Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Month: October 2008 (page 1 of 3)

Highly Recommended – The dot.life blog

There are some exceptional websites and blogs out there. Today, I would like to share one of them with you – and give my ‘Highly Recommended’ award to
The BBC’s dot.life blog
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The dot.life blog

Like many small and medium-sized businesses, I rely heavily on technology.  I use technology to support the work I do for my clients and to help me be as productive as possible.  Over the years, the dot.life blog has been invaluable to me; as a way to discover emerging technologies and stay ‘ahead of the curve.’

The blog is written by three superb technology journalists;

rory cellan jones bbc tech.
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Rory Cellan Jones

Maggie Shiels bbc technology blog.
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Maggie Shiels

darre waters bbc technology editor blog

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Darren Waters
Editor

The dot.life blog has a truly international reach – with Maggie Shiels based in Silicon Valley and Darren and Rory reporting from all over the globe.

If you are interested in technology and the impact it has on people and businesses, I believe you will throughly enjoy the dot.life blog!

Photos credit – The BBC

Getting in touch

One of the best things about writing for a busy blog, is the feedback I receive from readers. Usually, the feedback is a general question about marketing, business development or a suggestion; and these can be answered by my readers and myself in the comments section of the relevant post.

However…

However, if you would like to get in touch with me for anything else, I have just added a contact page to the blog!

This is also the best way to contact me if you would like to know more about ‘what I do’ or how I can help you market your business!

Online networking & attraction

As some of you already know, I use Twitter; the micro-blogging tool, to keep in touch with some friends, clients and contacts.  I have three thousand followers and really enjoy interacting with them; they are a BRILLIANT bunch of people!  However, I know that many of them find it hard to get new followers, so I decided to do something to help!

My idea

I wanted to develop a list of my followers, who were all interested in networking – so people could build their Twitter follow lists. I sent my followers a Twitter message (called a Tweet), asking them to send me their name and their username, if they wanted to go on this list.

Only around 70 of the 120 or so replies I got were actually usable.  The remainder were sent without a name, or were emailed to me via the blog, without a Twitter user name! Obviously, because so few of the messages were usable, it became way too time consuming for me to continue and the list has been closed.

Two important lessons I want to share with you

Firstly, Twitter is a wonderful tool, but it is limited. It only allows you to post 140 character long messages. This means it’s great for getting short, direct messages out, but lousy for explaining things.  I’m sorry for not being clear enough with my request – But that’s NOT the reason I’m writing this!

There was a second, far more valuable lesson here!

Around a dozen of the messages I received were borderline abusive or very abrupt.  So, as a marketing man, I wanted to know how that kind of online networking attitude was working for these people.  Here’s what I found….

I decided to take a look at their websites or blogs, using a few of the well-known online research tools – just to get a very general idea of how many people they were attracting to their sites.  Not one was registering even average traffic numbers.  Then I took a look at the blogs of those who had blogs, and saw very few comments or signs of reader activity.  Finally, I noticed that none of them had more than a handful of followers on Twitter either.

Whether building a network of clients online or offline, it seems the same rules apply:

People are attracted to attractive people
- and they are repelled by repellent people.
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When I talk about being an attractive person here, I don’t mean physically attractive – I mean attractive in relation to one’s personality and actions.  Even ugly, bald guys like me can be attractive as people ya know!

The way we interact with people online is REALLY important.  If we try to help people, speak well of people and focus on delivering quality to people – we will attract the help and co-operation of others.  However, if we speak ill of people, are abrupt with people or focus too much on ourselves – we will attract very little positive response.

What have YOUR experiences been with online networking?

Do you have any tips you would like to share with your fellow readers?  If so, please leave a comment below.

Blog marketing & newsletter marketing

If you want to lower your costs, increase your sales and boost your profits, you need to get the most from online marketing.  This post focuses on 2 forms of FREE online marketing, which you can use to achieve amazing results for your business; Blogging and Newsletters!

Online marketing is changing

blog marketing newsletter marketingNot that many years ago, online marketing reached a relatively small, fairly select group of people.  These were either technology enthusiasts, businesses run by technology enthusiasts or multinationals.  Because only certain groups of consumers and businesses used the Internet regularly, online marketing was of limited use to the average small business.

Of course today, that’s all changed! Almost everyone in a ‘developed’ country now has Internet access at home, work or both. This means it’s now possible for you to use online marketing to generate either sales or leads, for just about any kind of product or service.  It also means it has never been quicker, easier or less expensive to market your business!

