Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: March 2009

Content worth sharing

I received a newsletter earlier today. However, I have no idea who the sender was or why he decided to send it to me. I have no recollection of ever subscribing to it, so I decided to un-subscribe.

That’s when I noticed that there was no un-subscribe option!

Newsletter marketing

Yes, it’s possible someone subscribed to this newsletter using my email address and that the newsletter’s sender doesn’t send confirmation emails.

However, to send anyone a newsletter or any piece of email marketing, with no option to un-subscribe, is a mistake. People hate to feel trapped and to use this kind of approach with one’s marketing is a massive mistake and totally counter productive.

I can’t see anyone recommending a newsletter – even a great one – if they know you can’t get off the subscriber’s list, once you are on it.  Equally, I can’t see anyone wanting to do business with a company, which attempts to trap people with its marketing.

If you want to develop a successful newsletter, make the content worth sharing and make it super-easy for people to share it, subscribe to it and un-subscribe from it.

People love to share great content with their friends and they will remain loyal readers and advocates of your newsletter, for as long as they believe it offers them outstanding value.

6 words to transform your results!

“Start with the end in mind.”

Those 6 words contain a piece of business advice, which is of more commercial value than many entire books on business success.  The information in that simple, short sentence, could have saved many businesses from going broke and transformed many struggling businesses into super-star success stories.

By focusing with clarity on your desired end result, before starting something new, you massively increase your chances of success. However, many businesses will, for example, start a new marketing campaign, introduce a new service or maybe start a new blog / website – with only a vague idea of what they actually want to achieve.

With only a fuzzy picture of what they want to achieve, it’s very hard to know if they are even on target or not.  It’s like setting off on a journey “up north” for the first time, without the address of the destination.  You might know that you need to head north, but that’s not enough information – You need an address if you ever want to find the place.

Social media can be low leverage

I am seeing this more and more with businesses deciding to invest huge amounts of time and effort on social networking / social media, with no clear idea why.  They will start blogging, using LinkedIn, FaceBook or Twitter – simply because they think they should. However, without a clear goal for all that effort, you can waste a LOT of time and effort!  Social media can be a very low leverage activity and can eat into a vast amount of your time, unless you start with the end in mind.

In the past few weeks, several people with massive social networks have called or emailed me, asking what I think they should do “to monetize” their following. One guy, with over 40,000 followers on Twitter has told me that he is investing an amazing 4 hours a day, 6 days a week, building his Twitter network and has almost forgotten why he even started!  Here’s what he told me;

To be honest Jim, I started off without a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve, so I just decided to get as many followers as possible.  Now, I have all these followers, but 99% of them are not even in the market for my services; which is pretty niche.

Twitter focus

I started off using Twitter, in order to offer another channel of communication for the community of people who read my blog and my newsletter. Because of the number of readers I have, I soon gained a massive following.

Initially, I followed them all back and then quickly realised that I was following over 20,000 people, which was too time consuming. Because I had a clear picture of what I wanted to achieve from Twitter, I was able to literally reset my Twitter account (and delete the 23,500 “follows” I had too,) knowing with 100% certainty that I had made the right decision.

Before you start off with a new project, make sure you have a crystal clear idea of what you want to achieve from it.

You can only remain on target, if you know what your target is.

Blinded by the light?

coffee shop marketingI was in a busy coffee shop yesterday, when I noticed that 25% of the tables were empty. The empty tables were all along one side of the shop, which was saturated with brilliant sunshine.

The sun, magnified through the shop’s 20 foot high glass windows, made those tables impossible to use because it was just too dazzlingly bright.  People were walking into the shop, seeing the only available places were in direct sunlight and leaving again for the coffee shop along the road.

As I left, I spoke with the owner about this obvious problem.  His response was typical of the way many small business owners think about investing in their businesses.

“Yeah, no one ever sits there when the sun comes out, but it’s just too expensive to fit blinds along that side of the shop.” I asked him how much he had been quoted for the blinds. “I haven’t actually looked for any quotes, but it’s got to be really expensive, those windows are 20 feet high!”

When is a cost not a cost?

Forgetting the huge additional electricity bills he’s going to have this summer, because of his air conditioning being needlessly overworked – what about the loss of trade?  Even if his customer’s average spend is only £5 per hour, the 24 seats rendered unusable will be losing up to £120 an hour, each day between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is, as he calls it, “in the wrong position.”  Ironically, his busiest period is between 12 noon and 2pm – when those seats would be filled with people on their lunch breaks!

I wonder how many times he will have to watch those 6 empty tables, before realising the difference between a cost and an investment?

It’s remarkable

Earlier this week, I was writing an article for my newsletter; all about how to generate valuable, word of mouth recommendations and have the marketplace saying great things about you.  I was writing the article, whilst sat in the lounge of a London hotel, where I had been staying for a couple of days.

Word of mouth marketing

word of mouthWhilst writing article, a fellow guest asked me if I knew where there was a power supply, so he could plug in his laptop.  I told him that I didn’t, because I was using a netbook, which has around 7 hours battery life.

I explained how I charge it in the morning and that I don’t need a power source for the rest of the day.  After looking at the machine for 5 minutes and asking a few questions, he asked me for the model number, which I gave him (it’s a Samsung NC10) and promptly got his office to order him one!

It struck me afterwards, that I must have recommended the NC10 to around 20 people, since getting it just over a week ago.  This is a great example of the power of word of mouth!  By the way, I have no association with Samsung or anyone who sells their products. The reason I have told so many people about the NC10, is that I know how valuable that amazing battery life is to people like me; who often work away from their office and not always within reach of a power pocket.

Remarkable

It also struck me that in the 12 months I have owned my other laptop, I have never recommended it to anyone!  My other laptop is bigger, faster and does everything really well.  However, unlike the Samsung, with its amazing battery life, the other machine doesn’t do any one thing that is REMARKABLE.

Remarkable‘ is the key word here. People will only remark on you, your product or your business if you are remark-able in some way!

Just like my older laptop, which does everything really well, a business needs to offer more than a good quality service if it wants to attract stacks of word of mouth recommendations.  People EXPECT a business to offer a really good service, so it’s not remarkable when they get it.

That great service you offer your clients / customers is extremely valuable – it will help you to keep their custom and encourage some of them to recommend you to their friends.

However, if you want to have thousands of people or tens of thousands of people shouting your name from the rooftops, you also need to get creative and offer YOUR marketplace, YOUR version of the NC10′s amazing battery life!

What if someone sees this?

I read an interesting post on Seth Godin’s blog yesterday.  It tells the story of someone, who had three people short-listed for a job as a housekeeper.  The employer decided to Google their names and found they were totally unsuitable; all because of the information she found about them online.

Only last week, a web designer told me he had lost a highly profitable piece of work, after his prospective client checked him out online.  He hadn’t written anything offensive and there were no negative comments anywhere about either him or his services.  The client withdrew the project, simply because they were uncomfortable hiring someone who was regularly posting to Twitter after midnight!

Apparently, they said his late night Twittering suggested to them that he would not be awake enough during the working day, to handle their project professionally.  The next day I read an article on the BBC website, about a lady who was fired, for saying that her new job was boring, on FaceBook.

Whatever you happen to think about these decisions, there’s a valuable lesson here.

We live in an age where most of what we do online is visible AND searchable.  We also know that employers and prospective clients are now checking people and companies out online, before making hiring or buying decisions. Before you post searchable information online, ensure that is consistent with the image you want to project; either of yourself your business or both.