Successful marketing leaves clues

success leaves clues

When it comes to marketing, success leaves clues. By following these clues and learning from them, it’s possible to significantly improve your marketing.

For example, spend a few minutes thinking about the following:

  • The last marketing email, which you were motivated to open because it had a powerful subject line.
  • The last marketing email you read, which persuaded you to take action. [To ask for information, pick up the phone, make a purchase, etc.]
  • The last blog post you read, which you were motivated to bookmark, save or share.
  • The last advertisement you saw or heard, which led to you making a purchase.
  • The last service you experienced, which impressed you so much that you wanted to tell your friends about it. Read this. It will help.
  • The last newsletter you received, which you forwarded to your friends.

Turning clues into results

Each of those examples contains a clue. To uncover the clue, you need to answer this question:

What can I learn from this example of marketing success, which I can adapt and apply to my own marketing?

By studying marketing success, it’s possible to make better marketing decisions. The good news here is that there are examples of successful marketing all around you.

Bonus: You can also learn a great deal by studying terrible marketing and uncovering why it was so ineffective. Knowing what to avoid is enormously valuable, too.

How NOT to write the perfect blog post!

blogging topics r

The Internet is packed with inaccurate, generic advice on how to write the perfect blog post.

Here are a few common examples you may already know:

  • Your blog posts should be a certain length.
  • So should your blog titles.
  • You should use adjectives in your blog titles.
  • You should write clickbait titles, like: “21 Ways to excite your readers — number 6 made me scream!”
  • You should publish your posts at a magical ‘peak time’, on certain days of the week.

There are dozens more of these predictable rules, churned out by content marketing experts. So, if you adopt this generic approach to blogging, will it help you build a large, valuable readership?

Err… no. In fact, it will do the exact opposite.

How to be ignored

Following the same blogging format as everyone else is not only ineffective, it’s the perfect recipe for how to be ignored.

Think about it: You simply camouflage your blog posts, when you write them based on the same, predictable format as everyone else.

Oh, and if you publish your posts at that peak time they tell you to, consider this: There is no such thing as a optimum publishing time.

It varies from industry to industry and country to country.

For example:

  • If your target market are people who run hospitality businesses, bars, hotels, etc., they work late and start later than most businesses. If your target market are graphic designers or web developers, they also tend to work very late and start later too.
  • Different cultures have different working hours. I work with companies all around the world. My American clients are generally in their office earlier than my European clients. My European clients tend to work later.
  • Middle Eastern business owners often have a working week, which runs from Sunday to Thursday.
  • And… if you do publish your posts at the so-called peak time recommended by all the content marketing gurus — think about it: Your posts will be fighting for attention, along with every other blog post, published by people who fell for the same toxic advice!

In short: One size does not fit all. If you’re following generic blogging advice and your blog isn’t growing the way you want it to, it’s time for a more sensible approach.

How to make it work

The key is to put your time, energy and creativity into doing things YOUR WAY. Be useful. Provide value. Show us what you know. Turn up regularly. Lead, rather than follow.

That’s what attracts people’s attention. It’s also what inspires them to read your work, share your work, hire you and buy from you. I used this approach and built one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs. I have also never needed to speak at blogging conferences in order to make a living or write guest blog posts, in order to reach more people.

PS: Here’s some advice on building a great readership.

5 Extremely powerful questions to help your business thrive!

business development topics r

Today, I have 5 questions to help you and your business thrive. Each question comes with a suggestion, to point you in the right direction.

1. Are you earning trust by setting self imposed deadlines?

A great way to build trust is to deliver on a promise.

Think about it: Telling a client that their project will be ready “by the end of the week” is way less powerful, than telling her it will be ready “by 9am Thursday”.

Set deadlines and then deliver. When a client trusts you to deliver on your promises, they are extremely unlikely to seek out another provider. They are also massively more likely to recommend you to their friends. I wrote about this here.

2. Are you running your business?

If not, your business is running you. Unless you are working to a plan, you are simply reacting to whatever circumstances arise.

