Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Blogging (page 1 of 40)

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!

The secret behind Jim’s Marketing Blog

Jims marketing blog

It’s been a great year for Jim’s Marketing Blog. The site is now ranked the number 1 marketing blog in the UK by Cision. In the USA, Search Engine Journal, picked their top UK marketing blogs and said:

“There may be another blog in the UK that could top Jim Connolly’s impressive resume – but we weren’t able to find one!”

Search Engine Journal

Now I’d like to share what I believe to be a key factor, which has given me a massive advantage over other blogs.

My secret sauce!

The single most common feedback I get about Jim’s Marketing Blog, is from readers who appreciate the brevity of my work. They value me using as few words as possible when I share ideas. It means they can read every word, rather than skim read.

However, although readers love short, information-rich posts and articles, they are very rare. I believe this has given me a huge advantage over the years.

Here are the 3 main reasons why so many blog posts are way too long.

1. Lots of bloggers write for SEO first

Google’s extremely limited algorithm isn’t smart enough to work with short blog posts. So, if you’re all about getting traffic rather than engaging readers, you need between 500 and 2000 words in your posts. This number depends on which SEO expert you listen to. It also depends on what Google is rewarding currently. A key challenge of writing for Google is that they change things all the time. What works today could hurt you tomorrow.

I’ve already written about the danger of writing primarily for search engines. I recommend you read this: Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

SEO is a valuable part of building a blog or website, especially in the early days when few people are sharing your work. But get the balance right. Write for people first. Otherwise, search engine traffic will arrive on your site, find a wordy, keyword-stuffed piece of crap and leave again!

2. It takes more skill to write with brevity

It takes longer to condense an idea into fewer words. It’s a skill you need to develop. I learned it back in the mid 1980’s, studying the legendary David Ogilvy.

Ogilvy famously said: “Don’t say it in 10 words if you can say it in 5.”

In broad terms, it’s twice as easy to write a 1000 word post on a topic, as it is to write a 500 word post. When you have fewer words to work with, there’s no room for waffle. No space for fluff. This means you end up with information rich content, which is far more valuable to the reader.

It’s important to remember that your readers are busy people. They’ve never had so many things calling for their attention. They want the key information and quickly. If you can provide them with what they need, without the waffle words, they will come back for more… and more.

3. It takes courage

It takes more courage to write short articles and posts than it does to write long ones.

Why?

Because with shorter content, you can’t possibly cover every angle. You can’t make every point. You can’t answer every question that every reader may have. As a result, you leave yourself open to criticism like “what you totally failed to mention is…”.

Having written thousands of blog posts and articles, I’ve found that no matter how many words you use, some people just won’t get it. If you try and write for those people, you will end up writing child-like junk. Don’t even try! Write instead for your target readership.

I hope you found this useful. More importantly, I hope you borrow some of the ideas for your own blog or website.

Stop using buzzwords in your marketing. Really. Stop it.

There is no shortage of buzzwords or people who feel the need to use them.

Intersection.

Ruckus.

Disrupt.

Paradigm.

… these buzzwords and many others, are used by people in an effort to appear informed, fashionable or relevant. Interestingly, buzzwords do neither of these. In fact, they have the exact opposite effect when people read them or hear them.

Here’s how buzzwords work against you:

  • They make informed people cringe. Not a great idea, if you want your peers to take you seriously.
  • They confuse the uninformed. A bad choice, if you want people to understand your message.

In either case, buzzwords work against you. When it comes to marketing, write your copy in a way that your ideal client will find easy to understand.

Always aim for clarity.

Why?

Because clarity sells!

PS: Here’s how to develop effective, clear, compelling marketing.

Be irresistible to prospective clients in just 3 steps

irresistible, attract clients

If you want clients and prospective clients to think of you as the go-to person, for whatever service you provide, I believe you’ll find this post really useful.

It’s based around 3 steps you can take, which will change the way people think and feel about you, so you become their irresistible choice.

What is a go-to person?

Firstly, I’d like to confirm what I am referring to when I use the term, go-to person. I’m talking specifically about those valued people in business, who we immediately think of when we have a need, related to their area of expertise.

