Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: November 2009 (page 1 of 3)

This is marketing madness!

Here’s a great example of how bad marketing can not only result in you making fewer sales – But actually LOSE you existing customers too!

As you read this post, the owner of a small web hosting business is wondering why so few people have responded to his latest marketing email.

In his marketing email, which was forwarded to me by a reader, he explains that over the Christmas holiday period, the load on his servers increases and this means people’s sites will load really slowly. To frighten his customers still further, he explains that the server speed could be too slow for their customers / clients / readers to bother with.  It could screw up their business and make them look bad. (Ouch!)

Sounds horrible right?  Well, the email goes on to paint a picture of increasing doom – Until he asks his customers to consider upgrading their hosting package, claiming that the new, more expensive package, will deliver a reliable service.

Marketing madness

Can you spot the problem here?  This guy has just sent all his customers an email, which tells them the servers he has placed their sites on are overloaded.  However, on the page of his website, which sells the package that he now says is unreliable, he says the total opposite.  In fact, he makes a number of very bold promises about the reliability of the servers he uses.  I have never heard of this hosting provider, his services might be great – but that’s not the point!

Not only has he just informed all his customers that he put their sites on overloaded servers, they now know they can’t trust his company’s marketing promises either!

In a shockingly bad effort to up-sell his clients onto a 400% more expensive package, he has actually massively damaged their opinion of the current service they receive from him.  They will now be worrying about the problems that he has forecast for December and some will be looking for a reliable alternative to him and his false promises!

It’s madness for someone to try and scare their customers into upgrading, by claiming that the service he previously sold them is not what he promised.  It’s also just plain stupid to tell lies to your customers.  This up-sell approach does nothing, other than damage the provider’s reputation and alert the customer to change provider.

Marketing an upgrade to your customers or clients

If you want to encourage existing customers to upgrade from one level of service to the next, you need to demonstrate huge, additional value in the upgraded service.  You create a vast difference between their current service and the upgrade, by massively increasing the value of the upgrade – NOT by telling them that what you already sold them is crap. You need to pump so much value into the upgrade, that they would be nuts not to use it.

This value focused approach makes the upgrade process less of a risk for the customer and enhances their experience of your business.  They get to see you as being able to grow to meet their demands.

Your turn

What do you think of the approach used by this hosting company?  Have you seen examples of it before and did it encourage you to spend more money with them?  What do you think when a provider bad mouths the quality of their own, entry level services?  Share your opinions with us.

Photo credit: Paul Hammond

Why bloggers post every day!

Ever wondered why some bloggers write blog posts every day?  Well, I did too – So I tried a 14 day experiment, and I am going to share my results with you.

Usually, my blogging schedule is erratic; often just a handful of posts in a month.  However, as regular readers will have noticed, I have been updating this blog with fresh posts every day, for the past 2 weeks.

Why?

I wanted to measure for myself, just what the value to a blogger is, of updating their blog every day with new posts.  I assumed (rightly as it turned out) that 2 weeks would be a long enough period, for me to get some worthwhile data for you.  The results have been VERY interesting!

In brief, here’s what I have found:

RSS Subscribers

One of the biggest differences (in percentage points) has been the increase in new RSS subscribers to the blog.  New subscriber numbers are up an amazing 400% on the 2 weeks previous!  I was expecting to see some increase, but this was far, far higher than I imagined.

Blog Comments

The number of comments per post varies all the time, literally from post to post, making it very hard to measure over such a short period.  Equally, comments are often added to blog posts weeks, months and even years after a post is written.

Comments in total during the past 14 days are up by around 300%.  This is less impressive than it may sound, as there were many more posts for people to read and thus comment on than usual.  Also, regular readers have been visiting the blog more often and sharing posts with their friends more often, which increases comment numbers.

This leads me on to the biggest difference I have noticed with the comments, over the past 2 weeks.  The biggest (and most interesting development for me), has been the number of new people commenting here.  I have seen a lot of new commenters, many of whom have said that they have only just discovered the blog.

Blog traffic

The number of unique visitors here increased by just under 30% during the 2 weeks.  That’s a significant increase, especially as most of it came over the past 5 days.

Interestingly, the number of page views here increased massively.  This seems to be from new visitors having a look around and established readers visiting more often, in line with the number of new posts.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that daily blogging, even for a relatively short period of time, has significantly increased ‘traffic’ into the blog.

Conclusion

The biggest revelation for me has been how much fun I’ve had! I have REALLY enjoyed putting the posts together.  More than this, the increased activity on the blog from commenters and those discussing posts on Twitter, has been amazing.  The whole ‘atmosphere’ of the blog has been improved in every way.

