Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: September 2009 (page 1 of 2)

What if?

Here’s a quick tip, which could save you a stack of time and money.

I have just endured three of the most frustrating days since starting my business, around 15 years ago.  However, there’s a great lesson here for you and your business.

So, what happened Jim?

The problem

I discovered that the company that was handling my blogs and email hosting, was just about to cease trading!  I quickly needed to move my blogs onto new servers.  As I had not researched an alternative hosting company, I had to drop what I was doing and spend time searching for a new host.

Thankfully, after a ton of; phone calls, Tweets and emails, I found a great new host.  However, I lost the best part of a day finding them.

Then, there were a few additional hitches.  This meant that instead of working on my business, I lost hours trying to get the blogs and email working again.  As a result, I needlessly ended up working two, sixteen hour days.  I also worked all day today (Saturday) to catch up; instead of taking my 4 year old son on a pre-arranged trip (to see Thomas The Tank Engine.)

The lesson

If you have an website or blog, which is important to your business, you need a strong contingency plan.  You need the name of a reliable hosting company and the name of a reliable tech person; who you can call on to handle the switch over.  I had a tech guy in place and have no idea how long this would all have taken, if I needed to find him as well.  By the way, I will publish the name of my new hosting company for you, if their service remains this good over a longer period.

The bottom line is that the time to get these providers in place is now – Not when disaster strikes.

That’s it!  Time for me to go and get our family trip rebooked...

Twitter junkies and social media addicts

word picturesI’m sure you have heard it said many times before; “people think in pictures.”

In written marketing, the words we use have a massive impact on the kind of mental pictures we paint in the minds of our prospective clients or customers.

These pictures help shape how people feel about us and those feelings have a major role in whether they decide to; trust us, buy form us, recommend us etc.

With many, many businesses now embracing social media and putting an increasing amount of information into the public domain, here’s a question to ponder:

“Have you ever stopped to think about the kind of pictures you create in the mind of your prospective clients or customers, when they ‘check you out’ online?”

Social media junkies and Twitter addicts

I’m a passionate user of social media.  I’m also excited about the opportunities available via social networking sites.

What I am not is “a social media junkie” or “totally addicted to Twitter / FaceBook etc.”

I notice lots of social media users, using terms like those above, in their online profiles.  I’m certainly not suggesting that using these phrases will somehow confuse people into thinking that the profile belongs to a junkie or an addict. I am, however, saying that there’s little to be gained by someone suggesting (even tongue-in-cheek) that their use of social media is out of their control.  From a marketing perspective, it’s far better to leverage your profile, so that it’s working 100% for you!

Remember – It’s not just people who use the services who can see your profile.

Your Twitter profile on Google

If you are a Twitter user, when someone does a Google search for your name or company name, your twitter profile is usually on page one. Here’s an example, using a Google search for my name.  Notice that it gives my full profile on Google, without anyone having to even visit Twitter to check me out.

jimconnolly google

Of course, this means if you maximise the positive impact of your Twitter profile, there’s a superb opportunity to have it working for you far beyond the reach of Twitter.

When someone checks you out, make sure that your various online profiles show how totally brilliant you are and what a fantastic investment you are.

Standing out from the crowd!

Here’s a great way to make your business stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons!

A common marketing problem

Most businesses really struggle to develop something uniquely valuable about their services.  That’s why your local; accountants, designers, insurance companies and recruitment firms etc, seem so similar and find they have to sell their services based on prices or fees.

  • They use the same generic promises.
  • Offer the same or a similar range of services.
  • Advertise in the same places.
  • Attend the same events.
  • … and thus make themselves all-but invisible.

They are pretty-much camouflaged, which is the exact opposite of what they need, if they want to gain the attention of prospective clients or customers!

Companies that look too similar to their competitors, find that their prices or fees are the only thing a prospective customer has, to measure their VALUE compared to the others.  As a result, these companies find themselves competing for business based on price.  They blame the marketplace for being too cost-conscious or fee sensitive; when in reality it is they themselves that have failed to show the marketplace enough unique value.

