Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 138 of 191)

2 ways to grow your blog: Independent or associated?

In my experience, there are 2 ways to build a successful blog.  Both are extremely powerful.  Although the route to success always starts by providing great content on a regular basis, once you have done that for long enough, I’ve found there are 2 routes open to you.

  • The associated route.
  • The independent route.

The associated route is used by many of the world’s top bloggers.  It’s where a group of bloggers from the same niche or a complimentary one, decide to form a loose (or sometimes formal) agreement, to help each other increase their reach and make money.  They then work to promote the other people they are associated with.  For example; they link to each other regularly in blog posts and will write blog posts about their associates products or services.  They also pass traffic to each other, via links on social networks.  It can be extremely powerful, if you have a number of influential associates, all helping each other.  Read any of these bloggers for any period of time, and you will very clearly be able to see who they are associated with.

The independent route, which I use, is used by many successful bloggers.  It’s where the blogger builds his or her blog without entering into those formal or informal associations with other bloggers.  If we mention a blogger or a product, it’s only because we love the blogger’s work or we believe in the product.  We rely on readers sharing our content and effective SEO to develop our readership.  Independent bloggers are equally easy to spot, because we don’t have the same ads on our blogs or recommend the same ebooks / events / products as the associated bloggers in our niche.

The fastest way to grow your readership is definitely the associated blogger route.  Of course, there is a price to pay for this kind of fast track success.  You need to be OK about promoting your associates and their offerings to your readership and social network.  Yes, you will be able to write about what matters to you, but you will also need to write posts that name-check your associates and push their latest offerings.  Is that a small price to pay?  It’s your call.  There’s no right or wrong here.

Conversely, the independent blogger is free to recommend anything he or she wishes.  For example, although this blog now has a significant readership, I have just 1 affiliate product here; which is the Headway theme I use to design the blog.  However, I’m not associated with Headway or any of the bloggers who use their theme.  I read Danny Brown’s blog and he uses Headway, but I also read Seth Godin’s blog and he doesn’t.  I know Grant Griffiths, who owns headway, but I get no special rates from them; nothing which you wouldn’t get if you were one of their affiliates.  Here’s the thing: If I switched to another theme tomorrow, it wouldn’t be an issue for Headway or me.  That’s the freedom I enjoy, by being independent.

The associated route is powerful and many of the blogs I read are written by associated bloggers.  It doesn’t bother me.  I know why they promote what they do and I’m 100% fine with it.  These guys have businesses to run, bills to pay and many are doing so VERY effectively, thanks to the massive reach of their combined associate network.  Make no mistake – It’s amazing!  This is why I believe that for many people, if they get the chance to take the associated route, and it is an association of great people, they should really consider it!

So, why do I take the independent route?

The answer is simple:  For my business model, it’s more valuable for me to have the total freedom that comes with independence.

I am in a very different position to many bloggers in my niche.  For instance, I am not part of the speaker circuit and many of them are.  They have seats to fill at events and need a massive reach, in order to promote their gigs.  I don’t.  I have no ads here and don’t push affiliate sales, so I have no need to drive up page views either.

For me, the independent route is best.  I write for you.  I show you my work.  You call me if you want great marketing, because you know my work and my approach.  I like it like that.

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

Marketing magic: The illusion of words

Several times recently, I have read people describing an income they receive as being enough to pay their mortgage each month.  Of course, depending on the size of their mortgage, this figure could be £50, £500, £5,000 or more – It’s completely meaningless.

It reminded me of an advertisements we had in the UK for a brand of milk chocolate, which had “a glass and a half of full cream milk” in every bar; however, they never told us how big the glass was!  Again, it was meaningless.

Marketing magic

A skilled marketing copy writer can use their words much like a skilled magician uses their hands.  Magicians use slight-of-hand to create the illusion of magic.  They guide our attention so that we only see what they want us to see.  If their trick works, we believe we have seen something, which actually never happened.

In marketing, we can use slight-of-word, to create an illusion too.  We can guide people’s thinking, so that they believe what we want them to believe.  If the marketer’s trick works, most people will assume the mortgage fee is five hundred or five thousand a month and that the chocolate had a pint and a half of full cream milk in it.

