Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 138 of 194)

How to think with clarity and make more progress than ever before!

Do you ever find yourself suffering from what I call MIND FOG?

This is where you have so much going on that it’s hard to focus with complete clarity, on what you want to achieve.  You end up with lots of lists and even though you seem to be getting things done, you are not making the kind of commercial progress that you want.

Would you like some help?  Great.  Here are 3 questions, designed to remove that foggy thinking and set you on track to clarity and the bankable results you need:

1. If my business was already perfect for me in every way, what would it look like?

Write your answer down, in detail.  Include everything, from what your turnover and profits would be and how many hours you would work, to the profile of your ideal clients and the kind of service you would provide.  Then, each time you have a commercial decision to make, simply ask yourself: “Is this going to take me closer to my ideal business or further away from it?”

Your answer to this simple question provides you with a destination and a direction.  One of the reasons so many businesses spin their wheels and get nowhere, is that they lack that kind of pinpoint focus and clarity.  It’s impossible to identify the right opportunities, unless you are crystal clear about what you want.

2. What is my desired outcome here?

Here’s one of the best pieces of business advice I was ever given: Before you do anything, ALWAYS start with the end in mind.  Don’t waste a minute of your time, an ounce of your energy or a penny of your money, until you know what you want to achieve from something.  For example, most small business owners will set up a Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin account because they think they should or because someone tells them they should – but they have just a foggy idea of what their outcome is.  As a direct result, they have no idea who to connect with or how best to use these tools.

I get emails regularly, from business owners with lots of social networking followers, but nothing in the bank to show for it.  Their foggy thinking at the start, means they connected with the wrong people, in the wrong way, and now use their social network as light relief, rather than a business generating asset.  That’s what happens when you start something, without knowing your outcome in advance.

3. Is this the best use of my time, right now?

One of the core reasons that small business owners fail to reach their potential, even though they work long hours, is that they waste too much of their time on low value activities.

I have seen a £150 an hour lawyer, waste 3 hours of his time trying to fix his email; rather than pay someone a fraction of that amount to do it for him.  Had he asked himself this simple question; “Is this the best use of my time, right now?” he would have immediately realised that it wasn’t, and would have avoided wasting his time, energy and money.  Make it a habit to ask yourself this question throughout the day.  Whenever you find yourself answering; “No, this is not the best use of my time right now”, go and do something that’s of greater value to you and your business.

With so many daily distractions all fighting for your attention throughout the day, it’s important to be in control of your time and that means gaining control of your focus.  This simple question helps you do just that!

(Those 3 questions are a very brief example of the kind of things I work on with my clients, there’s more here.)

It’s just too easy to mistake movement for progress.  It’s also unnecessary, yet without a crystal clear idea of exactly what you want to achieve and the ability to get things done, it’s impossible to make much progress no matter how hard you work.  Like they say, if hard work were the secret to success, our grandparents would have been millionaires.

I hope you found those 3 questions useful.  If you did, please share them with your friends!

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

If you don’t do this NOW, you will hate yourself later.

Every small business owner is gifted the same fantastic opportunity:

“Do I do whatever is required in order to offer an exceptional service, or just offer a ‘good’ service like all the others?”

If they elect to take it easy, life can be hard!

Great marketing is not enough to encourage people to fall in love with an average service.  Even so, small business owners will happily waste hours each month, trying to market an average service so that it sounds a little more attractive.  How many small business owners take this route?  The majority!  Just look at all those average providers you see.

If they elect to get serious, life will be easy!

Great marketing combined with a superior service is the secret behind the success of every business.  No matter how enigmatic Steve Jobs is, the iPhone would not have been an international best-seller unless it was a superior product.  How many business owners take this route?  Very few!  That’s because it requires you paying the price for success in advance.  It requires making a product or service exceptional, and that means thinking, planning, studying and taking the action required.

Decide NOW to make your service so uniquely valuable, that when people hear about it they become immediately attracted to it.  Make it so attractive that people will bug you because they desperately want to be your customer.  I’m telling you: Armed with that kind of proposition you can achieve anything with your business.

Is it easy?

No, of course not!

Is it possible?

Yes, of course it is!

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

Is guest blogging right for you?

I’m often asked why this blog does not have guest bloggers; usually by people who want to write here.  I would like to share the answer with you, because I think it may be useful to those of you who are wondering whether to have a multi-authored blog or not.

The first thing to say, is that there is no universal right way or wrong way to run your blog.  Single authored blogs and multi-authored blogs can both work extremely well.  It all depends on what you want to achieve.  Let’s start off with why this blog is a single authored blog.

Guest bloggers: Why I don’t use them here

This site is what’s known as a positioning blog or authority blog.  It’s purpose is to help me build a relationship with you, where I give you lots of free marketing and business development ideas.  Then, when you decide you would like professional help with your marketing, you already have a relationship with me, where I am positioned as someone that you can trust for effective marketing results.  Through the blog, you get to see the quality of my work on a regular basis and also connect with me with comments and emails.

