Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Copywriting (page 1 of 24)

You don’t launch a successful blog. You build it.

Katie found this out 9 months ago, when she invested almost $8000 on the design and launch of her new business blog. The blog is still floundering and Katie emailed me, to ask if I thought she should relaunch it.

Here’s my answer. I also share how to build an extremely successful blog or newsletter, based on what is proven to work.

The razzmatazz is just the starting pistol

I attended a wedding some years ago, which cost a fortune. Just to give you an idea of the scale I’m talking about, they hired Earth Wind and Fire to play for the guests!

Sadly, the marriage lasted less than a year.

Here’s the thing: You don’t launch a successful marriage. You build it. It’s only what happens after the razzmatazz of the big day, which matters. The same is true of a business launch, blog launch or newsletter launch. The launch is irrelevant — it’s what you do, day in and day out, which matters.

[Note: Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Google were built, not launched. Think about that for a moment.]

It’s all about commitment

I started Jim’s Marketing Blog just over 6 years ago. There was no launch. No press release. No razzmatazz. Today, it’s one of the most popular marketing sites in the world.

I’ve learned that the key to developing a commercially successful blog or newsletter, is commitment.

It works like this:

  • You need to commit the time required to regularly write useful posts or articles. I invest an hour or more every day, writing for you and responding to emails. For the first year, I often invested 3 hours a day on the blog. I’d wake up extra early or go to bed extra late, because I was committed to it. Every top blogger I know has done the same.
  • You need to commit to leave the masses and stand out. One reason my blog grew so quickly, is that I marketed it extremely effectively. Most bloggers and newsletter providers use the same strategies as one another. They follow the same general advice that’s regurgitated on popular content marketing blogs and copywriting blogs. This is a BIG mistake! It is impossible to succeed in any meaningful way, using the same approach as millions of others. It makes you invisible.
  • You need to commit to do the work. Period. I have written for you when I’ve been tired and when I’ve been sick. I’ve written for you when I had deadlines to meet and when I was on holiday. When you commit to do the work, you find a way to make it happen. When you’re not committed, you find an excuse.
  • You need to commit to learning. Maybe one of the greatest rewards of writing regularly, is that it forces you to learn. You can’t write every day unless you’re feeding your mind every day.

In short: Instead of investing your time, money and energy on the launch, focus on building something you’re proud of. Make the commitment to do what’s required and see it through. No, it’s not easy — but that’s why so few people do it AND why the rewards are so amazing.

Are you building a tribe or writing drive-by content?

Many people who write blogs, newsletters, email marketing, etc, think they are growing a tribe or community, when in fact, they are doing the opposite.

Allow me to explain.

Content marketing… and buckets

The problem with trying to fill a bucket, which has a big hole in the bottom, is that the water flows out just as fast as it flows in. It’s a never ending task, unless you get a new bucket or fix the hole.

Most Content Marketing, including that written by many so-called experts, is based around the idea of treating your content marketing, like a bucket with a hole.

  • It’s about attracting drive-by readers with ‘killer’ headlines.
  • It’s about SEOing your thoughts, rather than expressing your thoughts.

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin put it extremely well:

The copywriter/editor who trades in meaning for lists, using calculated SEO keyword loading and sensationalism designed to attract the drive-by audience, earns the privilege of doing it again and again, forever.

It’s like trying to fill that broken bucket. It’s also the total opposite of growing a tribe.

They drive by

The thing about drive-by readers, is that they drive by. They are attracted to hyped up headlines and quickly go from one “25 ways to write like a rock star” piece to the next. If your content marketing is based around chasing them, you’re making life way too hard for yourself.

Grow a great community

To grow a great community or tribe around your work, you need to attract the right people and retain their attention.

It means showing up regularly with useful information, rather than sensationalist, predictable content for the drive-by crowd.

It means expressing your ideas, rather than a keyword loaded version of what you think.

It means being brave enough to stop chasing easy, but low value, drive-by ‘traffic’.

It means building deeper connections with people who will value your work, share your work, call you, email you, hire you or buy from you.

How to write great content every day!

