Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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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.

Plan ahead. Announce it. Then ship it!

Have you ever noticed how some people are great at announcing things, yet less good at actually launching them and following through?

coming soonThe Internet is full of small business websites, with announcements that something, is coming soon. Check these out in 6 months and you will see 1 of the following 3 scenarios on many, perhaps most, of them.

1. The sign is still there & they still have not launched

When a business owner announces something is coming soon, and they fail to launch it or ship it on time, it reflects poorly on them. Very poorly.  Their prospective clients value people who can be relied upon to get things done on time. Publicly announcing you are about to do something, then leaving it publicly unfinished is not a smart move.

Think before you announce anything and get the time scale right.

2. The sign has gone but nothing launched

When a business owner announces they are going to do something, yet they fail to take action and make it happen, they make prospective clients nervous. It causes people  to question the business owner’s ability to deliver on their promises. That’s potentially, extremely damaging.

Think before you announce anything and make sure you can deliver before you tell the world.

3. The sign has gone, the whatever launched, but they gave up

When a business owner publicly announces they are going to launch something, then gives up on it after a short period of time, it sends a bad signal to their marketplace. It could suggest the business owner is a quitter. I don’t need to explain how damaging that is. It could also suggest that the business owner has problems planning ahead. When people see you started something and then quickly gave up, it’s not unreasonable for them assume you didn’t plan ahead very thoroughly.

Think ahead and ensure you can give a new project the resources it needs, in order to work.

If you are going to launch something, plan ahead, announce it – Then ship it!

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How to love what you do

I’m in the process of launching a new site right now, dedicated to helping people think more creatively. You will love it! It’s a new and exciting project, which reminds me a lot of how I felt when I launched this blog, almost 4 years ago.

Interestingly, I am even more passionate and enthusiastic about Jim’s Marketing Blog today, than the day I wrote my first post. It is something that has grown into an increasingly important part of my life. This got me thinking:

Why is it that some projects enthuse and excite us more as time goes by, and others fade with time?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this, but here are my initial thoughts on the projects that continue to inspire and motivate us, based on my experience with Jim’s Marketing Blog.

Here are 4 things that came to mind immediately:

1. They are projects we have a passion for

This blog is all about marketing and business development, two areas I am passionate about. In addition, it also allows me to contribute and serve others, another key passion for me. The reason I look forward to working on this blog, is that it has never once felt like work.

2. They are projects where we see measurable progress in reasonable time

It’s a lot easier to be passionate about a project, when we can see our work paying off. The day I launched this blog, it had 1 subscriber (me) and a handful of posts. Today it has thousands of subscribers, thousands more daily readers, over 25,000 comments and it generates leads for my marketing business every day. Measurable progress is a great motivator.

3. They are projects that are consistent with our values

It’s hard to feel passionate about a project, when it runs against your values. I love the idea of giving as much free information away as possible. So much so, that every word on this site is offered to you under a Creative Commons license, which allows you to use it for free on your site or in your newsletters etc.

It would be harder to convince myself to write for you, if I was against the concept of giving freely to others.

4. They are projects, where we can use our creativity

The need to create is within all of us. From as far back as we can trace, people used whatever they had access to, to create something. From cave paintings and carvings, to the very first musical instruments, people have had a need to create. Writing blog posts on a regular basis is a very creative process and therefore provides a superb creative outlet. Projects that block you, for whatever reason, from pumping your creativity into them, are a lot less rewarding.

So, what would you add to that list – Things that help you feel passionate about what you do?

6 Common errors that crush small businesses

After helping thousands of small businesses, here are 6 of the most common business development errors I’ve seen.

  1. Negative association. There is an undeniable link between how successful you will be, and the people you habitually associate with. Mix with pessimists and those lacking direction and one day, everything they have will be yours!
  2. Starting without the commitment to finish. Many small business owners are wonderful at starting projects, but less good at finishing them. If you have an idea and you think enough of it to get started, at least give it the effort it needs in order to fly or flop. Don’t quit at the first hurdle.
  3. Applying an employee mindset to the development of their business. When a business owner has an employee mindset, rather than the mindset of an entrepreneur, their focus is on avoiding loss, rather than attracting success. They starve their business of the resources it desperately needs, like expert help, seeing it as too risky. They choose to ‘save money’ and do everything themselves, then slowly go broke.
  4. Opting for ease over effort. Sometimes the easy route is the right route. Sometimes it isn’t. When a business owner looks for the easy way, rather than the correct way, they will miss opportunities and make some very costly errors.
  5. Pestering people. People hate being pestered or pursued. Attract the help and business leads you need, don’t try and annoy your way to success. If you don’t know how, find someone who does and watch what happens to your results. You will also be amazed how much more fun the business of business is, when people come to YOU. If you are not one of the people in point number 3, I can help you.
  6. Selling based on fees or prices. If your marketing is based around being cheap, you will lose. Your profits will be low and you will attract the lowest value clients. Just as importantly, thanks to Google, I can find 10 people doing whatever you do, for less, in just a few minutes. Get out of the race to the bottom. Pump more value into what you do, rather than just lowering the price or fee. Then, think about joining the race to the top. Here is a series of 3 posts, to show you how to work for the best clients and highest fees.

