Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Social media marketing (page 1 of 39)

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.

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.

How to write great content every day!

If you find it hard to write articles, blog posts or newsletters, I have a quick tip for you. It will help you write more frequently and in a way that people will understand.

Drum-roll please…

Write the way you speak

Think about it: When you talk, people understand you. They listen to you. You engage them.

You don’t get talkers-block either!

So, don’t treat your written words differently from your spoken words. Just type them, rather than speaking them. This is the approach I used when I started as a writer and it has never failed me. And yes, the more you do it the better your writing will become.

The challenge with this approach is that it robs you of any excuse not to write more frequently. Sorry :)

Tip – Read this: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

How to grow your business in a uniquely valuable way!

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.

Is your website hurting your business? Quite possibly!

I have a question for you: What do prospective clients think, when they visit your website or blog?

[You do know they check you out online, before they decide to get in touch with you, right?]

Just as you check out a potential provider’s website, so do your prospective clients. What they find will either position you in their mind as a professional they feel they can trust… or plant toxic, seeds of doubt in their mind.

Even low traffic sites are checked by prospective clients

Many small businesses make the mistake of thinking that the only people who check their websites out, are those who tell them they found them via the website. For many small business owners this is a tiny percentage of the leads they get, so they assume their site isn’t helping or hurting their business.

What they seem unaware of, is that the people who hear about them via; referrals, word of mouth, email marketing, advertising, social networks etc., also check their website out, before deciding whether to get in touch or not!

Here’s the thing:

  • We wouldn’t eat at a restaurant, which had dirty tables.
  • We wouldn’t hire a fitness instructor who was out of shape.
  • We wouldn’t by a car, which looked like a wreck.

In the same way, we can’t expect a prospective client to believe we are professional if we operate behind a cheap looking website. A badly designed, dated or poorly-written website says 2 things about us.

  1. We think it’s fine to operate behind an unprofessional website.
  2. We can’t afford anything better.

Both of those messages are extremely toxic. Combine them and you end up with a message that causes enormous damage to your business and your reputation!

The kicker here, is that websites today need not be expensive. An entry level, professional website will cost you hundreds not thousands.

That’s a tiny price to pay, to stop turning away all those prospective client inquiries. Right?

Tip: Read this – Is your website ready for the fastest growing group of Internet users?

Photos: What everyone needs to know about ageing online

Tammy was shocked when she emailed me today.

She explained that she had been following a business expert on Twitter for years. Then today, he suddenly aged by around 15 years!

15 years older in just 24 hours

Of course, the guy is just a day older today, than he was yesterday. The thing is, he’d been using the same photo on his online profiles for the past decade and, apparently, it was a few years old when he started using it. Yesterday, he decided to update his profile photo and like all of us, he looks very different than he did back in the late 1990′s.

He has told his Twitter followers he needed to change the photo, as he was tired of people not knowing who he was, when he met them face to face for the first time.

[I wrote about ageing online here: To age online or not to age, that is the question!]

The issue this guy now has, is that his brand is strongly associated with an image, which no longer exists. By failing to invest in a professional logo and failing to update his profile photo every year or two, he’s facing a totally unnecessary challenge.

We all get older

However, until recently, business owners were connected to people who either saw them pretty regularly or who were seeing them for the first time.

In the digital age, we are represented online by photographs, which are a snapshot of how we looked when the photo was taken. If these are seldom updated, we risk facing the same problem the business expert now has.

Keep people in the picture

If you do not already, consider updating your profile photos and avatars every year or so.

Even better, invest in a professional logo and use the logo alongside your picture. This allows you to change your photo, with the continuity of your branding intact.

Tip: Here’s a great video about what makes a logo memorable and valuable!

How to get more clients from your newsletter or blog

Leigh asked me a great question yesterday. She wanted to know why her newsletter, which has over 5000 subscribers, generates very few client inquiries for her consultancy.

As Leigh was making a mistake, common to lots of newsletter publishers and bloggers, I thought I’d share my answer with you.

Building your list

The root cause of Leigh’s problem, is that she is doing everything possible to build her list. This is the mantra of pretty-much every content marketing guru and newsletter / blogging course out there.

It’s also total, utter bullshit.

The numbers

If the purpose of your newsletter or blog is to generate business leads from prospective clients, then your focus should be on quality, not quantity. It’s about building meaningful, deep relationships with the right people, not shallow relationships, with a wide, vague readership.

For example: If you have just 50 engaged subscribers, who value your newsletter or blog and are a perfect fit for your services, you have a valuable list.

If, like Leigh, you have 5000 poorly-targeted people on a list, who you gained using list building techniques, you’re wasting your time and money.

An alternative approach

Get out of the list building mindset. Stop chasing the wrong numbers.

Instead, focus exclusively on earning the attention of your prospective clients. Learn about their most pressing challenges. Then, publish answers and ideas, which will help them. Become a valuable asset, before they need your services.

If you get too few client inquiries from your newsletter or blog, it’s probably because you’re building a list, rather than creating connections with prospective clients.

In short: Go deeper. Not wider.

A valuable business lesson, from Twitter!

Twitter

If you want to learn from the success of others, copy their strategy rather than their tactics.

Just like Twitter

Twitter succeeded because it was the first, mass market, micro blogging service.

The hundreds of start-ups who tried to copy what Twitter did, failed. They copied Twitter’s tactics, rather than their strategy. Twitter’s strategy was to create a unique form of communicating and connecting.

If those start-ups had built their own, unique way to communicate and connect, they would have created something with the potential to succeed. Instead, they failed, because the people who wanted a service that was just like Twitter… used Twitter!

It works like this

By copying the tactics of a successful business, we become a clone. A copy. Something unremarkable.

By copying the strategy of a successful business, we can create something of our own. A remarkable original. A valuable proposition.

Tip – Here’s the best post I’ve written on this subject: My name is Jim Connolly and I am a freak!

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