Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Category: Blogging (page 6 of 38)

Social Business: Before you publish, press pause and think

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 blog comment you made.
  • The last Facebook status you wrote.

First impressions count

Each of those actions, could easily be someone’s first exposure to you. If so, it will 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.

In business, the impact of a bad first impression can be huge. That’s because you often don’t get a second chance.

So, hit pause and think

It always pays to pause for a few moments before you publish anything, especially if you are angry or in a bad frame of mind. Think. Never underestimate the impact of an angry tweet or a caustic blog comment, 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 and customers habitually research us via search engines and our social networking accounts, before contacting us. Thankfully, we have total freedom over what we say and thus, what we think is perfectly acceptable for prospective clients and customers to discover about us.

Our freedom of choice on this speaks volumes about us – and it does so all day, every day.

I can help you build a massively successful business. To find out more click here!

Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it.

As a passionate advocate for small business owners, I want to make a plea to you: Stop writing your blog posts and web copy primarily for Google.

google

Earlier today, I spoke with a business owner who wanted to know why the ‘traffic’ to her website and blog was not converting into business or sales leads. According to her analytics software, around 400 visitors arrive on her sites each day, then leave again without making a purchase, making an inquiry or subscribing.

She wanted to know what was wrong.

As her problem is extremely common, I thought I would share what I found with you, along with how to avoid falling into the same trap.

Keyword stuffed nonsense doesn’t convert people into customers

Within seconds of seeing the sites concerned, it was clear why they were so ineffective, why they had not attracted a single sales inquiry in 9 months. It’s simply this: They were primarily written for Google and not for people. Her content was keyword stuffed – here’s Google’s definition of keyword stuffing.

Her content was over ‘optimized’ for SEO and not written to appeal to prospective customers. For example, her website had the same 3 word phrase repeated 41 times on the home page alone! The services page on her blog has the name of her service repeated 39 times in just 350 words. It read horribly. It reflected poorly on her and her business. It was toxic and she has been paying the price.

In her eagerness to get ‘traffic’, she forgot about customers, prospective customers and what they would find when they actually arrived on her sites.

Effective SEO should be based around making great content easier for search engines to find and read. It should not be about producing keyword stuffed junk, which people can’t understand or connect with.

Writing for people

It’s hard enough to write compelling content, which will motivate people to buy from you, call you, email you, visit you, link to you or share your work. If your content reads poorly because it’s stuffed with keywords and key-phrases, you stand no chance.

You may get fewer visitors from search engines then those who stuff their content with keywords, but you will engage your readers. That’s what attracts customers, generates sales leads and (ironically) motivates people to link to and share your work – which massively improves your search engine rankings, anyway.

Photo: Danny Sullivan.

7 Benefits of business blogging

Here are 7 benefits of writing a business blog. Some of them may surprise you!

benefits blogging, Benefits business blogging,

1. Blogging is a great tool for building a tribe

Blogging is the best tool I’ve ever known, for building a community or tribe. Blogging allows you to show your leadership, rather than claim it. By being brave enough to write YOUR point of view, you demonstrate your ability to lead – rather than follow.

This is, of course, a double-edged sword. Most bloggers simply amplify what the most popular opinion is on their subject. However, for those who genuinely are prepared to show their leadership to people, via the work and words they share on their blog, it represents an amazing opportunity.

2. Blogging and relationship building

Blogging allows people to get to know you, before they call you, email you or hire you. I get calls and emails daily from people I don’t know, who tell me they feel like they already know me. This has massive commercial value and leads into the next point…

3. Blogging helps you attract new clients and sales inquiries

Blogging is a great way to attract highly targeted inquiries from potential clients and customers. By blogging regularly about your core areas of commercial interest, you position yourself in the mind of your readers as an authority in your field. Then, when they need expert help they can trust, you become a very attractive option – far more attractive than going to Google and looking for a stranger or taking a chance on someone they don’t know, who’s recommended to them.

4. Blogging helps you communicate

When you write a blog post, you really need to think about what you are going to publish. You need to question the information you are about to share, for value, accuracy and clarity. I’ve found that by writing regularly for small business owners, it has massively improved my copy writing, when writing any commercial communication.

In short: Blogging is a superb communications training asset.

