Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Author: Jim Connolly (page 139 of 184)

Examine all your options

I’ve received quite a few emails recently, from people who want to market a new business venture, even though they have no budget.  Whilst it’s common for new projects to have limited budgets, having zero budget is still thankfully relatively rare.  Several of these emails closed with the statement that they had just 2 options; to do nothing or to launch their new project right now, with no budget.

Of course, in reality they had stacks of options.  They may, for instance, decide to get the funding in place, then go for the launch.  They may decide to find some partners, who will invest expertise and money in the project, then go for the launch.  They may decide to make the product or service better, whilst saving to get the funds in place, then go for the launch.  There are always options – providing you are prepared to look.

Examine all your options

I often hear people make similar polarised statements, where they say something is either this or it’s that.  They then make their decisions based on those 2 choices alone; without considering all the other viable options.  When you give yourself the option to either do nothing at all or do something wrong, you are asking yourself to answer the wrong question!

Good preparation and planning are cornerstones of a successful project.  Conversely, most of the failed projects I see, had failed long before they even started, through lack of preparation.  It’s great to see people putting their energy and effort into something positive, but without proper planning, all that energy and effort will only get them so far.

After all, if you are rowing your boat with all your strength in the WRONG direction, you will never get where you want to be!  In fact, the harder you row, the further in the wrong direction you will go.

It is possible these days, to successfully launch a small business or a new project with a shoestring budget.  You know what?  There are millions of people right now, trying to do just that!  They are seeking to grab the same people’s attention (and money) that you are too.

Yes, you can beat them, but it will require forward planning, solid preparation and the ability to consider all your options.

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

Photo: Psd

Dell customer service – Not what I was expecting!

I’m about to write a blog post, which I really didn’t expect to be writing.  It’s about my experience ordering a Dell PC and the level of customer service I received.

Dell customer service experience

On Saturday 26th June, I ordered a new PC from Dell.  The ordering process was simple and within 10 minutes, I had picked all the components I wanted, so Dell could go and get the thing built.  After the order, I used their instant message facility to ask a Dell advisor a simple question, regarding my invoice.  The advisor asked for my phone number and by the time I had typed in my question, he had already called me to personally answer it!

Just 6 days later, my new PC arrived in perfect condition – 5 days ahead of their typical delivery schedule.

Throughout the process, I was kept up to date on the progress of my order, via a series of emails and access to a regularly updated tracking section on the Dell website.  Just a couple of days after my order was placed, I received another phone call from Dell, telling me that my machine would be ready for an earlier than expected delivery; unless I wanted to pick a later delivery date.  When the machine arrived, Dell had already updated all the drivers, meaning the set-up process took minutes.  I unpacked it, plugged it in and was ready to start working immediately.

I am left with a PC, which cost me significantly less than a similar ‘spec machine from a big box store.  Moreover, I am also left mulling over an outstanding level of customer service, from a company that I had previously heard mixed reviews about.

In the days before social media, it was said that when a customer had a good experience, they would typically tell 3 people, but when they had a bad experience, they would tell 10 people.  Today, people have a far bigger voice and hopefully, this will lead to better customer service for us all.  After all, no provider wants to see their name or brand slapped all over Facebook or Twitter, for bad customer service.

However, I believe  that it’s right, when we have had a very positive experience, to be just as proactive as when we have a bad one.  Surely, when a company clearly over-delivers on their promises and exceeds our expectations, they should be worthy of praise, just as they are worthy of lambasting, when they let us down?

What do you think?

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

Keep clear!

One of the primary reasons that so many small business owners miss out on sales, is that their marketing messages lack clarity.  When it comes to sales, clarity is king.  In fact, one of the oldest sayings in the business is:

“A confused mind always says NO!”

In other words, if you ask a prospective client to make a purchasing decision, before they clearly understand your proposal, they will typically say “no”.  That’s why the best salespeople and negotiators always make sure they clearly explain their proposition, in as few words as possible.  They prompt prospective clients to ask them questions, and answer them fully, before asking them to make a decision. The clearer a prospective client is about what you are offering, especially regarding how it will benefit them, the better.

