How NOT to write the perfect blog post!

blogging topics r

The Internet is packed with inaccurate, 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 write clickbait titles, like: “21 Ways to excite your readers — number 6 made me scream!”
  • You should publish your posts at a magical ‘peak time’, on certain days of the week.

There are dozens more of these 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, consider this: There is no such thing as a optimum publishing time.

It varies from industry to industry and country to country.

For example:

  • If your target market are people who run hospitality businesses, bars, hotels, etc., they work late and start later than most businesses. If your target market are graphic designers or web developers, they also tend to work very late and start later too.
  • Different cultures have different working hours. I work with companies all around the world. My American clients are generally in their office earlier than my European clients. My European clients tend to work later.
  • Middle Eastern business owners often have a working week, which runs from Sunday to Thursday.
  • And… if you do publish your posts at the so-called peak time recommended by all the content marketing gurus — think about it: Your posts will be fighting for attention, along with every other blog post, published by people who fell for the same toxic advice!

In short: One size does not fit all. If you’re following generic blogging advice and your blog isn’t growing the way you want it to, it’s time for a more sensible approach.

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. I used this approach and built one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs. I have also never needed to speak at blogging conferences in order to make a living or write guest blog posts, in order to reach more people.

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

How to make your content marketing more compelling

content marketing, compelling content, traffic

Which of these approaches do you find the most compelling?

  1. I wrote this blog post, now I need you to read it.
  2. There’s an idea I believe you will benefit from, so I wrote about it.

And which of these 2 do you prefer?

  1. I made this audio program, and now I need you to buy it.
  2. Small business owners needed help with this challenge, so I made an audio program about it.

Most people are far more attracted to the second approach in those examples. Despite this, almost every marketing message I see from small and medium-sized businesses, is based on the first approach. They come from a self-focused mindset, rather than being focused on the needs [or wants] of the other person.

Smarter marketing

Your marketing needs to be smarter than that if you want people to embrace your message and hire you or buy from you.

Telling someone that you know there are competing products, but they should buy yours, because you made it, won’t work. The prospective client or customer doesn’t care what you want. They care about answers to their problems. They care about their wants.

When you create your marketing based on what the other person wants, what’s important to them… it immediately improves how your marketing is received. It also improves how the prospect feels about you. This is the cornerstone of all effective marketing.

What next?

I recommend you spend some time reviewing your marketing. Shift the emphasis of any self-focused copy, from what you want to what they want.

The worst that can happen is that your marketing will be focused on the wants and needs of your marketplace. Get it right and it’s also likely to significantly improve your client acquisition / sales numbers.

A guaranteed way to increase your chances of success

business development topics r

So, you’re working on a new idea or trying to improve your business results.

You have a couple of options open to you:

  1. You can go through the long, costly process of trial and error… work hard and hope it works.
  2. Alternatively, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. You can find out what needs to be done, and then proceed with confidence.

If you’re the kind of person who prefers the second option, try this. It’s guaranteed to work. [Yes, literally].

How to stop stalling and do your best work

How to

No, it doesn’t really matter what brand of computer you choose to work with. The same is true of the software you use. Leonardo da Vinci changed the world, writing with a quill.

No, it doesn’t really matter how you plan what you write. Best-selling author John Boyne, like many, doesn’t plan at all. He doesn’t even know where the story is going, until after he starts writing it.

No, it doesn’t really matter how inspired you feel. You don’t wait for inspiration to appear… you command it to appear.

What matters

What matters is that you get started. So learn to identify your stalling tactics. Then, call them out for what they are.

Now you’re free to focus on doing your best work.

How to increase sales and build an excellent reputation

marketing topics r

There’s something amazing about deadlines, which very few business owners tap into. When used correctly, deadlines can help you improve your sales results and build a great reputation too. I’ll show you how this works in a moment.

First, let’s consider just how valuable deadlines are:

  • By giving someone a deadline, you have stated precisely when you expect them to deliver.
  • By accepting a deadline, you have put your reputation on the line. You have committed to deliver by an agreed time.

So, how can you and your business benefit [enormously] from all this?

The marketing power of precise, self-imposed deadlines

The smartest business owners look for opportunities to commit to precise deadlines. They know that their clients and prospective clients value certainty and clarity.

For example, the power of a promise like, “It will be completed and emailed to you at 9am Tuesday”, is far greater than the typical, weak, “It will be with you in the next few days”. Clear, committed marketing statements attract people’s attention and generate word of mouth referrals, because in most industries they are exceptionally rare.

