Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: February 2011 (page 1 of 3)

6 ways to quickly improve your profile

How do you think people feel about you and your business, when they discover you online?

The reason this matters to small business owners, is that feelings are the key factor in whether someone buys from you or not.  We do business with people we feel good about and avoid people we have a bad feeling about.  We buy things that feel just right and avoid buying things that feel wrong.  In fact, it’s often said that the decision to buy a new house, the biggest single purchase most people will ever make, is based on the way they feel about the house in the first 60 seconds!

Online profiles and the feelings they create

In my experience, small business owners tend to have 1 of the following 2 broad approaches to what they share with the world on their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc:

  1. The first group writes in positive terms about their business and the marketplace.  Even if times are challenging for them, we wouldn’t know because they talk about what they want, rather than what they fear.  Of course, their enthusiasm builds confidence in them and their business, which creates a positive circle of events, as people are attracted to them – Giving them even more to be positive about.
  2. The second group write in largely neutral terms about their business and the marketplace.  However, their lack of enthusiasm fails to inspire confidence in them or their business.  Some seem to confuse being confident, with being boastful.  Others fail to share their positive news, for fear that it may make people resent them for what they have achieved.

6 things to think about

I strongly believe you should be confident enough to get your stars out and show the world your brilliant self.  Here are 6 suggestions, to help your prospective clients get a glimpse of the REAL YOU and how amazing you truly are, when they check you out online.   Use your blog and social media accounts to:

  1. Talk (and write) about what you want, not what you fear.  Prospective clients might not want to do business with someone, if they think that person may be about to go out of business, after reading how bad things are.
  2. Share your successes.
  3. Show your gratitude.  Be fast to thank.  Be first to thank.
  4. Show your willingness to contribute.
  5. Share your uniqueness.  It’s hard to get noticed unless you are willing to step out of the crowd.  Don’t be a human RT  / “like” machine for the gurus!
  6. Showcase other great people.

Never confuse confidence with arrogance.  Have the confidence to share your successes, but also the humility to readily celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of others.

So, what would you add to that list?

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

Photo: Sergis blog

How to study less and achieve more than you ever thought possible

I have always found it fascinating, how 2 people can read the same great book or attend the same massively valuable seminar, with completely different results.

  • The first person uses the information she discovered, in order to make the changes required for breakthrough success.
  • The second person finds the information useful, but decides to do nothing with it.

We can either be passive consumers of ideas or we can actively use what we learn, to build a better future.  We can use information in order to achieve our best results ever or become an eternal gatherer of insights and guidance, which we never use.

We live in an age where there has never been greater access to business development information.  Much of this is written by accomplished, respected experts – People we know we can trust.  It’s there right now, just waiting to be read and acted on.

I often wonder how many struggling small business owners would be millionaires today, if they decided to act on some of the great information they gathered; rather than simply gathering more and more ideas that they never put into action.

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

Photo: Josep Ma. Rosell

WordPress.com for business: Think first!

WordPress is, in my opinion, the finest blogging software in the world.  Little wonder then, that the vast majority of the world’s top blogs run on Matt Mullenwegg‘s brain child.  It’s the only blogging software I use and the only one I recommend.

WordPress.com offer a free version of WordPress, hosted on their own servers, which has proven extremely successful, and this free version is what today’s post is all about.

You see, although the free WordPress.com service is amazing, it has significant issues for some business users.

WordPress.com, advertising and you

The main issue is the idea of building your blog, knowing that you do not have the freedom to use it the way you want to.  This is a particular problem for those of you, who would like to make money from advertising on your blog or earn affiliate income; 2 of the most popular ways to monetize a commercial blog.

Even this blog, with just 1 affiliate, would fall foul of the terms regarding a free WordPress.com blog and would be suspended!  This can be a lot more severe than it may sound.  Here’s a direct quote explaining what can happen to suspended WordPress.com blogs:

“If a blog has been suspended for violating our terms, its domain/URL and content will not be returned.” From the suspended blogs page on WordPress.com

You will also be suspended, if you decide to run adsense etc on your blog.  Here’s what they say on the advertising page, in the WordPress.com support section.

