Why getting the basics right is so important

Snazzy product launches and gimmicks are no substitute for a great product or service.


Getting the basics right

When our customers buy from us, they expect great products and services. At the very least, they expect us to deliver on all the promises we made in our marketing. They will hope for more than that, of course. Keeping a promise really is no more than the baseline. It’s the start point. It’s not the destination. It’s just providing the basics!

It’s what we add to that experience, which turns customers into super-satisfied customers and passionate advocates.

Here’s what doesn’t work

What doesn’t work, is an average product or service wrapped up in lots of hoopla.

As customers, we don’t care if a company has a zany, media friendly image, if they fail to look after us – fail to get the basics right. It doesn’t matter to us that they have a snazzy looking website, if they fail to reply to our emails.

We want the basics. Simple things:

  • We want them to pick the phone up when we call.
  • We want them to take ownership of problems they create and resolve them – not waffle.
  • We want them to listen to us, so they get our order right.
  • We want them to deliver on time and on budget.
  • We want them to care about us after the sale, not just during the sales process.


Getting the basics right may sound less exciting than dazzling people with ‘the sizzle’. However, those basics form the foundation of our business. We ignore them at our peril.

Think big – No, bigger than that

In today’s post, I want to share some thoughts with you on why you have to think big, if you want your business to reach it’s potential. The answer may surprise you!

Think big

All business owners place a self-imposed limit on what we want to achieve from our business. Some set that limit high, whilst most set that limit far too low. The challenge created by thinking too small, is that it places a very low ceiling on what we can achieve. Without an exciting, compelling, inspiring vision, we lack the energy and motivation to operate at our best.

Let me explain…

Puny goals fail to motivate us

For example, if we set ourself a goal or task, which causes us to stretch just a little and would only lead to a modest reward if we succeeded, we would ask ourselves things like:

  • What if people laugh at me?
  • What if I lose money on this?
  • What if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to?

Without a compelling reason to risk those potential pitfalls, there’s little motivation for us to get started.


When inspired by a compelling, exciting goal or task, the same potential pitfalls exist BUT the potential reward is far, far greater. This then provides us with massively more motivation, to get the task completed.

If you find yourself struggling to grow your business, take a look at the goals you have set for yourself. Are they truly inspiring you? If not, this could be a great time to start thinking bigger and set some goals, which are worthy of you.

Please check out this post’s sponsor, Hire Imaging, LLC.
Barb Poole has helped thousands of people to explore, find and keep their career dreams. She can help you move forward in your career too. To learn more, click here or call 877-265-2750.


Launching today!

I have some exciting news, for those who enjoy reading Jim’s Marketing Blog and those of you, who would like to use my blog as a way to market your business.

Big news

More blog posts and additional, free marketing material

As I wrote in December, I am committed to being of more value to my readers in 2013 than ever before. This means writing more blog posts for you and also developing free marketing materials for you – audio downloads and marketing documents etc. I am extremely excited about this opportunity to be of greater service. Of course, all this additional work means I will need to invest even more of my time, developing content you will find useful.

Spending more of my working hours, writing for you

I currently spend 95% of my working hours each week, working with paying clients. I then spend the remaining 5% of my working hours and some of my personal time, writing posts for the thousands of readers who rely on me for free marketing ideas, tips and advice. That 95% – 5% balance needs to shift somewhat, in order for me to have the time I need, to be of greater service to you. This means me working with fewer paying clients and finding a way for me to cover the lost client income.

I believe I have found a superb answer and that’s what this post is all about.

Let’s promote your business!

Starting today, I am offering you the opportunity to advertise to thousands of business owners, by sponsoring one or more of my blog posts. For the past 5 years, every post I have written has had a very effective, small advertisement under it, offering you my services. That advertising space is now available to you! Just one sponsored message will be available per post.

You now have an opportunity to promote your business, products, services or events, to a great community of small and medium-sized business owners. Your 35 word advertising message, including 1 link, will be added to the bottom of a blog post. See the example below.

ad screen pic

The reason I used this approach myself and now offer it to you, is that it provides 2 huge benefits over ‘normal’ advertisements.

  1. Because your sponsored message is added to the bottom of the actual post, it will be visible not only to those who read Jim’s Marketing Blog, but also the thousands of people who read my posts via email and RSS feed readers. It has proven to be extremely effective.
  2. Your advertisement will remain on the blog for the entire lifetime of Jim’s Marketing Blog. Most advertisements expire after days, weeks or months – yours will live here for years to come. This is really important. Many old posts on this blog are still read every day, some are read dozens of times a day; as new people discover them via search engines and social networks. Whilst it’s obviously impossible to say how many times someone will see your advertisement over the years, the fact it’s here means you could be generating results for years.

To find out how it works, including the price, click here.

Always free

I have always been inspired to help as many people as possible with my work. This means I never considered switching to a paid subscription model. I want the marketing material I write to be available to everyone who needs it.

By replacing the advertisements for my services on some posts, with a sponsored message, readers will notice no difference to their reading experience. As this is a marketing site, read by business owners and entrepreneurs, I know you will appreciate the contribution my sponsors make, funding the time required for me to make Jim’s Marketing Blog a more valuable resource for you.