Free online marketing

Right now, armed with nothing more than an Internet connection and a blog, you can generate leads or sales for your business for free.  Moreover, these can be highly targeted leads and highly profitable sales too.

Practising what you preach

I have not used any form of paid marketing for my business for years.

That’s right – 100% of my non-referred business comes from either my newsletter, my website or this blog!

All I have to do is make sure I give away as much valuable marketing information as possible, to as many small businesses as possible.  Then, when these small businesses want someone to help them market their products or services, they give me a call.  When they want their blog or website transformed into a goldmine, they already know my work and that I get results – so they get in touch!

Fast results?

blog marketing newsletter marketing fast resultsOh yes – You can see results in seconds! For example, once you build a list of newsletter subscribers or a group of regular blog readers, you can start generating either sales or leads, less than a minute after you send a message or post something to your blog!

Of course, most people with newsletters or blogs have very few readers. Just as with everything else, you need to do the right things, in the correct way, if you want to achieve the desired results.  That’s why it’s important that you spend a little time doing some research, before you start!

Blog marketing

There are lots of online networking sites and ‘social media’ tools you can use, to build up a targeted network of prospective clients or valuable contacts.  In fact, the number of websites offering these facilities is so vast, that it has become a problem in itself.

In my experience, the foundation of your free online marketing should be a blog.

A simple blog, if used correctly, can help you develop a massive community and allow you to showcase your talents to your prospective clients / customers.  It can help you find out about the needs of your marketplace and also develop a special relationship with thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of prospects.

Getting a blog

You can get yourself a free blog right now, from wordpress.com or blogger.com, and be blogging in minutes.  Each blog platform has pro’s and con’s.  I use a paid-for version of wordpress for this blog – you can see the benefits of a paid wordpress blog here.

Blog marketing is a massive subject and I can only scratch the surface in this post, but there’s going to be a LOT more information to come – So subscribe to my RSS feed, using the button on the top right of the page and make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Newsletters

blog marketing newsletter marketing emailBy far, my biggest ‘network’ is the readership of my marketing newsletter.  The newsletter has been going for almost three years and has thousands of valued readers, spanning over 100 countries around the world.  Each newsletter is sent just a couple of times a month and contains an original marketing article (like this one).

I use the same principle to grow my newsletter, as I use to grow this blog.

I provide high value content, so people share it with their contacts. These contacts then subscribe and they share it with their contacts…

Which businesses can benefit from Newsletters & Blogs?

Any business, in any industry can benefit from a Newsletter and / or a blog.  That’s because the same process outlined above is universal.  Just make sure your blog or newsletter content is designed exclusively for YOUR target market.

In other words, if your business offers web design – write about great web design ideas, tips and tricks.  If your business offers insurance, write about how people can lower their premiums or get better cover or share some funny insurance stories.  If you are a coach or consultant, blog about your subject and give great tips and ideas to your readers. Most newsletters are little more than advertisements and because of this, people do not forward them on and they fail to grow.

Make sure you pump as much valuable information as possible into everything you write.  This showcases your talents, positions you as an expert and shows the real value of your products or your services.  It also makes choosing you as a provider almost risk-free to your readers.

Conclusion

I know people in just about every industry, who get the vast majority of their leads or sales through free online marketing.  I also get emails from people every day; who are wondering how to generate the leads or sales their business needs in order to survive.

If you want to know more, take a look at the free resources mentioned above and also check out the guides and articles in this blog.  You might also want to look that this, it’s all about how to build a successful newsletter.

If you have found this post useful or you have anything to add, please leave a comment and share your feedback with everyone!

Common marketing mistakes 101

There’s a lot of information on this blog about things you can do, which will help you dramatically increase your sales results and profitsHowever, it’s ALSO really important to know some of the things you must avoid, if you want your business to succeed. That’s because some marketing mistakes can nullify all your hard work and actually set you and your business way, way back!

Common marketing mistakes 101

marketing mistakesThis post contains some of the most common and damaging mistakes I see people making with their marketing. I hope that through the comments section, you will share some of the common errors you see people making too! Here are a few, in no particular order, to get the process rolling:

1. Failing to differentiate their product or service

One of the hardest things to sell, is a product or service that looks to be ‘about the same’ as hundreds or thousands of alternatives.  It’s hard to stand out and grab peoples imagination, when you seem to offer ‘just the same’ as a stack of other providers.

