Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Own your competitors with this powerful 4 step process!

If you want to attract the best clients and fees, you need to offer a more compelling service than your competitors.  The following is a simple 4 step process, which will help you be better than the best.

The 4 steps are:

  1. Think of the last time you received a service, which was so good you told your friends.
  2. Next, write down what it was that impressed you the most.  Add as much detail as you can.
  3. Then, think of at least 2 ways you could improve that service.
  4. Finally, find a way to adapt that supreme quality of service into your own business.

Every time you experience ‘service excellence’, look for the elements of that service, which can be ported into your business.  The best place to look for these ideas is outside your own industry.  By using service excellence ideas from other industries, you not only get to improve your service, you also get to develop something that could give your business a unique winning edge over your competitors.

Service excellence gets people talking!

Service excellence not only helps you retain your existing clients, it is a powerful way to attract more great clients too.  I’ve been in marketing for almost 26 years and in my experience, the best way to develop Word of Mouth referrals, is to offer a service, which is so remarkable that people feel compelled to remark (talk) about it to their friends.

NOTE – Here is a free, 3 part series on how to work with the best clients and the highest fees:

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

What everyone ought to know about influence

You can’t pick your family, but that’s OK, because you can be pretty selective about everyone and everything else in your life.

Do I need to be selective?

Yes.  I know that everyone and everything I give my attention to, influences me.  I know that miserable people will tend to make me feel low and optimists will tend to make me feel great.  I know that when I am in the company of creative people, my own creativity is ignited.  Everyone who connects with me in any way, influences me to a lesser or greater degree.

The same is true for you!

The people you associate with will have a massive impact on how you feel, the decisions you make and ultimately who you become.  The TV shows you watch, radio stations you listen to and music you listen to will also have an impact.  Everyone and everything you connect with, influences you in some way.

So, ‘who and what’ are you going to allow to influence your life in 2012?  No need to answer that question here on the blog, but I do suggest you answer it to yourself.

Why?  Because it’s one of the single biggest determinants of your; health, happiness, wisdom and wealth.

Photo: Gamma Man

Social Media: Spotting the fakes

Those of us who regularly use social networking sites, know that it has never been easier to spot a fake.

It’s hard for people to hide who they really are and what they know (or don’t know,) when they regularly update their social networking accounts.

Yes, anyone can fake it for a little while, but in the medium and long term, we get so much information that it’s very simple to build up a profile of the people we regularly see sharing.

Fakes, saying and seeing

Ironically, many of those people believe that the Internet makes it easier for them to fool the marketplace, because social media gives them the chance to say anything they like.  They can pretend to be experts, leaders or visionaries, so people will ‘just believe them’, right?

Wrong!  The exact opposite is true.  Today, we can see what the fakes are doing on social networks, regardless of what they say.

Some common examples we see all the time include:

  • The web designer, who talks every day about the need for great design, yet whose own site has rookie design errors.
  • The leaders on Twitter, who ask you to follow people on Fridays because that’s when everyone does it.
  • The thought leader, who never shares an original thought.
  • The business development expert, who feels compelled to scream “TGIF!” to everyone who follows them every Friday, because they can’t wait to get away from their own business.
  • The marketing expert, who uses social media to pester people for their attention, rather than attract their interest.
  • The social media guru, who shows they have no idea about being social.
  • The business networking expert, who works behind an avatar photo that was taken 15 years ago.
  • The copywriter, who is unable to write interesting social media updates.
  • The work-life balance gurus, who go missing for months, because their own work-life balance is totally out of control.

Thankfully, the same visibility that exposes the fakes, makes it easier than ever for genuine people to demonstrate their knowledge, professionalism and consistency.  It has never been easier or more rewarding, to be your unique self.

Your plan for 2012

When you put the plans in place, which allow you to develop your commercial future by design, rather than chance, everything changes:

  • You find yourself looking ahead with optimism and excitement, rather than apprehension and fear.
  • You experience far less stress and far more peace-of-mind.
  • …and you enjoy the elevated levels of motivation that come, when you can see the prize before you.

