Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Why stereotyping sucks on SO MANY levels!

stereotype marketing,

I was in a store earlier, getting some Christmas presents during a lunch break.  In the queue in front of me was a lady in a wheelchair.  I’m a very chatty person, so by the time we got to the front of the line we had been happily speaking for around 10 minutes.

I noticed that when this lady was being served, the guy serving her spoke to her s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly.  She was neither stupid or (unlike me) hard of hearing.  I asked the guy serving, why he spoke with her in that way and he explained that she was disabled, so he wanted to ensure she could hear him.

Now, I have previously heard people with mobility issues, saying that when strangers see them in a wheel chair, they often talk to them differently, but today was the first time I saw it in action.  Why a leg or back related mobility issue might damage someone’s ability to hear, is beyond me. I just thought, “what an ignorant bastard!” (Ok kids, rant off)

Ironically, I am a fit and healthy guy of 45, BUT after 11 years of boxing and another 20 years (and counting) of sparring, my hearing these days is pretty poor.  In my right ear, my hearing’s just 30%.  I actually find it really helps when people speak clearly to me, yet because I look “normal” they don’t unless I ask them to.

Stereotyping is lazy and ineffective

It’s easy to stereotype people and it’s even easier to stereotype people incorrectly!  Just as the guy in the store earlier called it completely wrong with me and the lady in the queue, so we too can get it wrong with the people we interact with in business.

I’ve lost count of how many times I have heard a business owner or salesperson, claim everyone’s a “time waster” just because they were unable to motivate them to make a purchase.  And let us not forget the people who are unable to develop a successful blog, who claim that “blogging is dead!” whilst Mashable attracts millions of unique visitors a month.

In my experience, the best way to determine what someone is all about, is to be a little less judgemental, and spend some time listening.

Listening to your marketplace

Commercially, this means taking time to get to really know your clients and prospective clients.  It means studying the marketplace in general, but connecting with people on a one-to-one basis when possible too.  Social media makes this possible.  In fact, it has never been easier to listen and learn.

If you want to know what small business owners are thinking, read the comments in blogs like this, with an exclusively small business readership.  Join small business forums and groups on Linkedin and Facebook.  Follow small business chats on Twitter.  Social media becomes massively more powerful, when you use it as a highly tailored research and monitoring tool.  There’s magic in listening – Real magic.

When you know the challenges and opportunities facing your marketplace, it becomes enormously easier to develop relevant answers.  Now, being as your products or services are essentially the solution to your marketplaces problems, surely it makes sense to invest time on a regular basis gathering this key information?

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

Photo: Tim Parkinson

How to boost sales and plan ahead with clarity

perception, reality

If you want to really improve your marketing and business development results, today’s post is just for you!

As a marketing professional, I’m always fascinated to see the way different people respond to the same situations.  In my experience, it is usually a person’s perception of a situation that governs how they feel about it (and what action they take), rather than the actual situation itself.

For example, you see a headline in a newspaper about an announcement your government has just made.  If you are a supporter of that government, you will probably see value in the announcement, but if you are opposed to that government, you will probably be against it.  The announcement is the same, but it’s perceived differently by different people.  As they say, one guy sees ice outside and starts complaining about how cold it is, the other guy sees the ice and enthusiastically grabs his ice skates!

Our perception of how things are is exactly that: OUR perception.  It doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong, it’s just the way we see things.

Your perceptions of your business and the marketplace

What perceptions do you have right now regarding your business and your marketplace, which may need to be reviewed?  Here are a few questions, which may help:

  • Are you attending great networking events, which generate high quality clients for you… or are you doing like 99% of small business networkers and meeting the same ineffective contacts month after month?
  • Is your website a 24/7 lead generating machine for your business or an under-performing site that is little better than an online brochure?
  • Are your taxes and accounts being handled by a great accountant, who will ensure you are not paying a penny more than you should, or are you “saving money” with a cheap accountant and losing thousands?
  • Does your social networking activity have a commercial strategy, or are you sharing funny videos and chatting with old school friends on Facebook; wondering why “all that social networking” isn’t advancing your business?
  • Does your marketing clearly demonstrate the unique value of working with you, or do you seem very similar to your competitors, so prospective clients only have your fee as a way of differentiating you?
  • Are your fees or prices a true reflection of the value you bring, or are you promising a premium service for a bargain basement fee?  Your fees have to match your promises if you want people to take you seriously.
  • Are your negotiating skills convincing genuine prospective clients to work with you, or is there room for improvement?
  • Is your customer service genuinely excellent, or is it little different from your competitors?
  • Is your glass half empty or half full?  The correct answer by the way, is that your glass is 100% full: 50% with water and 50% with air!

