Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 11 of 189)

A powerful business lesson… from Google!

How often do you review, refine and improve your products or services?

Many small business owners get comfortable with what they offer. It feels familiar to them. Their clients or customers seldom complain. So, understandably, they keep things as they are.

Here’s the thing: In doing so, those business owners are missing out on a huge opportunity. They are also putting the future of their business at risk.

Why? Because the marketplace is always changing. It’s in a constant state of flux. The providers who fail to embrace the changing landscape, tend to have their lunch eaten by their more agile competitors. As competitors develop products and services that offer increasing value, the business owners who stand still, find they lose clients and fail to attract as many new clients.

Google and Perpetual Beta

One of the keys to Google’s success was their commitment to constant improvement. They embraced a concept known as Perpetual Beta. The term Perpetual Beta, refers to software or systems that are in a development stage for an indefinite or extended period of time. Google create a product and then constantly look for ways to make it better. Gmail, for instance, was a beta product for over 5 years and is still regularly updated.

What this means to you

The best businesses adopt a similar approach to Google. They are consistently looking for ways to improve what they do.

I suggest you do the same and review your current products or services. Look for ways to increase their value to your clients and prospective clients.

If you look hard enough, you will find something to improve. How can I be so sure? Simple. There’s no such thing as the perfect business, which means you will always be able to enhance, improve and advance.

Tip: Read this – How to build a successful business.

Do you make these 7 mistakes with your blog?

If you want better results from your blog, this post is just for you.

I was prompted to write this, after receiving an email over the weekend, from a reader with a question. Here’s what he wanted to know:

“I started blogging 2 years ago, but have very few readers. I think my blog is as good as many in my industry, but I only get around 25 readers a day. Why isn’t anyone reading my blog, Jim?”

Because the mistakes he’s making are common to lots of blogs, I thought I’d answer his question here, via 7 blogging tips. In no particular order, here are 7 key areas to focus on, if you want to build a great blog with a hugely valuable readership.

Blog Tip 1: Have something to say, which is worth reading

People have never been busier than they are today. Equally, there has never been so much choice regarding what they can read. For a blog to attract readers and then retain those readers, it needs to offer something, which is meaningfully different. The majority of blogs don’t do this. They are predictable. They have no distinct voice. They offer no motivation to read them.

The key is to tell us what you think. Give us your opinion… not an echo of what everyone else is saying. Allow your personality to shine through your words. Only by embracing your unique perspective can you hope to stand out, grab people’s attention and then inspire them to keep coming back.

Blog Tip 2: Turn up regularly

The guy who emailed me hadn’t published a new blog post for over 4 weeks. Here’s the thing: We can’t expect people to return to a blog, even a well-written blog, if there’s seldom any new content for them to read.

If you want people to visit your blog regularly, publish new content regularly. Keep your blog fresh. The more often you publish useful content, the faster your readership will grow.

Blog Tip 3: Create the right impression

The guy who emailed me was using a very tired looking, poorly designed blog theme. It created a terrible initial impression, which told me lots about his attitude to his blog.

It has never been easier or less expensive to have a professional looking blog. Despite this, many small business owners use ugly, dated blog themes and as a result, look amateurish. People tend not to treat information on amateur looking blogs very seriously. We expect professionals to look professional.

Think about it, there are only 2 reasons why a business would operate behind an amateur looking blog:

  1. They think it’s OK to allow poor quality work (design) to represent them and their values.
  2. They can’t afford a professional looking blog.

Neither of those options reflect well on the blog owner!

If your blog looks dated, invest in a new, professional blog theme. This allows you to create a great first impression and sets a professional tone for what your visitors are about to read.

This leads on nicely to the next point.

Blog Tip 4: Be visible on mobile devices

An increasing number of people view the Internet using their phones or tablets. If a site is hard to read on their mobile device, they leave. Despite this, an alarming number of blogs are not mobile ready. In other words, they are hard to read or navigate when using a mobile device.

