Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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My 500th Blog Post – Thank You!

Image: Patrick Hoesly

As this is my 500th post here, I just wanted to thank a few people (in no particular order,) who have helped me develop the blog.

Gregor Spowart:  Gregor is a Partner with Mass Media Design and he’s the guy I go to when I need technical assistance here.

WebFusion:  It took me 2 years to find a hosting company that delivered on all their promises, and that company is WebFusion.  Since moving to their hosting service in September, I have enjoyed 100% up time.  This reliability means I can focus on writing posts for you, without worrying if the blog is working or not.  Moving forward, I’m delighted to announce that the guys at WebFusion will be sponsoring my hosting too.  This helps me cover the cost of all the FREE information I provide here for my readers.

The guys at Twitter:  Before Google decided to start sending me targeted traffic, Twitter was my primary source of new readers.  Twitter helped me develop my initial readership here and has put me in touch with some amazing people.

Finally and most importantly – The reader community here: The community here on the blog is what it’s all about for me.  The emails and comments are where I “meet” the readers and it’s what transforms the blog from a broadcast, to a discussion.  Many of my current clients started off as commenters and I also have a number of friends, who I initially met here on the blog.

I believe that blogging has been the best commercial decision I ever made and my commenters are the most valuable part of the blog – That’s how important you and your comments are to me!

My commitment to providing you with marketing and business development ideas has never been stronger and I look forward to being of more service to you in 2011.

Thank you for your encouragement, your ideas and your inspiration!

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

The power of flexible thinking

flexible thinking, embrace change

Photo by W Silver

How flexible are you regarding your business, products or services?  I ask this because many business owners miss out on great opportunities, through failing to spot the evolving needs of their marketplace.  Let me explain.

The need for flexibility

The multinational Blockbuster video chain, went from being the world’s leading destination for movie rentals to bankruptcy – Partly through being inflexible in it’s thinking.  It totally missed the opportunity to be the first to develop a world-class movie download service, by sticking too long to an outdated model.  As The Guardian newspaper reported, an online service came from nowhere to gain a massive commercial advantage and grab millions of it’s customers:

“Online video on-demand, dominated in the US by Netflix, which has 17 million subscribers and is soon to launch in the UK, sounded the death knell for Blockbuster, the video rental giant, which followed MGM into the bankruptcy courts in September.”

Embrace flexible thinking

The great news here, is that by adopting a more flexible approach, you have an opportunity to gain a massive commercial advantage over your stuck in the mud rivals. Of course, your clients and prospective clients may not be asking you directly for something new.  But by listening to the marketplace, it’s possible to identify common problems, which you can solve with new products or services.

Remember, the development of your business should be guided by what the marketplace wants and needs; NOT by copying what your competitors are doing.

Leslie Nielsen: A lesson in flexible thinking

After hearing the sad news of the death of Leslie Nielsen earlier, I remembered one of the most interesting facts about this wonderfully gifted actor.  He was 54 years old when he became an international star, after his role in the smash hit comedy movie; Airplane.  Until that point, Mr Nielsen had been a “serious” actor for decades.  However, this didn’t stop him going for the comedy role in Airplane, which saw him become an extremely successful comedy actor.

Had Mr Nielsen closed his mind to that comedic role, he would have missed the biggest opportunity of his career.

The marketplace is evolving faster than ever.  The business owners who refuse to move with the changing demands of their clients and prospective clients will quickly become irrelevant.

The bottom line: Never change just for the sake of it, but always listen to your clients and your prospective clients and look for ways to make things better.

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

Email subscribers: What every blogger ought to know!

Where do you read this blog?

If you read it directly from jimsmarketingblog.com or a feed reader, like Google Reader, it’s possible you are wondering why I am even asking the question.  You may assume, as many people do, that almost EVERYONE either reads blogs directly from the site of from a feed reader.  If you do, here’s a statistic that you might find interesting.

If you write a blog or are thinking about writing one, what I am about to share with you could be enormously valuable too.

Over 60% of my subscribers now subscribe via email!

How easy do YOU make it, for people to subscribe to your site via email?

Do you have a large, clearly visible email sign-up box, or a tiny email RSS icon hidden away on your blog’s sidebar?  With 62% of my subscribers now reading this blog via email, I could be missing out on thousands of extremely valuable readers, had I not made it super-easy for them to get the blog delivered to their inbox.

One of the most important elements of blogging, is to develop a subscriber list.  Your subscribers are of enormous value to you.  Not only are they your most loyal readers, they are also the people who you will still be able to reach, if Google decides to stop sending you traffic or your other sources of new readers slows down or stops.  The fact that these wonderful people were good enough to subscribe to you, means that if you keep up your side of the deal, by providing great information, they will continue to read your content.  Your email subscribers have the ability to unsubscribe at any time, so it’s not enough just to gain their subscription, you need to look after them too!

Which software to use?

