Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Category: Email marketing & mail Shots (page 1 of 13)

How to build a extremely valuable list, without a newsletter

If you want to build a huge, extremely valuable list, this post is just for you.

I get emails every day from people, who thank me for my free marketing newsletter. Some of you will find that odd, as I don’t publish a newsletter.

So, why does this happen?

Simple: I give people the option to read this blog, via a free email subscription. As a result, thousands of people get an email with the content of my latest blog post. These emails look and read just like a newsletter.

I suggest you consider doing the same.

Here’s why!

There’s a reason Seth Godin, the world’s most read marketing expert, also uses this approach rather than a newsletter. It’s an extremely powerful way to build a great, super-connected community of readers.

For example:

  • The blog (online) version of your posts get shared on social networks. Yes, this is technically possible with newsletters, but shares of blog posts are far, far more popular. People can then see your work and subscribe to it, knowing exactly what to expect. Newsletters are often little more than thinly disguised sales pitches and people are savvy to this.
  • The blog version of your posts get crawled by search engines.
  • Your blog posts can be found using search engines, when people need the information you provide.
    • These Top Marketing Tips attract traffic from search engines all day. A subset of these readers subscribe to the email version of the blog. It’s a list-builder all by itself, which grows the list all day every day. Again, because it shows people exactly what to expect, a far higher percentage will subscribe, than if I offered a newsletter.

Which is the best route for you?

If your newsletter is mainly special offers and promotions, a dedicated newsletter, marketed via your blog is a better option.

Otherwise, I strongly suggest you consider the benefits of offering a high quality, email edition of your blog posts instead.

  • It costs the same as a newsletter costs to send.
  • It’s a quicker way to build your list, for all the reasons already mentioned.
  • You don’t have to invest time writing a newsletter.

BONUS: It may also motivate you to publish blog posts more often, which will help your reputation, your reach, your authority AND your reader list… to grow!

Are you teaching people to ignore your marketing?

Every piece of marketing material is created from 1 of the following 2 mindsets.

  1. I wrote this, so now I need you to read it.
  2. There’s something you need to know, so I wrote it.

The first approach is selfish. It’s focused on the needs of the writer, not the reader. It’s noise, not value. People ignore these selfish messages.

The second approach is contribution focused. It’s about giving value to the reader. This unselfish approach is so rare that when people see it, it captures their attention and grabs their interest.

Whether you know it or not, every message you send fits into one of those 2 categories. You are either training people to filter you OUT or tune you IN.

Choose wisely.

How to create attractive, memorable marketing

When you market your business just like your competitors, you fade into the background. You lack impact. You become predictable and easy to forget.

For example:

  • Over the years, I must have had thousands of pushy strangers hand me their business card. How many of them can I remember? None of them.
  • Every day I receive impersonal marketing emails from people. How many can I remember? None of them.

That’s because superficial interactions wash over us. They leave no lasting imprint.

The human touch

What we do remember, are the people who sincerely reach out to us with something meaningful to share. We remember the people who recommend us to their contacts and friends. We remember the handwritten notes. We remember the people who respond, when we need feedback or support.

Business is all about people. If you want people to remember you, do something useful and memorable. Something that touches them. Something that requires thoughtfulness.

Hint: You can’t do this with copycat marketing or by automating your business relationships.

Recommended reading – How to make your business more human and far more successful too.

The secret to marketing that spreads AND sells!

arketing spreads, marketing sells

I have a very effective marketing idea to share with you today. You’re going to love this!

I’m going to show you how to create marketing, which people will value and that’s powerful enough to inspire them to hire you or buy from you. It’s based on the work I do with my clients and includes a brief case study, which you can learn from.

So, let’s get started.

Receiving or paying attention?

It starts with understanding that there’s a huge difference between someone receiving your message and someone paying attention to it.

For example, TV viewers are sent targeted marketing messages (commercials) during TV shows. What do most of us do? We fast forward through them or if watching the show in real-time, we go and make a coffee. Just because they send their messages, doesn’t mean we are paying attention.

For your marketing to work, you need to get a great message in front of the right people. In order to get this correct, here’s the key question we need to ask ourselves:

If I stopped my email marketing campaign or I stopped publishing my blog posts, newsletter etc, would people really MISS them?

