Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Month: June 2013 (page 1 of 3)

How to put your ideas into action

knowing and feeling

There are 2 things you need to be aware of, if you are serious about achieving your full potential.

  1. What you know.
  2. How you feel, about what you know.

What you know

If you want to improve your outer world, you need to improve on the inside first. You need to read the books, take the classes, listen to the experts. Armed with the knowledge required to do the right things correctly, you are ready for the next step.

How you feel, about what you know

That old saying is wrong. Knowledge is not power. At least, not by itself. For knowledge to have power, you need to do something with it.

For example, adult cigarette smokers know how harmful smoking is, yet they still choose to smoke. They are not lacking in knowledge surrounding the dangers of smoking. However, they will carry on smoking until they change the way they feel about what they know.

It’s how you feel about what you know, which makes all the difference.

Putting what you know into action

As a business owner, you probably have areas of your business, which you know you need to work on, but the way you feel about taking action, stops you. In most cases, the barrier is fear. What if it fails? What if you lose some money? What if you end up looking silly? These are perfectly logical feelings to have. After all, none of us enjoy failing, losing money or looking silly.

Here’s the thing: Until you remove the barriers between where you are today and where you want to be, you will find yourself spinning your wheels. You will find yourself working hard, making nothing like the progress you should be making.

That’s not good enough for you – you deserve better than that. So, here’s a suggestion for you. Start telling yourself different, more empowering stories regarding the way you feel about what you need to do. Focus on the upside.

What if it works?

What if a few, maybe uncomfortable changes to your business, are all that’s needed to take your business to a totally new level?

When you improve your thinking, you improve your actions and when your actions improve, so do your results. Try it.

The winner’s guide to business success

race to bottom

Would you like to attract more high quality clients and earn higher fees?

If you just answered ‘yes’, the following quick marketing tip could be exactly what you need.

The small business race to the bottom

Many small business owners find they attract fee sensitive clients and customers. They then often need to lower their fees in order to compete against other small businesses, who are in the same position as them. We call this fee lowering cycle, the race to the bottom.

It can be dangerous for a small business to win the race to the bottom. It not only attracts the lowest value clients and customers, it also devalues your work and kills your profit margins.

So, rather than join all those other businesses in a race to be the cheapest, I suggest you consider an alternative way to compete, where winning brings the best rewards!

Alternative areas worth winning

Instead of that race to the bottom, join a race that’s worthy of you. Strive to become the provider, who:

  • Cares the most.
  • Works the smartest.
  • Provides the best customer experience.
  • Listens the most intently.
  • Spreads the most optimism.
  • Perseveres the longest.
  • Delivers most value.

Your opportunity to really shine

You deserve a profitable business, working with great people who value you. So, focus on the areas of your business, like those listed above, where you can add real value. Then, work on improving at least one of those key areas, every day.

If you do, in 6 months time your business will be unrecognisable.

You will also find you attract more word of mouth publicity than ever before, as people remark on your remarkable business.

PS: Here is a special 3 part series I wrote for you, all about working for the best clients and the highest fees.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 1.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 2.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 3.

Comment Liberation

Comment liberation

As long time readers will know, this blog has had a serious comment spam problem for some time. Today, I believe I have the best possible solution: Comment liberation.

I currently  attract around 3,000 automated spam comments every day, trying to bypass the various filters I have in place. I also get human generated spam, from people who manage to bypass the filters and need to be manually moderated. It takes a lot of time dealing with the spam problem and also the knock-on problems caused by the spammers.

The comment moderation time suck

I thought I had found a solution, but the solution itself has caused just as big a time suck as the original problem. The various filters I have applied to the blog to catch the spammers also catches legitimate comments and stops people every day from leaving comments. I then get emails from them asking where their comment is and have to get into the software, fish their comment out, add their ip address to a safe list, then publish their comment.

I looked at other commenting systems and each does some of what I need but none do everything. However, all of them offered an option for comments from social networks to be pulled into the blog.

This got me thinking

I then had a bit of an epiphany. I found myself asking better questions:

Why do I actually need to monopolize comments here on the blog? Surely it would make more sense to liberate comments, so people could make them wherever they want, without me moderating anything?

Even if I had zero issue with spam comments and trackback spam, I’m not sure it makes sense (for me) to hog the comments here on my blog.

