Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: General Marketing (page 1 of 94)

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.

What happened next?

Business is full of contradictions.

Why do accountants, smart people who really understand business, tend to use the least efficient business model, selling their time for money?

Why do designers, supposedly highly creative thinkers, tend to work from similar looking offices, with white paint on the walls and Mac’s on every desk?

Why do marketing consultants, who understand the importance of standing out, offer an almost identical range of services?

What do you think would happen, if…

What do you think would happen, if an accountant developed an innovative business model that clients found attractive? Could it help them stand out in their overcrowded marketplace?

What do you think would happen, if a prospective client visited a designer’s office and found that it looked a lot more original, than the other designers they’d visited? Could it make the designer look a lot more creative than their competitors?

What do you think would happen, if a marketing professional developed a uniquely valuable marketing service, which got people talking? Could it help them build a successful marketing business, which gets referenced in the world’s leading newspapers and media outlets. [Yes, look.]

Most importantly

What do you think would happen, if you found a way to differentiate your business from your competitors?

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.

7 Honest truths about marketing

Here are 7 important things to consider, when marketing your business.

In no particular order:

  1. Embrace brevity. Your marketing content is almost certainly 50% to 75% too long. Fix that.
  2. Most marketing advice online is either inaccurate or toxic to your business. Be especially cautious of anyone offering tricks or short-cuts to marketing success. Short-cuts to success are seldom short-cuts and they never lead to success.
  3. In business, everything you do is marketing. Yes, everything… read this.
  4. Great marketing alone is not enough to mask an average product or service. You are not ready to market anything, until you have pumped a massive amount of value into it, first.
  5. Don’t expect professional marketing results from amateur marketing. If you’re serious about growing a successful business, stop treating your marketing like a DIY project.
  6. If you need to attend networking events, to try and get people talking about your business, ask yourself “why”? Why aren’t people automatically talking about your business? Why are you not already getting more leads than you need from your clients? Why isn’t your marketing message spreading via word of mouth? Spend more time fixing the problem and less time pushing what’s broken.
  7. You will never be one webinar away from marketing success. Ever.

Hopefully, you will find at least 1 thing on that list that will stop you wasting your time or money. Most people will find several.

The question now is, what are you going to do about it?

3 Ideas to help you, the next time they say you’re too expensive!

3 ways

If you are sick of talking to fee sensitive prospective clients, you are making 1 or more of 3 common mistakes, which I am going to share with you right now — along with the solution.

Let’s get started!

A quick look at value

I want to start by looking at the way your prospective clients think about value:

  • It’s always too expensive, when the price or fee is considerably greater than the value.
  • It’s always great value, when the price or fee is considerably lower than the value.

To get that price / value balance right, we have 2 options:

  1. We can pump more value into the product or service.
  2. We can lower the price.

The race to the bottom

Most small business owners focus on lowering prices or fees, in order to make themselves appear better value. This is why we often see competing businesses in that dreaded race to the bottom, where business owners race to out discount one another. It’s a low leverage and unsustainable way to run a business.

Here’s the thing about slashing your prices: Your prospective customers or clients can go to Google and find 20 lower priced alternatives to you, in minutes.

Here’s the thing about increasing your value: High value providers are rare. Rare value comes at a premium, which the right clients are happy to pay for.

3 questions you need to answer

The following 3 questions will help you identify why you are attracting too many fee sensitive inquiries. Go through each question and spend a moment to consider your answers.

Firstly: Have you put so much value into your product or service, that the price or fee represents great value? As every quality brand will confirm, we can always sell a superb product or service for a great price. However, we are fooling ourselves if we expect prospective clients or customers to pay a premium, for something that’s average or close to average.

Secondly: If you have created a product or service that represents outstanding value, is that value clear from your marketing? In other words, when a prospective client reads your marketing or talks with you, can they easily see a clear reason why your services are of great value? Use the best copywriter you can afford, to make the value obvious, attractive and crystal clear. I find the vast majority of small business owners get this wrong and use DIY copywriting, thinking they are saving money. In reality, it’s losing them a fortune.

Finally: Is your marketing attracting the right type of leads or inquiries? You can have an amazing service, offered at a wonderful price, but if the people responding to your marketing can’t afford it, you’re wasting your time.

