Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 138 of 185)

Don’t push your marketing on people!

One of the reasons that you get targeted with so much unprofessional marketing, is that small business owners never view what THEY do as spammy or unprofessional.  They know that their intentions are good, so as far as they are concerned:

  • It’s OK for them to add you to their mailing list without your consent, because THEY KNOW it’s not spam and that their company is legitimate.
  • It’s OK for them to ask you to recommend them on Linkedin, even though you don’t know them, because THEY KNOW they are decent, honest people.
  • It’s OK for them to send you sales pitches on Facebook, because THEY KNOW that their products really are extra special.
  • It’s OK for them to use Twitter as a broadcast medium, because THEY KNOW that their stuff REALLY IS worth broadcasting.

The key to marketing success, is to understand that your marketing results are based on your actions, rather than your intentions.  People will respond positively, negatively or not at all, based on what you do.  Consequently, when you irritate people by pushing marketing at them, they will typically respond negatively.

The most successfully marketed small businesses, abide by the following 8 words:  Have something worth saying and say it well.

They offer a product or service that provides unique value (so they have something worth saying.)  Then, they use professional marketing, to get their message out correctly and motivate people to buy from them (so they say it well.)

The least successful businesses do the exact opposite.

They offer a similar-ish product or service to their competitors, (so they don’t really have something worth saying.)  Then, they use push marketing techniques like; cold calling, social media broadcasting, unsolicited email marketing etc, which just irritates people (so they don’t say it well.)

Before you send out any piece of marketing, always ask yourself the following question:  “If  someone sent this to me, how would it make me feel about that company and their services?”

We should always hold ourselves up to at least the same level of scrutiny, as we use when evaluating other providers.  Preferably, far, far higher!

How do you feel about pushy marketing or those that broadcast to you, rather than engage you?

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

Blogging is dead (again!)

I’ve seen a few comments and blog posts recently, from people claiming (yet again) that blogging is dead. This subject seems to come around every few months; usually after a blogger realises that his or her blog is failing to work for them, the way they intended.  So, rather than adopt a different, more effective strategy, they decide the problem rests with blogging as a platform and that it’s not their fault.

Blogging is very much alive and in excellent health!  Visitor numbers to Jims Marketing Blog blog are up by around 85% over the past 6 months and enquiries for my services as a marketing coach via this blog, are up by closer to 300%.  All of my clients are seeing growth with their blogs, both in terms of visitors and business / business enquiries.  In fact, as a business development or marketing tool, I would say that blogging has never been as powerful as it is today, with the future looking even brighter!

Blogging and marketing

Here’s the thing though: Successful blogging requires a lot more than simply setting up a blog and writing posts!  Like every form of marketing, you will need to plan ahead and work to an effective strategy, if you want to enjoy commercial blogging success.  For example, I spent 6 weeks researching and planing, before I started this blog.  By the time it launched, almost 2 years ago, I already knew what my plans for the first year were.

Within a few months, Jim’s Marketing Blog was generating daily enquiries for my business and was ranked on page one of Google, for the search term “marketing blog“, where it still is today.  None of this happened by accident, or simply because I wrote interesting posts.  As we all know, some of the most gifted writers remain undiscovered.  Others manage to attract readers, but struggle to transfer their readers, into paying clients or customers.

Their experience doesn’t mean that blogging is dead; simply that they need a more effective marketing strategy for their blog.

The next time you hear that blogging is dead, see if you can get a pulse from; MashableTechcrunch, Seth Godin, Robert Scoble or myself!


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

Marketing and change

Change is an important factor in marketing.  After all, businesses usually need people to change from their current provider, to them, in order to grow.  However, change is also a tricky subject.

Why?  Because although most people are resistant to change, when you ask people how they feel about change, they almost always say they enjoy it.  It’s one of those stock answers that people give, because it sounds like the correct answer. However, in reality, we know it’s very different.  For example, people will often receive an awful service from a bank or phone company; yet stay with them, rather than change to a better provider.

Marketing and change

Professional marketers have known for years that it’s harder to get someone to change from one provider to another, than it is to win their business the first time.  This is why companies typically offer their most attractive deals to new customers.  They know that people’s reluctance to change or fear of newness (something called cainophobia) means that they can invest heavily in incentives for new customers, because they will typically retain their business for years.