The software I use for delivering my email is called Mailchimp, though there are lots of alternatives. The service is relatively easy to use, though there are lots of videos on YouTube, which show how to set your account up, if you get stuck.  Once you have your account up and running, it’s time to let people know!

Attracting new subscribers

In my experience, the best way to encourage people to subscribe to your blog, is to ask!  Many bloggers use a simple signature file under each blog post, which asks people to subscribe to their blog.  If someone sees that reminder, at the point where they have just read something really useful, it can be a powerful motivator.

If you have never subscribed to a blog via email before, here’s how it works.  It’s extremely simple and takes seconds.  For example, to subscribe to this blog via email, you click this link (it then opens a box) where you enter your email address.  That’s it! Once you reply to the confirmation email, you will get future posts delivered to your inbox, ready for you to read at your leisure.  What I love about this process, is that unsubscribing is just as easy too, so the subscriber is always in total control.  That’s important.

As well as asking people to subscribe to your blog via a signature file added to your posts, I also strongly recommend having a BIG, easy to find email sign-up box on your blog’s sidebar.  This does the same thing as that link I just gave you, but it’s very visible (as you can see from the top right hand side of this blog.)

It’s also extremely important that you let your subscribers know that you respect their privacy (and therefore will never share their details with anyone, for any reason.)

So, if you want to increase your readership based on quality as well as volume, make it as easy as possible for your readers to subscribe to you.  Your subscribers are the most passionate members of your blog’s community and in many cases, they are your future clients and customers too.

In my experience, any time invested in developing your subscriber base is time well spent!

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

How NOT to get stuck with your marketing

From Neil’s Photography

The worst thing you can do if your car is stuck in the mud, is to accelerate harder and harder.  Far from getting you free, it actually gets you deeper in trouble.  In the same way, if you are using a form of marketing incorrectly and you decide to “fix it” by pushing it harder and harder on people, you can similarly make things increasingly worse for yourself.

For example, if you are sending ineffective marketing emails to people and getting a poor response, so decide to send them out more and more regularly hoping to get some business from them, you will simply start angering the people you’re writing too.  Slamming people with poorly thought out marketing like that, can see you listed as a spammer and seriously damage your reputation!

Likewise, I think we have all seen those people on Twitter, who are always asking their followers to ReTweet links to their website or blog posts, (Pls RT) hoping to increase traffic.  That may be a great way to quickly show everyone you are desperate for business, but it will do little to inspire confidence in you or your services.

The answer is simple: Develop a marketing strategy that works – Then work that strategy.  In other words, do the right things correctly, rather than throwing more of what doesn’t work out there, hoping the numbers will save you.

What do YOU do when people push marketing on you?

How do YOU respond, when people push marketing at you; cold calls, unsolicited emails, newsletters you never signed up for, etc?

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

What everybody ought to know about optimism

optimism, optimistic,

Photo by Niklas Hellerstedt

How optimistic are you about your business in 2011?

Optimism can be a wonderful thing.  It’s powerful to look to the future with optimism, knowing that the plans we are working on today are going to help us move closer to our goals or targets.

Optimism can also be the by-product of self-delusion.  It’s pure fantasy to look to the future with optimism, knowing that we are going to use the same core ideas that have failed us in the past.

Things don’t just magically get better for us

We have to make things better.  You can work hard hoping it will improve your results, you can deeply desire better results, but unless you are working to a better plan, your results will be largely the same.  If you spend twice as long driving in the wrong direction, even if you REALLY want to arrive at the right destination, you will still end up further and further away from where you want to be.

Now, if you already have a great plan, but have been sitting on your hands doing nothing, (which I doubt), adding hard work to the mix WILL get you closer to where you want to be.  But if you have just spent the whole of 2010; working hard, trying hard, helping others, being sincere and you are STILL not getting the results you want, you need to improve your strategy.

Thankfully, you are in the driving seat

You get to choose the direction you take.  You can opt for more of the same or something better.   The bottom line here is that if you want to arrive at the right destination in 2011, make sure you are using the right map.

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

How to get massively more word of mouth referrals

word of mouth, referrals,

By Rennett Stowe

Would you like to attract more word of mouth referrals?  If you would, here are a few simple questions to help you uncover the way word of mouth referrals work, based on your own experiences.

The idea of this post is to show you the process behind a word of mouth referral, so you can reproduce it with your own products or services (herein called products).  So, let’s get started!

  1. What was the last product you paid for, which you went on to recommend to people?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how good did you believe the product was when you recommended it?  Think of 5 as being a very average product, 7 as being a good product and 10 as being “best in class.”
  3. What motivated you, to want to share your feedback?  For example, did the provider make it super-easy for you to share your feedback?  Did you feel so positive about the product or service, that you wanted YOUR name to be associated with it?  Were you offered a commission or reward for the recommendation?  Did the product provider ask you to recommend them or their product?  Whatever your answer, write it down in as much detail as possible.
  4. How many people did you tell?  Did you just mention it to a friend or share it with your social network / business contacts?  Why did you tell so many or so few people?  Again, get this written down in as much detail as possible.
  5. Finally, go through the same exercise for 3 or 4 other products, which you recommended to people.