When someone thinks of you as their go-to person for a particular need, they go direct to you.

  • They don’t ask a friend for a recommendation.
  • They don’t poll their friends on Facebook.
  • They don’t take their need to a search engine.
  • YOU get the call!

Clearly, the commercial value of being the go-to person for your marketplace is huge. Not only will you retain your existing clients for longer, you will also attract more inquiries from prospective clients.

To earn this valuable position, we need to focus on 3 core areas.

1. Demonstrate that you know your subject

A newsletter or blog is a great way to achieve this. By sharing useful ideas and information, people come to think of you as a valuable resource.

This is why it’s so important to avoid the common mistake, of only offering diluted information to your readers. If you hold back the good stuff, the really useful ideas, you will cause your readers to assume that shallow information is all you know!

Give away as much value, freely, as possible. Now, at this point some of you will be concerned, that if you give lots of valuable information away for free, people won’t bother hiring you. That is actually the exact opposite of how it works.

Here’s what really happens, when you offer extremely useful information for free in your newsletter or blog posts:

  • Some people will use your free ideas, with no intention of hiring you. As they were never going to hire you anyway, you lose nothing.
  • Some people will use your free ideas and get part of the way, then realise they need your expert help. These people will call you. Had you not given so much free information away, you’d never have positioned yourself as their go-to person.
  • Some people will see the value of what you do, then figure out very fast that it’s far better to hire you to do it for them.

It works. People in that 2nd and 3rd group make up almost all of my non-referred clients!

2. Demonstrate that you are approachable

If we want people to get in touch with us, we need to be as approachable as possible to them. This means taking every opportunity to demonstrate that we are friendly and professional.

Unbelievably, many business owners are cranky or confrontational, even when they are sharing their thoughts online, for the world to see. This is, of course, their prerogative. However, there is a price to pay for being cranky or confrontational. It makes us far less approachable. If we want people to feel comfortable approaching us, we need to be approachable. We need to show humility. We need to remove any barriers.

3. Demonstrate your reliability

Again, publishing a newsletter or blog posts is a great way to demonstrate your reliability. Of course, this is only the case if you have reliably published content over a reasonable period of time. If you write a newsletter or blog and the last thing you published was several months ago, it works directly against you. Instead of demonstrating your reliability and stick-ability, you do the opposite.

If you have been in business for a long time, let people know. When a prospective client reads my about page, they can see that I set this marketing business up in 1995 and that I have worked in marketing all my adult life. That, along with almost 6 years worth of publishing ideas via Jim’s Marketing Blog, offers those thinking of hiring me a huge confidence boost. You should do the same for your prospective clients and customers too.

IMPORTANT: Drawing a line

It’s important at this point, to make a very clear distinction between positioning yourself as the go-to person and positioning yourself as the freebie person.

Yes, it’s a privilege to be regarded by our family and friends as a person they know they can rely on for whatever they need. However, in business, we need to draw a line between what we are prepared to do for free and what we will offer as a paid service. Otherwise, we are likely to become a magnet for freebie hunters. Freebie hunters are people who abuse the nature of others, with selfish demands for free goods and services.

For example, I occasionally get emails from people, asking me to do unpaid work for them. These range from things that would take me a few hours, to tasks that would take me a week.

It’s worth mentioning that many of my clients started off as readers, yet none, not one, of my clients came to me after asking for freebies.

How to get the balance right: The one-to-many approach

There best way to offer free information, which is scalable and sustainable, is to adopt the same approach I use here. I call it the one-to-many approach.

Here’s how I do it: All the free work I do for people is offered via Jim’s Marketing Blog and the email version of the blog. I call it the one-to-many approach, because I create one piece of work and it benefits many people.

Offering one-to-one work for free, simply does not scale. It makes no sense for me to give an hour of my time to 1 selfish person, when I can use that same hour to write something, which will benefit thousands of people.

Finally

For some business owners and consultants, there is a huge mindset change required, to adopt the idea of freely sharing, valuable content. However, for those who embrace the idea, the rewards are huge. It’s the primary marketing model I have used for years and is the most powerful form of marketing I have ever seen. I can’t recommend it highly enough to you.

