Give until it STOPS hurting

One of the cornerstones of effective marketing, is to focus on your prospective clients and their needs, rather than your own.

Some call it paying it forward.

Others call it contribution.

You can call it whatever you like, but it’s the same thing:  Focusing your efforts on the other guy and not on yourself.

Bring the marketplace your seed, not your need

Ask a farmer and she will tell you that if you want a bountiful harvest, you need to bring your seeds to the soil, not your needs.  You can tell the soil how much you need a great harvest and pester it for months and nothing productive will happen.

The marketplace is very similar!

Pester people for leads at networking events and you will find it a time-consuming and unrewarding exercise.  Equally, sending people letters or emails they never asked for, all about the benefits of working with you, can be a costly process.

It’s also unnecessary, in my experience.

The thing is, you don’t need to pester anyone.  Your prospective clients present you with an opportunity to plant as many seeds of contribution as you want to.  For example, I reach thousands of prospective clients daily, by giving away as much useful information as I can via my blogs and social networking accounts.  Without pestering anyone, I generate leads and sales every day.  But to earn that privilege, I have to consistently focus on you, your needs and how I can deliver valuable, free information that will be of use to you.

The bottom line is that the process of giving and receiving, starts with giving.  So, if you need some more high quality clients right now, give until it stops hurting!

Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis

What’s the problem?

To fix a problem, you need to start off by acknowledging you actually have a problem.

I was thinking about this earlier, when I decided to stop spending money with a provider, who has  apparently lost a lot of customers recently.  In short, the quality of service went from just above average when they launched it, to way below par, after 6 months.

The reason for this post, is that the owner of that business shared something in common with many low quality service providers: Whenever you brought a problem to his attention, his automatic response was always to deny there was a problem.  He would brush off all negative feedback, ignoring it completely.

The challenge with that approach, is that you can’t fix a problem unless you believe you have one.

The value of feedback

Yes, some customers or clients will voice concerns, that are more to do with them than with you or your service, but all feedback needs to be noted.  For example, if people are telling you that they can’t find something when they visit your website or walk into your store, the solution is not to assume your customers are fools.  The solution is to fix the UI (user interface) or redesign the layout of your store, so that people can find things easily.

It’s always good to keep an open mind, when you receive feedback.  No, you don’t need to act on everything everyone says, but unless you listen to what the marketplace is telling you, you can never be much better than average.

Photo: GammaMan

How to add a new income stream to your business and avoid time wasters too

This may be one of the most valuable posts I have ever written for you!

It’s a very simple idea, which can save you a lot of time AND generate a substantial, new income stream for you and your business.

It started (by accident) a few weeks ago, when I added a page to this blog to promote a new service I offer.  The service allows people to hire me for as little as 90 minutes, for help with a specific problem they have.

An unintended, yet massively valuable benefit!

I decided to start using a link to that new service, whenever someone contacted me on social media or via email, with a question that required a detailed, time consuming answer.

The results have been spectacular, which is why I want to share them with you today; in case you want to incorporate the idea into YOUR business.

Here’s how it works

When someone tweets or emails me for advice, they tend to start by saying something like “can I just pick your brains about…”.  In my experience, 95% of those people are time wasters: Freebie seekers, who will suck up your time, knowing they have zero intention of paying you (or anyone) for professional help.

However, in the other 5% of cases, these detailed questions come from professional people, who place a commercial value on your time.  This valuable 5% are prospective clients and they have responded amazingly, to this new service.

How well?

Simple: I have never attracted as many new clients, in as short a period of time, as I have since I started offering that service to those asking me for detailed, specific advice!

Your time is money.  If, like me, you spend time every single day providing free advice, you have to draw a line, where free ends and paid for starts.  The line for me is very simple:

  • Free advice is based on one to MANY:  For example, I write a blog post, which gives free advice to thousands of people.
  • Paid for advice is based on one to ONE:  For example, I take time away from my business and family, to work on just helping you and your business.  I work, you benefit from my expertise.

As a direct result of using that new service to filter those asking me for detailed advice, I have saved a huge amount of time and built a new income stream, from the genuinely interested 5%.

If you find people wasting your time, asking if they can just pick YOUR brain for detailed, free advice, I strongly recommend you consider developing a dedicated pick my brain service, as I have done.

The benefits were immediate and measurable.  They could be just the same for you!

One Place Only: Your chance to join me for a year!

Have you been thinking about joining my marketing mentor program; where I work with you for a whole year, helping you to grow your business and boost your profits?

Well, if you have, I’ve some very good news for you.

A position has unexpectedly just become available… starting as early as next week!

You can find out more about working with me here, along with how to get in touch.  This really is a great opportunity for you and your business to achieve your best results ever.  If you are interested, I recommend you get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Jim Connolly can help you grow your business and achieve the breakthrough marketing results your hard work deserves. To find out more, simply click here!