For example, the Internet is filled with people offering coaching or consulting services that look identical to each other. They offer a service that sounds the same, to the same potential clients, with the same kind of promises and THEN market it in the same kind of way as each other! The net result is that EVERY PENNY they spend on marketing is being cancelled out, by the thousands of other people who are doing the same things.

The problem here, is that some of these services are outstanding and others are rubbish! However, because they all seem so similar and promise the same results, it’s impossible for a prospective client to tell one from the other.

If you want to make sales all day long, break away from the pack and BE YOURSELF!

Develop your own unique voice and use it to show the VSP (Valuable Selling Proposition) you bring to the marketplace. If you can answer the following question, and then communicate it effectively in your marketing, your sales will sky-rocket immediately;

“What genuinely compelling reasons are there, for someone to become a client of mine; rather than one of my competitors?”

For example, I answer this question by offering a marketing service to small businesses; which gives them unlimited access to me for a whole year, for a small, single, capped fee!  We have regular marketing meetings all the time, so my clients can plan ahead with total peace-of-mind; with me as their virtual Marketing Director and advisor.  Also, if they get a problem or they just want to kick some ideas around, they can call me whenever they want.

YOUR answer to the above question must be non-generic.  In other words, it’s not enough to promise great customer service or to promise to go the extra mile for your clients – everyone promises that – even those who don’t provide it!  Your answer has to be something that makes it super-attractive to become one of your clients.

2. Relying on pedestrian copy writing to sell their services

Most smaller businesses tend to write their own marketing copy – and the results are often shockingly poor.  For example, it’s not uncommon for a small business to pay a fortune for a great website, and then write the wording for that site themselves!  As a result, they find that people who visit the site don’t fill in contact forms, click links, email them or call them.

That’s because pedestrian copy writing simply INFORMS people - without inspiring or motivating them to take action!

If you want to dramatically increase the number of sales or leads you get from your; website, blog, advertising, mail shots or email marketing – get your marketing written by a professional!

3. Focusing on the size of their network, rather than it’s value

networking events groups marketing salesYou have seen them, the people who attend EVERY local networking event and eagerly thrust business cards into as many people’s hands as possible.  They then ask the stranger; “So, tell me how I can help you” …. just like their 1980′s networking manual told them to!

OK – that’s one way to build a network.

Here’s another!

My former client, Susan, is a marketing consultant to small businesses.  She decided to do as I suggested and stopped attending every networking event in town.

I got Susan to shift her focus from the typical ‘numbers game’ approach to networking – To focusing on quality and influence instead.

I got Susan a list of the 10 main accountancy practices (or CPA’s) in her region; who between them, look after around 35,000 local businesses.  Susan then decided that these would be her ‘network’; as they had the potential to provide her with more high quality clients than she could ever need.

I suggested she attended some local lunchtime events sponsored by these people and to use the opportunity to set up meetings with the senior partners of each firm.  After attending just three events, Susan had meetings booked with each of the people who would become her new network.  She did her homework and focused on what she could do for them and their clients.

Six of the accountancy practices were just not interested.  But she DID manage to form a great relationship with the other four practices and she now has a client-base full of top quality clients.

The bottom line: A network of 30 well-connected, influential people is vastly more commercially valuable and easier to manage, than a network with 300 contacts who lack influence or reach!  As human beings we are obviously all of equal value, but in the marketplace, some people are massively more influential than others.

4. They don’t show everyone how brilliant they are!

The information most small businesses and entrepreneurs put on their websites, blogs and in their newsletters, is usually a watered-down version of what they are actually capable of.  They fear that if they give too much away for free, people won’t pay them for ‘the good stuff’.  This is a SERIOUS mistake!

Why?

Because if you don’t let people see how great you are until they become a client, how are they supposed to find out?  If you only have a diluted version of your work available for free, that’s what people will associate you with.  You have to let everyone see the value you are capable of providing. I know you are great, you know you are great – now let ‘them’ see how great you are!

I am not talking about giving it ALL away.  I’m simply suggesting that you make sure that there is real, genuine value in what you decide to put ‘out there.’

OK – What are the most common marketing mistakes YOU come across?

Here’s your chance to share the most common marketing mistakes you see small businesses making. If you can offer a solution too – please do!  I want to make this post as valuable as possible.

37 Marketing ideas in 140 characters

As you may already know, I am passionate about helping as many people as possible to massively boost their sales and profits. This means I’m always looking for great marketing ideas, which I can share with people – and today, I have enlisted the help of 37 amazing professionals, who are going to each give a single, short marketing tip!

