Highly recommended – Danny Brown’s blog

DannyLarge-239x300In an age where there are so many blogs, often repeating the same information, it can be a real challenge to find blogs with content that’s worth shouting about. So, when I find one that consistently delivers the goods, I like to recommend it to you.

In the past, I have recommended blogs by; Seth Godin, Robert Scoble, The BBC and Leo Laporte.  Today, it’s the turn of PR professional, Social Media maverick and fund raiser extraordinaire; Danny Brown – From dannybrown.me.

First off, you do not need to be interested in PR to really enjoy Danny’s blog.  His writing style is engaging, refreshing and original.  Danny opts for a bullshit-free approach to blogging, with the occasional use of strong(ish) language; as is often the case when passionate people speak.

Did you notice that I used the word ‘speak‘ in the previous sentence and not ‘write‘?  That’s because Danny’s writing style reads as if he were having a chat with you face to face.  I’ve never spoken with Danny myself, but I feel like I know him.  That’s a skill that very few bloggers possess.  In fact, one of the main reasons I am recommending Danny Brown’s blog to you, is that many of my readers are students of great copy writing and Danny’s copy writing is superb.

The 12for12k challenge

12412k imageDanny is also a passionate fund raiser for good causes all over the world, which he assists via the 12for12k challenge.  The challenge is a BIG one; to raise $12,000, for each of 12 different charities, over a 12 month period.

You can find out more about the 12for12k challenge by visiting their site.

So, why not take a look at Danny’s blog and see what all the fuss is about?

Will 2010 be a New Year for you or the same frustrating year all over again?

income and time chartFor most small business owners, the first day of January 2010 will NOT be the start of a New Year!  It will simply be another chance for them to relive the same frustrating year over again.

Sure, they will complain about their lack of results, but they will continue to make the same basic marketing errors that they made this year and last year and the year before. For them, it’s just too attractive to stay as they are, rather than STOP making the same mistakes and move forward based on an effective, proven strategy.

For those of you, who are serious about growing your business and finally making the income you deserve, you need to do something that very few people have the guts to do. You need to change your approach to marketing and making money. You need to move away from what you feel comfortable with and embrace what works.  You need to throw your current approach to making money and generating sales into the bin and replace it with something that is finally going to work for you.

When people start working with me for the first time, I begin by doing a fact-finding session with them. During this session, I find out all about what they want to achieve from their business. Then, I put a plan together with them, which we work on together for a whole year! The reason they get such great results, is that the plan we work on throughout the year is developed and refined by me; a marketing professional.

My clients are; accountants, designers, IT companies, trainers, consultants, lawyers, recruitment companies, insurance providers etc – NOT marketing experts.  In today’s super-competitive marketplace, they know they need specialist marketing support if they want to thrive and grow their business.  They know the clock is ticking.  They know that businesses without specialist marketing support always reach a plateau, where no matter how hard they work, they can’t seem to move on to the next level.

Whatever you plan to do with your marketing in 2010, I strongly recommend that you change your marketing strategy if you want better results.  As Einstein once said; “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Only when you use a better strategy will you see better results.  Working hard doing the wrong things is fruitless and stressful.  If you are rowing your boat in the wrong direction again in 2010, no matter how hard you row, you will never get where you want to be.

Those of you, who are genuinely interested in massively improving your business results in 2010, should read this and then get in touch with meHOWEVER: This is only open to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

What is FREE advice costing you?

If you run a small business, you and your business need to guard against the damage caused by Internet freebie hunters. These people see the Internet as a 100% free resource; a place where the normal rules of business simply don’t apply; a place where your time and your knowledge is theirs by right!

The best way to think of their mindset, is that they would eat free cheese samples at a deli counter – even if they hated the taste of cheese – JUST because it was free.

If you have been online for any length of time, you will have encountered these freebie hunters yourself.  They are the ones, who email you asking for free advice on complex problems they are having.  They are the ones, who see the comment section of a blog as a place to get free advertising for their business.  They are the ones, who go to forums to tout for business, rather than contribute to the conversation. They are the ones, who send you DM spam on Twitter (it’s free advertising in their mind.)

Most importantly, they are the ones, who will send you out of business, if you let too many of them suck your resources dry!

