Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: June 2012 (page 1 of 3)

Another perspective on your business

Perspective is a fascinating thing.

My elderly neighbour refers to me as ‘a nice lad’. She is 40 years older than me and from her perspective, I’m just a kid. However, as far as my friend’s 12 year old son is concerned, I’m ancient. From his perspective, I’m almost as old as his father, which makes me really old.

Another perspective

As business owners, it’s tempting to look at things from OUR perspective. The challenge with that approach, is that our success will be determined by the value we deliver – as seen from the perspective of the marketplace. We know we care about our clients and we know we are committed to delivering excellence, but can the marketplace see it?

It can be a very useful exercise, to take a step back form our business and consider how things look, from the perspective of our clients and prospective clients. Sometimes, we can be so close to our own business that we can hardly see it!

Photo: Erik Johansson.

3 lessons from a world class newsletter

Here are 3 email marketing tips, from a company with almost one and a half million paying customers and a valuation of a billion dollars.

Why the Evernote newsletter gets it right

One of the best examples of super successful email marketing is the Evernote newsletter. For those who don’t already know, Evernote is a free smartphone app that allows you to capture ideas using; audio, photos, drawings and text. These can then be seamlessly synced to your computers, so you have access to all your notes, all the time, on all your connected devices.

The Evernote newsletter is almost as clever as their app. It does 3 simple things really well; things that most small business owners get wrong. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Their newsletter actually contains news

The Evernote newsletter provides users with news about the product and the company, meaning we are always up to speed on the latest developments.

evernore newsletter, email marketingHere’s why this matters: By ‘letting us in’ on what the team are up to and allowing us to see how the company is developing, we feel like part of their community. We feel a deeper connection with them. We get a picture of the people and brand behind the product. Very few small business newsletters do this and as a result, they miss out on developing a stronger connection with their readers.

2. Their newsletter makes Evernote more valuable

The primary focus of their newsletter, is to provide useful tips on how to get the best results from their app.

Here’s why: The team at Evernote understand that the best way to retain users, is to provide us with the information we need, in order to get the very best from the app. This also dovetails beautifully with the Evernote business model, which is to offer 60MB of uploads a month for free, with a small monthly charge (in the UK it’s £4 per month) for users who need to upload more data. Obviously, the more we use the app, the more likely we are to need more storage than we get with the free version.

By educating Evernote users on how useful the app is, users are also much more likely to rave about it to their friends. This helps Evernote to reach more and more potential customers. There are currently almost 40 million Evernote users. This has seen them attract 1.4 Million paying users and build an estimated company value of 1 Billion dollars.

3. Their newsletter doesn’t push

If you look closely at the Evernote newsletter, you will notice that there are no links anywhere, which ask you to buy the product! None. Instead, they just offer you case studies, ideas and tips, on how to make their free version of Evernote so useful, that becoming a paid user is a natural progression. There is a link from the Evernote desktop app and from their website, which you can use to upgrade to the premium version. And that’s exactly what 1.4 Million people, and counting, have done with no pushing or pestering required!

The Evernote approach to email marketing

The idea is beautifully executed, yet the framework behind it is extremely simple. It’s about focusing like a laser on delivering value, rather than pushing a sales pitch. It’s about using education to make the value of the app so obvious and relevant, that purchasing it becomes a logical conclusion for those readers with a need for it.

It’s a classy, human, value driven approach to email marketing and it’s extremely effective. Worth learning from? ABSOLUTELY!

Be so good that they can not ignore you!

The title of this post came from a wonderful quote, by comedian Steve Martin.

Steve was asked; ‘What’s the trick to making it in the entertainment industry?’  

He replied; ‘Be so good that they can not ignore you!’

The thing about tricks & hacks

Small business owners are always looking for the ‘trick’ or the ‘hack’, which will get them where they want to be.  Here’s what we know about people who try to hack their way to the top: It doesn’t work very well.  The tiny percentage of people who manage to hack their way to some degree of success, find it’s short lived.

Why?  I think my mentor Jim Rohn put it best.  I’m paraphrasing here, but Jim would say that if someone were to hand the ‘average’ person a million dollars, they’d better learn how to be a millionaire, because if they didn’t, their new found wealth would soon be lost.  Jim was right.

Indeed this became such a problem that lottery companies had to start giving big-money winners access to wealth experts, because there were people going from millions to pennies in a few years. They knew how to pick the lucky numbers, but had no idea what to do with the money.

In short:  You don’t need to be a genius to make it in business, but you do need to be wise enough not to fall for the tricks.

Photo: Pasukaru76

Volume control?

Do you ever wonder why some small business owners push their sales messages at you, over and over again?

It’s usually because they are getting a poor response and are prepared to risk damaging their reputation, to increase the volume of their message.

Their thinking looks something like this: ‘Maybe if I send my marketing message out just one more time, more people will hear what I have to say and SOMEONE will respond!’ 

