Social media marketing – A more social approach

Some people have asked me, why I place so much emphasis on building a community rather than a following.  Yesterday, within a 30 minute period, I received 2 emails from people enquiring about my services.  I believe the way these emails begin, (see excerpt below), demonstrates the marketing value of community.

Email 1:
“Dear Jim,
You don’t know me, but I feel I know you very well through reading your blog for some time now.”

Email 2:
“Hey Jim,
I read your marketing blog and although we have never met I feel like I’ve known you for years.”

Clearly, in both cases the person enquiring felt comfortable writing to me.  There was no barrier in the way – I was approachable.  Equally, in both cases, the writer said that they felt like they knew me.

This is REALLY important!


Because one of the reasons so many business owners and marketers fail to transfer their online networks and social media activity into bankable results, is that they place too much distance between themselves and the people they network with.  Even if they do try and build a community, it’s a community that has them positioned as the leader, rather than a host.

I’ve written about the host approach to social media before.  Here’s a brief overview.

Social media hosts

For the past few years, business owners and marketers have been told to build a following or tribe and then market to them.  I’ve always been uncomfortable with that.  So, I use a very different approach, which is based on the idea of a level playing field, where everyone is equal – No tribal leaders.

Think of the host at a really enjoyable party.  He or she greets guests when they arrive and spends the evening mixing with everyone and making sure that a great time is had by all.  The host of the party is not the leader, but rather an attendee; with a responsibility to ensure that everyone has the best experience possible.  They are eating, drinking and dancing alongside you.  They are talking with you and laughing with you.  When you leave the party, you leave with a great, positive feeling.  My approach to social media marketing, is based on that same host model.

The pay off?

The pay off for the kind of approach I advocate, was demonstrated in those 2 emails from yesterday.  By developing a network of people around your work, who feel that they know you and that you are approachable, you also build a deep and wide prospective client pool.

I would really like to hear your thoughts on the whole idea of social media rock stars.  Is it time for a more social approach to relationship building?

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

You are on your way – But where?

In 3, 5 or 10 years time, your business will truly arrive!

The question is; “where?”

Over the past 15 years, I have worked with thousands of business owners all over the world and in my experience, people tend to focus too much on instant gratification.  They are unwilling to invest in ideas unless they believe there will be a super-fast return. This is why so many scammy products exist; offering us super-flat abs in 3 weeks or Internet millions in 3 months!

Paying the price in advance

I’m fortunate to know many self-made millionaires and one of the major differences between them and the other 99.9%, is that the most successful businesspeople are prepared to pay the price for success, in advance.  They know that before they can reap, they have to sow.

For example:

  • They take time to learn the business of business.  They know how a successful business is supposed to work.
  • They take time to research the needs of their marketplace and the best way to service those needs, with the most value possible.
  • They take time to deliberately build contacts with the right people – Not the people who just happen to attend networking events.
  • They take time to understand the meaning and value of integrity.
  • They take time to read the success stories of other successful people, so they can develop their own recipe for success.
  • They know that success is not about money, but lifestyle.  You won’t find them jetting off all over the world doing business, missing their kids growing up.  That’s not success.  It may lead to financial wealth, but success is valuing the things that money can’t buy WAY MORE than the “toys” that money CAN BUY.

For most businesspeople, January does not signal the start of a new year.  It’s simply another chance to live the same old year, all over again. The same financial frustrations.  The same business worries.  The same bullshit that they hope, will one day “just stop.”

If you want a better future, you have to be smarter than that!  This starts with a commitment; to spend less time looking for quick fixes and more time deliberately planning (and working toward) the kind of future you REALLY want.

How to make better marketing decisions

If you want to make better marketing decisions, you may find today’s post really useful.  It’s all about something I call bad numbers.

Allow me to explain!

Bad numbers = Bad data

Imagine you wanted to know what the average small business owner thought about social media.  If you asked that question via a poll on something like Facebook or Twitter, the results would be inaccurate and potentially damaging.