What makes these serial freebie hunters so dangerous, is that they sometimes disguise themselves as prospective clients / customers.  However, they are a totally different breed of person.  They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. They will devour your time, energy and resources, knowing from the very start that they have no intention whatsoever of repaying you for your help.  They leech advice from experts, then try and deploy what they have been told themselves. Of course, it seldom works, but it’s free and that’s their primary focus – FREE!

It’s often hard to spot these people upfront, but there is a common characteristic I see in the ones that target me: Their business is almost always in really bad shape!

This is true even if they have been in business for years.  Their business reaches a plateau and stays there until they go broke or change their attitude.  Somehow, they don’t seem to realise it’s impossible to develop a successful business, based on leeching free advice from people.

The only effective way to protect yourself from the damage they can cause, is to set some limits on the level of free help and advice you give to people.  You need to set your limits based around your unique situation, but here’s how I do it.

General advice is free BUT specific advice isn’t.

I give a lot of valuable, free marketing advice away to people every day here on the blog.  Now, this has to be general marketing information, which is designed to provide as much value as possible to as many small business owners as possible.

However, if someone wants me to work with them on specific, targeted answers to the problems ruining their marketing and hurting their sales, they pay me.

Yes, there are people I connect with online, who I have never met, who I call and help for free.  But these are people, who have connected with me and whom I have offered my help to.  They didn’t ask – I offered.  They are often not in a position to pay for professional help and I’m in a financial position where I can afford to help them for free.

You know what?  I LOVE helping them too!

You know what else?  They value my time and that is worth a lot to me.

Your time is not money

Your time is not money – it’s far, far more valuable than that. Money can be replaced, time can not.  Unless you put some kind of structure in place, even a simple one like I mentioned above, your business is at risk of being bled dry by the Internet freebie hunters.

Now, this is where you come in: I want you to either share your experiences of Internet freebie hunters (don’t name them please), or share your tips for dealing with them.  Your feedback here will be of great value to my readers and myself, so please share your experiences.

Your online reputation EXPOSED!

This brief post is all about the trail of published content we leave around the Internet and the impact this has on our reputation.

When I was starting out in sales and marketing, one of my former bosses advised me to always engage my brain before I engaged my mouth.  His point, was that it was easy to say the wrong thing by accident – simply by not thinking first.  That was well over 20 years ago, but his advice is just as valid today as it was when I was a 21 year old, hot-headed salesman.

However, in the era of the Internet and social media, it’s just as important for us to think before we post content to a forum, a blog or our accounts on services like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc.  Just last month, both Google and bing.com announced deals with Twitter, to allow them to show real-time search results from people’s tweets.  In other words, it’s no longer ‘just’ the millions of people with Twitter accounts, who can search your tweets, but anyone that wants to!

It’s hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube

Digital tattooOnce we hit that send, publish or tweet button – that’s it: Another chapter in our online profile has been created.  The challenge with the written word online, is that it’s a bit like toothpaste.  Toothpaste is really easy to get out of a tube, but very, very difficult to get back in again.  What we publish online leaves a trail around the Internet, which anyone can follow.

Even after it’s deleted, much of the material we publish online is still possible to locate. This is what my good friends at Symantec call your digital tattoo.

Then, let’s not forget that anyone can use The Internet Archive for free, to track ‘deleted’ websites and the content of those sites!  Quick tip: If you have never used the Internet archive, give it a go – it’s amazing!

Our clients, future clients, employer or future employers can easily get a snapshot of the kind of person we are, simply by knowing how to use Google.  Business owners and consultants would do well to consider that by most estimates, over 90% of people now check-out a potential service provider online, before they decide to do business with them.

Always remember, once you hit that send / tweet / publish button – It’s gone.  However, it’s seldom gone forever!

How to avoid bad marketing advice online

I received yet another email this morning, from someone who’s lost a lot of money, after taking bad advice from a marketing blog.  This seems to be a growing problem, as more and more small businesses look for free advice online, in a bid to help grow their business.

So, to help you (or your clients / friends) avoid making the same kind of costly mistakes, here are a few tips to help you spot the fakes. 

Please share this post on your favourite social networks, as it’s really important that as many people as possible know about this.

