Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 133 of 202)

Disclosure matters

Even though I am an affiliate of just one product and have just 1 sponsor, I decided to add a disclosure page to this blog.

I assumed that as I seldom link to the only affiliate product I have and the blog’s sponsor is clearly referred to as such, there was little point.

I then saw something that made me reconsider, very quickly!

I was prompted to write that brief page, after reading several disclosure pages on some popular blogs; which had so many caveats that just about anything they wrote could be some kind of paid endorsement.  It was extremely illuminating and I suggest that you check out any disclosure pages on the blogs you read.

My affiliate partner and sponsor

I am an independent blogger, with no cross marketing agreements with anyone.  If I say I think a particular blog or product or service is great, it’s because I believe it.  For example, I was openly recommending my hosting provider, WebFusion, before they started sponsoring the blog.  Five months after going onto one of their dedicated servers, I am still on 100% up time!  It’s easy to recommend something like that, knowing how many people are stuck on unreliable hosting.  I wasted a long time on deadbeat hosts before finding them.  BTW: I get paid nothing if you click their banner, it’s just a link to their site.

With my one and only affiliate, it was a very similar story.  I had been recommending Headway (the WordPress theme this blog’s built on), to people for 6 months, before I decided to become an affiliate.

Recommended reading:  My friend Danny Brown has a great post on his blog about other areas of disclosure, which is well worth reading.

Even if you have little to disclose, I think it’s a very good idea to put it up there so people can see.

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

Photo: Sean McMenemy

What everyone ought to know about originality in business

How often do you take time out, to develop original plans and ideas for your business?

I wrote a post recently, about someone who copied a chunk of this blog, to make a blog of their own; with each post attributed to them, rather than me.  In the comments section of my post, someone made a good point.  He said that these knock-off sites never get any PageRank or traffic.

That got me thinking.

Although originality is very highly valued, people typically find it easier and thus more attractive, to simply copy what others are doing.  For example, this is why every law firm in your town seems so similar.  They do what they think they are supposed to do, based on what everyone else in their profession is doing.  Of course, they then simply camouflage each other and often have to compete based on fees, as they seem too alike for prospective clients to differentiate them in any other way.

With is in mind, here are a few questions to think about:

  • How original are the individual services or products you offer?
  • How original are the guarantees you offer to your clients?
  • How original is your marketing message?
  • How original is your client attrition process?  (You DO HAVE a client attrition process, right?)
  • How original is your blog content?

The closer you are in those areas (and others), to what your competitors are doing, the harder you will find it to grow your business and attract high quality clients!

Getting creative

In my experience, most people are massively more creative than they think they are.  Although they are capable of generating some wonderfully original ideas, their lack of faith in their own creativity stops them from even getting started.

So, here’s a quick suggestion.  Look at those questions I asked you a moment ago, and see if you can apply some creative thinking to any of the areas, where you are currently too similar to your competitors.

Here’s a quick tip to get the process started: Listed to your clients and monitor the threats and opportunities facing them.  What kind of service could you introduce, to help them avoid the threats or benefit from the opportunities?

Do you have any tips you would like to share?

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

Photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography

Let’s talk about money!

How will you know when you have made enough money?

That may seem like an odd question, but I have found that our attitudes to money are often closely linked to how much money we make and how well we use it.  One of our key attitudes to money, surrounds our financial end game:  How much we think is enough money (for us).

How much is enough?

I am fortunate to have worked with some very intelligent people and never, ever missed an opportunity to learn from them.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever received, was with regard to money.  I asked a very wealthy businesswoman;

How do you know when you have enough money?

Her answer was not what I was expecting.  I was 22 years old and assumed she would quote some magical financial figure to me.  She didn’t.  Here’s what she said:

You know you have enough money, when you no longer have to worry about money.

Money gives you choices

She went on to teach me the value of a lifestyle, where you could work where you wanted to, doing something you are passionate about, without having to worry if you can afford to financially.  This was exciting to me, coming from a family, where my hard working parents often worried how they would find money to feed my brother and me.

I have never been motivated by money, mainly because although I grew up in a dirt poor home, I had loving parents and didn’t automatically equate money, with happiness.  My motivation has never been to be rich, but to be financially secure.  I wrote a post about financial security a while ago, which you may find useful.

I believe we owe it to ourselves, to get financially secure, so we can forget about money worries and focus on what actually matters.  Yes, it’s great to have the things that money can buy, but it’s those things that money CAN’T buy, which provide the real magic in our lives.

