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

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

get noticed, stand out, attraction

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?

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 r

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, writing, material, information

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.

How to build a successful website

Yesterday, someone asked me for my best advice on how to build a successful website or blog. Here’s my answer, along with 6 useful resources for you.

The answer that came to mind immediately, was this: The technology that builds a successful website is not as important as your ability to communicate a useful message, in a compelling way, to the reader.

In short: Put the content before the technology.

The world is packed with great looking websites, which no one notices. That’s because the people who own those sites saw the need for their site to LOOK great, but they didn’t invest in great content.

Where to start?

If you want to create compelling content, the best way to start is to put yourself in the shoes of your target readership. Speak to them, in their language, about what matters to them.

For example:

  • Answer their questions.
  • Empathise with them.
  • Share useful resources with them.

And if you want them to get in touch with you, be approachable.

PS – Here are 6 useful resources, to help you write compelling content:

Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

How to write great, creative content every day.

Get better results from your content, by removing these 3 words.

How approachable are you?

8 Tips to help you attract more readers, sales and business leads.

It’s all about doing the work.

Now, you’re on track to build a successful website. Just remember, content first, technology second.

From 0 to 60 in just 11 days!

I’d like to share some interesting feedback with you, which could really help you with your Internet marketing.

It started 11 days ago…

Just 11 days ago, I decided to redesign and totally rework the format of my Creative Thinking site. I chose to completely ignore the typical format used for blogging. Previously, the site used the more traditional, longer post format. The new format is based on an idea I had back in 2010, where posts could be made from the type of tiny updates you would usually just put on Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s how I have been publishing over the past 11 days, followed by some interesting results:

  • Posts are super short – way too short for SEO.
  • No SEO keyword loading.
  • Some content is curated.
  • Post titles are written in plain English.
  • Instead of adding a few posts a week, I added a few posts a day.

The reason I’m sharing this with you

By using that different, short, non-SEO format on my Creative Thinking site, subscriber numbers grew more in those 11 days, than in the 18 months previous! In fact, subscriber numbers are now 137% higher than they were 11 days ago.

And… it’s all human driven.

This means the growth of the site (and the tribe) is 100% in my hands… rather than being outsourced to Google!

So?

It is entirely possible to create a new site or, as I have done, breathe new life into an old site, WITHOUT bothering about search engines or following their rules. By creating useful content and becoming respected for curating useful content, people, real people, will embrace your work and share your work.

No, I am not suggesting this approach is for everyone. It isn’t.

Yes, I am suggesting that if you have been dancing the Google dance and still not getting the results you want, a more human approach may be just what you need. This is especially the case, if you want to build a community or tribe around your work.

For more information, take a look at the following 2 posts:

Getting less traffic from Google? Here’s why it may not matter soon.

Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

How NOT to improve your website or blog

Did you ever read a post by Seth Godin, which says how some amazing piece of software (or plugin), helped him create the most popular marketing blog in the world?

No.

That’s because it didn’t happen like that.

In fact…

It never happens like that!

Like every top blogger I know, the success of Seth’s site had nothing to do with ‘special’ software or plugins. Read more here…

It’s always about great content, professionally marketed to the right people.

Average content, marketed in an average way, produces average results… no matter how many special plugins a site has.

Why there’s so much unnecessary software out there

Mel Brooks explains it perfectly with this joke. It’s about a guy who owns a tiny store in the middle of nowhere. A customer walks in and is surprised to see boxes of salt stacked on every shelf.

The customer says: ‘Wow! You have a lot of salt – how come salt is so popular here?’

The store owner replies: ‘Salt isn’t popular here. I can’t even remember the last time I sold any salt.’

The customer then says: ‘So why do you have so much salt in stock?’

The store owner looks at him and says: I can’t sell salt… but the guy who sells me salt can REALLY sell salt!

Salty software

That’s why there are so many people right now, with under performing blogs and websites that are packed full of salty software.

It’s generally of little, if any, value… but the Internet marketing experts selling the salt, are REALLY good at selling salt!

2 Reasons not to be a copycat writer

As many of you were kind enough to point out, one of the world’s biggest websites ‘borrowed very heavily’ from a post I wrote last week. They did so with no reference to my original post and yet people spotted it immediately.

There are 2 useful lessons here, which I would like to share with you.

1. Copies seldom have the same impact as the original

Even though that site gets millions of visitors, their rewritten version of my post achieved just 30% as many social shares as my original.

Why? Because by padding out my points so that his post wasn’t an exact copy, the power of my original post was lost. He’d wasted his time. He deserves better than that. Time is too important to waste.

Had he started with my post, referenced it and then expanded on the original or added some new, relevant information, he could have improved my work and avoided the embarrassment that followed.

2. People notice

Within an hour of the rewritten post being published, people started contacting me via email, Facebook and Google+ to tell me. Although I decided not to join in (I found it interesting but unimportant), the conversations on social networks naming the author and site have created a bit of an embarrassment for them both.

Here’s the thing: Every piece of work we produce will get noticed, to a lesser or greater degree. If we do anything we are not proud of, as soon as we hit send or publish, it’s out there.

Thankfully, the opposite is also true

When you put your own work out there and share your own ideas, people value the uniqueness of your contribution.

It makes you stand out from the ‘ditto heads‘ who just agree with everything.

It makes you stand out from the copycats, who copy everything.

It makes you stand out for being you!

PS — Here’s some great advice from Steve Jobs and Picasso, on why it’s a bad idea to copy other people’s work.