Whilst some positioning blogs DO use guest bloggers, I find that this often makes the quality of the content erratic.  Equally, because there is no relationship between the guest blogger and the readership, readers can be left wondering if the guest blogger is qualified to give them advice.

If I go to Seth Godin’s blog, I know exactly what to expect and I trust the information 100%.  That’s the model I use here and it works extremely well for me.

Guest bloggers and multi-authored blogs

Most of the world’s best read blogs are multi-authored.  These blogs are owned by people with a very different business model to my own.  They are not interested in selling the services of the blog’s owner as a specialist.  Instead, they have a business model based heavily on the sale of advertising.  For these guys, it’s all about page views and click-throughs’.  Pete Cashmore’s mashable is a great example of this, as is Michael Arrington’s techcrunch; which was sold to AOL last week for tens of millions of dollars!

Many smaller blogs use a similar multi-author approach, but for slightly different reasons.  Whilst sites like mashable and techcrunch need lots of authors, because they report on the news and are updated many times each day, smaller sites will bring in guest bloggers as a way of building their reader numbers and adding variety to their blog’s content.  This can be extremely effective and many respected sites use this approach.  One very successful example is problogger, which has built a massive, targeted readership using a variety of guest bloggers.

Unlike the big multi-authored blogs, these smaller ones tend to be owned by people who DO sell their services via the blog, but who also offer affiliate products and/or advertising.  In order to make their affiliate programs work, they need to get their blog in front of lots of new readers, on a regular basis.  This is because only a subset of their readers will buy their affiliate products, and once this percentage has been reached, the blog owner needs new readers.  As affiliate fees tend to be relatively small, sites that rely heavily on affiliate income need a regular supply of new visitors.

Good guest bloggers can bring this kind of targeted traffic with them.

Guest bloggers almost always have their own blogs and their own social networks, followers and fans.  Typically, when a blogger writes a guest post, they will tell their network, many of whom will go and read it.  If the guest blogger is well connected, the traffic they bring with them can be huge.  This provides an immediate traffic boost for the person, who owns the blog they are guesting on.

So, the guest blogger gains access to the blog owner’s readership, whilst the blog owner gains access to a subset of the guest blogger’s readers and contacts.  This strategy is extremely common and is an alternative to being an associated blogger, for those who prefer to be independent.

As you can see, it’s all about matching your approach to what you feel comfortable with and what you want to achieve.  You can use either route very successfully and as I said at the start, there is no right or wrong method.

What works best for you?

Which style of blogging do you use and what do you see as the benefits?  Please share your feedback with your fellow readers and myself.

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

Here’s who I learn from every single day!

Although I have had the privilege of working with, and studying, some amazing people, there is one amazing human being who manages to teach me something new every single day.

  • He is fearless.
  • He is non-judgemental.
  • He is always willing to help and spends some of his time teaching children how to read.
  • He always hugs his friends when he meets them.
  • He is extremely creative.
  • He loves to learn and is always asking questions.
  • He’s great company to be around and people always greet him with a smile.
  • He reads something educational and inspirational every single day.
  • When he laughs, he REALLY laughs.
  • He’s a fantastic dancer!

He’s also my 5 year old son!

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

How to write marketing messages that really work!

Marketing messages that inspire people to take positive action are what every business person needs, if they want to massively increase their sales, revenues and profits.

Here’s a simple idea, which can help you quickly improve your marketing messages and your marketing results.  It’s all about becoming a collector and a student.

Marketing collection

Look through your inbox, RSS reader, mail etc, for any marketing material that inspired YOU to take the kind of action you want others to take, when they read YOUR marketing messages.  So, collect the; emails, blog posts, letters, advertisements and anything else that you read, which inspired you to take action.

Marketing study

Next, study each message and see what you can learn, from the way it was written and presented.  For example:

  • What kind of headlines (sometimes called straplines) did they use?
  • What kind of calls to action did they use?
  • How long was the gap, between each of their marketing messages.  For example, did they email you once a week or three times a week?
  • What kind of promises did they make?
  • What kind of guarantees did they offer?
  • How many words did they use?
  • What kind of carrier did they use?  (In other words, what kind of envelope did the letter come in, what type of theme did the blog use, what style of template did the newsletter / email marketing use, etc.)
  • What was it that they said, which caused you to believe you could trust them?  How did they win your confidence?

In short: Keep a copy of everything that has inspired you to take the kind of action, which you want others to take regarding your business.  Then, study what you have collected and look for the gold.  Apply what you have discovered into your own marketing and see if you can replicate the magic!

By the way, if you found this useful, please subscribe to the blog for free and never miss another post!

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

Give me 3 minutes and I will improve your marketing results!

Here’s one of the easiest ways to improve the effectiveness of your marketing.  I think I can get the message across to you in less than 3 minutes.  Let’s see!

It can all be summed up in these 3 words: Make it easy!

Make it easy

Make it easy for people to find information on your website. Don’t hide great content; make it findable.  Use simple navigation.  Offer a search option.

