Quick blog announcement

This is just a quick note, for regular readers and especially those, who comment here.

As you may already know, I’m on holiday until Friday 28th.¬† This is just to let you know that although I will be publishing blog posts this week, I won’t be available to reply to your comments until I get back.

Be good while I’m away and enjoy the posts ūüėČ

Some signs to help you to the top!

This post is designed to help you advance further, faster – by helping you spot some warning signs, before they become a major issue.¬† You know what’s great about this?¬† When you spot a warning sign and act on it correctly, it is transformed from a warning sign, to a highly positive leap forward in your business!

Warning signs and flashing lights

I was prompted to write this post, after a conversation with a friend, who had been ignoring a warning light in his car.¬† He checked the handbook and thought that as it seemed like a very minor fault, that he would leave it “for a while.”¬† Fast forward 3 months and his car was broken down with a major engine problem!¬† Apparently, has he heeded the warning light, he would have been able to avoid all this, with a small fix and for a very small fee.

The problem with the warning signs in business, is that they don’t come with flashing lights, like those in our cars.¬† This means a lot of people miss them while they are still tiny problems – Then, like the car story above, they end up with a much bigger, costlier challenge on their hands.

From a marketing perspective, here are some early(ish) warning signs that are easy to miss:

  • Too large a percentage of your income is from too small a percentage of your customer base.
  • Too few enquiries from your direct marketing.
  • Your turnover or revenue figure has been static for more than 3 quarters or it has started contracting.
  • Not enough targeted people visiting your website or blog – and little sign of an improvement.
  • Your attrition rate is high.¬† Your attrition rate, is the rate at which you lose clients or repeat customers.
  • Not enough sales or marketing enquiries from your website or blog.
  • Too few referrals generally ‚Äď But ESPECIALLY if you are not getting regular referrals from existing customers.
  • A low conversion rate, when dealing with sales leads.

All of the challenges listed above are far easier to resolve, the quicker you take action.¬† If you recognise one or more of those challenges in your business right now, don’t panic!¬† With the right help, all of them are relatively easy to resolve.

I suggest three possible courses of action – depending on your resources:

  1. Speak with a marketing professional.¬† Pick someone you trust or if you don’t already know someone, ask a friend or business contact who THEY use for marketing.¬† Most marketing professionals will be able to tell you very quickly if they can help and what’s likely to be involved in time and fees.
  2. If you have a lot of marketing knowledge yourself, but have not been using it for whatever reason, get into action!  List the challenges in order of importance and put a strategy together to turn it around.  The key thing here is to get started.
  3. If you don’t have the resources to pay for professional help and you are not an experienced marketer either, check out this post, which lists lots of free information and over 140 marketing ideas and answers.¬† Also, use the search box on the right hand side of this post and search for other marketing tips and advice.¬† There are hundreds of pages of answers here and thousands of ideas – all free.

Bottom line: Whatever your current marketing challenges are, they can be 100% resolved with the right action.  You can achieve amazing results and see the kind of rewards that make all your hard work worth while Рso long as you do the right things, correctly.

Go for it

As we approach the second half of the year, this is a GREAT time to renew your focus and start kicking the butt of your sales targets for 2010.  Go for it!

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

My name’s Jim Connolly and I am a blogger!

Last month, someone introduced me to one of his friends.

In his introduction, he said:
“This is Jim Connolly, he’s that marketing blogger I’ve been talking about.”

This REALLY made me think!

Why?

This may sound nuts, but here goes:  You see, although I own a blog and write posts most days, I have always seen myself simply as a marketing guy, who uses a blog as a way to share ideas and connect with people.  When I think of a blogger, at least a commercial blogger, I have always thought of those people who attend the blogging shows, have lots of ads around their sites and make their primary income via their blog.

Then it dawned on me…

Maybe I don’t attend the blogging shows or have lots of ads here and no, my primary income is not connected with the blog – BUT I DO market my coaching services here, which is my second largest income stream and what I am best known for.¬† I also post here regularly and have made a number of fantastic business contacts, directly via this blog.

Perhaps just as importantly, I LOVE blogging.  I see it as a wholly pleasurable experience and something that is actually a lot more important to me than I could have imagined, when I started out 19-months ago.  Of course, all this happened slowly over the course of almost 2 years.

So yes, around 5 weeks ago I came to the conclusion that I am a passionate, commercial blogger.

Interestingly, in the weeks since I changed my perceptions about being a blogger, reader numbers have grown faster than ever before Рwith a 57% increase in the past 4 weeks alone.  I have also written a lot more regularly than before, and found that the posts have come to me effortlessly.

