to create that inspired state when we need to.

How to feel inspired

There is no single, set way to make every person feel inspired. That’s because we are all different and are inspired by different things. You need to learn what works for you and one of the best ways to do this, is to think about what you were doing the last few times you felt inspired. Consider where you were and what you were doing, etc. Look for any common factors and incorporate these the next time you need some inspirational ideas or answers.

Here are just a tiny number of situations, which trigger creative inspiration:

  • Some people find inspiration in books.
  • Some find inspiration in music.
  • Some people are inspired when surrounded by nature.
  • Some people grab a pad and some colouring pencils and start doodling.
  • Some people become inspired to create, when an internal or external deadline approaches. This one is really interesting, because it shows how creative inspiration can indeed be self driven.
  • Some find inspiration through affirmations or positive self-talk.
  • Some find inspiration comes when they are doing some type of physical activity. For me, it’s walking that works best.
  • Some find inspiration in the design of an everyday item. (More on that in a moment.)
  • And others find all of the above work to a lesser or greater degree.

Inspired on purpose

As well as all being potential sources of inspiration, each of the scenarios above has another thing in common. Can you guess what it is?

They are all under our control!

That is to say, we can decide to take any of the actions above when we want to feel inspired. We don’t need to wait to be struck by inspiration. We can find the things that work best for us, then build a strategy that uses them.

I found that I often got my best ideas when I was walking. So, I incorporated a daily walk into my routine. I always carry an audio recorder with me, then when an idea comes I can record it. I write thousands of words every day, most of which are inspired by ideas captured during my walks. I also find that I get lots of creative ideas when I am in the company of other creative people, (problem solvers.)

“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9:00 every morning.” Peter De Vries.

That quote from Peter De Vries makes a great point. We can choose to help ourselves become inspired or we can be a servant to inspiration. We can wait for the fictitious muse to arrive or we can take control and direct our own mind.

Inspired by other works: Great artists steal

Many people believe that in order to create, their inspiration needs to come from a wholly unique idea; something no one has ever thought of before. However, when we look at the creators of the most amazing art, inventions and ideas, we find the opposite.

Pablo Picasso famously said: ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ This phrase became popular again in 1996, when the late Steve Jobs repeated it in a PBS documentary called Triumph of the Nerds. In that interview, Jobs went on to say: ‘We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.’

What Jobs was talking about, was not ripping off a piece of work and claiming you created it. Far from it. He went on to explain that he and his team would ‘expose ourselves to the best things that humans have done‘, and then try to incorporate them into something unique, of their own.

A well known example of the kind of inspiration that Steve Jobs was talking about, comes from the creator of the underarm, ball deodorant. He was inspired by the way ink flowed from a ballpoint pen and saw how the process could be applied to any liquid with similar properties. As you know, the underarm deodorant went on to become one of the most popular hygiene products in history.

An even better example is the invention of the tablet computer. The idea behind the tablet devices we see today, was inspired by at least 2 existing ideas: The clay tablets used 3,000 years ago and the modern notebook / laptop.

Little, if anything, is truly new. We should understand and embrace this idea, if we want to remove one of the biggest barriers to creative inspiration. We just need to remember that there’s a big difference between stealing ideas to create something new – and copying or ripping off an existing idea. Remember that Picasso quote from earlier: ‘… great artists steal’. They don’t copy!

Creating your inspiration strategy

It starts by deliberately monitoring the things that inspire you the most. Write them down. Then, incorporate them into your work flow, so that you can get into an inspired state when you need to, rather than just when it randomly occurs.

What works for me? I incorporated a walk into my work flow when I discovered that it was how most of my best ideas came to me. I also learned that if I read my email first thing in the morning, it took my focus away from creating. So, my workday starts with a walk, followed by the commitment to write 500 words or solve a problem, before I start on my email.

Just as Peter De Vries made sure to be inspired at 9am each workday, we too need to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and proactively seek inspiration – doing what works for us.

Build a recipe that works for you, then use it every time you need to do some creative work or find a creative answer. Don’t wait for inspiration. Deliberately encourage it.

Then do the work

As well as inspiring ourselves to create, we also need to motivate ourselves to put what we have created into action. It’s one thing to have a great idea sketched out on paper – it’s something else to actually use that idea.

We need to learn to give our ideas the chance to fly. We need to give our answers the chance to make a difference. This means we need to back them up with intelligent activity.

Photo Copyright: Albert Watson

How to build a stronger business

What are the areas of your business, which you are weakest at?

The good and the bad

No matter who you are or what profession you are in, there will be elements of the service you provide, which you are far better at than others. For example, some accountants and lawyers are very good at the technical side of their business, yet very poor when it comes to communicating with clients and prospective clients. Some restaurants offer wonderful customer service, yet the food is just average. You get the picture.