Copy writing and clarity

With written marketing, we also need to ensure that prospective clients can clearly and quickly learn what we do and how it will benefit them.  However, when we look at most small business marketing, we see pretty-much the exact opposite!  It is generally written in a long winded, bloated, pedestrian style, which the reader has usually given up on way before the actual core benefits have even been mentioned.  It usually focuses way too much on how great they are, and way too little on the problems facing the person reading their message.

Guess how interested the average reader is in YOU or YOUR business?

Not very!

They came to you because they have a problem.  Every successful product or service is designed to solve some kind of problem.  If your marketing is targeted correctly, the people reading it will be suffering with the problems, which your offering solves.  By clearly explaining how YOU will directly make THEIR situation better, you stand the best possible chance of attracting their custom.  The focus should be on them and how you can help them.

Quick marketing tip

Take a moment to review your written marketing and see how long it takes the reader, to find out exactly how you can help them.  Check your website’s statistics software and note the pages that visitors to your site arrive on the most.  Ensure that your marketing message on those pages is clear and that it gets to the point quickly and without fuss.

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

Photo: Hyku

Jim’s Marketing Blog: Now with added vitamins!

You may recall me recently mentioning that I was moving this blog to a new hosting provider?  Traffic into this blog has increased massively over the past 6 months and the time was right to upgrade.  Our new host offers me far greater resources, which will allow this blog to continue growing without being moved again.  However, just as importantly, they also offer me vastly improved customer service and technical support.

Well, I’m delighted to say that the move happened yesterday as planned and early signs are extremely encouraging.  A number of people have already asked me which hosting provider I have moved to.  I will let you know via a review; once I have had the chance to test if their services really are as good as they claim them to be.

As with all my online technical issues, I used the services of Mass Media Design to handle the blog’s migration.  I have been a client of theirs for a couple of years now and cannot recommend them highly enough.  Interesting side-note – their co-owner, Gregor Spowart, was the first person I ever followed on Twitter, back in 2008!

You can expect to see my review of the new hosting provider, in around 4 weeks time.

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

Marketing and freedom of choice

When I was starting out in marketing, almost 24 years ago, I remember my boss giving me some advice, which seemed odd at the time.  I asked her what she liked best about being wealthy.  I figured she would know, having built a multi-million pound business from scratch.

Her reply was simply this:
“Jim, the real value of wealth or money, is that it gives you more freedom of choice!”

Of course, these days her answer makes a lot more sense to me.

I often speak with the owners of small businesses, who find themselves working with clients or customers (herein called clients), who they would rather not work with, for various reasons.  For them, it feels like they have no real choice, as they need the income these low quality clients provide.

Successful marketing gives freedom of choice

The quality of your client base is a barometer of how good your marketing is.  It shows you, in very clear terms, the kind of people and the kind of fees, which your marketing attracts.  The good news, is that when you refine your marketing correctly, you can improve the quality of your client base.

This is why one of the first things I do, when I start working with a new client, is to offer them the opportunity to redesign their client base.  I want people to be able to work with the kind of clients or on the kind of projects, that energises and excites them.  After all, isn’t that one of the reasons you went into business in the first place?

The dreams and ambitions you had when you first started out are still valid.  You can have the lifestyle and business that you used to dream about.  You can fall back in love with your business.  You can work with clients that inspire you and who reward you fully for all that value you bring.

It’s all about choice and thankfully, the choice is always yours.

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

Why quitters seldom succeed!

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me, is the number of small business owners and entrepreneurs, who are always looking for the next new thing; without ever finishing whatever they had previously started.

I spoke with the owner of a start-up business earlier this year, who had very limited resources.  He was planning to develop his new business, in an extremely competitive market, YET he was just about to dilute his meagre resources, by “looking into a great opportunity”, which was clearly about to rob his new venture of what little resources he had.  He sent me several emails over the coming few months, telling me about more new opportunities.  When I last met him, he confirmed that he was now back in salaried employment.  For him, as he put it; “the ride is over!”

In similar fashion, I had a chance meeting with an entrepreneur earlier this month.  This guy was just about to start up a new business, in an industry he knows absolutely nothing about.  A mutual acquaintance later told me that this guy starts new ventures all the time, and runs out of interest when they don’t make him rich after a few months.  He believes everything he hears from the guys who pitch these ideas to him, never once thinking he’s heard it all before.  It seems he finds it hard to see past the fake testimonials and promises of easy riches on these people’s websites.

