Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Page 9 of 176

Chasing your dreams or running from your fears?

Some business owners are chasing their dreams. Others are running from their fears. The difference this creates in their results is huge. No, bigger than that!

So, are you focusing on what you want or what you fear?

One will empower you and lead you to opportunities and growth. The other will lead to pain and stop you from getting started.

Focusing on fear

When we focus on fear, it has a huge, negative impact on our thinking, our decisions and then the actions we take.

Here are some examples of fear driven thinking:

  • We copy our competitors, because it feels safe. This makes us invisible. Here’s a better approach for your business!
  • We stay within our comfort zones. This makes it impossible for us to grow.
  • We adopt the perfectionist mindset and become unproductive. Nothing is perfect, so waiting for something to be perfect slows us down or stops us from even starting.
  • We waste money on things that make us feel good in the short term, yet avoid risking an investment that our business desperately needs. Investment equals risk. Fear focused people hate risk.
  • We attract others who have the same fear focused mindset. This reinforces our fears and supports our decision to hunker down and do nothing new.
  • We work for average people and charge them average fees. Here’s how to break free from that trap.
  • We stagnate.

Those are just some of the things that happen, when we try to avoid what we fear, rather than pursue what we want.

Here’s an interesting question

What 3 things would you do today, if you knew for certain that you could not fail?

Write them down.

Why? Because that list will contain 3 things, which you are currently not doing, from fear of failing. What if one or more of those ‘things’ were to succeed? What if you were to learn something of even greater value, from looking fear in the face and doing what needs to be done?

See failure as feedback, rather than pain. Learn from the feedback. Improve. Embrace change. Give it your best shot.

When you do, you will be following the success formula of every successful person who has ever lived.

Here’s an unusual way to grow your business

Much has been said about the value of learning from the success of others. Rightly so. If someone has already achieved something, which you want to achieve, there are surely things you can learn from their journey.

However, there is another way to learn. In many ways it’s more powerful too.

Learning from the failure of others

The average small business owner is, by default, average. They work hard, but fail to achieve meaningful success. If you want to avoid offering average services to average people for average fees – study the average business…. then don’t do what they do!

Use their month to month struggle as motivation to succeed. Use their mistakes as a powerful warning of what to avoid.

Here’s what we know about the average small business owner:

  • They have a business that is largely indistinguishable from their competitors.
  • They attract far fewer word of mouth referrals than successful business owners.
  • They think poor cash flow and over demanding clients are just part of being in business, rather than a sign of amateur marketing.
  • They wish things would improve, rather than investing in progress.
  • They complain about their situation… but refuse to do what’s needed, to turn things around.
  • They are able to name the stars of their favourite TV show, but can’t name who their best prospective clients are.
  • They dabble with areas of their business, where they clearly need expert help.

If you are tired of working hard and making too little progress, stop! Ask yourself why you are working hard, using an approach that isn’t generating the results you want.

If you have lots of time and lots of money, you can do this yourself over a period of years, through trial and error. If you aren’t that wealthy or you value your time, invest in the expert help you need and get on target immediately.

Remember: Hard work alone is not the secret of success. If it was, our grandparents would have been millionaires.

These people are not entitled to your time or money

Today, I’d like to save you time, money, energy and stress. I want to help you avoid making the extremely costly mistake of using someone’s title as a decision making shortcut.

Whilst some titles are defined by meaningful, proven attainment (like the title Professor), others are way too vague. Here are some examples of titles, which sound like one thing, but could mean something completely different.

The CEO

Anyone can be the CEO of nothing. Think of it like this: Bob and Mark are both CEO’s. Whilst that title tells us they are both the head of a company, it tells us nothing about their company or their achievements. Bob could be CEO of a 3 month old business that’s in the process of going bankrupt, and Mark could be the CEO of Facebook.

If you are thinking of giving your money, time or attention to someone, just because they have the CEO title, dig a little deeper first.

Internet Start-up founders

I get emails most days, from people calling themselves the founder of an Internet Start-up. Some Internet start-ups are funded by millions of dollars worth of investment and run by people with a proven track record of success. Others are 2 days old, unfunded, with no relevant expertise or business model, trying to be just like Amazon.com… only better.

Again, as a small business owner, your time is too precious to give it away to everyone, claiming to be the founder of an Internet Start-up who plans to make you rich. Check them out first. Their title, by itself, means nothing.

BTW: If you’re interested in start-ups, I was interviewed about Kickstarter by ABC News last week — you can read it here.

