Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Marketing success: Where to begin?

There are so many things you can learn or invest in, which could improve your business results.  This blog alone has thousands of ideas you can try.  So, with all that choice out there, where is the best place for you to begin?

Where to begin?

I think I have an answer, which will be correct for 99% of the people reading this.  The place to begin is with the areas, which set you apart from your competitors.

The marketplace doesn’t really care if Bob is a little better, faster or cheaper than his competitors.  That stuff is marginal.  It’s nothing to get excited about.  It isn’t memorable.  It’s unlikely to attract much word of mouth publicity or motivate people to switch from their current provider, to Bob.

Here’s an idea

Think of the service providers, who have inspired you to switch from your old provider to them.  Think about the last business, who compelled you to praise them to your friends.  Now, ask yourself this question and write down as many answers as you can:

What was it that prompted you to switch to them (and or) shout about them from the rooftops?

Be especially on the lookout for answers from industries, which are different from your own.  In my experience, that’s where some of the best ideas come from.

What everyone ought to know about word of mouth

I’m a very happy customer of your outstanding business.

  • You consistently exceed my expectations.
  • You never fail to deliver on time.
  • You always seem genuinely interested in helping me.
  • I want to tell the world how great you are.

So, how easy do you make it for me to recommend you to all my friends and contacts?

Even when you offer exceptional service and your clients or customers love you, you need to make it super easy for them to spread the word.  Yes, it’s nice for them to “like” your Facebook page or send you a great testimonial, but you need a way for them to amplify their endorsement to their friends and not just your existing clients.  They know how great you are already!

Word of mouth and your business

I suggest incorporating a word-of-mouth facility into your service.  No, I’m not going to do the thinking for you here – If I did and everyone started doing it, it wouldn’t work so well.  It also wouldn’t be based on your business, your relationship with your clients or even your industry.  One example which works beautifully, is simply offering your advocates a bonus, which they can share with their friends.

The key thing is to match your word-of-mouth amplification, to the spirit of your business.  Then, watch them start shouting about you from the rooftops!

Photo: coolio-claire

Who are you?

As one of your prospective clients,  I may or may not agree with your point of view, however, when you let me know your opinion, 2 important things happen.

  1. You show me you have an opinion, a view of your own that makes you, you.
  2. You show me you have the courage to express your opinion.

In my experience, very, very few business owners express their opinions in their online marketing efforts.  As I wrote recently, many business owners choose to have no voice. They opt for the anonymity of amplifying the other person’s view.  Not only do they tell me nothing about them or what they think, they show me nothing that separates them, from every other provider in their profession.

Perhaps more importantly, they give me nothing to connect with.

Connecting with the right people

The people you work best with, are those who get what you are about.  These are the clients who pay you what you are worth and who are a real pleasure to work with.  If you want to attract them, they need to know what you are about, your unique approach to your craft.  When they see this, they have something tangible to connect with and a valid reason to hire you.

Here’s the thing:  You don’t need to be all things to all people.  Some people will NOT get you or your approach.  That’s fine.  You need outsiders in order to have insiders.  The insiders who resonate with your opinions and ideas will love you and be excited about working with you.

I tell you, get this right and it’s a game changer for you and your business.

You have a voice, so let’s hear it!

When was the last time you initiated something?

It’s easy to join in, but far more challenging to initiate.  The temptation is to wait for someone else to get something started, then, for us to echo their views or copy what they did.  This is why the Internet is full of me too content; people writing the same safe viewpoints.

It’s also why Twitter is overflowing with retweeted links and famous quotes.

  • It’s easy.  It takes a split second to hit the retweet button.
  • It’s safe.  As someone sharing content rather than creating it, you can’t be directly blamed if your followers think what you shared is a piece of crap.
  • It’s simple to justify.  “Hey, I’m just passionate about sharing!”

Your voice and visibility

Many extremely bright people struggle to get their voice heard, because they initiate too little.  They have great ideas, yet fail to share them because they haven’t seen anyone else expressing that idea or viewpoint yet.  Conversely, we have all seen some pretty average people gain impressive visibility, because they have the courage to initiate, then share, an idea or viewpoint.

