Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Category: Social media marketing (page 7 of 37)

Discover the gold mine within your business

Part of running a successful small business, is understanding and maximising your advantages. This post is all about one major advantage you have over large companies. I’m talking about your agility.

Agility is an asset

I want to start by giving a brief example of what I mean by agility.

As a small business owner, you have the agility to get an idea in the morning and put that idea into play by end of business that day. Large companies can take weeks or months to execute a new idea. I wrote an article about this for Microsoft, which lists 3 ways you can use agile thinking to grow your business.

The perfect scenario

The reason I am sharing this with you, is that marketing is changing. It now offers great opportunities to those of you who are agile. Marketing today moves extremely fast, especially social media marketing, which is real-time. This is the perfect scenario for those small businesses, who are prepared to use their agility. You can listen to what your marketplace is saying, identify an opportunity (or gap in the market) and then execute.

Of course, in order for you to benefit from your agility advantages, you need to embrace agile thinking and then get moving. The small business owner who gets the idea and fails to execute, has no advantage over the large company, who has the idea and can’t execute.

It looks like this:

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

9 Amazing free resources to help you grow your business and feed your mind

Right now, you have access to an Aladdin’s Cave of freely available marketing, business development and professional development tools. In today’s post, I am going to share just 9 of them with you.

Free marketing and educational resources

Here are my 9 free resources. Remember to add yours at the end:

  1. Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, will give you a blog for free and host it for free, too. Many of the world’s top blogs started off on this free platform and some have stayed with the free version of the service. I started this blog off using the free version of WordPress and today, around 60,000 people get updated when I publish each new post.
  2. The people at TED have made thousands of educational and inspirational videos available to you, for free.
  3. Microsoft offer you Skype for free, so you can easily collaborate with colleagues or clients via speech or video conferencing. So long as they have downloaded Skype, you can now work with people, with no geographic limitations and it won’t cost you a penny.
  4. Twitter, Google+ and Facebook welcome you to use their services for free and Linkedin offers a useful, free version of their service too. Years ago, you paid an organisation to attend physical networking events, and lost a huge chunk of your day travelling to the events, attending the events and getting back from the events. You were lucky if 100 people attended and even luckier if you made regular, meaningful contacts. Now you can network with thousands of people anywhere in the world, for nothing more than the time you’re prepared to invest.
  5. Seth Godin digs deep to come up with something useful to say, via his daily blog posts. These are essential reading.
  6. Christopher Penn and John Wall turn up on an almost weekly basis, to share ideas and opinions on the world of marketing, in their Marketing Over Coffee podcast. I reviewed it here.
  7. You can now give your online and offline marketing photos and images more impact, with free image editing software. I use picmonkey.
  8. It has never been easier to capture ideas than it is today. If you use a smartphone, Evernote provides an extremely useful free version of their service, which allows you to collect ideas, sounds, images, webpages and more – and then work with them.
  9. If you have a website or blog, you need to measure what’s happening on the site and by far the most popular tool for this, is Google Analytics. Google Analytics lets you track everything, from how many visitors your site receives and what your most popular pages are, to what words people use when looking for you on a search engine and what type of devices they use to access your site. This free package offers far too many features to mention here and is extremely useful, especially if you do not already have any analytics software.

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

How to show people your achievements and create a powerful impact!

No one likes people who are boastful. Little wonder then, that so many small business owners feel uncomfortable when showcasing their achievements. However, unless we learn how to show the marketplace what we have accomplished and when we are capable of, we will place a very low ceiling on our success.

In my experience, the best way to overcome a tendency to sell ourselves short, is to focus on honesty, context and proof.

Honesty and context

By being honest about what you have done and explaining your achievements or accolades in context, you shift your focus from being boastful to being truthful.

Context is really important too. If you simply list a ton of achievements every time you connect with someone, you will look like an ass. However, if you list them in the right places, such as the about page of your website, people will actually be looking for them. You will simply be offering people the information they need. If they are reading your about page, they are checking you out – they want to know about you.

Where’s the proof?

Anyone can claim to have achieved anything. As a result, many people lie like crazy about their achievements. So, it’s understandable that our prospective clients or customers want some proof, to back up our claims.

For example:

  • If you tell people you have been a content marketer for 5 years, link to something that backs that up; such as some old blog posts. You can also do as Seth Godin does and have your archive on the sidebar of your blog. Seth’s shows he was blogging in 2002.
  • If you claim in your marketing material that you have a famous client, get permission from the person to use their name and if possible, get a photo of you together, too. Otherwise, don’t expect people to automatically believe you.
  • If you tell people your work was featured in a well known newspaper, provide a link to the article. If you mention it in your offline marketing, use a scan of the coverage.
  • If you tell people you won a prestigious award, provide a link back to the announcement on the award website.