One of the challenges we face as business owners, is that the temptation can be to focus our efforts on what we are already outstanding at, whilst remaining poor in areas where we really need to improve.

Build a more robust business

Yes, it’s important to develop our strengths, but it’s also important to take a look at the elements of our service where we need to improve, and set time aside to develop those skills. If we do this, we become better and can provide an increasingly good service to our clients.

This also helps us build a more robust business, so our clients win and we win to. Win-win!

Let’s work together to grow your business and transform your future

Have you been thinking about joining me on my marketing mentor program; where you and I work together for a whole year, to grow your business and boost your profits?

If you have, here’s some great news: I have 2 positions that are about to become available!

The opportunity

This is the perfect opportunity for you to work with an Internationally respected marketing professional and see your business benefit, from my most powerful marketing and business development ideas. You can find out more about the program here, along with how to get in touch.

Over the years, I have helped small business owners like yourself, to massively improve their results – allowing them to work with better clients, for higher fees and plan ahead with confidence. Now, I am offering you the opportunity to do the same.

If you are interested, get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. I look forward to hearing from you.

How to build a massively valuable business using a more human approach!

Years ago, there were six degrees of separation between you and anyone else on the planet. Then came the social web and suddenly, there was just one pixel of separation between you and anyone with an Internet connection.

So, given this unparalleled business opportunity to connect with almost anyone, what are you doing with it?

Selfish demands from strangers

Very few small business owners seem to understand how to benefit from this opportunity.

They just don’t get it. They simply see a way to connect with someone via email or a social network who they think can help them, and ask that stranger for help. Rather than think ahead of the people it would be useful for them to know and invest the time required to connect with these useful people in advance, they just pester them with a direct demand for a selfish favour.

For instance, today alone, around half a dozen people who have never connected with me before, will email me and ask if I will let them write a guest post on this blog. Another dozen or so people who have never previously connected with me, will ask me via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or email if I will ‘check out their site and tell them what they are doing wrong.’ Then around 50 PR companies will email me a press release, even though they have no relationship with me and I have never published a press release.

None of us are self made people

The idea of the self made person is a myth. None of us can do it by ourselves. We all need the help and support of others, in order to achieve anything of value. The least effective way to garner that help or support, is to pester people we don’t know and demand it.

Business is all about people and people value relationships. This means relationship building should be an essential, ongoing process in your business.

Try this

Take some time out to identify the people, who you would like to know and then invest the time required to get to know them. You don’t need a complicated strategy for this any more than you need one for making new friends. It’s about people. Just keep it human and be prepared to give before you receive. Instigate the relationship with a hello, not a demand. Seek to help, before you ask for help. You wouldn’t make a new friend and straight away start demanding they do things for you – the same is true in business.

In short: Business is all about people and people respond very poorly to selfish demands from strangers. Make relationship building an ongoing priority, by investing the time required to get to know the people, who you can help and those who may be able to help you. Get this right and the potential is endless!

Photo: Teen Photographer

Who built your business model?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?

It’s easy to get stuck in a business model, which we adopt because everyone in our industry is doing it. Now, if that model works, supports our commercial and lifestyle goals, then that’s great. Sadly, many people are working a business model that’s missing one or both of those goals.

For example

An example we see all the time, is the trend among the best known social media experts, where almost all of them use the exact same business model: Selling speaking gigs and books. Book income is relatively low, even for best selling business books. As a result, these hard working individuals tend to spend most of their time away from their homes and loved ones, because they have not yet figured out an alternative business model to the social media talking circuit.

It’s sad and 100% avoidable, for those willing to embrace Steve Jobs’ mantra and Think Different – rather than follow the flock.

Thinking different

The starting point of developing a more effective business model, is to identify exactly what you want from your business. I’m going to leave you today with a great way to get some clarity around this key challenge.

Grab a pen and a pad and write the following question at the top of the page, then spend as long as required answering it.

Here’s the question: If my business was perfect in every way, serving both my lifestyle and commercial needs, what would it look like?

Consider things, such as:

  • How many hours would I work?
  • Which worthy causes would I support with my work?
  • How much would I earn?
  • Where would I live?
  • Who would I work with? You can answer with the profile of clients you want to attract or name names of people / businesses you’d like to work with.

The key is to allow your mind to focus on the things in life that matter most to you and incorporate them into the development of your ideal business.

If you take the time to do this correctly and then start working on an effective plan, the impact can be life changing. I have worked on this with many clients over the years and it’s one of the most professionally rewarding things I have ever done.

Just remember when asking and answering your questions, to Think Different.

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

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