Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Making a noise or making a difference?

If you take a look at any social network or visit any networking event, the people there can be placed into one of the following broad groups.

difference

  1. People who are making a noise. They are simply adding to the background chatter.
  2. People who are making a difference. They are being listened to. Their voices are the ones we tune into.

Which group am I in?

Most of us would like to be in that second group. The easiest way for us to determine if we are, is for us to ask ourselves the following question and then answer it as honestly as we can:

If I failed to show up, would people really miss me?

The people who struggle for attention usually focus on making noise. We don’t miss them when they’re not there. They send us DM spam on Twitter. They add us to their newsletter list without permission. They push their product or service at us on Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin. They pester us at networking events, pretending to be interested in us, just waiting to hit us with a sales pitch. Their thinking looks like this: If I can just pester enough people, someone will listen to me.

Rather than craft a more compelling story, they push a bland story harder and harder.

A more effective approach

A better approach, is to focus on making a difference. When your work or your ideas are making a difference, people talk about you. They ask you about your ideas. They speak with their friends about you when you are not there. They become engaged with you.

Yes, making a difference requires more creative thinking than pestering people, however, it’s a lot easier, it’s less stressful… and it works!

 Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to be massively more creative

Today, I’m going to share an idea with you, which I found amazingly valuable. It can help you become massively more creative, improve your problem solving skills and make you far more productive too.

inspiration, creativity

I’d like to start, by asking you a few quick questions.

  • Where do you tend to be, when you have your best ideas?
  • What activities are you doing, when you get your best ideas?
  • What time of the day or night, do your best ideas come?

You don’t wait for inspiration – you command it

If you take some time to think about your answers, it’s possible that, like me, you will spot some common factors that cause you to be at your creative best. By utilising these factors so they are working for you, it’s easier for you to get into a creative mindset. The alternative is to wait for inspiration, but that’s a very risky, unnecessary approach for business owners, who constantly need to solve problems or write for their blogs or newsletters.

The following quote sums up the professional approach to creative inspiration:

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

Deliberately summoning inspiration

Here’s how I summon inspiration, followed by an example from a copywriter.

Whilst I can get a useful idea at any time, I tend to be most creative in the mornings and usually when I am walking around the village where I live. So, if I have a particularly challenging problem (or puzzle) to solve, I grab a voice recorder and get walking. This gives me the best opportunity of finding the answer I need, exactly when I need it. It places me in an inspiring location, doing an inspirational activity at my most inspired time of day.

I remember talking about this to a friend of mine, who is a copywriter. I asked her those questions and she replied that she tended to get their best ideas, when enjoying a break from her office in a local coffee shop. I suggested that the next time she was feeling unproductive, she should take her notebook with her to the local coffee shop and start writing. She called me a few weeks later, to say that she has never been so productive. By deliberately putting herself into a ‘space’ where she felt creative, she had found a way to eliminate writer’s block. Now, when she get stuck with a challenge, she takes it to the coffee shop.

Your inspired recipe

There are 3 things you need to be mindful of, when developing and implementing your recipe for inspiration.

  1. There is no right or wrong. We are all different and as a result, you may find yourself more creative at 8pm than 8am. You may find that you feel most creative after going to the gym, going for a drive, tap dancing, skating, playing a musical instrument or flying a kite. Don’t rule something out. If it works for you, it works.
  2. You need to start off, expecting it to work. Go into the process fully expecting to feel inspired, then relax and see what comes into your mind.
  3. Record your inspired ideas. Make sure that you have either a smart phone, digital recorder or notebook with you. Then, as the ideas come, get them out of your head and save them. This helps you become even more creative, because you have the freedom to think freely – rather than have one idea then have to try and remember it until you back to the office.

When I used to wait for inspiration

I wasted years, assuming that inspiration was something that happened randomly. In the late 1990’s I started a marketing newsletter, which I published 3 times a month. It was an enormous struggle for me to dig deep and come up with something for my readers 36 times a year. Today, I often write 30 posts or articles a month across my 4 sites, thanks to learning and then practising what I have just shared with you.

I hope you find this idea as useful as I did. If you do, remember to share it with your friends using the buttons below.

 Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

A hope, a promise and a wish

clock face

A new day. A new year. A clean canvas.

My hope for you

I hope that you use the first day of January, as an opportunity to take stock, make some plans and launch your best year ever. You can make real, measurable progress in the days, weeks and months ahead.

My promise to you

I promise to be here for you. I promise to show up regularly and share marketing and business development ideas. If you really want to see amazing results, I’m here for you to hire, either for a one-off session or a whole year.

My wish for you

My wish is that you have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2013.

Here’s to your success!

Photo: zoutedrop

3 Powerful, alternative marketing ideas for your business

In this short post, I am going to share 3 powerful, alternative ways to implement marketing ideas, based on what the world’s most successful business owners do.