Selling on benefits? Then read this!

You’ve been told for years that you sell on benefits not features.  It’s one of those things you see stated again and again, yet there is a key element missing, which is essential if you want to get the best return on your marketing investment.  That’s what this post is all about.

Educate then inform

A common marketing myth is that you need to market your services based on benefits and that’s it!  This is incorrect.  Selling on benefits is only half the deal.  First, the other person needs to believe they have a problem, which your benefits solve.  If they don’t believe they have a problem, they are not going to buy your solution.  The challenge here is that many people who really need your services, don’t know it yet.  For these people, you need to educate them that they have the problem, before you stand a chance of them becoming a client.

For example, if someone is using a “cheap” accountant, they may think they are getting a GREAT deal.  It’s only after they learn that their cheap accountant is losing their business 50k a year needlessly, by giving them bad advice, that they are aware they need a good accountant, and quick!  An hour before they discovered they were losing out on 50k a year, they would have been bragging to their buddy about what a great deal they got from their accountant and not remotely interested in finding a better accountant.

Yes, the benefits of your service are extremely important to your marketing, but they are of little real marketing value, until you have convinced your prospective client that they actually have a problem.

Use this idea and become the only show in town!

If you are really smart, you will develop a unique solution that your competitors are not offering.  This way, when you educate your prospective clients that they have a problem, your service becomes the answer, rather than simply an answer.

Get this right and you will never have to sell based on fees again, plus you will always be in demand.  It’s one of the many things I work on with my clients and the results can be amazing!

Photo: Darkuncle

2 Blogs that are really worth reading!

business blogging

One of the great things about business today, is that there has never been so much free marketing information at your fingertips.

Of course, as anyone with $5 a month and a copy of WordPress can now claim to be a marketing expert or social media guru, there has never been more low quality information out there either!

I have to admit that very occasionally, I find marketing information on a site that is so poor, I’m tempted to write a post warning people not to use the information they find there.  I’m not talking about sites where the blogger writes generic posts.  I am talking about sites written by ill-informed people, who offer information that is so inaccurate, anyone following it is almost certain to damage their business and lose money.

But then, I remember that those sites get very little traffic and that by naming them, they would actually get a lot more visibility and potentially harm a lot more people.  So, I focus on signposting readers to quality sites on marketing and business development instead.

2 Blogs that are worth checking out

Today’s post offers you 2 blogs, where the content is consistently high quality.  This short list is comprised exclusively of blogs that I have not already referenced on this site.  There are more great blogs listed here, though that list also contains a small number of sites, unrelated to marketing or social media.

Drum roll…

So, in no particular order:

Neville Hobson’s blog

inc.com (Link points to marketing section.)

Check them out!

I hope you take time to check those blogs out and that you find them as valuable as I believe you will!

What everyone needs to know about getting noticed

Your clients, customers and contacts have something in common.  They notice things.

They notice:

  • When you treat them like stars in order to encourage them to become a client, but then treat them like numbers once you have won their custom.
  • When you say their urgent order will be shipped on schedule, but you are a day late.
  • When you are more focused on what’s in it for you, than what’s in it for them.

They also notice:

  • When you treat them like stars in order to encourage them to become a client, but then treat them like superstars once you have won their custom.
  • When you say their urgent order will be shipped on schedule, yet you manage to get it ready a day early.
  • When you are more focused on what’s in it for them, than what’s in it for you.

Not every client complains to you when they are getting poor service.  However, they are far more likely to move their business to a competitor.

Not every client drops you a note of thanks when you are rendering exceptional service to them.  However, they are far more likely to remain a client of yours and to recommend your services to their friends.

Photo: Plinkk

How to get the ideas and answers your business needs!

This quick tip can help you get your business on track and stay there.  It’s all about how to generate the ideas and answers, which your business needs!

Ideas are one of our most valuable resources.  They allow us to make things better, no matter how bad they may be right now.  When backed up with action, our ideas become the starting point of all change.  The challenge, is to make sure that our ideas are taking us forward, so we make progress, rather than being yet another busy fool.

Ideas and direction

As a marketing and business development coach, I have noticed that people often start off on the wrong footing, when searching for ideas and answers.

For example, a business owner looking to increase sales may be thinking to herself: “How can I increase traffic into my website?”

A question like that will point her mind in the direction of answers, such as:

  • I can hire an SEO provider.
  • I can pay for traffic, via an Adwords campaign.
  • I could invest in Pay Per Click (PPC.)
  • I could promote my site on social networks.
  • The list goes on…

Those are all designed to drive traffic into her site.  The thing is, her problem is not a lack of traffic.  What she actually needed was to increase the number of sales she made.  Because she started off with a poorly directed question, the ideas she generated lacked the focus she needed.

