Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Copywriting (page 3 of 24)

How NOT to write the perfect blog post!

The Internet is packed with damaging, generic advice on how to write the perfect blog post.

Here are a few common examples you may already know:

  • Your blog posts should be a certain length.
  • So should your blog titles.
  • You should use adjectives in your blog titles.
  • You should publish your posts at a special ‘peak time’ each day.

There are around a dozen more predictable rules, churned out by content marketing experts. So, if you adopt this generic approach to blogging, will it help you build a large, valuable readership?

Err… no. In fact, it will do the exact opposite.

How to be ignored

Following the same blogging format as everyone else is not only ineffective, it’s the perfect recipe for how to be ignored.

Think about it: You simply camouflage your blog posts, when you write them based on the same, predictable format as everyone else.

Oh, and if you publish your posts at that peak time they tell you to — your posts will be fighting for attention, along with every other blog post, published at that same, peak time!

How to make it work

The key is to put your time, energy and creativity into doing things YOUR WAY. Be useful. Provide value. Show us what you know. Turn up regularly. Lead, rather than follow.

That’s what attracts people’s attention. It’s also what inspires them to read your work, share your work, hire you and buy from you.

PS: Here’s some advice on building a great readership.

5 Ways to build a massively valuable newsletter list

Here are 5 tips, to help you build a valuable newsletter readership or list. I used each of these ideas when growing my own newsletter, which had 45,000 subscribers when I published the last edition.

Newsletter Tip 1: Go easy on the pitches

Make sure it’s a newsletter and not a badly disguised advertisement. Here’s the thing: People avoid advertising. We skip the commercials on TV. We pay developers to remove the ads from the free version of their apps. We see advertisements as unwelcome interruptions.

If your newsletter reads a little too much like a sales pitch, it will be largely ignored. This leads nicely into the next point.

Newsletter Tip 2: Be useful

The more useful your newsletter is, the more your readers will value it and share it. Your ultimate goal is to build a large, targeted reader community, who become either clients, customers or advocates. None of that can be achieved with predictable, pedestrian content.

Useful content is what gives your newsletter wings. It’s what inspires people to subscribe, share and make purchasing decisions.

So, before you hit send on a newsletter, make sure it’s packed with valuable, useful information. Offer answers to your reader’s problems. Share useful tips. Point your readers to useful resources.

Newsletter Tip 3: Get the design right

Even if your content is wonderful, people won’t take it seriously if the design looks poor. The first bite is with the eye. So, pay a designer, the best you can afford, to design your newsletter template.

Always remember, whether your newsletter looks amateurish or is presented professionally, it all reflects back on you.

Newsletter Tip 4: Ask readers to share it

Even if readers think your newsletter is great, it may not occur to them to share it. By reminding them, you plant the idea of sharing the newsletter in their mind at the exact point, where they have just read it and enjoyed it. I used to have a section at the bottom of my newsletter, which said:

“If you have found this newsletter interesting, please share it with your friends”.

When I added that short message to my newsletter, the results were immediate and measurable.

Newsletter Tip 5: Help it spread

Convert people who had your newsletter forwarded to them, into subscribers. Imagine your friend had just forwarded a great newsletter to you. You’d want to get a regular copy, right? You don’t want to have to rely on your friend, remembering to forward each edition to you. So, I added the following sentence to the above message:

“If you have had this newsletter forwarded to you and would like a regular copy, click here.”

Never underestimate the power of a subtle, non-pushy reminder.

In summary

Newsletters can be an extremely valuable marketing asset. Take your newsletter seriously and invest in it accordingly. The rewards for getting it right are huge. No. Bigger than that!

PS: I strongly recommend you read this3 Tips From a World Class Newsletter.

4 Inspiring reasons to write regularly

There are many compelling, commercial reasons to write regularly. For example, blogging and newsletter writing can be hugely valuable.

Here are 4 less obvious benefits to writing regularly, which seldom get mentioned. In many ways, these are just as valuable.

  1. Writing makes you a better observer. As a result, you notice more of the world around you. You experience more from life.
  2. Writing helps you think with greater clarity. The process of getting ideas out of your head and onto the page, is a wonderful antidote for foggy thinking.
  3. Writing is a powerful development tool. To write effectively on any subject, you need to know about that subject. Even better, to write about a subject regularly, you need to constantly learn more.
  4. Writing is an act of contribution. When you share your ideas or stories with others, you invest in them.

PS: Here are 25 reasons to write a business blog.

What every business owner needs to know about promises

Have you ever seen a business, which markets itself as being average? No, neither have I, yet that’s exactly what most businesses are.

Instead, businesses are marketed as offering great, amazing or exceptional products and services. Whilst lofty marketing promises are effective at attracting the attention and interest of your marketplace, they need to be delivered on.

Here’s why this matters

After the marketing has motivated someone to make a purchase, they are left with 3 possible outcomes.

