Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Blogging (page 1 of 40)

Bloggers: How to be an overnight success

blog letters

My wife’s blog has become an overnight success. Here’s how she did it.

Sharon started her blog around 12 weeks ago. Her first post was read by over 2000 people. Thousands of people now read her work every week. Not bad, especially as it’s her first ever attempt at blogging. It’s worth mentioning that Sharon hasn’t paid for advertising, hasn’t done any kind of SEO or asked anyone [including me] to share her posts or link to them.

So, what’s the secret of her success?

Before my wife published her first post, she had already built an audience for her blog. She is the admin of a history group on Facebook. Sharon spent time connecting with like-minded people, answering their questions and sharing ideas.

By the time she published her first blog post, there was a community of people who were interested. They already knew who she was and that she’s an expert in her field.

Compare that to what most business owners do, when they start blogging.

  • They write a post.
  • They share their post on their main social networks.
  • However, because they haven’t built a community of people around their work, very few people take notice.
  • They decide to publish some more posts and hope things will improve.
  • Fast forward 3 months… they still have very few readers.
  • So, they try some tricks they find on blogging websites. [They don’t understand that this is the perfect way to ensure your blog remains invisible.]
  • Eventually, they assume that blogging is a waste of time.

Here’s the thing: If you want to build a successful blog, you need to build a community.

You need to find a way, like Sharon did, to connect with your target audience. It takes time. It takes effort. But that’s why she already has thousands of readers. It’s why her 12 week old blog has a bigger daily readership than the massive majority of established, small business blogs. BTW: It’s the same approach I used to build Jim’s Marketing Blog, though I used Twitter rather than Facebook.

Great blog posts alone are not enough

Writing great blog posts is just part of building a successful blog. Without investing the time required to build a reader community, a blog will remain largely invisible.

Important: You build a community by connecting with people in your target group. Join in the conversations. Answer questions. Communicate. Notice something there? None of those are achievable through automation software. Broadcasting quotes and spraying links via your social networks is easy, but very ineffective when it comes to building human connections.

How long does it take to do it correctly?

Some of my clients have achieved measurable success within 3 months. Others have taken a whole year. Is it worth it? Well, over 80,000 people will get notified when I publish this post today.

What would it be worth to you and your business, if you were able to reach a growing targeted audience of thousands of potential customers every week… without paying for advertising? Think about that for a moment.

If you decide its worth the investment, find out how to do it correctly and get moving!

Social Business: Before you publish, press pause!

online reputation

I want you to think about the following for a moment:

  • The last tweet you sent.
  • The last blog post you published.
  • The last marketing email you sent.
  • The last Facebook status update you posted.

First impressions count

Each of those actions could easily be someone’s first exposure to you or your business. If so, it will help form their first impression of you. First impressions count… even if they are inaccurate. First impressions count, even if you are having a bad day.

First impressions count, because if you screw it up, you don’t usually get a second chance!

Hit pause… and think

It pays to pause for a few moments before you publish anything. Think about the impression you are creating. Never underestimate the impact of an angry tweet, a needy Linkedin request or a spammy Facebook update, etc. Once it’s published, it’s out there. It’s in play. It’s carrying your name. It’s carrying your reputation.

Today, prospective clients habitually research us via search engines and our social networking accounts, before contacting us. Thankfully, we have total freedom over what we choose to say and the way we choose to act online.

Which is just as well… as our online actions leave a trail that is discoverable in minutes, by everyone who checks us out.

What everybody needs to know about marketing advice

If you’re currently following marketing advice, yet your business isn’t achieving the results you need, this post is just for you.

The problem with general marketing advice

I’m fortunate to work every day with clients worldwide. Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked with clients in over 40 countries. This has given me a wonderful insight into the differences, when it comes to successfully marketing in various parts of the world.

What I have found, is that some very popular marketing publications and marketing blogs are either unaware of the differences or they choose to ignore them. Instead, they tend to offer general advice, which is provided as THE WAY to do something, when it’s often totally unsuitable for many of their readers.

One very often repeated piece of bad advice is, “the best time to publish your newsletter, blog post or social media updates”. There is no general, one-size-fits all answer to this.

Here’s the thing: Different countries have different working cultures. For example, my American clients usually start work earlier than my European clients, however, my European clients often work later. So, if your business is in Europe and you’re reading a marketing blog for American businesses [or vice versa], any information on the best time to publish something is incorrect.

Equally, even within the same countries, different industries work different hours. For example, designers, developers and those in the hospitality industry, often work later than other industries. So, using generic advice on the “best time to publish”, even if it’s from a locally-based marketing expert, is a waste of your time and is likely to make no meaningful difference.

There’s more

I see equally inaccurate information shared on content marketing blogs. No distinction is made between the kind of copy required to sell expensive, professional services — and the kind of copy needed to build an affiliate website or sell low priced items. A very different approach is required for each of these. As a result, I get emails from professionals with terrible blogs, newsletters and websites, who want to know why their readership isn’t growing and why they get few if any enquiries.