To promote your business, products, services or events on Jim’s Marketing Blog, click here.

What every business owner needs to know about prices and fees

How do you decide what to charge for your products or services?

I ask this question because one of the biggest and most costly mistakes small business owners make, is that they set their prices or fees based on what they need to sell them for. Here’s an example of what I mean.

People buy for their reasons, not ours

I had a chat last year with the owner of a coffee shop, who was worried about how few customers she had. She explained that her prices were between 10% and 30% higher than other, equally good coffee shops in her area and as a result, the place was almost always quiet. I asked why she charged so much more, when there was no clear reason as she was stocking the same quality of products as her competitors. She said that she HAD to charge more than her competitors, because her rent was far higher than theirs.

I noticed last week that the coffee shop had closed. As she discovered, local coffee drinkers didn’t care that she negotiated a crappy rent agreement with her landlord. They just saw that she charged more money for the same coffee, so they went elsewhere.

The role of value

In almost every industry, there are businesses who serve the bottom end of the market and others that serve the top end. In each case, their customers are buying based on value.

  • Those who value a super-low price will make their decision based on the cheapest deal they can find.
  • Those who value outstanding products and services, will make their decision based on quality and excellence.

What doesn’t work, is when a provider sets their prices or fees based on their need – rather than the value they offer. Your prospective clients don’t care that you need to earn X every month. They care that the value they receive from you, is greater than the price.

The importance of adding value

Smart business owners have figured out that if they pump enough value into their products or services, they can have an extremely profitable business. They have also discovered that it’s a lot more professionally rewarding, to work with clients and serve customers who value quality. I believe that in an age, were customers can find the cheapest provider on Google, in minutes, it has never been more important to focus on value.

A visionary way to improve your business

I have an important message today, for any of you who are going through a tough time right now.

Vision and visionaries

Vision is the ability to see. A visionary is someone, who uses her imagination to see what will be.

Most people get so caught up in the moment, that they fail to see what’s coming. As a marketing professional, I see examples of this all the time.

For example:

  • When times are tough, business owners often get disheartened about their future. After days, weeks or months of problems, they start to believe that THIS is how things will always be.
  • When times are great, they assume things will never change. So, they fail to market their services. It’s only when they lose a major account that they decide to start marketing again. Thus begins the common feast and famine cycle.

Turning a bad situation around

We need to learn how to not only see things the way they are, but also the way they will be. Yes, your business (or life) may be going through a tough patch right now, but you are never more than one good idea away from turning it around. Never let yourself forget that.

Here are some free ideas, to get your business back on track.

If you think it’s likely that some of your friends are going through a tough time right now, please share this message, using the buttons below.

A marketing lesson from an interesting place to sit

How interesting is your product or service, to a prospective customer?

I was walking along The River Trent, earlier today when I saw the seat below. I don’t usually notice seats and certainly don’t take photos of them.


This got me thinking about how our attention is captured, whenever we see something interesting or different. I must have walked past dozens of seats on my walk today and can’t recall one of them – but this one really stood out. There’s a valuable lesson here for anyone, who is marketing anything.

An interesting place to sit

The people who look after the river walkway could have bought normal, predictable seating, however, someone decided that an interesting place to sit (the river bank), deserved an interesting place to sit (the oddly designed seat). Now, the design may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s certainly a little more interesting to look at than many of the seats along this riverbank.

The designer took a chance and made something that looked different. The buyer valued that difference enough, to buy it instead of a boring alternative. I valued it enough to stop and take a photo of it and share it with thousands of people. It’s a good example of what can happen, when a product or service stands out for all the right reasons.

Smart business owners have figured out that if they dare to be different, they can bake marketing into their products or services.

The temptation to follow our competitors

It can be tempting for us to copy or emulate what we see our competitors doing, but there’s no art there. It doesn’t get people talking about us. It doesn’t give people a reason to recommend us. It’s predictable. Dull. Boring.

Yes, it feels safe to follow the crowd and do what’s expected, but it places huge limitations on our potential. There’s little room for growth in doing average work for average fees – or selling average products for average prices.

A simple yet powerful tip to help you overcome procrastination

professional development,

I’d like to share a wonderfully simple, yet extremely powerful decision making technique with you. It works in seconds and although it involves tossing a coin, it’s probably not what you are thinking of.

So, here it is!

Decision making and tossing a coin

toss coin

The next time you have a decision to make and you are not sure which way to go, toss a coin.

  • The value here is not that the coin makes the decision for you.
  • The value is that whilst the coin is in the air spinning, you will discover which side you are hoping it will land on – which result you want.

This then gives you the answer you need, regardless of how the coin lands.

How it works

It seems that even when we are consciously unaware of what decision to take, unconsciously we have usually already decided. The process of tossing the coin and our awareness that there are just seconds until we know the result, causes us to automatically hope for the decision we want the most. The idea is centuries old and works extremely well.

I hope you find this as useful as I have.

Do you think like an entrepreneur?