Use marketing copy writing that makes your product or service sound as attractive and valuable as you possibly can, but leave the illusions to the magicians.

You see, we all know that the guy with the magic wand, who pulls rabbits out of a hat, is deliberately trying to trick us.  That’s what he or she is supposed to do!  However, unless you are a paid illusionist, your reputation could take a hit, if people find you tricking them into believing something that is, in essence, false.  That’s why the most skilled marketing copy writers embrace clarity.  They use words to enhance, rather than conceal.

Where do you think the line should be drawn?

Would you rather know that the bar of chocolate had half a pint of milk in it, or “a glass and a half”?  Would you rather the marketer told you that he or she made several hundred dollars a month from their wonder product, or that it “pays their mortgage”, which could mean anything?  If you bought into the marketer’s pitch, and then found he or she was actually referring to fifty dollars a month, would you feel they had been honest with you?

Let me know what you think!

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

Thought Leaders?

Thought leader, advanced thinkingIf Bob tells you he is a Thought Leader, he probably isn’t!

There are very few people, who truly practice advanced thinking.

There are even fewer, who demonstrate the additional attribute of leadership.

There are fewer still, who have both those 2 rare attributes, yet would feel the need to borrow that phrase to describe themselves.

I’m guessing that a genuine Thought Leader, might think of something a little more original?

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

Photo: Hamed Saber

More of the same or a better tomorrow? The choice is always yours!

Your client base is always a reflection of your marketing or lack of marketing.

If it’s filled with people, who value your time and expertise and are happy to pay you accordingly, it’s because these are the people who are attracted to what you have to say.  Equally, if your client base has too many fee-sensitive clients, who show little respect for the value of your time, then it’s these low value clients that your marketing is attracting.  Of course, if your marketing is simply not attracting enough paying clients, then your current client base will reflect that error too.

It’s pointless to complain about your lack of income or how little progress your business is making, only for you to continue to make the same marketing errors that led to your current problems.  If you would like to work for better quality clients, you need to start using better quality marketing.  You need to identify why your marketing is attracting the wrong profile of client or too few clients,  and then replace it with a more effective approach. If you do, you will be in a tiny minority of small business owners.  Most decide to complain, but stay the same and hope things will magically just get better.

If you want to finally start seeing the rewards your hard work deserves in 2011, you need to take action now. Here’s my advice:

  • Get a marketing plan that works, based on your unique resources and situation – Then work that plan.
  • Don’t waste another day mistaking movement for progress.  Make each step you take, a step forward.
  • Stop adjusting your lifestyle DOWN to accommodate your lack of income – Adjust your income UP, and start taking marketing seriously.
  • Live where you want to live, enjoy the peace-of-mind that comes from financial independence and reignite the passion that inspired you to start a business in the first place!

More of the same or a better tomorrow?  Thankfully, the decision is always yours.

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

How to boost your profits very quickly!

One of the fastest ways to generate a significant increase in your profits, is to find an additional product or service, which you can sell to your existing client base.  These people already know you and trust you.  There’s no need for you to sell yourself to them.  If they see the value in buying an additional product or service from you, they will.

I once helped a London based computer maintenance company, who were 90 days away from bankruptcy, to generate over 20k worth of almost pure profit in just 9 days; by offering a great new service to their existing client base.  The new service was what we now call cloud storage back-up.  A professionally copy written email was sent to his clients, offering to securely back-up their important files every evening, for a fixed annual fee.  The service was provided by a respected 3rd party, and rebranded by my client.

Almost 45% of his client base signed up within 9 days, with a further 17% signing up over the coming 3 months.  In 9 days, this hard working small business owner went from almost going broke, to enjoying his most profitable trading period ever!

Look for new ways to help people

As a business owner, you should always be looking for opportunities to provide the best possible service to your clients.  Part of this, is to look for new ways to help them solve problems.  The bigger the problem that your new product or service resolves, the more help you will be and the more sales you will make.  Equally, by providing an increasing level of help and support to your clients, you are also vastly more likely to retain their business.  They win, you win; everyone wins!

So, I have a question for you: What additional products or services could you offer to your existing clients or customers?