[Note: To find out what happened to one of my readers when she took that kind of advice, read this.]

Those examples of non-specific, general advice are sadly typical of what I see many hard-working small business owners waste time and money on. So, before you use general marketing advice, make sure it’s applicable to your business. If it isn’t, that free advice could lose you a fortune.

Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10000 daily readers?

In this post, I’m going to share what is easily the single best piece of blogging advice I know.

Here it is: Drum roll please…

If you would like more great people to read your blog, start off by asking yourself the following question:

“If I already had 10,000 prospective clients reading my blog each day, how much time and money would I be prepared to invest in developing it and delivering useful content?”

When I ask people that question, they often say things like:

  • Wow… with 10,000 readers each day, I’d invest as much time as I possibly could.
  • The  blog would be worth a fortune, so I’d invest in a professional design. With all those readers, I wouldn’t want to look cheap.
  • I’d publish posts most days and really work hard to make the content as useful as possible.

Cause and effect

After listening to their answers, I sometimes take a look at their blogs and usually find that they have not invested much time, money or energy into them. They want a highly valuable blog, but they won’t make the commitment required, until after their blog is a success.

That approach is a little like a restaurant owner saying she refuses to serve great food, until after her restaurant if full every night!

My mentor used to say that it would be crazy to walk up to an empty fireplace and expect heat. We know we need to do the work of building the fire and lighting it, before we can enjoy the warmth.

We don’t need to be geniuses to build a successful blog, but we do need to be wise enough to understand that our results will be guided by our actions.

A leap of faith

The people that already have thousands of daily readers, did the work and made the investments before our blogs became popular. We paid the price for success in advance.

That takes a huge leap of faith, but unless you show faith in your blog, you can’t expect others to.

P.S. Still not convinced? Here are 25 Reasons to write a business blog.

4 Inspiring reasons to write regularly

There are many compelling business reasons to write regularly. For example, blogging can be massively valuable as a marketing tool. The same is true of newsletter writing.

Here are 4 less obvious benefits to writing regularly, which seldom get mentioned. In many ways, these are just as valuable.

  1. Writing makes you a better observer. As a result, you notice more of the world around you. You experience more from life.
  2. Writing helps you think with greater clarity. The process of getting ideas out of your head and onto the page, is a wonderful antidote for foggy thinking.
  3. Writing is a powerful development tool. To write effectively on any subject, you need to know about that subject. Even better, to write about a subject regularly, you need to constantly learn more.
  4. Writing is an act of contribution. When you share your ideas or stories with others, you invest in them. You also connect with them. How might that help your business? Think about that for a moment.

PS: Here are 25 reasons to write a business blog.

Here’s a fun way to attract enquiries and sales leads

fun

If you want to grow your business, your network, your influence and really enjoy the process, you will love this simple, yet effective idea.

It’s simply this: Be helpful, often

Think about this for a moment:

  • The process of sowing and reaping, starts with the sowing part.
  • The process of cause and effect, starts with the cause part.
  • The process of giving and receiving starts with the giving part.

By regularly looking for opportunities to help your clients and your prospective clients, you put a series of processes into play, which improves how people feel about you. As business is all about people, improving the way people feel about you has a measurable, positive impact on your business.

I’ve learned that looking for ways to connect people, share ideas, open opportunities, etc, can become a natural part of your day. It isn’t that time consuming either. Even if you want to help thousands of people every day, you can do it without it eating into too much of your time.

Allow me to explain.

Being helpful scales to infinity

Thanks to the technology at our fingertips, being helpful scales. In fact, it scales beautifully. Using what I call the one-to-many approach, you can help dozens, hundreds or thousands of people every day.

It works like this: You invest one piece of your time, which helps many people.

An wonderful example of this one-to-many approach is blogging. The reason I write for you on Jim’s Marketing Blog and via the email version of the site, is that it allows me to be helpful to many people, using just one block of my time. In the time it would take me to reply to one specific email for marketing help, I can be of service to thousands of people.

The payback?

Firstly, running a business from a mindset of contribution is a lot more fun. I get wonderful emails all day from people who find my work useful. I’m one of the few business people I know, who enjoys getting well over 100 emails a day.

Secondly, it’s an extremely rewarding and effective way to grow your business. That’s because people are attracted to those who help and encourage them. I started my business back in 1995 and have never needed to attend a networking event. I have no need for a Linkedin account either.

That’s because I get client inquiries all day from business owners I’ve helped with the marketing ideas I freely share. These good people know me, without ever meeting me. My work went before me. So, when they decide it’s time to get expert marketing help for their business, they get in touch. It’s that simple.

Striking the right balance

As with all things, balance is required. It’s really important not to confuse being proactively helpful, with being a doormat. If you think you are helping people by doing lots of unpaid work for them, you are not. You are being taken advantage of.