The failure of a business or any enterprise, is seldom the result of a single, cataclysmic event. It’s almost always the result of small errors in judgement, repeated regularly. If you identify any of those 6 points in your own business development, get to work on them.

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Dream again – Believe again!

My mentor, the late great Jim Rohn used to say:

Just as you once dreamed, you can dream again. Just as you once believed, you can believe again. No matter where we are right now, we still have the ability to change it all.

Changing course

It’s easy to look at where we are right now and think that this is it. The reality, is that we are in a constant process of becoming. As soon as we decide we want something better, we can change the set of our sail and point ourselves in the correct direction.

It starts with the decision to improve our thinking. Just as our past thoughts led us to where we are today, if we want a better tomorrow, we need to improve the quality of our thinking today. Things only improve, when we do.

How to stop your competitors getting the sales leads you deserve

Do you ever feel frustrated, when you see low quality competitors making all kinds of inaccurate claims about their services? If you do and you would like to ensure your genuinely awesome service attracts the high quality clients it deserves, you will love today’s post!

First, a question!

Let us assume I am a prospective client of yours. I have a question in my mind, which you need to answer if you want me to invest in your services:

Why should I use your services, rather than one of your competitors?

Here’s the thing: Your competitors, even those who offer low quality services, make some big claims in their marketing. They claim they will offer me great customer service. They say they will go the extra mile for me. They say they would love to hear from me and that they will not pressure me into buying anything if I call them.

This begs another question:

If you are making those claims and guarantees in your marketing (and you really mean it), how is a prospective client supposed to know you really are better than your competitors?

I suggest a very good place to start, is by connecting with prospective clients via a blog and social networking sites. When a service provider regularly shows up to take part in the conversations within his or her business community, so long as the provider is helpful and useful rather than pushy, they can cut through the noise and show how valuable and approachable they are.

Showing works better than telling

Anyone can claim anything in their marketing, which is why poor quality providers are quick to make promises and guarantees, which they know are bullshit. The marketplace, your prospective clients, are influenced far more by what they experience, than a claim made by a stranger’s marketing. As a result, it’s massively more powerful for you to demonstrate how professional and approachable you are via social media, than for you to make that statement in your marketing and not back it up with action.

The massive majority of business owners use social networking sites almost exclusively to push marketing messages at people and as a result, get very little back and attract similar-minded people, so they build low-value networks too. In my experience, you attract far better results when you stop using social media to push generic marketing promises and start using it to be useful to your target market. This gives you an opportunity to build trust and credibility, which is enormously valuable to you and your business.

Useful beats noisy every time

In an age where low quality providers use social media to claim they are wonderful, you can use those same tools to demonstrate how valuable you are and achieve the results your superior service deserves.

7 Things to help you build a super successful business!

Almost exactly 17 years ago, I set up my marketing business. In the months leading up to the launch, I took the 10 most successful businesspeople I knew out to lunch, to ask their advice.

The following 7 pieces of advice were the most useful to me, so I wanted to share them with you. They are as true and valuable today, as they were back in 1995, maybe even more so.

  1. Keep it human. Business is all about people.
  2. Do all the work. Most business owners claim to give their business 100%. What they really mean, is they do 100% of the comfortable stuff and neglect the rest. Every business owner with this mindset will slowly go broke. You can’t neglect the important stuff and hope to succeed.
  3. Keep your word. People need to know they can trust you and rely on you. Integrity in business is essential.
  4. Demonstrate through doing. Words alone are not enough. Anyone can say anything. Earn people’s trust, respect and custom by showing you deserve it.
  5. Become known as a person of action. Once you have examined an idea in detail, get the idea into action. Great ideas only become truly great, when you use them. Learn how to motivate yourself to get things done.
  6. Provide leadership. Leadership in business is in extremely short supply, mainly because most business owners wrongly think they are leading, when they are following like sheep.
  7. Refuse to gossip. Even gossips dislike people who gossip.

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Lean forward and show us what you know!

In technology reporting, they refer to devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops and eReaders as being either lean forward devices or lean backward devices. In short, lean backward devices are those we consume information on (like a Kindle, Nook or TV) and lean forward devices are those we primarily create on, like a laptop or desktop computer.

As business owners, we have to get the balance right, regarding how often we lean backward or lean forward. Yes, it’s extremely important to learn but it’s vital to our success, to do something with all we have learned. Gathering knowledge, but then refusing to lean forward, take action and use it, is a shocking waste of your time and so much less than you deserve.

Knowledge is not power!

Passively consuming will certainly gain you knowledge, but knowledge by itself is not power. Knowledge only acquires power, when it’s acted on and very, very few people persistently take action.

As the former US President, Calvin Coolidge famously said:

Press on! Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

It has never been easier or less expensive to get the information you need, in order to succeed, than it is today. You have a world of information at your fingertips. The question we must ask ourselves is, what are we going to do with it?

For those of us who are serious about developing our businesses, passive consumption is not an option.

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