Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: April 2012 (page 1 of 3)

Attract more word of mouth referrals with this simple marketing tip!

If you would like to attract more word of mouth referrals, this post is JUST for you!

I’m going to start with a question:

How easy is it for your clients or customers, to spread the word about how amazing your service is, to the right people AND with the correct message?

Word of mouth: When your salespeople are not your salespeople

Many small businesses invest in their marketing, yet have no dedicated salespeople, other than maybe the woman who owns the business. So, her sales force then becomes her clients and her advocates, (advocates are those who actively spread the word about you and your business.)

Now, if this business owner had some salespeople, they would all have been told exactly what type of prospective client they should focus on AND what the key sales message is. This way, the salespeople would be speaking with the right people and saying the correct things.

Word of mouth needs clarity and focus

If you would like to attract more high quality business leads from your clients and advocates, spend a little time explaining the type of prospective clients you want to attract and what they should say. If they don’t know who to speak to or what to say, you make it extremely hard for them to spread the word in a meaningful way. So, cover it in your newsletter. Write about it on your blog. Mention it the next time you speak with the clients and advocates, who you have a great rapport with.

Also, remember to keep it simple. Usually, you are just helping them identify the right type of people and explaining that all they need to do, is ask them to call you. That’s all you need.

Whatever you do, do not be pushy! Just make sure there is information out there, which people can use when recommending you, so they are not wasting their time.

Photo: Coolio-Claire

Massively boost your sales and profits by focusing on these 2 things!

boost sales, more profits, bigger profits

If you want to increase your sales, revenues AND profits, you will love this post. It shows 2 areas of your business you need to focus on and provides a link to dozens of practical ideas you can use.

1. You need to focus on increasing the value of your work

We live in an age where someone can go to Google and in a few minutes, find providers in your industry, claiming to offer what you offer, for less money. You don’t want to have to compete by being cheapest, so the alternative is to focus on value.

If you pump enough value into what you do and lift your service is head and shoulders above the average providers in your industry, you are no longer competing with them. Prices or fees are no longer the same factor they were.

For example, the most expensive restaurant in your city isn’t competing with the local fast food joints on price. The reason people will pay hundreds for a meal in a top restaurant, is that they are not paying for the calories. They can buy the calories at Burger King for pennies! They are paying for the experience. They are paying for the value.

The answer? I suggest you stop doing what 99% of your competitors do. Instead, be different. Not different just for the sake of it, but different because you are offering a uniquely valuable experience. The starting point for me and many others I know, came when we stopped doing work that paid and started doing work that mattered.

2. You need to focus on marketing your value

You don’t want your business to be the best kept secret in town. For your business to succeed, you need your marketing to attract the attention of the right people and show them just how great you are.

Earning people’s attention is harder today than ever before, because your prospective clients have never had so much information to navigate through every day. Your marketing is trying to get noticed, in a non-stop deluge of messages. Your prospective clients are being bombarded with everything from radio / TV commercials, email marketing, text messages and social media updates, to direct mail, websites, cold callers and newspaper ads. It’s non-stop and somehow, you need to get noticed.

The answer? If you are serious about getting your message heard above all those other people trying to do the same, you need to be significantly better then they are, at earning the attention of your marketplace. Some of those guys are very good, others are good and others are just very noisy. A great place to start, is to understand that the more you pester people, the less likely it is that they will listen to you. People hate being pestered or pursued.

Small business marketing 2012 style

The kind of marketing you need, is marketing that earns people’s attention and then earns their consideration. This blog post is a great example. You are reading this now, because you either subscribe to the blog or visited the blog and read it. Below this free information, there’s a short note letting people know that if they want me to show them how to get great marketing results, they just need to get in touch. This week, around a hundred thousand people will see that message below my posts, without me needing to pay for ads, attend networking events or pester anyone.

Some free help

I’ve just updated my Top Marketing Tips. It’s now a few thousand words long and contains dozens of practical ideas, tips and suggestions, to help you massively improve your marketing.

Of course, if you’d like me to work with you and show you exactly what you need to do, read the message below.

Photo: Slightly Everything

Klout: Has the service improved?

Klout, the controversial service that claims to be able to measure our influence, say that their algorithm has become more accurate, since I ditched the service last year. Like many users, I was amazed how inaccurate Klout scores were and asked for my account to be deleted.

klout, influenceToday, there are well qualified people being refused jobs because their Klout score is too low. That’s how highly some people regard a persons Klout score. It’s also claimed in Wired Magazine that some airlines are offering free upgrades to Klout users with high scores and restaurants are offering better service.

I needed to know if these Klout-based decisions stack up now or of Klout is still as unreliable and easy to fool as it was when I last used it.