Had she asked herself a question like: “How can I increase sales in next quarter?”, her answers would have been very different.  They may have included ideas such as:

  • I can get a professional copywriter, to increase the effectiveness of my marketing material, so I get more targeted leads.
  • I can develop a great new service, which compliments what we already provide to our customers and market it to them.
  • I can speak with Bob over at XYZ Company, about doing an endorsed relationship campaign with us.
  • I could build an introducer network.
  • I can speak with Barbara about doing a joint venture.
  • I could hold a networking event, invite all my customers and ask them to bring a friend.  If I target it right, this will give me a room full of customers and prospective customers.
  • Etc, etc.

Fuzzy focus

A common example of starting off with the wrong question, are those people we see, frantically trying to build huge numbers of followers via social and business networks.  In many cases, they seem more concerned with the numbers than with the actual reason they are networking online; which is to develop their business.  I have had people with over 100,000 followers asking me for advice on how to monetize their following.  They have no idea what to do, because they set off looking for numbers without an outcome (other than X number of followers.)  Their followings are usually totally fragmented, because they didn’t start off with a clear idea of who they wanted to connect with or why.

Outcome focused

Regular readers know that I believe one of the best pieces of business advice you can give anyone, is contained in the following 6 words:

Start with the end in mind.

When we start with the end in mind, we ensure that we begin our thought process with our focus in the right direction.  This helps us avoid wasting time on costly detours, allows our resources to be targeted correctly and helps us get the clarity we need.

Experience. Learn. Adjust. Move on.

What lessons have you learned recently and how do you plan to invest that knowledge?

Whenever I encounter a lesson, on either side of the ledger, I always look for the learning.  That way, even a bad or negative experience is of value to me.  The ability to experience, learn, adjust and move on is central to all human development.  It’s what allows us to progress.  It’s a valid and valuable part of our life journey.

Whatever your experiences have been recently, why not take some time out to examine what the learning is?  Here are a few questions, which I use when evaluating my daily experiences:

  • What can I do next time, to make things better?
  • Was this a repeat problem and if so, why is it still happening?
  • Is this happening because I need to improve my knowledge in a particular area and if so, who has the answers I need?
  • Who can I share my lesson with, so they can avoid making the same mistake?
  • If the experience was negative, how can I ensure that this doesn’t happen again?
  • If the experience was positive, how can I recreate it?

Those of us who continue to repeat the errors of the past, are destined to make little real progress.  As they say; “if you keep on doing what you have always done, you will keep on getting what you have always got.”

In short:  Evaluate. Learn. Adjust. Move on.

Photo: cayoup

The 12 habits of highly effective business owners!

Here are 12 habits of highly effective business owners.

  1. They are brave enough to risk being wrong.  In fact, unless you are prepared to get it wrong, you’re not doing it right.  The only people who never fail, are the people who lack the courage to try, (which is failure in itself.)  Failure to fail, is failure.
  2. They are approachable.  If you want people to get in touch with you, they need to feel comfortable doing so.
  3. They are willing to listen (a lot.)  The best way to ensure that your products, services and marketing messages are on target, is to FIRST listen to your marketplace.  Listen.  Learn.  Act.
  4. They are patient.  That ebook was wrong; you can’t succeed overnight.  You can, however start the process of change instantly.  It takes time to get from where you are to where you want to be, but the journey is amazing.  Embrace the journey!
  5. They value their time.  Time is your most valuable asset, yet many people surrender control of it.  Look after your time, so you have enough of it to do the things that matter each day.
  6. They are useful.
  7. They have a thick skin when it comes to business.  One of the challenges with being visible online, especially if you are not a sheep and have something to say, is that some people will disagree with you.  When (not if) they do, welcome it, take note and move on.  Don’t let the fear of what others may say, stop YOU from saying what you need to.  Critics can be useful too.
  8. They start the process of giving and receiving.  Zig Ziglar says; “If you help enough people get what they want, you can have anything you want.”  To fully understand what that means, you have to think for a while.  If you can get the message, then apply it, everything will change for you.
  9. They show up.  If you want to remain relevant to your clients, customers or community, you need to show up regularly.  Even when you are super-busy, make time to connect with people.
  10. They demonstrate leadership.  If, like many people I see online, you refer to yourself as a leader, back it up with action.  Very few of the leaders I know refer to themselves as leaders, they simply lead and let OTHERS look after the labels.  If you seldom step out of line, yet regularly follow the gurus and kiss their asses on their blogs and social media accounts, you’re not showing leadership.  You’re part of the flock.
  11. They commit to lifelong learning.  Take the classes and read the books.  To earn more, you must first become more.
  12. They are comfortable being themselves.  The only way to be seen as having unique value, is to be unique.  Don’t try and be just like someone else.  Be you.  You are a bigger deal than you might think!

Photo: Tuppus