Tip: Never take business planning advice from someone, who has not achieved what you want to achieve. For example, be extremely cautious of marketing consultants who have to attend networking groups, because their own marketing doesn’t generate enough leads. There’s a powerful signal there.

3. Are you attracting daily sales or client enquiries from your website?

If not, you’re needlessly missing out on a wonderful opportunity. My blog generates over 100 emails a day — often twice that. Your site can be a sales generating machine too. However, it needs to be optimized correctly and you need to have the right strategy behind it. Invest in getting this right or you’re leaving money on the table every day.

Tip: Don’t copy what you see other sites doing. Almost every small and medium sized business blog or website I see, is poorly optimized.

4. Are you associating with the right people?

We tend to grow in the same direction as those we associate with. Mix with the wrong people and one day, everything they have will be yours. Think about that for a moment.

5. Are you learning from past business mistakes or repeating them?

If you are facing the same old frustrations, it’s because you’re repeating the same old errors. For better results, you need a better strategy. Old ways won’t open new doors.

I hope you find these ideas useful. More importantly, I hope something here inspires you to take positive action.

How to make your content marketing more compelling

content marketing, compelling content, traffic

Which of these approaches do you find the most compelling?

  1. I wrote this blog post, now I need you to read it.
  2. There’s an idea I believe you will benefit from, so I wrote about it.

And which of these 2 do you prefer?

  1. I made this audio program, and now I need you to buy it.
  2. Small business owners needed help with this challenge, so I made an audio program about it.

Most people are far more attracted to the second approach in those examples. Despite this, almost every marketing message I see from small and medium-sized businesses, is based on the first approach. They come from a self-focused mindset, rather than being focused on the needs [or wants] of the other person.

Smarter marketing

Your marketing needs to be smarter than that if you want people to embrace your message and hire you or buy from you.

Telling someone that you know there are competing products, but they should buy yours, because you made it, won’t work. The prospective client or customer doesn’t care what you want. They care about answers to their problems. They care about their wants.

When you create your marketing based on what the other person wants, what’s important to them… it immediately improves how your marketing is received. It also improves how the prospect feels about you. This is the cornerstone of all effective marketing.

What next?

I recommend you spend some time reviewing your marketing. Shift the emphasis of any self-focused copy, from what you want to what they want.

The worst that can happen is that your marketing will be focused on the wants and needs of your marketplace. Get it right and it’s also likely to significantly improve your client acquisition / sales numbers.

Here’s why your business needs a great support network

network

To build a successful business, you need a great team of people around you. I’ve personally seen why this is so important over the past 72 hours… [more on that in a moment!]

Think about it:

  • You need to know what to do when faced with a challenge that’s outside your skill set.
  • You need to have someone to call, when only an expert will do.
  • You need people, who you can trust to help you when you need it most.

Here’s my first hand example of how a couple of potentially damaging issues were solved, thanks to having the right team around me.

There’s a very valuable lesson here for you and your business. Allow me to explain.

My blog vanished

On Sunday, the new-look Jim’s Marketing Blog went live. You can see how the new site looks, here. Everything went great, until I decided to make a few tweaks. Suddenly, my blog vanished!

So, it was 5pm Sunday. That’s absolutely not the best time to need expert help. Usually, that would have been a stressful situation. However, I knew everything would soon be fine. I emailed my developer, Gregor from Mass Media Design, and in no time the blog was back.

My server was attacked

Then, just before 11pm Tuesday night, my web server came under a heavy attack. Jim’s Marketing Blog had slowed down to a crawl. I called tech support at my hosts, WebFusion, and they took control. The problem was soon eradicated. I was able to go to sleep happy, knowing Rob and his colleagues were awake and making sure my server was fine.

Disclaimer: WebFusion sponsor my blog, however, I was a very happy customer of theirs for years before they sponsored me. It’s easy to see why I recommend them.

Without those key partners in place?

Had it not been for the team around my business, the past few days would have been extremely stressful. Without a great web developer, my blog would have been offline until at least 9am on Monday morning.

If I’d chosen cheap hosting, I could have been waiting 24 hours for a support ticket to be acted on. Then there’s no saying how long it would have taken them to resolve the problem. I’ve known sites on cheap hosting to be offline for 3 or 4 days.