The huge marketing problem that no one talks about

silence

I was in a coffee shop earlier, when a guy with a very obvious hairpiece came in. He had natural, thick brown hair around his ears, with a jet black wig on top. Of course, no one mentioned it to him. People just pointed and smirked when he wasn’t looking. Whether this chap needed the hairpiece for vanity or medical reasons, it’s entirely possible he has no idea that his wig is so poorly matched to his natural hair.

The same happens regularly in business. Allow me to explain.

Think about it

  • We go to a website to check out a potential service provider, find the site looks amateurish and decide not to consider them. We don’t then call them to let them know their site created such a bad impression.
  • We start reading a poorly written ad or marketing message and quickly discard it, because it’s crap. We don’t write to the company and tell them their content is terrible.

So, how do we determine if what we’re doing is working for us? Simple. We ignore the silence and instead, look at the results generated.

For example:

  • Your website or blog should be a 24 hour business generating machine. If it isn’t, it needs to be improved.
  • Your marketing messages should generate targeted sales or leads from your ideal profile of customer. If this isn’t happening, it needs to be improved.

Start counting

Don’t wait for someone to tell you your marketing is crap. Start counting!  Count the number of daily sales or sales leads your marketing generates. Measure your progress over the past 12 months. Look at your bank balance.

If you’re not satisfied, fix what’s broken. Don’t just accept bad results. Get some expert help and turn it around. Those who ignore the lesson here, leave money on the table every day. Worst of all, it’s 100% avoidable if you decide to do something about it.

Tip – If you found this interesting, you really should read: 4 Ways to attract more customers from your website.

Marketing Tip: Be where their attention is!

cellphone train

The next time you’re on your way to or from work, try this.

I want you to take a look at the people around you; car passengers, bus passengers, train passengers or pedestrians. Notice what they are paying attention to? No, they’re not looking at billboards.

They’re looking at a phone or a tablet.

Be where their attention is

There’s a huge opportunity for you here. That is, so long as you’re willing to publish useful information, such as blog posts, podcasts, videos or newsletters, which your prospective customers will want to consume, to combat the boredom of a dull journey.

There are a couple of things to remember, before you invest your time and effort getting onto their mobile device.

Firstly, make sure you publish something that’s useful to them. If you do, they’ll share it. Your audience will grow. Your name and reputation will spread. Soon, you’ll be a familiar advisor to your marketplace. Don’t publish thinly veiled advertisements and offers. If you do, people will ignore you. No one shares a newsletter, blog post, video or podcast, which is basically a sales pitch.

Secondly, make sure that whatever you publish is mobile friendly. Most small business blogs still look like crap on mobile devices and that’s just not good enough. If you want to engage readers, give them a great reader experience. If you want to engage viewers or listeners, make the audio-visual experience crisp and clear.

The payback?

When you have earned the attention and trust of your audience, and you have a business announcement for them (a new product, offer, service, event, book etc.), they will listen. And because they know your work and trust you, the response rate can be off the charts.

The opportunity is here. The financial cost of reaching all those prospective customers is tiny. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Tip – If you want to know what your website or blog looks like on various phones and tablets, read this.

Show them what you know and who you are!

blogging for business

Someone just emailed me, to ask what were the commercial benefits of writing a blog. He wanted to know why I spend so many working hours giving useful information away, for free.

I want to quickly share part of my answer with you, because it’s extremely valuable. It’s based on a blog post I wrote a few years ago. I recalled a reader asking a blogger if he was in as high demand before he started blogging, as he is today.

Here’s the gold dust!

In one sentence, the answer sums up one of the most valuable reasons for business blogging. It went something like this:

“No one gave a rats ass about me, until they could see what was inside my head.”

Share what’s in your head

Your business blog gives you the opportunity to demonstrate what you know, what you stand for and who you are. It’s a way for people to check you out and determine for themselves, if you “get it” or not.

If you really know your subject and have the desire to share what you know with prospective clients or customers, there is no better way to showcase your talent than blogging.

PS: If you’re still not convinced, here are 25 reasons to write a business blog.

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