I always find it amazing, how the way we perceive things has such an enormous impact on our performance and results.

Have you ever experienced anything similar?

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

3 assets worth more to you than money!

There are a number of assets in business, which have greater value than money.  Here are three examples and why I believe they are worth so much.

Self-motivation is worth more than money

If you have the MONEY to hire the best advisors, but lack the motivation to actually use their advice, you will quickly lose the money.  However, the person with the self-motivation to take intelligent action can have as much money as he or she is committed to earning.  This is why people can go from rags to riches and why many rich people, end up not only broke Рbut broken.

In my business, I work hard to avoid people, who want to hire me as their marketing coach, just so we can have lots of interesting conversations.¬† This is because I know that unless someone is motivated enough to get off their butt and work with the ideas and answers I provide to them, they won’t achieve anything. However, a self-motivated person working to a great plan, is simply unstoppable!

Faith is worth more than money

No matter how rich a person is financially, if they lack faith in; them self, their spouse, their friends, their company or product etc¬† – they won’t feel very wealthy.¬† Personally, I find that during the crunch times in life, and we ALL have those times, it’s also great to have faith in something that’s bigger than we are.¬† In my case, that’s faith in God.

It’s impossible to move forward, unless we have faith in others and ourselves; from faith that the brakes on your car will work, to faith that if you work hard enough doing the right things, your business plans will work.

Knowledge is worth more than money

If someone dumps a million or two into Bob’s bank account, he better quickly learn how to be a millionaire!¬† Otherwise, Bob won’t be a millionaire very long.

The reason lottery companies provide financial experts to work with the lottery winners, who win the major prizes, is that they were worried about all the negative stories, of multi-million lottery winners, who went broke and often ended up with less than they started with.¬† That’s because money without knowledge, tends to disappear very quickly.¬† A fool and his money, and all that!¬† Of course, many lottery winners still went broke after getting great financial advice, because they lacked the self-motivation to use what they were told.

My mentor, the late Jim Rohn, used to say that the real value of building a million dollar business is NOT the million dollars.¬† It’s the learning and knowledge we acquire earning that fortune.¬† Take a million away from a millionaire, who made that money themselves, and they can make another million.¬† This has been proven again and again to be true.

So, what would you add to that short list – things that YOU believe are worth more than money?

Let us know!

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

Photo: Orange Tab

Google, link exchanges and you!

Do you get emails from people you don’t know, asking you to do link exchanges with them?¬† If you do, before you decide to do the exchange, please consider the following very carefully.

Link Exchanges: A brief overview

The reason people want you to exchange links with them is simple: The more links pointing to a site, the higher it will rank with Google and Co.

In fact, the number (and quality) of links pointing to your site, is the single most important part of your SEO (search engine optimization).¬† So, SEO companies regularly send emails to thousands of people asking for links, hoping to increase the number and quality of links that point to their customer’s websites and blogs.¬† Usually, the higher your Google Page Rank, the more requests you will get.

Link exchanges: The risks

Link exchanges and the old “Switcheroo”: Increasingly, people are building what look like regular websites and asking for link exchanges.¬† Then, after a set number have been gathered, the site is transformed into a scam site.

This switch tactic is starting to gather pace and as I will explain in a moment, it’s not a good idea for you to link to sites, which Google considers “spammy”, as they call it. If you HAVE already offered links to people you do not know, it might be worth checking their site out again.

Link exchanges into bad neighbourhoods: Linking to the wrong kind of sites can also see YOUR site penalised (see below.)  Bad neighbourhoods exist on the Internet, just like they do in the off-line world.  In online terms, a bad neighbourhood is a site that is considered by the search engines to be spammy or dubious in some way.

Google does not like link exchanges: If you want to attract visitors from Google, you need to know that Google considers link exchange schemes as a violation of their guidelines and that they will penalise sites, which they believe are involved in them.¬† You can learn about Google’s policy on link exchanges here – Along with a link that you can use to resubmit your site, if you are already being penalised.

Why is Google so strict on these exchanges?  It sees them as a way of deliberately trying to manipulate their page ranking system.  This system is how they deliver search results, and those results are what keep people using Google Рand allows Google to make the BIG advertising bucks!

Legitimate linking?

The general consensus is you should link to people, when appropriate for what YOU want to achieve.  If you want to share other sites, posts, articles or online resources Рlink to them.

Where do I stand on this?

I get link exchange emails at least half a dozen times every day and I delete them.

Why?

Because I refuse to associate my name or reputation with someone I don’t know.¬† I don’t really care what Google thinks about my blog, but I DO care passionately about the 15 years I have spent building my business and my brand and I won’t risk negatively impacting that.

