Jim's Marketing Blog

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

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How to become a prolific writer

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?  If you do, this post is just for you!

I received a note from a reader today.  He said how impressed he was that I managed to have a series of posts ready to be published whilst I was away last week.  He went on to say he’d love to be able to write as much valuable content as me, one day.

Many people seem to be waiting for some magical flash of inspiration to strike them, before they will start to write.  In my experience, you get a lot further, a lot faster, if you decide not to wait for inspiration to strike, but to proactively seek it out.

Writer’s block and bricklaying

My late father was a bricklayer and never once suffered from bricklayer’s block.  However, if he spent a while away from laying bricks, when he returned to work his back and shoulders used to ache and he found it harder.  You may have experienced something similar, if you start exercising again after a week (or 3) away from the gym; everything aches!  Interestingly, something similar happens when you write.  If you write regularly, it becomes easy.  If you write infrequently, it’s a lot harder.

I use a similar approach to writing as my dad used for laying bricks and have never had any issue with writer’s block.  I get to work at a set time every day (before my family wakes up is best for me) and lay one word down at a time, like my dad did with bricks, until I have the piece written.  I don’t wait until I feel like it, in fact, I’m not even sure how it’s supposed to feel!

Writer’s block and perfection

Many people tell me they have a perfectionist mindset, which means everything has to be perfect before they can write and that the actual writing itself has to be perfect too.  The challenge with perfectionist writers is that they seldom get started, because perfection is in very short supply.  I strongly suggest you drop the perfectionist mindset when you write, as it is both high-pressure and low output.

I decided a long time ago, to give myself permission to write imperfectly.  I am happy to say that I have stuck by this and have never written a perfect piece of work in my life.  I have, however, developed one of the most popular blogs in my niche and helped clients to make millions in sales, from copy I have written for them.

Something that helped me massively, was this quote from Ernest Hemingway:

For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can.  Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

In short: Get started, write often and give it your best shot!

Photo: Wiertz Sébastien

The tools for success?

Some people focus too much on the tools.

I’ve just returned to the office, after a wonderful week away with my family.  Whilst we were away, we spent a lot of time exploring the Yorkshire Moors and noticed something again and again.  Even though we were often driving at altitude, so high up that we were looking down on the clouds, there were lots of cyclists climbing these enormous inclines; using inexpensive looking bikes and wearing just regular clothing, rather than all that lycra stuff you usually see cyclists wearing.

One of these guys spoke with us, when we stopped to take some photos in the mountains.  He is 66 years old and cycles into the mountains most days.  He was hardly out of breath and explained that this is how he and many of his friends choose to travel whenever the weather allows it.  He was wearing a pair of baggy shorts, sandals and a regular looking shirt and riding a tatty looking old bike.

Conversely, I know people who are 20 years younger than that man, who spend thousands on their bikes and hundreds more dressing like they are in the Tour de France, yet the 66 year old on his clunker of a bike would leave them in the dust.  Why?  Because although those people have the best tools available, they eat crap, cycle irregularly and are out of shape.

You can go out today and spend a fortune on a great looking website, wonderful designs and kick-ass IT systems, but these are just the tools.

Yes, we need the right tools to do a job correctly, BUT it’s what we do with the tools, which will determine our results.

Photo: Lostajy

What everyone needs to know about time management

One of the best pieces of time management advice you can give someone is this: Either do it or don’t do it!

So many people waste so much time, with half-assed attempts at doing things.  They make a decision to take action, but then lack the conviction or courage to do it correctly; to invest the time, money or energy required.  This is why we see Twitter accounts that have not been updated in 2 years, blogs that have not seen a new post in 6 months and most New Year’s resolutions abandoned by April!

A second decision is required

Once you make the decision to do something, make a second decision: To do it wholeheartedly.  As Yoda famously said; “Do or do not…there is no try!”

Anything else is less than you deserve and will lead to frustration rather than progress.

Photo: DafneCholet

These are the good times!

My friend Nile Rodgers from Chic, regularly reminds me that these are the good times, both through his music and his inspirational blog posts, which cover his recent health challenges.

  • No, these are not perfect times.
  • No, these are not ideal times.
  • But the present is all we have to work with, so until someone creates a time machine, we need to make the very best of what we have.  What we have, is today.

These ARE the good times

As we travel along the road from where we are, to where we want to be, it’s all too easy to put off the good times.

“When I have X amount in the bank, then I will be happy.” 

Trust me, if you don’t know how to be happy when you are broke, you won’t know how to be happy when you are wealthy.  Wealth and happiness are not as strongly related as many people seem to think.  Many of the happiest times in my life came when I was penniless.  I also know some very wealthy people, who have extremely poor quality lifestyles.  They have the money, but are still waiting for that magical point in time, when they can finally enjoy it all.

