Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Page 135 of 176

Marketing, persistence and pests!

Don’t you find it amazing that in 2010, people are still using the 1980′s sales and marketing model of pestering and pursuing people?

Here’s the problem with that approach: People hate being pestered and pursued.

For example, I received an email last week, whilst I was on holiday with my wife and 4 year old son.  The email started with the line; “I know you are on holiday with your family but…” then he hit me with a sales pitch.  He showed me zero respect and instantly alienated me.  The same guy then emailed me again today with the same pitch and said he hoped I “respected his professional persistence.”  There’s nothing professional about what he did.  In fact, the message he gave me was; “Yes, I know you are on holiday but I really don’t give a shit about you – buy this now!”

Permission marketing & professional marketing

For over 2 decades, I have successfully used and advocated the use of, what some people today call permission marketing.  Back then, we simply called it professional marketing.

Professional marketing is about treating the marketplace with respect.

It’s about operating with class.

It’s about building a strong, professional reputation.

It’s about building relationships.

It’s about trust.

It’s about professionally researching your marketplace.

It’s about considering the person behind the “sale” and not just thinking of everyone as a number.

It’s about engaging with people, who have a genuine, potential need for whatever you are offering and who have given you permission to market to them.

That’s how to build a very successful marketing function!

It’s ironic when you consider the example I gave earlier of a pushy marketer, but email marketing is one of my favourite forms of marketing.  That’s because it lends itself beautifully to the professional marketing model.  When used correctly, it can be super-effective and generate incredible results.  Of course, very few people use email marketing correctly – choosing instead to buy lists or copy them from websites, and then pester people with unwanted sales pitches.  They may get 1 person in 5,000 to place an order, but they will have just sent what felt like spam to the other 4,999! 

A company using that approach for long enough, will actually make their prospective customer base smaller and smaller, with each unwanted email they send.

Have you been pestered by pursuit marketers?  How does it make you feel about the people behind those tactics?  Let us know!

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

How to set sales targets and achieve them!

I have a question for you today: ‘Are you on track to reach your sales targets for the year?’

Don’t worry if you just answered “no” to that question, because I am going to give you some ideas and a stack of free resources, to help.  I’m also going to give you a simple 5 step guide, to show you how to set your sales targets in a way that’s easy to manage and achieve!

OK, there are 3 possible answers to my opening question:

  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. Sales targets?  What sales targets?

Sales targets: If you are on track

If you are currently on track to reach your sales targets, keep on moving forward.  Just make sure you don’t allow complacency to rob you of a great year’s results.  Examine what you have been doing and look for the most effective elements of your marketing, as well as any elements that have underperformed.

Seek to improve your weaker areas and refine your stronger areas.  Nothing happens in business by chance, so be sure to research where your successes have come from, so you can build on them in the 2nd half of the year.

Oh, and WELL DONE!

Sales targets: If you are off track

If you are currently off track, this is a fantastic time to review your marketing strategy and get yourself on track.  Make a list of every marketing activity you are using as part of your overall marketing strategy and examine how well or how poorly they have been performing for you.  If you have not yet developed a marketing strategy or you are unsure what one is, this post will help.

If you are currently using certain types of marketing simply because you see others using it or because it feels comfortable, STOP!

You need to identify the correct marketing mix for you and your business, based on your resources and what you want to achieve.

Here’s a list of 32 questions, to help you get your marketing and business development back on track.  Oh, and if you have not yet discovered the right marketing for you, here is a list of my top ten marketing tips.

Sales targets: What sales targets?

Most small business owners don’t have a process in place, to set and then track their sales targets.  It’s easy to see why, when you consider that the whole process seems so complicated.  This makes it hard to focus and to he honest, a little daunting too.  The good news is that it’s easy to set realistic, easy to follow sales targets.

The key, is for you to know how many sales you should be making each month or each week, in order to meet your annual turnover and profit goals.  By chunking the annual number down into monthly or weekly targets, it’s far easier and less daunting to keep on top of the figures.

Here’s a simple, easy to follow way to discover what your sales targets should be, in weekly or monthly chunks.

