Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Social media marketing (page 19 of 39)

How to kill your business!

A key factor in every failing business I have ever studied, is that the business owner dabbles.

Rather than get the professional help they need, they decide to crush their chances of success, by dabbling with their marketing.

Some common examples include:

  • People dabble with promotional offers: They make unattractive offers, to the wrong people, at the wrong time, using the wrong message and the wrong medium.
  • People dabble with social networking: They set up accounts, usually on too many social networks and then copy what they see other people doing.  They spread themselves too thinly and have no effective strategy.  As a result, they miss all the great opportunities.
  • People dabble with blogging: They set up a blog, with no clear idea of what they want to achieve.  They then fill their blog with “me too” posts (posts that simply repeat what millions of other people are saying) and then quit after a few months, because (it) didn’t work.
  • People dabble with email marketing: They buy a list or add people to a list (without their consent), and email them sales messages.  They waste months angering people with unwanted email, that the recipients never requested, and wonder why it didn’t work.
  • People dabble with advertising: They place the wrong message, in the wrong area of the wrong publication, at the wrong time.  They use the wrong typography, the wrong call to action and then proclaim; “advertising doesn’t work!”
  • People dabble with mail shots: They send a marketing letter, written usually by themselves rather than a copywriter (to save money), to a list they bought or built from contact data they found.  The mixture of amateur copywriting, bad targeting and no compelling reason for the reader to do anything, makes this a total waste of time.

Then there are enlightened small business owners

These business owners decide to build a successful business, so they invest in the professional marketing help they need.  They do the right things correctly and enjoy the rewards.

They have figured out that in the most challenging economy in living memory, the dabblers are simply dabbling their way out of business.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Jonny2love

The slow demise of the clueless social media rock star?

I’ve written previously about the way some social media gurus are totally clueless when it comes to anything, other than building impressive looking social media followings.

Well, even though influential people like Steve Rubel and Shel Israel are talking about the end of the road for social media consultants / gurus, some things never change.  I’m talking about the massive number of clueless social media gurus.

Clueless

I spoke yesterday with a web developer, who told me about an email he received from a well-known social media figure.  This person was trying to bag themselves a free website from him and unknowingly, sent the same begging email to a number of developers, who knew each other.  The email was forwarded on to me and I assume lots of others.  It is one of the  most cringe inducing emails I have ever seen.

It was also strangely familiar.

You see, one of that person’s closest social media associates called my office a few months ago, also looking for a freebie.  They promised to retweet all my posts and recommend me to their huge online network, if I would “just” give them a free marketing consultation. That’s the exact same offer their friend made in their begging emails to the web developers!

I politely said “no.”

NB: I find it’s common for people whose own time is of little financial value, to assume others give their time away too.

Anyhow, during our call, the guru explained that although they are regularly featured on all kinds of lists and in some top blogs, they earn almost nothing and spend most of their time speaking at conferences, for which they are usually paid little more than expenses, often nothing at all.  Commercially, this guru admitted knowing “very little when it comes to strategy!” Their only ability is to know how to build what seems to be a large following, which generates low pay – No pay speaking gigs.

The problem with clueless social media gurus, as opposed to genuine social media experts

The reason this matters, is that those 2 clueless social media gurus have a combined following of over 150,000, who they offer business development advice to; something they have demonstrated very little knowledge of!  No wonder we are now seeing social media rock stars moving into salaried jobs.

Before you decide who to listen to when it comes to the development of your business, check them out.  That means more than counting how many followers they have.  Some of the smartest people in business and social media have modest sized social networks, but extremely successful businesses!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Is blogging something you fit in after the important work is done?

A reader emailed me recently, to say she is about to start a business blog.  She wanted to know how I find the time to keep this blog updated as frequently as I do, with useful content.

blogging, copywriting, content marketing

Image: Maria Reyes-McDavis

The answer is that I don’t have to “find time” to write here!

