Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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There’s gold everywhere!

I live in the countryside and this time of year, something visually amazing happens: Everything turns to gold!

The green country lanes of a few weeks ago are slowly transforming into golden, spiralling highways.

It serves as a great reminder to me that golden opportunities often start off by looking very different.

We only see the gold when the time is right!

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

Some blogging magic for you!

Yesterday on Twitter, someone told me that she thought I was a mind reader.  She said that she was just about to start writing a new blog and that she was amazed when this post arrived in her inbox, with ideas on how to generate more sales and business leads from your site.

The reality is that there was no mind reading or magic in play there.  I write about marketing all the time and frequently share ideas with you, about making your Internet marketing fly.  All that actually happened is that someone with the foresight to subscribe to a marketing blog, received some marketing advice.

The reason it seemed uncanny, is that the information came to her at just the right time!

One of the benefits of regularly sharing information with your readers, is that you will tend to turn up just when they need you.  If you can understand the value of this from a marketing perspective, you may have found one of the more compelling reasons to blog more often.

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

How to attract more sales leads from your website!

Would you like to attract more sales, leads or business enquiries?

Are you currently using a website to market your services? (BTW: It’s the 21st century, you should be.)

Here’s a quick marketing tip: Don’t turn your entire site into a sales pitch!

  • Use your site to connect with people.
  • Use your site to provide information and ideas.
  • Use your site to help people find answers.
  • Use your site to showcase your skills and how effective you are – But don’t turn it into one giant sales pitch.

There should be a key marketing page on your site, which gives people a short explanation of whatever your service is AND it’s benefits.  It should list the problems that your offering solves and highlight the most compelling benefits or working with you or buying from you.  It should have a few well chosen testimonials and it should regularly ask people to take action; to call or email you.

There’s an example of such a page, which works extremely well here on this blog.  Study it.  Check out where I place the calls to action and how easy I make it to get in touch with me – That phone number goes to a phone that’s right here on my desk!

Your key marketing page should then be sign-posted throughout your site, as I do with that small rectangle box beneath every post on this blog (if you are reading this post via RSS, click here.)  By placing that small box at the bottom of each blog post, I reach people at the exact point, where they are most likely to contact me.

Here’s how it works: So, Mary reads a post of mine and really finds it useful.  The very next thing Mary sees, is a message from me, which lets Mary know that I work with small business owners just like her and if she wants to know more, she just needs to “read this”.  Each time someone comes here and reads something I’ve written, which leaves them wondering how many additional sales they would be making by working with me – BOOM, that box is there with a simple call to action.

By using the alternative approach, where the service provider is actually trying to sell their services on almost every page, it’s a lot harder to build rapport with your readers.  It makes everything read like a glorified sales pitch.  It’s like when you go to one of those stores where the salesperson approaches you as you walk through the door and asks, “how can I help you?”, rather than wait until you have entered the store, and maybe need help finding something or making a decision.  The first approach bugs you – the second approach helps you.  Two very different approaches and two very different end results.

Use your site to showcase your value.  Show people that you are friendly and approachable.  Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you and encourage them to do so.  When you make that shift from pitching to connecting, the results can be amazing!

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

Needles and haystacks

As regular readers will know, I am in the process of making it easier for you to find the information here that’s most relevant to you.  Last night, I came to a conclusion, which I would like to share.

My original concept, was to create a page here that contained links to my best posts, on certain subjects.

Here’s the problem with that approach: What if there’s a post here on a certain topic, which provides exactly the answer you need, but I didn’t think it was worth including in that section?

Exactly!

So, what I am going to do is recategorize every post on this blog (it’s going to take a while as there are almost 500 to go through) and divide them into a small number of key categories.  Each will cover a particular area of marketing or business development and will be extremely easy to navigate; with a synopsis of each post displayed.  Typically, blogs with as many posts as mine have too many categories and as such, people tend not to use them much as a way to discover the information they need on a blog.

This blog currently has 18 categories (too many) and so few people were using them as a way to navigate the site that I removed the category box months ago.  Anyhow, if you look at the way I use categories on my Tech News Blog, (under News Topics in the side bar) you will get a good idea of what I mean.

Yes, I know there are plugins that allow you to display the most “popular” posts but sadly, the most read or shared posts are not always the most useful to you.  Posts with certain titles spread like wildfire, as do posts that are shared on social networks by people with lots of followers / fans.  This skewers the results and defeats the object, in my opinion.

I hope you have a great day.  Me?  I have a little editing to do! ;)

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

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!

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