In other words, if you want your achievements to be seen as truthful you should show some proof. Yes, I know you’re honest, you know you’re honest, but a prospective client who doesn’t know you yet, who’s reading your marketing material for the first time, would like some proof.

For instance:

  • On the about page of Jim’s Marketing Blog, I mention that I write for The Microsoft Small Business Blog. I then link to one of my articles, which is on the Microsoft blog and checkable.
  • I do the same with a link to The Guardian newspaper, when they wrote about my listing on The UK Blog Tree as the UK’s most influential marketing blogger and the 2nd most influential business blogger.

Getting the balance right

Those and other achievements are only on my about page, so they are in context. If I listed them everywhere, they would be out of context. Just mentioning them here as an example, will sound boastful to some. That’s how important context is and how careful we have to be, to get the balance right.

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

Social media smoke blowers: How to stop them hurting your business

I recently wrote a post asking you what your main marketing challenges were, so I could cover them in future posts.

One of the most common questions, was to do with the ocean of information being offered online, by people claiming to be social media experts. Today’s post is all about how to tell those with genuinely useful information, from the fakes.

Social media smoke blowers

It’s extremely easy for someone with little social media skill, to pretend they are a social media expert. All they need is a blog, a photo of them in front of a screen (looking ‘dynamic’ and preferably wearing a headset) and a few social networking tricks.

Here is a selection of what I have personally experienced from some smoke blowers:

  • I was emailed by the author of a book on how to make money on Facebook, who didn’t know what to do as he’d sold fewer than 100 copies. This social media marketing expert had no idea how to market his book, via social media or anything else.
  • I was called by a social media trainer, who is well known on the speaking circuit. He wanted to know if I had any work I could give him. This guy specialises in telling people how to attract high quality sales leads.
  • I was emailed by a blogger, author and speaker, who wanted to know if I could get her a free version of my blog theme. I explained that it only cost $60 and she told me that times were tough. This same person is selling online courses and ebooks on how to grow a successful business. She offered to repay me, with retweets!

So, how do you tell the genuinely informed experts from the rest, when you are new to social media and seeking to use it effectively for your business?

Protecting yourself from smoke blowers

I believe the best way to protect yourself from taking bad advice is to do a little research first, then apply some common sense.

For example:

  • If the only testimonials they offer are from others, with similar Pinocchio business models, be very cautious. (A Pinocchio business is one, with no visible means of support.)
  • Always remember that the rules of business apply online, just as they do offline.
  • Don’t let their numbers fool you. 100,000 Twitter followers means nothing. You can buy followers. You can buy software to build massive follower numbers. You can just randomly follow thousands of people, get a subset to follow you back, unfollow them all – then repeat until you have a huge following. If someone seems to lack credibility or you think they are promising impossible results, don’t let their social numbers fool you into ignoring your instinct!
  • Someone claiming to be a social media author or radio host/personality, still needs to be checked out:
    • Thanks to self publishing, my 7 year old son can claim to be an author.
    • Oh, and thanks to free services like blogtalk radio, he can claim to be a radio ‘personality’ too.
    • In both cases he would be telling the truth, but it would have nothing to do with his ability to help you improve your social media results!
  • If it seems too good to be true, it almost always is (yes, even on the Internet).

Consider the source

Always check the source of information before you act on it. Never let easy to fake social media numbers or lofty titles fool you into taking damaging advice or get you to part with your money. Not every social media expert or social networking ‘superstar’ is a fake. Some offer useful information, which makes commercial sense and offers a logical return on your investment.

Just be extremely careful of those promising amazing results, with no logical business path.

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

Photo: Pete Page

Your answer to this question, will tell you in advance how 2013 will look for your business!

The opportunities in front of you today are amazing.

You have the tools to:

  • Get a targeted message in front of your ideal profile of client, in seconds, with their full permission.
  • Create a blog, which will allow you to build a massively valuable community around your business, with limitless potential.
  • Build and nurture a targeted network of wonderful people, who you can connect with daily through social networks.
  • Develop a newsletter and grow an extraordinarily valuable reader community, which grows in value every single day.
  • Increase the conversion rates of all your marketing and sales activities.
  • Attract more word of mouth referrals in a week, than used to be possible in a year.

What are you going to do with it?

The big question right now, is; what are you going to do with all that potential?

The final weeks of 2012 offer you an amazing opportunity, to lay the foundations of what could be your best year ever in 2013.

Take some time today to look at the elements of your marketing that are under performing. Write them down. Include everything that is not generating the results you need. Each item on that list needs to either be improved or replaced with something that works.

Cause and effect

What you can’t afford to do, is go into 2013 with the same strategy and tactics as 2012, and expect to see different results. The law of cause and effect tells us that to get the right effects (results) we need to put the right causes (actions) into play. The same old approach will result in the same old outcome.