For example: A diamond ring that’s worth a million dollars, would be amazing value if offered for sale at $100,000. However, if you’re trying to sell it to someone, who knows the value, but is broke, they can’t buy it.

Getting your value balance right

Lowering a price is easy. It can be done in seconds. It requires no creativity. However, the easiest decisions in business are seldom the right decisions.

Instead, look for inconsistencies between; what you charge, what you offer and who you are marketing to.

In short: You will always be able to sell a high quality product or service for a good price, so long as it represents great value and you are marketing it to the correct people. If you are struggling, it’s because you need help in one or more of those areas.

Stop working for average clients. Seriously. Stop it!

The average client will pay you late — just often enough to mess with your cash flow.

The average client is fee sensitive.

The average client will seldom, if ever, inspire you to do your best work.

In fact, the average client is toxic to your business. Everything you do to attract average work from average clients is a waste of your time and energy.

A better approach

Decide today to build a strategy that attracts great clients. These high value clients will pay you what you are worth and they will pay you on time. Their investment in you will inspire you to do your finest work… which in turn delights them and motivates them to recommend you to everyone.

Let your competitors wrestle over the average clients. But not you. You deserve better than that!

This will help you: What everybody needs to know about strategy!

The opportunity you always wanted is already here!

As a business owner, you have more power and potential today than ever before. In fact, there is an opportunity right under your nose, which was impossible to imagine until recently.

Allow me to explain

Just a decade ago, we were very limited in the number of people we could reach with our marketing message. To send a mailshot to just a few thousand people would cost us a small fortune. A nationwide radio campaign was way out of our budget.

There was no scalable, affordable way to reach all our prospective clients.

This gave the big guys a massive advantage over us. However, everything has changed and if you’re willing to embrace the change, there’s no real limit on what you can achieve.

The world is your oyster

Thanks to the advent of the Internet and free, global communications, the only barrier between you and your marketplace are the limitations you place on yourself.

What an amazing opportunity.

Of course, the challenge you now face is that the same zero cost marketing opportunity is open to everyone. This is why we are bombarded every minute of the day with interruptions. Social network updates, emails, text messages… all these and more combine to create a wall of noise.

Noise is your barrier today. Not money!

In other words, the only thing between you and the ability to market your services to thousands or millions of people, is your ability to make it through the noise.

It’s not about money any more. It’s not about knowing the right people. It’s in your hands, rich or poor.

So, what next?

Here’s what we know about those who fail and more importantly, those who succeed:

  • Those who fail are adding to the noise. They are the people who spam you, cold call you, pester you on social networks and junk-text you. They are the average businesses doing average work for average clients and average fees.
  • Those who succeed cut through the noise like a hot knife through butter. They attract attention by doing something meaningful. Next, they earn permission from the people they attract, to share useful information with them — usually by getting them to subscribe to a newsletter or blog. They then keep re-earning that permission, by remaining a source of value.

Make no mistake, it’s all in your hands. If you are willing to do what is required, the world is your oyster!

Here’s the challenge: You can either find this opportunity interesting or you can do something with it. Opportunity is knocking on your door, but only you can decide whether you will let it in or let it slide.

The number 1 thing you must know, for your business to succeed

This article is one of the most important I have ever written. It’s also a lot longer than my usual work, so you may want to bookmark it and return to it. There’s a lot to take in and think about.

It starts with a pretty simple question: Are potential clients looking for you… or looking for someone who does what you do?

That’s an extremely important question. A question, which is a more accurate indicator of your commercial future, than just about any other.

Yes, it’s THAT big a question.

Here’s why that question is so important to you

I get 100% of the Jim Connolly marketing inquiries. If someone wants to hire Jim Connolly, they already know how to find me. The key point here, is that they don’t go looking for a marketing provider when they want to hire me. They don’t go to Google or Bing… they email me or call me.

The difference is huge. No, bigger than that!

You see, although I get all the Jim Connolly marketing inquiries, I get a tiny fraction of inquiries from people using search engines, looking for a commodity marketing provider. If they just want a (any) good marketing provider, they have hundreds of thousands to choose from. Those providers then compete against one another.

I don’t need to do that. Ever.

Far more importantly, neither do you!