Best selling authors: from Gladwell to Godin to minimum wage

Then there are best selling authors. Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin can rightly claim to be best selling, non-fiction authors. They are. However, they are also poles apart, in the wide, 3 tiers of best selling authors.

Top tier: Gladwell sells millions of copies of each book. He earns millions of dollars from them and he is interviewed on major TV networks, worldwide, when each new book is launched.

Middle tier: Godin is extremely successful, but sells far fewer books than Gladwell. Godin appears on affiliate marketing blogs, podcasts and in marketing publications, to promote his new books. Whilst a pole away from Gladwell, Godin’s influence is huge within his niche. He’s also a pole away from the next tier.

Bottom tier: These are the best selling authors, who sell surprisingly few books (as few as 5000) and make very little money. Just search Google for “how much does a best selling author earn”. You will see it can be as little as $15,000 or less, for maybe a year spent writing and promoting their book. That’s less than minimum wage!

There is a huge difference between Gladwell at the top and the people at the bottom. So, if approached by a best selling author, asking you to invest your time and expertise, in return for a name-check in their next book, do some research. Using their best selling author title, by itself, as a decision making shortcut, could lead you to waste lots of your valuable time, on something that few people will ever read. Find out if you’re dealing with someone who sells millions, hundreds of thousands or just a few thousand.

The top 10 rated experts in the world

Then there are those, who title themselves as a world top 10 expert, because they appear on a top 10 list from a well known magazine or website. Often, the publication is well known, but the list is simply a blog post, written by an unestablished blogger, who writes, for free, on big sites, to get their name known.

These lists are not voted for… they are just a blogger’s opinion. They are very often not endorsed by the magazine or website. It is also common to find the blogger’s friends or people they want to impress, added to these lists. This is why you often see lots of unknown people, with nothing in their background to suggest they have achieved anything, listed in those (insert well known publication) Top 10 in the world, lists. 

So, if you are thinking of hiring or taking advice from someone, because they title themselves as a top 10 listed expert, don’t. If their inclusion on that list is just one blogger’s opinion, it’s meaningless. Check them out first.

Do they really seem to be credible enough to be one of the very best in the world? Clue: Anyone using that kind of title, isn’t. The best of the best have nothing to prove. Their work and reputation speaks for itself.

In a nutshell: Titles can be extremely misleading. Using them as a decision making shortcut can lead us to make bad decisions. Take the time to check someone out, before you give them your time, attention, money or energy.

Only if who they are and what they have achieved sacks up with their title, should you consider investing in them.

How to market your business… like Apple

Here’s a valuable marketing tip, from one of the world’s most successful companies. I’m going to share a marketing lesson from Apple, which you can apply directly into your business.

Throughout the last recession, Apple managed to break its sales records again and again. Whilst its competitors were floundering and cutting prices on far less expensive devices, Apple’s sales were growing quarter on quarter. At one point, Apple was the most valuable company in the world.

So, how does Apple sell so many premium priced devices, regardless of market conditions?

Apple bake marketing into their products

A huge part of the answer, can be found in the way that Apple constantly improves the value of its products. They make the new version of their products so much more valuable than the current version, that people, especially existing Apple customers, feel compelled to upgrade.

For example, when Apple launched the latest MacBook Air, it came with a huge benefit over the previous model: All day battery life. This was a huge technological and psychological breakthrough. It meant that people who are often away from the office all day, can charge their computer before they leave home and know they have 12 hours of battery life for the day ahead. No chargers to carry. No need to find somewhere to charge it.

The MacBook Air provided Apple’s core target market with huge value and huge perceived value. That value is what motivated people to buy the device. Of course, because Apple has invested years building better and better devices, there are some Apple fans who will buy almost anything Apple make.

Imagine that for a moment: A company that has FANS rather than customers.

What  your business can learn from Apple

By constantly improving what you offer and developing new, high value products and services, you provide a compelling reason for:

  • Existing clients or customers to keep buying from you and recommending you to their friends.
  • New clients or customers to be attracted to your products or services.

So, here’s a useful question for you to ask yourself:

What new products or services could you offer, which would provide clients and prospective clients with massive value?

Here are 2 places to look for answers:

  1. A new, premium version of your current offering, which provides greater value.
  2. A whole new product or service, based on the most pressing needs of your clients or customers. Apple did this with their 12 hour battery life.

Here’s the thing: Great marketing will get your message in front of the right people, at the right time, in as compelling a away as possible. However, that is only part of the journey.

When you match great marketing with a valuable (and thus highly desirable) product or service, your marketplace will buy from you, hire you and tell their friends about you.