Because you would not be asking the average small business owner!  You would be asking the average small business owner, who already uses social media.  That group would give a very different response, than you would get from a true, random sample of small business owners.  Any decisions you made based on that data would be based on bad numbers.

Everyone says…

I spoke with a fellow blogger recently, who changed the size of the font he used on his blog, because; “everyone said the font size was too big.” When I checked it out, everyone was actually just 3 people who commented on his blog.  The first person said that he found the font size was a little large, then 2 of their friends said that they thought it was on the large side too.  This guy gets around 300 unique visitors a day, so he based his decision on a flawed group of just 1% of his readership!  After making the change, he immediately saw the average time people spent on his site drop by 15%.  He has now reverted back to the original size font and has regained that 15% again.

Before you make a business decision based on numbers, it’s extremely important that the data you are working with is good.  This means you need to be able to rely on the quality of the data and the size of the data sample, needs to be statistically relevant too.

For example, I spoke with the owner of a new, London based accountancy practice a few years ago.  He told me that his last mail shot provided a zero response rate.  As a result, he said he was no longer going to use mail shots as part of his marketing mix.  I looked at the letter he used, and it was actually pretty good (for a change.)  I then asked where he got the database that he used for the mailing, and it was one of the world’s leading suppliers of databases.

I then asked how many letters he sent.  Here was his reply: “We sent 12 letters out, because we got 12 contact names and addresses for free, to evaluate the database they wanted to sell us.” He was basing his decision that mail shots did not work, on a mailing to just 12 people!

Before you make any decisions with your marketing, make sure you are basing those decisions on good numbers.

The price is easy when the promise is clear

How clear are you about EXACTLY what you want to achieve from your business and your life?

Here’s one of my favourite sayings: The price is easy when the promise is clear!

Those rare people, who know what they want from life, find it easy to do whatever is required to succeed.  They are happy to pay the price for success, because they can see what it is leading to.

Conversely, the vast majority of people really don’t know what it is that they want from life.  They think in fuzzy terms, like; “I want things to be better,” or “I want to be financially secure,” BUT they don’t get specific.  They go through life, like a driver who’s heading off on an important journey, without knowing where it is that they are going.  They know they don’t want to be where they are and they know they want something better – But that’s it.  They don’t know if they are on track or heading in the wrong direction.  They waste years going round in circles, working hard and getting nowhere.

Thankfully, as soon as you give yourself some clear, specific, measurable goals or targets – everything changes.  Suddenly, it’s easy to spot if you are on track or not.  It becomes easy to identify the key people you need to connect with.  Yes, there will be a few detours, but because you know what your destination is, you simply keep heading in the right direction.

If you want more from your business or your life in general, take some time to explore the areas of your life, which you want to improve and then, set some clear, specific, measurable goals for each of them.

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

Are you REALLY prepared to pay the price for success?

If we want commercial success, there is always a price to pay!

That price is the courage to do all the things we need to do, in order to succeed; rather than cherry-picking the things we find easy, and ignoring the rest.

Think of it like this:  If you were to try and bake a cake, but decided to miss out some key ingredients, like flour and water, the cake would be a mess.  Well, when someone decides to avoid the key ingredients for business success, they end up with the same kind of disappointing end result.

My mentor, the late, great Jim Rohn, used to put it like this:
“For every promise, there is a price to pay.”

The courage to succeed

One of my clients told me on Wednesday morning that she has seen around a 300% increase in her turnover/revenue in the past few months, whilst working with me.  This made me particularly proud, as this lady did a number of marketing activities that were new to her, and outside of her old way of thinking.  This lady is a regular commenter here and if she recognises herself from that description, she may want to let you know who she is.  She deserves a massive amount of credit for what she has achieved in such a short time!

In my experience, most business owners and entrepreneurs already know many of the things they need to do, in order to succeed; but they lack the confidence / courage to put them into action.  I’ve seen their bookshelves – Packed with worldclass marketing information, which they have never used.  This is why I work to inspire my clients, rather than “just” give them the marketing ideas and answers they need.