Marketing blogs: What to watch for

If someone claims to be an expert at marketing and he or she can’t even market their own blog – stay well away. Because it’s so easy to fool traffic sites like Alexa.com into showing you get thousands of visitors a day, you need to look for more obvious signs that a marketing blog is valued by a large reader community.

A great place to start is by looking at the number of comments it gets.  Marketing people, even very average ones, know how to build a blog that attracts comments on every post.  If you spot a marketing related blog with no comments or very few, it shows the person behind the blog does not know how to market the blog correctly.

It’s also worth checking to see if their blog is listed or ranked by a respected, neutral, third party.  This blog, for example, is ranked on what many consider to be the most influential in our industry, the Adage Power 150 – that’s their badge you see on the lower right hand side of the blog.

Testimonials are easy to fake: What to watch for

Look for proof that the marketing expert actually works with REAL people and companies!  Testimonials are easy to fake. So, look to see if the marketing expert is talking about the companies or people they work with or the projects they are working on.

For example, if people want to check me out, they can see me write about clients I am currently working with AND they can see me openly tweeting with clients and former clients too.

Does the marketing expert exist in the real world?

Fake marketing ‘experts’ exist only online and in their imagination.  The genuine marketing professionals you encounter online, are like any other REAL business. They will happily provide you with their FULL contact details; that’s their physical address and a land line phone number.  We WANT people to call us and write to us.  Always be extra cautious if a marketing ‘business’ only operates behind a website, a ‘box number’ and a Skype or mobile / cell phone number.

This is where YOU come in!

Those are just a few, very basic steps you can take to avoid bad marketing advice.  I would really value YOUR suggestions.  What are your tips for spotting the fakes in your industry?

Please share them here and make this post as valuable as possible for your fellow readers.

UPDATE:
This post from my ideas blog, covers another tool you can use, to identify how many people link to a particular website / blog.

An 800% increase in sales from 1 small change

Here’s some GREAT news for anyone who needs to see better sales results in their business right now.  You can massively boost your sales, by making just minor adjustments!

marketing newsletter marketing blogsThat’s right, you can improve the success of your marketing enormously, my making tiny changes to what you already do.

For example, you can increase the success rate of a mail shot by 500-900% or more, by improving the headline, (sometimes called a strap line by trendy marketing people.)

A brilliant headline will encourage more people to start reading the letter, and the more people who read it, the better it’s chances of success.

A quick 350% increase, right here!

I recently changed one small thing on this blog and have achieved a huge, 350% increase in subscribers to my marketing newsletter.  What did I do? I added that small rectangle box at the end of each post, which lets people know they will get a free ebook from me (10 secrets of success) if they subscribe to my newsletter.

I also used that box to ask people to subscribe to my blog’s RSS feed. Guess what? Yep, a 120% increase in RSS subscribers too!

I once suggested to a business owner, that she changed the sign outside her store, so that it had the words; “come in” added to it. She reported an immediate increase of around 8% more people coming into the shop.  This, over the space of a year, equated to hundreds of ‘new’ customers and tens of thousands in extra sales.

If you are looking to boost sales significantly, here’s a suggestion.  Before you go and spend a ton of money, make sure you’re not missing something simple, which could boost your sales and profits massively.

Your experiences

What small changes have you made to your marketing or seen others make, which has produced great results?  Share your feedback with is!

Stephen Fry, critics and a business lesson

As Stephen Fry demonstrated on Twitter a few days ago, it’s easy to allow a vocal critic to screw things up for you.

In Stephen Fry’s case, one of his followers told him that his tweets were boring.  Fry then threatened to quit Twitter and sever his ties with the million people who actually DO enjoy what he has to share.  Whilst Stephen Fry’s lives with some well documented mental health challenges, his reaction to this criticism is common among many business owners; who allow fear of criticism to hurt their businesses.

Fear of criticism

I had an email today from a reader, who wants to add a pop-up box to her website; to encourage people to subscribe to her newsletter.  She explained how she was concerned that some of her readers might not like it. In my reply, I explained that her decision should be based on what’s the correct thing to do and not what’s the easiest thing to do.  If there’s a chance that by adding a pop-up box, she will get more subscribers and as a result make more sales or win more clients – then it’s worth testing and measuring it.