Let me explain: I see business blogs a little differently from most people.  I regard business blogs as massively valuable assets.  So, I give this site high priority within my business.

To me, business blogs are online magazines, which provide articles to interested people; with an opportunity for the readers to connect with the author and their fellow readers.

Just as you can’t play around and accidentally produce a worthwhile business magazine, you can’t play around with a business blog and expect it to develop a great community of highly valued readers.

Magazine thinking?

Think of any great business blog.  It provides valuable articles for people interested in their niche, just like any high quality business magazine.  For example, Brian Clark from copyblogger refers to his site as a media asset and his posts as magazine style content.  I have always been of the same mindset.  I see this site as a genuine media asset and I treat it with the respect it deserves.

  • It’s not a hobby.
  • It’s not a passtime.
  • It’s not a gesture.
  • It’s not something I do when there’s no real work that needs doing.
  • It IS an extremely valuable business asset.  Look at this!

This site never needs me to have spare time to invest in it.  If it did, it would be another infrequently updated business blog.  I regard Jim’s Marketing Blog and the reader community here as an integral part of my business, so it gets worked on ahead of many other less important (to me) business activities.

  • People who just write posts when they have spare time, after the important work is done, end up with a site which reflects that level of investment.
  • People who regard their site as the important work, treat their site very differently and see very different results.

The bottom line:  It’s a question of priorities.  Professionally, I place an extremely high priority on developing this site, so it always gets the time and attention it deserves.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees: Part 2

Photo: Aaaarrrrgggghhhh

This is the second post in a series on how to attract the very best clients and work for the highest fees.  You can read part 1 of this post here if you missed it.

One of the cornerstones of every successful business is that the business owner knows the difference between what people pay for and what people buy.

Paying and buying

Smart business owners understand that people pay for the product or service you offer, but they buy the experience.

For example, when people go into Starbucks, they pay for the coffee.  The reason they pay for the coffee, is that they buy the experience of being able to drink coffee in a space, with other people, who also like to drink coffee and read or work or surf the web etc.  They are part of what Seth Godin would call the coffee tribe.  You can buy equally good coffee from your local store and make it at home for a fraction of the cost of drinking it at Starbucks, however, at home, you don’t get the same coffee tribe experience.

It’s the experience that justifies the 300% extra you pay for drinking coffee at Starbucks, rather than making it at home.  Starbucks don’t try and win your business by selling you coffee cheaper than your local grocery store.  They sell the experience and charge a premium.  There’s a very big lesson here for anyone, who is sick and tired of fee sensitive clients.  Your experience needs to improve, if you want to avoid attracting those low value inquiries and competing on fees.

What experience do you offer?

So, what kind of an experience do you offer your clients or customers?  What do you do for them, which makes it compelling to do business with you, regardless of your fees or prices?

If this is not something you have previously given much thought to, I strongly suggest you start.  Thanks to Google, people can find the least expensive provider in your niche, in minutes.  Thanks to social networking sites, people can learn about the providers in your niche, who offer the most remarkable customer experiences.

Unless you want to sell your services by being the least expensive (and you don’t), you better start thinking about being that provider in your niche, who everyone is talking about.  If you do, you will attract more word of mouth referrals than ever before and never have to compete for business based on your fees.  This is what I help my clients to achieve.  I strongly suggest you get to work on it too.

This is a subject I am going to be covering a lot in future posts, so remember to subscribe to the blog for free, if you don’t want to miss out!

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees part 3.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Is your marketplace REALLY listening to you?

It’s hard to build a community or a business, when you don’t have a voice.

  • If you follow the social media gurus and act like their outsourced retweeting machine, you lose your voice.
  • If you go with the flow, seldom seeking to express your own opinions, you lose your voice.
  • If you run a small business, which looks a lot like most other small businesses in your niche, you lose your voice.

The solution?

Do the opposite.

