I hate the word success. It conjures up images of celebrity coaches with glimmering white perfect teeth.
Immediately you think fast cars, luxury living and splashing the cash.
Yet, it is what we are all pursuing.
Success in life.
Success in business
I’ve met a number of millionaires and had the honour of meeting two billionaires in my life and I got pondering, what got them to where they are and if there are any commonalities.
Having spent some time over Christmas pondering what is the key to success, reading stories of people, reflecting on the people I have met who have achieved great things and watching a ton of YouTube videos from entrepreneurs, what is the key to success?
Success is a relative term. There are two definitions, the one which people define about a person and the one the person defines for themselves.
The success we should be pursuing is obviously the one which matters to us, not the one which matters to other people. Living to fulfill other peoples expectations is a hiding to nothing.
What is the key to success?
If you spend any length of time observing human beings you’ll notice, despite evidence, we still choose what we believe.
Despite knowing there are no quick fixes, we still try to find one. Despite knowing if something is too good to be true, is probably is, we still go for it.
We know there are no quick fixes, yet somewhere inside us, we hope, we believe there is a quick fix just for us. We don’t act on fact, we act on our own internal beliefs.
Do we believe we can achieve success?
Do we believe we can do what is needed to achieve it?
Despite knowing that success may take years, we still look for shortcuts.
I see this often in my world, amazing businesses with ambitious plans not following through on the plan and then changing to another one. Maybe they don’t believe it and so don’t commit to it.
People get really excited about how LinkedIn can help them grow their business but many unwilling to do what is necessary to make it work. Do they see other people winning at it, YES, why do they not do it, they don’t believe it will work for them.
These are self-limiting or business-limiting beliefs.
Without getting too metaphysical, there is something magical that seems to come together when people have clarity, focus and determination.
Many of the greatest human achievements have seemed impossible prior to it being accomplished. The vast majority of successful people we all read about refused to give up, despite setbacks, frustrations and naysayers.
Yet most of us, if things don’t come together in a short space of time, we give up and move onto something else.
I can remember overhearing a conversation many years ago, between a millionaire and his adviser. I won’t say names because, I don’t think I was supposed to overhear this.
“We determine our own destiny. If we lose it all, we will get it all back again”.
At the time, I dismissed it, but his statement stuck with me. The determination, confidence and clarity was what kept this conversation in my head for the last 19 years.
The marketing and agency world knows this all to well. They know that marketing is, in many businesses, not treated with the seriousness of perhaps finance or operations. Marketing, in many cases, is resigned to doing things which are low priority, yet the marketing team have the power to transform the fortunes of the business.
If you ask most people what marketing does in their company, they will tell you social media, graphics and the website. The real answer should be marketing is responsible for growing more customers and pipeline for the sales team.
What does success look like?
Do you know what you really want to achieve?
The number of people, including myself, who have had one idea of what success was and when you get there realise it wasn’t really what you wanted. You must know yourself and know your business, so you can truly map out what success looks like.
If you want to build a business empire, great, go for it, but you have to accept to build a billion-pound company, you will have to sacrifice a lot to get there.
On Instagram you see so many quotes about the billionaire life, with images of yachts, Bentley’s and tropical destinations. Yet, many people forget it may take 10 years of hard slog, fighting for survival and no holidays to get there.
I want the billionaire life, I want the yacht, I want the Bentley, but that isn’t the full picture. They are the perks of a totally different life.
You can’t map out your success based just on the perks. You need to understand the whole picture. You need to know, accept and live with the ups and downs of the success you are pursuing.
What do I need to stop doing to be successful?
Once you realise what you want to achieve, you must extract yourself from things which are contrary to your goal. Eliminate distractions so you can focus in on the key things you need to do and the milestones to reach the goal.
Old habits die hard. Don’t underestimate the influence that habits have on you.
My business for the last year or so has been in a season of transition.
We changed things dramatically, we changed our routine, business model and client base. This changed our business totally. Yet, often, I think in the old way. My work changed dramatically, so in comparison to the previous years, I don’t feel as busy enough.
Why? Am I working less hours? No.
I have been used to a work pattern which is different to one the one I operate now. Old habits die hard.