The 2 ways to position your business or your services

Right now you are in one of these 2 groups. You are either:

  1. Just like all the others… but a little cheaper, faster or with a little better customer service etc. That’s what over 99% of small businesses do. It turns them into a commodity and is a key reason most small businesses continuously struggle… or go broke.
  2. Uniquely you. Doing great work, your way, aiming to delight your customers or clients. This is what fewer than 1% of small businesses do.

Those in that first group are commodity providers. They offer what’s known as a¬†commoditized service.

The danger of offering a commoditized service

Here’s a good dictionary definition of a commoditized business:

“To render (a good or service) widely available and interchangeable with one provided by another company.:

Here’s the thing: People buy commodities based on the lowest price.

  • It’s why we drive to the lowest priced provider when we need fuel (a commodity) for our car.
  • It’s why 2 equally qualified accountants, whose services sound fairly predictable, will have to compete on fees. They have commoditized their business. They have become interchangeable with their commoditized competitors. By the way, this applies to every service provider and not just accountants.

Every day that you choose (yes, it’s a choice) to offer a commoditized service, your business suffers. You suffer too. You deliberately (remember it’s a choice) rob your business of the individuality it needs and thrust yourself into an overcrowded pool of commodity providers.

Until one day… something clicks

… something lifts the fog from your thinking. Something inspires you to leave the overcrowded end of your market, where it’s impossible to succeed in any meaningful way. Something compels you to quit competing and start attracting. Something motivates you to stop being a commodity provider.

Hopefully, this message will be that catalyst for someone. Hopefully, one of the thousands of small business owners reading this, who is struggling in that dead-end 99%, will decide NO MORE.

  • No more looking to the future with apprehension.
  • No more lowering your lifestyle goals, to meet the limitations of your under performing business.
  • No more dealing with fee-sensitive clients.
  • No more working with people you don’t like, because you need the income.

I have helped hundreds of business owners with this. To stop your business from being a commodity provider, you need to be prepared for a couple of things.

Firstly, you have to stop fooling yourself

You have to stop pretending you’re in that 1% when you’re not. Here are just a few common examples of what a commodity provider looks like:

  • You get too few word of mouth referrals. Clearly, when your service is seen as a commodity, there’s nothing much to motivate people to tell their friends about you.
  • You find yourself competing on fees. When your service looks too similar to your competitors, potential clients will use your fee to determine your value to them.
  • You struggle to attract enough inquiries. A commodity provider is constantly competing against all the other, similar providers in that 99%.
  • Your business struggles for visibility. So, you need to buy ads, attend networking events etc.
  • You need to ask people to recommend you, because they are not doing this automatically.

Secondly, you need to put the cookie cutter down

The only way to stop being seen as a commodity provider, is to stop providing a commodity service. This means leaving the fake comfort that comes from being a predictable commodity and embracing the change required, to stand out.

It means looking at your services and adapting them, so they are what the client wants and needs — rather than your version of what your competitors provide.

It takes courage.

Therein lies the problem

Although the riskiest thing a small business owner can possibly do, is to be seen as a commodity provider, it feels safe. It feels safe, ironically, for the same reason it kills small businesses.

It feels safe, because almost everyone is doing it!

By playing it safe you will, with 100% certainty, at best, struggle to make a living. However, it FEELS safe… and that’s enough to stop 99% of small business owners from doing what they know they need to do.

I have no idea where you or your business is right now.

  • You could be in the 1%.
  • You may be a commodity provider, who’s comfortable working hard and going nowhere in that super-dangerous 99%.
  • But perhaps you’re a commodity provider, on a mission to leave that 99%!

If you are in that final group, this post is for you. In fact, everything on this blog is written for you and those already in the 1%.

Why? Because no marketing on the planet can save a commodity business.

No one can help a business, owned by someone who lacks the courage to be better than average. Commodity providers who are happy being average, come here looking for tricks. They want a ‘killer way’ to attract people to their average service, which no one is talking about because it’s so… well… average. They will search for tricks, until they run out of money or time.

For those with the courage to want more

If you’re interested in being more than a commodity provider, I can help. There are thousands of ideas on Jim’s Marketing Blog, yours to use for free. Just use the search box, midway down the right hand side.

If you want to find creative ideas, for free, to help you make your business more than a commodity, I’ve built a website just for you. It’s packed with free ideas, resources and insights and¬†you can find it here.

I hope you’ve found this useful… more importantly, I hope I have inspired you to do something!

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