  • Stop being a cheerleader for the gurus, if you want to be taken seriously.  Look at what happens, when a guru sees one of their sheep disagreeing with them on their blog.  THAT is the comment they tend to reply to.  No one respects cheerleaders or butt-kissers; including those whose butt is being kissed!  Intelligent people cringe when they see grown men and women sucking up like that.
  • Go against the flow when it matters.  If you believe that common opinion is wrong, have the confidence to make your point.  Confidently expressing what you believe is essential, if you want to have a voice.  Bleating the same views and opinions as everyone else means you become invisible.  It robs you of your individuality.
  • Invest in making your small business uniquely valuable, so it has a story worth sharing.  People will only talk about you if you have something worth talking about.  I wrote about this recently.

Who do you listen to?

Think about the people you listen to.  Do you listen to them because they have nothing new, interesting or inspiring to say?  No, of course not.

You and I do not take advice from sheep.  Guess what?  Nor does anyone else.  We listen to people worthy of our attention; people with something of value to say.  We spread word-of-mouth about businesses and products worth talking about.

The bottom line:  Just as you ignore people who seldom express their own opinions or have nothing of real value to say, so does everyone else.  You place a VERY low ceiling on your potential, if you follow the gurus and inherit their opinions, rather than thinking for yourself and sharing what you have to say.  You deserve better than that.  Much, much better.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: The hills are alive

Get everybody talking about you with this 1 simple idea

Today, I want to help you and your business attract more word-of-mouth than ever before.  I want to help you create an crowd of people, queuing down the street, just to get a peep of what all the buzz surrounding your business is about.

It starts here.

When you look at the vast majority of websites in any niche, it gives you an extremely accurate insight as to why so many businesses fail.  Very, very few of them stand out as being worth talking about.

UVSP’s and Purple Cows

In 1995, I was telling small business owners to develop what I called a UVSP (Uniquely Valuable Selling Proposition.)  This was my version of the USP (Unique Selling Proposition), which I have always believed to be incorrect.  It’s not enough to be unique, without offering unique value.  In 2002, Seth Godin wrote about this in his best-selling book, Purple Cow.  UVSP or Purple Cow, it amounts to the same thing; a product or service, which stands out for being of unique value.  Something with an interesting and attractive story.

Most small businesses stay small, because they do the opposite.  They don’t offer unique value.  They are too similar to their competitors.  Their story isn’t interesting, so no one talks about them.

How similar are your competitors?  Check out the blogs or websites of 10 of your competitors and look at what they have to say.  Look at what they offer.  Look at their testimonials, their promises, their guarantees.  Notice how amazingly alike they are.  In almost every case, their messages could be swapped around and I am not sure anyone would notice.

They want word-of-mouth referrals, but give the marketplace nothing worth talking about.

An alternative approach? Twylah

This weekend I spent a lot of time talking about Twylah, because it’s an interesting story worth sharing.  I saw this video about how Twylah works on Robert Scoble’s blog and it blew me away.  Their story was so compelling, that I wanted to tell people about it.  It didn’t cost them a dime.  It was their story, not their money, which compelled me to talk about them on Twitter and share the service with you in this post.  In doing so, I have just spread the word to thousands of people.

And so… some of you will watch that video, listen to how valuable Twlyah could be for your marketing and tell others.  Very soon, LOTS of people will be talking out it.  It’s a valuable, easy to use marketing tool.  That means it’s interesting to business owners.  It’s the kind of thing we want to share with the people we know.  You can check out my Twylah here.

BTW: If you look at the page without watching the video, you will think you’re looking at a paper.li clone.  It’s pretty much the polar opposite and allows you to make money direct from your Twitter stream, without Tweeting ads etc.  Ask them nicely and you may get an account. (It’s in the pilot phase right now.)

Remarkable. Interesting. Shareable.