However, it is very clear from the significant increases across the board, why so many bloggers post fresh content every day.  Daily blogging has improved literally every metric I have measured – not just those mentioned in this brief post.  It’s also improved areas that are far harder to measure, like making the blog a lot more ‘alive’ and vivid.  These things are harder to plot on a chart than RSS subscribers or traffic, but they are massively valuable to anyone who genuinely cares about their blog and it’s community of readers.

My dilemma

I strongly believe that the only time to write a blog post is when the writer has something VALUABLE to say, which is worth sharing.  I don’t believe in having a blogging schedule. As a professional writer, I have found it relatively easy to publish fresh content each day – but what about the quality of that content?

I see zero point in posting dross occasionally, just so that I don’t miss a day!  That material will live on the Internet forever, with my name attached to it. My 4 year old son will see it when he’s older – I don’t want him thinking his daddy writes pedestrian, generic bullshit occasionally, because I’m a slave to some self-imposed, daily blogging schedule.

I occasionally read posts by people considered to be GREAT bloggers, which seem ‘pretty average’ at best.  The thing is, these guys are NOT average writers; they are the top of the blogging pile.  I always wonder if the reason I find those posts average, is just that the subject is not of interest to me, or if it’s because the blogger wrote an average post, just to maintain his or her daily blogging schedule.

The bottom line for me, is that by blogging here each day, the value of this blog has improved in every way.  So, I’ve decided to aim for blogging here on a more regular basis than before, but only when I have something I believe is worth sharing with you.  If that’s daily, then fine. If not, then I assure you, you will be missing nothing worth reading.

What do you think?

Did you find any of that data useful or interesting?  What has your experience been?

Photo credit: UnSung

Your 5 step marketing make-over!

This post is all about how to improve your marketing and it contains links to stacks of great, free marketing advice!

I wrote this today, because I know that many of my readers work really hard and yet fail to get the sales or profits that their hard work deserves.  In the majority of cases, their products and services are great – But they are being let down by ineffective marketing.  So, in this post I am going to give you a quick marketing exercise, designed to get you on the right track.

Here’s a simple 5 step process, for improving the effectiveness of your marketing:

  1. Make a list of every marketing activity you currently invest time and / or money in.
  2. Write down the results you are getting from each marketing activity. If the results can’t be measured for any activity, stop it immediately!
  3. If any activity is on that list purely because it’s something you are COMFORTABLE with or it’s there just because YOU HAVE ALWAYS done it, that’s not a good enough reason. (This is where I find a lot of people are wasting valuable time and money!)
  4. Next, grab your beverage of choice and read the 3 posts linked to below. They will show you some of the most popular and effective forms of small business marketing.
  5. Finally, select the marketing activities that you feel are most suited to what you want to achieve.  Then, spend some time studying how to do THOSE activities correctly and add them to your marketing mix.

Below are the posts I recommended earlier.  The first is a 2 parter, which contains a number of different marketing activities and explains what they are.  The final link will take you to the most popular page on this blog; a list of my top 10 marketing tips for small businesses.

Designing your marketing mix (part 1)

Designing your marketing mix (part 2)

Top 10 Marketing Tips

This is intended as a launchpad, to get you focusing on more effective ways to market your services.  If you want to know more about any of the activities mentioned, remember to use the search box on the right hand side of this blog.

If you found this information and the links useful, please take a moment to share this post with your friends.

Image credit: Zevotron

How to have zero competition for YOUR business!

This post is all about how to market your business, without ever having to worry about the threat of competition.

I decided to write this after receiving an email from a reader, Elizabeth, who asked me a great question.  Elizabeth wanted to know why I promote the websites and blogs of fellow marketing professionals.  She went on to say that this seemed, “an unusual way to treat the competition!”

Apparently, Elizabeth was specifically referring to the fact that I often link to other marketing sites and ReTweet interesting posts and articles from other marketing professionals.

In a way, I can understand what Elizabeth’s saying.  It probably seems counter instinctive to most people, when they see me use my network to promote someone, who could be a direct competitor.

However, I see things in a different way!

Marketing and competition

When it comes to growing my business, I don’t operate from the mindset of having competitors.  I operate from a creative mindset.  I focus on making what I do so uniquely valuable, that there isn’t anyone else offering that set of unique skills to the small business marketplace.  You know what? It works really well too! There are some great marketing people out there, but none that compete with me.  They do their thing and I do mine.  Operating from a creative mindset allows me to work without limitations.  For example, I actually market the services of a number of great marketing and marketing-related businesses. Isn’t that brilliant?

