Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Social media marketing (page 1 of 40)

The secret behind Jim’s Marketing Blog

Jims marketing blog

It’s been a great year for Jim’s Marketing Blog. The site is now ranked the number 1 marketing blog in the UK by Cision. In the USA, Search Engine Journal, picked their top ten UK marketing blogs and said:

“There may be another blog in the UK that could top Jim Connolly’s impressive resume – but we weren’t able to find one!”

Search Engine Journal

Now I’d like to share what I believe to be a key factor, which has given me a massive advantage over other blogs.

My secret sauce!

The single most common feedback I get about Jim’s Marketing Blog, is from readers who appreciate the brevity of my work. They value me using as few words as possible when I share ideas. It means they can read every word, rather than skim read.

However, although readers love short, information-rich posts and articles, they are very rare. I believe this has given me a huge advantage over the years.

Here are the 3 main reasons why so many blog posts are way too long.

1. Lots of bloggers write for SEO first

Google’s extremely limited algorithm isn’t smart enough to work with short blog posts. So, if you’re all about getting traffic rather than engaging readers, you need between 500 and 2000 words in your posts. This number depends on which SEO expert you listen to. It also depends on what Google is rewarding currently. A key challenge of writing for Google is that they change things all the time. What works today could hurt you tomorrow.

I’ve already written about the danger of writing primarily for search engines. I recommend you read this: Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

SEO is a valuable part of building a blog or website, especially in the early days when few people are sharing your work. But get the balance right. Write for people first. Otherwise, search engine traffic will arrive on your site, find a wordy, keyword-stuffed piece of crap and leave again!

2. It takes more skill to write with brevity

It takes longer to condense an idea into fewer words. It’s a skill you need to develop. I learned it back in the mid 1980’s, studying the legendary David Ogilvy.

Ogilvy famously said: “Don’t say it in 10 words if you can say it in 5.”

In broad terms, it’s twice as easy to write a 1000 word post on a topic, as it is to write a 500 word post. When you have fewer words to work with, there’s no room for waffle. No space for fluff. This means you end up with information rich content, which is far more valuable to the reader.

It’s important to remember that your readers are busy people. They’ve never had so many things calling for their attention. They want the key information and quickly. If you can provide them with what they need, without the waffle words, they will come back for more… and more.

3. It takes courage

It takes more courage to write short articles and posts than it does to write long ones.

Why?

Because with shorter content, you can’t possibly cover every angle. You can’t make every point. You can’t answer every question that every reader may have. As a result, you leave yourself open to criticism like “what you totally failed to mention is…”.

Having written thousands of blog posts and articles, I’ve found that no matter how many words you use, some people just won’t get it. If you try and write for those people, you will end up writing child-like junk. Don’t even try! Write instead for your target readership.

I hope you found this useful. More importantly, I hope you borrow some of the ideas for your own blog or website.

Don’t let Easy Street destroy your business!

easy street

The Internet is incredible. It has placed a world of knowledge at our fingertips. It has also allowed us to communicate with people worldwide at no financial cost, thanks to services like Gmail and the multitude of social networks.

So, we can now learn or research anything and there’s no charge for connecting with people.

Equipped with this opportunity, an opportunity unmatched in all human history, what do most people do? The answer is… very little!

The same as it always was

The business owners harnessing the opportunities afforded to them by the Internet, are the same ones who would have harnessed the opportunities around them, had the Internet never existed.

Those who ignore the potential of the Internet are the same ones who would have floundered, had the Internet never existed.

The only difference today, is that those in that second group have nowhere to hide. They can’t blame their lack of education, their lack of contacts or their lack of money, for their lack of success.

But why?

Why do just a small minority of business owners truly benefit from the potential at their fingertips?

The answer is simple: The masses are always, always looking for the easy route. No matter how much easier the Internet has made things, it’s still not easy enough for them.

For example, whenever I write a blog post, article or social network update that offers a simple solution to a problem, the most common reply is always; “It’s not that easy, Jim.”

