Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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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!

Be careful what you wish for!

I shared a few marketing ideas on Google+ last week, with one of the people who connects with me there.

She thanked me for the help, then said; “I wish marketing was easier, Jim.” I found that reply really interesting.

We need to be careful what we wish for

If marketing was easier, all your competitors would be marketing themselves equally well. It would be harder for you to shine, because the playing field would be level.

Instead, we have a situation where you can decide to become one of the rare small business owners, who markets their services effectively. For you, the sky’s the limit. This opportunity to out market your competitors only exists, because the majority of small businesses are very poorly marketed, by people who wish it was easier.

Don’t wish it was easier. Wish you were better. That way, you are in control.

Don’t chop your trees down with a hammer!

You can chop down a 30 foot oak tree, using a hammer, however, it will take you months or maybe years.

Alternatively, you can get a professional tree feller in and they will have that tree down in a matter of hours.

Small business owners and hammers

Most small business owners work hard, putting in lots of hours, trying to chop down their commercial trees with a hammer. They make little progress and feel frustrated, because they know they work just as hard, or harder, than those achieving great success in their industry. Yet, they still insist on using that hammer. They refuse to invest in the key areas of their business, then waste years, looking for free advice on how to use their hammer more effectively.

An alternative approach

The successful minority of small business owners have a 180 degree different attitude, to all the others. Here are just a few very common differences:

  • They are guided by what they want, not what they fear.
  • They don’t major in minor things.
  • They value their time above everything, which is why they refuse to waste it using a hammer.
  • They take full responsibility for their business.
  • They take action to put things right, rather than bitch about what’s wrong.
  • They understand the difference between an investment and a cost, unlike the struggling majority. For example, many small business owners think nothing of spending a grand every year in their local coffee shop, yet refuse to invest in the books or training they need.

Einstein once said; insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. If you want better results, you need to take better actions. I call this doing the right things correctly. Either learn how to identify what you need to change or find someone who already knows, then set to work on putting it right.

Anything else is a waste of your time and less than you deserve.

How to earn a fortune

The way to earn a fortune, is to earn it. That’s not a deliberate play on words, it’s a reflection of reality. Everything of value is earned, from trust and respect, to admiration and yes, money.

  • There’s a massive difference between building and earning. For example, you can build a Twitter account with 100,000 followers, using software, but you can’t earn a Twitter following using software.
  • There’s a massive difference between getting and earning. For example, you can get the attention of 100,000 people by sending them spam email, but you can’t earn their attention by spamming them.

None of the top blogs you read became successful because of some plugin they used. They earned it, over time, through consistently showing up and doing work that matters. The business leaders you admire, never achieved their success through a quick fix. They earned it over time, by consistently showing up and doing work that matters. See the link there?

  • Put in the hours.
  • Show up regularly.
  • Do work that matters.

Let’s look at those in a little more detail.

Put in the hours

It takes time to earn anything of value. Malcolm Gladwell’s point, about the top people in any area needing to invest 10,000 hours in their craft, is a good one. I have discussed this with everyone from Grammy award winning artists to business leaders and international sports people and found in every case, they had put at least 10,000 hours into developing their area of expertise.

Personally, I had easily invested 10,000 hours into learning my craft, by the time I started my marketing business in 1995. It wasn’t the instant success my friends suggested. I’d worked and studied for a long time to be an overnight success.

Show up regularly

If you want to remain relevant, you need to regularly offer value and (if you’re brave enough) leadership, to your marketplace. The best tool I’ve ever known for this is a blog. Blogging allows you to reach thousands of people as regularly as you want to, with your ideas and insights. Your blog content is searchable, shareable and allows you to become a regular part of a growing slice of your marketplace.

Do work that matters, rather than work that pays

I explain this in detail here, in one of the most popular pages on this site. The best kept secret in business, is that the best paid people don’t do it for the money. They do it to make a difference, and because people who make a difference are so rare, they earn a fortune. It took me a few years to truly understand this but when I did, it changed my whole life.

Ironically, it’s entirely probable that the best way to get ahead as quickly as possible is to not waste your time or money on quick fixes.

Don’t fit IN! Fit OUT and become the leader you were born to be

We grow up, learning that it’s best to fit in.

Then 2012 comes along. All of a sudden, there’s a wall of noise created by billions of online signals.  We discover that the only way to make it above all that noise, so that our voice is heard and shared, is to fit out.

Some people genuinely can’t make the step from keeping their head down and fitting in, to lifting their head up and fitting out. It’s too frightening. After all:

  • What if people laugh at them?
  • What if people try and disprove them?
  • What if people disagree with them?
  • What if people choose not to follow them?

All these things will happen, plus 1 more

If you decide to rise above the noise, embrace your inner freak and be your unique, amazing self, all those thins will happen to some degree. However, 1 more thing will happen too.

You will have become a leader!

What Steve Jobs can teach you about improving your business

If a strong competitor turned up next week, targeting your clients and prospective clients with great marketing and a compelling service, what would you do?

Raising your own bar

The honest answer for most small business owners, is that you would very quickly up your game. Faced with this significant new threat, you would look to do everything possible to retain your existing clients and also, set to work on a more effective strategy for winning new clients. The game would have changed and your instinct would be to step up to the mark and rise to the new challenge.

So, here’s another question for you: Why not raise the bar right now, rather than wait for the competition to force you into it?

In my experience, having worked with thousands of small business owners, the vast majority will wait for some kind of external event, before they raise the bar. For example, they will wait until they lose a major contract or business slows down, before doing something proactive about improving their marketing. The most successful business owners don’t need that external motivation, to continuously look for ways to improve their business. They are always looking for ways to improve.

Raising the bar: Steve Jobs style

There’s a wonderful example of how Steve Jobs caused the initial Apple iPod’s development team, to raise the bar. The story may or may not be true, but it’s said that the iPod development team presented Jobs with the first build of the new device, which they had worked on, around the clock, for months.

Jobs took one look at it and said; “It’s too big!”

The team leader said; “It’s as small as possible.”

Legend has it that Steve Jobs then dropped it into a fish tank. The design team gasped in horror.

Jobs then said to the team; “You see those bubbles coming out? That’s air. Make it smaller!”

The team responded by making another version, which was significantly smaller, even though they had originally believed the previous version was as small as possible, until Steve Jobs caused them to raise the bar on what was possible. Without the external influence of Jobs, the development team would have shipped a chunkier, less attractive iPod and the resurgence of Apple may have been very different.

Taking control of your business development

Don’t wait for external influences, before you decide to up your game and redefine what’s possible for you and your business. Take time out today to review at least one element of your business and look for an opportunity to improve it in some way. Do the same tomorrow and the day after and the day after, until it becomes a habitual element of your business.

Start doing this today, taking action to put the improvements into place, and your business will be almost unrecognisable in 12 months!

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