Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Knowledge, technology and balance

I saw a video interview with Seth Godin recently, which made me smile.  It wasn’t the interview itself that made me smile, but rather the shot of Seth in his office.

There Seth was, sat at a table (not desk), with; a laptop, phone and a coffee/tea.  I smiled, because it confirmed something I wrote a few weeks ago: It’s the content of our mind, not the content of our office, which determines our success.

The marketplace is filled with ineffective marketing messages, which were written in offices that look like the control room at NASA.  The thing is, adding a third high definition monitor to Bob’s three grand computer, is not going to make is ineffective marketing strategy magically start working.  It will just look stunning, as he slowly goes broke.  Incidentally, before you laugh, that example is based on a business owner I spoke to last year, who had zero need for three monitors!

Good, reliable technology is essential to the running of any business.  But the business owner who constantly feeds her gadget addiction, yet neglects to invest in the knowledge required to grow her business, is totally missing the point.

Over 100 ideas to help you grow a great business!

I have some really useful marketing and business development ideas to share with you today.

Photo: Sean MacEntee

Developing a highly profitable business

You work hard and deserve to see the rewards.  I want you to be able to develop a highly profitable business, working with great people for the best fees, so, I wrote a 3 part blog post series for you, see below.  If you have not already taken time to read them, I know from the emails they generated, that people have found them extremely useful:

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 1

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 2

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 3

Over 140 ideas

As a business owner, it’s essential to be aware that no matter how things are for you right now, you are never more than one great idea away from transforming your results.  If you only started reading my blog this year, you may have missed this post.  It’s one of the most popular I have ever written and gives you immediate, free access to over 140 marketing and business development ideas.

Finally: How to ruin your blog just like I did

Most small business owners who blog, tend to copy what they see others doing.  This posts shares the approach I have used to build one of the most read blogs in marketing and why copying the flock is a really bad idea: Blogging: Seth Godin and I are doing it wrong!

I hope you find these resources useful.  If you do, please share them with your friends.

Crash Bang Everything Changes

Photo: Toasty Ken

Last night was just like any night at our home.  My son was fast asleep, my wife was getting ready for bed and I was reading…

Then there was a CRASH!

Literally.  I heard a loud noise and went outside, to find a car had crashed into the stream, at the foot of our front garden.  Thank God, even though the car was upside down, no one was injured.

In business as in life, there are times when things go crash, unexpectedly.  For example:

  • Maybe your business loses a major account.
  • Perhaps you hit a serious cash flow problem and can’t pay your suppliers.
  • It could be that your server crashes and your data has been destroyed.

Now, the very nature of most unexpected business incidents, is that they come without much, if any, warning.  The best we can do, is ensure we are as prepared as we can be for them.

How well prepared is your business today, if the unexpected actually happened?  If you are relying on luck, I strongly recommend you get some robust business systems in place, before you need them.

Make it awesome THEN share the facts!

Every day, we see business owners marketing average services to average people, whilst falsely claiming their products or services are outstanding.  That’s not smart marketing.  It’s simply a deliberate misinterpretation, designed to fool people.

Photo: Renaissance Chambara

In my experience, when a business owner feels the need to make fake claims in their marketing, it’s usually a sign that:

  • The product or service they are promoting is low value, (what this post is about.)
  • They have taken bad advice on how to promote it.
  • The product or service is low value and they are promoting it incorrectly.

Build it up THEN talk it up!

Here’s the thing:

  • You don’t need to tell lies to people, to make something that is amazing, sound amazing.
  • You don’t need to tell lies to people, to make something that is interesting, sound interesting.
  • And of course, you don’t need to tell lies to people, to make something that is valuable, sound valuable.

The lies usually start, when the product or service is too uninspiring to generate genuine interest from the marketplace.  At that point, the focus should be on fixing the product or service; to pump as much value into it as possible.  It’s not a signal, to paper over the cracks with false claims.  That’s a short-sighted approach and a great way to develop a bad reputation.

Here’s a far more profitable approach:  Build your product or service, so that it is as attractive and compelling as possible, THEN share it’s awesomeness with the marketplace.

The trick to getting everything you want, without even trying!

What’s the trick; the easy way to get the reward without doing the work?

marketing tricks

Photo: Pasukaru76

When you do the right things correctly, you will achieve better results and faster.  That’s one of the cornerstones of success.  It’s also the opposite of trickery.

The attraction of trickery

Trickery suggests that you can magically achieve the end result, without the need to do the right things correctly.  It offers you the promise of $3,000 a month, if you will just send them $30 for their ebook on how it’s done.  It offers you the chance to lose weight and get fit, without diet or exercise.

Most mature adults can see through claims like those, yet find it harder to see through the claims made by strangers who email them offering to get them onto page one of Google or get them 1000 Facebook fans.  There is a belief among many people, that the Internet is somehow immune to the process of cause and effect, that you can achieve incredible success in an area, without doing much.  In fact, I’m sure some people will have followed the link to this post, actually expecting to be given some trick that really would show them how to get everything they want, without even trying!

The reality of trickery

I regularly receive emails from people, who have wasted huge amounts of time and often considerable amounts of money, on marketing related trickery.  The most common examples I see, are where people pay someone who emailed them, who promised to instantly increase their search engine rankings through directory submissions.  Others have done link exchanges with people they didn’t know, then found their site has been penalized (or de-indexed) by Google, for linking to what Google refers to as a bad neighborhoodOne blogger I know saw her Page Rank drop from 4 to 1, after linking to a dubious website in return for a link back.