What do I need to keep doing?
There is a line between foolishness and wisdom which is knowing when to quit.
Quit too soon and you are a fool.
Don’t quit and you are a fool.
In 1519, Hernan Cortes, a Spanish conquistador, led the expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire. What is mainland Mexico was brought under Spanish rule.
When he landed on the shores, some say he burned the boats, other say he scuttled them. His reason was to ensure that his men would follow him and not turn back. If they stayed on the shore, they would perish, their only hope of victory was to push forward.
There is something to be said for burning the boats.
In the game of chicken, the person who blinks first loses. Life is very similar.
Most of the time our first thought is ‘what if this doesn’t work?’
I struggle to accept the notion that you can have a plan A and a plan B. The reason I say that is because if you pursue something you will inevitably reach a point where one of the plans reaches a point of no return. The point where ‘if we do this, plan B is gone’. At some point you lose the safety net. At that point, we have a choice, go all in on one plan or hedge our bets and compromise.
New habits take just as long to implement too. It can take 6-12 months of uphill struggle before a new habit becomes routine. To see something through you must have determination. You cannot quit at the first problem. You cannot give up when problems come your way.
Often when companies go through culture change, they underestimate the energy and drive it takes to implement the change. The gravity of old culture or habits is hard to escape.
A re-brand doesn’t change culture.
A new mission statement won’t change anything.
Creating a strong value proposition won’t transform sales.
Change starts with a decision but is completed when it is delivered.
The determination to break through barriers or habit, mindset and ‘the way it has always been’ take strength of character and willpower.
Life and business is fraught with issues and problems. Whatever you do you will have challenges. Don’t use the challenges as an excuse to turn and run. Plan B has challenges too. The status quo does have the advantage that you already know those problems.
Whether you look at Branson, Gates, Zuckerburg, Buffett or even Trump, you’ll see the same determination, clarity and focus in them all. Love them or hate them, they have achieved levels of success that we could all be envious of.
But when you scratch a little deeper, you see that they had to fight to establish something which wasn’t certain. They set their minds to achieve something which the majority didn’t expect or think possible.
What does it take to be successful luck or determination? My bet is on determination.
A few weeks ago I described what I do as “making the phone ring and generating enquiries” but I am no salesman. I am creative marketer who has REAL life experience working to make sales in some cases to help keep a company alive!
Firstly, marketing is the process of attracting customers, retaining customers and winning new business. It permeates every department, every person and process. Marketing, done well, will pay you dividends in the future. Marketing builds and builds, yes, you advertising as part of a marketing strategy to make immediate sales, but it isn’t the most effective way to utilise marketing resource.
Rather than looking at this from a typical ten steps to make the phone ring angle, I thought I would share my reasons why your phone is not ringing DAILY with enquiries.
What we all want, which is a sure sign of a successful business, is organic enquiries, no google ad’s, no heavy SEO guru fees…here are my reasons why your phone isn’t ringing.
You are boring
I don’t need to add to this. If you are boring and uninteresting you will send people to sleep. Long copy aka waffle is the most frustrating thing for prospective customers. Get to the point.
You are not talking often enough
It takes, on average, 4-7 times for someone to remember your message. Too many people give up sharing their message or campaign too soon. Radio jingles, whilst generally are a thing of the past, everyone can remember one, why? because it has been heard so often.
You are not talking in the right places
Go where the customers are! Not where you can brag to your competitors or do some backslapping. Get onto social media, produce content which will help people in their daily work. Give away value. I recently had a client who was more focused on industry magazines, winning awards and accolades than winning new business. Spending £5k on adverts in professional publications only works if your clients read them.
You are not communicating consistently
Red, Green and then Blue. I have seen clients where their advertising is all over the show. Following the latest trends at the expense of consistency is suicide. Sure you will make great looking designs, but there will be zero brand recognition. Consistency of presentation is essential to be remembered. Inconsistency in presentation tells me one thing, you don’t know who you are!
You are not listening
The key to getting the phone to ring with enquiries is to listen to what the market is saying. If you’re offering isn’t fitting the needs of your prospective clients, they are never going to make an enquiry.