Yes, hosting comments on a blog is a good idea and has a number of advantages for most bloggers. Here are just a few:

  • It generates more page impressions to their site, as those who comment or follow the discussion on their blog keep returning to comment or check for new comments.
  • It could help with SEO, as new comments may count as ‘frequently updated content’, something Google rewards.
  • If the blogger doesn’t publicly publish their email address or they get very few email comments, it’s a useful way for them to get feedback from a subset of their readers.

None of those apply to me:

  • I don’t need page impressions, as I have no advertisers to keep happy.
  • I don’t SEO the site beyond the absolute basics. I write it exclusively for humans and not robots.
  • I talk to readers about my posts daily on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.
  • I publish my email address publicly and get feedback all day every day from readers (which I love).

Social networks have given everyone a voice

I connect every day with readers on social networks, something that wasn’t possible when I started blogging. Every reader now has an account with at least one social network, giving them a voice and a community to say what THEY think about what they read.

All this for less than 7% of the feedback I receive

It’s insane that I currently spend almost as much time dealing with comment spam and the issues it creates, as I spend writing blog posts! All this aggravation makes so little sense, when you consider that published comments on average, make up around 7% of my entire daily feedback from the blog.

Comment liberation

So, as from this post, I will be closing the comments here and opening up the conversation, by passing it over to you, to talk about wherever you wish. Social networks and email is, after all, where most of the conversation around my work has been for the past 18 months, anyway.

If you want to chat with me away from the gaze of your social network, you are very welcome to email me. My email address, jimconnollymarketing@gmail.com is on every page of this blog. My full address and phone number are listed here.

Not for everyone

Not only is my approach not right for every blogger, I think it’s the wrong approach for the vast majority of bloggers. For example:

  • If your business model needs the additional page impressions that come from comments, this is not for you.
  • If you prefer to have the conversation hosted on your property, this is not for you.
  • If you write just a couple of times a week or less and have lots of time to moderate comments, this is not for you.
  • If you are just getting established and need the social proof, which lots of comments can provide, this is not for you.
  • If you don’t get regular emails from readers and need comments as a way to see what people think about your posts, then this is not for you either.

However, I truly believe this is the best way for me to provide you with as much value as possible. As you would expect, I will look at the situation over the coming weeks and let you know what my experience has been.

Clearly, if I find I have made a mistake, which is possible, I will try another solution.

3 Mistakes that make you look bad and damage your business

business, cause effect, sow reap

There are 3 important ideas I’d like to share with you, so that you and your business avoid some very costly mistakes. They are all based around forcing things to happen, too soon.

Sowing and reaping

There’s a field full of wheat, just around the corner from me. The wheat is still green and clearly not ready to be harvested yet, but in the coming weeks, it will turn golden. It’s at that point, that the farmer will be able to reap the rewards for her hard work. Literally.

Business owners often try and reap their harvest too soon. They try and force things to happen too fast. As a result, they miss out on what could have been a golden harvest.

Here are 3 common examples of mistakes, which business owners make by trying to harvest too soon.

1. Some business owners buy lists rather than build them

A common example of this is email marketing. Rather than build a list, they buy one. It takes time to build a list, but what you end up with is a massively valuable marketing asset: A list of people who want to hear from you.

Instead, they buy a list, which contains the names of people whose email addresses are being sold every day to marketers.

The business owners buying these so called opt-in lists, then wonder why they get such poor results. It seems they are unaware that each time they email that list, theirs is just one of maybe 50 or 100 spam emails the victim is plagued with that day.

Build a list of prospective clients or customers. There’s a huge difference between building a permission marketing asset, and sending people emails they never asked for.

2. Some business owners bypass relationships

Business is all about people. As a result, the way people feel about you is always a key factor in your success. Even so, many business owners try and dehumanize their business, by randomly making selfish requests from strangers.

I see this all the time. I get daily requests from around 30 total strangers, who email me and ask if I will write a blog post about their new product, service or an announcement they have. Rather than build a relationship with me, they say ‘hi’ then hit me with a selfish request.

Begging looks cute when a dog does it. For business owners, it’s not such a great look.

  • Build the relationship.
  • Make the effort.
  • Treat people with respect.
  • Keep it human.

Earn. Then ask.

3. Some business owners refuse to make the investment

These people expect a result, without being prepared to invest the time, energy or money required.

  • They want more business from their website, yet it’s poorly designed and gets no traffic, because they refused to invest in a professional site.
  • They want more business from their customers, yet fail to invest the time required to learn what their customers need.
  • They want more followers on social networking sites, yet fail to invest the time required to do anything worth following.
  • They want to make more high quality sales, yet refuse to invest in professional marketing.