Would you like to see what your blog (or website) looks like on various mobile devices? Then use this free app – Screenfly by Quicktools. It’s extremely easy. Just enter the address of your site and then click the various options in the menu bar, to see what your site looks like on different, popular phones and tablets.

If your blog doesn’t perform well on mobile devices, you will lose visitors before they even start reading what you have to say. Depending on your industry, you could be offering a bad user experience to 50% or more (and growing), of your readers!

Blog Tip 5: Stop selling

Most small business bloggers turn almost every post into a sales pitch. Instead of being interesting and offering useful information, these posts read like a series of thinly-disguised advertisements. The challenge with that approach is that people are not interested in reading ads, linking to ads or sharing your ads with their friends.

Focus instead on using your posts to position you as an expert in your field. Provide valuable information, which people will want to read, link to and share.

This is the exact approach I use with Jim’s Marketing Blog. I share my ideas and expertise, for free, with the intention of being as valuable to my readers as possible. Then, when they decide they need expert marketing help, a hefty subset email me or give me a call. Readers also share my posts and link to them, allowing me to reach new readers every day.

Blog Tip 6: Make blogging a high priority business activity

A successful blog can be an exceptionally valuable asset for you and your business. So, give it the investment it needs.

For instance, my blog has provided me with opportunities I could never have imagined, prior to blogging. It has allowed me to attract the interest, and custom, of some of the world’s biggest brands. It has also allowed me to build a fantastic network among my readers, eliminating the need for me to have a Linkedin account or do any form of networking.

Give your blog the time, effort and money it needs and you can build an asset, which grows in value every day.

Blog Tip 7: Play the long game

Even if you are doing everything correctly, it takes time for you to attract (and keep re-earning), the attention of a sizeable readership.

Once a reader has found your blog, the key to motivating them to hire you, buy from you or recommend your work with their valued contacts, is for you to demonstrate your reliability… over time. This is how you go from being yet another blogger, to a professional who they feel they can trust.

In closing

Those are just some of the main areas to focus on, if you want to get the best results from your blog. I hope you find them useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with them.

What every business owner needs to know about Visibility!

invisible 2

I would like to talk with you today, about the visibility of your business.

I was prompted by an email I received this morning, from one of my long time readers. With his permission, I’d like to share a little of what he told me:

“Back in March, I closed my business and took a job working for a former competitor of mine. [...] As I’d long suspected their service is inferior to what I was offering, but they market it way better than I did. They are making a ton of money and I couldn’t even make a living.”

How visible are you?

Sadly, an average service that’s well marketed will always generate massively more money, than a great service, which too few people know about. Think about it: People can’t hire you, if they don’t know you exist — regardless of how amazing you are.

Just consider those painters, composers and writers, whose genius was only appreciated after their death. They produced classics, yet lack of visibility stopped them receiving the recognition they deserved, during their lifetime.

A great example is Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick. Melville was unable to make a living as a writer, so he worked at various jobs, including working on the New York docks. It was decades after his death that a revival of his work took place and the world became aware of Herman Melville’s huge talent. The talent was always there. The books were always there. His work simply lacked the visibility it needed.

Take your marketing seriously

You do amazing work. You care passionately about your clients or customers. You work hard.

Don’t allow ineffective marketing to rob you of the success you deserve.

This will help: Here are my top marketing tips, together in one place!

When opportunity knocks, be prepared. UNLIKE these 2 examples!

If opportunity came knocking at your door today, how prepared would your business be?

I spoke with a business owner recently, whose website was featured on a very popular podcast. Within seconds of her website being mentioned, it crashed under all that traffic.

She explained:

[...] “I spent years trying to get my website noticed. Then, when it finally happened and thousands of people were heading to my site, my $10 a month cheapo hosting couldn’t cope. So, I missed the opportunity to get my site and services in front of thousands of highly-targeted people. It’s made me sick to my stomach.”

That’s just one example of missing an amazing opportunity, by failing to plan for success. There are many, many others.

