The secret to growing a successful business

At some point, our business will surely arrive.

The question is; “where?”

  • Some business owners have a destination in mind.  They are on top of their businesses.
  • Many small business owners have no clear picture of where they are going.  Their business is on top of them.

On top of your business?

If your typical week includes working on the development of your business, there’s a good chance you are making measurable progress in reasonable time.

Sadly, many business owners tell me that they work so hard trying to keep their clients happy, that they don’t have time to work on building their own business.  They don’t run their business, their business runs them.  They live in a constant state of reaction. It’s stressful and ineffective.

There are all kinds of business management books and software products, which claim to help you take control of your business, but those who need them the most are usually the people who are least likely to use them!  They prefer to work hard.  They confuse movement with progress.  They think that so long as they are working hard and putting those long hours in, they will be fine.  It’s the same mindset, which causes people to drive faster when they are lost.

Many people spend more time planning their 2 weeks in the sun each year, than they spend planning their business development for the other 50 weeks.  They then enjoy fun packed holidays / vacations where they get loads of exciting things done, yet struggle to make any real progress with their business for the remaining 351 days!

No matter how busy you are responding to the needs of your business, make time to review where you are now AND where you are going.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Will Ockenden

How to never sell on price again!

Today, I want to show you how to never sell your products based on price again!

Price sensitivity

If you find people are price sensitive, there’s always a reason.

If your product appears to be similar to competing products, yet you are charging more for it, people will think your product is too expensive.  All things being equal, people go for the best (lowest) price because it’s all that they have left, to determine whether they are getting value for money or not.  If you want to move away from competing on price, you need to provide something different and of greater value to your target customer.

Now, if your product already offers a real, unique advantage over your competitors products, and people can’t see all that great value, you need to focus on how to get your message across powerfully in your marketing.  However, that’s not what today’s brief post is about!

In most cases, the price sensitivity problem persists because there is just not enough differentiation between what you provide and what is available elsewhere.  That’s what I’m going to focus on here.

The need for differentiation

For 16 years, I have been telling business owners to differentiate their products (and services), so they don’t have to sell based on price.

For 16 years they have asked me, “how?”

It’s obviously impossible to give you a global answer, on how you can be different enough to rise above your competitors.  Of course, if there was a global answer, everyone would use it and thus it couldn’t work as everyone would look the same!  The whole point about differentiation, is that it has to be different.

So, here are a few ideas for you, based on successful differentiation tactics that business owners have used with great success, to avoid having to sell based on price.  See if any of these help you get your creative juices flowing!

  • The product is a numbered, limited edition.
  • The product is signed by it’s creator.
  • The product is recommended to the prospective customer, by someone they respect or admire.
  • The product weighs 50% less than competing products.
  • The product is made from 100% renewable sources.
  • The product is bright orange, when competing products are only available in black or white.
  • The product is offered with a lifetime replacement guarantee.
  • The product is used as a way to show your membership of a community.  An example of this is the iPhone community, where ownership of an iPhone places you in their “tribe.”

The more valuable your differentiation is, the less people will make price an issue.  It’s genuinely challenging work to come up with something that makes your product uniquely valuable, but if you are prepared to do the hard work, you can own a very profitable chunk of your marketplace.

Over to you

What examples do you have, where you bought something, because it offered you enough individual value?  Please share your feedback.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography

7 Things that make me curious: What would you add?

Is it just me or do you find it curious…

  1. When a company will work hard to make a disgruntled customer happy, yet fail to ensure their customers are extremely well looked after all the time?
  2. When people think the price of their TV set is what it cost them to buy it; rather than what it’s costing them to waste their evenings watching it?  (No one ever looks back on their life from their death bed, wishing they had wasted even more time watching TV.)
  3. That some people think they can become a leader, by acting like a sheep?
  4. When someone’s social media profile proclaims that they are a specialist  – In 10 different topics?
  5. That 2 people can read the same great book: 1 of them uses the information to improve their life, the other finds the same information “interesting” and does nothing with it?
  6. That people will waste years looking for shortcuts to success, when they could have got there twice over, if they had focused on simply doing the right things, correctly?
  7. When you see a marketing consultant at a networking group, hoping someone will throw them a sales lead, because the marketing consultant’s own marketing is not generating the inquiries they need?

Permission to rock: No one can stop you now!

