Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

The secret behind Jim’s Marketing Blog

Jims marketing blog

It’s been a great year for Jim’s Marketing Blog. The site is now ranked the number 1 marketing blog in the UK by Cision. In the USA, Search Engine Journal, picked their top UK marketing blogs and said:

“There may be another blog in the UK that could top Jim Connolly’s impressive resume – but we weren’t able to find one!”

Search Engine Journal

Now I’d like to share what I believe to be a key factor, which has given me a massive advantage over other blogs.

My secret sauce!

The single most common feedback I get about Jim’s Marketing Blog, is from readers who appreciate the brevity of my work. They value me using as few words as possible when I share ideas. It means they can read every word, rather than skim read.

However, although readers love short, information-rich posts and articles, they are very rare. I believe this has given me a huge advantage over the years.

Here are the 3 main reasons why so many blog posts are way too long.

1. Lots of bloggers write for SEO first

Google’s extremely limited algorithm isn’t smart enough to work with short blog posts. So, if you’re all about getting traffic rather than engaging readers, you need between 500 and 2000 words in your posts. This number depends on which SEO expert you listen to. It also depends on what Google is rewarding currently. A key challenge of writing for Google is that they change things all the time. What works today could hurt you tomorrow.

I’ve already written about the danger of writing primarily for search engines. I recommend you read this: Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

SEO is a valuable part of building a blog or website, especially in the early days when few people are sharing your work. But get the balance right. Write for people first. Otherwise, search engine traffic will arrive on your site, find a wordy, keyword-stuffed piece of crap and leave again!

2. It takes more skill to write with brevity

It takes longer to condense an idea into fewer words. It’s a skill you need to develop. I learned it back in the mid 1980’s, studying the legendary David Ogilvy.

Ogilvy famously said: “Don’t say it in 10 words if you can say it in 5.”

In broad terms, it’s twice as easy to write a 1000 word post on a topic, as it is to write a 500 word post. When you have fewer words to work with, there’s no room for waffle. No space for fluff. This means you end up with information rich content, which is far more valuable to the reader.

It’s important to remember that your readers are busy people. They’ve never had so many things calling for their attention. They want the key information and quickly. If you can provide them with what they need, without the waffle words, they will come back for more… and more.

3. It takes courage

It takes more courage to write short articles and posts than it does to write long ones.

Why?

Because with shorter content, you can’t possibly cover every angle. You can’t make every point. You can’t answer every question that every reader may have. As a result, you leave yourself open to criticism like “what you totally failed to mention is…”.

Having written thousands of blog posts and articles, I’ve found that no matter how many words you use, some people just won’t get it. If you try and write for those people, you will end up writing child-like junk. Don’t even try! Write instead for your target readership.

I hope you found this useful. More importantly, I hope you borrow some of the ideas for your own blog or website.

Don’t let these people crush your business!

Angry

Have you ever stopped using a supplier or service provider, because one of their team was a pain in the ass, rude or incompetent? That’s a rhetorical question, because we all have from time to time.

If you have ever wondered why anyone would employ someone that drives customers away, you’ll find today’s post useful. It could also stop someone you know from making the same mistake, because as you’ll see, the business owner is often unaware that the problem exists.

The toxic head waiter

I was prompted to write this, after meeting up with an old friend yesterday. He owns a restaurant in Soho, London. He told me that he’d been forced to fire his head waiter last summer. Following the firing, takings rose significantly.

No, the head waiter hadn’t been stealing from him. Instead, he was driving customers away with his attitude. He was a life-long, personal friend of the restaurant owner. However, my friend discovered that the head waiter was rude and obnoxious to customers he didn’t like, and that these included some of the restaurant’s best customers.

It only came to light after a former customer called the restaurant to cancel his anniversary party. My friend asked why and the customer explained that the head waiter was ruining the atmosphere, before naming half a dozen of his friends, who had also stopped using the restaurant because of the head waiter’s attitude. My friend called these former customers and they all confirmed it. His losses from these corporate customers alone run into tens of thousands. He later found many more former customers had stopped eating there because of the toxic waiter.

The toxic P.A.

I saw something very similar happen first hand, with a former client’s business. He hired a new P.A., who was a very good worker and extremely efficient. She massively improved my client’s work flow and even freed him up to have more family time. In his eyes, she could do no wrong.

However, she was nasty to other members of his team and to some clients too. Despite regular complaints, he chose to do nothing about it. He told me that he’d assumed they were jealous of her,

Eventually, her rudeness cost him his biggest client and as this client was related to his 3rd biggest client, he lost that client too! They were responsible for around 20% of his revenue. It was only when he met with the former client to try and win them back, that he finally learned how toxic his P.A. was to his business.

It’s always unintentional

No sane business owner would set out to deliberately hire someone, who was damaging their business. It’s unintentional. In the examples I mentioned here and many others I am aware of, the business owner had no idea that the toxic employee was causing so much damage.

