Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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What everybody ought to know about words

Words have an amazing influence on us and the people around us. The right words can open doors for us. The wrong words can see those same doors slammed in our face. Some words make us feel inspired and energized, others make us want to give up and sulk in a corner.

Some years ago, I told a friend that I was nervous about a job interview I had lined up for that afternoon. He offered me some advice. He said rather than say I was nervous about it, I should tell myself I was excited about it. I asked what difference it would make. He then told me to try it. I immediately discovered that changing just one word, transformed me from feeling apprehensive about the interview, to looking forward to it.

How careful are you, regarding the words you use?

  • In your marketing: Do you offer ‘strategic implementation’ or ‘help people blow the lid of their potential and achieve breakthrough results’?
  • In your conversations with prospective clients: Do you speak in a monotone voice, which suggests you have not slept well, or do you use your voice as an instrument, to engage the other person and share how passionate you are about helping them?
  • In your conversations with yourself: Do you use words that empower you and cause you to move forward (excited), or words that work against you (nervous)?

Most small business owners inject little, if any, passion or energy into their written or spoken words. They phone it in. They talk about ‘strategic implementation’ and ‘client focused solutions, as if they were reading from some lame 1990’s glossy brochure. Their story is dull.

In short: Take some time to review the words you use and the way you use them. Look for opportunities to replace negative words, with positive words. Inject passion and energy into your conversations, when appropriate. The results can be amazing!

How to become a creative thinker!

This post is all about creative thinking and why you should proactively develop your creative thinking skills, if you want your business to thrive!

Creative thinking: You do it all the time

Every time you see a traffic jam ahead, then figure out an alternative route, you are employing creative thinking. Every time you go into the kitchen hungry, then put a meal together using the odds and ends you find, you are employing creative thinking.

Whether you know it or not, you already think creatively all the time.

Creative thinking in your business

It’s often said that business is all about problem solving and I agree. Business is an ongoing series of challenges and opportunities, which require creative answers.

For example:

  • Creative marketing: You need to find creative ways to attract the attention of your prospective clients. This has never been more important than today, because your prospective client’s have never had to cope with so much information. There’s a lot of noise out there and your message needs to cut through it.
  • Creative copywriting: If you want the people who read your marketing messages, blog posts, social media updates or newsletter, to contact you or share your work with their friends, your content needs to be compelling. This calls for creative copywriting.
  • Creative vision: If you want to spot the opportunities, which other people miss, you need to be able to see what they can’t see. You need creative vision. Most people miss genuine opportunities, because opportunities usually come disguised as hard work or they come wrapped within a problem. Creative vision allows you to see the diamond, when it’s still in the rough.

Creative thinking in an ideal world

I’ve often spoken to business owners about developing their creative skills, who said that in order to create, they needed everything to be ‘just right.’ They need the phones not to ring, they must have had a great night’s sleep the night before, they mustn’t be worried about anything and they need to feel great. Otherwise, they just can’t get creative.

At that point, I share these 2 ideas with them.

1. Creative thinking and comfort is not always a good match

A common factor behind 99% of successful musicians, is that they start off unknown, broke or both. It’s from that position of discomfort, that they create the work that gets them famous.  Then once fame comes and they have used up all their material from when they were struggling, they often disappear. Very, very few chart acts achieve smash hits for more than a handful of years. Some are one hit wonders.

The mansions, luxury cars and huge bank balances seem to have no positive impact on their creativity. Often, quite the opposite!

2. Things are seldom perfect

By deciding you can only think creatively, when circumstances are perfect, you’re not going to create very often. This is why it’s really important to give yourself permission to create, even when you may not have had a great night’s sleep and especially when you have a worry on your mind. In fact, the best time to employ creative thinking, is when you need a creative answer.

Permission to create

Whatever reasons you have given yourself in the past, not to create, I suggest you kick them into touch. You are a creative person. You have answers within you right now, to your most pressing challenges. You have ideas within you right now, which could lead to the creation of life changing opportunities.  Give yourself permission to create and learn to trust your answers.

NOTE: If you want to know how to become a confident, creative thinker, I recommend you subscribe to my NEW site, Creative Thinking Hub. It’s packed with ideas designed to help you develop your creativity and improve your problem solving skills.

The secret to achieving your goals

goals, goal setting

Goal setting is easy. This is why so many people set goals.

Goal attainment is tricky. This is why so few people achieve them.

Goals: The difference between goal setting & goal attainment

  • Goal setting is fun, liberating and can be completed in an hour.
  • Goal attainment is fun, but requires ongoing commitment and a lot of work, often over a period of many years.

The initial set of goals, which took me from poverty to financial security for life, took me around 45 minutes to commit to paper. The work required to make them real, took me years.