The team behind your business

Here’s an important question to ask yourself about your business. When you need expert advice regarding; law, tax, technology, marketing, accounts, etc., who’s on your team?

The service providers you rely on for your business will have a huge impact on what you achieve. Get the best you can afford. Put them in place as soon as you can. This frees you up to focus on what you’re best at.

It also lets you plan ahead with confidence, knowing you have the key areas of your business covered and that you’re doing the right things, correctly.

Be stingy with your time, but not your ideas

time management

Laura emailed me with a great question. She wanted to know why I give so many ideas away, for free, on the blog. She rightly pointed out that with no advertisers and no need for “traffic”, I could achieve all my marketing goals, writing far less often.

So, here’s why I strive to be helpful to as many people as I can, as often as I can.

The contribution mindset

I see it like this:

  • If you own 3 pieces of gold and you give 1 of them away, you are left with 2 pieces of gold. Give all 3 pieces of gold away and you’re left with nothing.
  • If you give someone an idea, you still have just as many ideas as you had before. Plus, you have just enriched the other person and maybe made a new friend too.

Scaling generosity

The key is to find a way to share your ideas, which scales.

  • If you give an hour of your time away to 10 individual people every day, you have just lost 10 hours. It doesn’t scale. It’s unsustainable.
  • If you give an hour of your time to your community every day, by writing a blog post that reaches 10 people or 10,000 people, you have still only invested 1 hour.

We need to be stingy with our time. The clock is ticking. We only have a limited supply. But when it comes to helping people, we can choose to be generous.

That’s why I give so many ideas away, for free, here on the blog.

P.S. Interested in blogging? Here’s how you can become an overnight success.

Do something today, which your future self will thank you for

Pro development topics r

Here are 10 suggestions to get you started.

  1. Dream bigger dreams. They are more motivating than puny goals.
  2. Get into the habit of walking daily for 30 minutes. It will improve your life in so many ways.
  3. Too busy for a 30 minute walk? Get serious about solving your time management problem. This will help you.
  4. Focus on what you want. Not what you fear.
  5. Stop aiming for perfection. Instead, strive to be better than you were yesterday.
  6. Look for opportunities to step up and lead. Your marketplace desperately needs leaders.
  7. It isn’t the 1980’s — So, instead of focusing on closing sales, focus on opening relationships.
  8. Start a blog or a newsletter. If you already have a blog or newsletter, start taking it seriously. Here’s how to become an overnight blogging success.
  9. Avoid toxic influences. Everyone and everything you connect with has an impact on you. Choose wisely.
  10. Stop waiting for things to improve. Instead, plan for improvement, then work the plan.

I hope you found those useful.

3 Ways to attract more sales leads or client enquiries

Word of mouth

If you want to attract more sales leads or client enquiries, today’s post is for you. It shows the 3 main reasons why sales leads dry up AND more importantly, gives you some ideas on how to put things right.

Let’s go!

How to open the floodgates

When sales, client enquiries and business leads slow down, there’s always a reason. This is good news. Once you identify the cause and put things right, the sales and enquiries come flooding in.

Since starting my marketing business in 1995, I have seen the same 3 causes of this problem repeated over and over again. Here they are, along with some ideas on how to open the floodgates!

1. The marketing message you’re using isn’t good enough

In which case, you need to create a more motivating message. You need to start by making sure your service is as valuable as possible, then communicate that value to your marketplace with crystal clarity.

I want to help you avoid a common mistake here. Spend some time reviewing the guarantees, promises and range of services offered by your competitors.

Why? Because without knowing what you are competing against, you don’t know how compelling your guarantees, promises and range of services are to a prospective client.

It’s possible that competitors have copied your U.S.P. or that something that was rare or unique when you first offered it, is now commonplace. You need to know, so you can adjust and stand out from the crowd again.

It’s also possible that competitors have “upped their game” and you need to improve your service accordingly, to regain a competitive advantage.

In addition, check that your website, blog and social networks have not become tired or outdated. The way your message is presented has a huge impact on the way people feel about what you say.

