January's normally the month where experts and gurus make big bold predictions about how the world's going to completely change in the next year (usually followed by the surprising revelation that their latest product just happens to show you how to deal with those huge changes they're predicting).
I‘m not one for bold predictions myself. But what I do know is that the fundamental marketing principles that worked in 2013 (and in 2012 and in 1912) will continue to work in 2014. People are still people and our basic motivations don't change much over time.
So here are some success principles that have always worked and will continue to work for you in 2014.
Success comes from Simplicity.
If you've ever seen Gordon Ramsay's “Kitchen Nightmares” where Ramsay visits a failing restaurant each week and tries to turn it round, you'll know that the first thing he does is to cut down the menu.
Rather than trying to offer 30 different dishes and struggling to do any of them well, he gets the restaurant to offer only 8 dishes, but to do each brilliantly.
It's the same with marketing for small and solo businesses like us. Over the years we start offering our services to too many different types of people, using too many different marketing tactics, and offering too many different services.
The end result is we either spread ourselves too thinly, or we get overwhelmed with the complexity of everything we've got to do.
As I show in my Client Flow video series, there are only three big steps to marketing. Generating leads, nurturing those leads, and then converting them into clients. And most of us just need to master two or three methods for lead generation and one or two for nurturing and selling.
If you're doing more than that, or you're doing something and it doesn't clearly fit into lead generation, nurture or sales then you're probably overcomplicating your marketing.
Success comes from Hard Work.
Some people get lucky, but most of us have to work hard to succeed.
Of course, there are shortcuts. And you always want to work smart. But there are no easy ways to get rich or “effortless” systems for winning clients. Not ones that work anyway.
Don't listen to the charlatans trying to sell you their latest push-button riches scheme (if it really worked, they'd just be using it themselves instead of trying to sell it to you). Figure out the steps you need to take to generate leads, nurture them and convert them into clients. Then work hard at doing it.
Success comes from Systems.
Once you've figured out what you need to do to bring in leads and convert them into clients you need to make that process a habit. Having to reinvent the wheel or start again from scratch with every new prospect will slowly kill you.
You can systematise by automating with things like email marketing. Or you can systematise simply by writing down the steps you'll follow to do certain repeatable tasks. What are the 5 things you must do to run a successful seminar? What's your sequence of follow-up after you meet a potential client at a networking event?
If you don't document your own best practice steps for these key activities then you'll either miss out some of them, get them wrong, or in the case of things like follow-up, you simply won't do them at all.
Success comes from Speed.
Speed – just getting things done quickly – is a hallmark of many successful marketers. And it shows up in lots of ways.
As my friend Steve Gordon often says: “The marketing piece you launch today, however imperfect, is infinitely more valuable that the one that's still in your head”.
I know that I'm often guilty of taking weeks to launch something that I could have got going in days because I want to smooth out every rough edge.
The truth is that people don't care about the edges. They care about the big important parts. So what if there's a little typo in the email you sent? As long as the big, important message gets across.
And speed brings discipline and brevity too.
If you want to get to market fast, you've got to be concise. And that works in your favour these days.
Take email marketing for example. Far better to send three 400 word emails spaced a day apart than one 1200 word one.
Think of the impact on the reader. With the 1200 worder they open their email and see this humongous great thing in there and sigh, knowing that no matter how good it is they just won't have time to read it right now.
So they file it to read later. And, of course, never quite manage to get round to it.
Contrast that with three 400 word emails. Each day they open their email and see a short, punchy email from you. Enough for them to read in a minute or so. So they do.
Same amount of content. Just delivered in bite-sized chunks. And much more effective.
Success comes from Scale.
For many of the clients I work with, their problem is time. They've learn the basics of attracting and winning clients. The problem is that they have to do everything themselves. And they have to do everything one to one.
If all your clients come from face to face marketing and one to one sales meetings then inevitably your business is going to hit a roadblock. You can increase your fees to increase your income, but you eventually run out of hours in the day.
That's where scale comes in. Marketing to dozens of people through seminars or hundreds of people through webinars is scale. Reaching thousands through email marketing is scale. Working with partners to market to the people that know and trust them is scale.
If your business is doing pretty well but you've hit a bit of a plateau, then the chances are that the big success principle that will pay dividends for you is scale. Think about how you're going to get more scale and leverage in your marketing and you'll break through that plateau.
So those are my Success Principles for 2014. Fours S's and an HW.
Which one is going to be the key success principle for you this year?
Image by Dan Moyle