I’m going to start with the most important one first!

3three

1. You can be criticised or you can be ignored

This is huge – maybe the most important message in marketing today: If you want your message to be heard in 2013, it needs to be different from the masses.

It needs to cut through all the noise; the emails, tweets, social network updates and blog posts. To be heard, you need to express your opinions and share your thoughts – not simply agree with all the noise.

Of course, if you want to be noticed you must risk being criticised or judged. This is where most people find the biggest challenge.

Every leader, every extremely successful blog and every massively popular newsletter, risks being disagreed with or criticised. However, the alternative is to be invisible and ignored. Whilst this sounds like a crazy alternative, it’s what the vast majority of business owners do. They are more inclined to agree with whatever is popular, join whatever is popular and share whatever is popular – than do their own thing.

Sheep are seldom criticised, because we can’t see them from the safety of their flock. Sheep ARE judged though, which is why we never look to them for leadership or ask for their opinions.

If you want to be seen in 2013, be prepared to stand out. Leave the flock – become the shepherd.

2. You can be proactive or you can be reactive

If you work to your plans (proactive) you will find it easier to make measurable progress. You plot a course and follow it. The alternative is to be reactive, work according to other people’s plans and hope it will be OK. Hope is essential, but it is not a business strategy.

  • Get proactive.
  • Get strategic.
  • Test and measure.
  • Adjust.
  • Then move forward.

3. You can have a story worth sharing or you can pester people to listen to you

Word of mouth referrals are powerful. Here’s what we know about word of mouth: People remark on (talk about) things that are remarkable. In 2013, craft a story about you, your business, your products or your services, which is worth sharing. Make your story easy to share and let the marketplace do the rest.

The alternative is to push an uninspiring message (at) people and hope to grind them down by brute force. This doesn’t work today. People filter those messages out.

Your alternatives?

This is a tricky question, but here goes: What common marketing tactics do you see the most successful business owners doing, which the masses get wrong? If you can think of one (or more) share them with a comment.

 Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

A human approach to the success of your business

A great piece of advice for the year ahead, is to stop looking for success in the mechanics of what you do.

It isn’t there!

Robot

Allow me to explain

For example, a dummies guide to blogging will tell you the mechanics of writing, publishing and distributing blog posts.

However, successful blogging comes from outside the mechanics.

  • Success comes from breaking many of the golden rules of blogging, so you don’t look just like everyone else.
  • Success comes from digging deep, to come up with posts that your readers will value.
  • Success comes from showing up very regularly, no matter how busy you are, no matter what’s going on in your life and no matter how you feel.
  • Success comes from having the courage to tell it your way, knowing you risk being challenged or attacked.

You can learn the mechanics anywhere. The bookshelves are packed with step by step guides to doing just about anything.

The human element is where our success is determined. It’s our passion, commitment, work ethic, motivation, creativity, values and courage, which set the ceiling on our potential.

 Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: David DeHetre

6 Powerful business tips from William Arthur Ward (Not Ernest Hemingway as misquoted)

Most of the problems business owners find themselves in can be avoided, if they follow these 6 tips from Ernest Hemingway William Arthur Ward.

“Before you act, listen.
Before you react, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.”

~ William Arthur Ward

Before you act, listen

It’s tempting for entrepreneurs to get an idea and then take action, without first listening or getting feedback. That initial burst of excitement and the motivation it brings, means it’s all too easy to set off full speed – then get caught in a speed trap! Starting any project of value without doing the research required results in wasted time, wasted money and total frustration.

Remember: Ready, Aim, Fire – not Ready, Fire, Aim.

Before you react, think

One of the best ways to guarantee you make bad decisions, is to react before you have taken time to think the situation through.

I spoke once with a small business owner, who lost her biggest client because she reacted to an email from her client before pausing to think. The email seemed to be attacking the quality of her work and as an artist, she was extremely hurt. She replied quickly with an angry email, which attacked her client’s taste. The client then replied the following day, to say they had closed their account. It turned out that the client’s email was intended to be humorous. The small business owner only realised she had made a huge mistake, after showing it to her partner who immediately spotted the joke. She lost 60% of her turnover by reacting without due thought.

Before you spend, earn

Earning before you spend takes a lot of discipline. We live in a society that promotes the idea of instant gratification. Just put your credit card details into the box and Amazon (or whoever) will deliver that (whatever) to your door the next day. If you can avoid credit, do. Make your money work for you, not the credit card or loan companies. No, it isn’t easy. However, it is possible.

Before you criticize, wait

Criticism can be painful, so it pays to wait before you criticise. Life is too short to spend it upsetting people. Think for a moment about what you hope to achieve by criticising that person.

