Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

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Steve Jobs, Seth Godin and The Secret Of Their Success!

(Update: I have written a follow-up to this post here)

Does the world really need another service provider, who is just a little less expensive, just a little faster or who offers just a little better customer service?

No: The marketplace is not excited or motivated by yet another pretty average provider.

What causes people to stand in line waiting to become your client or to tell the world how awesome you are, is when they encounter a business or person, doing something that is clearly, extra special.

This is what I call doing work that matters.

Work that matters

So, what am I referring to when I say work that matters?

I first picked up on the term, in an interview I heard a couple of years ago.  Seth Godin was being interviewed by Israel V, who asked him what his secret to success was.  Seth answered:

For 5 years, I was one payment away from bankruptcy.  I then decided to stop doing work that paid and focus on doing work that mattered.  I fired our biggest client, who was responsible for more than half our revenue!  They were making us unhappy and were changing who we were and how we did business.

It was a real watershed for me; having the guts to do that.  I told my team that this might be the end for us, but I think it is the right thing to do.  We stopped working on projects, which could make us money in a week and focused all our attention on doing work that mattered, things we would have worked on for free, if we could have afforded to. 

That shift meant a lot!

Work that pays

Almost every business focuses on working in a predictable way.  They stick within the confines of what their competitors do, because they believe that there is almost a guarantee that if they do, they will at least get a slice of the pie, even if it’s a small slice.  This is why so many businesses offer such a similar range of services to their competitors and end up attracting average clients, who pay them average fees.

Steve Jobs and work that matters

Only a tiny minority of people do work that matters.  They look at what the marketplace needs and they decide to provide it based on their unique approach.  Steve Jobs is a famous example of doing work that matters.  At a time when computer makers were constantly asking themselves, “how can we make this cheaper?” Jobs was asking “how can we make this so awesome that people will go crazy with excitement when they see it?”  The rest is history.

Here’s the challenge with ripping up the predictable model of a business in your industry, to focus exclusively on doing work that matters to you.

You won’t find the model for you and your business in any book!

There’s no for dummies guide.  There’s no turnkey solution.  There’s no manual either!  That’s because it has to be work that matters to YOU and your prospective clients.

It’s based around the way YOU see things:

  • Your values
  • Your beliefs
  • Your insights
  • Your experiences
  • Your passion
  • Your resources
  • Your imagination
  • Your goals
  • Your personality
  • Your dreams
  • Your faith
  • Your end game

Clearly, this approach is not for everyone.  But for those who can see the potential and who have the vision and the courage to make it work, the rewards are life changing.

It’s why I enjoy coaching people how to do work that matters, based on their uniqueness, more than any other work I do.  For my clients and myself, THIS is work that matters!

UPDATE: Here’s a follow-up post, which takes this subject further and answers a key question, on how to start this process in your business!

Photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography and Seth Godin

How to build a valuable client list and a more profitable business

The way to build a great client list, is to feed your business with high quality leads, from your ideal profile of client.

It’s actually pretty simple to see how targeted your marketing has been up until now.  You just need to take a look at the quality and volume of the leads or inquiries your marketing generates.  If you tend to attract:

  • Leads from people who are fee sensitive
  • Leads from people, who you know will be a nightmare to work with
  • Too few leads

…then your marketing is clearly not effectively targeting the right people with the correct message.  You need to fix that quickly!

The quality of your client base will have a direct impact on the quality of your business and also your quality of life.  Because my marketing is targeted, I already know you are a small business owner and that you often work long hours too.  Working long hours on projects for low quality clients is stressful, unrewarding and frustrating.  You deserve better than that!

So, get specific

One of the first things I do when I start working with a new client, is to determine what their ideal client looks like.  From that point onward, everything we do is designed to attract these high quality, prospective clients.  By using marketing, which I design to be directly relevant to these extremely valuable people, my clients are able to redesign their client list and their business.  This has a positive impact on every element of their business and their quality of life.  It’s rewarding, fun and very profitable for them.