A solution

If there are marketing activities you know you should be doing, but have stopped yourself from doing from fear of failure (or fear of success), why not try doing just one of them today?  Here are 140 marketing ideas to get you started.  The results can often be amazing and create a momentum, which motivates you to carry on driving yourself forward.

I would be interested to know if you have experience of motivating yourself to do what was required, and then seeing a direct improvement in your results.  Let us know!

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

Marketing, persistence and pests!

Don’t you find it amazing that in 2010, people are still using the 1980’s sales and marketing model of pestering and pursuing people?

Here’s the problem with that approach: People hate being pestered and pursued.

For example, I received an email last week, whilst I was on holiday with my wife and 4 year old son.  The email started with the line; “I know you are on holiday with your family but…” then he hit me with a sales pitch.  He showed me zero respect and instantly alienated me.  The same guy then emailed me again today with the same pitch and said he hoped I “respected his professional persistence.”  There’s nothing professional about what he did.  In fact, the message he gave me was; “Yes, I know you are on holiday but I really don’t give a shit about you – buy this now!”

Permission marketing & professional marketing

For over 2 decades, I have successfully used and advocated the use of, what some people today call permission marketing.  Back then, we simply called it professional marketing.

Professional marketing is about treating the marketplace with respect.

It’s about operating with class.

It’s about building a strong, professional reputation.

It’s about building relationships.

It’s about trust.

It’s about professionally researching your marketplace.

It’s about considering the person behind the “sale” and not just thinking of everyone as a number.

It’s about engaging with people, who have a genuine, potential need for whatever you are offering and who have given you permission to market to them.

That’s how to build a very successful marketing function!

It’s ironic when you consider the example I gave earlier of a pushy marketer, but email marketing is one of my favourite forms of marketing.  That’s because it lends itself beautifully to the professional marketing model.  When used correctly, it can be super-effective and generate incredible results.  Of course, very few people use email marketing correctly – choosing instead to buy lists or copy them from websites, and then pester people with unwanted sales pitches.  They may get 1 person in 5,000 to place an order, but they will have just sent what felt like spam to the other 4,999! 

A company using that approach for long enough, will actually make their prospective customer base smaller and smaller, with each unwanted email they send.

Have you been pestered by pursuit marketers?  How does it make you feel about the people behind those tactics?  Let us know!

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

How to set sales targets and achieve them!

set sales targets, hit targets, hit sales

I have a question for you today: Are you on track to reach your sales targets?

Don’t worry if you just answered “no” to that question, because I am going to give you some ideas and a stack of free resources, to help you.

I’m also going to give you a simple 5 step guide, to show you how to set your sales targets in a way that’s easy to manage and achieve!

OK, there are 3 possible answers to my opening question:

  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. Sales targets?  What sales targets?

Sales targets: If you are on track

If you are currently on track to reach your sales targets, keep on moving forward.  Just make sure you don’t allow complacency to rob you of a great year’s results.  Examine what you have been doing and look for the most effective elements of your marketing, as well as any elements that have underperformed.

Seek to improve your weaker areas and refine your stronger areas.  Nothing happens in business by chance, so be sure to research where your successes have come from, so you can build on them in the 2nd half of the year.

Oh, and WELL DONE!

Sales targets: If you are off track

If you are currently off track, this is a fantastic time to review your marketing strategy and get yourself on track.  Make a list of every marketing activity you are using as part of your overall marketing strategy and examine how well or how poorly they have been performing for you.

If you are currently using certain types of marketing simply because you see others using it or because it feels comfortable, STOP!

You need to identify the correct marketing mix for you and your business, based on your sales targets, your resources and what you want to achieve. Here are 180 marketing and business development ideas to help you.

Here’s a list of 32 questions, to help you get your marketing and business development back on track.  Oh, and if you have not yet discovered the right marketing for you, here is a list of my top ten marketing tips.

Sales targets: What sales targets?

Most small business owners don’t have a process in place, to set and then track their sales targets.  It’s easy to see why, when you consider that the whole process seems so complicated.  This makes it hard to focus and to he honest, a little daunting too.  The good news is that it’s easy to set realistic, easy to follow sales targets.