Adsense, Yahoo, Chitika, TextLinkAds and other ads are not allowed on free WordPress.com blogs. If you would like to run ads on your blog, one of these options may work for you:

We have a feature called Ad Control that lets WordPress.com bloggers with a lot of traffic (generally 25,000 pageviews/month or more) and appropriate content turn on AdSense and Skimlinks for their blog and split the resulting revenues 50/50 with us.

So, you can actually advertise on WordPress.com, but only if you get your blog delivering 25,000 or more page views a month AND you pay WordPress 50% of the money you make!

If you’re OK about working for years to build that kind of readership, and then giving half your income away, it’s an option.  Why any business savvy person would do that is beyond me.  To have that much traffic and give half your earnings away, just for some free hosting, makes no commercial sense whatsoever.

Automattic is right to charge businesses for a business service

Automattic, the company that owns WordPress, is totally right to charge for what they do, when business users want to benefit from their services.  That’s my point.  If you want to monetize your site with ads then WordPress.com is a paid for service, not a free one.  Equally, there’s no option I can see, to allow you to use your affiliate accounts on WordPress.com – free or paid versions. (If you know otherwise, please let me know including links and I will update the post.)

Vague areas

My understanding is that you are allowed to mention your business on a free WordPress blog and even mention special deals you have, but there seems to be a great deal that’s unclear about what WordPress consider appropriate and inappropriate.

For example, in a section on WordPress.com regarding the types of blog you are not allowed to have, they actually mention pyramid selling and MLM in the same sentence, and seem unaware that one is a legitimate business whilst the other is illegal in most countries.  Putting these in the same category is also rather insulting to those working hard and ethically in Multi Level Marketing, and makes it hard to see how an MLM business owner could use the platform and stay within their rules.

In my experience, it makes a lot more sense for you to simply build a blog, like this one, using the excellent WordPress software, and place it on the best hosting you can afford.  It starts from around $5 a month.  This gives you freedom to build your legitimate online business, your way and retain all your income.  You are also free to use whatever plugins you need, giving you and your readers a huge amount of added functionality.

WordPress.com and you

As I said at the beginning, I love the WordPress software, but believe that their limitations may make their free hosting service a poor choice for some business bloggers and entrepreneurs.  It seems WordPress agrees, as one of the suggestions they offer to people who want to make money from their blog, is for them to do exactly as I suggested and get a self-hosted version of WordPress from WordPress.org.  I also have concerns regarding the vague nature of what a WordPress.com moderator may regard as inappropriate, (thus suspending your account.)  Just look at how they categorised MLM and pyramid selling together.

I would like to know your feedback, regarding WordPress.com as a business blogging platform.  Maybe you believe that their free hosting is worth the price (millions of people do)?  Whatever your feedback regarding this amazing platform, I would love to hear from you!

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

Image: WordPress

The secret to running a perfect business

If your business was perfect in every way, what would it look like?

Not many people actually ask themselves that question, yet it’s extremely important for you to know what you are aiming for; your gold standard, if you like.  In today’s post, I’m going to show you how to get a lot closer to your ideal business and the results you want.

Let’s start by breaking that opening question down a bit, so that it’s easier for us to actually work on!

What would my client list look like now, if it was perfect in every way?

Many of you work with people that are a pain in the ass or who pay you too little or both.  This is not something you have to put up with.  In fact, I would make it a top priority for you to fire your bad clients and replace them with people who fit your ideal client profile.  I love working with my clients.  I hand-pick them, which means I only work with great people.  I actually look forward to working with them, which means “work” for me is extremely pleasurable and professionally rewarding.

Decide who you want to work with and adjust your marketing accordingly, so that it attracts inquiries from the kind of people you want to work with.  If your marketing is currently attracting people who don’t value your time, change it.

What would my working week look like, if it was perfect in every way?

Most small business owners spend the majority of their waking hours working.  Many have areas of their business, which cause them stress or leave them feeling unrewarded.  Others work way too many hours.  Some suffer with both!  Now, even if you love what you do, working for too many hours is a bad move; especially if you have family or friends that you know you don’t spend enough time with.