Thankfully, you can set the right strategy in place whenever you make the decision to. The challenge, is making that decision. It takes courage. It means being one of the few, who is prepared to do what’s required, rather than what’s easy. Once you have the courage to take control, all the help and information you need is there, waiting.

If you are ready to take control, I’ve got you covered.

Why I welcome and value your emails

I recently added my email address to every page on this blog. Very soon after, lots of you asked me why I did it and what the results have been. So, here’s your answer.

Why I value your emails so much

Ever since I started this blog, I have published my email address (and my office address / phone number) on my contact page. This means I was already used to receiving email from readers.

My decision to publish my email address on every page, was to make it easier for you to contact me and also to demonstrate that I welcome and value your emails.

What type of emails do readers send me?

When people email me, they tend to do so because they either want to share something with me (around 95%) or to make an unrealistic request for free, specific marketing advice (5%). I can’t do the latter, it simply doesn’t scale because of the time required.

The variety of emails I receive, is huge. For example:

  • I get emails from readers who want to update me on the progress of their businesses and emails that let me know when a reader has spotted a typo.
  • I get emails asking if I will cover certain topics and emails thanking me for something a reader learned from the blog.
  • I get emails asking why there are no advertisements here and emails from people who want me to share their stories with you.

A wide variety of emails, from all kinds of people. I value them enormously!

The value of a 1-to-1 connection

Although every email I receive is different, they ALL have one very important thing in common: They open up an intimate, 1-to-1 communication between you and me.

If you want to connect with me, you are welcome to do so and it has never been easier. I look forward to hearing from you.

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

When we work through gritted teeth, it shows!

You can always tell if someone is really enjoying what they do or if they are simply phoning it in – just going through the motions.

I spoke with the owner of an independent jewellers recently, who clearly loved her work. I was buying my wife some earrings and asked the owner for some help. She spoke with genuine passion and interest and her knowledge was incredible.

As I paid for the earrings, I told the owner that it was clear that she loved what she did. She replied that she has been fascinated with jewellery since she was a child and had always wanted to work in the profession. She started off working in a jewellers as a Saturday job when she was a kid, then got a full time job, slowly working her way up to store manager, before buying her first shop.

When we are not interested in what we do, it also shows

Just as a passion for what we do is reflected in our performance and results, when we do something we don’t really enjoy it also shows.

For instance, I love using Google+ and have a network of 17,000 people there. Google+ drives more visitors to my sites than all the other social networks combined and is a constant source of creative inspiration and business leads. I also love to use Twitter and 7,000 people connect with me there.

Then there’s Facebook. As anyone who knows me will confirm, I really don’t like using Facebook. And it shows! Just 1,000 people have ‘liked’ my Facebook page, because I deliberately do very little to promote it and chose to focus my energy on Google+ and Twitter instead. I know how to develop great social networks, but when it comes to Facebook, I dislike the experience too much to spend the time required there.

An alternative to doing what you dislike

If there are areas of your business that you don’t enjoy, consider replacing them with better alternatives. If you dislike selling, do what I do and attract leads instead. This blog drives sales of my audio program and client inquiries every day. If you dislike doing the paperwork, hire someone who loves it and watch your productivity and profitability improve.

In short: We have two options. We can learn to fall in love with the elements of our business that we currently dislike. We can find better alternatives. Simply going through the motions is a low leverage approach.

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

How to get the wrong kind of attention!

I watched recently, as someone on Twitter asked his followers if they would recommend a blog for him to read. He specifically asked people not to send him a link to their own blog.

I asked him afterwards what feedback he received. He said all, except one person, tweeted a link to their own site.

There were 2 things there, which were of interest to me:

  1. I found it interesting that he would need to ask people not to self-promote.
  2. I also found it interesting that these people were prepared to make themselves look so desperate and needy.

What drives business owners to do that?

So, why does this happen? In my experience, business owners pester you when their marketing isn’t compelling enough to attract your attention. In other words, instead of fixing their marketing so that it’s attractive, they push broken marketing at you.

You see it all the time:

  • When no one is subscribing to their newsletter, they subscribe you to it without your consent, then spam you.
  • When no one is visiting their website or blog, they bombard you on social networks with links to themselves.
  • When no one is calling them, they interrupt you with unwanted cold calls.

Commanding attention works better than demanding it

A more effective approach, is to command attention rather than try and demand attention by being a pest. This means developing marketing, which people will embrace and share. It means having the courage to stand out.

Of course, this requires a change in strategy and tactics, but the upside is huge.

You command attention.

You attract interest.

You capture people’s imagination and gain word of mouth referrals.

You generate opportunities.

Most importantly of all, it works.

Older posts Newer posts