Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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How to get noticed by the right kind of people!

I mentioned on Twitter earlier, that I had just been quoted in today’s New York Times.  It’s a short piece about a post I wrote here, on the difference between running a business and running a self-employed job.

Anyhow, I soon received an email, asking me what my tips were for gaining that kind of coverage.  So, rather than just reply to the guy who sent me the email, I thought I would share my answer here, in case you find it useful.

Here is the 3 step process I suggested to him:

  1. Make your site easy to find.
  2. Have something worth saying.
  3. Say it well.

Make your site easy to find

People need to be able to easily find your site, when they are searching the Internet for the kind of topics you write about.  This means embracing SEO (search engine optimization.)  Easily, the single most important part of SEO is the number and quality of links pointing to your site.  Many people focus too much on stuffing key words into their web pages and blog posts, hoping this will boost their SEO, but neglect to focus on attracting good quality, organic links from great sites.  If none of what I just said makes sense to you, get some expert SEO help.

Have something worth saying

Whatever you write about, make it as valuable and interesting as possible.  It’s hard to stand out, when you are simply echoing what everyone else in your industry is saying.  Here’s a suggestion: If others in your space are all writing about the problems within your industry, start writing about possible answers.  Be courageous enough to swim in the opposite direction to the rest of the crowd.  Whatever you do, make your message worth saying.  If you do, it will also be worth reading and worth sharing!

Say it well

Once your site is easy to find and you have something worth saying, you need to be able to say it well – To communicate your message as effectively as possible.  This is something else I work on with my clients, because it is such a key part of being in business today.  We live in an age where the typical small business owner is no longer just a passive consumer of information.  She is a content creator too!  She has her website, emails, social networking updates and (I hope) her blog too.  I believe that every small business owner needs to invest in developing their copywriting skills.

The good news is that everything I have mentioned here is a skill you can improve with the right guidance.  Anyone can improve their SEO, so they attract lot’s of targeted readers.  Anyone can learn how to look at their industry more creatively and then improve their copywriting skills, so people actually want to read what they have to say.  It’s why people like me exist!

If you miss out any of those 3 steps, you are placing a very low ceiling on your marketing potential.  Very few small businesses focus effectively on more than 1 of those areas, which is GREAT news for you.  It means that if you decide to do what’s required to learn all 3 skills, you can achieve amazing results!

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

3 bad habits that lose you business!

So, you want to make more sales and attract more targeted business enquiries?

Great!  That’s what this brief post is all about.  Here are 3 of the most common marketing copy errors I see, along with how you can fix them and improve your marketing results:

1. Are you writing for everyone?

If you find yourself writing marketing messages, which attempt to explain how your offering could be of value to almost everyone, I suggest you stop!  For your marketing messages to work, they need to be directly relevant to your core target group – not vaguely relevant to everyone.  People do not feel inspired to take action when they read something that’s only vaguely relevant to them.  Write with focus.  Become super-relevant to your marketplace.  It works.

2. Are you writing with confidence?

If you find yourself writing so that everyone either approves or agrees with you, I suggest you stop!  If you are a specialist in your field and you are writing about something you believe to be correct, have the confidence to state your opinion.  Your expertise is what people pay for.  Show the marketplace that you lack confidence or are wishy-washy and you have little chance of gaining their respect or their business!  Be polite, be friendly but also show confidence in what you believe.

3. Are you saying too much?

If you find that your marketing messages tend to regularly run to more than 500 words, I suggest you stop!  Almost every marketing email, mail shot and blog post I see is at least 50% too long – Often 75% too long!  If you want people to hear your core message, keep it short.  Focus on information rich content.  Learn to embrace brevity.  Make it as easy as possible for people to quickly “get” the point you are making.

I hope you found those three points useful. If you did, be sure to share them with your friends.

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

Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers and PURE Inspiration!

There’s a post on NileRodgers.com, which took my breath away, drove me to tears and then inspired me more than any single post I have ever read!

WARNING: This post has nothing to do with marketing or business development, but I would like to share it with those of you seeking inspiration or strength right now.

