Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: July 2010 (page 1 of 4)

Avoiding the no-win scenario

I once asked someone if they were a “glass half empty or glass half full” kind of person.

She relied; “I’m neither Jim!”

This got my attention, as I had always heard people giving one of those two possible answers. She went on:

“My glass is actually 100% full – Half with water and half with air!”

no win scenario, glass half empty

Avoid thinking from the no-win scenario perspective

One of the reasons people often make bad decisions, is that they put themselves into no-win scenarios.  This is especially the case when they are worried about something.  They fail to examine all the options that are open to them, often focusing on the so-called “best, worst options” because these tend to come into our minds with least effort.

Now, I’m not suggesting we look for every possible option to every decision we make.  But for the important decisions, the decisions that matter to you, it’s always worth taking some extra time to fully review your options, before you proceed.

What are your tips for making better decisions?

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Blmurch

Business blogging experts?

Over the past 24 hours, I have seen 2 people advertising their services as business blogging experts.  In both cases, I decided to check THEIR blogs out.  As a marketing guy, I was curious as to what kind of blogs these expert business bloggers had. I’m really glad I did, because it motivated me to write this “buyer beware” post and hopefully, will stop people from wasting their time and money.

business blogging, expert advice, blog marketing, jim connolly

Business blogging experts?

One of them has a blog, which has not been updated since last year!  This blog expert wants you to pay him, to coach you on the benefits of business blogging, yet his primary business blog looks like he has just given up on it.

The other blogging expert was even worse!  Her blog is not even configured correctly.  I was on her blog for 5 minutes, and was unable to find anything, other than the most recent blog post, because the navigation was so poor.  Equally, the blog was almost unreadable, (even on my 24 inch monitor), because it’s written in a tiny font. It looks a total mess and lacked even basic social bookmarking options.  I have seen many new bloggers, with far more professional looking blogs.  Unbelievably, she is currently offering a free talk on successful business blogging, via a local networking group.  Clearly, no one bothered to check her out before allowing her to talk.

Researching a business blogging expert: The basics

Both of these self proclaimed business blogging experts, have thousands of followers on Twitter.  This is not an indicator of how good they are at what they do, yet many use the size of someone’s social network as a short-cut to their decision making process.  If you want a better indicator as to how good a blogging expert REALLY is, check out their blog!

Here are a few of the basics to look for, before you decide to take any advice from them:

  • Check that their blog looks professional.  If it isn’t, do you really want to take blogging advice from them?
  • Check that their blog has an active community.  A quick look at the number of comments their posts attract, will give you an idea as to how well they are engaging THEIR readers.  Look at the last 10 or so posts, as some posts get a lot fewer comments than others.  Bottom line: if their blog doesn’t have an active community (which is the heart of a great business blog) they are hardly going to be able to show you how to build a great community on YOUR blog!
  • Check that their content is valued by others.  When people find something on a blog or website interesting, they will often link to it.  For example, there are around 20,000 links pointing to this blog right now.  You can check how many links point to any site, using Yahoo Site Explorer.

Even if someone is offering you free advice via a local networking group or webinar, ALWAYS check them out, before you waste your time and money following what they say.  Just because their advice is free, does not mean it will not cost you a great deal, if you use what they say and it’s based on bullshit.  Sometimes, free advice can be very expensive!

Here’s where you come in!

What tips do you have, for separating the genuine experts from the fakes (in any profession)?  Please let us know with a comment!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

 

Photo: Mai Le

A business lesson from a fox!

One of the great things about where I live, is that I get to meet with some really diverse and interesting people.  Yesterday, I was listening to a local gamekeeper.  He said that someone had told him that they left the door to their rabbit hutch open JUST ONCE and that a fox got in and attacked the rabbits.  Apparently the man whose rabbits were attacked was cursing his luck.

“What bad luck – The one time I leave the hutch open and it’s the same night a fox turns up!”

The gamekeeper explained to the guy, that there was no luck involved.  Apparently, the fox would have been checking on that rabbit hutch every night, just waiting for its chance to come.  When the opportunity came, the fox was ready to take full advantage.

business development, opportunities, jim connolly

The lesson here?

