Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Are YOU going to take this opportunity?

So, how are those business targets that you set for 2010 looking, as we approach the home straight?

Midway through September is an amazing time, for those of us who own a business.  It’s that point in the year, where we can still make the improvements required to achieve our annual revenue or profits targets, whilst ALSO being a great time to start working on the ideas that will move our business forward in the coming year.

Of course, this isn’t what most small businesses do.  They treat September like any other month and don’t start planning for January, until December.  With that kind of preparation, January for them is not the start of a new year  – It’s just yet another chance to relive the same old year, and frustrations, over again.

Thankfully, that approach is not for you!

People who read this blog are clearly interested in improving the number and quality of sales they attract (notice I said attract there?)  You are the kind of person who is motivated and also intelligent enough to invest your time studying marketing and business development.  It’s why you are here, right now, reading this.  You want a better future and you are committed to doing what’s required.  I applaud you!

Of course, there’s another reason to increase your marketing efforts right now.  You see, your competitors are back to work and refreshed after their summer break.  They too have targets and are also aware that the year is drawing to a close.  You need to be prepared.  How you prepare yourself is, of course, your decision.

But what an amazing opportunity!

What an amazing opportunity for you to use today as the launchpad to greater things.  This can be the day that it all turns around for you.  Today can be the day that you will look back on in 6 months or in 10 years and say THAT was the day I started making the progress, which turned my business and my life around.

Rest assured that whatever you do, I’m here to support you in every way I can; via the free information here on the blog as well as via my small business marketing service.

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

Shouting at Twitter: Is it worth it?

I wrote a post recently, about people who vent their anger or frustrations via social networking sites and asked the question; is anybody listening?  That post was specifically asking if companies or brands monitor what’s being said about them and their products.

Well, we may not know exactly which brands are monitoring which messages, however, here’s something we do know for sure: Every time we vent our anger or frustration via our online network, it’s those who follow us closest and are most interested in what we have to say, who see it.

Here’s why I believe this matters and why I think it should be avoided.

Who is most interested in what you have to say?

As business users of social networks, the people most likely to be following us closely will include a mixture of; our clients, prospective clients and also those who are interested in sharing what we have to say with their contacts.  In other words, the most commercially valuable people in our network!

Whilst it’s admirable for someone to be passionate, in commercial terms, I’m personally very cautious when it comes to recommending those I believe to be too volatile.

I need to know that the people I recommend (and buy from, partner with etc), can be relied upon to act in a business-like way, when confronted with the daily challenges of business.

In a nutshell, if you ask me to recommend someone to you, I’m not going to risk recommending someone, if I know that they are likely to bad mouth you publicly, if the project doesn’t go exactly the way they want it to.

This is not something I see happening that often and never with the people I personally follow, but it’s likely to increase as social media gurus tell business owners to share more and more of their opinions online.

Just to be crystal clear; I’m not talking about people giving reviews here.  I’m talking about business owners who rant about clients or competitors across their social networks – Rather than emailing or calling them, person-to-person, to get a resolution.

How does it influence you, if at all?

How would you feel about recommending someone to a client or contact, if you had previously seen that person ranting about their clients on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc?  BTW: You can join me on Twitter here

Equally, how would you feel about hiring a service provider yourself, who was like that?  Would the quality of their work override your concerns that they may badmouth you, if they were frustrated with you during or after working with you?

It would be useful and interesting to know what you think, so please share your feedback!

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

Marketing contradictions

I often wonder how many people can see through the marketing contradictions that surround us.

There’s the SEO company that emails or cold calls you with a sales pitch, because they are clearly not getting enough sales leads via their own SEO.  It’s hard to see why their SEO services should work for you, if they can’t even SEO their own site effectively enough, to generate sufficient inbound sales enquiries.

And what about the marketing experts, who subscribe you, without your permission, to their newsletter or email bulletins.  I wonder how poor the rest of their marketing is, when they make such a basic error.

Oh, and let’s not forget the copywriting experts, who write blog posts that few people read or share.

Anyone can claim to be anything

We need to evaluate someone’s commercial effectiveness by their professionalism and commercial achievements, rather than their claims.  This is especially the case, if you are thinking of investing in their services.