Draw up a plan of what your ideal working week would look like, if it was perfect in every way.  Think about commercial activities that need to be done, but which you could delegate to someone else.  Even if you have no employees, you can outsource things that frustrate you or take up too much of your time.  For example, it’s often a lot less expensive to hire someone to do your accounts correctly, than for you to have to either work late or neglect areas of your business, trying to get the numbers right.

What would my finances look like, if they were perfect in every way?

In other words, what turnover and profit figure would you like to achieve, in order to have the lifestyle and security you want?  Now, here’s a second, even tougher question to ask yourself:

“How realistic is it, for me to expect my current method of business to generate that figure?”

I speak with small business owners all the time, who are working their butts off, yet earning nothing like what they should be.  There are 2 main reasons for this:

  1. They are working hard, doing the wrong things extremely well.  If they are missing key points out of their marketing or business development, no matter how hard they work, they will reach a very low income ceiling and stay there until they do something about it.
  2. They are doing the right things, but incorrectly.  Some business owners have the basics of business development in place, but their implementation is poor.  For example, they know they need to be using content marketing, so they get a blog, write some marketing emails etc – But they do it incorrectly.

If you currently work hard and are not seeing the results you want, I can assure you that you fit into one of those 2 groups.  Thankfully, once you get the specialist help you need, all that hard work can be channelled in the right direction and you can start seeing the bankable results you want.

The great thing about running your own business, is that you get to decide how your business is run.

So, what areas of your business would you like to change or improve?

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

Photo: Unspoken Romance

6 things I learned that cost me thousands: Yours now for FREE!

Today, I am going to share some ideas with you, which cost me thousands to learn.  Hopefully, by learning from my experiences, you can save a lot of money, a huge amount of time and achieve some great results!

Jim Rohn used to tell us that the most valuable thing about becoming a millionaire is not owning the money.  The value came from learning how to generate a million, because once you have learned the lessons and developed the attitudes, you will never have to worry about money ever again.

Three weeks ago I launched a dedicated Internet Marketing site and according to the statistics, it has progressed as far in just three weeks, as this site did in its first 5 months!

How come?

I have been able to invest all the lessons I learned and the knowledge I gained, from building this blog, into developing the new site.

Lessons learned?

In brief, here are just 6 of the many lessons I learned, from developing this blog:

  1. It’s not enough to write great content.  Despite what some gurus tell you, your site will remain invisible to people unless you share it and attract lots of good quality links.  Some great bloggers still get very little traffic, because they don’t market their content correctly.
  2. You don’t need a million readers in order to make a VERY good living via your blog marketing.  Yes, if you are selling SEO software, blog themes or other inexpensive, 1 time purchases, you need huge numbers of new people all the time.However, if you are a coach, consultant, lawyer, accountant, designer etc, selling a repeat service worth thousands, you need a fraction of those numbers.  I was making over £100,000 from inquiries generated here, with fewer than 200 visitors a day!
  3. You save NOTHING by hosting your business blog with a cheap provider.  Each time I invested in better blog hosting, my results improved.  By putting this site on faster, more reliable servers, more people were able to access it.
  4. Most of the blog themes that you see on the top sites look VERY different when you buy them!  They often “forget” to tell you that the theme you are looking at costs just $80 (or whatever) but the version on their site has had several grand’s worth of bespoke design work applied to it!  I wasted a lot of money and time buying and installing the top themes and then finding out afterwards they were extremely limited.Then, I discovered Headway (affiliate link) which allowed me complete control over how my site looked for the first time.  I estimate Headway has saved me around $3000 in designer fees and months in development time, since I installed it on all my sites over a year ago!
  5. The more specific your content is, the more people will like it, value it and share it.  By trying to appeal to everyone, your content ceases to inspire or motivate anyone.
  6. Many online gurus are actually very bad at making money online!  Even some of the best known have to spend months of the year away from their children and spouses, because they need to make income OFFline.Unless you too want to spend your life on the road, or you know someone who will sell you a house in exchange for ReTweets or “Facebook likes”, (rather than money), you may want to adopt a different online marketing strategy.

The past, today and the future

By investing our past experiences, into making wiser decisions today, we can create an exciting, compelling future.  I hope those brief insights into a few of the lessons I have learned whilst developing this blog, have been of use to you.  If you are interested in learning a lot more about how to generate bankable results from our content marketing, check out the new site!