The video

It’s a very recently discovered video recording of Nile performing in Japan, with his great friend and Chic co-founder, the late GREAT Bernard Edwards.  It was Bernard’s last ever performance and in the Video, you can see him coming in and out of shot, having to leave the stage to take oxygen to cope with the pain he was in.  ‘Nard refused medical advice and the advice of those who loved him, and insisted in playing bass (beautifully), on this version of “Wild Boys” with Simon Le Bonn and the other members of The Chic Organization.

What makes this one of the most powerful, inspiring posts I have ever seen, is that it shows someone that is so driven and passionate about what they do, that even though they were in incredible pain and soon to leave this world, they drove themselves to do what they lived for.

I have had the privilege of chatting with Nile Rodgers about this, and his insights from that experience have LITERALLY (and I’m using that word in the correct context here) changed my life.

Why?

Here’s some background

As some of you may know, I had an extremely brutal childhood; growing up on one of the most violent slums in South London.  To give you an idea, I was almost killed in a gang fight at the age of just 17; after being attacked by 5 guys, one of whom attacked me with an axe.

Back then, one of the things that used to bring me and my friends some positive inspiration when we were surrounded by violence and lack, was music.  My preferred sound at the time was the music of Chic.

Chic’s music used to follow me everywhere.  I used to listen to it in the gym when I was boxing and in the disco at the weekend.  I still clearly remember saving up to get each new record on 12″ vinyl from the local record shop.  To this day I still own and cherish all of them. I remember bringing my Chic collection (along with records from the likes of The Brothers Johnson, Crown Heights Affair, Hamilton Bohannon etc ) to parties and guarding them very closely.

Then, we fast forward over 30 years and I see the aforementioned video.  Today, I have a beautiful family, a very successful business and am financially secure for life.  However, I find myself inspired by Chic once more – And to an even greater extent than “back in the day.”

Today, it’s about more than the Chic sound: It’s about the passion that drove Bernard Edwards to MAKE that sound with Nile Rodgers.

After watching that video and then chatting with Nile about it, (the day Nile saw the video for the very first time), something within me changed.  It’s a change for the better and I am eternally grateful to Nile for responding, when I reached out to him.

Nile is 100% class – THAT’S CHIC!!

I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you, but I believe sometimes it’s good to know a little about the people behind blogs and social networks.  If you read through this far and I managed to get what I am feeling across with these words, then you probably know a LOT more about me than you did before.

Update: I was deeply touched to see that Nile Rodgers decided to share this post with his friends and fans on Facebook and Twitter.  See below:

How can I help?

How’s business for you right now?

The question is simple and the answer is pretty simple too.  If you are making measurable progress in reasonable time then business is almost certainly fine.  If you are not making enough measurable progress in reasonable time, you are either plateauing or slowly going broke.  This post is for people in this second group, who are struggling to attract enough clients or make enough sales right now.

In my experience, most small business owners work hard, using all they know in order to develop their businesses.  Then, they reach a plateau or “levelling point.”  From here on, it seems that no matter how hard they try to generate sales or win new clients / customers, their efforts seem to have just a marginal positive impact.  In most of the cases I have seen, people with this problem have usually tried to develop their business based on tactical marketing, using ideas they discovered via the Internet or from some of the more popular marketing books / seminars.

If this sounds like you, you probably have a hundred and one different marketing ideas, but because they are generic (written for mass consumption) few of them seem to work and many are just too confusing for you to actually use.

Clearly, if you find yourself in this group, you need to get out.  The sooner the better.  The way forward, is for you to move from using the generic kind of marketing ideas I mentioned a moment ago, and start using a clear, effective plan, which is based on your specific situation, challenges and resources.  Your marketing and business development plan needs to be designed for you - not for “the masses.”

General marketing advice is exactly that: General.  However, what you need are specifics.  You need a plan that will take you from where you are today, to where you want to be.  You also need support and guidance, so that you can keep on track and have all your questions answered along the way.  This is where professional marketing comes in.  There are marketing consultants in your town or city, who will be able to help you put a plan together.  Some are good, some are less good.  Ask your friends and contacts who THEY use and what they think of them, if you decide to take that route.

How can I help you?

