Are you making a noise or making a difference?

It’s easy to add to all the noise out there.

  • Pester people with special offers via social networks.
  • Invite people to your desperate sales video webinar.
  • Retweet that guru who has already been retweeted thousands of times.
  • Write predictable, “me too” blog posts.
  • Agree with whatever the popular opinion of the day is.

The thing is, no one is demanding more noise.

Training people to ignore you

You can’t benefit from the noise deficit, because there isn’t one. So, all the noise makers do is train people to ignore them. Sure, they may have followers, but no one is listening to them. They may have our email address, but their emails don’t get opened or acted on. If they stopped making their noise, we wouldn’t miss them at all.

The difference deficit

Where there is a deficit, is with people who are making a difference. These are the rare people we eagerly subscribe to. These are the people we look forward to hearing from. They add something of value to us and our business. They make a difference. A positive, meaningful difference.

Most importantly, these are the people we miss when they are not there.

And that’s also the best way to determine if your marketing is making a noise or making a difference. It’s a tough question to ask and answer, but would people miss your marketing if it stopped?

Tip: If you need to push your marketing because people are not spreading it, they probably wouldn’t miss it. If people spread the word for you, (send your newsletter to their friends, reshare your work, etc) … you’re making a difference.

Facebook Business Pages: Why your results just nosedived

As some of you may know, the new Facebook Business Page strategy was recently leaked. It has prompted an outcry from business owners.

Here’s why

A leaked slide deck shows that organic (unpaid) posts you share via your Facebook Business Page, will reach fewer and fewer people. As Advertising Age put it:

“If they haven’t already, many marketers will soon see the organic reach of their posts on the social network drop off, and this time Facebook is acknowledging it.” [Full article]

A number of you have asked me to share my thoughts, so here they are!

As long time readers will know, I dislike Facebook’s approach to the privacy of Facebook users and the way it tends to say one thing and do the other. However, from a business perspective it has one undeniable asset. It has well over a billion users. It’s by far the biggest social network, though Facebook recently admitted that the number of daily users is dropping.

How Facebook initially lured business owners

With such a huge network, Facebook found it easy to convince business owners to get a free, Business Page. Facebook offered the opportunity for businesses and brands to connect with their marketplace and provided lots of free tools. It seemed too good to be true.

So, business owners invested heavily in promoting their Facebook Pages in their marketing. Signs sprung up everywhere, with businesses and brands asking people to “find us on Facebook”.

Encouraged by so-called Facebook experts (who have zero advance warning of Facebook policy changes), many made the mistake of using their free Facebook Page, as their primary way to connect with their community.

Facebook then made a BIG change to the rules

In autumn 2012, Facebook was discovered to be doing something that would change things completely for Business Page users:

Facebook was found “[…] quietly altering one of its key algorithms in September, so that companies with pages that have large numbers of followers can now only reach a fraction of the followers they used to with each post.” Business Insider.

Suddenly, people who were asked to “Find us on Facebook”, couldn’t see what Facebook Business Page owners were posting!

Facebook denied any wrongdoing and said the move was intended to enhance the Facebook experience. Few people, including me, believed them. However, the facts remained the same. It meant that business owners, who had already invested heavily in getting ‘fans’ to their Facebook Business Pages, now had to pay in order to reach them all.

Facebook leak: Positioning Business Pages as paid advertising

Then in December 2013, an article on Advertising Age titled: Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads, shows Facebook’s intentions moving forward. As well as saying that fewer and fewer people will see what you post from your Business Page, the following excerpt caught my eye:

“The three-page document also contains a section that repositions how marketers should think about fan acquisition: as a tool for making paid advertising more effective. […]” Full article here.

The message here is that business owners need to stop thinking of Facebook Business Pages as a free way to connect with their marketplace. It isn’t. At best, it’s a way to connect, for free, with a decreasing fraction of the people who ‘like’ their Business Page.