Goal attainment caused me to stretch more than anything in my life. It required me to leave my comfort zones and stop blaming my past, for my future. It was the hardest, most fulfilling work I have ever done and I continue to set new goals all the time.

Set your goals, then do the work. That’s the secret to goal attainment.

9 Ways to blow the lid off your potential!

Make 2012 your best year ever, with these 9 powerful business ideas and professional development tips!

1. Show them what you know

In business, anyone can claim to be an expert. Look at the profile of any businessperson on a social network, even the most inept ones, and you will see them claiming to be anything from an expert or thought leader to a guru or ninja!

Use your blog, newsletter or social media accounts to demonstrate what you know. This is one of the finest ways to attract the interest of genuine, prospective clients. I get email inquiries for my services via this blog daily, with almost all of them telling me that the reason they want me to work with them, is they value my approach to marketing and business development. How do they know what my approach is? They see it here on the blog.

You know you are great at what you do. Your clients know it too.

Now, show the rest of your marketplace and blow the lid off your potential!

2. Walk more

Something almost magical happens when we walk. Not only do we get some extremely valuable health benefits, it seems to have a massive impact on how we feel. I have already written about this in detail here.

However, I really want to share the following video with you. It’s from Dr Mike Evans, and is all about the many medical and fitness benefits of walking, even for just 30 minutes a day.

If you can’t see the video, you can watch it here.

3. Fire any clients that make you unhappy

You can not run a successful business, working with people who make you miserable or pay you late or speak to you like you’re a fool. This is one of the first things I work on with new clients and the difference it makes to their businesses and quality of life, is enormous. Seth Godin said this was a key reason for his success.

4. Start blogging

If you already have a blog, start taking blogging seriously. Blogging is the single most powerful marketing tool I have ever found. Every day, thousands of business owners read this blog and share it with their friends. In 2011, this site generated over £145,000 for my business in client fees, sales and consulting work. If you are not sure where to start, relax. I have another blog, dedicated to it and all the information is free. Click here.

5. Become super selective who you listen to

There are many different voices you can tune into these days. Some will make you healthier happier and wealthier. Some will do the opposite. Listen to people with the knowledge and experience to help you.

6. Be yourself

The single most valuable lesson I have learned from my 25 years in marketing, is this: Be yourself.

The world is filled to bursting point with people, who simply copy what others say or do. For a 16 year old child who has little confidence and wants to avoid standing out, this is an effective strategy until they grow up. For a business owner seeking to gain visibility, it’s total insanity. I call this process embracing your inner freak. You can read all about it here.

7. Understand that there is often, more than one truth

You can make the coming year (and years), a lot less stressful with this basic mindset adjustment.

One of the reasons people get so frustrated, is that they know they are right, yet the other person simply doesn’t get their point or the other person is wrong and won’t admit it!

Here’s an alternative approach, which may make your future a lot less stressful and make YOU a lot more attractive to others. It’s about understanding that often, in business and in life generally, there is more than one truth.

For example, I love the taste of oranges. You may dislike them with a passion. If a third person asked each of us what oranges taste like, we would give completely opposite answers, yet both of us would be telling the truth, or to be more exact, we would be telling our truth.  When you get your head around this concept and learn to respect the opinions of others, you will be amazed what it does for you in just about every area of your life.

8. Go deeper

One of the most common mistakes people make with their marketing, is that they build large, shallow networks online. In other words, they may have hundreds or thousands of Twitter followers or Facebook friends yet find it’s of little real benefit to their business.

I suggest you try a different approach. I suggest you focus on building a deeper relationship, with a far smaller, more focused group. Why? Because if you focus on attracting just 10 passionate advocates, they will each bring you another 10. That 10 will then do the same and before you know it, you will have a massively more targeted network. It’s all about shifting the focus from building numbers, to building quality.

I explain how it works in detail, in this post.

9. Answer this powerful question

There is a question, which every business owner should answer and then get to work on. The question is this:

“If my business were perfect in every way, what would it look like?”

A few things to consider, may include:

  • How many hours would you work?
  • What would you earn?
  • Which causes would your business support?
  • Where would you work?
  • What kind of clients or customers, would you work with?
  • What kind of systems would you have in place?
  • What would you charge?
  • What would your business’ image be?
  • Which business specialists would you hire as consultants?
  • How many people, if any, would you employ?
  • What would be your unique twist, the thing that set you apart from the competition?

One of the reasons many business owners fail to grow a business that inspires them, is that they never took the time to decide what THEIR ideal business looked like. Getting clear on exactly what you want, makes it a lot easier to achieve. Its easy to take a wrong turn, when you’re not sure what your destination is!