It looks like this:

  1. They are delighted. The reality was even better than the marketing. Their expectations have been exceeded. They are impressed and the vendor now has a very happy customer. The kind of customer that tells their friends about how amazing the vendor is.
  2. They are satisfied. They got what they expected. They are neither happy nor disappointed. It’s certainly not remarkable enough to share with people.
  3. They are disappointed. They got less than they expected. The marketing was overstated. The vendor has a customer who feels like they were tricked. If they do tell their friends, it’s a negative, damaging story about the vendor.

The most successful business owners increase the value they provide, then market that value accordingly. They focus on delighting people and building a great reputation. They know that it’s pointless to attract disappointed clients and customers, with overstated marketing promises.

What can we learn from this?

By committing to match our marketing promises with services and products that delight, we become truly exceptional. We retain more clients and customers. We attract more word of mouth referrals and build a massively valuable reputation.

Yes, it takes a lot of effort and energy. It’s worth it though. In fact, it’s essential for any kind of meaningful success.

Who are you selling to? The answer may surprise you!

Are you selling to yourself? That may seem like a silly question, yet it’s one of the most important questions in marketing.

Why? Because business owners tend to market their products as if they were selling to themselves — when they should be marketing to their prospective clients or customers.

Now, if you are a lawyer and your prospective clients are lawyers, that works fine. However, if you sell to people whose needs and wants are different to your own, you need to change your marketing so it’s focused on them.

For example:

  • Read the marketing of most accountants and you will find lots of statistics and graphs. This is what accountants love, but not their prospective clients. The prospective client wants to know what the accountant can do for them and their business. They want to know why they should hire this accountant and not an equally qualified competitor. They want the story behind the stats.
  • Read the marketing of most web designers and it’s filled with jargon and buzzwords. They talk about things like; HTML5, Java, CSS, standards compliance and responsive design. These are things designers love to talk about, but not their prospective clients. Their prospective clients want a professional looking site. They want a site that is an asset to their business.

Anyone using that approach is leaving money on the table. Don’t let it happen to you.

Match your message to their wants and needs

Take a look at your marketing messages, from your prospective client’s vantage point. If possible, ask a prospective client to read your marketing and tell you what it says to them. Determine if you’re marketing based on what they need to hear or on what you think is important. Also, check to see if you are using their language or yours. Sometimes we get so used to industry words, that we forget they are meaningless and confusing to everyone else.

The better you communicate how valuable your services are, the easier you will attract more, great clients or customers.

Recommended Reading: Here’s another good reason not to use buzzwords in your marketing.

Marketing Foundations: 3 Tips to massively increase your sales

marketing foundations, marketing tips

Did you know there’s a common marketing mistake, which loses small businesses a fortune? Well, there is and it could be hurting your business… without you even knowing it!

Here it is, along with the solution.

Marketing Foundations

It’s all about getting your marketing foundations in place. The problems happen, when you ask a prospective client or customer to make a purchasing decision too soon… before you have the foundations in place. That’s because these foundations are essential to successful marketing.

In brief, there are 3 things you need to do, before you are in a position to make high volume sales or attract great, new clients:

  1. Demonstrate your professionalism.
  2. Clearly explain your proposition, (what your product or service is and what the benefits are).
  3. Earn their trust.

Let me expand on these 3 points for you, with some ideas on what you need to do, to massively improve your sales results.

Here they are — 3 tips to help you increase your sales. Massively.

Marketing Foundation tip 1: Demonstrate your professionalism

I see this mistake, every hour of every day. This, by itself, can destroy a business. If you’re skim reading this post, read the following paragraph!

You can’t expect people to buy from you or hire you, until they have checked your credentials and are satisfied you are a professional. However, that’s exactly what small business owners, coaches and consultants do all the time. They contact potential clients with links to their cheap looking websites. They use homemade logos and DIY business cards. They use freebie, Gmail / Yahoo email instead of branded email addresses, etc.

People are extremely visual. We think in pictures. It’s impossible to look professional, when you operate behind amateur looking marketing. We can’t expect people to believe we are professional, when it seems we can’t afford the peanuts required to get a professionally designed logo and website.

Similarly, we give an equally bad impression if prospective clients think that looking professional, isn’t important to us. That details are not important. That we’re fine about being associated with cheap looking work.

So, before you even think about marketing your products or service, make sure the impression you create is professional.

Marketing Foundation tip 2: Clearly explain your proposition

One of the oldest and most valuable sayings in professional marketing is this:

“A confused mind always says NO.”

By default, if someone asks us to make a decision, especially one involving money, before we have all the information we need, we say NO. We either say no to whatever they ask or we say no to making the decision itself. This makes perfect sense. We’ve been told since childhood to look before we leap.

Very, very few people will take a leap into the unknown and buy from you or hire you, when they are still unclear about what exactly your proposition is. So, before you ask a prospective client or customer to make a decision, make sure you have given them the information they need. This marketing foundation is built by ensuring you have clearly explained your proposition and asked for questions, to get and give, total clarity.

Marketing Foundation tip 3: Earn their trust

People will not buy from us, hire us or recommend us, unless they trust us. In fact, trust is perhaps the most important element of our marketing foundations.

