Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Here are 3 great reasons to put your next business idea into action

There are 3 powerful reasons, why you should take action on your next business idea.

  1. It might work out just how you wanted, right out the box!
  2. It might work later, after you make a few adjustments. By putting an idea into action, you attract feedback. Feedback allows you to tweak and improve.
  3. It might flop. If it does, you get to learn from it and invest that learning in future opportunities. This is how most true progress is made.

Feedback is your friend

When you truly understand the value of feedback, it becomes a lot easier to take action with your ideas and insights. Looking at the 3 possible scenarios above, you will have noticed that it’s impossible for you to fail – UNLESS you fail to take action.

One of the great paradoxes in life, is that the best way to succeed more often, is to increase your (so called) failure rate. The challenge here, is that many business owners have not yet figured this out. They avoid taking action on their ideas, unless they are convinced, in advance, the idea will work out exactly how they want it to.

Take action. Give your ideas the opportunity to fly and give yourself the opportunity to learn. Increase your failure rate by 500% over the next 12 months and I’m telling you, you will make more progress than you can imagine.

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Can you get to the point?

Have you noticed how some people in business seem unable to get to the point? They waffle, go round in circles, repeat themselves and succeed in looking and sounding confused. This post looks at why this happens and why you need to avoid it.

Clarity matters

marketing clarityIn business, you need to have crystal clarity, regarding your products, services and overall mission. You need to know exactly what your business does, who it does it for and why people should hire you or buy from you, rather than one of your competitors. Failing to do this will result in confusion and a confused mind always says no! In other words, when you speak with prospective clients and they are unclear exactly what you do, they will usually do nothing.

You can’t expect prospective clients or customers to understand the value of your proposition, if you are unable to give them the clear, concise information they need.

You can’t get to the point, if you’re unclear what the point is

Many small business owners are unclear about exactly what their business does. They know the industry sector they are in, but are vague or fuzzy, regarding THEIR SPECIFIC business and why people should be interested in them.

For example, if Mary is an accountant but is unclear about what sets her apart from other local accountants,it’s going to be extremely hard for her to convince prospective clients to use her services, rather than a cheaper competitor. With additional clarity, Mary could explain what sets her apart and those prospective clients who value that, will work with her. Otherwise, Mary is destined to market herself based on fees – The dreaded race to the bottom!

A clear mission helps eliminate confusion

The mission statement of my new project Creative Thinking Hub, is clear and to the point:

I want to help as many people as I can, think as creatively as they can.

Anyone bright enough to be interested in developing their creative thinking skills, will be able to see what Creative Thinking Hub is all about, in just 16 words. That’s the kind of clarity you need, in order for those you speak with, to get a handle on exactly why you are worthy of their interest. This has also made it extremely easy for people to spread the word about the project.

In short: Get crystal clear about your business, who your client or customer is and EXACTLY why they should hire you or buy from you, rather than a cheaper competitor.

Photo: Rob Ellis

Are you prepared or playing?

One of the BIG differences between successful business owners and those who struggle, is preparation. The average business owner doesn’t prepare very well. They want their business to succeed or their marketing to generate bankable results, but they fail to do the heavy lifting beforehand. They fail to prepare correctly, in advance.

Preparation

Last Monday, I launched a new project via an announcement on this blog. Just 7 days after launching Creative Thinking Hub, it has over a thousand subscribers, a Google Page Rank of 3 and more daily traffic than most older sites get. Here’s what people didn’t see: For 8 weeks before the launch, I invested around 100 hours to get the preparation right. I hired 2 designers. I spent money where it was needed and did the right things, correctly.

Conversely, I hear from business owners regularly, who have sites that are over a year old and still floundering, because they refuse to hire the expert help they need and prepare correctly for success. This strikes me as an odd attitude to have toward your own business: Like drowning and refusing to call for help.

Unprepared

There are many excuses why business owners refuse to prepare correctly. These range from those who say they can’t afford it, in a message sent via their iPad from the coffee shop where they blow a grand a year on coffee – To those who have settled for lowering their lifestyle aspirations, to fall in line with their under performing business results.

Ultimately, we have the freedom to start from nothing, prepare correctly and build something amazing. I started off with nothing, as the son of an Irish immigrant family with no connections and no money. I took the decision at age 21 to prepare for success and as soon as I could, I paid for the expert help I needed. I planned well and then worked the plan. It worked. Beautifully. I do the same today, like every successful business owner I know.

In short: Professional preparation is to business, as carbon is to steel. Don’t expect to wing your way to success in the worst economy in living memory.

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Tip: Do great work & put it where the right people can see it

No one likes to be pestered. Yet, when it comes to marketing, it seems some people still think they can pester their way to success. This post is about a different way to do business. It’s based on one of the most powerful ideas in commerce and I strongly recommend you take a few minutes to read this post in full.

