Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Category: Blogging (page 1 of 38)

How to build a extremely valuable list, without a newsletter

If you want to build a huge, extremely valuable list, this post is just for you.

I get emails every day from people, who thank me for my free marketing newsletter. Some of you will find that odd, as I don’t publish a newsletter.

So, why does this happen?

Simple: I give people the option to read this blog, via a free email subscription. As a result, thousands of people get an email with the content of my latest blog post. These emails look and read just like a newsletter.

I suggest you consider doing the same.

Here’s why!

There’s a reason Seth Godin, the world’s most read marketing expert, also uses this approach rather than a newsletter. It’s an extremely powerful way to build a great, super-connected community of readers.

For example:

  • The blog (online) version of your posts get shared on social networks. Yes, this is technically possible with newsletters, but shares of blog posts are far, far more popular. People can then see your work and subscribe to it, knowing exactly what to expect. Newsletters are often little more than thinly disguised sales pitches and people are savvy to this.
  • The blog version of your posts get crawled by search engines.
  • Your blog posts can be found using search engines, when people need the information you provide.
    • These Top Marketing Tips attract traffic from search engines all day. A subset of these readers subscribe to the email version of the blog. It’s a list-builder all by itself, which grows the list all day every day. Again, because it shows people exactly what to expect, a far higher percentage will subscribe, than if I offered a newsletter.

Which is the best route for you?

If your newsletter is mainly special offers and promotions, a dedicated newsletter, marketed via your blog is a better option.

Otherwise, I strongly suggest you consider the benefits of offering a high quality, email edition of your blog posts instead.

  • It costs the same as a newsletter costs to send.
  • It’s a quicker way to build your list, for all the reasons already mentioned.
  • You don’t have to invest time writing a newsletter.

BONUS: It may also motivate you to publish blog posts more often, which will help your reputation, your reach, your authority AND your reader list… to grow!

Are you teaching people to ignore your marketing?

Every piece of marketing material is created from 1 of the following 2 mindsets.

  1. I wrote this, so now I need you to read it.
  2. There’s something you need to know, so I wrote it.

The first approach is selfish. It’s focused on the needs of the writer, not the reader. It’s noise, not value. People ignore these selfish messages.

The second approach is contribution focused. It’s about giving value to the reader. This unselfish approach is so rare that when people see it, it captures their attention and grabs their interest.

Whether you know it or not, every message you send fits into one of those 2 categories. You are either training people to filter you OUT or tune you IN.

Choose wisely.

Is your site ready for the fastest growing group of Internet users?

In this article, I’m going to share maybe the fastest way to improve the results you get from your website or blog. I’m also going to share 2 great, free tools with you.

First, I need to ask you a question: How does your blog or website look on a mobile device?

Many of your prospective clients or customers will be accessing your site using phones or tablets. That number is set to rise, as PC sales drop and mobile devices increase in popularity. If your site is deliberately designed for mobile devices, that’s fine. However, if it isn’t, a poor mobile experience will cost you a fortune in lost client inquiries or sales.

Here are 2 useful, free tools to help you get it right.

How to see what your site looks like on popular mobile devices

Thankfully, there are a number of free online tools, which show you what your site looks like on mobile devices. Screenfly by Quicktools is a good example. You simply enter the address of your site and then click the various options in the menu bar, to see what your site looks like on different, popular phones and tablets.

A few things to look out for:

  • Your site should offer mobile readers clear, easy to read text and mobile friendly buttons.
  • Readers shouldn’t need to scroll from left to right, in order to read your mobile content.
  • Your header image should not be cropped.
  • Your navigation bar should be easy to read and easy to click.

Everything should be displayed so that it’s accessible and clear.

How fast does your site load?

People expect sites to load quickly and correctly. This is especially the case when using a mobile device, when they will often be looking for specific information, fast. If your site takes too long to load, you will be losing readers before they even see your site or read what you have to say.

Google has a tool you can use, which will show you how quickly your site loads on mobile devices as well as regular computers. The Google Page Speed Insights tool will grade your site from 1 to 100 — the faster your site, the higher your score. However, what makes this tool extremely useful is that it tells you where your site needs to improve and offers advice on how to make the changes required.

In short: If your website or blog isn’t delivering a great mobile experience, it’s losing you business. The only question is how much.

How NOT to write the perfect blog post!

The Internet is packed with damaging, 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 publish your posts at a special ‘peak time’ each day.

There are around a dozen more 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 — your posts will be fighting for attention, along with every other blog post, published at that same, peak time!

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.

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

This is a marketing message. Seriously. It is!

Marketing tips, content marketing

Photo: Alice Lim

In today’s post, I’m going to show you how to make your marketing so attractive, that people would miss it if it wasn’t there.

Think about it: Most of the marketing messages we receive are unwelcome. At best, they are seen as the price we pay, so we can watch that YouTube clip we want to see. At worst, marketing messages are an unwanted, unsolicited intrusion.

How some people get it right

Some of the marketing we receive is welcomed. When Evernote send me their newsletter, I read it. It’s packed with tips on how to get the most value from the Evernote app, so users can organise their ideas and improve their work flow.

Yes, I have made additional purchases because of the Evernote newsletter, but they have never sold me anything. Think about that for a moment.

Leigh prompted me to write today’s post

Around 20 minutes ago, I received a message from a reader. Leigh said that she reads my blog via email. She was concerned, because she hadn’t had an email from me for 5 days. Apparently, it turned out to be a problem with her new email provider.