Yes, it takes courage to offer your clients a precise deadline, knowing you have to deliver on that promise. However, it’s a massively valuable marketing move and one of the fastest and finest ways to build a great reputation.

How to predict your success in advance

Pro development topics r

People often ask me if their new business idea will succeed or not. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to ship the idea and see what happens.

The reason you can’t predict a successful project in advance, is that an idea, even a wonderful idea, can’t achieve anything by itself.

For example:

  1. A wonderful idea will flop without a willingness to hustle. It takes persistence, energy and motivation to drive a new project forward. No hustle, no momentum. No momentum, no success.
  2. A wonderful idea will also flop if the marketing is ineffective. You need to reach the right people with the correct message.

Predicting success in advance

Here’s what we know about those who go on to succeed and those who flounder.

  • Most small business owners will get the first part right. They are happy to work hard.
  • Far fewer will get the second part right. They prefer to dabble with marketing.
  • A small minority will get both parts right. These are the ones who succeed, by working hard AND working smart.

In essence, it doesn’t matter how good an idea looks on paper. It doesn’t matter how good an idea sounds when you ask people what they think of it.

If you want an idea or project to succeed, you need to back it up with intelligent activity.

How to Bake Marketing into your business

How to

The most successful businesses bake marketing into their services. In this post, I will explain what that means and why you should do the same.

If you have not heard the term before, baking marketing into a service (or product) means creating something, which is of so much value and interest that people want to buy it and also tell their friends about it.

Most small business owners do the opposite

Look around you at your competitors and you will see that with few exceptions, they all seem remarkably similar. So, they try and undercut one another on prices or fees, out network one another or outspend one another on marketing.

They are focusing their time and money in completely the wrong direction. They are trying to get people interested in something, which isn’t interesting. This is a costly, avoidable mistake.

That’s why I want something far better for you and your business!

Bake marketing into what you do

Today, I am going to ask you to consider doing something bold. I’m asking you to consider adding value to what you market — your core services.

Why? Because you can waste years of your time trying to sell a service, which is simply not interesting enough to the marketplace. Great marketing is no substitute for an uninspiring service (or product).

Conversely, a service that is of exceptional value will often sell itself, as people are so impressed with it that they spread the word. I regularly speak with business owners who don’t need to spend a penny on advertising, because their customers and their marketplace are always recommending them.

Most small business owners use the opposite approach. Instead of inspiring people with the story behind their business, they try to motivate uninspired people to talk about them.

  • Some offer commissions.
  • Others try to pester people into recommending them.
  • Many join networking clubs, hoping that social pressure, reciprocity or rules of membership, will get people to talk about them.
  • Some spam us with unsolicited emails.

All of those work to a degree, but you can do massively better by shifting your focus 180 degrees!

Here’s what we know: People do not need to be pestered or pressured into recommending a GREAT service. They automatically spread the word when they encounter something exceptional. However, we must first give people something worth talking about… a story worth sharing.

When we do, they can’t help themselves. They shout from the rooftops.

A better approach

The alternative is to bake marketing into what you do. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Observe your marketplace and develop a product or service, which is based on what they want, rather than offering your version of what your competitors already provide.
  • Give people a story about you or your business that’s worth sharing. This means having the courage to be different. Easier said than done, but essential if you want to attract the interest of your marketplace.
  • Deliver a customer experience that stands out for all the right reasons. Pull out all the stops. Leave your clients and prospective clients feeling moved and roused by the experience of working with you, visiting you or connecting with you.
  • Demonstrate your passion for what you do and your desire to help others. Passion stands out. Passion is infectious.
  • Have outsiders. You can’t have insiders without outsiders. Insiders are the people who buy from you. Insiders are the people your services are aimed at. Don’t try and be all things to all people. If you do, your story will be vague and cease to motivate people.
  • Learn from the products and services that you recommend. Think about what drives you to spread the word about certain businesses. What lessons can be adapted from what they do and used in your business, to help you deliver something remarkable?

Just don’t fall into the trap of trying to get people inspired about an uninspiring service or product. It’s expensive, low leverage, frustrating and the least rewarding way to develop your business.

How often should you publish blog posts?

blogging topics r

Karen from Delaware emailed me with a question earlier.

“I’d love for you to post on your blog every day like Seth Godin does.¬† Is there a strategic reason why you don’t?”

That’s a good question. The answer is that you need to match your publishing model to the business model behind your blog. Allow me to explain.