Moving forward, Facebook Business Pages should be seen as a targeted form of paid advertising. In that context, it could be a useful advertising tool. However, business owners seeing it as a free marketing tool are in for a shock, as fewer and fewer people see what they post for free.

Facebook Business Pages shouldn’t be your online home

For years, I have advised people not to build their house on rented land. In other words, direct people to your blog or website. Use something YOU own as your online hub… your online home.

When you build your main community on Facebook (or any third party network), you lose control. THEY own the access you have, to YOUR community. As Facebook just demonstrated, they can and will change the rules and you get to pay the price.

My advice

My advice remains the same as it has always been:

  • Build your own home on the Internet. A place where you are in control. Where you make the rules. By far, a self-hosted blog is the best way to achieve this.
  • Build and own your community database (what Internet marketers call ‘your list’).
  • Produce either a newsletter or (as I have done) a blog that has an email subscription option. Thousands of people will read this message today, via email, because I decided to make Jim’s Marketing Blog my online hub… not Facebook.
  • Don’t be one of those business owners, who is sharing ideas, insights and observations on social networks every day, when your blog hasn’t been updated in weeks. Feed your business blog or website… not Facebook!
  • Remember that Twitter, Google+ and other social networks are not immune from the kind of stunt Facebook pulled. They are not. We don’t know what they have planned.

Consider Facebook Business Pages as a way to build a targeted, paid advertising channel. Increasingly, that’s exactly what it is becoming.

Most importantly, build your community on your own website or blog. Motivate your marketplace to subscribe to your newsletter or blog via email. This puts the development of your community (or list) and the ability to connect with them, 100% in YOUR hands.

15 Reasons to start blogging!

outstanding1

So, why bother blogging?

Here are just 15 reasons, why I recommend you add a business blog to your marketing mix:

  1. Blogging is the most powerful marketing tool I have ever seen, used or studied. Period.
  2. Considering all the benefits of blogging, the financial cost is tiny. A self-hosted WordPress site can cost less per week, than a latte at your local coffee shop.
  3. If you turn up and blog regularly, you will also show prospective clients that you are reliable. If you show up regularly for years, it shows you’re durable too. Think about that… before these people even speak with you, they will already know you’re reliable and durable. That’s a huge commercial advantage.
  4. Blogging makes you a better communicator. It causes you to think, really think, about your message. Through repeat practice, you learn how to get your message across with greater clarity too.
  5. New prospective clients will be able to discover you and your work, as your blog posts are all findable, via social networks and search engines. Think about it… hundreds, maybe thousands of prospective clients can find your work each day, at the exact point where they are looking for answers.
  6. If you like the idea of helping others, blogging is ideal. It allows you to reach and help people worldwide.
  7. Blogging gives you a wonderful creative outlet.
  8. There is no ceiling on what you can achieve from your blog. Blogs have changed hands for millions of dollars.
  9. … and many bloggers have gained a high profile within their profession, thanks to the success of their blogs.
  10. As a direct result of blogging you can meet amazing people and make a lot of great friends.
  11. To blog regularly with fresh ideas, you need to feed your mind with rich, mental protein. An active blogger is an active learner too.
  12. If you work hard enough, for long enough, you can become one of the most influential voices in your profession.
  13. If you are passionate about what you do, and you should be, your blog gives you a platform to share your passion.
  14. With thousands of people sharing content, for every one person creating content, useful blog posts can spread like crazy via social networks. There are millions of people on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, etc., eagerly looking for useful, interesting content to share with their friends.
  15. Blogging is also a lot of fun!

Something I’d like to share with you

I’ve never shared this with you before, so I hope you find it interesting.

When I started Jim’s Marketing Blog, my goal was to help a million small business owners. After I achieved a million unique visitors, I needed a new goal. I decided to help as many small business owners as I could.

The challenge with that goal, is that it was too ambiguous. You can’t measure how close you are to a number that doesn’t exist.

So, last month I decided to set another numeric goal. An inspiring goal. A motivating goal.