Of course, I’m here too.  My marketing service is for those of you who want a clear marketing plan BUT also, someone you can trust to give you all the support and advice you need, every step of the way.  This means you not only get access to my most powerful marketing ideas, you also have me on the other end of a phone line or Skype, when you need advice, support or someone to bounce ideas off.  My clients often tell me that this provides a level of clarity, focus and energy that they never had before.  However, my marketing service is only available to small businesses.  I personally subsidise my fee for that service, so that every small business owner, who’s serious about improving their results can work with me.  It’s one of the most interesting things I do professionally, and my clients have achieved some stunning, life changing results.

As long time readers will know, I don’t mention my services in detail in my blog posts usually, but it’s important for you to know I’m here for you right now, if you think you may need me.

The bottom line: If what you have been doing up to this point has not generated the bankable results you want, then it’s time to get the help you need, so you can enjoy the success you deserve.

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

What everybody ought to know about successful small businesses!

passive income, residual income, small business marketing Many small business owners do not actually run a business. They simply run a self-employed job!

For example, I remember speaking a while ago with a guy, who told me he ran an oven cleaning business.

I asked him how his business worked and he explained; “It’s really straight forward, Jim.  I have some very powerful cleaning products and I travel all over the county, cleaning people’s ovens with these industrial strength products.  I’m usually able to get an oven looking as good as new.”

I asked him what happened to his earnings, when he was on holiday.  He replied;  “I’m only making money when I am cleaning ovens.  When I’m taking a break, I don’t make anything.”  He then joked that this was why he seldom took a break.

That guy did not run a business.

He ran a self-employed job, with what sounded like very few perks.  When he’s too old or too sick to clean ovens, his income stops immediately.  That’s not much of a return, for maybe 20 or 30 years worth of work.  We all deserve better than that!

How could he turn it around?

If this guy wanted to start running a business, he could decide to hire people to do the actual cleaning for him, whilst he grew the business.  That may or may not work, depending on his attitudes to employing people.  So, here are a few alternatives, which would turn his time-for-money business model on its head:

  • He might want to produce a book or DVD, which shows consumers how to safely clean their ovens, so that they look like new. This scales well and could be used as part of a residual income stream.
  • He may want to get a license, to be the official reseller in his country of a range of oven cleaning products.  This can be extremely profitable.
  • If he went on to develop a successful oven cleaning business, by embracing these business development ideas, he could create a program for owners of other oven cleaning businesses, to show them how he achieved his success.  Ironically, this would ALSO create another residual income stream for him.
  • He could also sell the above program to other people, who sell their time for money, such as; consultants, freelance designers, trainers, business advisors etc.

The bottom line: The sooner you start running a business, the sooner your “job” stops running you.

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

Image: Jespahjoy

Here’s a quick way to make Twitter much more useful!

How useful is Twitter to you and your business?  In this brief post, I share what I have found to be the best way to get the maximum results from your Twitter account.

Twitter is a great tool, but the magic is in the people

Many business owners seem to think of Twitter almost exclusively, as a way to build networks, drive traffic to websites and share interesting links and messages with their followers.  As I saw yet again recently, Twitter can be so much more than that.  The key for me, is to remember always that Twitter is just a tool and that the REAL magic of Twitter, is in the people behind those @usernames and avatars.  These people can be pure gold.

Let me just quantify that: The people who network with me on Twitter are one of the most valuable resources my business has.

Twitter & targeted crowd sourcing

As some of you may already know, yesterday 10-10-10, I launched a new social media project on the Jim Connolly website.  It’s really exciting!  Anyhow, because this project is based on a new idea, I needed to find a way to explain it to people, as clearly as possible.  After writing the initial draft of the site’s about page, which explains everything (you can read it here), I asked people, via twitter, for their feedback.  I wanted to know what the message said to THEM. I received responses from people in different areas of industry, different countries, different ages – You get the idea.  They were also the exact kind of people (small business owners) who would most benefit from this new social media project.

As a direct result of the feedback I received, I was able to launch the site and project yesterday, knowing in advance that I had a clear message.  As a result, the launch was as smooth as silk and the response was fantastic!

Twitter and human engagement

In my experience, Twitter only becomes truly valuable to you and your business, when you focus on the people and NOT the tool itself.  All day long, I see business owners on Twitter obsessing about plugins, apps and sites that measure their influence.  They look for software that automates their Tweets and automates their following and unfollowing.  I even saw a top social media guru asking his followers if it was “OK” for him to send some automated tweets.