If you find it hard to write articles, blog posts or newsletters, I have a quick tip for you. It will help you write more frequently and in a way that people will understand.

Drum-roll please…

Write the way you speak

Think about it: When you talk, people understand you. They listen to you. You engage them.

You don’t get talkers-block either!

So, don’t treat your written words differently from your spoken words. Just type them, rather than speaking them. This is the approach I used when I started as a writer and it has never failed me. And yes, the more you do it the better your writing will become.

The challenge with this approach is that it robs you of any excuse not to write more frequently. Sorry :)

Tip – Read this: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

How to grow your business in a uniquely valuable way!

The Internet has presented business owners with a series of benefits and challenges. One challenge, is that it is now extremely easy for competitors to discover and copy one another’s best ideas. It’s little wonder then, that providers in just about every industry now offer an almost identical range of services.

Today, I’m going to show you how to overcome this challenge and build a massively valuable marketing asset for your business.

How to stand out in a meaningful way

Some things are easy to copy. For example, if a local restaurant starts opening an hour earlier and then attracts an extra hour’s worth of profitable trade, it’s simple for competing restaurants to do the same.

However, some things in business are extremely difficult to copy because they’re based on unique, human experiences. A wonderful example of this is the use of a newsletter or blog, to showcase your expertise and knowledge.

Here’s why it works

You are unique. You have a unique collection of life experiences, which your unique mind processes in a unique way. When you write (and speak) your communication style is unique too.

This uniqueness allows you to stand out from the pack and connect with your future clients!

Here’s an example of what I mean. Both Seth Godin and I write about marketing, yet we write very differently:

  • Seth grew up in a very wealthy family and was educated at Stanford — along with the CEO’s of many of the world’s leading companies.
  • I grew up in extreme poverty, the son of penniless immigrants.

It would be extremely difficult for either one of us to write like the other. For instance, when Seth thinks about being broke, he (thank God), won’t recall his mother begging for food to feed her children, the way I do.

So, when Seth and I write about business owners experiencing hard times, we will see the hard part extremely differently. This is reflected in what we write and how we write.

Your unique voice

Your life experiences will cause you to write very differently from your competitors. The only caveat here, is that you need to allow your personality to shine through your writing. If you try and sound like someone else, you lose your unique voice — the very originality that will allow you to stand out.

Now, compare that to the generic approach most business owners take with their newsletters and blog posts. Instead of delivering useful, valuable information from their own unique perspective, they churn out a series of thinly-disguised sales pitches. They then wonder why it isn’t working.

Allow your unique voice to communicate value. These brief tips may help:

  • Learn about the challenges facing your marketplace. A great way to do this is to connect with them on social networks and listen. [Compare this approach, to the typical service provider who uses social networks to broadcast.]
  • Provide answers to the most pressing challenges facing your marketplace. This positions you in the mind of your prospective clients, as a source of expert help and advice.
  • Share case-studies of how you have helped people, who had similar challenges to your prospective clients.
  • Turn up regularly! Treat your newsletter or blog as a high priority business activity. If you think it’s hard to write regularly, remember that writing is a lot like speaking — and you speak every day.

The unique connection these prospective clients form with you, is a massively valuable marketing asset.

Think of it like this: Who are they going to hire?

  • Some stranger they find on Google.
  • … or you, someone they feel a connection with and whose expertise and knowledge they already know about.

Yes. You win!

PS: This will help you — How to get more clients from your newsletter or blog.

1 Essential word your marketing needs, plus 1 you MUST avoid!

Here’s a quick tip, to improve the effectiveness of your marketing. It’s all about a word you use, which is negatively impacting how people feel about your business.

That word is… change!

People are hard-wired to fear change.

We know that change, good or bad, is a source of stress. Even something as positive as the change that comes from getting married, buying a new home or setting off for a week in the sun, is a cause of stress.

Because of the negative way people feel when confronted with change, it makes sense to remove the word from your marketing. Don’t worry, I am going to give you a massively more powerful, motivating alternative!