Occasionally, I will get an email from someone who selfishly asks me to work for them, for free, and solve their specific marketing problems. Of course, I don’t do it. Why? Because for me to get all the information required to help them, then plan out what’s wrong and how to fix it, would take hours. I could invest that same time to write 4 or 5 blog posts and help thousands of people, using my one-to-many approach.

People who ask you for freebies are being wholly selfish. They’re showing zero respect for you or the value of your time. Time is not money – time is massively more valuable than money.

Getting it right

The key is for you to leverage your time and knowledge, so that you can help as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

When you get the balance right, more and more people in your marketplace will know who you are. Prospective clients will regard you as a source of ideas, answers and inspiration. That’s a valuable reputation for any business owner to have.

In short: If you are not receiving enough right now… give more. Do it often.

How to get the best free marketing advice for your business

How to

There’s a lot of free marketing advice available online. Some is good, but sadly a great deal of it is ineffective and often toxic. Today, I want to help you identify the best advice and show you how to avoid the worst.

A new client with a familiar problem

I was inspired to write this, after my initial session with a new client this morning. I went through some questions with her, as I do with all my new clients. I quickly noticed that she was making a number of serious marketing mistakes. During our session, I asked her where she got those marketing ideas from and she named half a dozen marketing blogs.

I soon figured out what had happened. She had been taking advice from sources of ineffective and sometimes toxic marketing information.

Today, I want to help you avoid making the same, costly mistake. I want to start by drawing your attention to 2 types of marketing blogger.

1. The small business marketing blogger, who doesn’t have a business

Many marketing blogs are written by people who are employees. Some are regular employees with holiday pay and a boss, who write a blog that’s not directly connected to their employer. Other’s are junior employees, paid to produce lots of “content”.

Think about that for a moment: On sites like that, small business owners could be taking marketing advice from someone, who has either never had a small business or whose business failed, so they needed to get a job.

2. Guest bloggers on popular marketing blogs

Many of the top marketing blogs rely heavily on unpaid, guest bloggers. Guest bloggers write for free, in return for access to the popular blog’s large readership. With just 1 exception, every guest blogger I checked on the sites my client mentioned, had a low authority blog, with very little engagement or traffic.

Think about that for a moment: Their readers could be taking marketing advice from people, who feel forced to work for free, because they still haven’t figured out how to build a valuable enough readership, community or tribe of their own.

Check the source

No, not every employee who writes about marketing is clueless. Some, like Scott Monty, are highly respected and highly knowledgeable. No, not every guest blogger lacks a valuable community or tribe of their own, either.

What I’m saying is simply this: When it’s a name you’ve never heard of, it’s always best to check before you act on what they tell you.

This is especially the case if that stranger has never achieved what you need to achieve.

Well written and sincere

Lots of people write extremely well and make a compelling point… when what they’re telling you is incorrect. They may be sincere, but being sincere mustn’t be confused with being right. It’s possible to be sincerely wrong.

I estimate my new client has lost at least 5 years worth of business growth, and who knows how many thousands of dollars, thanks to following the same bad marketing advice as thousands of other small business owners.

Don’t let it happen to you. Check the source. Always, always check the source.

PS: Here are 7 valuable lessons I’ve learned, from 20 years as the owner of a successful marketing business.

Here’s why the possibilities for your business in 2015 are endless

2015

Someone just emailed me to ask what my predictions were for small business owners in 2015. Here’s the best answer I can come up with right now:

I believe that 2015 is going to be a lot like 2014, 2013… and 1973.

What do I mean?

The tools have changed, but the basics of growing a successful business remain the same. As a result, here’s what we will see in 2015.

  • Business owners with the correct mindset will thrive, just as they always have. Others will flounder, just as they always have.
  • Business owners who seek out progress and opportunity will find it, just as they always have. Others will seek out security and make little if any progress, just as they always have.

The opportunity has never been better

One HUGE advantage we all have over business owners of previous decades, is that there has never been a more level playing field.

For instance, when I set my business up in 1995, you needed a hefty marketing budget if you wanted to reach thousands of prospective clients every month with your marketing message. Today, you can create a WordPress blog for free and reach thousands of people every day. Back then, if you wanted to connect with an influential person you needed to navigate endless so-called gatekeepers. Today you can reach out to influential people direct, using tools like Twitter. [You can join me on Twitter here.]

2 challenges we face in 2015

The opportunities ahead of us in 2015 are unparalleled. However, they present us with 2 pressing challenges.

  1. We need to be prepared to stand out, in order to attract and retain the valuable attention of our marketplace. This takes creativity and courage.
  2. There’s nowhere to hide in 2015. We have no more excuses. If we fail to make the progress we want, we can only blame ourselves… our inaction and our mindset.

It’s up to us what we decide to do, which is why we need to choose wisely.

Thank you!

Rest assured that in 2015, I will continue to provide you with tips and ideas to help you with your marketing, business development and professional development. I’m committed to helping you grow a great business… a business that rewards you for all your hard work and dedication.

I hope you and your family enjoy a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

Older posts