Ultimately, you need to do what you believe is right for what YOU want to achieve.¬† I just think it’s useful to have some additional info, so the next time you get a link exchange request, you can make the right judgement for YOU – NOT the other guy!

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

Photo: DC John

Say it like you MEAN it!

Have you ever noticed how powerful it is, when someone talks to you about something they are passionate about?  It makes a massive difference to the effectiveness of their message and the energy created can be really infectious.

So, why do so many business owners totally fail to inject REAL passion into their communications with people?

Marketing and passion

Whether you are speaking with people, recording a message or writing about your product or service, you should be doing it with passion.¬† After all, how the heck do you expect other people to be interested in you or your business, if you don’t sound like you are?

I decided to write this post, after watching a video presentation on a guys website, where the guy sounded half asleep.  There was no energy or passion when he spoke.  He talked about his services, like he was reading a shopping list.

Marketing and motivation

Equally, I read copy every day on websites and blogs, which is supposed to motivate the reader to take action – Yet the copy is pedestrian and lacks impact.

The bottom line: If you want to compel people to take action; to buy from you, call you, email you or click a link – you need to inspire them to do so. You need to motivate your site visitors, so they go from being a reader (passive) to a being a participant (active).

So, before you prepare YOUR next marketing message, use your passion to energise what you are saying and get your visitors, readers or listeners to take action!

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

Photo: Caitlinator

Buyer’s remorse: What is it & why does it matter?

Have you ever heard of the term; buyer’s remorse?

This post will explain a little about what it is and how to stop it from hurting your business!

Buyer’s remorse

Buyer’s remorse is the name given to that feeling we get, when we buy a product or service and then discover something that makes us wish we hadn’t.¬† With product sales, we generally feel buyer’s remorse when we find a lower price for the same product, somewhere else.¬† With services, buyers remorse often happens when we learn that the great service we received during the sales process, is not how that company looks after us once they have our money.

It’s that feeling in the pit of our stomach that tells us we have been fooled or suckered and it’s extremely powerful.

Powerful?

Oh yes!¬† If enough people feel buyer’s remorse about a particular service provider, it can put that provider out of business!

Buyer’s remorse and customer service

Many companies allocate more time and effort to marketing, than they do to customer service.¬† They wrongly see marketing and customer service as two largely unrelated things.¬† The truth is that they are both essential parts of a business’ development.

Why?

  • A business that increases sales by 20% in a year BUT loses 20% of their customer base annually because of average quality service, is going nowhere.
  • A business that increases sales by 20% in a year BUT loses 21% of their customer base annually because of poor quality service, is going broke.

As I have said here before, companies that look after their customers and genuinely go the extra mile, not only retain more of their existing customers, they also enjoy a windfall reward:  They attract word of mouth referrals from their happy customers!

Conversely, when companies under-deliver to their customers, they find that their reputation within the marketplace can be severely damaged.¬† Today, if Bob upsets a customer, they won’t just call his company and complain – they will tell their buddies on Twitter, Facebook etc.

So, how long does it take to tell your whole social network about your bad experience?  Seconds!  This is one of the reasons why today, it makes more sense than ever to connect your customer service operation and your marketing operation.

Buyer’s remorse: Why is it so common?

One of the reasons there is so much buyer’s remorse out there, is that many businesses are very poor at listening to their customers and clients.

Providers make the mistake of assuming that silence is golden – That if they are not getting calls and emails of complaint, that everyone’s happy. Of course, the reality is that in the massive majority of instances, this is just not the case.

Many people choose to avoid confrontation with a supplier and simply leave the service, as soon as they are able to.  In fact, as I said earlier, people today are a lot more inclined to share their frustration with their friends on a social network, than to confront the provider.

The bottom line here, is that business owners simply cannot allow this to happen.¬† It’s important to proactively ask for feedback, especially from those customers you have not heard from in a while.

The best businesses listen to their customers and seek to constantly improve the quality of their offering.¬† They see buyer’s remorse as a complete failure and work hard to combat it.¬† They want every customer experience with them to be not only positive, but of such great value that their customers want to sing their names from the roof tops!

If a business¬† wants to attract word of mouth referrals, it need to offer a level of service that’s REALLY worth talking about.

To be remarked upon, we must first become remarkable!

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

Don’t get a bad name!

If you are starting a new business or launching a new product or service, it’s really important to get the name right.¬† Sadly, it’s very easy to get it wrong and end up wasting a lot of time and money trying to unpick the mess!