Finally, I hope the next 12 months are the best ever for you, your family and your business. Thank you for your support over the past year!

Photo credit

My predictions for 2012

Here are some predictions for business owners in 2012:

  • Those who do the right things correctly, will do extremely well, just like they do every year.
  • Those who do the wrong things correctly, will do poorly again and remain frustrated. They will be wondering why their perfectly executed plans are getting them nowhere, unaware the plan is what’s screwed, not their implementation. They will lose yet another year, wasting major time on minor things.
  • Those who do the right things incorrectly, will struggle and remain zapped of energy. This group work extremely hard and make little real progress. The errors in their marketing and business development are usually easy to fix, but they prefer to dabble with it rather than get the help they need. So, they carry on making the same mistakes. They use all the right tools and wonder why it never seems to work for them, whilst others in their industry fly!

Everyone reading this message will fit into 1 of those 3 groups. Yes, there are some people who are in a 4th group, where they do the wrong things, incorrectly, but they tend not to read marketing blogs.

Business as usual

So, once you identify which group you are in, here’s your challenge for 2012: What are you going to do about it?

Business as usual is only an effective strategy for those in the first group.

photo credit

A rare opportunity for you in 2012

Here’s a powerful message for those of you planning for 2012 right now: Don’t mistake movement for progress.

As we know, for many business owners January is not the start of a New Year. It’s simply the chance to relive the same old year, over again. Hard work and good intentions give the illusion of progress, when they simply create movement. This happens because no matter how hard you row your boat in the wrong direction, it’s not going to get you where you want to be.

A decision and 2 options

For those of you who want January to be the start of a truly New Year, you have a decision to make, then 2 options.

The decision is, ‘am I prepared to replace my current business development approach (or lack of one) with something that will give me the results and income I need?’ For those who say yes, there are 2 options:

  1. If you have the time and expertise to identify exactly what you need to change and then implement it correctly, you can do it yourself. Unfortunately, this option is most common among those who lack the expertise required, which is why their progress is frustrating year on year.
  2. If you are a specialist in an area other than marketing and business development, you can hire expert help.

I know some of you will contact me today, looking to work with me in January. Unfortunately, with 1 exception, you will be disappointed. I now have just 1 place available in January, than nothing until next spring!

So, if you own a small or medium-sized business and you truly want make January a new beginning, for you and your business, get in touch. It’s your opportunity to work with me for a year on the development of your business, increasing your sales and profitability. With just 1 place available, I strongly suggest you contact me as soon as possible, if you would like us to work together.

photo: Jake and Lindsay

15 Powerful ideas to help you grow your business in 2012!

Here are 15 ideas and suggestions, to help you and your business have your best year ever!

  1. Embrace brevity.
  2. Understand that you must fail more often, if you want to make meaningful progress. If you’re not failing often enough, you’re sticking to things you already know. This means you are no longer growing.
  3. Remind yourself that the process of giving and receiving starts with giving.
  4. Avoid chasing perfectionism. It will stop you getting started, kill your creativity and block your progress.
  5. Avoid these rhinos. They will hurt your business and motivate you to do the wrong things, correctly.
  6. Accept that not all advice is created equal. There is a lot of poor quality information out there, especially online. There are several well known business bloggers, who are working as sub contractors because they have no idea how to develop a viable business. If advice smells like bullshit, it probably is.
  7. Get yourself a Google+ account. If you are on Google+, you can connect with me here. For those interested in the numbers, in the few months I have been using Google+, I have built a network of over 9,500 people. It has taken me almost 3 years to attract just 6,000 on twitter.
  8. Stop doing work that pays and start doing work that matters. Here’s why. (Hint: The payback is better!)
  9. When an opportunity comes your way, trust your intuition. It’s your mind telling you what’s best, after running the information through all your past life experiences. In my own case, every time I have gone against my intuition, it’s bitten me on the butt!
  10. Get expert help in any area of your business, where you are under performing. Things don’t just change for the better because you hope they will. Hope is important, but it’s not a business strategy.
  11. Remind yourself often about the value of your time.  No one ever lay on their deathbed, regretting they hadn’t spent more time watching reality TV. Throughout the day, ask yourself, is this the best use of my time right now? If it isn’t, go and do something more productive.
  12. Take care regarding what you say online. Most of it will be stored somewhere and searchable. A reader told me that a drunken rant from back in 2009, was found by a prospective client this year, who immediately withdrew their interest. It lost him a very important contract and was, he says, instrumental in his bankruptcy. Just because you may think it’s OK to rant, doesn’t mean everyone else does. Do it if you must, but be aware of the potential cost.
  13. Ask better questions. If you want great answers you need to ask great questions. If you want to attract more clients you could ask yourself, “how can I attract more clients?” Alternatively, you could ask yourself; “how can I attract high quality clients and lower the acquisition cost?” Better questions cause you to focus on better answers.
  14. Consider the source. There is always a reason behind people’s actions. People give you advice or feedback based on their motivations, not yours. Equally, some well intentioned advice can come from people without a clue.
  15. Learn to embrace your inner freak. This may be the best advice on this list.