So, if you are planning to make a noticeable change to your business, you need to take a few things into consideration.

  • There will almost always be negative feedback, no matter how big an improvement your change has created. Do your research in advance and if the change is needed, do it!
  • It’s best to plan ahead and ensure that you effectively communicate the benefits of the change you are about to make.  This may involve pre-announcements or consultations.
  • You need to introduce change at a pace that works best for your customers.  This will vary a lot, depending on factors like their age etc.

Change is an essential requirement for business success.  In fact, the pace of change has probably never been greater than it is right now and we need to change or adapt to benefit from the amazing new opportunities all around us.  However, I’ve found that the right time to change is when change is required, and not just for the sake of making things different.

What are the best and worst experiences you have had, with the way a provider has implemented changes?  Let us know.

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

Photo: Redvers

cainophobia

Older and wiser? Not always!

Yesterday evening, I heard 2 men having an interesting debate in my local pub.  One, who was in his twenties, was telling the other, who was in his forties, that he was wrong regarding his thoughts on business tax.  The older guy then said; “I’ve been in business almost 20 years. I know what I am talking about!”

His suggestion, is that with longevity comes wisdom; which is incorrect!

I meet with teenage entrepreneurs, who understand the business of business better than people twice their age.  Alternatively, I meet business owners, who have been in the same business for decades, and seen almost no growth for years; because they get a year older each year – NOT a year better each year.

Experience can be a massively important asset, if we use our experiences to improve and make better decisions. However, we all know people who are repeating the same lifestyle or business errors at the age of 50 / 60, as they did decades earlier.  For them, 1st January is not the start of a new year; it’s simply another chance to relive the same old year, over and over again!

Longevity is an indicator of age – not competence.

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

Photo: Dave F

Marketing decisions: Stop guessing!

Do you want to improve your marketing, make more sales and lower your marketing costs at the same time? Well, if you are like the vast majority of small business owners I meet, you can help yourself to achieve all three; by basing your future marketing decisions on better quality information.

Better marketing decisions come from better quality information

We know our business well; so it’s all too easy for us to assume we also know what our prospective clients or customers want.  However, if our assumptions are incorrect, then our marketing will be addressing a non-existent need.  This is an extremely common error among small businesses.

I was prompted to write this, after a conversation recently with a business owner, who constantly stated assumptions as “facts.”  He would say things like;
“Lots of our target customers want…”

Then, when I asked him what percentage he was referring to, when he said “lots“, he replied that he didn’t know.

When I asked him how he knew for sure, what his prospective customers wanted, he admitted that he didn’t know.

He was simply assuming.

After speaking with me, he decided to do some very basic research and discovered his assumptions were incorrect.  What he had done, was to assume that his marketplace thought the same way he did.  He was about to develop a new service, which no one was looking for.  He was providing an answer, to a question that no one was asking.

Someone once told me; “In business, unless you know what the numbers are, you are running blind.”  She was right!  It’s impossible to make good decisions, when you are using bad data.

Whenever you find yourself making a marketing decisions based on an assumption, always ask yourself what you are actually basing that assumption on.  Is it based on facts / accurate data?  If it isn’t, then do a little research.

I wrote a post about getting better quality marketing feedback, which you might find useful!

Even a simple survey, which asks the right questions, can help you target your marketing far more effectively.

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

Let’s talk about money!

One of the first things I had to learn, when I went into sales as a profession, was to be comfortable when discussing money.

Money is a key element in the sales process, yet many people feel extremely awkward discussing it with a prospective client or customer.  They will often explain the benefits of their product or service, and answer any questions the prospective client has, then nervously give their fee.  It sometimes sounds like they are embarrassed, and in face-to-face situations, their body language commonly becomes very defensive too.

Talking money

In many cases, it’s necessary to know what a prospective client’s budget is, in order to determine the best option for them.  Without this information, you risk potentially offering them the wrong options, or wasting your time speaking with them, when your services are 5 times their budget.

If you are someone, who has struggled when discussing money in the past, you might find the following quick tip useful.  It was given to me almost 25 years ago and it really helped me deal with money a lot more professionally.