So, here are 3 tips to help you get it right first time:

Choose a name that’s attractive and positive

The name should create an attractive, positive image in the mind of those who hear or read it.¬† This is because people think in pictures.¬† We hear a word and BOOM – We build a mental picture.¬† For example, it’s hard to think of the word elephant, without seeing the image of an elephant in our mind.

So, pick a name that creates the kind of image that your target market will be attracted to.

Choose a name that’s easy to spell

If you give your business a name that’s hard to spell and people go looking for it on a search engine, there’s a real possibility they will not find you.

Famously, a search engine launched last year with 33 million dollars of investment behind it, which was called cool dot com (but spelt cuil.com.)  One of the many reasons given for its failure, is that people were hearing all the buzz about cool.com, when they should have been going to cuil.com.

The bottom line here, is that a tricky to spell name creates unnecessary additional barriers between you and people looking for your services.

Think about the URL

It makes sense to pick a name, which has a version of it’s URL available – so you end up with a relevant website address.¬† There are also some huge SEO benefits from picking your name / URL wisely.

Here’s a quote from a post I wrote about the importance of getting the right URL for your business:

By including the words marketing blog in the URL of this blog, almost every link that points here also includes those 2 words.  This means there are thousands of links, which point here and tell Google that this is a marketing blog.  As a result, anyone searching for marketing blog or marketing blogs etc on Google, will find this blog on page one; even though there are over 100 MILLION results listed.

What naming tips would you like to add?

So, those are just 3 tips to get the ball rolling.  What are your tips for picking the best name for your next project, company, product or service?  Let us know!

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

Photo: Natalie Maynor

Google, social media and SEO

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks, about probable changes to the way that Google ranks search engine results. The general belief is that mentions (links) to your site from social media sites are starting to play a bigger role in where Google ranks you.

Because of the secrecy that surrounds Google’s algorithm, it’s not possible to say definitively what kind of additional influence this is having on search results.¬† However, it now seems increasingly likely that links from places like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Linkedin etc may be carrying influence with Google.¬† This post on Mike Moran’s SEO blog by Chris Angus,¬†explains the impact of social networks on SEO nicely and in plain English too (Kudos Mike.)

Whilst the number of pages / sites linking to you is still the key factor in your overall visibility, it seems that mentions on social media sites are starting to be used as a form of additional verification.  It has been clear for some time that Google understands the importance of the communications shared across social networks.  This is why they added Tweets and shares from other networks, in their search results some months ago.

Failings with the current system are obvious.¬† A good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) provider can get a site of average value thousands of places above a poorly optimised site, with great value content.¬† This is why so much superb content goes undiscovered and why we often find results for searches that are disappointing.¬† Clearly, Google is keen to try and address this issue, though I can’t see their latest initiative changing things much.

Why?

Good SEO providers are already adapting their strategies and incorporating social media as part of their SEO mix.¬† As soon as Google changes their algorithm (or it is believed they have), the SEO guys change too.¬† These SEO’s are masters of testing and measuring.¬† If they see that incorporating social media or social bookmarking is boosting search rankings, they simply add it to their SEO tool kit .

Bottom line: Today AND for the foreseeable future, great content backed up with solid SEO are a vital part of gaining visibility for your site.  High value content will keep people coming back for more and encourage them to recommend you, but they need to find you in the first place.  Embracing social media has always been a good idea, but perhaps even more so now.

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

Photo: Danny Sullivan

Six things I discovered this week

Here are six things I discovered this week, which you may find interesting:

  1. I discovered that when some a-list bloggers offer a free report, it’s actually just a long advertisement, with some tips at the beginning.¬† That’s not a report, that’s an advertisement that tries to fool people into reading it.¬† Not a great way to win a prospective customer’s trust or respect.
  2. I learned that Google Buzz has a great deal of potential as a place to learn and to share information with your contacts.  You can connect with me on Google Buzz here.
  3. I learned that my intuition is still alive and well.¬† I was thinking of doing a post here, that recommended a service provider I use, but something kept telling me not to; even though the service had been extremely reliable.¬† The service went down this week and the customer service was one of the worst I’ve ever experienced.¬† Your intuition can be a huge asset when you learn to trust it.
  4. I discovered this very clever quote from Winston Churchill: “When you are going through hell – Keep going!”
  5. I saw that Facebook held a “crisis meeting” because of the feedback to their attitude to user privacy.¬† Maggie Shiels’ article on The BBC website covers it extremely well.
  6. I noticed earlier that this will be the 28th post I’ve written in the past 28 days.¬† I’m pretty sure that’s a record for me.

So, what did you discover or rediscover this week?

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