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

How serious are you about the success of your business?

Many years ago, I attended a seminar, where one of the speakers asked the audience a great question.  She wanted to know:
“How serious are you about the success of your business?”

As you would expect, everyone in the room said that they were extremely dedicated to their business and it’s success.  She then asked one of the audience what his business targets were for the next 6 months.  He spoke in general terms about improving sales and moving things forward.

She then asked him another question:
“How different would your next 6 months look, if you knew with absolute certainty that you would win a million dollars, if you could increase your sales by 20%?”

The guy in the audience started listing; people he would call, people he would meet and people he would write to.  He then reeled off a whole series of marketing activities that he would get working on immediately.  The seminar speaker thanked him for his answer and then suggested he did all those activities regardless; because if he did, he would almost certainly become a millionaire anyway.

The point she made was that most of us hold back in key areas, when it comes to the development of our business.  There are things we know we should do, which we neglect, because they are tough or because they require us to step outside one of our comfort zones.  It’s easier for us to work hard doing the comfortable stuff.  You will seldom meet the owner of a small business, who does not work hard.

The thing is, hard work is not the secret of success.  If it was, our grandparents would have been millionaires!

A key difference between the most and least successful businesspeople, is that the most successful ones do what needs to be done.  They do what’s right, rather than doing what’s easiest or most comfortable.  They get the expert advice they need, so they make better decisions and can then work hard, knowing that they are moving forward by doing the right things, correctly.

The majority of small business owners try and forge ahead without the expert help they need and often waste years making little if any progress.  They relive the same year over and over, wondering why their hard work is getting such little reward.

Get serious. Get the right plan. Get working.  Get the rewards your hard work deserves!

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

My new Social Media Project: 10-10-10

On 10th October 2010 (10-10-10) I am launching an exciting, new Social Media Project!

The aim of the project, is to help people who use social media / social networking as part of their business, to get better commercial results and help them improve the resilience of their social networks.

The project will be run from a new site, which you will be able to use free of charge.  This is not some new pay service:  It’s a project I am working on, which I will be sharing with you, 100% FREE of charge!

If you want to know more, you can keep up with the latest news and updates regarding the project, via my new Twitter account: @TheConnollyBlog.  Simply join that account on Twitter, say “hi” and I will follow you back.

I am really excited about this new project and would love to see you get involved!

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

I’m having lunch with Megan Fox!

When it comes to communicating, it’s often what a person elects NOT to say, that has most impact on the way their message is received.

Lunch with 2 beautiful women

In 45 minutes time, my wife and myself shall be having lunch with Megan Fox.  I don’t mean we will be having lunch, whilst watching Megan in a movie; we will be sitting at the same table, talking with Megan – Just like we did on Sunday.

Here’s the thing:  Megan Fox isn’t Microsoft!

There’s only one Microsoft, but there are thousands of people called Megan Fox, including my family friend.  My friend is not Megan Fox the actress, she’s Megan Fox, who works at my pal’s restaurant.

It would have been 100% accurate for me to have told you that my wife and I will be meeting with Megan Fox for lunch today, and just left it at that.  However, it would also have been totally misleading.

Many business owners elect to selectively omit key information when marketing their services.  For example, in the UK, broadband Internet providers were recently told they had to stop advertising their fastest possible speeds as their headline speed, because only a small number of their users would actually receive that fast a service from them.  The vast majority of their users get a much slower service than that headline speed.

With the advent of social media / social networks, this is a very risky strategy.  The marketplace is better connected today than ever before.  The marketplace also has a voice, with consumers increasingly proactive in sharing their experiences of providers.  The companies that mislead the marketplace risk losing everything, however, those who who are genuinely exceptional have an opportunity to generate more word-of-mouth referrals than ever before!

What’s the answer for these companies?

Here are a few suggestions that will grab the marketplace’s attention and turn their clients into passionate advocates of their company:

  • Build a great service and tell people how great it is.
  • Develop a wonderful product and tell people how wonderful it is.
  • Offer exceptional customer service excellence and tell people how exceptional your customer service is.

What am I missing from this list?  Please share your ideas.

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

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