As a quick look at the marketing you receive every day confirms, for most people the honest answer to that question is NO! We get bombarded with dull, uninspiring sales messages all day and see them as an intrusion, rather than something of value.

Of course, for that tiny minority of small businesses who DO produce marketing, which people genuinely value and would miss if it were to stop, the sky is the limit.

I’m going to share the process required to make this work for your business later in this post.

First, we need to understand why there’s so much dull and ineffective marketing out there.

Dull is cheap. Dull is fast. Dull is simple!

It’s cheap, fast and simple to create dull marketing and get it in front of a lot of people. As a result, there’s no barrier to entry today.

Things were very different a decade ago. Back then, if a small business owner wanted to send a mail shot to 50,000 people, she’d have to spend some serious money.

  • She’d have to cover the cost of the mailing list.
  • Then she would need to pay for all that paper and the printing.
  • Next she would need to pay a company to get the letters folded and inserted into the 50,000 envelopes.
  • Then there’s the huge postage costs for those 50,000 pieces of mail.

All in all, it would cost many thousands. She would need to think long and hard about the value of what she put into those envelopes. Get it wrong and she would pay a hefty price!

Today, everything has changed

That same business owner in 2013 can hit 50,000 people using cheap email software and her laptop. It costs pennies. If it fails, maybe tomorrows will work. It’s never been cheaper or easier to push dull, uninspired, poorly thought out, uncreative marketing out the door. So, that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing. This is why there’s so much junk in your email inbox and on your social networking accounts.

Here’s what you need to do to get it right!

There is an alternative approach I want to share with you, so people welcome your marketing, share it and hire you or buy from you. It requires that you take the exact opposite approach, to 99% of the marketing you see out there. 

It’s about shifting the focus of your marketing, so that it’s primarily of benefit to the people who receive it and secondarily of benefit to you. It’s about producing content (audio, video, blog posts, newsletters, mail shots, flyers, social networking updates etc), which provide independent value to those who receive it. This means they get genuinely valuable or useful information from it, independent of them needing to spend a penny with you.

An example of how this works, based on one of my clients

Imagine you are a dog owner and after a trip to the vet, you subscribe to their dog owner’s newsletter. It gives you tips and ideas, to help you keep your dog healthy, fit and happy. At the bottom of each email are their contact details, so you can call them when you need a vet. You find this free information so useful, that you send it to 10 of your dog-owning friends.

They subscribe and then do the same… then these new subscribers share it too, and on and on it goes. The amazingly valuable, highly-targeted readership grows and grows.

Soon, that vet (a former client of mine) was talking to thousands of local dog owners and positioned themselves in their marketplace, as THE place to take your dog for all its veterinary needs. Their newsletter was eagerly anticipated by it’s readers… yes, people wanted to hear from them and valued what they had to share.

Compare that vet’s approach to the typical marketing messages we see.

  • That vet doesn’t need to run expensive radio ads.
  • They have no need to buy mailing lists.
  • They don’t need to waste valuable hours at networking events.
  • They certainly don’t need to pester people on social networks or ask strangers for recommendations on Linkedin.
  • They don’t need to invest in anything, other than the creativity required to produce a genuinely valuable newsletter, with useful content.

That example shows how a business can grow a massively valuable marketing asset, by sharing real value — rather than pushing unwanted messages. If you can see the potential of generating this kind of value driven marketing, it can improve your business beyond recognition.

I strongly suggest you make this a priority for your business. If you’d like expert assistance on exactly what to do, I’m happy to help.

Newsletters: A more human approach

In 2011, I shared an idea with my readers, to help them massively improve the success of their newsletters. In the years that have passed, a number of courageous readers have adopted this approach, with great success. Today, I want to share this valuable idea with you.

When is a newsletter not a newsletter?

When you share your news with your friends via an email, your email looks like a regular email. It contains no glossy images, no “buy now” offers. It’s just an email, from you, to them.

When businesses decide to offer newsletters, they tend to do the opposite. There’s usually little if any actual NEWS and the whole thing looks and reads like a poorly disguised advertisement.