There are a couple of important things regarding trust, which we all need to be mindful of:

  1. Trust needs to be earned.
  2. Trust takes time to earn.

We live in a time where we can send a marketing email to 10000 people with a button press and have them arrive minutes later. We can send people a link to a special offer via a social network, which is almost instantly in front of our contacts. (Unless you use Facebook.) We can write a blog post, press the publish button and have it available to the world, immediately.

However, we can’t click a button and earn people’s trust. Here’s the thing: Unless we have already earned the trust of the people who receive those messages, they are extremely ineffective.

Earning trust takes time. We need to build it. Asking someone to hire us or buy from us, before we’ve earned their trust, simply doesn’t work. This is especially the case for those who sell services or higher priced products.

So, take every opportunity to earn the trust of your marketplace. There are many ways to do this. For instance, I work hard to earn the trust of my marketplace, by showing up regularly with useful blog posts. Anyone can check me out, simply by clicking the link on the sidebar of Jim’s Marketing Blog, where I link to every post I have written since 2008. This body of work shows I can be relied upon to turn up. It shows my ability to stick with a project. It also demonstrates my expertise. All of these help me to earn your trust… over time.

You can do the same with a simple (free) WordPress blog, newsletter, podcast, public speaking… whichever suits you best. Here are some other ideas for earning trust.

Build your marketing on solid foundations

In a nutshell, great marketing, which sells and gets noticed is built on solid Marketing Foundations. Asking for the sale or trying to encourage a prospective client to hire you, without these marketing foundations in place, will dramatically lower your conversion rates. If you think you’re saving money or time by ignoring them, you are making a potentially fatal marketing mistake.

How to build a massively valuable client list

If only your prospective clients knew how great your service was, they’d hire you. Right?

Well, I’m going to show you how to totally overcome that marketing challenge!

How your competitors ruin your marketing promises

Almost every small business owner claims to offer an amazing service. Especially the really terrible providers!

So, as you are one of the few who genuinely produces work, which is meaningfully different, your marketplace needs to know. They need to know that you are the real deal. That it’s not just words or empty promises.

How?

It works like this:

  • Put your work out there, where people can see it. Use either a blog or newsletter to showcase what makes you meaningfully different from your competitors.
  • Show us, without holding back, exactly how your work is meaningfully different. In other words, don’t just make claims about how great your services are — show us. Remember, your average competitors all claim to be great.
  • Make your blog posts, articles or newsletters visible and make them easy to share. If you are doing great work, people will want to tell their friends. Make this as easy as possible, with a small number of reliable sharing options.

Why bother doing all this? Because as I am about to explain, it is extremely effective.

Something about me you never knew!

For the past year, I have successfully provided a service, which I have never (even once) marketed to anyone.

What is it?

I write articles and marketing material. My fee is £1000 for an article or marketing piece (around $1600 USD at today’s exchange rate). There is currently an 8 week waiting list for the service. All that, without marketing the service even once.

Instead, people have come to me.

Why? Because they read my articles and blog posts, see the value and want their magazine, website, blog or whatever, to be just as valuable.

Others needed to see sales results from their marketing. They figured out that if they hire me to write the main conversion page of their website, it could be the difference between them motivating potential clients to hire them — or being ignored.

Why would any savvy business owner risk losing out on a fortune, by using ineffective, amateur copywriting? Exactly!

Show them who you are and what you do

The marketing promises and claims you make are largely ignored by your prospective clients. They have seen them too many times before.

If you want to earn the trust of your prospective clients, (which is essential if you want them to hire you), you need to demonstrate what makes you better than your competition.

No one hires me wondering if I can deliver. They already know me and my work.

Now show YOUR prospective clients what YOU are capable of.

You won’t believe how useful this copywriting tip is!

MacBook Air, 0.68 inch thin

Here’s a great copywriting tip, to help you improve the effectiveness of all your marketing messages.

Words and feelings

Professional copywriters understand the importance of selecting the correct words. We know that the words we use have the power to change how people feel and thus, the actions they take.

A great example of this, comes from the marketing of Apple’s MacBook Air.

MacBook Air: Just 0.68 inch thin

When Apple describe the thickness of their MacBook Air notebooks, they say it’s just 0.68 inch thin. They do this for a reason. They want you to focus on how thin it is, not how thick it is. So, they plant the word thin in your mind, when you think of their product.

Why would they do that?

If thinness is a priority for you when you buy your next notebook, you will now have a mental connection between that priority and Apple’s MacBook Air product. In other words, Apple’s marketing will have created a direct link in your mind, between what you want and what they sell.

I suggest you do the same

Deliberately select the words your prospective client needs to see, so they connect what they need with what you offer. Ideally, this should always be handled by a professional copywriter. It can be the difference between regularly attracting great, new clients… or crickets.

If you are committed to DIY marketing, test and measure the use of different words. See if you can find certain words, which you can weave into your marketing copy, to increase the number of targeted inquiries you attract.

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