What’s the best advice about money or wealth that you were ever given?

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

What everyone ought to know about the power of gratitude

How often do you take time out to thank people, who have either helped or supported you in some way?

You may think that’s a silly question, but I find that many small business owners are not too hot when it comes to saying “thanks!”  The reason I wanted to share this with you, is that business is essentially all about people.  Ungrateful people find life an uphill struggle, with fewer and fewer people willing to help them.

Conversely, those who readily show their appreciation to people who help or support them, find the world a much more helpful place.

2 very different approaches

I was prompted to write this, after I gave a teenage entrepreneur some free advice yesterday, and returned to my office to find a thank you note.  As you can imagine, this created a very positive impact.  On the opposite side of the ledger, I recently helped promote someone’s blog and their response was to send me Facebook spam!  (Yes, seriously!)  They were clearly totally oblivious to the negative impact their response would have.

Let’s see if we can find a pattern here:

  • Very few people who asked for, and received, email advice from me regarding their business problems, ever bothered to say thanks.  In each case, their business was in deep trouble.
  • Best selling author and all round marketing good guy, Seth Godin, took the time to say thanks, when we exchanged a few emails regarding a post I was writing.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk also took the time, to offer to take me out for a drink when he was in London, after he and I chatted about his (then) upcoming book “Crush It!”
  • The Internationally respected and insanely talented Nile Rodgers, co-founder of Chic, also took the time to say thanks when I blogged about the influence he and Bernard Edwards’ music had on me.  Today, I am proud to call Nile a friend.

I find that interesting.

An attitude of gratitude

With just 1 or 2 exceptions, when I think of the most successful people I have known, they were extremely proactive when it came to show their gratitude.  They have figured out how the world works.  They practice, knowingly or unknowingly, what the old school success gurus called “an attitude of gratitude.”  Their attitude is attractive.  It attracts positive responses.  It attracts opportunities.  It attracts people and good faith too, because they show their gratitude, with no hidden motives.  Ironically, this topic was what Seth and I were discussing in our email exchange.

The attitude of ingratitude is the exact opposite.  It repels.  It’s ugly.  It leaves the person who helped you, feeling unrecognised, which is a really stupid move! Why?  Because  recognition is one of the basic human needs.  People need to feel recognised.  Napoleon famously said that his men would fight for money, but they would die for a ribbon (or medal).  That’s the power of recognition.

The attitude of fake gratitude is just as bad.  It says “thanks” – But with strings attached.  It’s usually transparent.  It’s about taking, not contributing.

In many cases, it is NOT that someone isn’t grateful for what another person has done for them that stops them saying “thank you.” It’s often that they either feel a little embarrassed about saying thanks or don’t realise just how much it matters.

Amazing things happen when we look for opportunities to make other people feel recognised.  Taking time to thank those who help, inspire or support us is a great place to start.  Interestingly, as with many things in life, by making other people feel better, we make ourselves feel better too.  I’m sure that one of the reasons I have never had any stress related issues, is that this contribution approach to dealing with people makes the business of business a lot more friendly and enjoyable.

Why not find a few people right now, who have helped, inspired or supported you and send them a quick “thank you” note, email or message.

….Oh, and THANK YOU for reading!

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

Photo: Vista Mommy

Is this the most powerful small business marketing tool ever?

How often do you communicate with your prospective clients?

I ask this, because some of you may be missing out on an incredible shift, in the way we as small business owners connect with our marketplace.

It used to be about not getting in touch with them too often

Before permission-based marketing became popular, business owners needed to be careful not to bombard their prospective clients with too many communications.  Back then, marketers called us because they had our number on a list they bought.  They emailed us, because they had our email address on a so called opt-in list they bought.  In most cases, these intrusions were unwelcome and were all about what THEY as the marketer, could get from US.

Today, things have changed.  Whilst some businesses still push their marketing on us, the majority do not.  These days, business owners are learning that you build a database of people who want information from you.  You don’t buy lists of people who don’t know you and send them material they never asked you for!

Content marketing

Some of the most savvy small business owners today, use content marketing to educate their prospective clients and engage them.  For example, they write regular, valuable blog posts, which offer useful information that will be of direct interest to their ideal profile of client.  This information is then search engine optimized and shared across social networks, by people who find it useful.  The people who find it useful are, of course, those ideal prospects it was written for.  Then, when these people need someone with your expertise or products, you become massively more likely to get their inquiry and business, than some guy they find in a directory.

It works beautifully.