Now, as I write this, I am thinking of another entrepreneur, who emailed me yesterday with a question about her latest business idea.  She has (literally) dozens of disused websites littered all over the Internet, for various online business ideas she has started and abandoned.  She always starts them off with a great deal of optimism and energy, before quitting them for the next new, shiny thing.  I have known her for 2 years and never known her stick with anything for more than a few months.  One of her ideas looked like a sure-fire winner, and I believe could have made her a wealthy lady, had she actually worked at it for more than a month or two.

The worst part?  I can think of dozens of people who have spoken to or emailed me, who will be certain I just referenced them in this post.  That’s how common it is!

Focus and persistence

Focus and persistence are 2 keys to business success.  Once we have done the research and chosen the kind of business to get into, we need to maintain our focus on what’s important, and then persist until we have at least given our business the oxygen it needs to survive, then thrive.

By constantly moving onto something new, each time we reach a sticking point, we rob ourselves of the lessons we need to master, if we want to succeed.  That’s why these people keep failing at the same point in their business ventures each time!

It’s great to diversify, but first we need to get to the stage, where our core business is financially robust enough, to afford us the time and money required to branch out and explore new, exciting opportunities.

By constantly quitting, before we even get started, it’s hard to achieve anything of lasting commercial value.

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

Photo: KirrilyRobert

Are you doing it often enough?

Recently, I have had a lot of people asking me how I come up with fresh ideas for new posts.  So, here’s what works for me and hopefully, will be just as useful for you!

The short answer is that the more you write, the easier it gets.  For example, I used to publish blog posts 5 or 6 times a month and had to think long and hard, before finding a topic.  The posts would then often take me an hour to write.  Today, after publishing over 70 posts in the past 70 days, I have another 100 or so post ideas, just waiting to be written.

The more you do it, the easier it gets

It seems counter intuitive, as you would imagine that the more ideas you write about, the fewer you would be left with.  However, it appears that the process of getting ideas fleshed out, written down and commented on, actually produces lots of new, fresh topics for future posts.  So, I publish a post and usually get ideas for several more.

I have read many experts over the years, who agree that we can all massively increase our levels of creativity in a particular area (like blogging), by deliberately using our creative skills in that area, on a regular basis.  In other words, just as a muscle becomes stronger the more it gets exercised, our creativity becomes stronger the more it is exercised too.  That is exactly what my experience has been.

I have also discovered that it is important (for me anyway), to set a specific time aside each day, to write the posts.  So, although I capture ideas for blog posts all day long, I have found that the ideal time for me to write blog posts, is early morning.  This means my posts are written before my working day begins.  As a result, not only does blogging not get in the way of my work flow – It actually stimulates my creativity, for my work with clients during the day.

Do you have any tips or suggestions, which help your creative juices to flow?

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

Photo: Karin Dalziel

Business blogging at the weekends: Is it worth it?

Have you ever wondered about the value of posting content to a business focused blog, like this one, during the weekend?  If you have, you might find my experience interesting.

Blogging on a Saturday

Reader numbers here drop like a stone on Saturdays.  I get around 50% of my weekday average, sometimes even fewer.  Yes, there are exceptions to this, but typically I see around half as many readers show up.  Even yesterday, when I published 2 blog posts, I saw only a very slight increase in numbers.

Blogging on a Sunday

Sundays are very different! Reader numbers on a Sunday are the same as a regular weekday.  In fact, I have had some of the busiest days ever here on a Sunday.

Based on my experience, if you write a business blog and you are thinking of publishing content on one day over the weekend, I would recommend a Sunday.  Not only are reader numbers higher on a Sunday, I typically see a greater level of reader engagement  too.  That is to say, a higher percentage of readers will comment here or email me.  Page view numbers (per reader) are also higher on Sundays than on Saturdays.

Do you publish posts at the weekend? Let us know your experience!

In order to make this post as valuable as possible, I would like to know what your experience is, of publishing weekend blog posts – in relation to reader numbers.  Are my experiences typical? Please share your feedback!

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

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