Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Page 131 of 197

Do you make this common marketing mistake?

How do you feel about using new marketing ideas?

If you’re not prepared to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary

It amazes me how many people refuse point-blank, to make the changes required for their business to succeed.  They will attend the same dead end networking groups, waste money on the same ineffective advertising, send the same under performing mailings out; in fact they will do ANYTHING, so long as it’s familiar to them.  It’s the mindset of stagnation.

The most successful small business owners actively seek out new ways to develop their businesses.  They understand that progress is only possible, when we improve what we do and how we do it.

The drive for improvement, by default, means a willingness to change.

How prepared are you, to try something new in order to improve your marketing results?  In my experience, your willingness to embrace new ideas and test new tactics and strategies, will determine how far you can go with your business.

Those with self-imposed limitations place a very low ceiling on their potential.

Those with the courage to try something new, can move mountains.

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

Photo: Melody Campbell

The secret to learning everything you need in order to succeed

Have you ever heard of the inoculation theory of education?

This is where people go through school or college, get a diploma, degree or whatever, and then use that to inoculate themselves from having to do any more studying.  I member the late, great Earl Nightingale recounting a conversation he had with a young man, who had recently graduated.  He told Earl he would never read another non-fiction book again.  He was done with learning and wanted to start working.

The challenge with that extremely common approach was highlighted by Jim Rohn.  Jim used to tell us:

A formal education can make you a living, but a self-education can make you a fortune.

Life-long learning

I was a very poor student at school, but committed at the age of 21 to dedicate myself to life-long learning. I determined to read the books, attend the courses and do whatever was required, for me to be the best that I could be.  Almost 25 years later, I am still a ferocious reader and am more committed to learning than ever.  I can tell you with total certainty that my decision to embrace life-long learning, is directly responsible for every success I have achieved.

In my experience, learning, true learning, means more than just blindly accepting everything you read or hear from an expert.  It means gathering information from the best sources you can find, and questioning what they say! Those you see online, accepting and agreeing like drones with everything their gurus tell them, are learning nothing.  They are simply gathering information, of often dubious value, from people who are just as fallible as you or I, and treating it as fact.

I see the process like this:

  • Read the books
  • Attend the courses
  • Listen to the audio programs
  • Put what you have discovered to the test
  • Measure your results and keep what works
  • Repeat

What is your approach to learning?  Do you set time aside to read?  Do you challenge what you learn?  I would love to know your thoughts on this!

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

Photo: WalknBoston

 

The cost of attacking your competitors online

bad mouthing competitors

Have you ever heard the saying, that when you bad-mouth a competitor, it actually makes you look bad and not them?  Well, the same holds true when you decide to invest your time attacking competitors online.

It seems a popular way to gain traffic to YOUR blog, is to attack the top bloggers in your niche.  If you piss them off, they may mention you, putting you on their readers / followers radar.  If your attack is nasty enough, they may even blog about what you said.  This might gain the attacker a short-term traffic spike, but at what cost?  I honestly don’t think these people realise just how bitter it makes them look, to try and destroy a competitors credibility or dent the business, which their victim uses to put a roof over their family’s head, just for traffic.

Yes, if you identify that someone is making what you believe to be a mistake, it’s good to let that person know.  A while back, Yael Rozencwajg from Yopps.com noticed an error with the way my blog’s email RSS was working, so she emailed me to let me know.  She didn’t write a blog post to say what an idiot I was for missing the error or what a smart-ass she was for spotting it.  That’s because her intention was purely to help me, rather than attack me in order to get a response that she could convert into traffic.

The law of return

As a person of faith, I have a great deal of respect for the world’s Holy books.  In each of those I have studied, there is a belief that we tend to reap what we sow.  This is something professional development experts refer to as the law of return.  It works on the sound premise, that we tend to get back whatever we put out there.

Negative seeds (actions) produce a negative harvest (results) and positive seeds produce a positive harvest.  For example, Yael’s kindness in taking the time to offer me some help, has just resulted in her being highlighted to my readership, in an extremely positive way.

Of course, the negative feelings we have about those who bad-mouth their competitors, are formed by that same law of return.  Their attacks tend to damage themselves, rather than their intended victims.

I sometimes see people offering poor or misleading marketing advice.  In each case, I write a blog post to ensure my readers avoid making mistakes by following that kind of bad advice.  However, I do this without calling out the person.  This means my message gets out, is seen in a 100% positive light and is actually more likely to be acted on.  If I ever woke up feeling like I needed to attack Seth Godin or Jay Abraham, in order to gain readers, I would like to think I would recognise it as a sign that I ACTUALLY needed to work harder on MY OWN business.