Today, if you want your business to thrive or even survive, you have to break out of the sea of sameness and offer something that has unique value to your marketplace.  Business has changed.  Years ago, you could be just like all your competitors, but if you outspent them or out networked them, you would win the majority of the business.  Today, your clients and prospective clients see their social media streams light up, as soon as one of your competitors announces a fresh, interesting way of doing business.  News like that spreads through your marketplace via social networking sites very quickly.

So here’s my suggestion:  Focus on developing a UVSP or Purple Cow of your own.  Develop a uniquely valuable, remarkable way to be of service.  Become one of those interesting stories, that your marketplace LOVE to be part of and share.

Make your business the one they are talking about!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Picture: Robert Scoble

9 Ways to write more high quality blog posts… right now!

business blogging

Here are 9 ways to write more, high quality blog posts.

  1. Write short posts.  You don’t have to churn out 1,000 word essays.  Most of my posts are under 500 words. Some are under 150.
  2. Don’t try to write like someone else.  The more your posts reflect you and your unique self, the more people will value them.
  3. Spend less time publishing your ideas on social networking sites.  Then, use that time to feed your blog.
  4. Avoid seeking perfection.  The perfection mindset will cause you to write from a position of fear.  Be human, which means being imperfect.
  5. Use a voice recorder or your phone to capture ideas for blog posts.  You will often get your best ideas when you can’t write them down.
  6. Don’t feel like you have to bring the answers with your posts.  Ask the questions.  Get a conversation going: It’s a blog, not a broadcast!
  7. Write when you feel creative.  If you feel inspired to write a post, write one.  Then, write another one! I seldom write 1 post at a time.
  8. Use the questions people ask you, as inspiration for future posts.  If someone is asking you a question linked to your topic, there’s a good chance other readers will find the answer useful too.  I wrote this post, after a reader asked how I managed to publish 12 posts here in the past 7 days.
  9. Most importantly, enjoy it! Many bloggers say they have to force themselves to write posts.  You don’t need to force yourself to do something you enjoy, so identify and resolve whatever it is, which is stopping you from enjoying your blog.

Number 10

So, what has helped you, with both the quality and frequency of your blogging?  Please share your ideas.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

The secret to getting YOUR voice heard

Just as shouting loudly for too long will cause you to lose your voice, blogging for traffic can do the same.

Focusing on traffic (numbers) ahead of people, will influence what you say and how you say it.  The challenge with that approach is that it’s hard to get your voice heard, when it’s simply part of the noise created by all the other people, saying the same things.

Yes, if your business model is based on how many page impressions you can create, it may be a useful strategy.  This is not the case for 99.9% of people though.  Our success is linked to the relationships we build with the PEOPLE behind those traffic numbers.  This means allowing your readers to connect with you.

The numbers

If I were to write posts here just for “the numbers,” this blog would cover far fewer subjects and read very similar to every other traffic focused, marketing blog.  I would be trying to tie in my blog posts to recent news events.  I would also jump on every new social media bandwagon and blog about it.  I would regularly have to use infographics. I would bore the shit out of you, talking about the latest crazes on Twitter.

That approach may attract traffic to this site, however, those people would leave just as fast as they arrived.  Why?  Because there are thousands of sites already writing those posts. I would lose my voice in all that noise.

Amplifying your voice

What gives you your voice, is your ability to share what you think.

  • Your thoughts
  • Your words
  • Your opinions
  • Your insights

The irony here, is that it is the people with the least generic approach to blogging, who often have the largest and most engaged readerships.  These are the blogs we share and link to the most often, because they have something interesting to say.  Those links (sometimes called inlinks or back links), are the single biggest factor in the volume of traffic a site gets from search engines.

By blogging about our area of expertise or professional interest, using out own voice, we are far more likely to motivate people to want to share what we have to say and link to it too. This is a very liberating message, for those who connect with what it means!

If you want to build a great community of readers and prospective clients, have something worth saying and say it well.  Say it in your own voice and give yourself permission to be human.  That’s what makes you unique.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: walknboston

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