PS: Here is more information on how you can bake marketing into your business.

Marketing 101: Success leaves clues

marketing tip

Think for a moment about:

  • The last service, which impressed you so much you told your friends.
  • The last marketing email, which persuaded you to take action.
  • The last blog post, which you were inspired to share. (Bloggers… read this!)
  • The last advertisement, which compelled you to make a purchase.
  • The last newsletter, which you were motivated to forward to your friends.

Now answer this question: What can you learn from them, which you can adapt into your own marketing?

In marketing, we find that success leaves clues… and the clues are all around you.

How to attract great word of mouth referrals

If you want to attract your ideal profile of client and get more word of mouth referrals, this post is written just for you.

The power of focus

When you focus on delighting a segment of your potential clients, rather than trying to appeal to all of them, you give them a reason to talk about you.

Here’s why.

Those who your work and marketing is targeted toward, will feel as if you truly understand them. Your marketing messages will also feel directly relevant to them. When people in your targeted niche feel that way about you and your work, they tell their friends. Many of these friends will have a similar mindset and value your approach too. Birds of a feather and all that.

Soon, not only are you attracting more targeted clients, you are attracting more word of mouth referrals than before. Just as importantly, you are attracting word of mouth referrals from people who are a great fit for you and your business.

Delightful

The key is to focus exclusively on delighting, (providing a Meaningful Difference), to a targeted niche of your marketplace. These should be the people, who are your ideal profile of client. No compromising.

In short: Be directly relevant to those you most want to attract. Delight them… then watch your work spread.

Why your business needs to be Meaningfully Different

Despite what many people believe, small businesses are not merely smaller versions of big businesses. They are different in one very important way.

Here’s the difference

The largest companies, from Apple to MacDonald’s, have to stick to a standardised way of doing things. It’s all about consistency. There is a company way of doing things and the employees need to operate within that framework. iPhones and Big Macs look the same at every store and the way they are served to you is also as close to identical as possible.

With a small business, success comes from doing the exact opposite. It comes from individuals within the small business, being human and expressing themselves… doing work that is meaningfully different.

The most successful small and medium sized businesses provide products, services or experiences, which are only available from them. They have figured out that by creating something that is meaningfully different, they become the only show in town, for clients who want that meaningful difference. They create a special value, which is only available from them. It works. Beautifully.

Most small business owners don’t get this

In fact, the massive majority of small businesses within the same niche, look almost identical.

  • They offer the same predictable range of services.
  • They make the same predictable marketing promises.
  • They have the same predictable looking websites, blogs and social networking accounts.
  • They offer the same predictable guarantees and have the same kind of testimonials.

They become cookie cutter duplicates of their competitors, then wonder why prospective clients are so fee sensitive. Clue: When you look just like the competition, prospective clients use your fee as their way to determine your value.

Embrace your uniqueness

Build a business that is meaningfully different. Not only will you have no competitors, you will be free to charge what you are worth, to clients who value the meaningful difference you provide.

PS: For more information on how to attract the best clients and fees, read this.

Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

In this post, I’m going to share what is easily the single best piece of blogging advice I know.

Here it is – Drum roll please…

If you would like more great people to read your blog, start off by asking yourself the following question:

If I already had 10,000 prospective clients reading my blog each day, how much time and money would I be prepared to invest in developing it and delivering great content?

When I ask people that question, they often say things like:

  • Wow… with 10,000 readers each day, I’d invest as much time as I possibly could in the blog and make it a priority.
  • I’d invest in a professional design for the blog. With all those readers, I wouldn’t want to look cheap.
  • I’d publish posts most days and really work hard to make the content as useful as possible.
  • I’d invest in some good quality hosting, so the blog always loaded fast and was reliable.

Cause and effect

After listening to their answers, I sometimes take a look at their blogs and usually find that they have not invested much time, money or energy into them. They want a highly valuable blog, but they won’t make the commitment required, until after their blog is a success.

That approach is a little like a restaurant owner saying she refuses to serve great food, until after her restaurant if full every night!

My mentor used to say that it would be crazy to walk up to an empty fireplace and expect heat. We know we need to do the work of building the fire and lighting it, before we can enjoy the warmth.

We don’t need to be geniuses to build a successful blog, but we do need to be wise enough to understand that our results will be guided by our actions.

A leap of faith

The people that already have thousands of daily readers, did the work and made the investments before their blog was a success.

That takes a huge leap of faith, but unless you show faith in your blog, you can’t expect others to.

PS: If you’re thinking of starting a business blog, I believe you will find this useful: 7 Benefits of business blogging.

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