Pestering their way to the bottom

Over the weekend, I received more than 100 emails from people I don’t know, all asking me to do something for them. Most want me to blog about their latest product or tell you how great their blog is. They send me spam email, because I have a well known blog and they think that means it’s OK. In 100% of the emails, where I have checked the link, the stuff they are pushing is uninspiring, at best.

It seems they have not figured out yet that if their product was worth talking about, they wouldn’t need to spam me or anyone else.

Here are a few examples that came to mind immediately.

An alternative approach

  • I recently bought a Lenovo Ultrabook and was so impressed with it, that I told the 11,000 people who connect with me on Google+ and the 6,000 who follow me on Twitter. The quality of the product was worth talking about, so I did exactly that. I wasn’t asked to. I just did it because I am like you: I talk about the things that impress the pants off me.
  • I received such amazing customer service from Dell computers, that I was compelled to blog about it. Again, I have no connection with Dell, other than being a customer. The service was so good, I had to share my experience.
  • I saw a Facebook update, where Peter Bestel shared a video of his 14 year old daughter, Zoe Bestel singing. Zoe wrote, sang and played on a beautiful track called “Into the Night” and I must have shared that link dozens of times. Why? Because it’s fantastic. You can see Zoe’s video in a moment!
  • A couple of weeks ago, I had an amazing caramel latte at a place in Gainsbrough, Lincolnshire called Creme and it was so good I photographed the cup and sent it to everyone on G+ and Twitter, with my recommendation. Again, the recommendation was totally unasked for. Like all those in this list, it was earned. It was remarkable, so I remarked on it.

Do great work and put it where people will see it

If Bob puts his work out there, where his clients and future clients can see it and they value it enough, they will share it with everyone. As in the above examples, this works whether it’s a multinational company, an independent coffee shop or a 14 year old girl with an amazing gift. Seth Godin makes the point beautifully, in this post about Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true Fans. I suggest you read Seth’s post.

Now, what does Bob do if he has a product or service that he’s always pushing and when people see it, it fails to inspire them? I believe he has 2 options:

  1. He can try and pester his way to success. It may mean cold calling hundreds of people or spamming hundreds of thousands of people to make a sale, but he will make some sales. He will successfully piss off a huge number of people in order to make a sale, but Bob may feel OK with that. This approach will work for a while, until he gets added to enough spam lists and nuisance caller lists, that it’s not effective to push people any more. This pestering approach is extremely common, as your spam folder will confirm.
  2. Bob can develop something that is of such genuine value, that people will want to share it. I call this doing work that matters. As I wrote yesterday on Creative Thinking Hub, this requires a lot more thought than pushing something that’s average, but it’s where the value is. It’s also a far more enjoyable way to develop a business.

‘Average’ isn’t good enough to motivate people to tell your story

Life is too short and people are too informed, for us to waste our time offering a service or product, which people are underwhelmed by. Those interested in being better than average and attracting the best clients, doing work that matters, rest assured I am here to help you with this blog. To those of you committed to being better than average and attracting the best clients, doing work that matters, get in touch. Make it happen.

Finally: Here’s Zoe!

Before I wrap this up, I have to share the following video of Zoe Bestel with you. If you can’t see the video below for any reason, you can watch it here.

Generate massively more sales leads, with this simple yet powerful idea!

This short post gives you a simple, yet powerful way to massively increase the number of sales leads you attract with your marketing.

lead generatingWhen someone who is interested in working with you calls you, emails you or meets with you, you welcome it. Furthermore, you are helpful, extremely friendly and not at all pushy. So, let people know!

Lead generating: Removing the pressure

If you want to increase the number of marketing leads you generate, your marketing needs to reassure prospective clients. It needs to tell them that their call is welcome and that they will be under no kind of obligation to buy, just because they speak with you or email you. This takes the pressure out of the situation, for the prospective client. They are now confidently expecting a friendly chat, where they can get the information they need, in order to make the right purchasing decision.

In my own marketing, I reassure people by explaining it like this:

For more information about working with me, with no obligation whatsoever, simply email me using that link or via jim(at)jimsmarketingblog.com.  Alternatively, you can call me on 01427 891274.  I will happily answer any questions you have and make sure you get all the information you need.

This ultra low-pressure / no pressure approach can be extremely effective, when combined with a compelling product or service. Every day, people call or email me, to find out more about us working together.

Be one of the few

Never assume that your prospective clients will know, in advance, that you will handle their inquiry in a friendly and professional way. Be one of the few, who makes it clear that they are not about to face a high pressure sales pitch and watch what it does to your lead generation!