I genuinely believe that if any business tries hard enough, it can make its services uniquely valuable enough to never have to ‘worry’ about the competition again.  The challenge, is that most businesses, large and small, look just too similar to the other providers in their industry. As a direct result, they are constantly worried that prospective customers will see the ‘competition’ and then use them.

If they were uniquely valuable enough, they would never have to worry about that.

Marketing your business

Here’s my suggestion for you – something for you to consider.

Look at what your competitors do and re-design your raft of services, your promises and guarantees, to make your offering massively more uniquely valuable.  Market your unique value and show the marketplace how brilliant you are.  Get this right and will OWN your very own hyper-valuable niche. Become the only show in town, for someone looking for YOUR kind of service.

What do you think?

Image credit: Atrayu

Don’t treat people like numbers!

Many businesses seem to forget that people are people and numbers are numbers.  As a result, they lose touch with the ‘people‘ side of their business.

Here’s why this is a REALLY bad idea:
It’s People
who work for us, buy from us, recommend us and help us – not numbers!

When a business starts regarding people simply as ‘numbers’ on a spreadsheet, customer base or mailing list – it becomes disconnected from those people.  This is madness!

Each client, customer, potential client, reader, follower and contact you have is unique.  These people have feelings. They have good days and bad days. They have ups and downs. They have days where they want to cry with joy and days where they cry with sorrow.  These unique, immeasurably valuable individuals are many things to many people, but they are NOT numbers.

Always focus on the people behind ‘the numbers’ that you use in your business and whenever possible, try to connect with them.  Sometimes, something as simple as a sincere offer of help, a quick phone call or even a smile, can turn someone’s day around.

Will this help you grow your business? Quite possibly.

Will it transform the way you FEEL about your business and the way others FEEL about you? Definitely!

Image credit: Kalandrakas

Successful blog marketing – 3 things to consider!

Here’s a quick example of the kind of results that can be achieved with a well-marketed blog.  If you are either thinking of starting a blog or you already have one, but wonder if it’s worth marketing it more effectively, you will find this extremely useful.  It’s based on 3 key areas you need to consider – But first, here’s why I decided to write this post for you today.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of my long term readers for the very first time yesterday.  The guy’s name is Brent Pohlman and Brent’s the Marketing Director at Midwest Laboratories in Omaha, Nebraska.  During our call, Brent mentioned how he attended a morning meeting that day, for local businesspeople in his part of Omaha.

During the meeting, Brent told the group that he was going to be speaking with Jim Connolly later in the morning.  When he said this, one of the businesspeople there asked;
“Isn’t he that bald marketing guy from the UK?”

Ohama, Nebraska is located in the beautiful Mid West of the United States; 6 time zones away from the small village here in the UK, where I live and work.  Even so, through the effective marketing of this blog, people were already aware of what my name was, who I was and what I did.  What makes that name / brand awareness even more amazing, is that the people attending that meeting were marketing people and business owners; the exact people my work is aimed at.  For those of you, who don’t know, I help market small businesses all over the world.

Now, I have no idea how many millions it would have cost me, to generate that kind of targeted, international name awareness via old-school, paid advertising.  However, I do know what it cost in order to achieve this using the blog.

There are 3 investments you need to consider:

Blog marketing – The FINANCIAL investment

I use a premium WordPress theme for this blog (it’s called Headway and I love it so much I am an affiliate.)  This theme allows me to make all changes to the blog myself and have it look exactly how I want it to, with the functionality I need, without requiring a web designer or CSS expert.

Then, there’s the financial investment for hosting this blog.  However, as I already host 2 other sites with my server people, this one actually costs me nothing.  I recommend to everyone that they get the best hosting they can afford – not the ‘cheapest.’ When it comes to hosting a site, avoid the bargain bucket providers.

Blog marketing – The TIME investment

The biggest investment required for successful blog-based marketing is time.  For example, there’s the time it takes to write the kind of compelling copy (articles/posts) that people will value and want to share. Like many successful blogs, this one doesn’t grow its readership  thanks to Google; it relies on people sharing what they find here with their friends and contacts.  That means the information here needs to be good enough to regularly motivate people to want to share it with their friends on social networking sites, bookmarking sites and via their blogs.

Another time investment that I believe is essential for marketing your blog, is to read other people’s blogs.  I read around 10 marketing-related blogs every day and about 50 others semi regularly.  This is a great way to keep abreast of what people in your industry and marketplace are talking about.

There’s also the time it takes to interact with the people who comment on your blog, and those, who share your content.  If someone comments here, I always try and find the time to thank them.  I do this either on the blog or, if they use Twitter, I will often thank them on Twitter – sometimes both.  There are a few posts here with over 200 comments and one with close to 700 comments, which were impossible to keep up with, but I do regularly connect with everyone who comments here.  The people who comment on this blog and those, who share my content, are of FAR more value to me, than the blog itself.  I can start a new blog tomorrow, but those relationships are pure gold dust!

