A powerful marketing lesson from a 19th century artist

Back in the 1800’s, Edgar Degas said: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”.

The same is true of great marketing

Successful marketing paints pictures in the mind of a prospective client. It doesn’t list a series of facts or features. Instead, it talks directly to the needs and wants of your clients. It shows them how you can help them. It also shows them that you’re passionate about helping them. Everything is rooted in what’s best for the client. Everything.

Ineffective marketing paints a picture of the provider. It’s all about their business and the products or services they offer. It reads like a 1990’s sales brochure. It’s dry. It’s dull. It’s forgettable. It’s also extremely ineffective.

The message, my friend, is simple: If you want to attract better clients… paint better pictures.

How to grow your business in a uniquely valuable way!

get noticed, stand out, attraction

You are the biggest asset your business has. Those are not just kind words. They are based on fact.

Allow me to explain.

The Internet has presented business owners with a series of benefits and challenges. One challenge, is that it is now extremely easy for competitors to discover and copy one another’s best ideas. It’s little wonder then, that providers in just about every industry now offer an almost identical range of services.

Today, I’m going to show you how to overcome this challenge and build a massively valuable marketing asset for your business.

How to stand out in a meaningful way

Some things are easy to copy. For example, if a local restaurant starts opening an hour earlier and then attracts an extra hour’s worth of profitable trade, it’s simple for competing restaurants to do the same.

However, some things in business are extremely difficult to copy because they’re based on unique, human experiences. A wonderful example of this is the use of a newsletter or blog, to showcase your expertise and knowledge.

Here’s why it works

You are unique. You have a unique collection of life experiences, which your unique mind processes in a unique way. When you write (and speak) your communication style is unique too.

This uniqueness allows you to stand out from the pack and connect with your future clients!

Here’s an example of what I mean. Both Seth Godin and I write about marketing, yet we write very differently:

  • Seth grew up in a very wealthy family and was educated at Stanford — along with the CEO’s of many of the world’s leading companies.
  • I grew up in extreme poverty, the son of penniless immigrants.

It would be extremely difficult for either one of us to write like the other. For instance, when Seth thinks about being broke, he (thank God), won’t recall his mother begging for food to feed her children, the way I do.

So, when Seth and I write about business owners experiencing hard times, we will see the hard part extremely differently. This is reflected in what we write and how we write.

Your unique voice

Your life experiences will cause you to write very differently from your competitors. The only caveat here, is that you need to allow your personality to shine through your writing. If you try and sound like someone else, you lose your unique voice — the very originality that will allow you to stand out.

Now, compare that to the generic approach most business owners take with their newsletters and blog posts. Instead of delivering useful, valuable information from their own unique perspective, they churn out a series of thinly-disguised sales pitches. They then wonder why it isn’t working.

Allow your unique voice to communicate value. These brief tips may help:

  • Learn about the challenges facing your marketplace. A great way to do this is to connect with them on social networks and listen. [Compare this approach, to the typical service provider who uses social networks to broadcast.]
  • Provide answers to the most pressing challenges facing your marketplace. This positions you in the mind of your prospective clients, as a source of expert help and advice.
  • Share case-studies of how you have helped people, who had similar challenges to your prospective clients.
  • Turn up regularly! Treat your newsletter or blog as a high priority business activity. If you think it’s hard to write regularly, remember that writing is a lot like speaking — and you speak every day.

The unique connection these prospective clients form with you, is a massively valuable marketing asset.

Think of it like this: Who are they going to hire?

  • Some stranger they find on Google.
  • … or you, someone they feel a connection with and whose expertise and knowledge they already know about.

Yes. You win!

PS: This will help you — How to get more clients from your newsletter or blog.

The most incredible article about headlines you’ll ever read!

incredible headlines

Here are some ideas, which you can use to massively improve the results of all your written marketing.

It’s all about the marketing power of headlines.

Your headline has to capture the reader’s attention

It doesn’t matter how great your message is, people need to read it in order for the message to have the desired impact. That’s where your headline comes in. The headline’s primary job is to attract attention and motivate the reader to carry on reading.

Think about it… the headline is what inspires prospective clients to open your email. It’s also what motivates them to read your blog post or article, when someone shares it on a social network. It’s what grabs their attention and interest when they see one of your advertisements.

Advertising legend David Ogilvy was in no doubt regarding the importance of headlines. He famously said: “When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

Treat your headlines with the importance they deserve. Give yourself plenty of time to craft the best headline possible. The following tips and examples will help you get the balance right.

