Jim's Marketing Blog

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

Page 138 of 176

Loving life: Today and every day!

My friend Doug (not his real name) has everything going for him, but until recently, if you had met him you’d have thought the weight of the world was on his shoulders.  He has a great family, wonderful friends and a successful business but never seemed particularly happy.

Then a few months ago he changed, I mean HE REALLY CHANGED!

Literally overnight, he became a totally different person.  He seemed enormously happier, more relaxed, more attentive and a lot more fun to be with.  I wanted to know why, so I took him out to lunch yesterday and asked.  His answer may seem a little basic, but it has already had a massive, positive impact on me.

Here is a truncated version of what he told me, which he was keen for me to share with you:

“I found an old workbook, which had my a first ever list of goals.  Of course, they were the goals of a 25 year old guy and I have long since achieved them.  I had never previously thought about it like that.  You see Jim, after achieving a goal, I replace it with another one, so that I continue to grow as a person.  So, the list just continued and never ended.  There was no closure.  I suddenly realized that I was in a game, which I could never really win, because everything that really mattered was being deferred until I reached the next goal, then the next, then the next…

No matter what I achieved, I always just saw it as a step to the next improvement or increase.  This means I spent 20 years with a feeling of dissatisfaction with everything, always seeking to improve.  I never once stopped to appreciate what I had at any point along the way.  Now, I take time to smell the roses.  I celebrate everything and am thankful for everything and everyone in my life.

It’s easy for any of us, as business owners or entrepreneurs, to focus too much on the future and not focus enough on getting the most out of the now.  Yes, we all need goals and targets, but something special happens when we learn to fully enjoy what’s worth celebrating in our lives right now.

Have you any experience, personal or otherwise, of learning to enjoy life’s journey?  Do you have any useful tips on how to get more juice from life?  Share your feedback with your fellow readers and myself!

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

Photo: Jim ScottIMD

Facebook, marketing, privacy and You!

Facebook is used by millions of social media savvy businesspeople, as a way to develop relationships, connect with people and share ideas / content.  The service is free and boasts over 400,000,000 users.  This offers huge marketing potential.

So, why am I increasingly being asked by business owners if they should even use the service any more?

Facebook and privacy

The challenge is one of privacy.  By default, most of what you do on Facebook is searchable or findable by others.  Even if you have managed to locate and use the various privacy options, most of your data is still findable.  Facebook have also changed how privacy works, so many people who have not recently reviewed their settings are now sharing more than they might think.

Facebook, Marketing and privacy

For people like myself, who exclusively use Facebook for commercial purposes, there’s no real problem.  I’m happy for 100% of what I put onto Facebook to be seen by everyone.  However, many small business owners use a single Facebook account for both personal and business use.  For these people, it seems a challenge exists, as it’s increasingly hard (some say impossible) to keep the personal stuff personal.

I wanted to know what business users of Facebook thought about these privacy issues.  I have already received feedback from over 70 people; via Twitter, email and comments.  Some people had very specific, individual issues; however, I was surprised that the vast majority of people responded to me along similar lines.

They don’t seem to agree with Facebook’s approach to privacy (and neither do I, for the record) BUT they are now self-regulating what they post there; assuming it’s all going to be searchable and used by Facebook to sell on to it’s advertisers.

Facebook & other free online services

Many people I have spoken to about this, have stated that with every popular online service, there’s a price to pay; even if we don’t need to give someone our credit card details.

Examples people gave me included the way that free wordpress.com blogs have Google ads inserted into the user’s posts, which the user themselves can’t see or control.  Gmail was another example offered, where Google  scan your emails for key words, so they can serve up ads to you.

What Facebook does is similar, BUT different.  Facebook has been less than consistent with it’s privacy messages, as can be seen from this post by The EFF Electronic Freedom Foundation.  This clearly shows that Facebook has kept moving the goalposts, after gaining huge market share.

It seems that there is little choice currently, for those with concerns over Facebook’s under-fire attitude to it’s users privacy.  Users can either stop posting anything that they don’t want made very public – or stop using the service.