What that person really means is: “It’s not easy enough for me, so I’m making the decision to do nothing productive. Instead, I’ll waste my time making excuses.

Here’s the thing

It’s easy to run an average, struggling business. It requires nothing more than a willingness to work and the decision to take an easy route when faced with a challenge. If anything looks risky or likely to take you out of your comfort zone, you can just avoid it.

Running a successful business isn’t easy. It requires a willingness to do what is right, even when it isn’t the easy option. It means embracing the hustle — being prepared to do all the work, not 100% of the easy stuff.

Everything of meaningful value to your business, absolutely everything, lives just outside your comfort zone.

Tip – Read this. How to build a successful business. It contains lots of examples and workable ideas you can use.

Marketing Tip: Be where their attention is!

cellphone train

The next time you’re on your way to or from work, try this.

I want you to take a look at the people around you; car passengers, bus passengers, train passengers or pedestrians. Notice what they are paying attention to? No, they’re not looking at billboards.

They’re looking at a phone or a tablet.

Be where their attention is

There’s a huge opportunity for you here. That is, so long as you’re willing to publish useful information, such as blog posts, podcasts, videos or newsletters, which your prospective customers will want to consume, to combat the boredom of a dull journey.

There are a couple of things to remember, before you invest your time and effort getting onto their mobile device.

Firstly, make sure you publish something that’s useful to them. If you do, they’ll share it. Your audience will grow. Your name and reputation will spread. Soon, you’ll be a familiar advisor to your marketplace. Don’t publish thinly veiled advertisements and offers. If you do, people will ignore you. No one shares a newsletter, blog post, video or podcast, which is basically a sales pitch.

Secondly, make sure that whatever you publish is mobile friendly. Most small business blogs still look like crap on mobile devices and that’s just not good enough. If you want to engage readers, give them a great reader experience. If you want to engage viewers or listeners, make the audio-visual experience crisp and clear.

The payback?

When you have earned the attention and trust of your audience, and you have a business announcement for them (a new product, offer, service, event, book etc.), they will listen. And because they know your work and trust you, the response rate can be off the charts.

The opportunity is here. The financial cost of reaching all those prospective customers is tiny. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Tip – If you want to know what your website or blog looks like on various phones and tablets, read this.

Show them what you know and who you are!

blogging for business

Someone just emailed me, to ask what were the commercial benefits of writing a blog. He wanted to know why I spend so many working hours giving useful information away, for free.

I want to quickly share part of my answer with you, because it’s extremely valuable. It’s based on a blog post I wrote a few years ago. I recalled a reader asking a blogger if he was in as high demand before he started blogging, as he is today.

Here’s the gold dust!

In one sentence, the answer sums up one of the most valuable reasons for business blogging. It went something like this:

“No one gave a rats ass about me, until they could see what was inside my head.”

Share what’s in your head

Your business blog gives you the opportunity to demonstrate what you know, what you stand for and who you are. It’s a way for people to check you out and determine for themselves, if you “get it” or not.

If you really know your subject and have the desire to share what you know with prospective clients or customers, there is no better way to showcase your talent than blogging.

PS: If you’re still not convinced, here are 25 reasons to write a business blog.

Here’s why I refuse to SEO my blog posts

Following last week’s post about how to make your blog stand out and build a great readership, a number of you asked the same question. You wanted to know why I chose not to bother about Google. Why I decided not to SEO my work.

Here’s the answer.

Broadly speaking, there are 2 ways to build a blog:

  1. Do what’s expected. To obey all the so-called rules of blogging — such as focusing on SEO.
  2. Refuse to do what’s expected.

I very deliberately chose the second option.

Here’s why

As a marketing professional, I knew it would be extremely hard to stand out if I used the same approach as other marketing bloggers. So, I decided to ignore SEO when I write.

How does this improve my work?

Think of it like this: Just imagine how terrible your favourite book would have been, if every page had been SEO’d. Think how dreadful your favourite love song would have been, had the singer SEO’d their feelings, instead of expressing them. That’s what happens when you write for SEO robots, rather than people.