Someone once told me that luck is what happens, when preparedness meets opportunity.  One of the reasons that so many people end up cursing their luck, is that they are simply not prepared or ready to take advantage, when opportunity comes their way.  For example, they want that BIG sale, yet they never studied how to negotiate; so when the BIG prospective client comes along, they blow it.  They want a TV or radio station to feature them as an expert, when a news story breaks in their industry; yet because they never took any media training, they would waste 90% of the opportunity, if it came along.

So, if a great opportunity came YOUR way right now, how well prepared would you be?

  • What time resources would you have, to invest in the opportunity?
  • What financial resources would you have, to invest in the opportunity?
  • What human resources (contacts) would you have, to invest in the opportunity?
  • What relevant expertise would you have, to invest in the opportunity?

Make no mistake, there are some genuinely superb opportunities out there.  However, just sitting and waiting for them to arrive is not a great strategy.  Develop your resources right now, so you have the; time, finances, contacts and expertise required to get the most from future opportunities.

What are your suggestions for identifying genuine opportunities and benefiting from them?

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Digital Primate

It’s only useful, if you use it!

It’s a fact: The best marketing ideas in the world will not work, unless you use them.

Over the years, I have discovered that small business owners can be divided into 2 groups, when it comes to marketing.

Group 1: Those who find marketing interesting, but just dabble and seldom work with the ideas they find.

These people love reading about marketing and they enjoy the social elements of marketing such as networking, social media etc, but they seldom actually take time to develop a marketing plan and work the plan.  In many cases, they have businesses that are struggling financially and they knowledge to turn it around – If only they put some of their marketing ideas to work.

Ideas are GREAT, but they need to act on them if you want to achieve anything.

Group 2: Those who understand that marketing is an essential part of their business, so they put the best marketing ideas they find into action.

These business owners see things very differently from the previous, much larger group.  They have discovered that if they find a marketing idea interesting, then use it, amazing things can happen.  They are not afraid to fail, because they know that marketing is all about testing and measuring.  If they try something and it doesn’t work the way they want, they will review the feedback and try again with a new refinement.  They will then measure the feedback and make further adjustments, until they get the results they want.

Ultimately, our commercial success will be determined by our level of intelligent activity; not by how much useful knowledge we have acquired.  Why not take the best marketing idea you have right now, and use it!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Ian Munroe

Marketing: Your past does not equal your future.

I spoke with someone earlier, who told me that she was “no good at marketing.”  She went on to say that she would never be any good when it came to marketing.  This lady is bright and she has lots to say, that’s worth listening to.  However, she has failed to learn one of the most basic lessons in life:

“Our past results do not equal our future results.”

Just because we used an approach last week, last month or last year that didn’t work, does not mean we have to repeat that same error.  We can learn from that lesson and move forward.  As soon as we use a better strategy, we get better results.

How do you improve?

You have 2 main options if you want better marketing results:

  1. You can spend time studying marketing and start to develop increasingly effective marketing strategies.  This can be very time consuming, but if you are starting to see some progress with your marketing efforts, it may be worth investing some more of your time.  This is likely to be most appropriate for those who already have a good marketing foundation, and those who are not looking for fast results.  There are lots of free marketing resources on this blog that will help you if you want to go it alone.  Take a look at this post as a way to get started – It’s my top 10 marketing tips. Then, I strongly recommend you read my FREE 5 step Marketing Make-Over! You can also use the search box on the right, to find marketing posts on many different subjects – There are hundreds of posts there covering thousands of marketing answers and ideas – just waiting for you and all are 100% free!
  2. You can hire someone who already knows exactly what you need to do.

The bottom line is that you need to improve your marketing strategy and actions, if you want to improve your sales results.  There’s absolutely no need to settle for under-performing marketing, so long as you are willing to take ownership of the challenge ahead of you and do something productive about it.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Good luck!

Surviving information overload!

Following on from yesterday’s post, about the need to be a student and not a sheep, today I would like to focus briefly on the importance of improving our comprehension in the era of information overload.  It’s one thing for us to read something of value, but if we fail to comprehend what we have just consumed, we will learn nothing.

information overloadI deliberately tend to write shorter posts than many bloggers, because like every professional writer worth their salt, I know the importance of brevity.  A well written, short piece of information rich copy should be easy for the reader to absorb.  So, that’s what I aim for.  However, when you look at the comments on longer blog posts, it shows that many people comment, with very little understanding of what they just read.  I get it here occasionally myself.  I have had people arguing with me, via comments here, simply because they never took the time to read everything, before commenting.  They were arguing with me, even though they were in 100% agreement with what I wrote.