What 1 piece of marketing advice would you give to a start-up business?

My question was; “What 1 piece of marketing advice would you give to a start-up business?” Now, the reason the following answers to this question are so focused, is that they were given by people who only had 140 characters in order to get their answer across!

Twitter

twitter networking micro blogging marketingYes, each of the answers you are about to read, were submitted by people I do not know, but who follow me via my favourite social media website Twitter.  The end result are 37 diverse and often-powerful answers, from 37 incredibly clever people, who wanted to pass on their ideas to help you and your business!

I am posting the answers exactly as they were sent, with the abbreviations etc, so you can see for yourself just how much value someone can get into such short messages!

It’s also worth considering that these answers come from a brilliantly rich group of people, from many different profiles of businesses, and this is reflected in their answers – which really helps!

I think the end result is amazing and would like to personally thank everyone who was kind enough to offer this advice here for my readers.  Obviously, I do not endorse and am not responsible for, the content of the external sites listed in this post!

After you read the answers below, see if you can offer some great advice yourself, using 140 characters, in the comments section!

So, what 1 piece of marketing advice would YOU give to a start-up business?

Here’s 37 answers in 140 characters or less!

Marketing is like a snowball. You have to keep rolling to see results. You can’t start and stop and start and stop.
Cynthia Powell www.ChicksAndCubs.com

Innovation in marketing is as much imp as innovation in product itself. think different in marketing it.
Sushrut Bidwai www.sushrutbidwai.com

Invest in the right marketing people, both leaders & executers. People w/ vision + desire / workethic to make vision happen.
Chris Hoppel Samsung www.samsung.com

Think, do you need your product to succeed or do your customers need your product to succeed?
Aronado www.LuckyStartups.com

1. I laid every biz card I had across a table, picked up the phone & started calling ea. contact.
2. Held in-person meetings to tell our story.

Lisa Cruz

Help others link to you by writing articles, link swaps, donate products for prize giveaways, send products for blog reviews.
www.MyPreciousKid.com

Take small steps toward big goals every day, don’t climb the mountain all at once or you’ll get discouraged. Discipline counts.
Juliann Grant http://blog.telesian.com

Communicate possible outcomes. Start-ups are driven with passion. Visualize potential outcomes so clients get excited.
Jeff Cook www.digitalriver.com

Don’t try do everything yourself, outsource tasks that don’t directly make you money. Ex: accounting, website design.
Kim Cornwall Malseed www.marcomink.com

Focus, focus, focus!
Lance Ulanoff Editor-in-chief with www.PCMag.com

Be clear about what you do, focus on it and be as good as you possibly can at it!
David Rosam http://dangerous-thinking.com

Establish an ad budget first thing. 5% of sales should be saved for marketing and decided upfront where to spend.
Joe Gauder http://supersonicstandstill.blogspot.com

Brand representation is every experience the customer has in affiliation with the company.
Christina Wehry www.coloradoshakes.org

Blog for SEO. Human, affordable, & allows in-bound marketing

http://blogging.compendiumblog.com

Define yourself and be true to that definition in everything you do. You cannot be “all things to all people
Kathleen Morse

Work, work some more, keep going, keep trying and be patient – take extra care of your users.
CJ Jenkins http://scienceforseo.blogspot.com

Relationships matter most. Emotional connection+status w brand. Offer MORE value that what u get. Participate in community.
Lisa de Bruin http://winedivergirl.wordpress.com

Do not compromise your fees. Charge by project, not hourly. Don’t waste money on brochures. Have a clear vision of your business/market.
Joanne Victoria www.JoanneVictoria.com

Have money and plan set aside for 2 yrs of no-to-next-to-no profit; of course aim for better and sooner
Christian Markley; www.blu3digital.com

Follow up with clients and potential clients on a consistent basis, create simple systems to maintain the follow up!
Alan Underkofler www.followupsuccess.com

My advice: Social networks do not magically bring people to your product you have to engage in the community to see any results.
Tony Colvin http://ireflectm.com

Define your niche market, stay away from paying big bucks for ads that don’t target your niche.
Denise Russos http://posolutions.wordpress.com

First marketing money should be spent on the web – highest accountability & returns.
Darryl Parker www.parkerweb.com

All action is a response to a felt need: find the need, appeal to the need at least 7 times, and offer a solution!
Bill Collier http://blog.freedomist.info

