Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: October 2009 (page 1 of 2)

Take action!

There’s a big difference between knowing what needs to be done and doing what needs to be done.  That’s because information, (even great information) by itself is useless, without the motivation to use it.

There’s an interesting post on problogger.com, where Darren Rowse shares how it was not until his wife gave him an ultimatum, that he turned his blog into a full-time business.

Darren already knew what he needed to do and he had bundles of ability.  However, none of that was getting him the results he and his wife needed, until he became motivated enough to take action.

That’s because knowledge is not power

One of the most inaccurate common sayings is; “knowledge is power.”

Knowledge is not power – it only acquires power when you elect to do something with it.  For example, knowing how to speak Japanese has no ‘power’ for you whatsoever, unless you use that knowledge in some way.  You can use that skill to reach a brand new marketplace with your product or service – but if you decide after mastering the language, never to speak or read it again, nothing will happen.

Knowing and doing

On my motivation master class audio program, I mention a guy I met, who had recently lost his business; running up massive debts in the process.  I met him at his home, and immediately noticed that his bookshelves were packed with the most powerful, highly-acclaimed marketing books and CD’s on the market.  His collection must have been worth thousands.

I asked him if he had not found the material in these books of any value, as the primary reason he went broke was a lack of sales.  He explained that he had read or listened to all of them, but had not been motivated enough to use what he had learnt until it was too late.

In my experience, his situation is not that uncommon.  Some people will scour the Internet for sites that have valuable advice, which they then do nothing with.  They love to read about new, powerful marketing ideas but they do nothing with them.

By the way, you can download a copy of my Motivation Master Class audio program here, which shows you how to motivate yourself (and others) to take action. (It runs for just under 2 hours!)

Whatever line of business you are in, don’t simply gather marketing advice and find it interesting - Use it!

Not all business is good business

It can be tempting, to accept any kind of business that comes our way – especially during a tough economy or when sales are flat.  However, this is often a bad idea, as some new clients or customers can have a toxic effect on your business.

For example, I was listening to the owner of a pub / bar yesterday, as he described how his trade increased, after a particular customer stopped coming in for lunch each day.  Although this customer spent money with him on a regular basis, it seems he was such a disagreeable character that his presence stopped other customers coming in.  They would apparently see this person’s car parked outside and decide to go somewhere else.

It’s easy to see what a client pays you – but sometimes harder to see what they cost you!

Blogging from the bathroom!

$10,000 for 5 weeks work – blogging from a bathroom!

I was just reading a great post by Jack Neff on the AdAge.com blog, about a blogging gig being offered by Procter and Gamble; the owners of the Charmin toilet paper brand.  It seems they are offering five bloggers the chance to earn $10,000 for five weeks work.

Apparently, the bloggers will be expected to “greet and entertain bathroom guests and blog about their experiences” at Charmin’s restrooms on Times Square, New York.

The marketing power of blogs

Amid what seems like a pretty light-hearted story, rests a really valuable marketing lesson.  You see, although Procter and Gamble will be paying these 5 people a total of $50,000 for their blogging – the story has already generated way more than $50,000 worth of publicity for the Charmin brand.  This $50,000 sounds like a lot of money, but is peanuts in relation to what multinationals spend on their marketing.

Because the bloggers will be writing about the event for over a month, the story will ‘develop legs’ and have a bigger impact over a longer period than more typical, more expensive but less creative marketing ideas.  This really is an excellent example of creative marketing and Procter and Gamble’s marketing team deserve a massive amount of credit.

Their decision to choose blogging as part of this promotion, serves as yet another indicator of how big brands are realising the marketing power of blogging.  I think this $50,000 investment will be money well spent!

What do you think?

Marketing advice: Start with gold

Many businesses offer 3 levels of service and define them based around the words; gold, silver and bronze.  The idea is to show prospective clients or customers (herein called clients) that the value/quality of each service improves as they go up the scale from bronze.

It’s used as a way to justify charging 3 different prices, for 3 different levels of service.  However, is it possible that we can improve upon this gold, silver and bronze model?

marketing advice GoldAsk any athlete, who’s out training at 6am on a cold morning, if he or she is motivated by the prospect of becoming a bronze medal winner. I think you already know what their answer will be – a resounding “NO!”  That’s because bronze does not have the same motivational pulling power of gold.

In business, we often refer to the best product or service in a category as the gold standard.’ We talk about those cherished memories from the past as golden memories. Highly valued information is often referred to as gold dust.  We use the word gold in many ways, but it always conjures up images in our mind of high quality.

Make gold your starting point

So, here’s a question to consider: Why not make gold your starting point? If you offer 3 levels of service, why not make a statement and start with gold, then go to platinum and then on up to diamond?

In an age where every business is claiming to go the extra mile, this is an opportunity for you to tell the marketplace what your attitude to service excellence is.  It’s a bold marketing statement, which requires the very best from you if you are to back it up.  But what a message to give your prospective clients and those who work with you, internally and externally.

What do you think?

Thank you!

It seems hard to believe that it’s now just over a year, since I launched this blog.  In that time, the blog has developed a great community of readers, who regularly contribute comments, feedback and suggestions.  This reader input, has helped shape the direction of the blog and been of immeasurable value to me.

Interestingly, over the past few weeks, the blog has started to gain recognition from organisations outside our reader community.