Offering a critique when asked by someone who respects your opinion, is very different from picking holes in someone who didn’t ask for your opinion. If you have to be critical about someone or their work, at least provide some helpful answers. Then ask why you needed to be critical of them and what you truly hoped to achieve. Try and ask yourself that question before criticising them.

Before you pray, forgive

It’s hard to move on with your life, unless you are prepared to forgive. I was recently left with a bill for thousands of dollars, because someone failed to deliver on a commitment they made to me and then walked away, leaving me to literally pay the price. However, I made sure to forgive the person immediately. In fact, I wish them nothing but happiness. I have not forgotten what they did to me, because if I did I wouldn’t have been able to learn from it. However, it’s pointless to hold bitterness toward people. As Buddy Hackett said: ‘While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing’.

Look for the learning. Use it as a lesson. Don’t let it happen again. Move on.

Before you quit, try

In my experience, people tend to quit too soon. For example, there are millions of blogs out there, which were abandoned after the blogger wrote a couple of dozen posts. Before these blogs had the chance to become massively valuable assets, the blogger decided it wasn’t working and quit. Instead of starting with a commitment to write regularly for at least a year before quitting, they became disheartened and gave up. They set it up so that it was impossible for them to succeed, by quitting unreasonably early.

If you are going to try something, really try. Make a commitment based on realistic data – then stick to it. This will cause your success rate and your self belief to soar like a rocket!

 Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

The quote this post was based on, was originally attributed to Hemingway. The correct attribution has now been applied and I’d like to thank Peter, a reader who kindly pointed out the error.

What story are you telling yourself about 2013?

How optimistic do you feel about your business in 2013?

Interestingly, some people will feel confident, despite the economy. Others in the same industry will feel concerned, when faced with the same economic outlook.

story

In each case, their answer will be determined by 2 things:

  1. The reality of their situation.
  2. The stories they have told themselves about 2013.

The stories we tell ourselves

I wrote an article recently for my Creative Thinking site, which explains how the words we use change the way we feel. Equally, we can change the way we feel by changing the stories we tell ourselves.

As a small business owner, you need to be selective regarding the stories you tell yourself. Why? Because if a business owner has told themselves that business will just get better’in 2013, they will start to believe it. They will feel optimistic about their outlook for 2013, even though they have done nothing to actually make things improve. Because they do nothing new to improve things, they waste another year, working the same long hours and making little meaningful progress.

That’s the cycle many small business owners stay in until they go broke or decide to get a job.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative!

Realistic optimism

Other small business owners will look at their 2012 results, see the economic outlook for 2013 and tell themselves a realistic story: ‘If I don’t improve my strategies and tactics, my situation is not going to improve and I will waste another year’. These are what I call realistic optimists. They allow the reality of the situation to motivate them to take intelligent action.

Realistic optimists look at things as they are today, then they look at things as they want them to be. Next, they learn how to get from point A to point B.

Of course, if you are a realistic optimist and want to get from where you are now, to where you really want to be, I can help you make it happen.

The importance of taking responsibility for our mistakes

When I speak with young entrepreneurs, one of the first topics I cover is responsibility. The reason I mention it so prominently, is that the decision to accept responsibility and then back it up with action, is a prerequisite for commercial success.

take responsibility

What we learn, when things go wrong

If you want to really know a person’s attitude to responsibility, you need to see what they do when they make a costly mistake. The way they choose to deal with it will usually fall into one of two broad categories.

Here’s what we find:

  1. Some people make a mistake, take responsibility for what they did, then work to put things right. Their reputation grows as does their self-belief and confidence.
  2. Other people make a mistake, dodge responsibility, then walk away – leaving you with a problem they created. Their reputation plummets and they miss an opportunity to grow.

Paying the price

Those who avoid responsibility end up paying a hefty price. You see, it’s impossible to have that mindset and still grow in any meaningful, positive way. When they make a mistake, particularly a big mistake, they look for someone or something to blame. There’s no growth there. The growing only happens when they accept responsibility, dig deep, deal with the situation and THEN learn from it.

The legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, once said he only learned how great he truly was, when he was knocked down for the first time and decided to get back up again. The same is true of everyone. People only really know what they’re are made of, when faced with adversity. By dodging responsibility, they never develop the mental toughness to rise to the next challenge, which creates a cycle that persists until they decide to break it.

No one needs that kind of reputation!

Of course, failing to take responsibility and walking away from problems they created also seriously damages their reputation.

Social networks allow people to share experiences faster and with massively more people than ever before. Those who have that irresponsible attitude to business, soon learn that it doesn’t take long before their marketplace, co-workers and competitors find out.

People still value the same things

Whilst the technology we use in business has changed massively over the years, the nature of people has remained the same. The marketplace still places a huge value on; trust, courage, integrity, leadership and honesty. We can demonstrate all of those values, by accepting responsibility for our actions.

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we deal with them, that counts.

 Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

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