  1. List your turnover / revenue targets for the next 12 months.  We need to know what this figure is, in order to know how many sales you should be making each year.
  2. Now, list how many “average” sales you would need to make over the next 12 months, in order to achieve the above figures.  Write this number down.
  3. To get an approximate idea what your “average” sale value is, list (for example) the value of your last 20 sales, and then divide that number by 20.  This is only an approximate figure, but it will give you something to work with and is usually pretty accurate.
  4. Now, divide the number you wrote down in step 2, by 12.  This will give you a monthly sales target.
  5. If you want to work on weekly targets, (this suits some business types better than others), simply divide the annual number of sales by 52.

The great news is that no matter how things are right now, you can improve your sales and not only reach your annual targets, but blow the lid off them!

Whatever you do, make sure that if you are off target and not enjoying the success your hard work deserves, that you make the changes required.  Things will not “just get better” by themselves.  For better results, you need to be making better marketing decisions.

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

Dealing with unwanted attention!

One of the things seldom mentioned about developing a successful online profile or brand, is that as your visibility increases, you’re likely to start attracting some unwelcome attention.  This usually ranges from mild abuse on social networks, to full blown blog posts slamming you.

In my experience, there are 2 key reasons why someone would want to target a stranger in this way:

  1. They are jealous of what they believe that person has achieved or their popularity, and see the Internet as a way to anonymously vent their jealousy.
  2. They want to piggyback on that person’s influence, by getting the person to talk about them – even negatively.

Jealousy is one of the prices of success

In the age of the Internet, it’s relatively simple to spot people or brands that are popular.  You can see how many followers or fans someone has and it’s easy to see if their blog or website is popular too.  This makes popularity or success a lot more visible today than ever before.

Now, when you build something that’s popular or successful, most people will see your success as an inspiration; proof that if they do as you have done, they too can achieve the same or better.  However, there will also be a tiny percentage of people, who will see what you have achieved as a reminder of their own short comings.  Rather then improve their situation, they elect to negatively impact yours as a way to address the imbalance.

Dealing with this kind of thing, has become part of the price some people have to pay, for the visibility that comes with a prominent online profile.  The trick, by the way, is to see it for what it is and then move on.

Piggybacking on your success

Another reason why some people choose to take a swipe at those with a large online following, is a lot more calculated.  This, in my experience, is also a lot more common too.  Here’s the general idea behind it:

  • Bob has 100,000 followers on Twitter or a blog with 5,000 unique visitors a day.
  • Mary hasn’t.
  • Mary then decides that if she can get under Bob’s skin with an abusive tweet or blog post, Bob might respond and then his network of followers or readers will suddenly know that Mary exists.
  • Mary then hopes to increase the number of people who follow her, or read her blog as a result of this additional exposure.

In January 2009, I had one of the top 50 most followed accounts on Twitter and the 3rd largest following in England.  Back then, I used to get this kind of thing regularly.  I just ignored it, because I understood why people were doing it and what they wanted to achieve.  I simply saw it like a game and part of the price I had to pay, for deliberately making myself so visible.

A great example of this happened recently, on a much larger scale.  It was during an email exchange between Ryan Tate from Gawker and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.  After grilling Jobs via email, Tate immediately published the email exchange on his website and it went around the Internet like a virus.

It worked!

Well, kind of.

That’s because although it increased awareness of Ryan Tate, it didn’t paint him in a very positive light, as he tried to get under Jobs’ skin just to get a response.  The most heavily quoted part of the exchange, which Tate assumed would show Jobs to be an ass, actually seems to have done the opposite; according to much of the media coverage.  It clearly shows that although Jobs answered lots of Tates’ questions, he believed he knew what was behind it. This is also the final email in their exchange.

Here’s what Jobs said:

“By the way, what have you done that’s so great?  Do you create anything or just criticize other’s work and belittle their motivations?”

The email exchange made the mainstream news, but seems to have worked a lot better for Jobs, than for Tate.  Tate got the traffic, but Jobs got the PR.

The traffic for Tate will have long gone by now; however, the PR for Jobs, who has had people questioning his ability to run Apple with his health challenges, has been pure gold dust!

Conclusion

Thanks to the opportunities we have via the Internet, if we get our marketing right, we can reach thousands of people every day with our messages.  More prospective clients or customers can see us and we can attract leads and business enquiries all day long, 7 days a week.

In the grand scheme of things, these kind of tactics when directed at you are doing little more than signal your increased visibility – which is probably what you want.  The occasional irritating message or blog post is a relatively small price to pay and when seen in context, is almost something to look forward to.

Here’s where I would like YOU to get involved!