Today, we have all the marketing tools we need in order to reach a massive, targeted audience.  However, before we can hope to capture a worthwhile share of our marketplace’s attention, we need to be prepared to earn it!  We need to push through the fear of being challenged for what we say or (heaven forbid) being wrong.

Why?  Because on the other side of that fear, is something of great value.  Maybe the missing piece to your marketing puzzle?

Photo: woodleywonderworks

Do you bake marketing into your products?

You have 2 options when developing a product or service.

  1. baked in marketingYou can market it, so that people will think it’s better than it really is.
  2. You can market it, so that when people try it, they find it’s even better than you said it would be.

The first option is all about hype

It’s about selling to people, who will quickly feel buyer’s remorse.  It’s the way those get rich quick ebooks are sold, with their non-existent money making systems.  It’s about investing too much time on the marketing and too little time pumping massive value into the product.

The second option is all about exceeding expectations

It causes people to spread how awesome you are, via word of mouth; transforming customers into advocates.  It’s the approach that helped Apple achieve record breaking profits, during the worst economy in living memory.  It’s about baking the marketing into the product; making the product SO GOOD that people feel the need to tell everyone how amazing it is.

The first option is easiest, which is why it’s most common.  However, it’s an approach that lacks longevity.

The second option requires craft, which is why it’s less common.  However, for those brave enough to embrace it, the rewards can be huge.

What are you going to do with it?

Give one person a pen and a pad and they will write a shopping list.

Give another person that same pen and pad and they will flesh out a business idea, worth thousands, maybe millions.

The pen and pad are simply the tools.  It’s what you do with them that creates the value.

This raises a question

You have a computer, an Internet connection and access to a potential audience of millions.

What are you going to do with it?

No!

One of the most common challenges facing small business owners, is a lack of resources.  They know they could do so much better, if only they had more time, money, energy, clarity etc.

In most cases, their lack of resources is caused by an over-willingness to say “yes!”  The challenge here, is that by saying yes to too many people, you can find yourself spread too thinly.

  • By saying “yes” to too many opportunities, you make it extremely hard for yourself to succeed.  The farmer hunting 2 rabbits at the same time, will usually miss both of them.  Similarly, when you chase too many opportunities at the same time, you tend to miss out.
  • By saying “yes” to too many projects, you risk under resourcing all of them and missing the bigger prize.  For example, when Steve Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997, Apple were focusing on over 300 projects.  Within only 18 months of Jobs’ return, Apple were focusing on just TEN!  When asked why, Jobs explained that he wanted his A-Team working on everything Apple did.  It worked.  Beautifully.

If your business is under resourced right now, look for things you should be saying “no” to.  Get this right and you stand a great chance of being able to say “yes”, to all the things that matter most.

How to escape the cycle of earning too little

Money gives you options.  This is one of the reasons, why people who have lots of money find it easier to make even more money.  They are painting from a wider pallet.  They can afford to play a longer game.

The opposite is also true.  A lack of money often causes people to make decisions, which can keep them financially weak.

One of the best examples of this, is the short term thinking that many in financial difficulty find themselves confronted with.  It’s hard for a business owner, who needs to have money in the bank in 30 days or lose their home, to divert their time and attention onto the business development strategies they need for long term success.

Short term thinking

The tendency for those who are seriously struggling, is to focus on marketing ideas, which they hope will generate the fastest return.  This sees many small business owners adopting panic measures, such as cold calling and pestering people for leads at networking events, etc, etc.  These time consuming forms of pursuit marketing are more likely to damage their reputation, than grow their business in a sustainable way.  People hate being pestered by pushy business owners.

No matter where your business is right now, you need to avoid being caught up in the negative loop, where you go from one short term answer to the next; never getting far enough in front to set the longer term strategies into play, which your business needs in order to grow.

Important

If you or someone you know is in need of a way to generate meaningful income, without pestering anyone, the 2 posts I link to below may help.  They provide a way to quickly get some bankable results, in a way that’s easy to scale and requires low financial investment.  Follow the links for dedicated posts on each subject:

Endorsed Relationships

Joint Ventures

I also recommend you read this, which shows you the 4 ways you can grow your business.

Photo: Images of money

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