So, today’s informed small business owners are transitioning; from pestering the people on the lists they bought, to attracting inquiries by regularly showcasing their expertise.

When handled correctly, this can be an amazingly powerful form of marketing.  It’s also a fraction of the cost of advertising and mailings etc, and the results can be amazing. The tiny blog post I wrote last Wednesday, which generated around £90,000 worth of inquiries in 1 day, is an example.  It took minutes to write, cost nothing to publish and was read by thousands of prospective clients.

Today, it’s all about producing regular, valuable content

The primary challenge with content marketing is content.  Great, regularly published content to be exact.  Previously, business owners needed to be careful not to put too much information in front of prospective clients, today we have the exact opposite situation!  Today, the most successful small business content marketers, publish information for their prospective clients many times each week; some do this daily.

By the way, 1 of the 3 blog posts I published yesterday is all about how to write regular, valuable content.  If you’ve ever wondered how I produce my material, take a look.

If you want to join the new school of small business marketing, it requires some new skills and a mindset change.  The mindset change is easy enough.  It’s the shift from pushing sales messages to sharing ideas or education.  It’s about remembering that whilst people LOVE to buy things, they HATE to be sold to.

The skills required are easy enough to learn, but they take time to master.  The expensive, less effective pursuit marketing of yesterday required that you wrote, or paid someone to write, some sales letters or emails.  These were then sent to your “list”.  Most small businesses only used them irregularly, usually when they were worried about their sales figures.  You may have been one of the brave few, who would pick up the phone and cold call a bunch of busy strangers.  Again, it was something that small businesses tended to do irregularly.

Content marketing, which includes; blogging, newsletter marketing, article marketing, video blogging, tutorial marketing etc, requires regular content.  You need to show up and you need to show up often!  It’s not like using “a sales letter” and doing a mail shot when sales are down – It’s a whole new ball game.

Take Jim’s marketing blog as an example.  People come here every day, because they know the site is regularly updated (around 5 times a week.)  If I updated it just once a week, fewer people would visit.  This means fewer people would see the content, which means fewer people would share the content, which would result in a very small readership that grew very slowly.  People only check back to blogs regularly, when they believe there will be something new for them to read.

For every legitimate opportunity, there is a price to pay

Your business has the potential now, to reach as many targeted, prospective clients as you could ever need – And for pennies.  As with every great, genuine opportunity, there is planning and work required if you want to see the results.  For example:

  • It’s a long term investment.  Yes, that post of mine last week did amazing things, but there was two and a half years of blogging behind it.  Similarly, if you want to build an email marketing list, you will need to work at it too.  This all takes time.
  • You will need to produce regular content.  As I mentioned yesterday on Internet Marketing Jam, this can be as easy or difficult as you want to make it.  You will need to start seeing yourself as a content creator or writer.  If you have a mental blog that tells you that you are not creative, you either need to get to work on removing it or consider paying a copywriter.
  • You will need to put some time aside for writing.  I write early in the morning, before my family wake up.  This suits me as I am an early bird and it has zero impact on my day.  I spend around 25 minutes writing a post.
  • You will need to invest in some business quality blog hosting or some business quality email provision (or both.)  I just blog.
  • You really should invest in a professional looking theme for your blog.  I use, and am an affiliate of, the Headway WordPress Theme.  It’s what all my blogs are designed with, including this one and I love it.
  • You may also want to invest in some professional blog coaching.  I have heard great things about Michael Martine.  I have no association with Michael whatsoever, but people tell me he really knows his stuff.  A good blog coach can save you a lot of time, effort and money.  Michael’s reputation is very good.

As well as those suggestions, I have started a blog dedicated exclusively to content marketing online, which I strongly recommend you check out and subscribe too.

We live in an age of unparalleled opportunity.  A small business today, with the correct content marketing strategy, can achieve the kind of reach and influence formerly only associated with huge brands with equally huge advertising budgets.

These truly are exciting times to be in business.

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

Photo: Anonymous

A remarkable and unexpected way to do business

As Valentine’s day approaches, I enjoy watching how it changes people’s behaviour.  For example, I know guys, who will buy their wives or partners flowers and chocolates  tomorrow, though they wouldn’t dream of doing it on a “normal” Monday.  They wait until the greeting card industry and advertisers give them a reason.

Valentine’s day gifts and “surprises” are preplanned and probably expected too.  In fact, we are more likely to be remembered for NOT doing something romantic that day!