Whether or not you have been directly impacted by this, I would like to know YOUR suggestions for dealing with the kind of issues mentioned in this post.

I genuinely believe that your answers will be of great value or interest to a lot of people – So please do let us know what you think and what your experiences have been.

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

Photo: a2Gemma

Your marketing has a sell by date!

How up to date is the marketing information you use?  I ask you this, because it’s extremely easy to be working hard implementing ideas or using tools, which are so outdated that they have very little potential to help you achieve the bankable sales results you need.

Marketing basics stay the same, but the tools change

Although the basics of marketing have been around for many years, the tools we use to market products and services change all the time; as does the effectiveness of these tools.  If you are currently basing your marketing on ideas and insights you garnered even 2 or 3 years ago, there’s a very good chance you are missing out on a stack of great opportunities to boost your sales and reduce your marketing costs.

Mail shots and social media marketing

For example; just a few years ago, response rates from direct mail or mail shots, was lower than it is today and some were even writing it off, (pardon the pun).  However, with so much small business marketing now being conducted via email, marketing letters, especially those that have been individually signed, have become a more personal, polished and powerful way to introduce your services to a prospective client or customer.

Most marketing books and programs that are more than 2 years old, totally fail to mention social media as a marketing tool; even though social media is rapidly becoming one of the highest yielding forms of marketing available.

The pace of change these days is such, that marketing books, especially those based around social media marketing, are often out of date within months of being published.  Even books written earlier this year, which included how to market your business using services like Facebook or Twitter, will miss all of the new features added to those services this year.  The same is true of books and courses on commercial blogging.  Yes, many of the basics will be there, but the powerful new features and opportunities will not.

Marketing tip

If you are currently not getting the bankable results you want from your marketing, take a moment to review the information you are using and the assumptions you are making.  Examine the various marketing tactics and marketing tools you are using.  Are they appropriate for the 2nd half of 2010?

I would like to know what examples you have; either of being targeted by marketers who are using outdated ideas / tools or maybe your experience of using them.  What suggestions do you have for your fellow readers?

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

Photo: Manwithface

Marketing and reliability

This post is all about the role that reliability plays in marketing.

Close to where I live, there’s a sign on the road outside a cafe that says open. Now, even though this place is only open during certain hours each day, the open sign is always there.

In effect, the sign is useless or maybe even less than useless for the owners of that cafe.

Why?

Because people will see the sign, pull over and try to go in, during times or days when the place is closed.  If you really want to hack-off a potential customer, get him or her to get out of their car in the rain and run over to your cafe, so they can learn that you’re actually closed, but you’re too lazy to change the open sign.  So, by not changing this sign, the cafe will be wasting a lot of potential customer’s time – people who will never again trust that the place is actually open, just because the sign says so.  It’s easier for them to go to a reliable place, that’s open when it says it is.

Marketing and reliability

I saw something similar last year, with a restaurant that kept changing it’s opening hours.  One week it would be open Monday – Friday another week it would only be open 4 days a week and another week, it would only be open on weekends.  Guess what?  It pretty quickly went broke.  Potential diners never knew if it would be open or not, so if they were out and wanted a meal, they wouldn’t risk going all the way there, to find it closed.

In business, there is a need for reliability.  People need to know that if we, as service providers, will be there when we say we will.  We need to ensure that we turn up regularly.  We need to earn the trust of our marketplace, so they know they can rely on us. This is part of the reason, why I sent out scheduled blog posts last week, even though I was on a week long holiday.  People come here expecting to see something new, so I made sure they were not disappointed.

I’d be interested to know what examples you have, regarding the reliability or consistency of a service.  Let us know what your experiences are, with a comment.

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

Photo: Mykl Roventine

2 steps to improve your marketing messages!

Did you ever hear that old saying; “You can’t keep everybody happy”?  Well, when it comes to marketing messages, you shouldn’t even try!  When you embrace this idea, it can provide a massive boost your sales figures.

It’s all about using a more targeted marketing approach.

Targeted marketing messages

A targeted marketing message consists of 2 equally important components:

  1. The message is sent to a targeted group; those most likely to have a need for whatever you are offering.
  2. The message is composed exclusively, with the people in that target group in mind.  In other words it’s directly relevant to them and their needs.

Marketing to a targeted group

Every day, you will see offers in your mail and your email inbox, from companies offering things you have absolutely no need for.  What do you do with these?  You ignore them!  That’s because no matter how great a product or service is, it will only succeed commercially, if it’s marketed to the right people.