As Nile explains far better than I can, every day should be seen as a bonus; something special to enjoy and get every drop of juice we can from.

Whilst working for those things that money can buy, it pays to ensure we are not missing out on the things, which money can’t buy.

As always, thanks for the inspiration, Mr Rodgers!

Photo: Nile Rodgers

How to fire your low quality clients and grow a rewarding business

Professional marketing is not just about attracting new clients.  It’s about attracting high quality clients; the kind of people or businesses you want to work with, value your work and who pay you accordingly.

Low quality clients from ineffective marketing

The challenge here is that many small businesses do not market their services correctly.  As a direct result, they often end up working with low quality clients.  These typically include:

  • Clients who pay them too late and cause cash flow problems.
  • Clients who pay them too little.
  • Clients who clearly grab more of their time and energy than they pay for.
  • Clients who are just a total pain in the ass to work with!

In an effort to get money in, these business owners feel pressured into accepting almost any clients who come their way.  In doing so, they take a short-term decision, which usually leads to long term problems that reduce their chances of business survival, let alone success.

Working in a business with a low quality client list can be pretty soul destroying too.  It’s also not uncommon for your worst clients to be your most demanding clients.  I have often seen businesses, where 50% of their time is spent on the worst 10% of their clients.

When I first start working with a new client, I make it a priority to redesign their client list, so they can fire their over-demanding, unappreciative and bad paying clients.  Today, I am going to suggest that you consider doing the same.  I recommend you start developing a marketing plan to rid yourself of your lowest value clients and replace them with the profile of client that is best suited to your business goals.

One in. One out

I have heard respected business leaders telling small business owners to fire their lowest value clients today.  I think these experts sometimes forget what it’s like running a small business and that if some small business owners were to take their advice, they would go broke within 30/60 days.  This is why I recommend replacing clients, one in, one out.  When your improved marketing generates a high quality client, you fire your worst client; until you have developed a client list based on the ideal profile for you and your business.

The challenge here is that you have to change your current marketing, if you want to improve the calibre of clients you attract.  If you repeat the same kind of marketing errors, which led you to attract your existing low value clients, you will simply be swapping low quality clients for new, low quality clients.

If you are not sure about exactly how to start attracting the best clients, you can either try and learn how to “do it yourself” or you can save a lot of time and a massive amount of money, by hiring a marketing professional who already knows exactly what you need to do and will work with you to make it happen.

The bottom line:  Hoping that things will just get better isn’t a strategy.

Photo: aflcio

What do YOU do when it rains?

It’s raining!

  • One person walks down the street, notices the rain has started and begins complaining.  They moan to themselves that they are going to get soaked, as they seek shelter.
  • Another person notices the rain and is thankful.  This person also takes shelter, but is happy that their garden is finally getting some much needed rain.

It’s raining on both these people, yet the way they respond is completely different.

The next time you experience some dark clouds, consider looking for the seed of opportunity, which is almost always there.

We may not be able to stop it raining on us, but we can certainly control how we choose to respond.

Photo: lalves

How to win in a world full of failing businesses

Hey Jim: Can you tell me how to do the wrong thing, correctly?

You would be amazed how many times every week, someone asks me that question.  No, they don’t use those exact words, but they are asking me to tell them the right way to do something, which is incorrect.  Most commonly, they will have started a business in a niche, where there are already established operators and where they are offering nothing new, then ask me how to market their poorly thought out offering.

Here’s the thing:  The best marketing in the world is no match for a poorly thought out product or service.

You can’t out Amazon, Amazon

Opening an online book store today, when Amazon already owns the marketplace, is not a wise move for a small business owner.  You can’t expect Bob to stop using Amazon to buy his books, then to go to your site and go through the hassle of setting up a new account, even though he already knows and trusts Amazon.  He’s never heard of you, you are offering nothing different from his existing, trusted provider and that makes it extremely hard to get him to switch.  You may convince a small number of people to join you, but as U.S retail giants Walmart even discovered; “You can’t out Amazon, Amazon!”

If you have a business idea, which is just like something an established brand offers, you will struggle.

A better combination

A wiser approach is to develop a product or service that is significantly better (in ways your prospective clients will value) than what’s already out there; then market it as effectively as possible.

It takes more creativity than copying what someone else is doing, but the rewards are infinitely better when you do the right things, correctly!

It’s holiday time on Jim’s Marketing Blog

One of the wonderful things about blogging, is that you can write posts and then set them up to be published at a later date.  So, even though I am enjoying a wonderful, 7 day break with my family starting today, you will still see posts published here next week.

During my break, I won’t be hanging out in the comments section.  So, please take that into account if you direct a comment for my attention.

I hope you enjoy the posts I have lined up for you next week and I look forward to sharing some exciting news with you when I return!

Photo: dimnikolov

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