It’s correct, of course, to use the right tools but only if they help the real you, connect with the real people that are interested enough to follow you and engage with you.  The automated experience may attract others with a similar approach, but it will miss the mark completely, with those REAL people, who want to connect on a more human level.

What kind of people do YOU connect with on Twitter and why?

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

Think like a lottery winner

Yesterday, someone in the UK won £113m on the euromillions lottery.  I just heard a short extract from a radio station, where they asked listeners what would be the first thing they would do (not buy), if they won all that money.

Each of the 4 replies I heard could be achieved without a lottery win, yet these people seemed to think only a huge cash windfall would make them possible.  You can quit a job you hate or travel to Peru, without being a millionaire.  You can also find the partner of your dreams or start a great little business, without millions in the bank (I did.)

Bogus limitations

Most of the limitations we place on ourselves are completely bogus.  As soon as we apply some thought, it’s clear that with a little planning and a lot of commitment, many of the things we believe to be beyond us, are actually well within our reach.  It’s all about raising the bar on what we believe we are capable of and learning the difference between something that is impossible for us to achieve and something that is challenging.

What bogus limitations are holding you back?

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

How to think with clarity and make more progress than ever before!

Do you ever find yourself suffering from what I call MIND FOG?

This is where you have so much going on that it’s hard to focus with complete clarity, on what you want to achieve.  You end up with lots of lists and even though you seem to be getting things done, you are not making the kind of commercial progress that you want.

Would you like some help?  Great.  Here are 3 questions, designed to remove that foggy thinking and set you on track to clarity and the bankable results you need:

1. If my business was already perfect for me in every way, what would it look like?

Write your answer down, in detail.  Include everything, from what your turnover and profits would be and how many hours you would work, to the profile of your ideal clients and the kind of service you would provide.  Then, each time you have a commercial decision to make, simply ask yourself: “Is this going to take me closer to my ideal business or further away from it?”

Your answer to this simple question provides you with a destination and a direction.  One of the reasons so many businesses spin their wheels and get nowhere, is that they lack that kind of pinpoint focus and clarity.  It’s impossible to identify the right opportunities, unless you are crystal clear about what you want.

2. What is my desired outcome here?

Here’s one of the best pieces of business advice I was ever given: Before you do anything, ALWAYS start with the end in mind.  Don’t waste a minute of your time, an ounce of your energy or a penny of your money, until you know what you want to achieve from something.  For example, most small business owners will set up a Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin account because they think they should or because someone tells them they should – but they have just a foggy idea of what their outcome is.  As a direct result, they have no idea who to connect with or how best to use these tools.

I get emails regularly, from business owners with lots of social networking followers, but nothing in the bank to show for it.  Their foggy thinking at the start, means they connected with the wrong people, in the wrong way, and now use their social network as light relief, rather than a business generating asset.  That’s what happens when you start something, without knowing your outcome in advance.

3. Is this the best use of my time, right now?

One of the core reasons that small business owners fail to reach their potential, even though they work long hours, is that they waste too much of their time on low value activities.

I have seen a £150 an hour lawyer, waste 3 hours of his time trying to fix his email; rather than pay someone a fraction of that amount to do it for him.  Had he asked himself this simple question; “Is this the best use of my time, right now?” he would have immediately realised that it wasn’t, and would have avoided wasting his time, energy and money.  Make it a habit to ask yourself this question throughout the day.  Whenever you find yourself answering; “No, this is not the best use of my time right now”, go and do something that’s of greater value to you and your business.

With so many daily distractions all fighting for your attention throughout the day, it’s important to be in control of your time and that means gaining control of your focus.  This simple question helps you do just that!

(Those 3 questions are a very brief example of the kind of things I work on with my clients, there’s more here.)

It’s just too easy to mistake movement for progress.  It’s also unnecessary, yet without a crystal clear idea of exactly what you want to achieve and the ability to get things done, it’s impossible to make much progress no matter how hard you work.  Like they say, if hard work were the secret to success, our grandparents would have been millionaires.

I hope you found those 3 questions useful.  If you did, please share them with your friends!

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

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