Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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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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How to find great ideas and grow your business

If you want to take your business up several levels and start earning the rewards that go with it, this post is for you!

I want to start by sharing the following 2 questions with you. They may seem very similar, but they are worlds apart. They also demonstrate a key difference in the thinking behind average businesses and those businesses that achieve extraordinary results.

Here they are:

  1. I want this business idea to succeed, what should I do?
  2. I want to succeed with a business idea, what should I do?

I want this business idea to succeed, what should I do?

The first question starts with the person having already picked their business idea. This may be a great idea or a bad idea. If it’s a bad idea or even an average one, the person asking this question will find answers on how to do the wrong thing, correctly. You can waste a lot of time and money like that. Learning the correct way to market a bad or average idea, which the marketplace isn’t interested in, is pointless. It’s always best to start with a great idea, which is why the 2nd question is a lot more useful.

I want to succeed with a business idea, what should I do?

The second question is a lot smarter. The person asking this question has decided only that they want to develop a great idea, something the marketplace will value. They know that you must ask and answer this question, before you put time and money into figuring out how to market it correctly. Armed with a great idea, if they decide to market it correctly, the sky is the limit.

One of the reasons there are so many business owners out there, working hard and making little meaningful progress, is that they are trying to get people interested in an average or below average idea. It’s increasingly hard for average businesses to survive, let alone thrive.

Why? Because, thanks to Google, in a matter of minutes, I can find 10 providers who will be marginally cheaper or faster than you!  So, if your service is based around an average idea, there’s no real reason for me to hire you, buy from you or be interested in you. Yes, if you try hard you may be able to get by from month to month like that, but surely that’s not what inspired you to start your own business? You got by from month to month working for an employer and I bet you worked a lot fewer hours back then too. You wanted something better, which is why you summoned the courage to start a business of your own.

The bottom line: If you want to do better than the average business, (and I hope you do) you must apply above average thinking and take better action.

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2 Ideas to help you write great content every day!

If you have ever wondered, how certain bloggers are able to come up with useful blog posts on a regular basis, this post is just for you. It contains 2 simple ideas, which are used by many of the world’s most successful bloggers.

Let’s go!

1. Don’t let 4 average ideas block 1 useful idea

You get ideas all day every day, things that you could easily turn into an interesting, useful blog post.  The challenge is, you probably don’t write them down or record them. So, write them down. If you are like me, you will find that most of the ideas are average but maybe 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 are useful enough to be written up into a blog post.

Here’s the thing: Don’t let the average or bad ideas stop you pressing forward until you find a useful idea. In fact, try and come up with as many bad ideas each day as I do and you will have just as many good ideas, maybe more!

2. Give your work the respect it deserves

We all have a tendency to overestimate the words and ideas of others and underestimate our own. I spoke with someone recently, who told me she had read through some documents on her computer, which were really interesting. She looked to see who wrote them and found they were her own draft blog posts, from several years ago! She explained that at the time, she didn’t publish them because she believed they weren’t good enough. As soon as she read them believing they were written by someone else, she saw them for what they really were; useful, interesting blog posts.

Thankfully, today, you don’t need to wait to be picked by the editor of a magazine, before you can publish your ideas and share them with your marketplace. Today, you can pick yourself. Then, it’s a case of ploughing through enough bad ideas until you find something to write about, and get writing. Next, summon the courage to press publish.

It gets easier and easier the more you do it. In fact, I was hardly frightened at all, whilst writing this post for you!

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If you have an idea, give it a deadline, get moving & watch it fly!

So…

  • It’s not the size of your marketing budget.
  • It’s not the size of your social network.
  • Its not the permission you have earned from your marketplace.
  • It’s not the genius of your business idea.
  • It’s not even the years of experience you have gathered, the contacts you have made or the knowledge you have acquired.

It’s what you do with them, which will determine your results!

A good idea, which is put into play with intelligent activity will always do better, than an amazing idea, which is fussed over and either shipped too late or not at all.

If you have an idea, give it a deadline, get moving and watch it fly!

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