By ignoring SEO, I get to write in a 100% natural way, which readers find easier to connect with.

This is why there are no pop-up boxes on my blog. When your readers connect with your message, you don’t need pop-ups…. you already have the reader’s attention!

Interestingly, Seth Godin’s blog, the world’s number 1 marketing blog, ignores SEO too. There are no pop-up boxes there, either. The same is true for Mitch Joel’s blog. That’s not a coincidence.

[Note: As I explain here, this approach is not right for everyone. However, if you’re looking to grow a valuable community of readers, it can be exceptionally effective.]

A business lesson too

In business, just as in blogging, there are 2 broad approaches. The first way is to do what’s expected. The second way is to refuse to do what’s expected.

Guess which group finds it easiest to get noticed?

How to make your blog stand out and build a valuable readership

Last week, the folks over at Cision ranked Jim’s Marketing Blog as the country’s number 1 digital marketing blog. Soon after, I started getting requests from people, asking what I thought made my site stand out. There are a number of things, but I think the following is as good an answer as any:

I don’t chase Google for search traffic. Instead, I write exclusively for people. This gives me the freedom to write the way I want to. It also gives me a huge advantage over the vast majority of marketing bloggers, who SEO their ideas, rather than write directly for the reader.

Allow me to explain.

Google rewards over-long content

The problem with that, is that your readers value brevity! They are busy. They want to get the key information they need, quickly. They want you to get to the point. However, Google’s algorithm needs lots of words in order to work.

The guys at Buffer recently suggested 1600 words was the sweet spot and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were right. Others say 1000 words. So, bloggers are taking an idea which could be epxlained perfectly in 300 words, and stretching it out so that it’s 4 or 5 times longer than it should be. That’s why there’s so much over-long content out there. So many waffle words. So much fluff.

Google rewards the over use of so-called keywords

To make it possible for Google’s algorithm to have a clue what you’re writing about, it needs you to repeat certain words over and over again. More often than you would normally. You need to put them in the title, in the subheadings, in the image alt tags, in the body copy, in bold, in italics.

Of course, that’s not part of natural writing! It’s jarring to the reader. It weakens your message as readers wonder why you keep repeating certain words too often. Google may like it. People don’t. As it’s people who buy from you or hire you, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
[Note: That’s why I wrote this. Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it.]

Sure, Google’s algorithm is super-easy to game. People, however, are harder to convince. They look for value… insight… generosity of spirit. These are all human elements.

In short: If you’re struggling to build a connected community of readers, write for people, not an algorithm. If you sell ads and need page impressions, write for Google. If you think you’re writing for Google AND for people, you’re not doing either as effectively as you could be.

25 Reasons to write a business blog

business blog, blogging for business

Without doubt, business blogging is the most powerful and cost effective marketing tool I have ever encountered.

Here are 25 reasons, why I recommend business blogging to you.