Sounds terrible

Another common example are those business owners we hear on the radio, who are offering their expert opinion on a news story. They often sound terrible and are never invited back, because they failed to invest in media coaching or presentation training. So, instead of sounding authoritative and informed, they sound flustered and unsure. Instead of boosting their reputation with thousands of prospective clients, they miss out. All because they were unprepared when opportunity came knocking.

In short: Whatever opportunities you are hoping to benefit from with your business, make sure you are prepared in advance. Invest in what you need. Don’t allow poor planning to rob you of an amazing opportunity.

Tip – Here’s some advice to help you invest correctly, so you’re prepared for success!

Here’s a proven way to get people talking about your business

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of attracting referrals, rather than pestering people for referrals. You can read that post here. Today, I’d like to share a proven way to get people talking about your business for all the right reasons.

Let’s look at enthusiasm

When we speak and act with enthusiasm, it spreads like a virus. It changes the way people think and feel about us.

Here are just a few examples:

  • It captures people’s interest.
  • It motivates people to want to know more.
  • It inspires people to talk about us.
  • It creates confidence, which makes people feel comfortable recommending us (and buying from us).

Of course, the opposite is also true.

Let’s look at pessimism

When we speak with pessimism, it spreads like a virus to everyone around us. Pessimism also changes the way people think and feel about us, this time in a totally negative way.

For example:

  • It causes people to feel pessimistic about us.
  • It destroys confidence in our business.
  • It repels motivated, inspirational people.
  • It attracts others, who are similarly pessimistic.

Most small business owners sit somewhere between enthusiastic and pessimistic. They neither inspire people or drive them away. This neutral position is hurting their business and it’s 100% unnecessary.

Fire up your enthusiasm

If your business isn’t attracting the word of mouth referrals you need, try cranking up your enthusiasm.

Remember: No one is going to feel enthusiastic about our business, until we transfer our enthusiasm to them.

How to work a room at a networking event

Someone just asked me for tips on how to work a room at a networking event.

Not the advice he expected

I explained that I wouldn’t spend too much time learning how to get the most from networking events.

No.

I’d focus on why I needed to go to networking events. I’d figure out, very quickly, why my clients, website, newsletter, customers and contacts weren’t providing me with the referrals and leads I need.

Create a story worth sharing, by providing a remarkable service. Then, the word will spread. People will talk about you, because that’s what we do when we encounter something that is remarkable.

Attracting word of mouth referrals is vastly more effective, than offering an average service and having to pester people for leads at networking groups.

Tip: Here’s how to make your business remarkable, so people spread the word!

2 Powerful questions every business owner needs to ask

Here are 2 powerful questions, to keep your business moving in the right direction.

  1. What are you focusing on, most of the time?
  2. Where are you investing your time and money?

If your answers are not consistent with what you want to achieve, make the changes required and get back on track.

Tip: This will help. It explains how to take full control of your business.

Stop marketing your services. Seriously. Stop it!

Savoy

Afternoon tea at The Savoy in London is over £110 and there’s usually a waiting list.

Of course, no one pays The Savoy all that money for afternoon tea. No. They can buy tea and cake from a shop down the street for 90% less. However, it’s not the calories people pay for.

They pay for The Savoy experience: The outstanding service. The amazing quality. The story they can share with their friends.

Sell them the experience

The vast majority of service providers sell the calories of what they do. These coaches, accountants, designers, trainers etc., offer the same predictable services and make the same predictable promises. They have turned their service into a commodity. They then attract fee sensitive clients, because clients buy commodity services based on price or fee.

However, the best service providers in every industry use the same approach as The Savoy. They discovered that they could massively improve their income and profits, by making the experience of working with them so uniquely valuable, that people will pay a premium for it.

If you’re having to compete on fees or you’re finding it hard to stand out from the crowd, invest in creating an amazing experience, then sell the experience. Get this right and it will improve your business beyond recognition.

Tip: You will find this post extremely useful: The number 1 thing your business must know in order to succeed.

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