What kind of contradictions do you see?

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

2 ways to grow your blog: Independent or associated?

In my experience, there are 2 ways to build a successful blog.  Both are extremely powerful.  Although the route to success always starts by providing great content on a regular basis, once you have done that for long enough, I’ve found there are 2 routes open to you.

  • The associated route.
  • The independent route.

The associated route is used by many of the world’s top bloggers.  It’s where a group of bloggers from the same niche or a complimentary one, decide to form a loose (or sometimes formal) agreement, to help each other increase their reach and make money.  They then work to promote the other people they are associated with.  For example; they link to each other regularly in blog posts and will write blog posts about their associates products or services.  They also pass traffic to each other, via links on social networks.  It can be extremely powerful, if you have a number of influential associates, all helping each other.  Read any of these bloggers for any period of time, and you will very clearly be able to see who they are associated with.

The independent route, which I use, is used by many successful bloggers.  It’s where the blogger builds his or her blog without entering into those formal or informal associations with other bloggers.  If we mention a blogger or a product, it’s only because we love the blogger’s work or we believe in the product.  We rely on readers sharing our content and effective SEO to develop our readership.  Independent bloggers are equally easy to spot, because we don’t have the same ads on our blogs or recommend the same ebooks / events / products as the associated bloggers in our niche.

The fastest way to grow your readership is definitely the associated blogger route.  Of course, there is a price to pay for this kind of fast track success.  You need to be OK about promoting your associates and their offerings to your readership and social network.  Yes, you will be able to write about what matters to you, but you will also need to write posts that name-check your associates and push their latest offerings.  Is that a small price to pay?  It’s your call.  There’s no right or wrong here.

Conversely, the independent blogger is free to recommend anything he or she wishes.  For example, although this blog now has a significant readership, I have just 1 affiliate product here; which is the Headway theme I use to design the blog.  However, I’m not associated with Headway or any of the bloggers who use their theme.  I read Danny Brown’s blog and he uses Headway, but I also read Seth Godin’s blog and he doesn’t.  I know Grant Griffiths, who owns headway, but I get no special rates from them; nothing which you wouldn’t get if you were one of their affiliates.  Here’s the thing: If I switched to another theme tomorrow, it wouldn’t be an issue for Headway or me.  That’s the freedom I enjoy, by being independent.

The associated route is powerful and many of the blogs I read are written by associated bloggers.  It doesn’t bother me.  I know why they promote what they do and I’m 100% fine with it.  These guys have businesses to run, bills to pay and many are doing so VERY effectively, thanks to the massive reach of their combined associate network.  Make no mistake – It’s amazing!  This is why I believe that for many people, if they get the chance to take the associated route, and it is an association of great people, they should really consider it!

So, why do I take the independent route?

The answer is simple:  For my business model, it’s more valuable for me to have the total freedom that comes with independence.

I am in a very different position to many bloggers in my niche.  For instance, I am not part of the speaker circuit and many of them are.  They have seats to fill at events and need a massive reach, in order to promote their gigs.  I don’t.  I have no ads here and don’t push affiliate sales, so I have no need to drive up page views either.

For me, the independent route is best.  I write for you.  I show you my work.  You call me if you want great marketing, because you know my work and my approach.  I like it like that.

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

Marketing magic: The illusion of words

Several times recently, I have read people describing an income they receive as being enough to pay their mortgage each month.  Of course, depending on the size of their mortgage, this figure could be £50, £500, £5,000 or more – It’s completely meaningless.

It reminded me of an advertisements we had in the UK for a brand of milk chocolate, which had “a glass and a half of full cream milk” in every bar; however, they never told us how big the glass was!  Again, it was meaningless.

Marketing magic

A skilled marketing copy writer can use their words much like a skilled magician uses their hands.  Magicians use slight-of-hand to create the illusion of magic.  They guide our attention so that we only see what they want us to see.  If their trick works, we believe we have seen something, which actually never happened.

In marketing, we can use slight-of-word, to create an illusion too.  We can guide people’s thinking, so that they believe what we want them to believe.  If the marketer’s trick works, most people will assume the mortgage fee is five hundred or five thousand a month and that the chocolate had a pint and a half of full cream milk in it.