Information overload

The challenge for all of us today, is that there is just so much content out there.  I did a search on Google a moment ago, for the phrase marketing blogs and found mine (on page 1!) with over 90 MILLION other results.

Just 15 years ago, if we wanted to keep abreast of what was happening in business, we had the business section of our preferred daily newspaper and maybe a few industry magazines, which were published monthly.  That was it!

Today, there is an almost limitless supply of business information; some good, some not so good, but all vying for our attention.  Our senses are assaulted with a seemingly endless supply of must click links via social media too.  It’s little wonder people are skimming over content rather than reading and comprehending it.   So, what we see right now are people who tend to skim over 50 or 100 articles or blog posts in a day, rather than actually read and think about 5 or 10 of them.

In our desire not to miss anything important, we risk missing everything!

It’s a little like those networkers, who flit from person to person after 30 seconds, because they want to meet everyone at an event.  They meet 150 people and yet they connect with  no one.  Another person at the same event, studies the attendee list and decides to selectively speak with a dozen people.  He or she connects with all 12 people and potentially makes some really useful contacts.

For me, one of the best ways to improve comprehension, is to read more selectively.  Look for the best sources of information in your niche, read their work and then take time to think about what you have just read and how you can use it.  Birds of a feather flock together, so you should find that by sticking with your most valued writers, they will introduce you to new, great writers too.  Give yourself a hard limit, by setting your bar high and only read from writers, who regularly deliver the goods.  Replace those who are under delivering, so your list stays fluid, but always focused on what YOU find most valuable.  Here’s where you come in!

What works for you?

How do you get the most from your online reading time?  Do you have any tips you would like to share?

If so, please share them!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

 

Photo: Photo Monkey

Seth Godin Vs Bob the Blogger!

As a marketing coach, I am always studying the power of influence and influential people.  For example, we all know the power a celebrity can have, when they give their personal endorsement to a politician or their paid endorsement to a product.  This is because a large chunk of the general populous, uses what a well known or well-respected person says, as a short-cut to their decision making process.

A while ago, one of my favourite writers, Seth Godin, made a couple of statements that were widely accepted as fact – Despite them simply being his opinions.  Fans of Seth heard what he said and then looked for things that would support it.  It’s actually a very good piece and as always, delivered with passion and power.

Here’s what Seth said:

“Blogging is free, it doesn’t matter if anyone reads it.  What matters is the humility that comes from writing it.  What matters is the meta cognition of thinking about what you are going to say.  How do you explain yourself to the few employees you have or your cat or whoever is going to look at it?  How do you force yourself to describe in 3 paragraphs, why you did something?  How do you respond out loud?  If you are good at it, some people will read it.  If you stick at it, you will get good at it. But this has become much bigger than are you boingboing, are you the huffington post.  This has become such a micro publishing platform, that basically you are doing it for yourself, to force yourself to become part of the conversation, even if it’s (Seth gestures with his index finger and thumb, to denote a tiny amount) just that big and that posture change, changes a huge amount.”

Here’s the clip of Seth saying this on YouTube – It’s powerful stuff.

If Bob the blogger (I just made that name up) told you that it didn’t matter if anyone reads your business blog, most of you would disagree.

You might remind Bob that a blog with 5000 unique visitors a day will out perform an identical blog, with just you and your cat reading it.  This is why every blog development program and every leading blog development site, focus so much on developing a targeted readership and increasing your blog’s visibility.

If Bob the blogger told you that as a busy small business owner, you should be writing a blog for humility, you just may question that too.  Here’s why:

  • Bob is not Seth, so we question what Bob says.  With Bob, we are a student.  We study what Bob says and ecology check it, to see if it actually makes sense.  Then, and only then, we accept it.
  • Seth is not Bob, so the temptation is to accept what Seth says, without question.  At this point, we cease being a student and miss much of the learning that people like Seth offer.

The challenge here, is that when we fail to study, we fail to learn.

Blindly accepting something, turns the student into a sheep.  Even when the person is as intelligent and honest as Seth Godin, we owe it to ourselves to study what they say.

This is NOT a post about whether or not Seth is right or wrong with what he said in this one instance.

It’s about whether more people would have questioned what Seth said, if he was “just” a normal guy, like my fictitious friend, Bob the blogger.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Older posts