Until relatively recently, if you wanted to achieve something on a grand scale, you would often need the permission of someone with influence.

You used to hear people saying that they had a great idea for a radio show, a book or a business, but that no one would give them a break.

Today, everything has changed.  You no longer need someone to give you a break or permission.  You can get out there, start doing amazing work and make your own breaks.

They can’t stop you any more!

  • You can publish your own books, you don’t need permission from a publisher.
  • You can start your own Internet radio show.  You don’t need permission from a radio station.
  • You can reach thousands of people every day with magazine style articles via a blog.  You don’t need permission from the editor of a magazine.
  • You can record, market and distribute your own training products. You don’t need permission from a training publisher.  I do this with my extremely popular Motivation Master Class.
  • The list goes on and on!

Now that so many barriers have been removed, there are 2 questions we can focus on:

  1. What am I going to do with this amazing opportunity?
  2. Who or what am I going to blame now, for my decision to sit on my hands and do nothing?

We can either invest our creativity in answering the first of those questions, or waste our creativity by answering the second.  The choice is ours.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

The titles people give themselves

I was thinking earlier, how anyone can refer to themselves as a marketing expert.  If they are really bold, they may call themselves a marketing guru, marketing wizard or even a “thought leader.”  The same is true for every industry.

Of course, the grand titles people assign to themselves are not what counts.  It’s the marketplace, which decides if we are any good.

  • If we consistently help people create quantum improvements, people will notice.
  • If we write a newsletter or a blog, which showcases our ability in a very positive light, people will notice.
  • If we try to help as many people as we can, by giving as much unique value as we can, people will notice.

Obviously, the reverse is also true.

  • If our work is generic, people will notice.
  • If we write a newsletter or blog, which showcases our lack of ability, people will notice.
  • If we have nothing of original value to offer our marketplace, people will notice.

We all have the freedom to give ourselves any title we wish, which is why I find titles so interesting.  Ultimately, the titles people give themselves ALWAYS tell us much more about the person, than the literal meaning of the title.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: styro

Make some REAL progress with this 1 simple idea

If you want to enjoy massively better results from your business, you need to step back and look at the way things are right now.  A great place to start, is to ask yourself the following question on a regular basis:

Am I making measurable progress in reasonable time?

I know business owners who are earning roughly the same today as they were 2 years ago.  That’s not how you grow a successful business.  That’s called stagnation.  It’s stressful, unrewarding and 100% unnecessary.

Day by day, it’s easy to miss the fact that you are making little measurable progress.  Small business owners who are working hard but getting little reward, don’t do so deliberately.  They are simply unaware that they are repeating small errors, which are stopping their business from growing.  They are like the guy trying to cut down a tree with a hammer.  Lots of effort for very little progress.

The bottom line: If you are not making the progress you want, either figure out what’s blocking you or talk to someone who knows.  Make the changes required and start getting the results your hard work deserves!  Don’t make the mistake of hoping things will just get better.  Hope is not a business strategy.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Proof: Why your marketing needs to prove itself!

Proof matters. It matters because the gap created by a lack of proof, is usually filled with doubt.  In business, you really don’t need people doubting you or your message.

Proof in marketingWhy proof matters in marketing

People typically want to believe you, but they like to have proof as a way to justify their belief.  These days it’s usually pretty easy to provide that proof, particularly online.  If you get a mention in a national or regional newspaper, there’s usually a link you can provide, to show your coverage.

For example, I provide a lot of proof on the about page on this blog. I include 5 different links to mentions of me that appear in The New York Times.  There’s also a link to the website of my friend and former client; Grammy Award winning producer, Bruce Elliott-Smith, as well as my current AdAge Power150 listing etc.  I use the links to help provide proof to new readers and prospective clients, that my narrative is genuine.

The problem with proof

Today, if you get mentioned in just about any regional or national newspaper / magazine, you can provide readers with a link to it on that publication’s website.  However, most of the mentions of you from 8 or more years ago in the press, are probably gone without trace. You may have a hard copy of the article that says how great you are, but nothing you can link to, which shows it on the newspaper’s own website.  Equally, appearances you made on TV or great radio guest spots from back then, are also hard to prove.

The challenge here is that in the age of click-able proof, many people expect proof to be available on the website of the newspaper, magazine, radio station or TV station etc.  Not simply on your site.