In short: It’s too easy to confuse our perceptions with reality.  This is why you need to check your progress regularly, to ensure you’re moving forward in all the key areas of your business.

Your feedback please!

What marketing topics would you like me to cover here on the blog?

I’m always working to make this site as valuable as possible to you, which means writing about the areas of marketing and business development, which you are most interested in.

So, what areas of marketing or business development, would you like to know more about?

Your feedback please

Your feedback is really important and will help shape the content I cover, so please take a moment to leave a comment and let me know what you want to see here.

Thank you!

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

Hundreds of great marketing blogs on 1 list!

adage power 150

Today, I would like to share a wonderful source of marketing information with you:  The AdAge Power 150.

The AdAge Power 150

There are hundreds of thousands, (maybe millions) of sites that cover marketing.  Many are written by people who call themselves experts, yet who have little if any marketing expertise.  It’s simple and inexpensive to create a professional looking site and just as simple to attract thousands of social media followers, using software.  The end result is that for a very small investment, it’s easy to produce fake “social proof”, that someone is a leader in their field.  The AdAge Power 150 was developed, to help people find sources of marketing information they can trust.

Advertising Age, who produce the AdAge Power150 list, is not some new Internet business.  It is an industry respected publication, which was founded in the 1930’s and which I have been a reader of, since entering marketing over 20 years ago!  Their list is an index of the world’s leading marketing blogs, based on a number of metrics, including things like the number of times a marketing blog has been linked to and how many readers it has etc.

The Adage Power 150 List: Who’s on it?

Some of the blogs in the list will be very familiar to you, such as; Seth Godin’s blog, search engine land, copyblogger, problogger, SEOmoz spinsucks and the brand builder.  I’m proud to say that Jim’s marketing blog is now in the AdAge Power 150 too.

I can’t promise that you will like every blog on the list.  Equally, I know there are MANY wonderful blogs NOT listed.  However, I believe that if you want to quickly discover some great new marketing and social media blogs, the AdAge Power 150 is a terrific place to start.

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

How to attract better clients

How selective are you, regarding the people you work with?  Many small business owners make the costly mistake, of working with anyone, who has the ability to pay them. 

In this post, I explain why this is a bad idea and how you can avoid wasting YOUR time and money working with low value clients.

convert traffic, convert readersMany small business owners attract too few good quality inquiries and end up building a client base that’s of little real value.  Even though they know from their conversations with a prospective new client, that this person will be a total nightmare to work with, they still decide to work with them because they need the money.

With a low quality client base, working for people who are a pain in the rear, their work ceases to be enjoyable and their business suffers in every respect, as a direct result.

The answer?

You can increase your income, lower your stress levels and develop a more robust business, by focusing your marketing messages so that they exclusively target inquiries, from people with your ideal client profile.

This means moving away from the mindset that any business is good business and using a more strategic approach to your business development.  It means not wasting another minute of your time developing large, untargeted networks and email lists.  It means no longer writing your marketing messages, so that they are of some relevance to almost everyone, and focusing them like a laser-beam, so they are 100% directly relevant to your ideal profile of client.  Of course, by making the content of your website/blog as relevant to this group as possible, your SEO should also improve, as Google and Co are always looking for the most relevant sites.

What next?

I recommend that you spend some time determining exactly what type of clients or customers you most want to work with, and then shift your marketing focus so that you are as relevant as possible to them.

What are their challenges?  Find out and demonstrate that YOU have the answers.

Where are they, online and offline?  When you know where they are, you know where to connect.  Look for groups, forums etc online and also the exhibitions or conferences they attend offline.