For example, you may have just been offered the best deal ever on a new coffee machine, but if you are not a coffee drinker, that offer is not going to motivate you to buy the coffee machine.  So, make sure that you are speaking, writing and advertising to the right people.

A targeted marketing message

Most of the marketing messages we see are very poorly targeted.  The reason this is so common, is that amateur marketers often think that by writing for the widest spread of people possible, they stand the greatest chance of making a sale.

They want to ensure that everyone who reads or listens to their marketing message, will find “something” there that’s interesting.  However, that approach is the exact opposite of what effective, targeted marketing is all about.

Effective, targeted marketing is about getting a directly relevant message in front of a targeted reader / listener / viewer.  It’s about talking to that person, about their needs and what’s happening in their world, and showing how you can help them, with your products or services.

The bottom line here is this: The more compelling, inspiring and motivating your message is, the more successful it will be.

If you would like to see a better return from your current marketing efforts, take a moment to check who you currently market your services to, and also, how targeted your marketing messages are.

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

Photo: Erika

A simple way to stay on your reader’s radar!

As you may know, I’ve been on holiday for the past 8 days.  Because blogging is such a valuable part of my communications strategy, it was important for me to be able to maintain my blogging pattern, whilst I wasn’t here.

This post is all about how wordpress’ scheduled posts feature allowed me to have a fresh post here for you each day – even though I was holidaying with my family, and why scheduling posts can be so valuable for business bloggers.

WordPress’ Scheduled Posts feature

Scheduled postsLike many people who blog regularly, I often write several blog posts at once and then use wordpress’ scheduled post feature, to publish my posts over the coming days.

This is always a really useful feature, but when you are away from work and, as in my case, away from an Internet connection too, it’s pure gold dust!

Why bother posting when I’m not here?

There are a number of reasons, why it makes sense for business bloggers to maintain the regularity, with which they post.  I mention most of them here, in “why some bloggers post every day.”

However, on a very basic level, I have found that just as people get used to visiting a blog regularly, they can also get used to NOT visiting that blog just as easily.  This simple, long established feature of wordpress means that so long as you have the content written up, a blogger never needs to have those 7 or 14 day gaps, where they drop from their reader’s radar.

Do you use scheduled posts?

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

Blogging perfection?

Are you interested in improving the regularity and value of your blogging?  If you are, you might find this post extremely useful!

I was recently asked how long I spent, writing my blog posts.  The answer I gave was that it usually takes me between 20 to 30 minutes; occasionally a little longer.  The guy who asked me, said that he often spends a couple of hours writing a single post.  This is something I hear about a great deal – people who love the idea of blogging, but who find it takes too long to produce great content regularly.  This makes it very hard to build a substantial readership or develop a community around the blog’s readers.

Blog posts do not need to be perfect

I’ve spoken with dozens of bloggers, who are only able to publish a post a handful of times a month or so, and in almost every case, their problem is that they are seeking perfection from every post.  The challenge with the perfectionist-blogger’s mindset, is that it stifles their creativity.  It clogs up momentum.  In my opinion, it also makes the blogger seem less natural or personable too – which is a BIG mistake, if you want your readers to identify with you as a person!

One of the great things about writing a blog, is that errors can not only be fixed (if you wish;) they often open up great debates in your blog’s comment section.  Yes, you should always strive to make what you write as good, valuable and clear as possible, but ultimately, you need to give yourself permission to be human.  This means allowing yourself the freedom to be just 99% right, occasionally ;)

A blog post or a special report?

Another reason why many people find it takes them so long to write their blog posts, is that they write such LONG posts.  Some of these posts are so detailed, that they read more like special reports, than blog posts.  Now, for those people, who are happy with blogging less often and writing GREAT, long, detailed posts – this is perfect.  However, if you blog (like I do) as a way to market your services and you want people to regularly get involved with your blog and contribute – you may want to think about shorter, punchier posts.

I know that many people struggle with brevity.  Some find it hard to make their points in few words, others feel that the length of a post is a key determinate of that post’s value.  I can tell you from experience, that most popular posts on this blog, are usually the shorter ones!

Your blogging tips

I know that many of you are bloggers and I would LOVE to hear your tips, for producing great quality, regular content.  It would be great if you could share your ideas here, with your fellow readers and myself!

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

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