Some years ago, I discovered an interesting fact about entrepreneurs. It’s something that makes them different from other business owners, who lack the entrepreneurial mindset.

entrepreneurMy hope is that when you understand this key difference, it may inspire you to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset, the way I did when I discovered it.

It’s simply this

  • On New Year’s day, most business owners set resolutions. They make commitments about wanting things to be better and tell themselves they will do what’s required.
  • Entrepreneurs are resolute every day. They consistently make commitments to do whatever their business needs. They plan their work, then work their plan.

By the third or fourth week in January, many small business owners have already slipped back into the familiar patterns, which stopped them making meaningful progress last year. For them, January is not the start of a New Year – it’s simply a chance to relive the same old year over again.

As Benjamin Franklin said: ‘You may delay, but time will not.’

Never settle for less than you deserve

If you want a better year in 2013, you need to improve your strategy and tactics – then take massive action. It’s what entrepreneurs do and what I help people with every day. I can assure you, once you make that commitment to entrepreneurial thinking, your whole life improves, not just your business.

You started your business with dreams and ambitions. Don’t lose sight of that and put up with ‘average’. Never settle for less than you deserve.

How approachable are you?

How easy is it, for your prospective clients or customers to get in touch with you?

I’m not talking about how visible your phone number, email address and contact form are. I’m referring to something that is just as important and yet seldom written about: How approachable you sound to a prospective client.

how approachable are you

Are you approachable enough?

For example

  • When a prospective client is reading your newsletter, how approachable do you sound to them? The best newsletters are written, so that the author comes across as friendly and informed. The worst are written by people who come across as lacking in personality or distant.
  • When a prospective client reads the comments section on your blog, how approachable do you sound to them? Some bloggers can be patronising or sarcastic when people ask them questions. This is a bad move, if you want prospective clients to feel comfortable contacting you.
  • When a prospective client reads the about page on your website, how approachable do you sound? Many small business owners write their about page in the 3rd person, rather than speak directly to their reader. Instead of saying ‘Hi, thanks for stopping by. My name is Bob and…’ they start with ‘Bob has worked in web design since 2002…’

If we want prospective clients or customers to approach us for help, we need to do everything possible to let them know that we are welcoming and approachable. Business is all about people, so it makes perfect sense to keep it human.

How to protect your business from Freebie Seekers

If you use free offers as a way to generate genuine interest from prospective, paying clients, it’s essential that you take freebie seekers into account.

Freebie seekers are those people who grab every free offer in sight, with zero intention of ever becoming a paying client or customer. Their actions can discourage you and cause you to make incorrect assumptions when you check your marketing feedback. Here are a few thoughts on freebie seekers, to help you protect your business from the damage they can cause.

Freebie seekers and free offers

When used correctly, a free offer can be a useful marketing tool. However, it’s extremely important to understand that the second you attach the word free to an offer, you will immediately attract the attention of people, with no interest in ever buying anything from you. Whilst free offers are of some interest to prospective paying customers, they are totally irresistible to freebie seekers. They are mesmerised by the idea of getting anything for nothing.

I was prompted to write this post, after hearing a story that happened in a London supermarket recently. A member of the public had to receive medical attention, after eating half a plate of ‘free cheese samples’. This free cheese was in perfect condition and contained a sign explaining that it contained nuts. The customer had a nut allergy! The store manager waited with the customer until the paramedics arrived and could not believe what he told them. He explained that he felt compelled to risk eating the cheese, knowing it contained nuts, because it was there and it was free. It turned out that the customer wasn’t homeless or broke, he said he saw the FREE sign and couldn’t resist a free lunch, before returning to work!

Whilst an extreme case, it’s a mindset that I see all the time as a marketing professional. As a small business owner, you need to be aware of it so that you can factor freebie seekers into your marketing numbers, get a more realistic picture of your feedback and avoid them wasting your time.

Common freebie seeking behaviours

Freebie seekers are usually the first people to respond to a free offer. Sadly, your highly motivated prospective clients will also often reply quickly, which means the freebie seekers can make conversion rates look far lower than they really are. If you make a free offer in an untargeted way, for example, via messages on a social network – expect a high percentage of freebie seekers. You can reduce the percentage of freebie seekers, by making the free offer in a more targeted way, such as through your blog or newsletter.

On the subject of newsletters, freebie seekers are almost always the first to unsubscribe, when you specifically market your paid services. Just as they are quick to respond to a free offer, they are equally quick to run away, the moment they are asked to pay for anything.

Some small business owners make the mistake of not marketing their products or services often enough in their newsletters or blog posts, because they see people unsubscribe. People seriously interested in what you have to say and what you have to offer, will not unsubscribe just because you mention your products or services. Freebie seekers will. Factor this in, when looking at unsubscribe rates.

Stopping freebie seekers from wasting your time and money

The best way to defend yourself against the problems caused by freebie seekers, is to accept that they exist. The only way to avoid them, is to look at alternatives to ‘free’ offers. There are many ways to attract the attention of genuine prospective clients and customers, other than offering freebies. Any good marketing professional can show you what to do and help you avoid a costly mistake.