Do your research first! Make sure you have a market for your product or service. Separate your emotion from the facts.
Wendy Limauge www.businessbloggingguide.com

Make sure you know your purpose, identity & audience. 100% focus & clarity is key to success in a fragmented world.
Damien Basile www.thecauseisthehabit.com

Just get it out there. It doesn’t have to be perfect yet. Don’t let analysis paralysis set in. You can always fine tune later.
Christopher Thiede www.buildcommunications.com

Don’t overestimate your own ability to market yourself. Get an expert. Their objective view and knowledge is invaluable.
Tony Roberts www.inhumanbeings.com

Build your network, both online and in person. these are your foot soldiers, resources, etc. help them and they will help you.
Jon-Mikel Bailey www.woodstreet.com

Be honest. Under promise and over deliver.
Brian Johnson www.konnects.com

Be authentic and truly desire to help people with your business and success will come to you.
Kim Fenolio www.americasbestcompanies.com

Do NOT skimp on your web presence. Regardless what product or service you sell/provide most research begins online.
Charles Lauller www.bizzuka.com

Monitor activity and track time/resources invested vs returns. Change one aspect at a time to understand impact of the change.
Reeta Luthra www.paradoxofreality.com

Shamelessly leverage who you know to seed word-of-mouth marketing. your network is your most valuable asset
Maxine Teller http://mixtmediastrategies.com

Talk to your customer. constantly. don’t assume you have what they need. confirm it with them.
Julie Lenzer Kirk www.JulieLenzerKirk.com

There are “bug” days and “windshield” days. Be the Windshield and ready to travel lonely dirt roads to reach your destination.
Tim Hayden www.gpexperience.com

Truly love what you do or you won’t stick with it long enough to succeed!
Karalyn J. Eckerle http://cardinalpointva.typepad.com

Conclusion

The marketing tips above were sent to me within just thirty minutes of asking the original question.  This means that there are not only a lot of extremely helpful people ‘out there’ – it also shows what a great marketing and business development tool Twitter can be for your business.

OK – Now it’s YOUR turn!

In 140 characters or less, please share YOUR answer to this question;
“What 1 piece of marketing advice would you give to a start-up business?”

I look forward to reading your replies!
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New blog theme

As of today, Jim’s Marketing Blog has a whole new look – I hope you like it!  For me, content is everything – but people need to be able to find that content easily and read it without any fuss. So, how did I come up with this new blog design?

The importance of user opinions

After the initial draft of the blog was done, I asked my readers and contacts for THEIR opinions of the new design.  In total, almost 500 people emailed me, messaged me, Tweeted me or called my office – and their feedback has been invaluable in shaping the look and ‘feel’ of the blog!

I believe a blog or website should be designed for the people who read it; NOT the person who writes it!

This means if there are certain recurring suggestions being made by lots of people, there’s a good chance that’s what the wider readership will also want!  In each case, I acted on these suggestions.

For example, the initial draft of the blog didn’t have a picture of me on the homepage, because as you can see, my looks are not by best asset! :)  However, it became very apparent from your feedback that people wanted to be able to see the ‘person’ behind the blog.  So, my picture was added.

Ditto, the sign-up box for my free ebook and also the sidebar headings were all changed, based on popular suggestions.  The net result is hopefully, a blog that’s easy to use and simple to navigate around – with lots of useful information for you and your business.

To all those who have helped me over the past few days, “Thank You!” There are way too many to mention individually, but your feedback has been of huge value to me.  I would also like to give my thanks to Mark White of Better Business Blogging for doing all the technical stuff behind-the-scenes.

What NOT to do!

Over the past few days, I have read a few different people giving the same piece of extremely damaging advice!

Stop your marketing!

Believe it or not, there are people out there right now, suggesting that because there is an economic downturn, credit crunch or recession (take your pick), businesses should avoid investing in marketing!  This could not be further from the truth. In fact, during tough economic times, it’s far MORE important to market your services effectively than during a stronger economy.

Why?

Because when times are good, even poorly marketed companies will make some sales – just by being there at the right time or getting their message in front of enough people.

However, when money is tight, people and businesses have to REALLY THINK before they buy anything.  They also become far more attracted to products and services that offer great value. So, they spend money on the things that sound the most valuable and compelling - and that’s the goods and services that are best marketed!

I shall be writing some posts over the coming days, to show you how you and your business can thrive during a weak economy.  Make sure you don’t miss a thing, by subscribing to my RSS feed using the orange button on the top left hand side of this page!

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