Yes, you can gain traffic by attacking your more successful or better known competitors, but who needs to attract that kind of reputation?

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

Photo: Sara Golsmith

The secret to business success that even Tony Robbins missed!

intelligent action

In recent months, a number of people have asked me about a term I use a lot, here on the blog: Intelligent action.  They wanted to know what intelligent action actually means.

I developed the term a decade ago, by questioning something that self-help guru Tony Robins said, in his Personal Power audio program.  He claimed that the following 2 sayings were contradictions of each other.

  • Look before you leap
  • He who hesitates is lost

To me, those sayings are not only extremely complimentary, they also combine to form the basis of how all successful decision makers operate.  Here’s what I mean:

Look before you leap: Before you take action (or leap), you should get the information required (or look) to ensure you make the best decision.

Then…

He who hesitates is lost: Once you have the information required in order to take action – Use it! Opportunities in business, and in life generally, are often time-sensitive.  That is to say, you can miss out on an opportunity, by hesitating for too long.  Before you know it, the moment has passed and the opportunity is no more.

Intelligent action

Success comes to those, who take intelligent action.  Intelligent action is the fusion of research and activity.  Combine those 2 together and you can achieve real progress in any area of your business.

So, look before you leap, but once equipped with the information you need, remember that he (or she) who hesitates is lost – So take action.

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

Photo: Neosnaps

3 simple ideas to improve your marketing results

How well do you know your prospective clients?

For marketing to work, it needs to strike a chord with the recipient.  It needs to ask a question or make a statement that stops them in their tracks and grabs their attention.  To do this, your question or statement needs to be directly relevant.

This means you need to know what THEY consider relevant and important.

Here are a few simple ideas, which can quickly give you a much clearer picture of the needs of your marketplace and allow you to target them more effectively:

  1. Whenever possible, ask your existing clients about what they see as the threats and opportunities facing their business and their industry.  Look for the most common replies.
  2. Put a survey on your website, for non-clients.  Make it as brief as possible and offer some kind of reward for filling it in.
  3. Listen to your marketplace using social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.  Many small business owners treat social media as a way to sell, yet it can be of enormous commercial benefit, to simply listen and learn.

That kind of market data can be worth a fortune to you, and not simply as a way to better target your marketing messages!  It can also help you develop new products and services, based on what your marketplace actually wants, rather than what you assume it wants or needs.

When your services and your marketing are developed around the needs and wants of your prospective clients, it makes everything you do massively more effective.

How do you remain relevant with your marketplace?

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

How to turn your blog into a massively valuable marketing machine!

business blogging

Do you write a business blog, but feel frustrated right now with your results?

I have a message for you: Don’t give up!  The success you want may be just around the corner and the results can be exactly what you and your business need!

Here’s why

Most small business owners need to invest a considerable amount of money each year, if they want to introduce their services to targeted, prospective clients or customers.  They invest in mail shots, radio and print advertising etc.  Every time they want to reach those people, they have to pony up with some more money.  It can be a costly exercise, especially for those small business owners who handle their own marketing and need to reach a lot of people in order to generate enough leads or sales, because they get the typical, crappy, small business owner response rates.

That’s how most small business owners market themselves.  Yes, some attend networking events, hire telemarketing companies or hire PR firms etc, but they all involve spending often large sums of money, every time they need to generate sales or inquiries.

And then there’s business blogging

Most business bloggers, and I include myself here, start off with very few readers.  It’s usually just us and a few contacts, who we share our blog with.  Then, over a period of months the readership increases and if the content is attractive enough, we can build a sizeable, targeted audience.  From this point forward, whenever we want to reach these extremely valuable people, we simply need to publish a post, (like this one.)  There are no additional financial costs involved, for you to reach people and engage with them via your blog.

If we keep our content as valuable as possible to our readers and we focus our content, so it’s of direct interest to our core profile of clients, our audience increases in both volume and value.  Once you have bought a URL (or web address) and some server space, there are no additional financial investments required to get started.  Just a lot of work, creativity and the commitment to learn how to market all that great content.  The rewards, however, are amazing and in some cases, life-changing.

Is it easy?

No!  It requires time and commitment.

Is it worth the effort?

Yes!  The results are easily the most powerful of any form of marketing I have encountered, as a marketing professional with 25 years experience behind me.