As business owners, we need to be smarter than that. We need to take time to speak with our clients or customers and ask them about the quality of the service they receive. We need to do exit interviews whenever possible, when a client switches to another provider or when a member of the team leaves.

We all know about the importance of stock taking in our business. However, we also need to ensure we take stock… and take a long look at the people and processes within our businesses.

Tip: Don’t let THIS guy ruin your marketing!

How to win a new client. Unlike this guy!

How to

I was doing some gift shopping at a local store yesterday, when I decided to go for a coffee in their café. I noticed that a salesperson was speaking with the store owner, a couple of tables away from me.

Now, if you asked the salesperson what he was doing, he’d tell you he was pitching a new product line to the store owner.

But he’d be wrong.

The salesperson wasn’t pitching. He was arguing with the store owner.

He was trying to prove he was right and that the store owner was wrong. They were now on opposing sides. By the time my coffee arrived, the salesperson was shaking his head from side to side in disagreement, as the store owner spoke. A few minutes later, the salesman left. Of course, he left without a sale.

If I’d spoken to the salesperson, here’s what I’d have said

A better approach is to position yourself as an asset to their business. A partner in their success.

For example, ask the potential client or customer about their challenges. Then listen. Take notes. Once you have a handle on what their challenges are, show them how your products or services can help them.

This is not only a superb way to build your business, it’s also a great way to build valuable business relationships.

Tip — How to make your business more human and FAR more successful.

Are your fees too high or are you marketing to the wrong people?

aston martin

Yes, your prices or fees could be too high.

Alternatively, you could be marketing to the wrong people.

Insanely expensive or a wonderful deal?

I was with a friend yesterday, who has just bought a car. Someone overheard him telling me what he paid for it and immediately told him, he must be insane and that the price was way too high.

Here’s the thing: The guy that said the car was too expensive, knows nothing about the market value of a 4 month old Aston Martin. The guy who bought the car, is an Aston Martin specialist. He has owned half a dozen of them, he follows the market and he knew he’d just got an incredible bargain. To qualify that, he could resell the car in a week and make £20,000 profit, if he wanted to.

So, here’s what we have

The same car.

The same price.

Yet, one person thinks it’s insanely overpriced. One person knows it’s an amazing deal.

What this means to you

If your business provides a product or service with an Aston Martin level of quality, it will always be too expensive, if you’re marketing it to the wrong people.

In short: Decide who your ideal client is and market exclusively to them. They will eagerly buy from you, because they are in the market for your ‘Aston Martin service’ and value the quality you provide.

PS – Here is a 3 part series I wrote, on how to work for 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 are you focusing on?

It’s amazing how much control you have over your results, so long as you’re willing to accept responsibility.

  • You can’t control another person’s attitude, but you can control how you react.
  • You can’t control the economy, but you can control how you adapt.
  • You can’t control your past, but you can control your present.
  • You can’t control what your competitors do, but you can control your strategy.

Focus on what you can control. It’s one of the most powerful and liberating things you will ever do.

Tip: Read this — Steve Jobs and the power of focus.

Tell them what you stand for

marketing 101

When someone reads your social network updates, your blog posts, newsletter articles or the marketing pages of your website:

  • Does it tell them what you stand for?
  • Does it explain why they should give a rat’s ass about your business?
  • Does it show them why they should dump their current provider and switch to you?

If any of those messages are not being clearly communicated, it’s losing you a fortune.

Stop using buzzwords in your marketing. Really. Stop it.

There is no shortage of buzzwords or people who feel the need to use them.

Intersection.

Ruckus.

Disrupt.

Paradigm.

… these buzzwords and many others, are used by people in an effort to appear informed, fashionable or relevant. Interestingly, buzzwords do neither of these. In fact, they have the exact opposite effect when people read them or hear them.

Here’s how buzzwords work against you:

  • They make informed people cringe. Not a great idea, if you want your peers to take you seriously.
  • They confuse the uninformed. A bad choice, if you want people to understand your message.

In either case, buzzwords work against you. When it comes to marketing, write your copy in a way that your ideal client will find easy to understand.

Always aim for clarity.

Why?

Because clarity sells!

PS: Here’s how to develop effective, clear, compelling marketing.

Read this before you speak with your next prospective client

I spoke with a service provider yesterday. He’s working hard, working long hours too… yet he’s still really struggling.

Why?

He’s competing for clients by trying to make his fees as low as possible. He’s in a race to the bottom with a handful of equally misguided competitors.

Now, his fees are too low for him to make a decent living and too low for him to provide a great service. So not only are his clients barely profitable to his business, he gets very few referrals from them. That’s a toxic, unsustainable mix!

Cheap or valuable?

As service providers, we can either market our work based on it being valuable or we can market our work based on it being cheap. However, we first need to accept that there’s a huge difference between the two.

Cheap work is seldom, if ever, valuable. Usually, it’s just cheap.

P.S. – Here are 3 Ideas to help you, the next time they say you’re too expensive.

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