Word of mouth: Deconstructed

For you to benefit from that simple exercise, you need to consider how you can apply the same process that inspired you to recommend those products, to your own products.  Do you need to work harder on developing a better (more remarkable) product, or maybe become more proactive at asking for referrals?  Do you need to make it easier for people to tell their friends how great you already are?  Your answers will start to show you the areas where you need to focus your efforts, in order to get more referrals.

Word of mouth and being remarkable

Here is a prediction regarding your answers.  I would be very surprised if any of the products you recommended were just average.  In most cases, I would expect to see scores of 8 and above.  The key motivator that inspires word of mouth referrals, is when something is remarkable.  In short, if we want to be spoken about positively (or remarked upon) we need to be remarkable.  No one feels inspired to recommend something, if it’s unremarkable, average or dull.  I wrote a post about it, which you may like to read.

The Bottom line: No matter how much word of mouth business you already attract, you should always be seeking to improve upon it.

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

See how easily you can get more inquiries from your website or blog

Would you like to attract massively more, high quality inquiries from prospective clients?  If you would, here are 4 quick tips to get you on track!

sales inquiries, client inquiries1. Make sure your content is focused on your area of expertise

The more focused your content is, the easier you make it for people to position YOU in their mind, as the person they need to speak with or email, when it comes to whatever your area of expertise is.

Equally, the more focused your content is, the more likely you are to get targeted traffic from Google.  Google is always looking for the most relevant results.  A great way to show Google what your site is all about, is to provide lots of great focused content.  Speaking of Google…

2. Be as easy to find as possible

Learn the basics of good SEO (search engine optimisation.)  I recently wrote about Google’s free seo ebook, which covers a lot of the basics and tells you what Google is looking for, from your site. It’s well worth a read and it’s free, so check it out!

3. Be easy to contact

In order for you to be easy to contact, there are 2 things you need to consider.  The first and most obvious, is to give all your contact details on a dedicated contact page.  Equally important is the second element, which is for you to make it as comfortable as possible, for your readers to get in touch with you.  Let your readers know that you genuinely want to hear from them and that you welcome their emails or calls.

I always make it as clear as possible that I really love hearing from my readers and that they can ask me anything about my services, with zero obligation on their part.  Guess what?  I get emails every day from people all over the world.  These range from “thank you” emails, where my free advice has helped them, to inquiries regarding how we can work together on the development of their small business.

Be approachable, friendly and grateful!

4.  Give more than you think you should

Put your best foot forward on your site if you want to get more inquiries.  Many people offer just a diluted version of themselves online, because they fear that if they give too much away for free, they will get less paid work. 

That is the 180 degree, polar opposite of the truth!

The kind of people who are only interested in your free stuff, were never going to become a client.  Equally, the people who are actually looking for professional help are MORE likely to hire you, if you show them you know your subject, by providing genuinely useful information to them via your site, up front.

I have given away thousands of marketing and business development ideas via this site, yet my clients still called me to work with them.  Why?  Because they knew that there’s a massive difference between what they can achieve from reading my blog, and the kind of results they can enjoy with me mentoring them.

Of course, by giving better quality information, you also encourage more people to link to you and share your work with their friends on social networks.  That helps you grow a bigger, targeted readership and generate even more targeted inquiries.

Finally, make sure you ASK people to get in touch with you.  A simple call to action is often a great reminder that you are open for business and keen to help.

I also practice what I preach: So, if you would like to discover how I can help you, as your marketing and business development mentor, get in touch with me here. I look forward to hearing from you.

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

Photo: Keith Williamson

A 60 second check, to help you improve your business results

Do you want more from your business in 2011 than you had in 2010?  If you do, then I have a quick test for you, which will set you on the right track!

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest, I want you to score the following people, who supply your business with your key services:

  1. Your accountant.
  2. Your marketing advisor.
  3. Your lawyer.
  4. Your IT consultant (hardware/software or Internet.).
  5. Your bank manager.

The cost of average advice

If your scores were 7 or below in any of those areas, you need to ask yourself why you are wasting your time, taking advice that is average or little better than average.  Just as you can tell a lot about a person, by looking at the kind of people they hang out with, you can also predict how successful a business will be, based on the quality of the people it calls upon for advice.  Unless you want an “average” business (and you don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog), you must avoid taking average advice.

Surrounding your business with average providers is never a good idea, but as we progress through the worst economy in living memory, it’s a recipe for trouble!

The value of great advice

Interestingly, you do not always have to pay more, to find a better quality advisor or provider.  Some low quality providers charge too much for their services and others seem to undervalue just how great they are.  So, why not spend some time reviewing the people you rely on for advice, support and guidance.

Look particularly for new people in the areas where your business is weakest, as those advising you currently in that area, are clearly failing you!

This relatively straight forward process can help you massively improve your business results very quickly!

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

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