  1. Business blogging encourages you to keep learning, so you have something useful to share.
  2. Business blogging can generate regular (daily), targeted business leads. The caveat here, is that you need to learn how to write well and how to market your blog. If you’re prepared to do that, it can improve your business beyond recognition.
  3. Business blogging is the best way to build a huge, targeted, professional network. You don’t need Linkedin or any other network, when thousands of people already know who you are, exactly what you do and how to contact you. Think about that for a moment.
  4. Business blogging allows you to reach people… lots of people, with your message. That’s because blogging scales to infinity. In other words, a post can reach one person or a million people, yet it still takes you the same amount of time to write it.
  5. Business blogging is more fun than watching prime-time TV.
  6. Business blogging is also far more rewarding than watching TV.
  7. Business blogging publicly demonstrates your ability to show up regularly. Reliability is highly valued in business. Just imagine how useful it would be for you, if your marketplace knew you could be relied upon, before they even spoke to you.
  8. Business blogging provides a showcase for your knowledge. This is enormously valuable. People who hire me, know all about my work long before they ever speak with me.
  9. Business blogging increases your professional profile, as new people discover you and your work every day.
  10. Business blogging gives you the best tool on the planet, for building a community or tribe.
  11. Business blogging gives you a voice. If you have something important to say, people will hear you. This is especially the case if you stick with blogging, for long enough to build a large readership. How long does that take? About a week longer than the typical blogger is prepared to invest, before she gives up.
  12. Business blogging inspires people to email you, to say how your work helped them. This is far more rewarding than most people imagine.
  13. Business blogging makes you a more informed reader, as you understand the work and creativity that people put into their written work.
  14. Business blogging causes you to have to regularly dig down deep, really deep, to find something worth sharing. That sounds like hard work, but just as lifting weights builds your physical muscles, digging down deep builds your mental muscles.
  15. Business blogging makes you a better communicator. I’m convinced that regular blogging has improved my communication skills across the board, not just in writing.
  16. Business blogging is a great way to connect with your marketplace. By making it easy for readers to contact you, you open a valuable channel of communication. This provides you with an insight into what your marketplace is thinking… what matters most to them and what they need. This kind of insight is worth a fortune to your business.
  17. Business blogging makes you a lot better at asking questions.
  18. Business blogging also encourages you to question your own opinions, to ensure they stand up to scrutiny and are worthy of your readers.
  19. Business blogging encourages you to regularly do research, increasing your own knowledge base.
  20. Business blogging can get you recognised in the mainstream press, for being named the most influential blog in your class, by the world’s biggest PR company.
  21. Business blogging allows you to build fantastic contacts. My initial contact with my friend Nile Rodgers, started because of something I wrote here on this blog a few years ago.
  22. Business blogging teaches you to look at things from more than one perspective. By writing for others, you need to know what the world looks like, through their eyes.
  23. Business blogging provides you with a creative outlet, which helps you grow as a person. In fact, blogging has been the most powerful professional development tool I have ever used or researched.
  24. Business blogging ensures you remain constantly curious… this is priceless.
  25. Business blogging allows you to build a business asset, which grows in value with every passing week.

Don’t let this guy ruin your marketing

So, who is that guy?

He or she, is the person who doesn’t ‘get’ what you’re saying. They can’t see the value. They can’t see your point. They frustrate you with questions that show zero understanding of your message.

Why that guy is different

Here’s what makes that guy different, from a prospective client or customer who needs clarification:

That guy is not in the market for whatever you are offering. Their questions come when there’s nothing wrong with the value you provide or the way you explain your value. The problem occurs because that guy is the wrong audience for what you have to say, but they haven’t figured that out.

They’re puzzled. They’re confused. And even though they will never be in the market for what you provide, they feel the need to ask you a series of confusing, frustrating, irrelevant questions.

I found that guy on a blog today

I was prompted to write this, after reading a series of comments left on a blog post. The blogger wrote a compelling, well reasoned piece on the value of building a community. The commenter totally missed the point. He asked the blogger to explain things, which were crystal clear.

The commenter was totally baffled, regardless of how hard the blogger tried to explain her point. He was a fish out of water — the wrong audience for the blogger’s message, yet he insisted on asking half a dozen frustrating, off-topic questions.

So, how can that guy ruin your marketing?

To avoid questions from that guy, there’s a temptation to dumb down your marketing, so as to address every possible misunderstanding. This fails you on 2 counts:

  1. By dumbing down your marketing in anticipation of that guy, answering every potential question in advance, you end up with vague, over-long copy. This massively reduces the power of your marketing message. Brevity sells.
  2. By dumbing down your marketing, you write for that guy and NOT your prospective clients or customers. This is the exact opposite of what marketing is about.

Whether you write the marketing content for your company, are a blogger or a newsletter provider, resist the temptation to write for that guy. Write for your target market. Always.

Clarity is the key

The most effective marketing, is marketing that inspires people to take action. It compels them to buy from you, visit you, hire you, call you or email you. This can only be achieved when you write with clarity, for your ideal profile of client or customer.

Trying to anticipate and answer every misunderstanding, in advance, which that guy comes up with, will detract from your message. It will destroy your marketing. It may also drive you a little crazy.

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