They then push their marketing message out as often as they can, until they notice too many people asking to be removed from their mailing list or blocking them on social networks.

The thing is, the volume is seldom the problem!

The challenge is not that people can’t hear what these small businesses are saying, it’s that the message isn’t interesting enough to capture the attention of the marketplace and motivate prospective clients to get in touch.

Increasing the volume of a bad message, is like increasing the volume of a low quality piece of music – you simply irritate more and more people, the louder you get.

Here are some better places to look, when people are ignoring your marketing messages:

  • Is your message REALLY reaching the right people?
  • Is your special offer REALLY that special?
  • Is your service REALLY so superior to what they already receive, that it will convince them to call you?
  • Is your deal of the week REALLY that good a deal?
  • Is your marketing message REALLY compelling enough, for it to inspire people to take action?

Increasing the volume of a bad message is toxic

It annoys people.  It hurts your reputation.  If you are not getting the response you need when people receive your marketing, work on the message first, not the volume.

Photo: Jim Connolly

9 Posts – 5 of which you probably missed!

I received an email earlier, from a reader who wanted to know why I had only published a handful of posts over the past week.

The reason I found her email interesting, is that over the past 7 days, I have actually published a total of 7 blog posts and 2 articles.

As well as the 4 blog posts published here this week, I have also:

  • Published 3 new blog posts, over on JimConnolly.com.  I call that site a thunky and it’s very different to the material I share with you here on Jim’s Marketing Blog.
  • I published 2 articles on my Creative Thinking site. One is all about so-called ‘idea people’ and the other is about Raising the Bar on your potential. There are dozens of other articles on that site, written exclusively for those of you who are interested in developing your creativity.

So, I thought I’d put this brief post together, for anyone else who isn’t aware of my work on those other sites, in case you’d like to check them out.  I hope you find something useful.

Photo: Katerha

Risky business

Right now, a lot of people reading this post are thinking about starting something new.

  • It may be a that you’re thinking of offering a new service.
  • You might be considering starting a new business.
  • You could be considering starting a new blog.
  • And it could be that you are wondering if the time is right, to take your business in a totally new direction.

Now, some of the people thinking about doing something new, will do it. Others will not. Those who do, stand a chance of failing. That’s too heavy an entry fee, for those scared of getting it wrong, losing money or taking a risk.

The thing is, you can’t grow a successful business without encountering risk. Every time we stretch, we face the potential for gain or loss, yet without stretching, our business can’t grow.

It’s not fun to start something new and fall flat on your face. You know what feels a lot worse than that, though? The feeling of knowing deep down, that we never even tried!

What does your social media activity say about you?

The world is full of mixed messages, and the world of business is no exception.

Photo: Jim Connolly

When someone spam emails us selling their SEO services, it sends us a mixed message. We wonder why they need to send us spam, if their SEO is supposed to be able to generate stacks of sales leads.

When a small business owner claims to offer a professional service, yet they operate behind an amateur or cheap looking website, it sends us a mixed message. We’re left wondering why they either can’t afford a professional site or why they believe quality doesn’t matter.

Mixed messages and confusion

Mixed messages cause confusion and as one of the oldest sayings in marketing assures us, a confused mind always says, ‘No!’ In other words, if a prospective client is confused about making a purchase, they opt for the status quo. Rather than risk making a mistake, they do nothing. This is why it’s vital for your marketing to be free of these toxic, mixed messages.

Thanks to the Internet, it has never been easier for us to show the congruency between what we claim and what we do.

For example:

  • Blogging allows us to share what we know, however, it also provides a way for us to demonstrate our ability to show up regularly, over a long period of time. It provides visible proof that we are knowledgeable, reliable and durable.
  • Then there are our social networking accounts. Facebook and Twitter etc, allow people to gain an insight into what we find useful or valuable. It’s hard to maintain a false front, when people can look back over months or years worth of your updates, as they can with your blog or Facebook.

What does your digital footprint look like?

I’d like you to think for a moment about your website, blog (you are blogging I hope) and your social networking accounts. Now consider the following questions:

  • How do they make you look, through the eyes of a prospective client?
  • If your marketing message is based around offering a professional, high quality service, is that how you look when a prospective client checks you out?
  • Is the general picture created by your online image, congruent with your marketing message or out of sync?

In short: Make sure that your marketing and online image avoids mixed messages, so you create the kind of positive impact your prospective clients need.

Video: Robert Scoble and Chris Brogan talk about Feeding The Blog Beast

Here’s a great 16 minute video interview, where Chris Brogan talks to Robert Scoble about social media, content development and the value of being a curator, plus lots, lots more.


If you can’t see the video above, click here.

For more information

You can get more from Robert Scoble via his blog, Twitter and Google+.

You can get more from Chris Brogan via his blog, Twitter and Google+.

Video credit: Robert Scoble / Rackspace

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