Use marketing copy writing that makes your product or service sound as attractive and valuable as you possibly can, but leave the illusions to the magicians.

You see, we all know that the guy with the magic wand, who pulls rabbits out of a hat, is deliberately trying to trick us.  That’s what he or she is supposed to do!  However, unless you are a paid illusionist, your reputation could take a hit, if people find you tricking them into believing something that is, in essence, false.  That’s why the most skilled marketing copy writers embrace clarity.  They use words to enhance, rather than conceal.

Where do you think the line should be drawn?

Would you rather know that the bar of chocolate had half a pint of milk in it, or “a glass and a half”?  Would you rather the marketer told you that he or she made several hundred dollars a month from their wonder product, or that it “pays their mortgage”, which could mean anything?  If you bought into the marketer’s pitch, and then found he or she was actually referring to fifty dollars a month, would you feel they had been honest with you?

Let me know what you think!

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

Thought Leaders?

Thought leader, advanced thinkingIf Bob tells you he is a Thought Leader, he probably isn’t!

There are very few people, who truly practice advanced thinking.

There are even fewer, who demonstrate the additional attribute of leadership.

There are fewer still, who have both those 2 rare attributes, yet would feel the need to borrow that phrase to describe themselves.

I’m guessing that a genuine Thought Leader, might think of something a little more original?

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

Photo: Hamed Saber

More of the same or a better tomorrow? The choice is always yours!

Your client base is always a reflection of your marketing or lack of marketing.

If it’s filled with people, who value your time and expertise and are happy to pay you accordingly, it’s because these are the people who are attracted to what you have to say.  Equally, if your client base has too many fee-sensitive clients, who show little respect for the value of your time, then it’s these low value clients that your marketing is attracting.  Of course, if your marketing is simply not attracting enough paying clients, then your current client base will reflect that error too.

It’s pointless to complain about your lack of income or how little progress your business is making, only for you to continue to make the same marketing errors that led to your current problems.  If you would like to work for better quality clients, you need to start using better quality marketing.  You need to identify why your marketing is attracting the wrong profile of client or too few clients,  and then replace it with a more effective approach. If you do, you will be in a tiny minority of small business owners.  Most decide to complain, but stay the same and hope things will magically just get better.

If you want to finally start seeing the rewards your hard work deserves in 2011, you need to take action now. Here’s my advice:

  • Get a marketing plan that works, based on your unique resources and situation – Then work that plan.
  • Don’t waste another day mistaking movement for progress.  Make each step you take, a step forward.
  • Stop adjusting your lifestyle DOWN to accommodate your lack of income – Adjust your income UP, and start taking marketing seriously.
  • Live where you want to live, enjoy the peace-of-mind that comes from financial independence and reignite the passion that inspired you to start a business in the first place!

More of the same or a better tomorrow?  Thankfully, the decision is always yours.

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

How to boost your profits very quickly!

One of the fastest ways to generate a significant increase in your profits, is to find an additional product or service, which you can sell to your existing client base.  These people already know you and trust you.  There’s no need for you to sell yourself to them.  If they see the value in buying an additional product or service from you, they will.

I once helped a London based computer maintenance company, who were 90 days away from bankruptcy, to generate over 20k worth of almost pure profit in just 9 days; by offering a great new service to their existing client base.  The new service was what we now call cloud storage back-up.  A professionally copy written email was sent to his clients, offering to securely back-up their important files every evening, for a fixed annual fee.  The service was provided by a respected 3rd party, and rebranded by my client.

Almost 45% of his client base signed up within 9 days, with a further 17% signing up over the coming 3 months.  In 9 days, this hard working small business owner went from almost going broke, to enjoying his most profitable trading period ever!

Look for new ways to help people

As a business owner, you should always be looking for opportunities to provide the best possible service to your clients.  Part of this, is to look for new ways to help them solve problems.  The bigger the problem that your new product or service resolves, the more help you will be and the more sales you will make.  Equally, by providing an increasing level of help and support to your clients, you are also vastly more likely to retain their business.  They win, you win; everyone wins!

So, I have a question for you: What additional products or services could you offer to your existing clients or customers?

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

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