5. Blogging gives you an enormous reach

Blogging allows you to share ideas with an almost unlimited number of people. Your blog gives you the potential to build your own media asset – your own publication, with as large a readership as you are capable of building. This is an opportunity that was unthinkable for small business owners even a decade ago.

This alone makes blogging a wonderful business investment.

6. Blogging is amazingly powerful for market research

Blogging is a fantastic market research tool. You learn the topics your readership is most interested in, very quickly. Thanks to inexpensive or free analytics tools, you can see which of your posts are read the most and shared the most. You also see the posts which generate the most emails from your readers. By learning what your readership is most interested in, you can develop new products and services or adapt existing ones.

You can also improve the effectiveness of your marketing messages, knowing what your readers are most interested in.

7. Blogging allows you to prove your reliability

By showing up on your blog regularly with useful information, you are doing more than showcasing your knowledge. You are also showing prospective clients or customers that you can be relied upon to turn up.

It takes commitment, durability and a great work ethic, to regularly update a blog. Once you have been blogging for a few years or more, you also have a body of work that shows your longevity. We live in an age where people often set up a website and some social networking accounts, with no track record – and claim to be experienced professionals. Many of my clients told me that the fact they could see years worth of my work on Jim’s Marketing Blog, made them a lot more confident that I was an experienced professional.

Please check out this post’s sponsor: WebFusion.
WebFusion provide reliable web hosting, managed servers and great customer support. Find out more here.

A confession about the blog post I published earlier today

I want to share something with you, about the post I published earlier today.

It was written on an inexpensive, Google Nexus 7 tablet, with no special software. I wrote it straight into the web browser, edited it, added the image and hit the publish button.

nexus 7

Here’s why this matters

In marketing, it’s all too easy for us to get hung-up on the tools we use, when we should be focusing on the outcome. The tools alone are not what make us productive. It’s what we do with them, which determines our productivity and our results. For instance, this post is being written in my studio, using a Lenovo machine that cost me more than 10 times as much as that cheap tablet device.

Now, here’s a question… Can you spot the difference between the two posts?

Of course you can’t spot the difference, because there isn’t one.

The ultimate blogging machine?

When it comes to blogging, newsletter writing or marketing in general, it isn’t the computer you use, which people care about. It’s whether you have written something of value to them – that’s what matters.

  • That’s what earns their attention.
  • That’s what positions you in their mind as an authority in your field.
  • And if you do it frequently enough, it’s also what demonstrates your ability to consistently show up and be useful.

Certainly, get yourself the best machine you can. Then, use it as well as you can, as often as you can.

Photo: Google

Launching today!

I have some exciting news, for those who enjoy reading Jim’s Marketing Blog and those of you, who would like to use my blog as a way to market your business.

Big news

More blog posts and additional, free marketing material

As I wrote in December, I am committed to being of more value to my readers in 2013 than ever before. This means writing more blog posts for you and also developing free marketing materials for you – audio downloads and marketing documents etc. I am extremely excited about this opportunity to be of greater service. Of course, all this additional work means I will need to invest even more of my time, developing content you will find useful.

Spending more of my working hours, writing for you

I currently spend 95% of my working hours each week, working with paying clients. I then spend the remaining 5% of my working hours and some of my personal time, writing posts for the thousands of readers who rely on me for free marketing ideas, tips and advice. That 95% – 5% balance needs to shift somewhat, in order for me to have the time I need, to be of greater service to you. This means me working with fewer paying clients and finding a way for me to cover the lost client income.

I believe I have found a superb answer and that’s what this post is all about.

Let’s promote your business!

Starting today, I am offering you the opportunity to advertise to thousands of business owners, by sponsoring one or more of my blog posts. For the past 5 years, every post I have written has had a very effective, small advertisement under it, offering you my services. That advertising space is now available to you! Just one sponsored message will be available per post.

You now have an opportunity to promote your business, products, services or events, to a great community of small and medium-sized business owners. Your 35 word advertising message, including 1 link, will be added to the bottom of a blog post. See the example below.

ad screen pic

The reason I used this approach myself and now offer it to you, is that it provides 2 huge benefits over ‘normal’ advertisements.