Your headline should accurately reflect the theme of the content

Because headlines play such a huge role in getting your content noticed, it’s tempting to over exaggerate them. [Yes, the headline of this post is a tongue in cheek example of what I mean].

Sometimes called link bait or click bait, these attention grabbing headlines are proven to generate trafficThe reason I strongly recommend most people reading this not to adopt that headline strategy, is this:

Your headlines make a promise, which your content needs to deliver on.

Make your headlines as inspirational as you can. Use words that will compel people to read what you have to say. But make darn sure that your content backs up the promise of the headline.

Your headline needs to be written for your target market

Your marketing message is intended to connect with a very specific group of people: Your prospective clients or customers. The headlines you use should do the same. This means speaking their language and addressing their concerns and opportunities.

Here’s why this matters:

  • By focusing your headlines around the interests of your target market, you help your marketing message to attract the attention of the right people.
  • Conversely, by using headlines that attract the attention of a wider group of people, you cease to be directly relevant to your target market.

In other words, use headlines that are directly relevant to your prospective clients.

Your headlines should match your medium

If you’re writing a headline that’s intended for a print magazine, newspaper or flyer, you have certain freedoms, which you don’t have when writing for the internet. For example, if you want your internet article’s headline to be fully displayed in search results, you need to use around 55 characters or fewer. Going beyond that limit will see your headline cut short.

If your headline is intended for email marketing, you need to take other things into consideration. For example, if you include exclamation marks!! in your subject line, along with a number and maybe a word that’s in ALL CAPS, it’s highly likely to end up in a lot of spam filters. Email software looks for certain common factors used by spammers and if it sees them in the email headlines you use, it could wrongly treat your marketing as spam.

In short, when it comes to headlines, you need to adapt depending on the medium you’re using.

The only 2 types of headline that matter

There is a lot of debate among marketing professionals, regarding the correct way to use headlines. They take entrenched stances, each insisting that their approach is the only strategy that’s professional or effective. In almost every case I have seen, they totally miss the point.

When it comes to the headlines you use in your marketing, there are just 2 broad categories worthy of your attention.

  1. Headlines that work for you and your business goals.
  2. Headlines that are failing you and your business goals.

You need to find the correct balance for what you want to achieve. And it will differ depending on your brand, your industry and your business model.

For example, Upworthy and BuzzFeed have grown into massively successful media businesses, using a controversial, yet very powerful headline formula. Many have labelled their approach as being link bait or click bait. Here’s a nice piece from The Guardian that looks at Upworthy’s headlines. Now, it’s not a strategy that would work for my business. However, it’s proven itself to be an extremely successful strategy for the Upworthy and BuzzFeed business models. It’s fortunate they ignored the one-size-fits-all mantra. My point here, is that you should leave your options open.

I hope you’ve found this useful. More importantly, I hope it inspires you to improve the effectiveness of your own headlines and titles.

Worth reading: 5 Steps to improve the success of all your written marketing.

How to grow your business with Agile Thinking

agile thinking, advanced thinking

Business is changing. Moreover, business is changing fast!

This is great news for agile business owners, who embrace the opportunities. However, it’s not such great news for business owners who are working in today’s rapidly changing environment, with a 1995 approach to business.

In today’s post, I share some ideas on how you can benefit from the new opportunities around you. First, I’d like to demonstrate how things have changed and why we need to apply a new mindset, to the new landscape.

A new mindset for a new landscape

Many of the world’s most influential businesses were unknown 20 years ago. Some, such as Facebook and Twitter, weren’t founded until the mid 2000’s. That kind of global growth was previously unthinkable. What’s more, billion dollar companies that lead their industries have been started by relative unknowns, in very untraditional ways.

Here’s a great example. Writing in Techcrunch, Tom Goodwin summed up the new age of agile business:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

Tom is right. Something interesting is happening. None of those achievements or business models were possible until very recently. The game has changed. And it has changed for ever.

The age of agile business

When I look at small businesses, they tend to fall into one of the following 2 broad categories: They are either dinosaurs or agile progressives. That’s to say their approach to the agile business landscape means they are facing extinction or facing unparalleled success.

Armed with a laptop and an idea, there’s very little an agile business cannot achieve.