Facebook and marketing: Your thoughts

I would really like to know your thoughts and suggestions for businesspeople, using Facebook as part of their marketing.  How do you use the service now?  Are you one of those who have recently left the service?  Do you moderate what you put on Facebook?

Please let us know what you think!

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

 

4 Secrets of the world’s most successful businesses!

Thankfully, we don’t have to guess or wonder what it takes to be successful in business. The answers are in the stories behind every successful businessperson, who has been kind enough to share them.

Here are 4 things I have seen over and over again, in every successful businessperson I have ever studied:

1. Expert advice

Successful businesspeople invest in expert advice. As a result, they make better decisions and take the right actions, for what they need to achieve. Unsuccessful businesspeople do the opposite. They try and do too much themselves and immediately lose ground to their successfully guided competitors. They literally set themselves up to fail, under the misguided belief they are actually saving money.

The stock reply whenever I speak with someone, who refuses to pay for specialist help, is that they can’t afford it. The belief here, is that every small business, other than theirs, has access to a stack of money. The reality is very, very different.

It’s about priorities!

I spoke with a guy recently, who “can’t afford” a professionally designed logo – yet he “can afford” $4 a day (over $1,200 a year) on a “grande” cappuccino.

I’ve discussed this bizarre approach to business with scores of people over the years and the general consensus, is that this is what happens when someone without a business mindset, decides to start a business. These guys focus on loss, so they lose. Successful people focus on achievement, so they achieve.

2. Comfort zones

All business owners will tell you that they work hard, and most of them do (really hard.) However, hard work is not the key to success. If it were, our grandparents would have been millionaires!

Here’s where the difference is: Successful businesspeople work hard doing what needs to be done, whilst their less successful counterparts work hard doing what’s most comfortable. Successful business owners love what they do, but realise that they often need to break out of their comfort zones if they want their business to grow.

Less successful business owners only really leave their comfort zones, when pushed by external factors – like the loss of a major client or another problem that forces them to s-t-r-e-t-c-h. As a result of this unwillingness to grow, their business reaches a certain point and stays there, spinning it’s wheels; until they retire, go broke or learn how to take action!

3. Association

As human beings, we are all of equal value. However, in business, we each have a value; based on what we bring to the marketplace. This is why some hard working people earn minimum wage and others work the same number of hours and earn 7 figures every year.

Here’s what we know about people who are commercially successful. We know that they associate with other, commercially successful people. This is because they understand the  massive power of association. As my friend Michael told me, when I was starting out in marketing, 25 years ago:

Jim, hang around with enough people who are going nowhere and one day, everything they have will be yours!

You should always be aware of the impact your associates are having on you and your happiness / success. Why? Because everything we come into contact with has an impact on us, either positive or negative. When it comes to our associates, especially those with whom we habitually associate, it pays to ask ourselves some questions about the impact they are having on us. For example:

  • What have they got you reading?
  • What have they got you saying?
  • What have they got watching and which other voices do they have you listening to?
  • What have they got you believing?

Even well intentioned associates can knock us off course, without meaning to. It’s up to us, to filter out the negative influences and spend more time around those who help us be happier and more successful.

4. Learning

The most successful businesspeople I know, are lifelong learners. I don’t mean they just read books, buy programs or attend seminars / training events. I mean they learn from life. They know that if they try something and it doesn’t work, they need to learn from it and move forward. They see a bad result simply as valuable feedback. This attitude means they become better decision makers and action takers, because their “mistakes” are of value to them.

Now, compare that approach, to the approach used by people whose businesses spin their wheels. These guys keep repeating the same errors. It’s why they make so little progress.

Remember: If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got!

A common example I see in my profession, is when business owners waste years, trying to improve their marketing by doing it themselves. They grab information from the Internet / newsletters etc – NONE of which has been developed for them, their business or their skills or resources. This actually costs them massively more in both time and money, BUT it’s comfortable and as said in the previous section, they love being comfortable above everything else.

I hope you found those 4 ideas useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with them.

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

Facebook privacy: Your feedback please!