Of course, when we give someone a romantic gift and they are NOT expecting it, the positive impact is massively higher.  It’s unexpected and inspired by love, rather than social pressure or conformity.

In business, if we provide the level of service our clients or customers expect, we stand a good chance of retaining their custom.  However, if we provide the level of service they expect and THEN provide something extra, we stand a good chance of retaining their business, we are also likely to see them become advocates of our services too.

Being remarkable

If you are getting fewer word of mouth referrals from your clients than you would like, do something remarkable for them.  This means occasionally doing something more than they expect from you or pay you for.  Last week, a client of mine commented how I had completely over-delivered in the service I offer her.  She did this in her newsletter, which goes out to 8,000 people and the only reason I knew, was because of the enquiries I received following her passionate advocacy of my services.

Have a remarkable week.  It’s more fun, more satisfying and a lot more profitable than an unremarkable week.

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

Photo: JimScottIMD

92 reasons to invest in your business blog

Thursday morning, I checked my email at 7:30, to find that 83 of you had emailed me following Wednesday’s post and a further 9 people had called my office.  The post offered a place on my mentoring program and was not published until 3:45pm Wednesday, making those 92 requests even more amazing.

Your incredible response, both in volume and in speed, confirmed the marketing effectiveness of having a blog.  Yes, like every other form of marketing, blogging only works when handled correctly.  Copying what 99% of sites do, will all but guarantee failure, but for those who decide to learn how to blog effectively, the results can be stunning.  As of Friday morning, I have had a total of 117 genuine inquiries for that single spot on my program.

Based on my fee and typical conversion rate, the small blog post I wrote on Wednesday would have generated at least £90,000 in fee income, if I had an empty client list!

You, blogging, time and money

How different would your client list, income and lifestyle look right now, if you could generate over 100 client inquiries from a post like the one I wrote on Wednesday?  OK, that was a rhetorical question.  Here’s a direct question for you:

“Is that kind of potential inspiring enough to you, for you to commit to invest the time and money needed to make it happen?”

Sadly, very, very few small business owners are willing to resource their blog properly.  Some will invest the time required, but refuse to pay for expert help, even though their blog clearly isn’t generating what they need.  Others will invest in the expert help that’s essential, but refuse to invest the time that’s required.  Many will do neither.

My investment

I’ve invested the time required to write around 800 posts.  That kind of commitment means I wrote for you on days when I was ill and days when I had other deadlines to meet.  But I still turned up.  I have also invested  around £6,000 on this blog so far, though my hosting is now sponsored by WebFusion (that’s not an affiliate link, just a link to their site.)  That’s my commitment so far and I will continue to invest more time and more money.

As part of my ongoing investment, I have also started a dedicated Internet marketing blog for you.

What next?

If you have a business blog that’s under-performing, get serious about it.  Listen to what your blog is telling you.  If it isn’t generating the results you need, stop!  Invest in some expert help.  There may be one small element you are getting wrong, which when corrected will transform your results.

As Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results!” Be one of the tiny minority of small business owners, who does the right things, correctly.  Oh, and if you DO pay for expert help -TAKE IT!

If you don’t currently have a business blog and are thinking of starting one, start off with a commitment to do it right.  If you can’t afford to do it right, save some money, do some research and then launch correctly; knowing what to do, so you start off in the right direction.

Give your blog everything it needs and it will give you all the high quality business you can possibly handle.

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

3 steps to increase your fees and attract legions of high quality clients

A service provider recently told me that she was sick of working with clients, who didn’t value her time.  Her primary complaint, was that client don’t pay her enough for the services she offers.

She believes she is worth more.  And she is wrong. At least for now.

The problem with average

I asked her what she charged and she told me.  I then took a quick look at the services she offers and her fee is about right.  She charges an average fee, for what looks like a typical, average range of services.

If she wants to increase her fees and have a client list of great people who value her time, she needs to stop complaining and do the following 3 things:

  1. Increase the value of her services, so they are actually worth more.
  2. Increase her fees, so they are in line with the newly increased value of her services.
  3. Market her services correctly, to the right people.

The marketplace is not stupid.  It demands value, just like you and I do.  If you provide that value, they will happily pay for it.

However, if someone takes an average service to the marketplace, he or she will always struggle; both with the quality and quantity of business they attract.

I strongly suggest you take every opportunity possible, to find ways to increase the value of your services.  Then, adjust your fees and marketing accordingly.

What do you think?  Do you have any examples, either from your own business or another, of successfully increasing fees / prices?  I’d love to know what you think, so please share your feedback.

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


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