What would you add to the list?

The secret to creating like an artist

A copycat simply copies what he or she sees another person doing.

An artist takes elements from what they see and then builds it into something unique. This is commonly referred to today as a mashup.

Some successful mashups

  • Apple didn’t invent the first tablet computer. I owned a HP tablet device 7 years ago. It was horrible. What Apple did, was make a great tablet that people wanted to own, by mashing up the idea behind the original tablet devices, with their super successful iPhone.
  • I spent an evening with Nile Rodgers recently. He explained that when he created the lyrics for his International smash hit, Good Times, which is one of the most sampled tracks ever, he fused the lyrics from Al Jolson’s, About a quarter to nine with the lyrics to, Happy days are here again. He then used those old time tunes, to inspire him to write the words to one of the most influential tracks in modern music history.
  • In 1999 I listened to a talk by Professor Ian Angell, where he said that the advent of the global digital communications revolution, means we now (in 1999) own the equivalent of “the factory”, in the industrial revolution. This was before Seth Godin made the idea famous, with his unique mashup of the idea and amazing gift for words.

Creatively cutting through the noise

The tools we have available to us today, make it possible to reach and connect with more people than ever before. The opportunity is enormous, but to benefit from it, there’s a challenge we need to overcome.

The challenge is finding a way to cut through all the noise.

Noise? There are over 800 million people pumping information into Facebook. Hundreds of millions more pump information into services like Linkedin, Twitter and Google+. There are also tens of millions of blogs and then there are all those email marketing messages too.

To get your voice heard when so many other people have something to say, is a huge challenge for many businesspeople. However, it needn’t be!

The creator’s opportunity in a world of curators

One of the most common issues business owners come to me with, is that they find it hard to build awareness of their work or grow their networks. When you embrace the concept of mashing up YOUR influences and turning them into YOUR unique art, you become a creator, in a world full of curators.

This changes everything for you:

  • It gains you visibility.
  • It positions you in the mind of others, as someone with something original to say.  YOUR original mashup!
  • It increases your reach.
  • The increased reach and clearer positioning, combine to make more people aware of who YOU are and what YOU are all about.

There are millions of curators out there. I’m part curator myself, as anyone who connects with me on social networking sites can confirm. Most creators are curators but a tiny percentage of curators are creators. A curator is someone who actively looks for interesting ideas to share with their friends and networks. Curators especially value information that’s different in some way. They also like to share opinions and ideas, which come from a fresh perspective.

Mashups can be used to develop fresh ideas on anything

I wrote recently about the value of taking great ideas from outside your industry and mashing them up, into something unique for your business.

For example, I adapted an idea from the phone industry into my business. Years ago, I was offered a deal, where my contract would remain at the same fee, for as long as I kept that same contract rolling. As a result, I now pay the same tiny monthly bill for my phone calls and data that I paid in 2004! It’s pennies. I was so impressed, that since 2004, I have given the same amazing offer to all my Marketing Mentor clients. If they join me today, they will pay the same annual fee next year or in 5 years. Never a penny more. It works great for me and my clients love it too.

We can waste a lot of time waiting for the muse to arrive

Many great people waste years, waiting for inspiration to gift them a wholly original idea, inspired by no one and no thing. In my experience, there truly is nothing new under the sun. For example:

  • The Beatles were inspired by Buddy Holly and Elvis, among others.
  • The modern computer can be traced back over four and a half thousands years, to the abacus.
  • The building you are sitting in as you read this, will have architectural elements that date back centuries.
  • Britney Spears was inspired by Madonna, who was inspired by Debbie Harry, who was inspired by Marilyn Monroe…

A freaky way to create

We start to create after we allow ourselves the freedom to embrace what I call our inner freak.

I use the term inner freak to describe the unique mashup within our minds, of all the influences that have combined to make us who we are. This is one of the reasons why we need to be careful regarding the people and inputs we allow to influence us.

It’s a lot easier to create something of unique value, when we feed our mind with a nutritious diet of rich mental protein. Feeding it on the same junk food diet of reality TV and celebrity news, which the majority of the population digests, makes it far harder to create something unique. I’m convinced the reason I find it so easy to write fresh blog posts every day, is that I don’t watch TV and am extremely selective who/what I allow to influence my thinking.

Photo: Ganesha Isis

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