In short: Before you invest your time or money on anything online, which claims to contain a trick you can use to become instantly wealthier or healthier, please apply the same bullshit filter you use when offline.  You may even want to crank that filter up to 11!

The last word?

blogging, copywriting, content marketing

Photo: Maria Reyes-McDavis

When it comes to a conversation, the last word is way too important to some people.

The thing is, the last word is really just that: The last word.

  • It’s not the most valuable word.
  • It’s not the right word.
  • It isn’t even the most interesting word.
  • It’s simply the final comment in an exchange.

The willingness to listen to the other person and then make your point, allowing them to have the last word, is a sign of confidence and professionalism.  In my experience, once the dialogue has run it’s course and you have given your best opinion, you can weaken not only your point, but also your reputation, by insisting on the last word.

The last word on winning

Whilst there are a number of reasons why a particular person may insist on having the last word, commonly we find online (on blogs and in forums) that there’s a belief that by doing so, they they have somehow “won.”  They assume that their point is magically victorious, simply because it was made last, without response.

The reality is that each person reading a thread of comments, decides who they agree with, based on how well a point was made or whether a point was based on something they believe in – Not on the chronological order of the points.  After all, we often see people having the last word, purely because their comment was seen as irrelevant, off topic or an attempt to self-promote.

The secret behind the best paid, most valued people in your industry!

Today’s post is about the secret behind the best paid, most valued people in your industry.  It will show you how they attract the highest fees and work with the best clients.

I want to start though, with a plea:

Service providers: If you want to consistently produce great work, which will help you build a top flight reputation, get the information you need from the client and do what you are best at.

Clients: If you want to get the best results, hire the best service provider you can.  Then, get out of their way.

Clients: Get out the way

I once knew a restaurant, where the food was terrible.  Every 4 or 5 months, the food improved, then it dipped below par again after a couple of weeks.

What happened, was the guy who owned the restaurant would hire a chef because he liked the chef’s cooking, then he would slowly show the chef how to cook things the way HE wanted.  Because the restaurant owner was a poor cook, the quality of the food dropped like a stone, customers complained, so he would hire a new chef and the cycle would repeat itself.  He hired people who could create amazing food, then clipped their wings.

  • If you hire a designer, give them the input they need, then let them go and create something amazing.  Don’t tell them what to design, just give them their brief.
  • If you hire a copywriter, give them the input they need, then let them turn words into gold dust.  Don’t put words into their copy, which will ruin the flow.

Service Providers:  Do what you do best

I was once asked for help, by a web designer, who was struggling to attract new clients.  She received almost no word of mouth referrals, no repeat business and she had no portfolio on her website.  I was curious why, when she was clearly a really good designer.  She explained that “she let clients walk all over her,” so what would happen is she would get the requirements from the client for their site, build something amazing, then allow the client to tweak it and tweak it and tweak it, until it looked like crap.

One of the sites she showed me, looked incredible.  She then showed me the version of that site, which the client ended up with and it was shockingly bad.  “What do you do, the client is always right, right?”  It’s little wonder she got no referrals allowing work like that to go out the door, with her name on it!

The secret?

The best service providers work with their clients to create something amazing, which the client loves and values accordingly.  They work with people, who appreciate their expertise and give them the creative freedom they need.  As a result, they create amazing work, which attracts admiration, creates word of mouth and opens doors to other wonderful projects.  How do I know?  Because that is how every service provider at the top of their game works.

I had dinner last week with a friend, who is a web designer.  She currently has a 7 month waiting list and charges 5 times more, than the average in her industry.  Why?  Because everything she creates looks amazing and her clients love her.  She gets masses of repeat business and her clients are her sales force.  Her portfolio looks amazing too and all this is reflected in her fees and the clients who queue up to work with her.  She selects her clients wisely and works with them to create something that she is proud of and they are crazy about.

Her secret was to do work that mattered, rather than work that would pay her in 30 days.  Seth Godin gave almost the same answer, when asked about the secret of his success.  In fact, it’s the cornerstone of my own success and the work I do with my clients.

Photo: Marcin Wichary

Stop marketing to yourself

One of the keys to building a great client list, is to embrace the following 2 points.

  1. There is more than one opinion:  You may believe you are right, but you have to believe that there is more than one way to look at things.
  2. There is more than one truth:  It may be true to you that cheesecake is delicious, but it is equally true to another person, that it tastes disgusting.

It can be tempting to assume that our own perspectives, are the only valid ones.  Now, if you are marketing exclusively to people, who are just like you, you may get away with that kind of narrow assumption.  But very few accountants will work only for other accountants, few lawyers will represent only lawyers and just as few fitness instructors will only train fellow fitness instructors.

Respect is essential

If we want to attract clients from outside our own industry, social class, age range or personality type, we need to embrace the right for others to be different AND respect their differences.  We don’t have to agree with everything our prospective clients think or inherit their beliefs, but it’s important to respect their right to be different.

In fact, if you want to build a valuable, diverse client list of great people, I believe it’s essential.

Of course, you don’t need to agree with that.

Photo: David Spinks

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