  1. Because your sponsored message is added to the bottom of the actual post, it will be visible not only to those who read Jim’s Marketing Blog, but also the thousands of people who read my posts via email and RSS feed readers. It has proven to be extremely effective.
  2. Your advertisement will remain on the blog for the entire lifetime of Jim’s Marketing Blog. Most advertisements expire after days, weeks or months - yours will live here for years to come. This is really important. Many old posts on this blog are still read every day, some are read dozens of times a day; as new people discover them via search engines and social networks. Whilst it’s obviously impossible to say how many times someone will see your advertisement over the years, the fact it’s here means you could be generating results for years.

To find out how it works, including the price, click here.

Always free

I have always been inspired to help as many people as possible with my work. This means I never considered switching to a paid subscription model. I want the marketing material I write to be available to everyone who needs it.

By replacing the advertisements for my services on some posts, with a sponsored message, readers will notice no difference to their reading experience. As this is a marketing site, read by business owners and entrepreneurs, I know you will appreciate the contribution my sponsors make, funding the time required for me to make Jim’s Marketing Blog a more valuable resource for you.

To promote your business, products, services or events on Jim’s Marketing Blog, click here.

How approachable are you?

How easy is it, for your prospective clients or customers to get in touch with you?

I’m not talking about how visible your phone number, email address and contact form are. I’m referring to something that is just as important and yet seldom written about: How approachable you sound to a prospective client.

how approachable are you

Are you approachable enough?

For example

  • When a prospective client is reading your newsletter, how approachable do you sound to them? The best newsletters are written, so that the author comes across as friendly and informed. The worst are written by people who come across as lacking in personality or distant.
  • When a prospective client reads the comments section on your blog, how approachable do you sound to them? Some bloggers can be patronising or sarcastic when people ask them questions. This is a bad move, if you want prospective clients to feel comfortable contacting you.
  • When a prospective client reads the about page on your website, how approachable do you sound? Many small business owners write their about page in the 3rd person, rather than speak directly to their reader. Instead of saying ‘Hi, thanks for stopping by. My name is Bob and…’ they start with ‘Bob has worked in web design since 2002…’

If we want prospective clients or customers to approach us for help, we need to do everything possible to let them know that we are welcoming and approachable. Business is all about people, so it makes perfect sense to keep it human.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Here is how it works…

Today, I am going to answer one of the most frequently asked questions I receive:

What exactly do you do, when you work with a marketing client, Jim?

How it works

Well, today for the first time, I am going to give you a look behind the scenes at how the process works. I’m going to share with you, part of what happens during my initial marketing sessions, through the eyes of a new client.

The process starts off with a fact-finder call. So, here are some of the things we would be working on, if you and I had started working together today on the development of your business.

1. Getting some clarity

I’d start off by learning exactly where your business is today and where you would like it to be in 12 months, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years+. That gives us an initial picture of your current situation and what you would like me to help you achieve. It gives us our starting point, some check points and the finish line. This ensures that the strategy I develop for you will get your business moving in the correct direction. It also makes it easier to measure your progress.

Knowing what your desired outcome is, also allows us to adjust your strategy when required, whilst staying on track. Sometimes, clients come to me with just a vague idea of what they want to achieve in the longer term. If this was the case with you, I’d help you get the clarity you need.

2. Discovering your resources

Then, I would look at the resources you have available. In order for me to create a strategy that gets you from where your business is, to where you want it to be, I need to know what resources you have, which we can work with.

Here are just 3 examples, starting with the most important one:

  • Time: This is easily the main resource, as the work we do requires you to invest some time every week, in the marketing and development of your business. It’s important to take this into account when building your strategy, so that I know what to rule in and rule out in order to get the maximum return on your time.
  • Website or blog assets: I’d check if you have a website or blog, which we could transform into a lead generating machine for your business. If you don’t, then we would develop a site for you. That’s included in the fee, like everything else we do. This is really important. I have built one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs and I will use everything I know, in order for you to get great results from your site. I get emails from prospective clients all day every day and you can get great results too, if you avoid all the common mistakes and learn how to do what works. This is a lot of fun and extremely effective.
  • Social networking resources: I’d look at your social networks and incorporate them into your strategy. Almost every small business owner I see on social networks is doing ‘me too’ stuff – copying what other equally baffled people are doing. They waste huge amounts of time, making little progress. I’d review your social networking accounts and show you how to make them work for you and your business.