Marketing and customer service

One way to really stand out and make a GREAT name for your business, is to provide genuinely exceptional customer service.

Here’s why:  Offering exceptional customer service is one of the best ways to retain your existing customers and develop new ones at the same time. It’s a super high leverage activity.

After all, people universally adore being looked after and being made feel special.  If you want to plug your business into the power of word of mouth marketing, this is a superb place to start.

The great news is that customer service excellence is rare today – So rare that when you provide it to people, they tell everyone.  In other words; if you become one of the few businesses that takes people’s breath away with YOUR customer service, your business can generate stacks of powerful word of mouth publicity.

A recent example

I needed to get my car repaired last week, so I used a local garage that had been highly recommended to me.  The garage examined the car and gave me a quote.  They were very highly recommended, so I told them to go ahead and fix it.  They told me that my car would be ready in two days.

The garage owner called me the next day, to say that my car would be ready to collect on time and offering to send someone to come and pick me up, to collect it!  When I arrived at the garage, they had repaired my car and given it a thorough clean; inside and out.  It looked like new.  There was a small note left on the passenger seat, with a list of free extras they had provided.  For example, they had filled up the screen wash and made sure the car’s tyre pressures were correct.  They also must have noticed my 4 year old son’s child seat, so they left a Disney stories CD in the car too, again with their compliments.

These are fairly small, inexpensive things to offer; yet they make a huge difference and have a massive positive impact on how their customers ‘feel’ about them.

What did I do after being treated like this?  First off, they got a MASSIVE tip from me.  In reality, my tip probably paid for all the extras 3 times over.  I also asked them for a pile of their business cards, which I have been handing to everyone I know locally; telling them how great these people are and what an amazing service they provided.

Promising exceptional service is easy.

The CHALLENGE is providing it!

If you want the marketplace to shout about you from the rooftops, your level of customer service has to be worth shouting about.

In my experience, business owners typically believe they already offer a good enough level of customer service, when in reality they are not even close.  They try hard and go the extra mile – but so do all of their serious competitors.  That’s just average – it’s not ‘exceptional.’

It’s easy to find out if we really are offering this level of service, because we will already have people eagerly recommending us to their contacts and friends.  We will already have the marketplace buzzing about the wonderful way we look after people.  We will have people sending in their résumés, because they really want to work with us.

If you are not getting that kind of traction, you might want to try this: Think of some companies you know, who already offer breathtaking customer service.  They don’t need to be in your industry.

Next, write down what it is that they do, which YOU could do, to make people feel just as good about you and your services. Then, work on adapting those ideas in a way that works for your business. It takes a little effort, but it’s well worth it.

This blog gets listed on the Adage Power 150!

It’s always great to be recognised for your work isn’t it?

That’s why I was delighted, when I was emailed this morning by Advertising Age; telling me that this blog has just been listed in their Adage Power 150!

power150badge_blankAdvertising Age is a very popular and well respected weekly publication and online resource; for people interested in marketing, advertising and the media.  As one of their regular readers for many years, this recognition means a great deal to me.

It’s also humbling to listed along with the likes of Seth Godin, BrandRepublic and Mashable.

News!

In 2005, I wrote and developed a massively popular audio program called; The Motivation Master Class – available at the time exclusively as a 3 CD box set.

MMC CDsThe program sold all over the world and is based around a set of powerful motivation skills, which I used in order to transform my sales results and thus my income and business results.

Stocks of the CD’s sold out over and over again.  So, I decided to turn the program into a downloadable, full length audio program.  Of course, I have also been able to slash the price!

The great news is that now, for the first time, you can get yourself a copy of The Motivation Master Class right here on the blog.

How will it help you and your business?

The easiest way to see how this program can help you and your business get better results, is to take a look at the product page.

I’m genuinely excited to be able to share this program with you via the blog for the first time and for such a great price too.

Free marketing can cost you everything!

The message behind this post can save you from years of frustration and help you dramatically improve your future sales results!