Make it easy for people to contact you. This means not only offering them your contact details, but letting them know you want to hear from them.  Show them that you are approachable, friendly and willing to help.  Let them know that they will not be under any obligation when they speak with you.  And NEVER offer people a premium rate number as the way to contact you with a business inquiry.  This is a barrier that most sensible people will refuse to cross.

Make it easy for people to trust you. Don’t subscribe people to your mailing list without their permission, or send them DM spam on Twitter, or use your social networks to simply broadcast your latest deals or offers to people.  Demonstrate, by the way you conduct yourself, that you are worthy of their trust.

One of the reasons I work as a mentor to lots of marketing professionals, is that they trust my integrity.  They know that I will discretely help them to market their own marketing services and give them all my most powerful marketing ideas. Trust is supremely important.

Make it easy for people to see the value of your product or service. Use plain English to point out your most powerful benefits in as few words as possible.  Avoid buzzwords.  Embrace clarity.

Make it easy for people to share your message. For example, when I wrote a marketing newsletter, I had a simple link in each newsletter, which people could use to forward the newsletter to their friends.  Equally, there was also a link their friends could click, which put them on the subscriber list if they wanted to join.

Now, I make it easy for people to share my work, using the social networking options below.  Feel free to test them and share this post!

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

6 things I wish I knew before I started blogging!

This blog was 2 years old last month and in that time I have learned many, often expensive lessons.  In order to help you avoid some of the costs and frustrations that I went through, here are 6 things I wish I knew before I started blogging.

1.  Everyone starts from scratch

Most blogs start off with no readers, no subscribers and no comments and things don’t change much for months. Yes, Seth Godin started off by writing his first blog post, sitting next to his Stanford friend, Google founder, Sergey Brin — but that’s not how most of us begin.

It took me 2 years of blogging here, before Google starts delivering targeted, unique visitors each day. I had 400 posts published and almost 20,000 back-links, before I had my first 1000 unique visitors in a day from Google. However, an effective social media strategy can really get things moving whilst the search engines get their act together.

2.  SEO is less and less important

Google is fickle. It changes the rules so often, that SEO has become less relevant. Today, you’re better off investing your time on social networks, than messing around trying to keep Google happy.

3.  Some will use your comments section to sell rather than engage

As soon as you start to develop a large readership, people will try and tout for business in the comments section of your blog. I switched comments off in June 2013, because people were spamming the crap out of the comments. Also, unlike when blogs were invested, today we have social networks as a powerful way to comment on what we read.

4.  The price of a blog theme is usually the least expensive part

Well-known bloggers tend to use blog themes that have been professionally redesigned and had a lot of custom code added to them. Sadly, this includes those bloggers who make a big deal of selling the theme on their sites, but a much smaller deal of explaining that their site is not an accurate example of what a typical user, who doesn’t write CSS or HTML, will get when they try and use that theme on their blog.

So, you see a great looking blog from a blogger you trust, you buy the theme they recommend and learn VERY fast that the look you fell in love with, had almost zero to do with the theme. This is often the start of an expensive, frustrating process; for those of us with no interest in learning how to write code.

Find something you like right out of the box or hire a blog designer. The latter usually works far better, unless you want a blog that looks just like thousands of others. It’s hard enough to stand out, without looking like a clone of other blogs, using the same theme.

5.  Most plugins suck

Most plugins add very little value to your blog. They are also a primary source of tech issues and they s-l-o-w your site down too. I started off with around 20 plugins. Today, I have just 6. You can often massively increase the speed of your blog, simply by removing unnecessary plugins. The first plugin I install on a new WordPress blog, is always the Akismet spam filter.

6.  If your blog is commercial, invest in professional grade hosting ASAP

When you pay $10 a month for hosting, you get $10 worth of service and speed. However, when you spend $50 a month, you still get a very similar service to that $10 a month provider. If you are serious about the commercial value of your blog, get it onto a dedicated server or if money is tight, get on a cloud-based server as soon as you can afford to.

The increased speed, reliability and 24/7 one to one tech support is worth every penny.  When the BBC put a link to my blog on their homepage last year, instead of me gaining a stack of new readers, my site went down under all the traffic.  Today, it would keep working.

Finally, I recommend you either start a business blog or start taking your blog seriously. The rewards are huge… but only if you give your blog everything it needs.

You don’t have to be Dr Who to travel back in time!

If you want to travel back in time like Dr Who, just take a look at the way some businesspeople operate right now!  It’s as if an entire swathe of business owners, are stuck in some kind of commercial time-warp.

These time trapped individuals are either unaware of the commercial possibilities that surround them in 2010 or they insist in applying 20th century thinking, to 21st century opportunities.  For example, they may use social media as part of their marketing mix, but they use it like a mail shot or advertisement, as a one-way, self-indulgent broadcast.

Only today, I read a marketing email from a new media company.  I was eager to discover what this so-called new media was.  It was simply another company selling Internet design services, who thinks this is still new media!  Come on: Internet design as an industry is well over a decade old.

I would love to hear your examples, of outdated marketing or business practices, so get in touch!

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

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