Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Copywriting (page 3 of 25)

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!

A tested, proven way to attract more sales leads

Today, I want to help you attract more high quality sales leads and referrals, with a tested and proven idea.

I need to start by asking you an important question: How easy is it for people to describe what makes your service special?

Here’s why this question is so important.

Make it easy to spread your message

If you want people to spread the word about your business, you need to make it as easy as possible for them. You also need to ensure they share the correct message, so the marketplace gets the right impression of what makes your business remarkable.

Whilst many small business owners develop an elevator pitch, a script they can use to quickly describe their business to a stranger, very, very few create a script for their clients or customers. As a result, it’s hard for people to know what to say about you. They may tell their friends that they value working with you or that they recommend you, but that’s way too vague.

What you need, is for people to have a very short, powerful script that inspires interest in you. Something that will motivate people to check you out!

A very different kind of script

I’m not talking about handing your clients a script and telling them to recite it to their friends.

No.

I’m talking about creating a 4 or 5 word script that follows your work. Something that is printed onto your packaging, added to your emails and featured prominently on your website or blog.

Do not confuse this with one of those generic mottos or tag-lines you see some businesses using! It’s pointless to say “we try harder”, “we’re obsessive about quality” or “we always go the extra mile”. EVERYONE makes those claims.

This is an example of how to get it right.

A finger lickin’ good message

Here’s how an international brand used this idea with huge success:

The team behind Kentucky Fried Chicken wanted to give their diners a simple way to describe how tasty the chicken was. So, they made it super simple. They placed a short, powerful script on all their packaging. It described their food as, “finger lickin’ good”. Those who ate and enjoyed their chicken, now knew exactly what to tell their friends. Moreover, they were delivering an amazingly powerful, professionally written script!

Regardless of what you happen to think about deep-fried chicken, the mental imagery conjured up with that script is powerful. The idea of people enjoying their food SO MUCH that they licked their fingers, would surely motivate their hungry friends to give KFC a try.

And that’s what happened. Millions of times. Worldwide.

Your script

Take some time to think about your business and what you would like people to say about you. Then, spend as much time as necessary crafting a powerful, extremely short script that captures the key benefit of your product or service. You may find it helps, to research the scripts already used by successful brands in different industries to your own.

If you don’t have the time or expertise to get this right, pay for a professional to do it for you. Just don’t miss out on great word of mouth referrals or targeted sales leads, because people aren’t sure how to recommend you.

Tip: Here’s some advice and examples, on how to attract word of mouth referrals – Why your business needs a story.

Do you make these 7 mistakes with your blog?

If you want better results from your blog, this post is just for you.

I was prompted to write this, after receiving an email over the weekend, from a reader with a question. Here’s what he wanted to know:

“I started blogging 2 years ago, but have very few readers. I think my blog is as good as many in my industry, but I only get around 25 readers a day. Why isn’t anyone reading my blog, Jim?”

Because the mistakes he’s making are common to lots of blogs, I thought I’d answer his question here, via 7 blogging tips. In no particular order, here are 7 key areas to focus on, if you want to build a great blog with a hugely valuable readership.

Blog Tip 1: Have something to say, which is worth reading

People have never been busier than they are today. Equally, there has never been so much choice regarding what they can read. For a blog to attract readers and then retain those readers, it needs to offer something, which is meaningfully different. The majority of blogs don’t do this. They are predictable. They have no distinct voice. They offer no motivation to read them.

The key is to tell us what you think. Give us your opinion… not an echo of what everyone else is saying. Allow your personality to shine through your words. Only by embracing your unique perspective can you hope to stand out, grab people’s attention and then inspire them to keep coming back.

Blog Tip 2: Turn up regularly

The guy who emailed me hadn’t published a new blog post for over 4 weeks. Here’s the thing: We can’t expect people to return to a blog, even a well-written blog, if there’s seldom any new content for them to read.