I received an email yesterday, from someone who has occasionally emailed me for marketing advice over the past couple of years.  This person (who will remain nameless for obvious reasons), is one of my newsletter subscribers and has been in business for years as a trainer and author.  She emailed me, asking for some free marketing advice – Before explaining that she was still unable to afford professional marketing help.

By the way, her work is very good and people seem to love her courses, as the feedback she gets is excellent.  She also works extremely hard.

So, we are talking about a hard working person, with a great product – Yet after years of trying, they are still making so little progress that they are unable to even afford a basic, inexpensive business service.

Here’s why:

Hard work is NOT the secret of business success

If it was, our grandparents would have been millionaires!

By working hard marketing her business incorrectly, this lady is like the rower; rowing their boat as hard as they can in the wrong direction. The harder they work, the further they go from where they want to be.

I have to admit, even after 15 years of running a successful marketing business, I’m still amazed whenever I hear an intelligent person say that they have been conducting their own marketing for years with no success; yet they persist in carrying on with no professional help.

Now, I can understand a relatively new business forgetting to put a budget in place for their marketing.  However, when a business has been trading for years, never making any real money because it’s determined not to invest in professional marketing help, that’s just something that makes zero sense to me.

Ironically, these businesses often spend MORE on marketing, than those that have their marketing looked after professionally.

How come?

Because they waste so much money on ineffective marketing:

  • They send out mail shots that cost money, but no one reads.
  • They buy costly brochures, which achieve nothing for them and in many cases will LOSE them sales because of how they are used and how they are worded.
  • The send email marketing to people, which contains ‘pedestrian’ copy and thus fails to inspire people to call them or buy from them.
  • They attend dead-end networking events.
  • They market haphazardly, with no idea of how to leverage what they are doing so it’s massively more effective.
  • They get websites built that fail to convert readers into customers.
  • They waste massive amounts of their valuable time building online networks via; Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc – with little if anything financially to show for it.
  • They buy advertising, which contains the wrong message, so no one takes any notice of it.
  • They make short-term marketing decisions – rather than work from a simple but powerful marketing strategy.

…. and they keep on repeating these mistakes for years; until they either go broke or become too demotivated to continue.

Conclusion

Here’s what I have found: Many businesspeople confuse having the tools to do the job, with having the experience and expertise.  They think that because they have a; computer, Internet access, a car and a phone, that they can market their services.  They just need that ‘lucky break.’

This is like suggesting that owning a surgeon’s operating theatre, means you can perform heart or brain surgery; so long as your luck’s in!

Thankfully, sales and marketing results are extremely easy to measure. If you are getting the sales and profits you want, change nothing. If not, I strongly suggest you speak with a marketing professional.

Check them out!

I saw someone on FriendFeed recently, who described himself as a “medical expert.”
Turns out he isn’t. When I asked him what his medical qualifications were, he told me he had none, but he had, “read some great books over the years.”

I read a blog last week, written by a lady who claimed to be an “SEO expert.”
Turns out she isn’t. Her website is very poorly optimised and lacks some of the most basic forms of SEO.

I saw someone on Twitter earlier, who describes himself as a “social media expert.”
Turns out he isn’t. He simply using Twitter to ReTweet other people’s posts and post links to the tunes he’s listening to. No conversation, no connection – not very social.

When someone isn’t getting the results they want, it’s often simply because they are taking the wrong advice.

Right message, wrong person!

You can waste a LOT of time trying to give the right message to the wrong person.

I have a book in my office, which was given to me a few years ago, by an employee of one of my clients. This man was very likeable, yet totally demotivated.  He was doing the same job at age 45 that he has done all his working life and earned less than anyone of similar age within the company.

He handed me the book one day, telling me that it would be “just my thing” because “it’s all about motivation and success.”  I asked him how come he didn’t want it.  He explained that he was not into that kind of stuff.

I then asked him why he bought the book in the first place and he told me he didn’t buy it – but that his wife had given it to him; though he had no idea why.  He went on to say she often bought him books like that, which he never read. “You’d think by now that she would realise I prefer novels,” he said.

No matter how great your message is, you are wasting your time sharing it with the wrong people.

Older posts