So, I had an idea…

I decided to set up a Klout account today, to see what my Klout score will be by simply connecting it to my active social networking accounts and using them as normal – Rather than playing the Klout game.

In other words, I want to find out what Klout score I will get, with me refusing to use Twitter, Google+ and Facebook the way Klout suggest users should, which is pretty much to use social networks non-stop, never stray off-topic and to tweet about Klout every time their pop-up boxes tell me to!

My Klout score on day one of the experiment is (drum roll please) 10 out of 100!

Klout V Clout

A common belief is that Klout is easily fooled into giving influential status, to people who have no real world clout or influence, so long as they spend huge amounts of time doing what Klout says is important. This is why we see kids and long term unemployed people, who play with social networks all day, with a higher Klout score than self made millionaires and business leaders. I want to know if this is still true or if the boffins at Klout have managed to tweak their service, so that it now knows the difference between someone with zero influence who RT’s links non-stop on Twitter and someone with real influence. I recall a year or so ago that Bill Gates had a lower Klout score, than the unemployed son of a friend of mine!

I have no idea how Klout will score me over the coming months. For those of you who don’t know me, here are some of my influence metrics, so you can get a handle on how they might score me:

  • This blog was mentioned in The Guardian newspaper recently, for being the most influential marketing blog in the UK and the second most influential UK blog.
  • My work is read by over 100,000 people a week (often a lot more).
  • My Google+ account is in the top 1%, with over 13,100 people circling me.
  • My Twitter account has around 6,500 followers, including Robert Scoble, Mitch Joel, Brand Republic and the Editor in Chief of Mashable, Lance Ulanoff. (Apparently, Klout takes the influence of those who follow us into account.)

I will keep you updated regarding my progress. It will certainly be interesting to see how Klout decide to score me; as someone with some real world influence, who isn’t trying to game their algorithm!

The Blog Tree: 50 Most influential UK blogs

The UK edition of The Blog Tree was announced today by Eloqua, listing their top 50 most influential UK blogs. It was terrific and humbling, to see this blog rated the top marketing blog in the UK and the 2nd business blog over all – especially among so many great blogs in; marketing, PR, social media, tech, start-ups, SEO and design.

the blog tree

Click to enlarge

What’s in a list?

Whenever I see a list of top websites, my first thought is always, ‘how did they come up with that list?’ In many cases, it’s just someone’s personal preference. Others give no indication how their lists are compiled, they just present them.

In the case of The Blog Tree, we have some detail. The list was created by Eloqua, using measurement software developed by Edelman (the world’s largest privately owned PR firm) and research for the list was provided by Hotwire PR in London. So, at least we know who worked on it, what tools they used and thus can evaluate it for ourselves.

One benefit of a well constructed list, is that it can be a useful discovery tool. This page has links to each of the 50 blogs mentioned on The Blog Tree. I know most of these sites and can confirm there some great blogs on that list, which are well worth checking out. I hope you find it useful.

Update: The list was featured today on The Guardian blog.

The sandwich shop that closes for lunch

If you want your sandwich business to survive, it’s probably a bad idea to close for lunch. Lunchtime is when you are likely to sell the most sandwiches, so you need to be there and ready, for when the hungry masses arrive.

Before you laugh at a sandwich shop closing for lunch

Consider this: What happens to 99% of business websites, as soon as they get hit with a lot of traffic?

Answer: The site becomes either too slow for people to use or the site collapses under all the traffic!

At the point where their content marketing or advertising is pulling in the most potential customers, many small business owners are pretty much closed for business! They often invest huge amounts of time and money, trying to drive potential customers to their websites, without making sure the doors are open when people arrive.

Closed to traffic

I was prompted to write this post after trying to access a site, which some a social media big shot had tweeted. He has over 200,000 followers and by the time I clicked the link, the site was already inaccessible to me and probably hundreds of others. I know this will have lost that site a lot of visitors, because when he tweeted about the launch of my creative thinking site, there were hundreds of people simultaneously on the site, for hours. That site, like this, is on dedicated hosting and was able to remain speedy and reliable throughout. For those interested, my hosting is provided (and sponsored) by Webfusion, though I was a very happy paying customer of theirs, long before they sponsored the blog.

Here’s why this matters

Through a lot of effective marketing and some solid launch content, I managed to attract tens of thousands of visitors on the first week of my creative thinking site. That traffic earned me my first few hundred subscribers, social media shares and back-links. This got the site established fast. None of that could have happened, if the server the site was on had gone down or been too slow to use, once the initial few hundred people arrived on that first day! The momentum would never have been created.