I suggest you do the same.  Get specific.  Understand that for your marketing to work, it needs to be directly relevant ONLY to your ideal profile of client. This is what makes it powerful enough to inspire people to take action and contact you. Your marketing can only be that compelling, when you speak directly to the right people, with the correct message.

If you would like me to help you, let me know.

Photo: toolstop

The secret to solving your biggest business challenges

Whatever problems your business is facing right now, the solution you need is available.

The question is, how committed are you to getting the answers you need?

Failure seldom happens overnight

If you had a broken water pipe, with water gushing out all over your home, ruining everything, you would very quickly call in a plumber.  Broken water pipes are great for getting people to take action, because the damage is obvious and it all happens very quickly.  When a business is in trouble, it usually happens over a longer period of time, often causing small business owners to put off getting help, until it’s too late.

It’s little wonder that most businesses go broke within the first 3 years and many more only exist, because the owner is just about breaking even.

Why do so many small business owners struggle needlessly?

Having worked with thousands of small business owners over the past 16 years, I see a very clear pattern.  Those who succeed are focused on success and those who struggle are focused on security.  Those who succeed have an entrepreneurial mindset, whilst those who struggle tend to have the mindset of an employee.  They want things to improve, they work hard, but they are so fixated on the potential for loss, that they fail to give their business the resources it needs.  These are the people Seth Godin refers to as sheepwalkers.

The paradox of security

Those focused on security, associate investment with risk; so they always under-invest in their business.  Paradoxically, in an effort to be more secure, they starve their business of exactly what it needs in order to secure it’s future!

If you have been looking for the solution to a business problem for some time and had no real success, now is the time for you to look in a better direction.  There are accountants who can get your finances in shape, marketing professionals who can help you get more high-value clients and lawyers, who can help you protect your business from legal issues.

In short:  Do your research.  Find the people with the answers you need and start achieving the results your hard work deserves.

Or don’t.

Thankfully, the choice is always yours!

Give until it STOPS hurting

One of the cornerstones of effective marketing, is to focus on your prospective clients and their needs, rather than your own.

Some call it paying it forward.

Others call it contribution.

You can call it whatever you like, but it’s the same thing:  Focusing your efforts on the other guy and not on yourself.

Bring the marketplace your seed, not your need

Ask a farmer and she will tell you that if you want a bountiful harvest, you need to bring your seeds to the soil, not your needs.  You can tell the soil how much you need a great harvest and pester it for months and nothing productive will happen.

The marketplace is very similar!

Pester people for leads at networking events and you will find it a time-consuming and unrewarding exercise.  Equally, sending people letters or emails they never asked for, all about the benefits of working with you, can be a costly process.

It’s also unnecessary, in my experience.

The thing is, you don’t need to pester anyone.  Your prospective clients present you with an opportunity to plant as many seeds of contribution as you want to.  For example, I reach thousands of prospective clients daily, by giving away as much useful information as I can via my blogs and social networking accounts.  Without pestering anyone, I generate leads and sales every day.  But to earn that privilege, I have to consistently focus on you, your needs and how I can deliver valuable, free information that will be of use to you.

The bottom line is that the process of giving and receiving, starts with giving.  So, if you need some more high quality clients right now, give until it stops hurting!

Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis

What’s the problem?

To fix a problem, you need to start off by acknowledging you actually have a problem.

I was thinking about this earlier, when I decided to stop spending money with a provider, who has  apparently lost a lot of customers recently.  In short, the quality of service went from just above average when they launched it, to way below par, after 6 months.

The reason for this post, is that the owner of that business shared something in common with many low quality service providers: Whenever you brought a problem to his attention, his automatic response was always to deny there was a problem.  He would brush off all negative feedback, ignoring it completely.

The challenge with that approach, is that you can’t fix a problem unless you believe you have one.

The value of feedback

Yes, some customers or clients will voice concerns, that are more to do with them than with you or your service, but all feedback needs to be noted.  For example, if people are telling you that they can’t find something when they visit your website or walk into your store, the solution is not to assume your customers are fools.  The solution is to fix the UI (user interface) or redesign the layout of your store, so that people can find things easily.