In my own case, I have appeared on dozens of BBC radio shows, with nothing I can link to as proof.  I list the BBC in an image on my about page and hope that my transparency and click-able proof are enough to build the trust required.  You know what?  For many who don’t know me, it won’t be.  They need that click.  To be honest, I understand them too!  I see mentions some bloggers make regarding coverage they have received, and find it hard to believe, based on the quality of their content.  Others I believe instantly and feel no need to click anything, because their content / work is clearly extremely good.

Maybe there’s a lesson there too: That people are less willing to believe someone who claims high level media coverage, when the quality of their content seems pretty average?

In my experience, if you can link to your mentions in the media, you should.  It removes doubt and encourages trust.  If you have enough credible mentions, which are easy to prove, you may find people are more likely to believe those achievements, which can’t be proven instantly with the click of a mouse.  Here are some tips on how to get more high quality media coverage, if that’s a challenge for you right now.

What are you thoughts?

I would love to hear your opinions on proof and how important you believe these issues are.  What are your experiences?  Please share your thoughts.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: katmere

The slow demise of the clueless social media rock star?

I’ve written previously about the way some social media gurus are totally clueless when it comes to anything, other than building impressive looking social media followings.

Well, even though influential people like Steve Rubel and Shel Israel are talking about the end of the road for social media consultants / gurus, some things never change.  I’m talking about the massive number of clueless social media gurus.


I spoke yesterday with a web developer, who told me about an email he received from a well-known social media figure.  This person was trying to bag themselves a free website from him and unknowingly, sent the same begging email to a number of developers, who knew each other.  The email was forwarded on to me and I assume lots of others.  It is one of the  most cringe inducing emails I have ever seen.

It was also strangely familiar.

You see, one of that person’s closest social media associates called my office a few months ago, also looking for a freebie.  They promised to retweet all my posts and recommend me to their huge online network, if I would “just” give them a free marketing consultation. That’s the exact same offer their friend made in their begging emails to the web developers!

I politely said “no.”

NB: I find it’s common for people whose own time is of little financial value, to assume others give their time away too.

Anyhow, during our call, the guru explained that although they are regularly featured on all kinds of lists and in some top blogs, they earn almost nothing and spend most of their time speaking at conferences, for which they are usually paid little more than expenses, often nothing at all.  Commercially, this guru admitted knowing “very little when it comes to strategy!” Their only ability is to know how to build what seems to be a large following, which generates low pay – No pay speaking gigs.

The problem with clueless social media gurus, as opposed to genuine social media experts

The reason this matters, is that those 2 clueless social media gurus have a combined following of over 150,000, who they offer business development advice to; something they have demonstrated very little knowledge of!  No wonder we are now seeing social media rock stars moving into salaried jobs.

Before you decide who to listen to when it comes to the development of your business, check them out.  That means more than counting how many followers they have.  Some of the smartest people in business and social media have modest sized social networks, but extremely successful businesses!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

It matters!

So many important things in business get overlooked, because we think they probably don’t matter.

In business, every action you take is either working for you or working against you.  Nothing is neutral.  Everything matters.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: twodolla

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

If you want to attract the best clients and the highest fees, you need to understand the commercial value of originality.

Photo: John Trainor

The original Mona Lisa was insured in 1962 for a hundred million dollars and today that valuation would be closer to a billion dollars.  However, you can buy a copy of the Mona Lisa for the price of a coffee!  This is because the marketplace values originality and attaches no value to copycats.

The easy route

The easy route is what the masses decide to take.  This is what Seth Godin refers to as; “offering an average service to average people.”  They attract average clients and have to charge average fees.  This approach is soul destroying and those who take it look to the future with apprehension.  However, it requires little thought, which is why it’s so common.

The challenging route

The challenging route is what the leaders in every field decide to take.  They look for ways to offer a uniquely valuable service, rather than looking for excuses for why they MUST toe the line and do what their competitors are doing.

Whenever I have written on this subject before, people have left comments saying that it’s just not possible to offer anything new or original in their profession.  That is factually incorrect.  What they are really saying, is that it’s challenging, so they quit.  The people get on and do it, push through that challenge.  They invest the effort and energy to come up with something uniquely valuable and then they have the courage to implement it.  That’s why they get to work with the best clients and earn the highest fees.

In a world full of copycats, you can achieve huge commercial success if you seek out and implement your own, original masterpiece!

You can catch up on part 1 and part 2 of this series, using the links below:

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

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

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!