If you want people to visit your blog regularly, publish new content regularly. Keep your blog fresh. The more often you publish useful content, the faster your readership will grow.

Blog Tip 3: Create the right impression

The guy who emailed me was using a very tired looking, poorly designed blog theme. It created a terrible initial impression, which told me lots about his attitude to his blog.

It has never been easier or less expensive to have a professional looking blog. Despite this, many small business owners use ugly, dated blog themes and as a result, look amateurish. People tend not to treat information on amateur looking blogs very seriously. We expect professionals to look professional.

Think about it, there are only 2 reasons why a business would operate behind an amateur looking blog:

  1. They think it’s OK to allow poor quality work (design) to represent them and their values.
  2. They can’t afford a professional looking blog.

Neither of those options reflect well on the blog owner!

If your blog looks dated, invest in a new, professional blog theme. This allows you to create a great first impression and sets a professional tone for what your visitors are about to read.

This leads on nicely to the next point.

Blog Tip 4: Be visible on mobile devices

An increasing number of people view the Internet using their phones or tablets. If a site is hard to read on their mobile device, they leave. Despite this, an alarming number of blogs are not mobile ready. In other words, they are hard to read or navigate when using a mobile device.

Would you like to see what your blog (or website) looks like on various mobile devices? Then use this free app – Screenfly by Quicktools. It’s extremely easy. Just enter the address of your site and then click the various options in the menu bar, to see what your site looks like on different, popular phones and tablets.

If your blog doesn’t perform well on mobile devices, you will lose visitors before they even start reading what you have to say. Depending on your industry, you could be offering a bad user experience to 50% or more (and growing), of your readers!

Blog Tip 5: Stop selling

Most small business bloggers turn almost every post into a sales pitch. Instead of being interesting and offering useful information, these posts read like a series of thinly-disguised advertisements. The challenge with that approach is that people are not interested in reading ads, linking to ads or sharing your ads with their friends.

Focus instead on using your posts to position you as an expert in your field. Provide valuable information, which people will want to read, link to and share.

This is the exact approach I use with Jim’s Marketing Blog. I share my ideas and expertise, for free, with the intention of being as valuable to my readers as possible. Then, when they decide they need expert marketing help, a hefty subset email me or give me a call. Readers also share my posts and link to them, allowing me to reach new readers every day.

Blog Tip 6: Make blogging a high priority business activity

A successful blog can be an exceptionally valuable asset for you and your business. So, give it the investment it needs.

For instance, my blog has provided me with opportunities I could never have imagined, prior to blogging. It has allowed me to attract the interest, and custom, of some of the world’s biggest brands. It has also allowed me to build a fantastic network among my readers, eliminating the need for me to have a Linkedin account or do any form of networking.

Give your blog the time, effort and money it needs and you can build an asset, which grows in value every day.

Blog Tip 7: Play the long game

Even if you are doing everything correctly, it takes time for you to attract (and keep re-earning), the attention of a sizeable readership.

Once a reader has found your blog, the key to motivating them to hire you, buy from you or recommend your work with their valued contacts, is for you to demonstrate your reliability… over time. This is how you go from being yet another blogger, to a professional who they feel they can trust.

In closing

Those are just some of the main areas to focus on, if you want to get the best results from your blog. I hope you find them useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with them.

Are you giving your business the sunshine it needs?

small business, advice, resources, investment

What single investment would result in the biggest improvement for your business?

For example:

  • Hiring an exceptional copywriter to rewrite all your marketing material, so people take action when they read it.
  • Moving your business to a better location.
  • Working to a professionally developed marketing strategy, which lets you build the kind of business you always wanted.
  • Getting your website redesigned, so that it looks amazing and instantly gives your business a professional image.
  • Improving the customer service offered by every member of your team.
  • Hiring a better accountant. One who can help you improve the profitability of your business, rather than just count the beans and keep you compliant.
  • Developing a great new product or service for your existing clients.