The bottom line: If you want the right people to get in touch with you, you need to motivate them to send you an email or compel them to give you a call or visit your premises.  This means that what they see/hear when they connect with you, either on your site, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc, needs to be as relevant as possible to them and their needs.

A message that’s designed to appeal to too wide a group, is just not powerful enough to motivate people to take action.

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

Get more inquiries from your site

When was the last time you updated the sales / services pages on your website or blog?

I ask this, because many people write the key pages of their websites or blogs when the sites are first built, and then they are left alone.  Even though the marketplace is changing faster today than ever before, many small business owners have not updated their services pages for months or years.

I was prompted to write this, after I rewrote my own services page.  I wanted to better reflect how I work with my clients and clearly explain what they get from having me personally looking after all their marketing for a year. I was able to get the core benefits of working with me across in fewer words, making it easier for prospective clients to get the information they needed quickly.  I also renamed the page to “Let’s Market Your Business” to make it as clear as possible that I work hand-in-hand with my clients on their marketing.

Some ideas on improving your sales or services pages

One of the best ways for you to ensure that the changes you make to YOUR site’s copywriting, is to base them on reader feedback.  For example:

  • Do people contact you via your site, with an incorrect assumption about the range services you offer?
  • Do you attract inquiries from your site, from people at the wrong end of the market?  In other words, if you offer a premium-priced service, are you getting inquiries from people looking for a budget-priced service?
  • Do you get enough inquiries from your site, in relation to the number of visitors your sales / services pages get?  If you are attracting visitors who are finding you using the correct search phrases, but they leave that page without purchasing or making an inquiry, your marketing messages are clearly not motivating them to take action.

Change, purely for the sake of change, is a pretty low leverage activity.  Thankfully, with online marketing we are able to test and measure exactly how a website is performing and make changes that lead to progress.

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

Photo: Candida Performa

Chris Brogan’s right! We work for you.

There’s an interesting post over on Chris Brogan’s blog right now.  It’s Chris’ response to a comment from one of his readers.  In essence, the reader was questioning why Chris refers to his readers as if he knew them well or was friends with them.  Anyhow, the following brief quote from the post really resonated with me, as it’s exactly how I feel about you and the others, who I connect with here on the blog.

Here’s what Chris said:

Me? I work for you. I don’t write this for my own entertainment. I *know* what I think about. I need to share with you so that you can make your own world more interesting.

I work for you

If you read this blog, I am developing valuable content for you and your business and that means I am working for you, your business and working to help you succeed.  It’s a beautiful working relationship because as I am sure Chris would agree, we get a great deal from the relationship too.  I love to share ideas, build community and help others.  By working for you here on the blog, I get to do all that and much more.

As is the case with so much in life, the more you give, the more you tend to get.  By working for you and trying to be of as much value to you as I can, you reward me with your; feedback, help, ideas, suggestions and you help me reach others too by sharing this blog with your network.  I also have many clients, who were initially readers.

As we approach the end of the year, I am working hard to develop more ways to be of service to you and your business in 2011.  I have to say, I am genuinely excited by the opportunities for me to be of greater service to you.

Have a great weekend!

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

You don’t have to be rich to be successful

I enjoyed a wonderful evening yesterday, talking with friends.  We laughed, joked, and shared a few stories, as we sat around an enormous log fire, in the kitchen of a friend’s 400 year old farmhouse.

Afterwards, I reflected on how it’s almost always the things that money CAN’T buy, which bring the most joy – Like great conversation with good friends.  In fact, none of the key moments in my life happened as a result of me spending a ton of money.

Many people think that the acquisition of money is the same as the acquisition of success or happiness.  It isn’t.  I know people with millions in the bank, who own all the things that money can buy, who are not particularly happy with their lives.   Equally, I know people who earn very little, yet have wonderful families, children they love and great friends.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that money isn’t important.  It is!  It’s hard to be happy, when you’re always worrying about how to pay the bills.

I am suggesting that whilst we build our financial futures, we also make sure we invest in developing those things that money can’t buy.

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

Photo: John Curno

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