The 25 million

I decided that I want to help 25 million small business owners and freelancers. I want to provide them with free marketing and business development ideas and advice.

I especially want to provide free help to those who are unable to afford the expert marketing assistance they need.

25 million is a big number. It’s an exciting number too. It’s also a number I will need a little help with.

As I don’t bother much with SEO (it bores me and I refuse to write like a robot), I have always relied on readers who find my work useful, sharing it with their friends. You have been massively more effective than any search engine, at helping me to help more people.

I just wanted to give you the inside story on what inspires me… as I figure out how on earth I’m going to help 25 millions small business owners,

If you want to help, carry on sharing anything you find interesting here.

I’d also like to thank you if you’re already linking to the blog or sharing it with your friends. Between us, I believe 25 million is absolutely achievable.

So, now you know why I write an ad free blog, with no affiliate links, which costs me thousands each month to produce.

How to make your business more human and far more successful too

Human business, focused marketing message

Whether you sell B2B or B2C you’re ALWAYS selling P2P (person to person).

It’s extremely important to remember that.

Why?

Because people will only listen to you, if you have something valuable to share with them, which matters to them. And no… a vague, poorly targeted marketing message is not going to work.

Here’s what we know

The more focused your marketing messages are, the more effective they will be and the more business they will generate for you.

  • A focused marketing message speaks directly to the reader (viewer or listener), in a language they understand. It connects with them at a far deeper level than a poorly targeted message.
  • A focused marketing message makes the reader feel as if you knew exactly what they needed. This makes you relevant to them, which is extremely powerful.
  • A focused marketing message captures the reader’s attention. This is of huge value to you today, when people’s attention has never been so scattered.
  • A focused marketing message has the power to motivate people to take action… to buy from you, call you, email you or visit you.

In short, a focused marketing message has the power to inspire and compel people in a way that vague messages can’t.

Review your written marketing

Look for opportunities to make it more focused, so that it’s only relevant to your ideal profile of client. Be less inclusive. Talk directly to them.

Business is all about people and people really notice, when you’re speaking directly to them, in their language, about what matters to them!

PS: Here’s some advice on how to build a successful business, using a more human approach.

Content Marketing: Is your design killing your content?

The primary design task of any newsletter, website or blog, is to ensure the content is as readable as possible. The design should work like a picture frame and enhance, not hide, your work.

content marketing design

I was on a site earlier, where the design was so loud and busy, that it was hard to find the actual content. When trying to read the content, the rest of the site was so distracting that I left after just 30 seconds or so.

Most newsletters are just as bad. Instead of focusing on the message, they’re packed with distractions. Lots of different font sizes, colours, options, boxes and buttons — all getting in the way and breaking the reading experience. As a result, their actual content gets very little attention… and the newsletter providers wonder why their readership isn’t growing.

The poor readability epidemic

Unreadable design is such a huge problem now, that there are apps that try to combat it. Readability is maybe the best known.

Take a look at the design you use for your newsletter, website and / or blog. If the content is playing second fiddle to the design, change the design. After all, it’s your content that people come to you for and your content, which builds your relationship with your readers.

A quick tip: Clear, big fonts and lots of white space work better than almost anything, when it comes to making your content stand out.

Uncovering your unique voice

different

I get a lot of email, from business owners who want to uncover their unique voice. In most cases, they are seeking to improve the quality of their newsletters, blog posts or articles.

They note that most material in every niche seems to be extremely similar — with just a few people writing anything fresh or original.

I have a theory about why this happens and how to avoid it.

My theory

I believe it’s linked to the mass consumption of the same kind of inputs. It looks like this:

We have known for years that if you watch TV, just like the masses, you’re likely to start thinking, just like the masses.

My theory is that the same is true of writers within a niche, who read the same popular books, magazines and blogs. By consuming the same inputs, they work from the same information base. This results in them adopting and sharing very similar ideas. It can also result in very similar writing styles.