I’m sure you can find examples, which apply far better to your business, but you get the idea. Now pick one… and put a plan in place to make it happen.

We wouldn’t expect a seed to grow without sunshine. Equally, we shouldn’t expect a business to grow without giving it the resources it needs.

Don’t let this mistake crush your business!

marketing, copywriting, value

There is an extremely common marketing error, which is ruining small businesses. Right now, I’m going to explain what it is and also show you how to avoid it.

I was prompted to write this after being contacted by a personal development coach with a marketing problem. She explained that she’d hired several copywriters over the past year, to rewrite the pages on her website, which sold her products and services. On each occasion, the results were the same. Very few inquiries and even fewer new clients or product sales.

Why didn’t it work?

Simple: The problem wasn’t the copywriting. Allow me to explain.

Focusing on the wrong thing

She told me a bit about her business and it was clear that the problem isn’t the copy she is using. The problem is with the predictable nature of what she offers. Her services sound just like hundreds of thousands of other personal development coaches.

So, when someone sees what she has to offer, there’s absolutely no reason why anyone should hire her, rather than one of the others.

Here’s the thing: If your marketing messages are not generating enough inquiries, clients or customers, it could be a sign you need to invest in creating a better (more valuable) service, rather than a better marketing message.

Market demand

There’s no demand in the marketplace for a provider who offers something, which is just a little better, bigger, smaller, faster or less expensive than the competition. That’s not enough to attract your prospective client’s attention or interest.

As a marketing professional, I spend lots of time with business owners, helping them make subtle changes to what they provide, so that it becomes distinctive and massively more attractive. I suggest you do the same, especially if you work in a competitive industry.

Tip: This will help you. It shows how to make your product or service stand out in a competitive marketplace.

How to grow your list in 3 steps

If you write a newsletter or blog and your “list” is growing too slowly, this post is for you.

Toxic advice online

The Internet is packed with bad advice on how to improve the success of your newsletter or blog. So-called content marketing experts focus on things like; the best time to publish your work, how long your articles or posts should be and what kind of images you should use, how to SEO your work, etc.

These generic tips offer the reader no meaningful value. NOTHING that will resolve the actual problem. The reason no one reads Bob’s blog posts or Barbara’s newsletter, is not because they are published on the wrong day or at the wrong time, are the wrong length or lack the right images or SEO.

No.

The reason no one reads their work, is that it offers nothing new. It’s lacking in value. So, when people find it, they are not motivated to return or share what they have found. That type of blog or newsletter will never build an audience.

The actual solution?

It’s as easy and as hard as this:

  1. Have something worth saying and say it well. (In other words, provide massively valuable information and write it in a way that inspires your readers.)
  2. Put it where people can see it.
  3. Make it easy for them to share.

If you do that, your audience will grow. First, just 5 people will read it, but that’s fine. Why? Because they will love what you had to say, then share it with their friends. Some of their friends will value what you have written and they too will share it. Repeat…

To keep that process rolling and your readership growing, you need to focus on regularly having something to say, which people will value and share. This means learning how to write and having the courage to say it in your own unique voice.

So rich. So strange. So new.

I was prompted to share this with you today, after listening to a recording of the great Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. Before Thomas took to the stage to share his brilliance with a packed, New York audience, he was introduced to the crowd.

The MC then described Thomas’ poetry as: “So rich. So strange. So new”. You can listen to the MC here. (It’s just 10 seconds into the audio.)

And it was. No one wrote like Thomas. He had something worth saying. He shared it with, initially, very small crowds. These small crowds of people then told their friends how amazing his poetry was. The media then discovered Thomas’ work and he became a worldwide success, whose work is celebrated today, 60 years after his passing.

Dylan Thomas didn’t succeed because he only wrote works that were a certain length. He didn’t succeed because he only performed or published on certain days. No. He succeeded because his work was too good NOT to share.

If we want to grow a highly valuable audience for OUR work, we need to strive to do the same. To be too good to ignore.

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