Powerful?  Let’s take last week as an example.  One of my blog posts was read by over three thousand people in just 6 hours, with thousands more reading it since.  It was also featured on several websites.  Last week I also did an audit of the financial value of business I generated directly via inquiries involving this blog, and it was over £100,000.  I started this blog just 2 and a half years ago, with a £10 investment; which was the cost of the URL and the hosting that came with it!

Blogging and the law of return

Around 14-months ago, I decided to start taking this blog a lot more seriously, as it was quickly becoming my primary source of new business.  Within weeks, the number of readers / inquiries increased.

Then last year, I invested in a fast, super-reliable dedicated server from WebFusion, who now generously sponsor this blog!  This allowed me to be able to concentrate 100% of my blogging time on creating content, without worrying about technical issues or my server being down.  Again, the numbers increased, in both readers and business inquiries, as I was able to produce more and more content, which people could access reliably.

In other words, every time I have committed more into this blog, I have seen a significant, measurable, bankable increase in my results.

Blogging and the need for speed

Whilst most forms of traditional marketing require a significant financial investment, they tend to reach people very quickly.  As we live in an increasingly “instant” society, people like the idea of immediate results.  It may cost 2k to send 5,000 prospective clients your latest mailing, but those letters can be on their doormats in a couple of days.  Your blog, on the other hand, starts off a lot slower.  Yes, it can be up and running for the cost of a lunch at Starbucks, but you will probably have to work at it for many months, before you can reach 5,000 people each week.

However…

What about when you HAVE managed to build a blog, which reaches 5,000 or 50,000 prospective clients each week?

At this point, you will probably want to improve your blog hosting and buy a nice looking blog theme so your site looks polished and professional, like the one I use here.  I built this blog from scratch, using Headway blog theme software (affiliate link.) From that point onward, so long as you continue to invest the time required to publish worthwhile content and you learn how to make your blog as visible and shareable as possible, you will be building your own, increasingly valuable marketing / media asset!

Think about it:

  • You don’t need to pay someone for advertising, when you own a media asset yourself (your blog), which is read by more targeted prospective clients than their publication is.
  • You don’t need to invest in mail shots, when your marketing is being read by hundreds and then thousands of prospects every day of the week, every week of the year.
  • You may even get featured in The New York Times, just because they find value in what you have to say on your blog.  It’s less likely one of your mail shots or ads will gain that kind of complimentary attention.  The value to your blog of those kind of A-List links can also have an ongoing, positive impact on your Google ranking.  Again, this builds the value of your blog as a media asset.

If you want to take your blog to the next level, here are a few ideas, based on the lessons I have learned over the past couple of years:

  1. Decide in advance to persevere during the initial 6-12 months, whilst your blog gets established.  Your blog should be seen as a medium to long term investment, not a quick fix.
  2. Commit to putting as much highly valuable content on your blog as possible.  When I was posting just once a week, the development of the blog was extremely slow.  If you only publish 1 post a week, it will take you a month to publish just 4 posts.  That’s 4 posts for people to share and 4 updates, to encourage people to return to your blog and check it out again.  Give people a reason to visit your blog regularly, with frequently updated content.  Make reading your blog a part of their routine.
  3. If you find it hard to write more than once a week, you may be trying too hard to make each post perfect.  Blog posts don’t need to be perfect every time.  Give yourself permission to write “as well as you can” on any given day.  The perfection mindset destroys more blogs than anything else, in my experience.
  4. Learn how to Search Engine Optimize (SEO) your blog, so that it is as easy as possible for Google and others to find it.
  5. Learn how to write compelling posts, which people will want to read and share.  The more good quality content you give away, the faster your blog will develop and the more people will value it.
  6. Make your blog as easy to share as possible, using the kind of share options you see at the bottom of this post.  It takes time for Google to start sending you significant, regular traffic; yet you can start getting share traffic immediately, by writing great content and sharing it with your social networks.
  7. Read the top blogs in your niche and learn from them.
  8. Read some crap blogs too and see what they are doing – So you can avoid it!
  9. Ask people to subscribe to your blog, with a prominent subscriber box.  Your subscribers are your most loyal readers and often your most valuable too.
  10. Be relevant.  Focus your content, so that it is of direct interest to your ideal client profile.  Don’t try and write for everyone, as this dilutes the value of your writing.

