Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Keeping you in the picture

flickr, creative commons, image hosting, Over the past few months, I have used flickr for all the post images here on the marketing blog.  There are millions of great pictures available and it’s extremely easy to use.

However, I have recently noticed a growing problem, which is changing how I use images from flickr and other image sites.  I want to share this with you, along with some brief information on the kind of images and photographs you can use on your blog / website.

Out of the picture

Until now, I have gone to flickr, picked the image I want to use and simply linked to it – So although you see a photograph here on the blog, the image itself lives on flickr’s servers.  The benefit to me of this approach, is that I don’t need to upload images or compress them before I use them.  I just enter the URL of the image into WordPress, and I can then place it wherever I want. Equally, when my blog was hosted on a slower server, the pages tended to load quicker when the images were hosted on flickr.

The downside of linking to images, rather than hosting them on your own server, is that the images you link to can be, and are, removed without warning.  As a result, I often see posts I wrote a while ago, with images missing.  So, I have decided to go back to hosting images on my own server and I am now recommending people to do the same; unless they have a good reason not to.

Regarding the use of images on blog posts, there’s something else a lot of people ask me about, which I would like to mention.

Image licenses: A quick reminder

Posts often look better with a nice image, so it’s often a good idea (especially if you write long posts) to break your posts up with appropriate pictures.  However, before you use an image, always check if you have permission, first.  Many people seem to think that they can just copy any image and use it, when this is totally incorrect!  For example, the images you see on news sites are often the property of agencies like, The Associated Press or Getty Images and are not available for free use.  Others images are available under a version of Creative Commons and can be used for free, but only under certain conditions.

The images I use from flickr, for example, are licensed under a version of creative commons, called; Creative Commons Attribution.  This means the images can be used without cost, however, you must give attribution to the photographer.  It’s only right that you give the photographers, whose images you use, full credit for their work.  Giving attribution also allows your readers to discover the photographer’s work.

What tips do you have for using images on blogs or websites.  I’d love to hear them!

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

Image: Zanastardust

Building a great team

One of the common traits among every successful business owner I have ever met, is their ability to build a great team of people around them.  These people may be; consultants, marketing professionals, accountants, lawyers, IT professionals, media contacts or people with influence within their industry.

Building a great team

You should always be on the look out for great people, in all the key areas where your business needs expertise.  Most small business owners take the opposite approach.  They build THEIR team with far less forward planning or discernment.  They will elect to use an accountant simply because they are members of the same networking group or because that accountant quotes the lowest fee.  Those are not good reasons to add someone to a key role within your team!

Equally, many small business owners wonder why they get so few good quality business leads from their contacts, when their contacts lack the kind of influence required to generate good quality leads from key decision makers.

Here’s a suggestion: Take some time out, to review the people around you – Your team!

  • Do you have the best people you can get in each of the key areas for your business?
  • If cost is an issue, are you absolutely sure you have the best people, within your budget?
  • Do you trust all your team members?  This is a key issue, for without trust, their value to you is extremely limited.

And finally…

Are there areas of your business, where you are operating without expert help, instead choosing to look for free advice on forums or via Google?  If there are, I strongly recommend you immediately change your approach.  This is the most competitive marketplace in living memory, and those who try and compete on the cheap, almost always go broke!

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

Image: Ralph Bijker

Are you sure you do it often enough?

I have 2 quick questions for you today, which can help you massively increase your sales:

  • What is the single most powerful form of marketing that you use?
  • Why don’t you use it more often?

2 million in extra sales, with 1 simple idea!

marketing timing, marketing regularity, Jim ConnollyBack in 1997, I spoke with the owner of a building supplies company.  Their biggest source of new business was a highly profitable catalogue, which they sent out every 6 months.  These 2 catalogues were responsible for the vast majority of their sales.  I asked him why he only sent out 2 a year and not 4; 1 per quarter.  He told me that he assumed 2 catalogues a year was the right balance.

I explained that he shouldn’t assume anything, until he had tested and measured the results.  At my suggestion, he gave it a try and saw an immediate, huge increase in business.  He later told me that our 10 minute conversation earned him almost £2 million over the next 18 months, for which he was extremely grateful.

Whilst it’s very important to ensure that you are using the correct forms of marketing (use this marketing check list), and using them in the correct way; it’s just as important to use them regularly enough.