Plus, if your website isn’t mobile friendly, that alone will almost certainly be losing you enquiries. Here’s why this matters to your business.

2. The message is fine, but you’re not reaching enough new prospective clients with it

In which case, you need to find a more effective way to reach out to them. The best advice I can give you when it comes to reaching your prospective clients is this: Be where their attention is.

What do they read? Where do they go? Who do they listen to? What do they watch? Whose tribe are they members of? Find out and then look for opportunities to reach out and connect with them.

For instance, I built the initial readership of Jim’s Marketing Blog from a newsletter I’d started back in 1998. However, after switching to blogging, I got my NEW readers from outreach on Twitter. I discovered that Twitter had a massive community of small business owners… the exact market for my services.

I connected with small business owners on Twitter, then placed useful information on my blog, which I regularly shared on Twitter. It worked. By being where their attention was [Twitter], I was able to build a large blog readership, which has generated regular client enquiries ever since.

IMPORTANT: You also need to make sure you’re getting your message out there frequently enough.

For example, if you publish blog posts or newsletters, make sure you’re publishing them regularly. If you want to get more leads from your blog, start publishing useful posts at least a couple of times a week. If you use newsletters to reach prospective clients, publish something useful every 10 to 14 days.

Don’t expect an infrequently updated blog or occasional newsletter to be a daily driver of fresh sales, leads or client enquiries.

Tip: Here’s how Andy Warhol used this approach.

3. Your clients, former clients and contacts are not sending you enough referrals

In which case, you need to find out why. The answer is almost always connected to the customer experience you provide. Allow me to explain.

A remarkable customer experience gives people a story worth sharing. It gets them talking about you. It has never been easier for people to recommend you and their reach has never been bigger. There are currently well over a billion people on Facebook, with hundreds of millions more on Twitter and Linkedin etc. These people are actively looking for remarkable stories to share with their networks.

Our job as business owners, is to make sure that we’re doing something worth sharing. They already have the sharing tools — what they need from us is the story!

Here’s the thing

Any small business owner who works on improving in those 3 key areas, is making an excellent investment in their business. So please, don’t just find these ideas interesting… use them.

How often should you publish blog posts?

blogging topics r

Karen from Delaware emailed me with a question earlier.

“I’d love for you to post on your blog every day like Seth Godin does.  Is there a strategic reason why you don’t?”

That’s a good question. The answer is that you need to match your publishing model to the business model behind your blog. Allow me to explain.

My publishing model

It’s easy… very easy, for me to publish something every day. However, my business model doesn’t require me to keep tapping you on the shoulder with daily posts.

Why?

I market just 2 services via my blog. There’s a limited number of clients I can work with and every post generates client enquiries.

Daily publishing, [which I did a few years ago], caused me to receive way too many enquiries. The huge momentum created by daily publishing is disproportionate to the few additional posts I was publishing each week.

If I decide to change the blog’s business model, so my income is primarily from the sale of products or advertising, I will need to adopt a daily publishing model of at least one post a day.

The daily publishing model

Whatever his motivation, Seth Godin uses a publishing model that rewards daily blogging. His blog is a kind of single author book store. Every post displays a carousel [on the left of each post], which is stacked with 18 of his books.

His well-crafted, daily posts are what create traffic to his book store. They also pre-market his books, by referencing new books in his posts long before they are published.

  • If you like Seth’s posts, you may buy a book.
  • If you don’t buy a book, you may still decide to share the post you’re reading, with your social networks.
  • By sharing the post, others will visit Seth’s blog.
  • They too may decide to buy a book or share the post.
  • A cycle is created, which is fed by daily content.

That model clearly rewards daily publishing. Fewer posts would equal less traffic, fewer shares and fewer sales.

In short: Your publishing model should support whatever you want to achieve. So, choose the best frequency for your business, rather than copy what someone else is doing. Their approach could be totally wrong for you.

Tip — Here are 25 reasons why you should write a business blog!

Bloggers: How to be an overnight success

blogging, grow blog, overnight success, readers

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!