The key, is for you to know how many sales you should be making each month or each week, in order to meet your annual turnover and profit goals.  By chunking the annual number down into monthly or weekly targets, it’s far easier and less daunting to keep on top of the figures.

Here’s a simple, easy to follow way to discover what your sales targets should be, in weekly or monthly chunks.

  1. List your turnover / revenue targets for the next 12 months.  We need to know what this figure is, in order to know how many sales you should be making each year.
  2. Now, list how many “average” sales you would need to make over the next 12 months, in order to achieve the above figures.  Write this number down.
  3. To get an approximate idea what your “average” sale value is, list (for example) the value of your last 20 sales, and then divide that number by 20.  This is only an approximate figure, but it will give you something to work with and is usually pretty accurate.
  4. Now, divide the number you wrote down in step 2, by 12.  This will give you a monthly sales target.
  5. If you want to work on weekly targets, (this suits some business types better than others), simply divide the annual number of sales by 52.

The great news is that no matter how things are right now, you can improve your sales and not only reach your annual targets, but blow the lid off them!

Whatever you do, make sure that if you are off target and not enjoying the success your hard work deserves, that you make the changes required.  Things will not “just get better” by themselves.  For better results, you need to be making better marketing decisions.

Bonus — If you want my FREE marketing tips delivered to your inbox, click here.

Dealing with unwanted attention!

One of the things seldom mentioned about developing a successful online profile or brand, is that as your visibility increases, you’re likely to start attracting some unwelcome attention.  This usually ranges from mild abuse on social networks, to full blown blog posts slamming you.

In my experience, there are 2 key reasons why someone would want to target a stranger in this way:

  1. They are jealous of what they believe that person has achieved or their popularity, and see the Internet as a way to anonymously vent their jealousy.
  2. They want to piggyback on that person’s influence, by getting the person to talk about them – even negatively.

Jealousy is one of the prices of success

In the age of the Internet, it’s relatively simple to spot people or brands that are popular.  You can see how many followers or fans someone has and it’s easy to see if their blog or website is popular too.  This makes popularity or success a lot more visible today than ever before.

Now, when you build something that’s popular or successful, most people will see your success as an inspiration; proof that if they do as you have done, they too can achieve the same or better.  However, there will also be a tiny percentage of people, who will see what you have achieved as a reminder of their own short comings.  Rather then improve their situation, they elect to negatively impact yours as a way to address the imbalance.

Dealing with this kind of thing, has become part of the price some people have to pay, for the visibility that comes with a prominent online profile.  The trick, by the way, is to see it for what it is and then move on.

Piggybacking on your success

Another reason why some people choose to take a swipe at those with a large online following, is a lot more calculated.  This, in my experience, is also a lot more common too.  Here’s the general idea behind it:

  • Bob has 100,000 followers on Twitter or a blog with 5,000 unique visitors a day.
  • Mary hasn’t.
  • Mary then decides that if she can get under Bob’s skin with an abusive tweet or blog post, Bob might respond and then his network of followers or readers will suddenly know that Mary exists.
  • Mary then hopes to increase the number of people who follow her, or read her blog as a result of this additional exposure.

In January 2009, I had one of the top 50 most followed accounts on Twitter and the 3rd largest following in England.  Back then, I used to get this kind of thing regularly.  I just ignored it, because I understood why people were doing it and what they wanted to achieve.  I simply saw it like a game and part of the price I had to pay, for deliberately making myself so visible.

A great example of this happened recently, on a much larger scale.  It was during an email exchange between Ryan Tate from Gawker and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.  After grilling Jobs via email, Tate immediately published the email exchange on his website and it went around the Internet like a virus.

It worked!

Well, kind of.

That’s because although it increased awareness of Ryan Tate, it didn’t paint him in a very positive light, as he tried to get under Jobs’ skin just to get a response.  The most heavily quoted part of the exchange, which Tate assumed would show Jobs to be an ass, actually seems to have done the opposite; according to much of the media coverage.  It clearly shows that although Jobs answered lots of Tates’ questions, he believed he knew what was behind it. This is also the final email in their exchange.