She then sent me a 2nd email, which said how she was worried that a few hyper-critical readers would complain.  Apparently, her readership is over 3,000 and she’s seriously considering missing out on a potentially effective way to grow her readership, because of what 3 or 4 readers (not customers) might think or say!

This got me thinking:

  • I wonder how many great ideas have never seen the light of day, for fear of criticism?
  • I wonder how many opportunities the average business owner or entrepreneur misses each year, for fear of what the vocal minority might say or think?

Here’s a question to ponder:
What changes would you make to your business, if you knew for certain there would be no negative criticism?

Criticism: What do you think?

I would love to hear your feedback on either the people who criticise or those who allow fear of criticism to govern their decisions.  Let us know what you think!

Take action!

There’s a big difference between knowing what needs to be done and doing what needs to be done.  That’s because information, (even great information) by itself is useless, without the motivation to use it.

There’s an interesting post on problogger.com, where Darren Rowse shares how it was not until his wife gave him an ultimatum, that he turned his blog into a full-time business.

Darren already knew what he needed to do and he had bundles of ability.  However, none of that was getting him the results he and his wife needed, until he became motivated enough to take action.

That’s because knowledge is not power

One of the most inaccurate common sayings is; “knowledge is power.”

Knowledge is not power – it only acquires power when you elect to do something with it.  For example, knowing how to speak Japanese has no ‘power’ for you whatsoever, unless you use that knowledge in some way.  You can use that skill to reach a brand new marketplace with your product or service – but if you decide after mastering the language, never to speak or read it again, nothing will happen.

Knowing and doing

On my motivation master class audio program, I mention a guy I met, who had recently lost his business; running up massive debts in the process.  I met him at his home, and immediately noticed that his bookshelves were packed with the most powerful, highly-acclaimed marketing books and CD’s on the market.  His collection must have been worth thousands.

I asked him if he had not found the material in these books of any value, as the primary reason he went broke was a lack of sales.  He explained that he had read or listened to all of them, but had not been motivated enough to use what he had learnt until it was too late.

In my experience, his situation is not that uncommon.  Some people will scour the Internet for sites that have valuable advice, which they then do nothing with.  They love to read about new, powerful marketing ideas but they do nothing with them.

By the way, you can download a copy of my Motivation Master Class audio program here, which shows you how to motivate yourself (and others) to take action. (It runs for just under 2 hours!)

Whatever line of business you are in, don’t simply gather marketing advice and find it interesting Use it!

Not all business is good business

It can be tempting, to accept any kind of business that comes our way – especially during a tough economy or when sales are flat.  However, this is often a bad idea, as some new clients or customers can have a toxic effect on your business.

For example, I was listening to the owner of a pub / bar yesterday, as he described how his trade increased, after a particular customer stopped coming in for lunch each day.  Although this customer spent money with him on a regular basis, it seems he was such a disagreeable character that his presence stopped other customers coming in.  They would apparently see this person’s car parked outside and decide to go somewhere else.

It’s easy to see what a client pays you – but sometimes harder to see what they cost you!

Blogging from the bathroom!

$10,000 for 5 weeks work – blogging from a bathroom!

I was just reading a great post by Jack Neff on the AdAge.com blog, about a blogging gig being offered by Procter and Gamble; the owners of the Charmin toilet paper brand.  It seems they are offering five bloggers the chance to earn $10,000 for five weeks work.

Apparently, the bloggers will be expected to “greet and entertain bathroom guests and blog about their experiences” at Charmin’s restrooms on Times Square, New York.

The marketing power of blogs

Amid what seems like a pretty light-hearted story, rests a really valuable marketing lesson.  You see, although Procter and Gamble will be paying these 5 people a total of $50,000 for their blogging – the story has already generated way more than $50,000 worth of publicity for the Charmin brand.  This $50,000 sounds like a lot of money, but is peanuts in relation to what multinationals spend on their marketing.

Because the bloggers will be writing about the event for over a month, the story will ‘develop legs’ and have a bigger impact over a longer period than more typical, more expensive but less creative marketing ideas.  This really is an excellent example of creative marketing and Procter and Gamble’s marketing team deserve a massive amount of credit.

Their decision to choose blogging as part of this promotion, serves as yet another indicator of how big brands are realising the marketing power of blogging.  I think this $50,000 investment will be money well spent!

What do you think?