I would have been like a sandwich shop, closed for lunch.

Considering the cost

Don’t leave yourself in a position, where your site can’t cope with a retweet from a social networking star or a rush of traffic from a viral blog post. As with my example a moment ago, those kinds of targeted traffic spikes are often the launchpad to a quantum increase in your sales, readership numbers, subscribers and customer inquiries.

If you are serious about your marketing and business development, build the foundation of your online presence on the strongest, most reliable hosting you can afford. Cheap hosting can be extremely costly in missed opportunities.

Photo: Charleston

What everyone needs to know about blame

Who is responsible for our results?

I spent some time recently, with the former owner of a retail outlet. He explained that the reason his store flopped, was that the economy was too weak. I know a number of the people whose retail outlets are on the same high street as his and although a few have flopped, they are the minority. Most are doing fine, others are doing very well and expanding.

Not his fault?

He was blaming the wrong culprit. The reason that guys retail outlet failed, was that he did too few of the things required for success.

For example, he was trying to compete based on price, against online retailers who had a fraction of his overhead – playing to his weaknesses, rather than his strengths. His marketing was ineffective compared to his competitors and his in store experience was also very poor.

Blaming the economy for the failure of his business is like a bank robber blaming the police for being in jail, rather than taking responsibility for having robbed the bank.

We see the blame game everywhere

Listen to the coach of a losing team after a game and you will often hear all kinds of blame being dished out. Listen to the winning coach and you will hear them talking about how effective the planning was and how committed the team were.

The most effective people in any area of life, take responsibility for their actions and inactions. The buck stops with them and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Why? Because accepting responsibility gives them complete freedom. It motivates them to do the right things, correctly; knowing that the right results will surely follow.

The only way we can improve our results, is to accept responsibility for them.

  • If you want more sales, build a better marketing plan and work that plan.
  • If you want higher profits, build a better profitability plan and work that plan.
  • If you want to start getting bankable results from all that social networking you do, build a better social networking plan and work that plan.
  • If you want to retain more customers, build a better customer retention plan and work that plan.

If you want better results in any area, build a better plan and work that plan.

In short: Take responsibility. Decide what you want. Do the research. Then do the work. Don’t wait for the economy or Lady Luck to save you.

Photo: Laffy4k

Time to get Thunky again!

I have just relaunched JimConnolly.com, also known as my Thunky.

What is a Thunky?

I got the idea for the name Thunky, because the blog was a place for me to put random thoughts, things I had Thunk.

Anyone can have a Thunky. It’s simply a self-hosted blog, where you post the kind of interesting information you usually just give away to social networking sites.

How it works

It works like this: You get an idea for something to share on Facebook, but rather than go direct to Facebook and post it, you post it on YOUR Thunky firstThen share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or whatever networks you use.

The benefit? You have a site that you control, which has the original version of all your most interesting social networking posts. These posts are then indexable by search engines, can be shared across all the social networks, are findable by friends (or potential clients) and most importantly, YOU own them! Here’s what a Thunky is, in more detail.

The site is not marketing specific, but a place for me to share general ideas, thoughts, photos, and videos, with anyone who is interested.

So, why not pop over and take a look!

You’re just 5% away from the success you want. Here it is!

My mentor, the late great Jim Rohn, used to say:

‘Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.’

The 5% that matters

Most business owners will do 95% of what’s needed, in order to achieve the results they REALLY want. They work hard. They work long hours. They make sacrifices for their business. The challenge, is that the missing 5% is the magic that turns a living into a fortune. It’s the 5% that means we get to build a wall of financial security around us and those we love, which nothing can breach. It’s a very important 5% indeed.

Now, it may not always be 5%, it may be a little higher or lower. That 5% represents the small number of things, which we know we need to do in order to blow the lid off our potential. Thankfully, as my mentor taught me, the 5% bridge, between where we are today and where we want to be, can be spanned with discipline.

The magic of discipline

  • The discipline to spend less time watching TV and more time feeding our brain with rich, mental protein.
  • The discipline to embrace our uniqueness rather than play it safe and look like our competitors.
  • The discipline to lead rather than follow.
  • The discipline to focus on what we want, rather than what we fear.
  • The discipline to listen to what our business results are telling us and invest in the help we need.
  • The discipline to give ourselves permission, rather than wait for someone to pick us from the crowd.
  • The discipline to do work that matters, rather than work that pays.
  • The discipline to accept responsibility for our business and stop blaming the economy, the weather, the competition etc, for our lack of progress.
  • The discipline to stop accepting less than we deserve.

A great place for us to start, is with the discipline to do all the work. Not just the 95% that every business owner does.

Photo: Hugo90

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