That’s my thoughts, agree, disagree and comment
A big part of my working life is spend locked in rooms with business owners, entrepreneurs and management teams. There is no crisis, but everyone is frustrated that the marketing and promotion of the business seems ineffective or never gets executed.
Often the failure of marketing is not a lack of planning, it’s not even a bad idea. It’s really silly things which bottleneck your team or frustrate the work, meaning nothing gets done.
I would like to share some of the common issues I come across that hinders people marketing effectively…
The Marketing Mafia
The mafia is the process of consulting lots of people and soliciting their opinion on a campaign or strategy. What results is a mass of opinion which has to be processed, evaluated and incorporated. If that process doesn’t slow things down, then when you come to final stage you result in either watering down the effectiveness or offending people whose opinions have not been incorporated.
There is one more issue I see a lot, the family problem. The significant other of the MD who prefers to market the business in their style or preference. This makes the marketing departments job a nightmare because if you disagree or object it could hurt your future with the company.
In the end you have irrelevant marketing, safe marketing or no marketing until the next department head meeting.
We all love a bit of bling every now and then. Magpie leaders love shiny things. New stuff, new ideas and new opportunities. The new stuff comes, goes and marketing picks up the pieces and takes the blame when other things are scrificed. The team are told which tools to use and then held to account when those same tools fail to deliver. What results is resentment both on both sides.
Òne of the issues here is that the next new idea is implemented before the last one had chance to take root what results is that the strategy behind this falls apart because of a Magpie’s love for new things. When marketing is then implemented it is a crisis mode approach, being pushed by the next shiny thing.
The devil of detail
I have literally seen a filing cabinet full of marketing plans that have never been implemented. It is a topsy-turvy world where all the fine details have to be worked out before a course of action is agreed. In some of the silliest situations I have seen amazingly thought-through plans never get signed off or worse leadership won’t sign off ‘in principal’ until all the detail is presented. This means tons of work is done just to get a yes or no, if it is a no, then so much time and energy has been wasted.
You need a plan, sign off of the plan and then a detailed plan will follow. There will be adjustments and sometimes things will have to be canned, but it shouldn’t be the norm to have every detail worked out before you get agreement to implement.
Some plans never get signed off because decision-makers are too busy. Leaders need to get out of the way of holding up marketing because they are too busy to sign it off. It destroys morale and wastes so much time.
Coming back to the filing cabinet, it was filled with campaigns which never got signed off because of the leaders schedule, plans which were detailed, but rejected as well as some great ideas which were shelved because marketing didn’t want to waste time working up another plan to be rejected.
This is too common. Marketing is done as a reaction to events. High cost, high energy at short notice. It breaks the backs of the team and the true potential of the campaign is never seen because compromises have to be made to make it happen.
You bounce around from campaign to campaign and at the end of the year people are shocked at how much money has been spent.
I am not meaning implementation here. I mean literally execution. Marketing is killed before it can be measured. This is common across the agency world as well as within businesses. Marketing is a process not an event. It is subjective, sometimes intangible and takes time to pay off. Unlike a sales person who you can fire if they don’t hit their target, not all marketing activity is measurable and it often takes months to see any positive results. A marketing strategy may take more than a year to see a benefit and even longer to see real performance.
Implementing a new strategy has to change the organisation, how it presents itself and the tactics used to deliver it. That isn’t an overnight outcome and there are no get-rich-quick schemes that work.
I have seen companies abandon projects literally within weeks of signing it off because ‘it isn’t working’. That is a dangerous way to operate in marketing. If the marketing campaign needs six months in your plan, you need to give it six months.
All marketing should be about ROI, the strategy you implement to market your business has to deliver but often the organisations issues hamper the ROI by not taking marketing as a seriously as perhaps finance or sales.
If you are a business leader, marketing is important, invest time in it, you cannot delegate it away but you cannot micro-manage it either.
Marketing done well can pay dividends to your bottom line for years to come. It can remove objections in the sales process and attract inbound sales and leads. Invest in your strategy, invest in your people and invest in your implementation.
Frustrated with your marketing?
Let’s talk! We’d be happy to help you build a strategy but only if you promise not to do any of the above.