  • The new business landscape allows an agile small business owner to have an idea in the morning, and put that idea into play before the end of business that same day.
  • Using social networks, we can listen to what our marketplace wants and provide that want. No more guess work. You can get it right every time. And in a fraction of the time.
  • Instant access to data, means research that took weeks or months can now be done in days and at a fraction of the price.
  • With a great marketing email and some email software, a struggling business can generate a fortune in sales…  and fast!
  • With a blog and the correct strategy, anyone can develop their own reader community. I reach thousands of people every day, many of whom are prospective clients, without spending a penny on advertising or promotion.
  • If you have a great business idea, you no longer need a bank loan. Thanks to Indiegogo, Kickstarter and others, you can use crowdfunding and get exactly what you need.

In spite of all that potential, many small business owners operate their businesses with a 1995 mindset. They lack agility. This places them at a huge disadvantage.

  • They try and find customers for their products, instead of finding products for their customers.
  • They still take just as long to make a decision, even though they can get the feedback they need in a fraction of the time. As a result, their agile competitors have already eaten their lunch.
  • They use social networks to follow the crowd, rather than lead their marketplace.
  • They have a website that’s almost an online brochure, when they should have a site that’s a lead-generating machine.
  • They waste money advertising, when they should be building their own platform.
  • They waste time, money and energy attending networking groups, like it’s still 1980, rather than build their own audience or community.

In short: No matter what industry you are in. No matter where you are. Your potential right now is as limitless or limited as you choose.

How to turn strangers into customers

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Here’s an opportunity for you to gain a significant advantage over many, perhaps most, of your competitors. It’s about something I call attraction marketing.

I was prompted to write this after a business owner contacted me on Twitter. Within 5 minutes, he’d sent me several Direct Messages and then an email… each one asking me if I wanted to know about a business proposition.

The guy is a total stranger to me. All I know about him, is that he’s the kind of person who sends business proposals to strangers.

  • He could be a decent and honest man.
  • His business proposal could be genuinely valuable.
  • He may be scratching his head right now, wondering why no one is interested in his amazing idea.

The thing is, pestering people is extremely ineffective. It’s far more likely to damage his reputation, than it is to make anyone check out his business proposal.

More common than you may think

Whilst you may consider that guy’s approach to be a little extreme, many small business owners make the same kind of mistake with their marketing.

Here are a few common examples:

  • They pester us on social networks.
  • They fake interest in us at networking events, then hit us with a sales pitch.
  • They buy lists and send us spam marketing messages.
  • They add us to their newsletter list, without our consent.
  • They cold call us at work, when we’re busy.
  • They cold call us at home in the evenings, when we’re relaxing with family or friends.

Here’s the thing: Our prospective clients are programmed to ignore selfish requests, from people they don’t know. They actively avoid pests. Because of this, pests tend to get extremely poor results, which causes them to pester even more people, even harder.

If we, as legitimate business owners, adopt any of the pestering tactics used by those guys, we too will encounter the same resistance.

Thankfully, there’s zero need for you or me to pester anyone with our marketing.

Thankfully, we have a way to send people information they have asked us for, which is also commercially beneficial to us.

Thankfully, it’s not that difficult to do!

Smart entrepreneurs get it

The smartest entrepreneurs take a non pestering approach. It looks like this:

  • They focus on building relationships with people.
  • They strive to be useful.
  • They are all about bringing value.
  • They look for opportunities to earn [and re-earn] trust.

Once there’s a relationship in place and trust has been established, their messages will be welcomed. Their proposals will be taken seriously.

The marketing power of business blogging and newsletters

Business blogging is the most powerful tool I have ever known for small business owners. Newsletters come a very close second. Both are extremely powerful marketing tools. Each provide us with almost unlimited potential to reach targeted prospective clients or customers. They also allow us to earn the trust of our marketplace, as a recognised expert in our field. No pestering required!

Though you will need a strategy to make this work, the 130 feet view looks a little like this:

  • Produce useful information that’s targeted to the wants and needs of your ideal profile of client or customer.
  • Make sure there’s a short marketing message, like the one at the foot of this post, so interested people can get in touch with you when they need help.
  • Make your post or newsletter interesting and easy to read.
  • Do this regularly.
  • Soon, your first 5 readers will subscribe.
  • They will each get you 5 more.
  • This repeats over time.

Do it correctly and hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people, will eagerly want to hear what you have to say.

By showing up regularly you have demonstrated your knowledge and eagerness to help. You have also demonstrated your reliability. These combine to help you earn the trust of your readers.

Here’s why this is so valuable to you and your business: Your readers are just like you. They hire [and buy from] people they know, value and trust.