Leigh went on to say:

[...] “One good thing to come from the frustration of changing email providers, is that it made me realize how much your emails help me with my business.”

That may not seem a particularly powerful statement, but it is. I’ll explain why in a moment.

The best marketing brings independent value

Just like the Evernote newsletter I mentioned a moment ago, the best marketing messages are packed with value. When people connect with effective marketing, they feel like they have gained something — something more than a sales pitch.

A great way for us to get this right, is to ask ourselves the following question: If I stopped my; marketing campaign, blog posts, email marketing, newsletters or social networking updates, etc, would people miss them?

If people wouldn’t miss our marketing, they are probably not paying much attention to us. It’s entirely likely our marketing is being seen as an intrusion, rather than a source of value.

This is a marketing message… seriously!

If you think this blog post isn’t a marketing message, just because I’m not pitching you anything, consider this:

  • Hundreds of people email me every week, because of something they read on my blog or in the email version of the blog.
  • A subset of them will become clients or customers.
  • Others become advocates and recommend my services to their friends.
  • Some share my blog posts, helping me reach more people.

None of these busy people would bother, if my posts were a series of sales pitches.

In short: Provide your marketplace with useful information, not sales pitches. Make your marketing communications about the reader, not about you. Help them solve their challenges with your expertise, so they know where to come when they need expert help they can trust.

5 Useful tips to make your next project fly!

If you’re thinking of launching a new product, service or business, here are 5 tips to help you get it right.

  1. Great ideas are not anointed. They fly or die based on merit and hard work. If you believe in what you’re doing, if the research and numbers stack up, go for it. This will help you.
  2. Pick your clients or customers deliberately. Then, focus your marketing message so that it’s 100% relevant to this group. If you don’t know who your ideal clients or customers are, you’re not ready to launch. This will help you.
  3. Don’t sell something, if people can buy it from Amazon for less.
  4. If you sell a commodity product or service, customise it. If you’re 1 of 30 accountants in your area, give people a valid reason why they should hire you, rather than an equally qualified competitor. Tell people why they should eat at your restaurant and not a similarly priced competitor’s place. This will help you.
  5. Embrace blogging or newsletters. Give the marketplace an insight into you and your business. Tell them your story. When they feel like they know you, you’re far less of a gamble to them, than hiring or buying from a stranger. I focus on blogging. Here are 25 reasons to write a business blog.

I hope you found those tips useful. More importantly, I hope you find something there, which you can put into action.

4 Inspiring reasons to write regularly

There are many compelling, commercial reasons to write regularly. For example, blogging and newsletter writing can be hugely valuable.

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.

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

Are you using the right kind of marketing?

Marketing, internet marketing

Many small business owners make the mistake of using the wrong type of marketing for their business.

For example, did you know there is a huge difference between Internet marketing sites and marketing sites? Well, there is. If you’re using ideas from the wrong type of site, you’re wasting your time and your money. As you will see from an example I am about to share, it can damage your reputation too.

First, here’s what you need to know about these VERY different types of marketing site.

Internet marketing sites

Internet marketing sites focus on how to make money online. They mainly sell (and show you how to sell), affiliate marketing products, software, online courses, ebooks, premium forums, etc.

They usually market their products to you… and show you how to make money, doing what they do. That’s why there are so many of these sites out there. They are intended for people who want to sell low priced, Internet only products or services.

Marketing sites

Marketing sites, including Jim’s Marketing Blog, are a lot less common. They focus on ideas to help you increase sales and grow a successful business. Most, like my own, don’t cover affiliate marketing or “make money online” products or services at all.

The wrong type of marketing for an accountant

I was prompted to write about this, after being emailed by a new reader. She’s an accountant, who started her business just over a year ago. She contacted me after a marketing consultant identified why her marketing wasn’t working. She wanted me to share her experience with you, to stop others from making the same mistake.

Here’s an excerpt from her email, published with her permission:

“I read a ton of big name internet marketing blogs and did what they said; at least the things that seemed to make sense to me. Anyhow I invested over $2000 on a bunch of marketing software, on-line courses and forum memberships. None worked for me. Finally I instructed a local marketing guy to get expert help. He took a look at my website and emails and said “woah!!”

[...] He explained¬†that I had been marketing my service like some nasty $50 affiliate product!!”

She ended up with a site that’s hurting her business and damaging her professional reputation. I took a look at her site and here’s what I saw:

  • Pop-up boxes.
  • Blog comments from affiliate marketers, using SEO loaded keywords instead of their names.
  • Nasty looking ads for 2 affiliate products.
  • Sensationalist blog post headlines, designed to attract drive-by readers.
  • Pinch pages, to sell her services.
  • An automated Twitter account, which she told me is part of a Twitter resharing network.
  • References to joining her list instead of becoming part of her community.

All in all, she had wasted thousands and done nothing more than make her site look cheap. She’s now in the process of unpicking a year’s worth of damage to her reputation and her business.

Use the right type of marketing for your business

The type of marketing used to sell cheap software or affiliate products, is totally different from the kind of marketing required to sell high fee, specialist, one-to-one services. The level of trust required to hire a coach, accountant, lawyer, therapist or consultant is huge.

When a service provider wants to attract new, high quality clients, the¬†make money online approach to marketing is not only ineffective, it’s toxic.

In short: Match the marketing you use, to the type of business you want. Unless you sell Internet marketing products or affiliate products, think twice before using ideas from Internet marketing sites.

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