Improve rather than change

Whenever possible, use the word improve, rather than change. Improve, is a positive word. It’s an attractive word too, because we are always looking for something better.

For example, look how the phrase below becomes far more powerful, when change is replaced with improve.

“This copywriting tip will change your marketing results.”

“This copywriting tip will improve your marketing results.”

Your prospective clients or customers fear change, but want things to improve. So, stop offering them what they fear and give them what they want!

Tip: Here are over 180 posts, related to copywriting and content marketing. Enjoy!

When the vision pulls you, you don’t have to be pushed

Steve Jobs vision

Following yesterday’s post about building a successful blog, a number of readers emailed me with the same question. They wanted to know how I motivate myself to write and publish blog posts as often as I do.

Here’s the answer.

Push or pull?

This quote from the late Steve Jobs answers that question beautifully:

If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.

– Steve Jobs.

If your vision of blogging is that it’s a necessary evil, you will fail on every metric:

  • You will fail to write as well as you can, because when you work through gritted teeth, it shows.
  • You will fail to show up with new information, often enough.
  • You will fail to engage people.

My blogging vision was different

I saw it as a professional and personal development opportunity. I knew that in order for me to share useful information regularly, I needed to keep feeding my mind with useful information regularly. I quickly found another massive benefit to blogging, which is that writing regularly makes you a better communicator — a huge asset for anyone in business.

So, even if I failed to attract a commercially valuable reader community, I’d still be better informed and a better communicator, than I would have been had I not written all those articles. This made it impossible for me to fail.

If you’re struggling to publish posts regularly enough, don’t carry on working through gritted teeth — change your vision.

Yes, this works on every area of your business and your life… not just blogging.

Bloggers: Why too few people read your blog and how to fix it!

marketing blogs

This is a very important post.

If you want to get more from your blog, you may find the following information extremely useful. It’s the answer to a question, sent to me by one of my readers, Shannon. As it’s an extremely common problem, I offered to answer Shannon’s question via this blog post.

With her permission, I’d like to share a key part of her email with you:

“I’ve been blogging for close on three years now and have found the results frustrating to say the very least! [...]  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I’ve followed the advice from (she mentioned a very well known blogging program) totally.  I’m just about ready to quit.  Can you take a look at my blog and tell me what I’m missing?”

I did take a quick look at her blog and it’s exactly the same as millions of other business blogs, following the same, general blogging advice.

Here’s what the challenge is and how to resolve it!

Blogging is exceptionally effective

I’ve worked in marketing since 1987 and nothing I have used, studied or witnessed, comes close to the marketing power of an effective blog. Period.

So, why has Shannon and the vast majority of business owners, seen such poor results?

Without doubt, the main reason is that blogging is often touted, incorrectly, as the written equivalent of painting by numbers. In other words, you follow a set of rules and success will follow. This myth persists because it’s repeated by affiliate marketers, selling generic guides and programs on how to grow a successful business blog.

The polar opposite is actually true. The closer you follow the same ineffective set of rules as everyone else, the less likely you are to get anything worthwhile from your blog.

Here’s how I built one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs, by avoiding the rules.

I found rules, then broke them

Here are just a few of the things I noticed on Shanon’s blog, which are extremely common on struggling blogs – along with why I decided not to do the same.

  • I didn’t SEO my posts. I wrote for my readers, not Google. This gave me the freedom to express my thoughts, rather than SEO my thoughts. Shannon’s blog posts are written using SEO software and it’s robbing her of her voice and individuality.
  • I didn’t guest blog. I focused on building my readership, by producing the most useful content I could and then made it extremely easy for people to share it. It works even better today than when I started in 2008, thanks to the popularity of social networking sites. However, many bloggers waste their best material on other people’s blogs, because their blog guru convinced them it’s a great idea. It’s one way to build your readership, but certainly not the best. Shannon told me that she has guest blogged a lot, with nothing to show for it.
  • I didn’t fill the blog with affiliate links. When I recommend something to a reader, it’s a genuine recommendation and I don’t get a penny for it. The trust of my reader community is worth far more to me, than affiliate money. Shannon’s blog home page has affiliate banners for a well known blog theme and (ironically) the content marketing program she’s following, along with 5 other products. Her posts also carry affiliate links for a predictable series of low value Internet marketing products.
  • I didn’t pump my posts with buzzwords. Disrupt, ruckus, intersection… these words fail twice. Firstly, they make informed people cringe. Secondly, they confuse the uninformed — not a great idea if you want people to understand your message! Shannon’s blog uses lots of Internet marketing buzz words. This, combined with the keyword loading she does for her SEO, means readers have no personality to connect with.