Two new developments in particular have really taken my breath away.  Firstly, Advertising Age ranked this blog high enough to be included in their prestigious AdAge Power 150 list.  As a reader of Advertising Age for more than 20 years, this recognition means a great deal to me.

Then earlier this week, it was brought to my attention that technorati has also listed Jim’s Marketing blog, in their list of the top 100 small business blogs!

marketing blog technorati

Content AND reader engagement

Although I have tried to provide as much genuinely valuable material here as possible, the reason the blog has started getting noticed outside of the blogs community, is because of the blogs community! No matter how hard I try to make the blog of value, without YOU being so proactive in the way you have recommended and shared this blog with your friends, NOTHING would have happened.

The encouragement and feedback you have given me over this first year has been of massively more value to me than you can possibly imagine.

I am not going to name names, because the list would be just too long.

For example, it would include the name of every one of you, who has commented. The current comment count is just under 4,000.  It would include those of you, who share this blog with your friends on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc.  It would include those of you, who have linked to this blog.  It would include everyone who has subscribed to the blog’s RSS feed and those, who have tweeted with me or called me for a chat; after finding my phone number (01427 891274) on the contact page.

You know who you are, so:

THANK YOU!

Make your marketing count

One of the marketing challenges that all businesses face, is how to leverage their time and money for the best possible return on investment (or ROI).  There are so many things we all could be doing, yet these are not of equal value to us.

For example, there’s an interesting debate along these lines over at my ideas blog. It’s about whether people ought to spend more of their ‘social media time’ providing content for their blogs and less of that time providing content for social media sites like; Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc.

Marketing puzzle

Part of developing the best marketing mix for your business, is to build a marketing strategy that focuses all your efforts in the most profitable way possible.  This is why it’s so important to monitor and measure your marketing feedback.  This will show you where your time and money is best invested, as well as any areas where you are not seeing a worthwhile return.

Why not take a moment to review your marketing activities. Look at what you are doing and what each activity is costing you in both time and money.  Then, measure your marketing return for each of these activities.  The results are often illuminating and extremely valuable.

Jim’s marketing blog – Now on Headway

As regular readers will notice, things look a little different on the blog now! That’s because I have just upgraded the blog from it’s previous, limited wordpress theme and am now running the blog using Headway.

Why I moved to Headway

The biggest frustration I have experienced as a blogger, is the massive amount of my time that’s wasted, when I need to make stylistic changes or modifications to one of my blogs.  This happens more often than you might think; as I am always looking for better ways to engage with my readers and provide them with a more valuable experience.

I do most of my blogging activity when it’s quiet – for me, that means nights and weekends.  Now, even though I have always paid for professional help, it’s seldom available to me when I needed it.  As a result, whenever I wanted to make a change to the blog that wasn’t directly accessible via the theme, it could take from a few hours to a few days for the changes to be made.

Last week I launched a new ideas blog using the Headway theme.  Like many wordpress themes, Headway claims that users like me can design a blog from scratch, with no need to touch the CSS / HTML. Unlike every other theme I have used, Headway actually delivered – In fact, it massively OVER delivered.

So much so, that Headway is the first ever affiliate product I have promoted on a blog!

What’s the big deal with Headway?

I am a marketing specialist, a content creator, a writer – but NOT a coder! I have zero HTML skills and no idea how to configure CSS.  However, using Headway, I can do everything I want to my blogs, using their drag and drop system.  In fact, I managed to reconfigure this blog today in less than 40 minutes – with no need at all to touch the code.

Here’s a few of Headway’s features, for those of you who are interested.  I wrote that post myself, to try and explain how easy, fun and flexible Headway is.

Full disclosure

I was so totally blown away with Headway, that I wrote to the developers to thank them.  After wasting almost a thousand dollars over the past 2 years, on themes that universally disappointed me, I decided to promote Headway as an affiliate.  This is the first affiliate product I have ever promoted on any of my blogs; such is my gratitude for how it has (literally) transformed how I blog.

To Clay and Grant Griffiths, the guys behind Headway; “Thank you!”

Why bloggers must come clean

Something I have been passionate about for a very long time, is the need for bloggers to fully disclose if they are getting paid in some way, to write about a company / product / service.  Well, yesterday, The United States Federal Trade Commission announced that it would fine bloggers up to $11,000 if they post positive reviews or endorsements, for which they are rewarded in any way, without letting their readers know.

I have three blogs and operate a full disclosure policy on all of them.  Like all well-read bloggers, I get offerers pretty-much every day from people, who want to pay me (either money or freebies), if I will ‘just’ write about them, their business or their service in glowing terms.  My tech news blog often gets several such offers in one day.

Full disclosure

When a blogger is honest enough to declare any gifts they receive, it encourages the reader to trust their content.  For example, I found out yesterday that big time blogger Chris Brogan, receives his hosting for free from a well-known hosting provider.  The reason I now know, is that Chris openly disclosed this gift in a post he wrote, about the company who give him his free hosting. Sadly, there are no disclosures anywhere about his cross-promotion of products with other top bloggers, which kind of defeats the object of disclosing an affiliate link or sponsor.

That kind of honest declaration, allows readers to place the post in context, of how they feel, knowing about the relationship the blogger has with the company.

The trust of your readers is everything

The importance of trust when developing a successful relationship with anyone, can not be overstated.  This is equally true of the relationship between a blogger or content provider and their readers.  After all, who wants to read content that you can’t trust?

If you have a commercial blog or website and you want people to trust you and your business, being fully open is essential.

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