Facebook Privacy – Feedback request

I’m in the process of writing a post about the concerns many people have expressed, regarding the way Facebook handles it’s user’s privacy.  This is becoming a very big issue right now and I would like to know what you think.

If you have any feedback you would like to share with me, please get in touch.  Either leave a comment here, send me a Tweet or email me at jim (at) JimsMarketingBlog.com  Please state if you would like your feedback to remain anonymous.

Thank you!

7 ways to improve your Internet presence!

Here are seven quick tips to help you improve your online presence.

  1. If you have a section on your website or blog, called “news” either update it regularly or delete it.  When someone clicks on that page and sees that the last entry was 6 months ago, it hardly makes you or your business look dynamic.
  2. Write the copy (wording) of your site exclusively for your target prospective clients and no one else.  If you are reading this, it’s almost certain that you are the owner of a business – that’s because you are the person I write for.  Everything I do here, is designed for you.  A message that is 100% relevant to a target group of people will generate massively better results, than a message that tries to be all things to all people.  If you want to work with your ideal type of clients, write just for them and stop trying to please everyone.
  3. If you ask people to comment on your blog or email you, you owe it to them to reply (if a reply is necessary.)  I find it amazing that even the top social media gurus get this wrong.  They ask for comments and then ignore 75% of them.
  4. Look before you link!  What do you think it says about you and your professionalism, if prospective clients visit your site and see that you link to sites that are unprofessional?  The power of association is incredible.  Show that you associate with great people and brands.
  5. If you have a blog, it’s nice occasionally to tell your readers how great some other people or companies are.  Don’t just talk about yourself.  It shows confidence and class.  BTW: Most of the people I tell my readers about on my blog are fellow marketing guys; my supposed competition.  If they provide useful, valuable content, I want you to know about them!
  6. On the subject of blogging, it’s not for everyone.  I find it amazing when I hear social media gurus telling everyone to get a blog.  Here’s the problem with that: Not everyone wants to write or enjoys writing.  If you don’t like writing or find it hard to come up with interesting ideas – leave it!  A poorly written blog that’s seldom updated, is not going to help you achieve anything.
  7. If you make a claim on your site or social network, make sure you can back it up.  My friend Irene Koehler from almostsavvy.com met the top tech journalist and blogger Robert Scoble at an event in San Francisco last year.  She introduced herself to Robert, by saying that they had a mutual contact; Jim Connolly from the UK.  Scoble smiled, said yes and asked her to say “hi” to me.  Can you imagine how bad I would have looked, if I had told her we knew each other, and he told her that he’d never heard of me?  If we make a claim about who we know or what we have achieved, it better be true; because it’s never been easier to bust a fake!

So, what tip or tips would you like to add to that list?

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

 

So, you want more enquiries from your blog?

If you want more sales leads or enquiries from your blog, the following tips may be just what you are looking for!  What I am about to share with you, is based on years worth of testing and measuring feedback. (I’m too good to you!)

Many business bloggers find that they put a great deal of time and energy into writing great blog posts, but they get very few sales leads or enquiries for all that work.  I get email enquiries all day, every day of the year via this blog and would like to share some of my secrets with you.

So, here they are!

Stop placing so many barriers in the way

Most sites use some kind of a form, in order for people to contact them.  Although many people like putting these forms on their blogs or websites, I’ve tested and measured the impact of forms, as opposed to just offering my email address and the results show (every time) that forms reduce the number of enquiries I get.

Why?

Forms generate a number of additional barriers, between you and your readers.  We know, for example, that people do not like giving too much personal information away on sites.  Some worry that their details will be sold on or shared with marketers.  They also know that those forms are used by people who sell data, because forms collects people’s data in a format that’s database friendly – ready for selling.

Then, to make prospective customers even less likely to contact them, many bloggers insist that the person using their form includes; their full name, email address, company name, phone number, location etc, etc.  If you really must use a form on your site, just ask for their email address and name.  Each additional piece of data you insist on, makes them less likely to contact you.

Also, make sure that you CLEARLY state that you will not share or sell their details to anyone.