The key thing to remember, is that your blog has no chance of standing out, when it’s just like all the others. Make your blog your own. Do it your way. If you’re following a guide or using tips from popular blogging sites, you will find it hard to be seen.

I made 1 rule and stuck with it

I also made a rule, which I have stuck to since summer 2008. It’s simply this:

I will only publish a post when I have something useful to share and I’ll make sure I find something useful, often.

This means I often write when it’s easier not to. Blogging is a primary business activity for me, rather than something I fit in. As a result, I write when I’m extremely busy, when I am tired and even when I’m ill.

Your rules

The Internet is packed with sites that offer largely the same, general advice on how to build a successful blog.

The advice seems to make sense, until you consider that by following it, you become invisible – lost in an ocean of millions of other bloggers using the same, generic advice. If you’re following what they say, you will be able to identify with Shannon’s situation.

If you want your blog to get noticed and for your content to attract great readers and for your readership to grow, it’s essential to drop the generic approach.

In short: Your blog needs to be as individual as you are. Otherwise, you’re invisible.

Tip: This post asks an important question: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

Internet Marketing: Aim for meaning, not traffic!

traffic

Would you like to turn your website or blog into a massively valuable asset for your business? If you just answered ‘yes’, it’s entirely possible you will need to change the way you think about Internet traffic or visitors and page views.

Allow me to explain.

The thing about traffic

Here’s what we know:

Internet Traffic doesn’t buy from you or hire you. No. It’s engaged people, who buy from you or hire you.

The challenge here, is that almost every blogger or small business owner is fixated on traffic. They have not yet figured out that 10 engaged readers, are of more value to their business, than 10000 people who only visited their site because of a click-bait headline or the latest, meaningless infographic.

As a result, we see people writing blog posts with titles like, “50 Magical Facts You Probably Never Knew About Marketing”, etc. People click the title, then leave. These bloggers then wonder why they get traffic, but no connection… no sales, business leads or subscribers. They think they have a conversion problem, when it’s their whole, traffic first approach, which is screwed.

In a nutshell: Sensationalist, keyword-weighted blog posts and articles attract clicks… not clients.

So, what is the answer?

Aim for meaning, rather than traffic!

Take a look at the titles below. They are the 10 most recent posts on Seth Godin’s blog – which is also the world’s most influential marketing site.

  1. There are Kracos.
  2. In search of meaningful.
  3. Most likely to succeed.
  4. The panda and the bicycle.
  5. Micro marketing and the called bluff.
  6. Worldview and stories.
  7. Even better than an app?
  8. Are you solving a problem or creating a problem?
  9. What if you could love what you get paid for?
  10. It’s not about you.

You will immediately notice that the titles are interesting, not sensational. They are honest titles, which treat his readers with respect. Paradoxically, the honesty of those titles makes them stand out among an ocean of click bait titles. And yes, the posts are always of value, which causes his readers to return and share his work with their friends.

What do you want from your site: Traffic or business?

It’s important to have goals for your website or blog, which are consistent with your business goals. For example, would 1000 more drive-by readers a day actually help your business in a meaningful way?

If what you really want from your site is a regular stream of high quality sales or client inquiries, stop trying to attract drive-by traffic with drive-by content.

Instead, aim to be useful and engaging. Showcase your expertise to your marketplace, by sharing valuable information in a compelling way. They will share your work with like-minded people, helping you reach more prospective clients or customers. Your readership will grow. You will be building a community or tribe, which increases in value all the time.

That’s where the value is — not chasing drive-by traffic!

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