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

Can we really trust business gurus? 5 Things you should know

All business advice is not created equally.

Whilst some business advice can help you achieve breakthrough results, other business advice can cause you to lose your money and sometimes, lose your business!

The challenge for small business owners today, especially those looking online for free business advice, is that it has never been easier for someone to create fake proof that they are an expert.  As business owners tend to look for advice in areas of business where, by default, they typically don’t know a great deal, it’s extremely simple for the fake experts to fool them.

Some fake experts are easy to spot

The fake marketing expert, who gets very few comments on his or her blog, is perhaps not the best person for you to invest in, if you want to learn how to build a passionate community of readers who will connect with you and buy from you.  The success guru, who can’t afford a high quality, professional website is equally transparent.  However, some fake experts are less easy to spot!  You have to dig a little deeper.

Here are 5 things to consider, when you check someone out:

  1. ANYONE can claim to be a published author, thanks to services like lulu.
  2. ANYONE can claim to be a social media expert, thanks to software that allows them to gain tens of thousands of followers.
  3. ANYONE can claim to be the host of their own radio show, thanks to services like blogtalkradio.
  4. ANYONE can call themselves a guru, but very few genuine business experts ever do.
  5. ANYONE can have a professional looking website or blog, thanks to software like Headway (affiliate link.)

The bottom line:  Free advice can be extremely costly, if you are making business decisions based on bad information.  Never act on advice until you are satisfied that the person advising you is an expert.

Over to you

So, what are your tips on how to avoid taking bad advice?  Please share them with a comment.

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

Photo: House of sims

What’s the most common mistake I see small business owners make?

Yesterday, someone asked me what was the most common mistake I saw small business owners making.

I was able to answer immediately, as I see examples of this literally every working day of my life!

The single biggest mistake I see people make, is that they believe they can carry on, with the same mindset, taking the same kind of actions and avoiding the same core disciplines, and that things will “just get better” somehow.

Jim Rohn used to say that our future holds one of two possible outcomes; namely the inevitable rewards or unavoidable regrets of our past actions.  He was absolutely right.

The need for action

It’s great to want things to improve, but without the determination to do what’s required, we are deluding ourselves.  Bob may sincerely want to get fitter and have more energy, but if he continues to eat junk and refuses to exercise, nothing will improve.  Similarly, if he wants his business to significantly increase it’s revenues and profits, he needs to significantly improve how he develops his business.

If you would like some help with this, I have a great, downloadable audio program, which gives you almost 2 hours worth of my most powerful ideas on motivation and getting the results you need.

Learn the lessons, take the actions and look to the future with excitement, rather than apprehension.

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

Photo: Henrique Vicente

Disclosure matters

Even though I am an affiliate of just one product and have just 1 sponsor, I decided to add a disclosure page to this blog.

I assumed that as I seldom link to the only affiliate product I have and the blog’s sponsor is clearly referred to as such, there was little point.

I then saw something that made me reconsider, very quickly!

I was prompted to write that brief page, after reading several disclosure pages on some popular blogs; which had so many caveats that just about anything they wrote could be some kind of paid endorsement.  It was extremely illuminating and I suggest that you check out any disclosure pages on the blogs you read.

My affiliate partner and sponsor

I am an independent blogger, with no cross marketing agreements with anyone.  If I say I think a particular blog or product or service is great, it’s because I believe it.  For example, I was openly recommending my hosting provider, WebFusion, before they started sponsoring the blog.  Five months after going onto one of their dedicated servers, I am still on 100% up time!  It’s easy to recommend something like that, knowing how many people are stuck on unreliable hosting.  I wasted a long time on deadbeat hosts before finding them.  BTW: I get paid nothing if you click their banner, it’s just a link to their site.

With my one and only affiliate, it was a very similar story.  I had been recommending Headway (the WordPress theme this blog’s built on), to people for 6 months, before I decided to become an affiliate.

Recommended reading:  My friend Danny Brown has a great post on his blog about other areas of disclosure, which is well worth reading.

Even if you have little to disclose, I think it’s a very good idea to put it up there so people can see.

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

Photo: Sean McMenemy

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