The law of cause and effect assures us that to get what we want, we FIRST have to do what’s required. You can waste a lot of time and money trying to ignore this.

What this means to you

You work hard. Your hard work deserves to be rewarded. Whatever you want to achieve with your business is possible. However, you need to avoid the costly detours outlined in this post. That’s why I took time out from my business, to share this with you today.

How’s business?

how's business

I’d like to share an idea with you, which will help you grow your business faster and with more clarity, than ever before. I need to start by asking you a question.

If I were to ask you, ‘how’s business?’, what would your answer be?

You might say business is great or maybe that business is poor. You could say that business is frantic or perhaps that business is slow. I’d like you to think about your answer for a moment.

Compared to what?

If you answered that business is great, poor, frantic or slow – what are you basing your answer on? For example, if you answered that business is great, business is great compared to what?

  • Are you comparing business to the way things were this time yesterday, last month, last quarter or this time last year?
  • Are you comparing your business to how you think your competitors are doing or how you imagine small businesses in general are doing?

Whatever your answer, I have a suggestion for you

Make future comparisons, based on the model of your ideal business. Here’s how it works.

Start by asking yourself the following question: If my business was perfect in every way, what would it look like?

Then, write your answer down in detail. Include things like:

  • How many hours you would work each day.
  • What you would charge for your services or products.
  • What type of clients or customers you would work with.
  • Where your business would be located.
  • How much you would earn from the business each year.
  • How you would dress for work.
  • What technology you would use.

You get the idea. Keep writing and add as much detail as possible.

Never again mistake movement for progress

Once you have created your ideal business on paper, do one thing every day, which will take you one step closer to it. This is the key behind all progress. Know what you want, then move toward it.

When faced with business decisions and opportunities, you will find it easier to make the best decisions, knowing exactly what your target / goal is. You will never again mistake movement for progress or work hard rowing your boat in the wrong direction.

I hope you found this useful.

How to create like Apple’s Jonathan Ive

I’d like to share a simple idea with you, which will help you find answers to even your most frustrating challenges, whilst stimulating your creativity across the board.

The idea came from none other than Apple’s Chief of Industrial Design, Sir Jonathan Ive.

Jonathan Ive

Apple’s Jony Ive and the importance of words

Sir Jony was on a UK children’s show a while ago, talking about design. The presenter asked him how he would start off, if he was asked to design a lunch box – as this was a task set for the kids.

Immediately, Jony responded my saying:

I’d be careful not to use the word ‘box’. It comes with a bunch of ideas that could be quite narrow, because you think of a box as being square and like a cube. We’re quite careful about the words we use, because they can determine the path that we go down.

Words and direction

The words we use have a huge impact on the direction of our thoughts. Whenever you find yourself working on an answer to a tough challenge, it pays to spend a little time reframing the question you’re asking, to ensure it isn’t predetermining an unproductive channel of thought.

Problem solving tip

Is there a challenge facing you right now, which you have been struggling to resolve?

If there is, try writing it down differently. Look at the words you have been using and replace any limiting words with ones, which open up new possibilities. Also, remove any words from your original question, which were directing your thinking down unproductive paths.

A Content Marketing tip your competitors don’t want you to know

content marketing tip

Here’s a quick Content Marketing tip, to help you improve the effectiveness of all your marketing material.

Content Marketing and speaking their language

One of the cornerstones of effective copywriting, is to remove as many barriers to communication as possible. The person reading your copy (or message) needs to be able to connect with it cleanly and clearly. This means speaking their language.

Lawyers, web designers, accountants and financial experts etc, regularly use industry terms, phrases and buzz words in their marketing to potential clients. This massively reduces the effectiveness of their marketing message.

You can immediately improve your marketing results, by embracing a more accessible approach.

How to create powerful, accessible content

Before you write your next piece of marketing material:

  1. Think about the benefits you provide, from the prospective client’s perspective.
  2. Focus on ‘them’, their business, their needs.
  3. Clearly explain how the benefits you provide will tangibly improve their life, business or both.
  4. Finally, review your message and make sure it’s pitched to the sophistication of your ideal profile of client. Tip: Listen to the different way radio ads are pitched, according to the product and audience of a station or show.

In short: Match your message to your ideal profile of client, by focusing on benefits and using their communication style, not yours.

The art of successful selling

get to know them

If you want to sell successfully, get to know the prospective customer first.

Don’t say hello, then smash them in the face with a sales pitch.

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