3. Learning about the best strategy for you

One of the reasons so many small business owners work hard for a fraction of the rewards they could be enjoying, is that they are following a general strategy.

unique 1

I discovered when I set my marketing business up, 18 years ago, that every business owner I work with needs a specific strategy, based on their unique situation, goals and personality. You are unique and your business is one of a kind too. As a result, there will be areas where you are stronger and areas where you need more help. There will also be marketing activities that you are comfortable with and marketing activities you are uncomfortable with.

My task, is to build a marketing strategy for you that you will feel comfortable with – otherwise, you won’t use it. During our initial fact finder conversation, I discover the areas of marketing and sales that are the best fit for you and build your unique strategy around them. This means you will enjoy and embrace the marketing work we do together. As we get to know one another, we will refine the strategy so that it’s perfectly balanced for you. This is extremely important. It makes the process massively more effective for you.

The development of your business should be exciting, interesting and fun – that’s why you started your business in the first place. If it isn’t, you’re likely to feel stressed and unlikely to achieve anything like the results you are capable of. So, we will build you a business strategy that works for you on every level.

4. Getting the basics of your story – Word of mouth

Word of mouth referrals and recommendations are of huge value to you and your business. That’s why we will build it into your strategy, by working together to craft a story about your business or service, which people will want to share. Many small business owners wrongly believe that offering a great service and caring about their clients is enough to generate regular word of mouth referrals. This is simply not the case. Most hard working, caring business owners get very few word of mouth referrals.

What we know is that when your business or service is worth talking about, people talk about it. So, that’s exactly what we will do – build you a story worth sharing. This creative, fun process is designed to help you attract regular leads from targeted clients. It’s a great deal easier to convert someone who has had you recommended to them, than it is for you to have to sell your services to a stranger.

5. Explaining that you’re no longer alone

One of the things I explain to all my clients from day one, is that you are no longer alone. You have unlimited access to me for a whole year, included in the fee. The obvious benefit of this is that you always have me on hand to show you what to do and to help you at every step along the way.

A less obvious benefit, is that you have me available to you, with all my assets, when you are faced with a challenge or need someone to talk about your business with. You’re no longer alone. As your marketing mentor, I’m here for you to share ideas with, I’m here to inspire you and I’m here to give you support whenever you need it. This has proven to be extremely useful for my clients and it’s why I make a point of mentioning it from the very start.

And then

For the next 12 months, you and I work together as a team, to get your business from where it is today to where you want it to be. You’ll benefit from my best ideas, my encouragement and my support, so you can look to the future with clarity and confidence.

As your marketing mentor, I am here to not only explain what needs to be done and show you how to do it – I’m here to provide you with the skills and back-up you need, in order to achieve your potential as a business owner and earn the rewards your hard work deserves. If you would like to know more about working with me, click here and get in touch. I will happily answer any questions you have.

Do you stand behind your work?

As business owners, we face a challenge every day: To rise above the broken promises of those who went before us.

Allow me to explain

  • When we say we go the extra mile for our clients, the marketplace was promised that before, by someone who failed to deliver.
  • When we say we finish projects on time and on budget, the marketplace was promised that before, by someone who failed to deliver.
  • When we say our work creates great results, the marketplace was promised that before, by someone who failed to deliver.

promises3

Promises, promises

Whenever we make any statement about the value of our services, the marketplace will have been promised it before, from someone who failed to deliver. As a result, these claims wash over prospective clients. They have nothing like the power that many business owners believe.

Unless… they are supported with undeniable evidence. This is tricky. Even some top websites have been busted, for getting their friends to endorse their products with fake testimonials. Review sites are also littered with fake, positive reviews. This means our legitimate testimonials and promises are viewed through a filter.

Thankfully, there is a super-effective alternative, which provides the essential proof our prospective clients or customers need.

Standing behind your own work

Another option is to make better promises. The kind of promises that are easy for people to believe. This is how I market my own business. It means building a solid, professional reputation and then standing behind your own work.

This approach takes time and requires proof. One of the finest ways to do this, is to create a business blog and show up regularly with useful information.

Why?

When someone arrives on your blog, they can see that you regularly share useful ideas on your topic. They get an insight into your abilities and commitment. For example, when people come to Jim’s Marketing Blog for the first time, they can see 5 years worth of work and thousands of ideas. Before they speak to me or email me, they can see that I know my subject and that I can be relied on to start something and stick with it.

I suggest you consider doing the same. Make 2013 the year you decide to take business blogging seriously. The rewards are huge. I can help you and show you exactly what you need to do. To find out more, click here!

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