By the way – Almost everyone who emails me after visiting this blog, includes their full contact details, as part of their email signature file or simply to show they are serious about connecting with me.

If you want people to approach you, be approachable

Some bloggers are very smart and really know their subject, but they come across as distant or hard to approach.  Some are confrontational in their posts and in their comments.  Others write in a way, which distances them from their readers.

In my experience, the best bloggers are like a host at a party.  They mix with (and look after) everyone.  They want people to have a good time and so they work hard to create a great experience.  The party host approach is what I aspire to.  Friendly, professional and approachable.  In my opinion, you should try to make people feel as comfortable about contacting you as possible.  Aim to make them feel like they already know you.

Ask people to get in touch, but only at the right time

If you want people to get in touch, remember to ask – but ask at the right time.  For example, if you look at the bottom of this post, you will see a box that asks people, who found this post useful, to think how much better their marketing results would be, if I was working with them.  If they click the link, it takes them to this page, which makes it super-easy to find out what I do AND get in touch with me.

By putting that box right at the bottom of every post, I get my marketing message in front of people at the exact time, when they are thinking how useful my information is. 

This is exactly when you should give a call to action – when people are ready!

Build trust.  Don’t hide behind an email address

Too many legitimate business bloggers, lose the trust of their readers by failing to give their full contact details.  They hide behind an email address.  We’ve all heard people say that they liked the look of a provider, but felt it odd that they worked behind an email address, rather than a “real” address.  This is why I believe it’s a good idea to show people you are totally open.

If you look at my contact page, it has everything you need to get in touch with me, from my full postal address and office phone number, to my email address and Twitter account.  This shows people I am out there, in the open, nothing to hide, a “real” business.

So, what are your tips for encouraging more people to enquire about your services?  What’s worked for you or failed for you?  Get in touch and share your experiences!

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

Photo: Jason Rogers

Why your Google ranking may soon start falling!

How serious are you about the success of your website or blog as a business development tool?

The majority of small business owners I speak with, claim they are serious about the marketing value of their sites, but then they place their sites on cheap hosting plans.

Here’s why this matters: Google now punishes slow sites with lower search rankings!

Google has announced that as of last month, your site will be penalised if it doesn’t load nice and quickly! That’s right, if your site loads slowly, it will now receive a lower search ranking from Google, than a site that loads quickly.  This makes the true cost of using cheap web hosting providers a lot easier for people to see.

The true cost of cheap web hosting plans

Long before Google’s shock announcement, cheap web hosting plans were a really bad idea for commercial sites.  That’s because no matter how nice your site looks or how good the SEO is, if it loads too slowly, people will NOT hang around and wait. Internet users get really frustrated at having to hang around for pages to load on slow websites.  This is definitely not the frame of mind we want people in, if we are about to give them an insight into our business.

Why are so many small business sites so frustratingly slow?

I used to believe it was because the site owners didn’t think it mattered; that cheap web hosting was just an ill-advised, cost saving measure.  However, this is certainly not always the case! In many instances, the site owner has no idea how unreliable or slow their site is, because they visit it too infrequently to notice.

Bloggers, for instance, who only blog a few times a month, will often only visit their blog when posting or responding to comments.  As a result, they miss well over 99% of their sites performance.  The same is true for business owners, who have websites, which are not regularly updated.  These sites too can be down or too slow to respond for extended periods, again, without the site owner even knowing.  I strongly advise you check out your site regularly and at different times of the day, so you get a more accurate picture of what your prospective customers or clients see.

QUICK TIP

Don’t fall for the “we promise 99% up-time” claims of low end web hosts.  In web hosting, 99% is a very poor service.  This actually means that they expect your site to be down for 1 full working day every month or down for 3 full working days, every 100 days!  What is that worth to you, in lost business, lost enquiries, lost sales?

The bottom line: If you have a commercial site, get it on the most reliable web hosting package you can.

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

Photo: Jpctalbot

So, you want more blog readers?

I wrote a very popular post recently, about getting more blog comments.  This post is all about how to get more blog readers and it starts with a question:

“Have you noticed how some blogs and websites are really difficult to read for any period of time?”