My publishing model

It’s easy… very easy, for me to publish something every day. However, my business model doesn’t require me to keep tapping you on the shoulder with daily posts.

Why?

I market just 2 services via my blog. There’s a limited number of clients I can work with and every post generates client enquiries.

Daily publishing, [which I did a few years ago], caused me to receive way too many enquiries. The huge momentum created by daily publishing is disproportionate to the few additional posts I was publishing each week.

If I decide to change the blog’s business model, so my income is primarily from the sale of products or advertising, I will need to adopt a daily publishing model of at least one post a day.

The daily publishing model

Whatever his motivation, Seth Godin uses a publishing model that rewards daily blogging. His blog is a kind of single author book store. Every post displays a carousel [on the left of each post], which is stacked with 18 of his books.

His well-crafted, daily posts are what create traffic to his book store. They also pre-market his books, by referencing new books in his posts long before they are published.

  • If you like Seth’s posts, you may buy a book.
  • If you don’t buy a book, you may still decide to share the post you’re reading, with your social networks.
  • By sharing the post, others will visit Seth’s blog.
  • They too may decide to buy a book or share the post.
  • A cycle is created, which is fed by daily content.

That model clearly rewards daily publishing. Fewer posts would equal less traffic, fewer shares and fewer sales.

In short: Your publishing model should support whatever you want to achieve. So, choose the best frequency for your business, rather than copy what someone else is doing. Their approach could be totally wrong for you.

Tip — Here are 25 reasons why you should write a business blog!

How to be extraordinary

How to

Fact: You are capable of extraordinary things.

There are no ordinary people. It’s just that some of us settle for ordinary results. So, we make ordinary decisions and take ordinary actions.

It’s easy to be ordinary. We simply need to follow the masses. It requires no courage and no creativity. It’s like living on autopilot. This is why millions of extraordinary people live ordinary, unfulfilled lives.

So, how do you become extraordinary?

You don’t need to do a thing! You are already extraordinary. You were born that way. However, there are 2 things you should do, to live an extraordinary life.

  1. Make extraordinary plans. This means deciding what you want, rather than settling for the ordinary.
  2. Summon the courage to put your plans into action. It’s tricky to break free from the masses and do your own thing. Remember those periods of your life, where you needed to be brave? That’s proof that you have the courage required. You need to dig deep down and summon that courage.

Those 2 steps are all that separate us from enjoying an extraordinary life.

Questions and answers

Is it easy? No. It’s challenging.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Can you do it? Yes… 100%. You’re extraordinary and capable of almost anything you set your mind to.

Do you want it? That’s for you to answer.

How to use The Lock In Effect

lock in effect, what is, lock in

One way to retain more of your customers is a tactic called The Lock In Effect. The Lock In Effect is almost universally frowned upon. And with good reason too. It’s a selfish and manipulative approach to business.

However, in this post, I am going to show you a powerful, ethical and profitable way to use The Lock In Effect to grow your business.

So, what is The Lock In Effect?

The Lock In Effect is a term, which is typically used to explain a practice, where a company makes it extremely hard for their customers to leave them, even if the customer wants to.

A couple of lock in examples:

  • UK banks are notorious for making it far more difficult to move to another bank, than it needs to be. Bill payments are often missed and a process that should take minutes electronically, can drag on for weeks or more. You feel locked in, because the pain and frustration of moving banks is so high.
  • If your company is set up to use a certain software package, which all your employees have mastered, it makes it a lot harder to drop that software when a better alternative appears. The cost of buying the new software, the time and cost required to retrain everyone and the potential for lost data, makes you feel locked in.

An alternative Lock In Effect

Yes, there will always be businesses that deliberately offer a very average service and try and lock their customers in using trickery. However, people with that kind of mindset don’t read this blog.

For people like you and I, there is a far better way to use The Lock In Effect. It’s more effective. It’s more ethical and it leads to massively better results.

We can create so much value through our products and services, that our clients or customers lock themselves in. This approach to business has been used by companies like Apple and Zappos – where we see their customers not only going back to them again and again, but also telling everyone about them. That’s why the best Apple salespeople… are Apple’s own customers.

The goal here is to lock clients or customers into your business, by delivering an experience that is so good, they would be crazy to leave you.

Finally, always remember that your customers have the freedom to buy from whoever they choose. Make it your goal to consistently inspire them to keep on choosing you.

That’s the most effective way to make the lock in effect work for you and your clients.