Of course, with marketing there is always a balancing act.  If, for example, the business owner I mentioned a moment ago had sent a new catalogue out every week, the cost of production and distribution would have massively increased.  It’s likely he would get too few additional sales, to justify the massive additional cost.  However, by slowly increasing the regularity of your marketing, you can find the sweet-spot; the point where your marketing is being used with ideal regularity.  Not too frequently and not too infrequently.

Why not take a moment to review the most effective forms of marketing you currently use and see if there’s a possibility, that you are not using it frequently enough?

What types of marketing do you think people tend to over use or under use?

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

Photo: Duncan

Marketing messages: It’s all about THEM!

All too often, small business owners market their services based on what is most appealing to them.  They make offers that they think are great.  They focus on benefits that they think are important.

Here’s the challenge with that approach: It’s very ineffective!

Your prospective clients buy for their reasons, not yours.  If you want them to become clients, you need to be able to see things from their perspective and adapt your marketing messages accordingly.  You need to write in terms that are native to them, not you.  You need to inspire them to call you, email you, visit your store etc, and they will only do that if you give them a good reason to.  This means using their language, to demonstrate the benefits of what you do, based on their most pressing needs.  It’s all about THEM.

I saw someone recently trying to encourage small business owners, to attend a free talk he was giving, about how to use foursquare.  Here’s what his primary marketing message was:

“Learn how to geosocialize with your local commercial spectrum!”

Now, for 99% of the small business population, that phrase will be more likely to turn them off, than convince them to check out the service.  He was talking in HIS language, not his intended audience’s.  He failed to explain in clear business terms, what the benefits of attending his talk would be.  He failed to explain why a busy business owner should take time out from running their business, to go and listen to him.

One of the fastest ways you can improve the effectiveness of your marketing copy writing, is to review your material and ask yourself:

  • Is this written in the language I use, or the language of my prospective clients / customers?
  • Does this message clearly explain, in as few words as possible, compelling reasons why they need my product or service?

If you find your copy is failing on either front, rewrite it.  This time, place all the emphasis on them and their needs.

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

How would you cope, if this happened to YOU?

How well do your business resources match your marketing goals or sales targets?

You may want “more business” right now, but if it came, if your marketing was so effective and compelling that all the extra business you want actually arrived, how well could you service it?

Many people say that this is a “great problem to have” but they are totally missing the point!  If you are unable to benefit fully from all that potential when it comes along, you are likely to miss out on what might be a business-changing or life-changing opportunity.

Internet

Many businesses, for example, have their websites on servers that are poorly equipped to cope with a sudden surge in traffic.  You need to know how your site would hold up, if a major Internet influencer, like Robert Scoble, decided to share your amazing product page or a blog post you wrote, with his huge social network.  Equally, if your site or blog gets linked to by a popular website for whatever reason, traffic can go through the roof.

I’ve seen sites drop after a few minutes, when they have been linked to by an influential person or website – The EXACT opposite of what they want, if they want to benefit from all that free exposure!  If you are serious about your website / blog as part of your business, get serious about your hosting too.

What about the phones?

Can your phone system cope with more than 1 call at a time?  If you were taking a call right now and I called you, what would happen to my call? Would I get a busy / engaged tone?  If you state your phone number in your marketing material and you plan doing some endorsed relationship marketing, for example, you would need as many simultaneous calls to be taken as possible.  Otherwise, you will lose sales AND stacks of highly valuable leads too.

Talk to your phone provider or one of the many call handling services to see what your best options are.  Some offer ad hoc services, which you can use during the busy times only.  These can be ideal for small businesses.

Logistics?

If you have to ship a physical product as part of your business, do you have a strategy in place to cope with a surge in orders?  When I first launched my Motivation Master Class audio program, it was only available as a CD box set.  I did an appearance on The BBC and had a massive surge in orders – Which resulted in me needing to find 5 people immediately, to help me deal with the packaging and despatching of orders.  Luckily, I knew some people and we got everything out in time.  Luck, however, is not a great fall-back plan!

It’s a lot easier today – you can simply click here and be listening to me in minutes!

Proposals and tenders

You just designed a wonderful website and it gets featured on a TV show that’s watched my millions.  Over the next 3 days, you get more tender requests than you did over the past 3 years!  Do you have a system in place to reply to every single request you get?  Do you have a way to efficiently sift through the requests generated, so that you spend your major time talking to serious people?  If not, now is a great time to get yourself prepared.