You know the blogs I mean, right?  The blogs where you find yourself just skimming the content because after a glance of the page layout, you just don’t feel like reading the whole thing?  If you want to attract more blog readers and increase reader engagement on your blog, you need to make reading your posts a comfortable experience.  Otherwise, people will just skim your content and miss what you have to say.

There are already millions of posts that explain how to get more readers via SEO / social media etc.  This post offers you some easy, yet super-effective ways to massively improve the readability of your blog and by extension, it’s reach, impact and readership.

So, let’s go!

Column width

There’s a lot of research, including my own, which suggests that once the width of a content column (that’s the part of the blog you are reading now) goes beyond a certain limit, it becomes less and less readable.

Although some have said that the maximum width should be just 65 characters (including spaces) I have found that there’s almost no difference until you go past 85/90 characters.  I did a test a while ago, where I increased the width of the content area on one of my blogs to 100 characters and had to stop after just a week, because of the massive drop in every reader-based metric!  I saw a huge drop in the average number of pages per reader, fewer comments and a drop in the number of times a post was shared.

So, if your current blog layout goes beyond 95 characters – consider reducing it.

BTW: The content area here is 502 pixels wide and I use a 15px Arial font, which equals a limit of around 85 characters.

Fonts

If you want people to be able to comfortably read your blog content, they need to be able to see what you’ve written without squinting!  Many blogs use very small font sizes and as such, are way too hard to read on normal monitors and almost impossible to read, on smaller laptops and netbooks etc.

I use a 15px font size here, similar to that used by many other marketing and social media bloggers.  You may want to use something a  little smaller, but I strongly advise you not to go too small.

Black and white? Not quite!

Most new blogs use black text on a white background.  Although black text on a white background REALLY stands out, it can be harsh on the eyes; especially tired eyes!  That’s why it’s a really good idea to use a dark grey font on a white background, as used on many popular sites, like; The BBC, Seth Godin’s blog, Problogger and many other leading sites.

On this blog, I use the same shade of grey as The BBC, which is #464646.

Don’t let Bob or Mary screw up your blog

Whenever you make changes to the layout of your blog or website, you will get feedback from people, like Bob and Mary.  Bob’s a great guy and has a passion for blogs with really wide content columns and super-small fonts.  Mary’s also a wonderful warm human being, who loves those blogs that have jet black text on snow white backgrounds.  They are both entitled to their opinions, but you must not change the basics of your blog design based on what Bob or Mary might prefer.

The vocal minority will often unintentionally lead you to make piss-poor decisions about the look and feel of your blog.  As bloggers, we need to be a lot smarter than that.  We need to look at the facts – The metrics we can measure.  If after making a change, you notice; greater engagement, more comments, more people sharing your content, an increase in the number of pages the typical reader reads – then you are on track.  Even if Bob or Mary’s intentions were good, they were simply expressing their unique preferences.

Listen to all your readers, not just the vocal minority!

Some advice on making these changes

If you are like me and know nothing about HTML or CSS coding, it can be an expensive pain in the rear, to have to make changes to the layout of your blog.

This is why I recommend you consider doing what I did, and start using the Headway wordpress theme; which will allow you to make changes to your blog, without learning how to code.  Headway (affiliate link) lets you make the kind of changes mentioned here, in seconds.  In fact, I built this blog from scratch, with zero need for expert help, using Headway.  It’s given me total control over the blog and saved me a fortune.  It’s also the ONLY product I have ever endorsed here!

Summary

Ultimately the decision regarding the look and feel of your blog, is down to you.  However, there’s an old saying in business, which assures us that; “success leaves clues.”  There’s a reason why so many of the world’s most respected and popular blogs do things in a certain way.  They have already done the testing and measuring.  Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to the readability element of your blog, it’s a wise move to make the experience as good as possible for your readers.

I’d like to know what additional tips you have, for making content more readable.  Equally, do you have any experience of changing any of the elements mentioned in this post?

Let us know what you think!

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

Image: TEIA MG

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