Nothing of genuine commercial value is ever created on the quick!  A successful business blog is no different.  It takes time and commitment.  However, if you are prepared to invest the time, learn the lessons and keep on keeping on, the results can be simply stunning.

What would you like to add?  What have your experiences been?  Share your feedback!

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

Photo: Justin Russell

Small business owners: How do you measure up?

small business ownersSmall business owners is a term I use throughout this site, because these remarkable people are the focus of everything I do here.  In fact, there’s a better than 9 in 10 probability that you are a small business owner yourself, such is the targeted nature of the site and its readership.  So, it’s little wonder that readers often ask me;

When you talk about small business owners, what actual size of business are you referring to Jim?

Small business owners & numbers

I have no hard and fast rule for determining what a small business is.  After all, you can have businesses with just a handful of employees, turning over millions, and businesses that employ 100 people, which hardly cover their costs.  Is it right to refer to Bob as a small business owner, if his internationally respected business is extremely profitable and turns over ten million a year; just because he “only” employs 3 people?  I don’t know.

Until recently, Twitter would have been classed as a small business in The USA and The EU; despite raising hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and having tens of millions of users.  That’s because in The EU (European Union), a small business is one with fewer than 50 employees and in The United States, the term is commonly applied to businesses with fewer than 100 employees.  Some agencies use a more effective combination of employee numbers and revenue figures, but these vary a lot in how they are used.  Getting it right is a real challenge.

The Small business owners I write for

Governments, business organizations and banks etc must have a hard limit for what THEY class as a small business, for allocation of; grants, loans, taxation, health and safety etc.  I allow myself a little more scope when writing for small business owners here on the blog.  I typically think of my readership as being on the lower end of the numbers mentioned earlier.

In short: I write for business owners, who typically don’t have access to in-house, high level marketing expertise.  These range from freelancers, trainers, coaches and consultants, to businesses employing  several hundred people.

Over to you!

I would like to know what you regard as a small business?  Do you go by employee number, turnover / revenue or another metric?  Is it possible to measure a business by the size of its thinking, or is that nuts?  What do you think?

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

Photo: Louise Docker

The secret of a successful, worry-free business!

If business worries are causing you (or a friend) problems right now, this post is written just for you!

I had real trouble sleeping last night.  I was excited.  I kept thinking about some of the plans I am working on and it seemed just as I was getting drowsy, I had another idea.  I ended up having to get out of bed, so I could write the ideas down. Twice!  Sadly, many people find it hard to sleep at night for other business-related reasons.

Business worries need a solution

Last month, a friend told me that he had been unable to sleep.  He was kept awake, worrying about the future of his business.  Apparently, he hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep for weeks and it was taking its toll on him and his wife.  I set a couple of hours aside to look at his business and share some ideas with him, and he’s already starting to see some much needed results.  He is also starting to sleep again, which will help him enormously.

We each need to ensure that if our business is to keep us awake occasionally, it is with excitement, not apprehension.  Apprehension in business, comes when we see there is a problem, and can’t figure out how to resolve it.  We then play out all the possible, often frightening scenarios in our mind.  This use of the human imagination is extremely powerful and can make us ill.  It is also the worst possible use of our imagination, when we are faced with something that needs a solution.

Business worries sometimes need additional expertise

The approach I use, is to spend just enough time learning exactly what the problem (or challenge) is.  Then, as soon as I know exactly what I am dealing with, I spend the rest of the time looking for answers.  If I can’t find the answer myself (and here’s the really important part) I start looking for someone who has the answer. When my friend came to me with that problem, which had stopped him from sleeping and was worrying him sick, we were able to resolve it over 2 cups of coffee.  I had the answer he needed.

One of the most valuable assets you can build around your business, is a network of people with expertise in all the key areas of business.  People often see networking purely as a way to find new clients or introducers, who can introduce them to new clients.  This is a myopic approach to business development and networking.

Spend time developing a group of great people, who have the resources you and your business need.  When you require expert advice, it’s always easier to discuss it with someone you already know.  (By the way, this is one of the benefits of blogging.  If you regularly “show up” in people’s lives via your blog, they feel as if they already know you!)

Connect with a great accountant and lawyer.  Get to know your bank manager too, as she is far more likely to be of help to you if she knows more about your business and your needs.  Accountants, lawyers and bank managers are also usually very well connected too, which massively expands your field of resources by association.

If you are worrying about your business right now, stop! Spend that time either looking for the answer you need, or the people you need.

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

Photo: Kate Ter Harr

« Older posts Newer posts »