It’s always good to keep an open mind, when you receive feedback.  No, you don’t need to act on everything everyone says, but unless you listen to what the marketplace is telling you, you can never be much better than average.

Photo: GammaMan

How to add a new income stream to your business and avoid time wasters too

This may be one of the most valuable posts I have ever written for you!

It’s a very simple idea, which can save you a lot of time AND generate a substantial, new income stream for you and your business.

It started (by accident) a few weeks ago, when I added a page to this blog to promote a new service I offer.  The service allows people to hire me for as little as 90 minutes, for help with a specific problem they have.

An unintended, yet massively valuable benefit!

I decided to start using a link to that new service, whenever someone contacted me on social media or via email, with a question that required a detailed, time consuming answer.

The results have been spectacular, which is why I want to share them with you today; in case you want to incorporate the idea into YOUR business.

Here’s how it works

When someone tweets or emails me for advice, they tend to start by saying something like “can I just pick your brains about…”.  In my experience, 95% of those people are time wasters: Freebie seekers, who will suck up your time, knowing they have zero intention of paying you (or anyone) for professional help.

However, in the other 5% of cases, these detailed questions come from professional people, who place a commercial value on your time.  This valuable 5% are prospective clients and they have responded amazingly, to this new service.

How well?

Simple: I have never attracted as many new clients, in as short a period of time, as I have since I started offering that service to those asking me for detailed, specific advice!

Your time is money.  If, like me, you spend time every single day providing free advice, you have to draw a line, where free ends and paid for starts.  The line for me is very simple:

  • Free advice is based on one to MANY:  For example, I write a blog post, which gives free advice to thousands of people.
  • Paid for advice is based on one to ONE:  For example, I take time away from my business and family, to work on just helping you and your business.  I work, you benefit from my expertise.

As a direct result of using that new service to filter those asking me for detailed advice, I have saved a huge amount of time and built a new income stream, from the genuinely interested 5%.

If you find people wasting your time, asking if they can just pick YOUR brain for detailed, free advice, I strongly recommend you consider developing a dedicated pick my brain service, as I have done.

The benefits were immediate and measurable.  They could be just the same for you!

One Place Only: Your chance to join me for a year!

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

Well, if you have, I’ve some very good news for you.

A position has unexpectedly just become available… starting as early as next week!

You can find out more about working with me here, along with how to get in touch.  This really is a great opportunity for you and your business to achieve your best results ever.  If you are interested, I recommend you get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Jim Connolly can help you grow your business and achieve the breakthrough marketing results your hard work deserves. To find out more, simply click here!

Selling on benefits? Then read this!

You’ve been told for years that you sell on benefits not features.  It’s one of those things you see stated again and again, yet there is a key element missing, which is essential if you want to get the best return on your marketing investment.  That’s what this post is all about.

Educate then inform

A common marketing myth is that you need to market your services based on benefits and that’s it!  This is incorrect.  Selling on benefits is only half the deal.  First, the other person needs to believe they have a problem, which your benefits solve.  If they don’t believe they have a problem, they are not going to buy your solution.  The challenge here is that many people who really need your services, don’t know it yet.  For these people, you need to educate them that they have the problem, before you stand a chance of them becoming a client.

For example, if someone is using a “cheap” accountant, they may think they are getting a GREAT deal.  It’s only after they learn that their cheap accountant is losing their business 50k a year needlessly, by giving them bad advice, that they are aware they need a good accountant, and quick!  An hour before they discovered they were losing out on 50k a year, they would have been bragging to their buddy about what a great deal they got from their accountant and not remotely interested in finding a better accountant.

Yes, the benefits of your service are extremely important to your marketing, but they are of little real marketing value, until you have convinced your prospective client that they actually have a problem.

Use this idea and become the only show in town!

If you are really smart, you will develop a unique solution that your competitors are not offering.  This way, when you educate your prospective clients that they have a problem, your service becomes the answer, rather than simply an answer.

Get this right and you will never have to sell based on fees again, plus you will always be in demand.  It’s one of the many things I work on with my clients and the results can be amazing!

Photo: Darkuncle

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