Thinking differently

As I said earlier, this is only a theory. However, it’s based on years of study and observation. I am yet to find a unique voice in any field, who feeds her mind with the same mass market material as her peers.

In short: To think differently, we need to feed our mind differently.

PS: You may find this useful. My name is Jim Connolly and I am a freak!

Is that ladder you’re climbing leaning against the wrong wall?

ladder

After 3 years of hard work, she achieved it.

Yet, she wasn’t happy.

I was emailed last week, by someone whose primary goal for her blog was to get a minimum of 1000 visitors a day, for 30 consecutive days. She achieved this goal after years of hard work, writing content and marketing her blog.

Why so unhappy?

She reached her traffic milestone and realised that she wasn’t in the traffic business. She owns a translations business. What she needs is for her site to generate regular, high quality leads and inquiries for her business, which it is failing to do. Instead, she is attracting zero value, drive-by traffic from Google and social networks.

It’s easy to get seduced by the wrong numbers — especially online. Before you invest years of your time working hard to achieve a marketing goal, make sure it’s a goal that is in line with your overall business objectives.

Otherwise you risk wasting years climbing a very long ladder, which is leaning against the wrong wall.

Your headlines are promises, which your content needs to deliver

content marketing ideas

Using sensational headlines to trick people into open emails or read content, is a super-fast way to lose the trust and respect of your marketplace.

People hate being taken for a fool

If the content of a blog post, article, free download or newsletter, etc., fails to deliver on the promise of its sensational headline, the author has just broken a promise to the reader.

Headlines and titles are important. A great headline will attract attention and encourage people to start reading. However, the headline needs to accurately reflect what the content delivers. Otherwise, any success gained from getting more traffic will soon be lost, as people realise they were duped.

People respect honesty

With Content Marketing, using honest, well crafted headlines is the only way to attract and retain the attention of your marketplace.

It builds trust. It earns credibility. It’s worthy of you and your business.

Content Marketing: More about Content, than Marketing

content marketing

Do you use content marketing as a way to generate sales or inquiries for your business? If you do and like most people, you’re not happy with your results, you may find the answer you need right here in this post.

Here’s what I believe to be the primary mistake people make with content marketing, and how you can avoid it.

Focusing too much on the marketing

The main focus of most content marketing articles and guides, is the marketing part.

  • How to promote your blog, podcast, video etc.
  • How to motivate people to forward your newsletter to their friends.
  • How to get more people to share your content on social networks.
  • How to make your content rank highly on search engines.

In short: How to increase the number of people who see your content.

Marketing gives your content a push. It doesn’t give it legs

The challenge with that approach is that it presupposes that churning out content is enough… so long as you market the crap out of it. This is 100% incorrect.

The most successful people, who use content to market their products or services, actually do very little marketing of their content. Like me, they write, hit publish and then share their work on whatever social networks they use. It takes around 2 minutes if you do it manually.

  • If the content is useful enough, lots of people read it through, then a subset email you or call you. Others share it.
  • If the content isn’t useful enough, few people read it, even fewer get in touch with you or share it.

The key thing is the content. That’s what gives the; newsletter, article, blog post, video or podcast, legs. It’s what causes the reader to connect with you or ignore you. It’s what builds a tribe around your work or means you have to start from scratch each time. It’s what positions you as an expert or yet another purveyor of generic information.

Yes, the marketing is important

However, it’s by far the least important part. If you’re writing content, sharing it with your networks and not seeing much response, it’s the content you need to focus on.

It could be any number of things related to the content, which means it’s failing to engage and motivate people.

Writing with passion, clarity and brevity on your chosen subject, is something you can become very good at, relatively quickly.

It means being willing to practice. It means writing often. It means being prepared to adjust your style. However, you can do it and it’s well worth the time and effort involved.

This will help

This explains how I manage to publish lots of useful information, (I published 50 posts last month across 2 sites) and how you can improve the quality and quantity of your writing: How to write great content, every day.