Note: Read this. It will help: 25 Reasons to Write a Business Blog

Attraction marketing

Regardless of the marketing tools a small business owner chooses to use, one thing remains the same. Pestering people for what you want is extremely ineffective. When people push their message at us, we push back. We block or mute their social networking accounts. We delete their emails unread, as soon as we see the sender’s name. We hang up the phone, as soon as we hear them start their pitch. We avoid them at networking events.

So, focus on attracting clients or customers, rather than pestering or pursuing them. Build a reputation, a big reputation, for your expertise and the contribution you make to your marketplace.

Oh, and make it easy for prospective clients or customers to contact you… because after you create an attraction marketing strategy, that’s exactly what they will do.

5 Great ways to make time work for you

timing, time management

In today’s post, I’m sharing 5 ideas with you that are all based on the same important theme… time. Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Consistently showing up on time, is a great way to build a reputation for reliability. The marketplace values people who can be relied upon to turn up. It’s also one of the hallmarks of a true professional.
  2. Sending your mailing or newsletter out at the right time, is essential if you want to maximise its effectiveness. Despite what some people claim, there is no set time, which is correct for every business or every industry. You need to test different times and measure the feedback. In a relatively short time, you’ll know exactly when to publish.
  3. Learning how to get the most from your work time, is the key to exceptional productivity. Much has been written on time management. The key thing is to learn how to do first things first. Rather than respond to the day and the whims of others, set your day out, in order, and make that your framework. It also pays to regularly ask yourself; “Is this the best use of my time, right now?” If the answer is No, go and do whatever you should be doing.
  4. Showing respect for other people’s time, is an important professional development skill. Here’s why: People are busy. As a result, they’re instantly turned off those, who waste their time.
  5. Finishing projects on time, is so rare that it sets you head and shoulders above the competition. In this post, I explain how you can also build trust using this simple idea.

I hope you found these useful. If you did, invest some time putting at least one of these points into action.

How to avoid wasting money on advertising

advertising

Here’s how to avoid a common advertising mistake, which loses small business owners a fortune.

I’d like to start by asking you to consider the following question.

Who [not how many] are you reaching?

When it comes to advertising, relevance is more important than numbers.

Most small business owners buy advertising, based on the number of people who will read, watch or listen to the advertisement. It’s understandable, because that’s how ads are usually pitched to them. Those selling the ads know that when they approach a small business owner, who desperately needs to generate sales or enquiries, the BIG numbers sound very attractive.

What you need to know, in order to protect yourself from buying ineffective ads, is this:

It’s not about the number of people who will potentially see or hear your ad. It’s about who those people are.

Here’s an example of why the numbers are only a small part of the advertising equation. It’s from a reader who asked me to share her experience with you.

The ad reached 125,000 people… for just $475!

I was prompted to write today’s post, after Kelly emailed me to say she had recently paid for an advertisement that went into a newsletter, with a readership of 125,000 people. She explained that whilst the readership “wasn’t a great fit”, she thought $475 to reach all those people was a bargain.

Her advertisement generated 9 responses and no sales.

Here’s what she got, in return for $475:

  • 7 responses came from pushy advertising salespeople, trying to sell her more ads. This is common. Advertisers look for business owners who are buying ineffective ads. They know these are the easiest people to sell ads to.
  • 2 responses came from people who were totally unsuitable for the service she was advertising.

Like most small business owners, Kelly was seduced by the number (or reach) of the advertising, rather than who the advertising was reaching. Please don’t let that happen to you.

The sweet spot you’re aiming for is a well written ad, which reaches a targeted, large audience.

Here’s some useful information, with examples, on how to get your advertising right.

Successful marketing leaves clues

success leaves clues

When it comes to marketing, success leaves clues. By following these clues and learning from them, it’s possible to significantly improve your marketing.

For example, spend a few minutes thinking about the following:

  • The last marketing email, which you were motivated to open because it had a powerful subject line.
  • The last marketing email you read, which persuaded you to take action. [To ask for information, pick up the phone, make a purchase, etc.]
  • The last blog post you read, which you were motivated to bookmark, save or share.
  • The last advertisement you saw or heard, which led to you making a purchase.
  • The last service you experienced, which impressed you so much that you wanted to tell your friends about it. Read this. It will help.
  • The last newsletter you received, which you forwarded to your friends.

Turning clues into results

Each of those examples contains a clue. To uncover the clue, you need to answer this question:

What can I learn from this example of marketing success, which I can adapt and apply to my own marketing?

