Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: How to (page 1 of 25)

How to predict your success in advance

will it work

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 two

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?

content marketing tips

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 two

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

How to, lock in effect, lock-in, lockin

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.

How to make extremely valuable business contacts

How to

This post is all about how to build an extremely valuable network of influential people.

Think about it: We all know business owners who struggle to find new clients… even though they are members of networking groups and are connected to hundreds of people on Linkedin.

That should be impossible!

Surely, with all those contacts, these struggling business owners should be able to reach out with a message and generate more clients than they could possibly need.

But they can’t. Why? Because the typical small business owner builds networks that are of very little commercial value.

That’s why the most successful business owners use a very different approach.

Allow me to explain.

How successful business owners get connected

The most successful people in business are extremely well connected. They make it a habit to identify useful contacts in advance and then nurture relationships with them. As a result, they have people they can go to for advice or assistance in any area of their business.

When they have a problem, it’s often a case of: One call — problem solved!

How the average business owner connects

Typically, small business owners take the opposite approach. They focus on numbers, not value. Most commonly, they attend networking groups and connect with other business owners… who are only in that same networking group because they too are struggling.

As a result, they end up with lots of low value business contacts. They lack the type of influential connections, which are required in order to grow a successful business.

So, when they need new clients or have a significant business problem, their equally struggling contacts are unable to help.

Make the power of association work for you

There’s another important reason not to network with struggling business owners.

I’ve found that time and again, those who associate with business owners who are going nowhere, tend to find their own business heading in the same downward spiral. It’s the same power of association we saw at school, when a good kid started hanging with the wrong crowd and soon saw their grades drop.

Fortunately, the power of association works both ways.

Just as associating with struggling business owners can hurt your business, associating with successful business owners can inspire you to raise your game. It’s hard to overstate the value of associating with great people and learning from their experiences.

Think about that for a moment.

Stop focusing on the numbers. It’s all about value

As people, we are all of equal value. However, in business, our commercial value differs vastly. Successful business networking is about connecting with the right people.

Be selective. Focus less on numbers and more on value. Go deep and narrow, rather than shallow and wide.

Bloggers: How to be an overnight success

blog letters

My wife’s blog has become an overnight success. Here’s how she did it.

Sharon started her blog around 12 weeks ago. Her first post was read by over 2000 people. Thousands of people now read her work every week. Not bad, especially as it’s her first ever attempt at blogging. It’s worth mentioning that Sharon hasn’t paid for advertising, hasn’t done any kind of SEO or asked anyone [including me] to share her posts or link to them.

So, what’s the secret of her success?

Before my wife published her first post, she had already built an audience for her blog. She is the admin of a history group on Facebook. Sharon spent time connecting with like-minded people, answering their questions and sharing ideas.

By the time she published her first blog post, there was a community of people who were interested. They already knew who she was and that she’s an expert in her field.

Compare that to what most business owners do, when they start blogging.

  • They write a post.
  • They share their post on their main social networks.
  • However, because they haven’t built a community of people around their work, very few people take notice.
  • They decide to publish some more posts and hope things will improve.
  • Fast forward 3 months… they still have very few readers.
  • So, they try some tricks they find on blogging websites. [They don’t understand that this is the perfect way to ensure your blog remains invisible.]
  • Eventually, they assume that blogging is a waste of time.

Here’s the thing: If you want to build a successful blog, you need to build a community.

You need to find a way, like Sharon did, to connect with your target audience. It takes time. It takes effort. But that’s why she already has thousands of readers. It’s why her 12 week old blog has a bigger daily readership than the massive majority of established, small business blogs. BTW: It’s the same approach I used to build Jim’s Marketing Blog, though I used Twitter rather than Facebook.

Great blog posts alone are not enough

Writing great blog posts is just part of building a successful blog. Without investing the time required to build a reader community, a blog will remain largely invisible.

Important: You build a community by connecting with people in your target group. Join in the conversations. Answer questions. Communicate. Notice something there? None of those are achievable through automation software. Broadcasting quotes and spraying links via your social networks is easy, but very ineffective when it comes to building human connections.

How long does it take to do it correctly?

Some of my clients have achieved measurable success within 3 months. Others have taken a whole year. Is it worth it? Well, over 80,000 people will get notified when I publish this post today.

What would it be worth to you and your business, if you were able to reach a growing targeted audience of thousands of potential customers every week… without paying for advertising? Think about that for a moment.

If you decide its worth the investment, find out how to do it correctly and get moving!

How to keep people interested in your marketing

How to

If your marketing is attracting fewer enquiries than you need, you may want to consider mixing things up a little.

Here’s why.

A marketing lesson from farming!

12 years ago, after a lifetime of living in cities, my wife and I bought our current home in the countryside. It’s surrounded by farm land. One of the first things I discovered about farming, is the effectiveness of crop rotation. The farmer plants different crops each time, because it keeps the soil fertile and produces a better harvest. Planting the same crop time after time produces a poor yield.

It struck me that the same is true when it comes to marketing. The marketplace soon gets tired of seeing the same marketing from the same people. It fails to capture their attention. Soon, they pay it no attention at all.

The answer

The way to avoid this costly marketing error, is to mix things up a bit.

  • Try different timing. For example, if you use email marketing, send your emails on a different day or time of day.
  • Try different images in your marketing material.
  • Try different language — the kind of words you use to communicate your marketing message.
  • Try different offers.
  • Try asking for a different response.
  • Try different marketing formats.

You get the idea.

In short: Marketing rotation can help you retain people’s interest. And an interested marketplace is far more likely to respond to you!

P.S. Here are dozens of marketing ideas you can use, from the most popular page on my blog.

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