Here’s what Jobs said:

“By the way, what have you done that’s so great?  Do you create anything or just criticize other’s work and belittle their motivations?”

The email exchange made the mainstream news, but seems to have worked a lot better for Jobs, than for Tate.  Tate got the traffic, but Jobs got the PR.

The traffic for Tate will have long gone by now; however, the PR for Jobs, who has had people questioning his ability to run Apple with his health challenges, has been pure gold dust!


Thanks to the opportunities we have via the Internet, if we get our marketing right, we can reach thousands of people every day with our messages.  More prospective clients or customers can see us and we can attract leads and business enquiries all day long, 7 days a week.

In the grand scheme of things, these kind of tactics when directed at you are doing little more than signal your increased visibility – which is probably what you want.  The occasional irritating message or blog post is a relatively small price to pay and when seen in context, is almost something to look forward to.

Your marketing has a sell by date!

How up to date is the marketing information you use?  I ask you this, because it’s extremely easy to be working hard implementing ideas or using tools, which are so outdated that they have very little potential to help you achieve the bankable sales results you need.

Marketing basics stay the same, but the tools change

Although the basics of marketing have been around for many years, the tools we use to market products and services change all the time; as does the effectiveness of these tools.  If you are currently basing your marketing on ideas and insights you garnered even 2 or 3 years ago, there’s a very good chance you are missing out on a stack of great opportunities to boost your sales and reduce your marketing costs.

Mail shots and social media marketing

For example; just a few years ago, response rates from direct mail or mail shots, was lower than it is today and some were even writing it off, (pardon the pun).  However, with so much small business marketing now being conducted via email, marketing letters, especially those that have been individually signed, have become a more personal, polished and powerful way to introduce your services to a prospective client or customer.

Most marketing books and programs that are more than 2 years old, totally fail to mention social media as a marketing tool; even though social media is rapidly becoming one of the highest yielding forms of marketing available.

The pace of change these days is such, that marketing books, especially those based around social media marketing, are often out of date within months of being published.  Even books written earlier this year, which included how to market your business using services like Facebook or Twitter, will miss all of the new features added to those services this year.  The same is true of books and courses on commercial blogging.  Yes, many of the basics will be there, but the powerful new features and opportunities will not.

Marketing tip

If you are currently not getting the bankable results you want from your marketing, take a moment to review the information you are using and the assumptions you are making.  Examine the various marketing tactics and marketing tools you are using.  Are they appropriate for the 2nd half of 2010?

Marketing and reliability

This post is all about the role that reliability plays in marketing.

Close to where I live, there’s a sign on the road outside a cafe that says open. Now, even though this place is only open during certain hours each day, the open sign is always there.

In effect, the sign is useless or maybe even less than useless for the owners of that cafe.


Because people will see the sign, pull over and try to go in, during times or days when the place is closed.  If you really want to hack-off a potential customer, get him or her to get out of their car in the rain and run over to your cafe, so they can learn that you’re actually closed, but you’re too lazy to change the open sign.  So, by not changing this sign, the cafe will be wasting a lot of potential customer’s time – people who will never again trust that the place is actually open, just because the sign says so.  It’s easier for them to go to a reliable place, that’s open when it says it is.

Marketing and reliability

I saw something similar last year, with a restaurant that kept changing it’s opening hours.  One week it would be open Monday – Friday another week it would only be open 4 days a week and another week, it would only be open on weekends.  Guess what?  It pretty quickly went broke.  Potential diners never knew if it would be open or not, so if they were out and wanted a meal, they wouldn’t risk going all the way there, to find it closed.

In business, there is a need for reliability.  People need to know that if we, as service providers, will be there when we say we will.  We need to ensure that we turn up regularly.  We need to earn the trust of our marketplace, so they know they can rely on us. This is part of the reason, why I sent out scheduled blog posts last week, even though I was on a week long holiday.  People come here expecting to see something new, so I made sure they were not disappointed.