Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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See how easily you can improve your marketing and make more sales!

I’m going to show you 6 very easy ways to improve the success of your marketing.

It’s based on the understanding that the marketplace likes things to be easy.  So, the easier you make it for people to learn about you and connect with you, the easier YOU will find it to gain inquiries, attract new customers or make more sales.

Let’s go!

1. Your site needs to be easy to navigate around.

There’s little point having lots of wonderful, valuable content on your website or blog, if people can’t find it.  Many sites have pages within pages and information on the same subject, which is scattered all over the site.  Keep your site clean and clear.  Make sure it loads nice and quickly and that all your links work.  The easier your prospective clients can navigate your site, the more likely they are to find what they are looking for, and get in touch with you / buy from the site.

2. You need to make it easy for people to contact you via your website too.

That DOESN’T mean a contact box on a contact page, where you tell people they have to give YOU their email address, name, company name etc – just to get in touch.  Many people (me included) will not do that!  If that’s the only way for people to contact you, I can assure you 100% that it is losing you business inquiries.  To be easy to contact, give people your phone number, email address, social networking accounts and if you want people to trust you, I suggest you put a postal address down too!

3. The benefits of using your services need to be easy to understand.

This means short, information rich content that’s written in plain English.

4. Make it easy for people to trust you.

Use testimonials from named people, who had great experiences with you.  If you have won an award or reached a certified level of achievement within your industry, make sure people can easily see it.  I have a big orange shield on this site, which shows people that this blog is listed as one of the top 150 marketing blogs in the world, by AdAge – The most respected organizations in our industry.  Similarly, on my about page I mention that my expertise has been quoted or listed on The BBC, CBS, ITV etc and and in print via The New York Times, The LA Times and others.

5. Your persona needs to be easy to engage with.

If you use your blog or social networking accounts as a way to broadcast what you think, rather than engage people and communicate, you will attract very few inquiries.  Prospective client’s find it a lot easier to email or call a potential provider, if that provider is personable and approachable. Be human and make it easy for them to see the real you.

6. Make it easy for people to call you.

This means never, ever using a premium rate phone number or cell / mobile number as your contact number.  No one wants to have to pay you, via a premium rate number, to find out about your services.  Many small businesses use non-standard numbers because they want to disguise where they are located, in case it puts people off.  That’s nuts.  I suggest you use a normal number.  Mobile phone numbers, when used as the only contact number, make you look less stable.  As a consequence, this will reduce the number of calls you receive and by extension, the number of inquiries you get.

What would you add to that list, as a way to make it as easy as possible for people to find the value in what you do?

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

What everyone needs to know about their business in 2011!

If thousands of people offer a very similar service to your own, your income will be limited.

If hundreds of people in your industry market their services in a similar way to you, your growth potential will be limited.

If tens of people in your industry have websites that rank higher on Google than your site does, your online marketing potential will be limited.

If just one of your competitors decides to up their game and target your clients with professional, competitive marketing, your turnover and profits next year will be limited.

With 2011 just around the corner, you have a decision to make.  You can either make 2011 a replay of 2010 or you can decide that you want something better.

To relive the same year over again (and waste another 12 months), simply do whatever you did in 2010.  This is what most small business owners will do and it’s why they seldom make any worthwhile progress.  It’s the path of least resistance. It’s easy.  There’s no need to change.

To make things better in 2011, you need to stop whatever your current approach is and replace it with something more effective.  This requires courage, which is why this path is so rare.  It also requires change, which makes it just too uncomfortable for most people to try.  The masses prefer to complain, but stay the same.

So, more of the same or something better?

Thankfully, the decision is always yours!

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

The secret to being OUTSTANDING!

When you were a kid, you were told that there is safety in numbers.  You learned that if you were with a group of children on a trip somewhere, it was potentially very dangerous to stray away from the rest of the pack.  For kids in that type of scenario, the advice is correct.

To be outstanding, you need to stand out!

As adults, most small business owners are still following the pack, like when they were kids.  The challenge here, is that it’s impossible to be outstanding in business or achieve outstanding results, unless you stand out.  To stand out commercially, we need to have the courage to break away from the pack – To be different from our competitors.

Here’s the thing: Every time you do something with your marketing, customer service or business development, which mirrors what your competitors are doing, you become a little less outstanding.  My mirroring what the pack are doing, you make it impossible to break beyond the “average” and that’s a stressful, uninspiring place to spend your career.

Now, you can (just about) scrape a living without being outstanding.  However, I’m pretty sure you didn’t go into business to scrape a living. Right?  You started a business because you wanted something more than that.  You could have had a regular job if all you wanted was to pay the bills and have a little left over.  No, you decided you wanted more from your life and that’s exactly what you should focus on.

Don’t settle for less, just to accommodate an under-performing business

Don’t be like the masses of small business owners, who forget about the dreams and ambitions they had when they started their business.  These guys have adjusted their lifestyle DOWN to accommodate an under-performing business, rather then adjust the performance of their business UP, so that it fulfils their ambitions.  Fall back in love with the passion that drove you to start your business and use that energy to inspire you to break away from average and become outstanding!

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

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

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