Whose plan am I working to?

We are all working towards a plan; either our own plan or someone else’s plan.  Many business owners and entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming that because they own their businesses, they are running those businesses.  The reality is often very different, with their businesses being directed by over-demanding clients, their bank, their creditors, their fears or their colleagues etc.  Their days, weeks and months are largely guided by reacting to these voices.

Just as you can’t bake a great cake without a great recipe, you can’t build a compelling future without a compelling plan.  Your plan should be so inspirational that you can’t stop thinking about it.  It should propel you out of bed in the morning with excitement and energy and compel you to do whatever is required, to make your plans a reality.

It’s your business

You get to decide what your plans are for the year ahead.  Make your plans worthy of you!  Make plans that are so compelling that I would get motivated if I knew them.  Get back in touch with that same feeling of excitement you had, when you first started your business.  Dream big dreams, commit them to a plan and then set to work on making them real.

Photo: Stockerre

Ditto!

It has never been easier to tell the world, what our unique take is.  Thanks to social media, those of us with an Internet connection have a voice, which previous generations could only dream of.

So, what do we do with this amazing opportunity?

Some embrace it

A small minority of people have grabbed the opportunity with both hands.  As a result, they have developed large, targeted audiences of people who follow and value their work.  They tell us what their story is and what they think, which allows us to decide if we agree with them or disagree.  This means they attract insiders and repel outsiders.  Their insiders go on to hire them, buy from them and share their work, because they value what these rare people think.

Some ditto

The majority have decided to ignore the opportunity.  Rather than tell us what they think, they choose to ditto those who grabbed this opportunity.  They are the people we occasionally bump into, but know almost nothing about.  This means they attract few insiders or outsiders.  They are fascinated with rhinos and use all the cool tools.  They are largely invisible, because they choose the camouflage that comes when we keep our thoughts, ideas and perspectives hidden.

The bottom line:  We can show the marketplace who we are and what we think or we can simply ditto what others have to say.  It’s our voice and our choice.

Are you making this common marketing mistake?

Many outstanding small businesses struggle needlessly.  Right now, they are looking to 2012 with apprehension, rather than justified optimism.  I don’t want your business to be one of them, so I would like you to consider the message in today’s post and avoid making this common, sometimes fatal marketing mistake!

Photo: katerha

The success of your business is largely determined by your ability to do 2 things:

  1. Deliver consistently outstanding value.
  2. Communicate your outstanding value to the marketplace, so non-clients know how great you are as well as your clients.

The best kept secret in your industry

You really don’t want to be ‘the best kept secret’ in your industry, however, many business owners are just that.  They work extremely hard, offering amazing service, and then totally fail to communicate how great they are.  The marketplace should know they are awesome, but it doesn’t.  They are almost invisible to potential clients, then suffer the frustration of watching lesser competitors growing, whilst they struggle.

The belief that hard work alone is the secret to growing a successful business, is bogus.  It’s essential that your hard work is channelled into doing the right things, correctly.  This means exceeding your client’s expectations, but also ensuring that the marketplace knows all about you and why they NEED to hire YOU, buy from you etc.

When you get that balance right, it changes everything.  You will have just discovered the key to growing a thriving business in any economy.  You will have secured your commercial future.  You will be one of a tiny minority of small business owners, who can justifiably look ahead to 2012, with optimism.

My hope for you in 2012

I hope it doesn’t rain this morning.

I know that hoping the weather will work out the way I want it to, is pointless.  But it makes me feel better.  It’s like hoping my football team will win, even though I have no influence over the result.

The small business owner, whose strategy for 2012 is mainly to hope things will just get better, may feel better, but things are unlikely to improve until they start working to an effective strategy.  In my experience, the most common marketing approach for small business owners is to dabble, which is a bad idea; even in a good economy.

My hope for you

I hope that you’re working to an effective business development strategy, which will see you thrive, not simply survive in 2012.  When you do the right things correctly, the future is something you can look to with realistic optimism.

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.

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