What everybody ought to know about their competitors

When was the last time you researched your competitors?

It has never been easier for you to research the marketing you are competing against, than it is today. In minutes, you can tell if someone is serious competition to your business or simply a dabbler.

For example:

  • marketing competitor research analysis sales businessYou can read their website and tell instantly if it was professionally written or written in-house. You can see the range of services they offer and the promises and guarantees they make in their marketing. In some cases, you can see what they charge too.
  • You can check their social media footprint and see if they are using it to broadcast or connect. You can tell a huge amount about the culture of a business by looking at what they think is appropriate to share on social networks.

Over the past 17 years, I have worked with thousands of business owners. Generally, I have found that they have a tendency to under rate the service offered by their competitors.

Here are 2 of the main reasons this happens:

1. The ‘Reality distortion field’

They work so hard on their own businesses and care so passionately about their own clients or customers, that they can’t imagine their competitors being equally committed. This is, of course, a fallacy. The vast majority of business owners work their butts off and try extremely hard to keep their clients or customers happy.

2. Biased reporting

When business owners speak to the former client of a competitor, they often get a very inaccurate picture of their competitor’s business. For example, clients who were fired by their competitors, because they were consistent late payers or simply impossible to work with, will seldom admit it. They will usually say they left because the service was poor. Other times, biased reporting occurs when people tell the business owner what they think the business owner wants to hear. Equally, if the business owner asks a supplier how the competition are doing, the supplier will often give negative feedback, which adds to this reality distortion.

Lots of average – Lots of opportunity

Whilst your competitors will indeed be working hard and caring passionately, the massive majority will be making little real progress. This is why we see so many average businesses out there. Very, very few small business owners do the right things, correctly, when it comes to business development. They are experts at what they do, but dabble with things like marketing and business development.

Here’s why this should matter to you: The moment you decide to take the marketing and development of your business seriously, everything changes.  By getting the expert help you need, so you become one of the tiny minority who does the right things, correctly, you can start running the type of business you have always wanted. You can start earning the income and living the lifestyle that motivated you to start a business in the first place.

The bottom line: There’s a huge amount of potential out there, for those who decide to take the development of their businesses seriously.

7 Simple, powerful productivity tips!

Successful business development is all about achieving measurable progress in reasonable time.

Here are 7 productivity tips, to help you get the very most from your working day:

  1. Break your yearly business goals down into monthly and weekly goals. This makes it easier to ensure you are on track. When you have months and months to achieve something, without measurement points along the way, it’s too easy to drift off course.
  2. Plan your day and then work to that plan. The plan needs to incorporate the goals in the previous point. Set out what you need to achieve and make that your priority for the day.
  3. Take intelligent action. One reason people make less progress than they should, is that they put off the really challenging stuff.
  4. Look for the things that suck the time out of your day, unnecessarily. Then, replace them with productive alternatives. Common culprits include; over-long phone calls, attending unnecessary meetings, poor advance planning and engaging people in conversation who have nothing better to do than talk all day.
  5. Run your email, don’t let it run you. Check for email when you have time to deal with it. Respond to email when it works for you, not the second it arrives. Use as many words as needed, but no more.
  6. There’s a lot of very toxic business advice out there. Think hard before you accept something you read and apply it to your business. Otherwise, you could be working hard and getting nowhere. Even worse, you could be going backwards. Don’t confuse things like Twitter follower counts, with competence. Anyone can get 100,000 followers, using autofollow software.
  7. Use social media during your down time. I do a lot of my Google+ and Twitter updates and replies, when I am waiting in line, waiting for lunch at the local coffee shop and when I arrive early for an appointment etc. It allows me to keep connected with my networks throughout the day, without eating into time allocated to other work. It also means I need to block off less social media time, when planning my day.

Photo credit.

Just Launched: Creative Thinking Hub!

I have some great news to share with you today.

  • Creative ThinkingDo you want to become a more creative thinker?
  • Would you like to improve your problem solving skills?
  • Are you keen to increase your creative output?

If you just answered yes to any or all of those questions, you will love Creative Thinking Hub.

Your Creative Thinking Hub is ready

For years, people have been asking me how I manage to create so many new ideas and write thousands of blog posts, without drying up or hitting a creative block. The answer is that I use a lot of creative thinking strategies and techniques. Through Creative Thinking Hub, I’m going to share all of them with you.

Take a look

You can find out what the site is all about here: What is Creative Thinking Hub?

The first 2 articles have already been published and are waiting for you:

Boost your creative thinking by questioning ‘common knowledge.’

And

Creative thinking and stealing like an artist.

I’m going to share my most valuable creative thinking ideas with you on Creative Thinking Hub, so remember to subscribe to the hub and you won’t miss a thing.

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