So, this got me thinking:

  • What if you treated the people who read your current newsletter, as if they were already friends?
  • What if you sent them actual news and asked how they are?
  • What if you sent it, not on some lame automated schedule, but only when you had something of value or interest to share?
  • What if some of them contained no special offers or sales pitches?
  • What if some were just offering to help?

Business is all about people

Is it possible that this approach would help you develop a deeper, richer relationship with your readers?

Is it probable that it would sound more honest and trustworthy than the usual; “we call it a newsletter but there’s no actual news, I just want to sell you stuff,” approach?

Because if it is, it could massively improve how they felt about you and your business.

Why does this matter?

It matters because business is all about people. People do business with people they like. People recommend people they like.

There’s real potential here, for those with the courage to make their newsletters more human.

Stop using buzzwords in your marketing. Seriously. Stop it.

There is no shortage of buzzwords or people who feel the need to use them.

Intersection.

Ruckus.

Disrupt.

… these buzzwords and many others, are used by people in an effort to appear informed or relevant. Interestingly, buzzwords do neither of these. In fact, they have the exact opposite effect when people read them or hear them.

For example:

  • They make informed people cringe. Not a great idea, if you want your peers to take you seriously.
  • They confuse the uninformed. A bad choice, if you want people to understand your message.

In either case, buzzwords work against you. When it comes to marketing, write your copy in a way that your ideal client will find easy to understand.

Always aim for clarity.

Why?

Because clarity sells!

PS: Here’s how to develop effective, clear, compelling marketing.

How to make your business more human and far more successful too

Human business, focused marketing message

Whether you sell B2B or B2C you’re ALWAYS selling P2P (person to person).

It’s extremely important to remember that.

Why?

Because people will only listen to you, if you have something valuable to share with them, which matters to them. And no… a vague, poorly targeted marketing message is not going to work.

Here’s what we know

The more focused your marketing messages are, the more effective they will be and the more business they will generate for you.

  • A focused marketing message speaks directly to the reader (viewer or listener), in a language they understand. It connects with them at a far deeper level than a poorly targeted message.
  • A focused marketing message makes the reader feel as if you knew exactly what they needed. This makes you relevant to them, which is extremely powerful.
  • A focused marketing message captures the reader’s attention. This is of huge value to you today, when people’s attention has never been so scattered.
  • A focused marketing message has the power to motivate people to take action… to buy from you, call you, email you or visit you.

In short, a focused marketing message has the power to inspire and compel people in a way that vague messages can’t.

Review your written marketing

Look for opportunities to make it more focused, so that it’s only relevant to your ideal profile of client. Be less inclusive. Talk directly to them.

Business is all about people and people really notice, when you’re speaking directly to them, in their language, about what matters to them!

PS: Here’s some advice on how to build a successful business, using a more human approach.

How to get better results without working harder

business development

I have a business development tip for you today, which is essential to the success of your business.

Most small business owners are busy people. They work hard. They work long hours, too. Yet, very few make the kind of progress they would like. All that movement and hard work isn’t getting them where they want their business to be.

That’s because there’s something missing from this picture… something that transforms movement into progress.

So, what’s the answer?

The answer can be found, when we look at those business owners who are making real progress, often working fewer hours than those who spin their wheels.

It looks like this: Those who make progress learn from every experience. Then, they invest what they learn, to make better and better business decisions.

Here’s how you can do the same!

Here are a couple of examples, which show how this works in practice. The same approach can be used to massively improve your success in every area of your business.

Example 1: What was the last marketing email you opened and started reading?

Dig it out and spend some time studying its subject line (or title). Learn what it was, which motivated you to open it rather than trash it like all the others. Then, invest what you learned from that email, so that your next marketing email gets a great open rate.

Example 2: What was the last service you received, which impressed you so much that you had to tell everyone?

Think about that exceptional service, from start to finish. Now, look at what it was, which made that service so different from what you were expecting. Then, look for a way to incorporate something similar into the experience you give to your own clients or customers. Congratulations… you’ve just massively improved the volume and quality of the word of mouth publicity you receive!

In short: Don’t just get through the day. Get from the day.

PS: I wrote an article for Microsoft.com yesterday, which gives you another 5 habits of successful business owners.

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