It is simply to stop thinking about money in terms of cold, hard cash and start thinking of it as simply an element in the sales process.

As I have said many times before, your prices need to match your promises.  In other words, if you are promising a great product or a stunning level of service, and you then quote a bargain-basement fee, people won’t believe you.  Make no mistake, your confidence and clarity when discussing money is key.

Someone once described a sale to me, as; “the transfer of enthusiasm.”  Conversely, it could be said that a great way to ruin a sale, is to transfer doubt to a prospective client.

If you have any tips or suggestions, please share them with a comment!

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

Have you considered the worldwide market for your services?

This is a blog post I have intended to write for a while now.  I’ve noticed that many small business owners and entrepreneurs are missing out on a massive amount of high quality business, because they are applying out-dated thinking to the reach of their services.

It’s all to do with a hyper-local mindset.

small business, marketing national, international marketing, marketing coach

Some businesses, by their very nature, need to operate within set geographical boundaries.  Accountants and lawyers, for example, are only allowed to practice in certain countries or territories.  Other businesspeople are geographically locked, because people need to physically visit their premises, such as restaurants etc.  However, there are many, many other people, who could provide products or services on a national or international level, who still stick within unnecessary, geographical limitations.

How I do it

As many of you will know, I work very successfully as a marketing coach, to small business owners all over the world.  Today alone, I have worked with clients in; Nebraska USA, Norfolk UK, Cassis France and Wicklow Ireland. I use Skype to handle the phone calls and video conferencing, documents are sent via email and we also use desktop sharing; so we can work on things together, in real-time.

This system of working has a number of great benefits.  For example, neither my clients nor myself have to waste time travelling anywhere.  So, if we are working on something for an hour, that’s all the time it takes us; rather than wasting time in transit, getting parked etc.  Equally, it means I can market my services worldwide and embrace opportunities without any of the limitations of yesteryear.  It’s also a lot kinder to the environment!

Here’s a suggestion:  Take a look ate the kind of service you currently provide, and consider if you can adapt it, so that it can be offered either nationally or internationally.  If you can, I strongly advise that you look into it.

It could be one of the most profitable and rewarding commercial decisions you ever make!

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

Photo: Dave Bleasdale

A quick look at Scribnia.com

A few months ago, I decided to check out a new service called scribnia; which allows people to rate, review and discover bloggers and online writers.  The service was recommended to me by my friend David Spinks, who is scribnia’s community manager.  This is not a full review of the service, but rather a brief snapshot of my experience with it.

Scribnia.com

scribnia, scribnia.com, david spinks, writer reviewsI’m always on the look out for great writers with something new to say, but find that the same old names pop up again and again on social bookmarking sites and Google.  This makes it harder than it should be, to discover new writers and sites in your niche that are worth reading.  After all, some of the best new writers have pretty poor SEO and some of the most optimised sites are generic when it comes to content.

This is why I decided to take a look at scribnia.com.  Scribnia allows you to pick a category and then check out reviews for writers in that niche – potentially a very useful short-cut.  You can see who is writing the reviews and decide how biased or otherwise they may be, again, very useful.  Also, once you have reviewed 5 writers, scribnia will start suggesting new writers to you; based on the ratings and reviews you have written.  This is my page on scribnia.

If you enjoy the reward element of services like foursquare.com, you will find the badges that reviewers can earn on scribnia interesting.  Badges can be earned for things like the number of reviews you write, the number of people who give a thumbs-up to your reviews etc.  An interesting feature here, is that you can earn a pro-critic badge, after you have written 100 reviews.  If scribnia gains enough traction, I can see this pro-critic idea as being really useful for people, who write reviews for a living or who give reviews as a part of their work.

Scribnia, chickens and eggs

Obviously, a service like scribnia relies on numbers in order to fly.  After all, people will only write reviews if they believe others will see those reviews.  This creates a chicken and egg situation, which is why I decided to write this brief post about the service when David told me about it.  Currently, there are just over 35,000 writers added to the site and there are almost 6,500 users.  The number of users will need to increase, for the service to achieve it’s potential.  However, having used the service and really enjoyed it, I believe the potential is huge.

If you have used scribnia, or taken some time to check it out, feel free to share your feedback.

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

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