By studying marketing success, it’s possible to make better marketing decisions. The good news here is that there are examples of successful marketing all around you.

Bonus: You can also learn a great deal by studying terrible marketing and uncovering why it was so ineffective. Knowing what to avoid is enormously valuable, too.

Email marketing: How to massively improve your results

email marketing

Email marketing is extremely effective. So why do almost all small businesses get such uninspiring results from it?

That’s what this post is all about!

Email marketing: Free and easy?

The cost of marketing has changed massively over the years.

For small business owners, the cost of sending a marketing letter [direct mail] to just 1000 prospective customers was considerable. There was the price of the stamp, the printing, the ink and the paper. Then, you paid someone to fold all the letters and stuff them into the envelopes.

Today, sending a marketing email to 1000 prospects [or 100,000 prospects] takes seconds. There’s no paper, no ink, no envelopes, no envelope stuffing and no stamps.

The cost of email marketing is close to zero. Except… it isn’t. You now risk paying a different, far higher price!

Allow me to explain.

Different prices and different thinking

In 1995, my London-based marketing business was paying around £1000 to reach 1000 prospective customers via traditional mail. I used high quality stationery and printing, but that was still quite an investment.

Before spending that kind of money, small business owners used to think long and hard.

  • They made sure they were contacting people with a potential need for their offering.
  • They checked that the contact name and address were correct.
  • They used to work hard to optimize their copy or content. It needed to be just right.
  • They removed prospective customers from their list, if they failed to get a response after a set number of interactions. [Unlike now, where the person receiving spam email has to ask to be removed!]

Now think for a moment about the poorly targeted emails that flood your inbox.

It’s clear that way less thought goes into them. The vast majority are junk and totally irrelevant to you or your needs. You regard those who send these unwanted emails as pests.

And this is where the cost comes in for email marketers in 2015!

Reputation points: The price you pay for average email marketing

Every time you send a poorly conceived email marketing message to someone, you pay a price.

However, unlike before, the cost to you isn’t directly monetary. You pay with something even more valuable. You pay with your reputation. You pay using the currency of reputation points.

For example, when you decide to add someone’s name to your list without their consent, you lose reputation points. When you email people too often, you lose reputation points. When your message is pushy or needy, you lose reputation points. When your offer is irrelevant to the recipient, you lose reputation points.

Business owners who service a regional marketplace can soon find their name and reputation seriously damaged. They can only alienate their marketplace so many times, before people get sick of them.

The solution

It starts by accepting that email marketing isn’t free or easy. There is a hefty price to pay for a casual approach — both in reputation damage and lost opportunities.

So, get permission to email prospective customers. Then send them targeted, expertly written, relevant information. Do this only as frequently as they need it to be.

It works. Here’s how I helped Irene make over $32,000 in 9 days, with email marketing.

How to get your marketing noticed

Get noticed

Today’s post is all about how to attract more sales or enquiries.

Their are 2 types of marketing that get noticed:

  1. Marketing that is hand crafted or personal. An example of hand crafted marketing, would be a letter sent to you, which has your name and address handwritten on the envelope and a message tailored to your exact requirements, signed with a handwritten signature.
  2. Marketing that is highly polished and professional. An example of polished marketing would be a website or blog, which is expertly designed and where the content was produced by a copywriting professional. The quality builds trust and the content motivates people to take action.

Almost all small business marketing is outside of those 2 categories. It’s neither personal or spectacular. It’s neither memorable or impressive. It’s neither thoughtful or motivating.

Different approaches lead to different results

The successful minority of business owners invest in expertly produced, motivating and highly personalized marketing. It’s no coincidence their results are so impressive. Cause and effect.

Conversely, the typical small business will go broke within a few years or struggle on for years, working long hours and making little real progress. That’s because a casual approach to marketing causes casualties. Cause and effect.

No business owner sets out to struggle or make little meaningful progress. It is, however, a choice they have made, albeit an unconscious one.

At some point, the struggling business owner decided to relegate marketing to an low-level task. They did this unaware that everything their business does is marketing. As a result, they are dabbling with the development of their business. This produces predictably poor results.

How to turn things around

If your business is not growing the way you want it to, it’s time to take heed. Because whatever you believe about the quality of your marketing, it’s clearly not working.

The great news here is that by adopting the same attitude to marketing as the most successful business owners, the law of cause and effect comes into play. You can have the business and financial security you have always wanted, so long as you do the right things, correctly.

Read this, it will help: Everything your business does is marketing.