Blog marketing – The expertise investment

The final investment you will need to consider, is the investment in expertise.  You will either need to invest in learning how to produce inspirational, compelling posts and market them, or you will need to buy that expertise in.  This could have been placed in the time investment or financial investment section – but it’s so important (and neglected) that I wanted to give it special attention.

You see, some of the most interesting blogs out there are among the least read!  The thing is, from a marketing perspective, having a ton of great content on your blog is of little real value, if your prospective clients aren’t aware of it.

You must find out how to create content that will motivate people to; call you, buy from you, visit you, email you, subscribe to your mailing list, etc. You need to know how to inspire people to want to share your content.  You need to find out how to build an active community of people around your blog. You need to know how to make people feel great about you and your business / brand. This requires considerable expertise.

In my experience, most business bloggers decide not to invest in at least 1 of those 3 key areas.  If there’s any 1 area listed above that you are neglecting right now, I strongly recommend you give it the investment it deserves.  Your business will thank you!

Image credit: Tuppus

5 grand a month, every month & quickly please!

I received an email over the weekend from the owner of a website, which I want to share with you. It’s a great example of how people think the normal rules of marketing do not apply to the Internet.

The emailer wrote to me, asking if I could just do a quick marketing job for her.

All she wanted was for me to make her website generate $5,000 a month, every month, without her having to do much; because she’s too busy to update it. She went on to say; “I don’t think it will take much to reach my goal,” before asking if I could do all this as a quick, one-off project.

The site this lady contacted me about is over 4 years old and is really dated.  Despite her efforts over the years, her site gets very little traffic.  It also has very few inlinks for a site of that age.  Oh, and it’s competing for business in one of the most competitive, professionally marketed marketplaces on the Internet; personal development.

Even if the emailer threw thousands at advertising (and there was no suggestion of a marketing budget), to make it profitable would require a total overhaul and a VERY effective short, medium and long term marketing strategy.  It would require ongoing testing and measuring (like all successful marketing.)  The bottom line here is that generating a $5,000 per month income, competing alongside some of the best marketed organisations on the planet for every one of those dollars, is not a quick project.

Internet marketing benefits

There’s no doubt that the Internet and digital communications offer unprecedented marketing, sales and business development opportunities; however, you still need to apply an effective strategy if you want your Internet marketing to succeed.  For example, this blog attracts an average of just over 50 emails for my marketing business, each day (7 days a week.)  It has generated 6 figures in income for my business in the past year -  BUT, this didn’t just happen. It was the result of an effective marketing strategy.

Google announced back in 2008 that it had already indexed over a TRILLION unique URL’s.  That number will have increased massively since then, and it gives you an idea of how many other pages and sites there are, that YOUR prospective clients or customers could be looking at rather than yours.  They may be wasting time on some of those sites or listening to music or tweeting or spending money.  The thing is, you need a strategy if you want to capture their imagination.  You need a strategy if you want them to ‘discover’ you and see how brilliant you are.

Just ‘being online’ is not enough!

What’s your take?

Image credit: Neogabox

Opportunity knocks, even if you can’t hear it!

marketing opportunitiesLast week, for only the 5th time in 4 years, I offered readers of my marketing newsletter a very special free marketing opportunity.

I told them that simply by sending me their contact details, that 10 of them would randomly be selected to have a free, 1 hour telephone based consultation with me.  The response was amazing.  After all, the newsletter is read by thousands of people, spanning over 100 countries.

I’m writing this post, after calling the first 3 winners to inform them and set up a date for their call.

Winner number 1 was over the moon. He’s been reading my newsletter for 3 years and can’t wait for the call.  He’s entered every time I have made this offer and said that right now, his business could really do with some free, specialist marketing help.

Winner number 2 is another long term reader, who is also a student of my motivation master class.  She told me how she was really looking forward to our call next week.  She is busy getting a stack of questions ready for me, and I am really looking forward to speaking with her.

Winner number 3 had no idea why I was calling her.  She then remembered that her son had entered her details, because she needed marketing help.  She was downright rude to me and to be honest, the vast majority of people would simply have hung up on her.  What she didn’t know, apparently, was that (literally) thousands of people have entered to be chosen for the opportunity, which I had just gifted to her. When she realised the value to her business of that call, her tone changed completely and she was extremely polite.

You know what though?

In 99.9% of cases, this lady would have already blown it with her rudeness and missed the opportunity of working with me, for free, on the development of her business.

There are opportunities around us, all day long.

However, I wonder how many people repel them because of their attitudes?

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