Those are just a few of the areas that are better to research and plan for BEFORE you need them.

If you have others you would like to add, ideas that will help people deal with a surge in business, please share them!

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

5 ways to get more from what you already have!

In the 2nd post I published yesterday, I stated that we are all capable of incredible things, so long as we put everything we have, into everything we’ve got.  In today’s post, I’m giving you 5 practical ways to get the most from your current assets.

First, I would like to something with you that was really useful to me when I started my business.  It’s a simple question and answer from Jim Rohn.  Jim asked:

“How high will a tree grow?”

His answer:

“As high as it possibly can!  It will dig it’s roots deep down into the soil to grab every drop of water and nourishment possible.  It will stretch it’s branches out as wide as it can to catch every possible ray of sunlight. Only human beings settle for being less than we can be!”

Maximising your assets

Here are 5 things you can start today, which will help you get the very most from what you already have:

  1. If you have a number of happy clients or former clients, proactively encourage them to recommend your services to their friends and contacts.
  2. If your business has an interesting back story, let the press know and generate some useful, profile raising PR.  If you can’t afford to hire a PR professional, at least study how to write an effective press release and get it out to every media outlet you can think of.
  3. If you have a website, is it optimized for attracting targeted visitors from search engines?  If not, study the art of SEO (search engine optimization) and start making it easy for new, prospective clients to find you.
  4. If your site gets regular visitors but it generates very few sales or sales leads, review and replace any written copy, which is not compelling people to get in touch with you.  If you don’t know how, either learn or hire a proven expert.
  5. If you have a contact with a similar profile of client to yours, yet in a non-conflicting industry, ask them about an endorsed relationship opportunity.  This is one of the best ways to generate a huge amount of high quality sales, very quickly!

What tip would you give, for number 6 in that list?

I would love to know what you would add to that list; to help people get more from their current commercial assets.  If you have anything to add, please do!

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

Photo: Felix Francis

Put everything you HAVE into everything you’ve GOT!

No matter where you are right now, how little you have in the bank or how many past experiences you wish had never happened, you are capable of achieving the most amazing things!

It’s not what we have that counts, but what we do with what we have.  For example, there are just 3 primary colours, yet these can be used to produce a massive spectrum of colours. The world’s most successful people are seldom the world’s most intelligent or naturally gifted people.  In fact, time and time again we hear about people, who start off with nothing yet go on to achieve amazing success.

In my personal experience, even with very limited resources, we can achieve the incredible; so long as we put everything we have into everything we’ve got.

Have a GREAT week!

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

Photo: Linh Rom

He made me an offer that was easy to refuse!

Yesterday evening, I received an unsolicited email from someone I don’t know.  What follows is his entire email, other than his name and address:

“WOULD YOU CONSIDER Doing a 30-minute webinar for real estate agents on Monday, August 2, at 10 a.m. Central time U.S., 4 p.m. London.  And talk about marketing in today’s world!”

The email came through, while I was working on the new design for my Tech News Blog, so rather than delete it, I took a 5 minute break and replied.

I wanted to know why on earth he assumed that I would “do a webinar” for someone I have never heard of and why he thought I would be available at zero notice – So I asked him.  After all, I run a busy marketing business and my time is usually booked weeks in advance.  Heck, a few weeks ago I was a 20 minute drive away from Chris Brogan, a guy I have never met but heard a lot about, didn’t have the time to visit with him.

So, as I say, I decided to ask the emailer what made him send that email to me.

He replied that; “if I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t know.”

Using that same logic, you would go into your local Starbucks and randomly ask people if they will give you their laptops or phones – After all, “If you don’t ask, you won’t know!”  Of course, in both cases, the person’s reputation is likely to be ruined long before they get what they are demanding.

Typically in business, people do not respond well to demands from total strangers. One of the reasons social networking has been such a popular marketing tool, is that it allows us to build relationships with people.  We can connect via Twitter, for example, then exchange emails or arrange a phone call.  Of course, that approach requires a little time and attention. It’s a 2 way conversation.

It has often been said that you can get whatever you want, so long as you help enough people get what they want first.  I’m not sure if that’s always the case, but it’s far more effective than asking people that don’t know you for their; money, time, expertise or influence.

To try and take before you give, is like trying to get heat from a fire, before you build it.  It simply leaves you out in the cold!

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

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