Twitter junkies and social media addicts

word picturesI’m sure you have heard it said many times before; “people think in pictures.”

In written marketing, the words we use have a massive impact on the kind of mental pictures we paint in the minds of our prospective clients or customers.

These pictures help shape how people feel about us and those feelings have a major role in whether they decide to; trust us, buy form us, recommend us etc.

With many, many businesses now embracing social media and putting an increasing amount of information into the public domain, here’s a question to ponder:

“Have you ever stopped to think about the kind of pictures you create in the mind of your prospective clients or customers, when they ‘check you out’ online?”

Social media junkies and Twitter addicts

I’m a passionate user of social media.  I’m also excited about the opportunities available via social networking sites.

What I am not is “a social media junkie” or “totally addicted to Twitter / FaceBook etc.”

I notice lots of social media users, using terms like those above, in their online profiles.  I’m certainly not suggesting that using these phrases will somehow confuse people into thinking that the profile belongs to a junkie or an addict. I am, however, saying that there’s little to be gained by someone suggesting (even tongue-in-cheek) that their use of social media is out of their control.  From a marketing perspective, it’s far better to leverage your profile, so that it’s working 100% for you!

Remember – It’s not just people who use the services who can see your profile.

Your Twitter profile on Google

If you are a Twitter user, when someone does a Google search for your name or company name, your twitter profile is usually on page one. Here’s an example, using a Google search for my name.  Notice that it gives my full profile on Google, without anyone having to even visit Twitter to check me out.

jimconnolly google

Of course, this means if you maximise the positive impact of your Twitter profile, there’s a superb opportunity to have it working for you far beyond the reach of Twitter.

When someone checks you out, make sure that your various online profiles show how totally brilliant you are and what a fantastic investment you are.

Standing out from the crowd!

Here’s a great way to make your business stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons!

A common marketing problem

Most businesses really struggle to develop something uniquely valuable about their services.  That’s why your local; accountants, designers, insurance companies and recruitment firms etc, seem so similar and find they have to sell their services based on prices or fees.

  • They use the same generic promises.
  • Offer the same or a similar range of services.
  • Advertise in the same places.
  • Attend the same events.
  • … and thus make themselves all-but invisible.

They are pretty-much camouflaged, which is the exact opposite of what they need, if they want to gain the attention of prospective clients or customers!

Companies that look too similar to their competitors, find that their prices or fees are the only thing a prospective customer has, to measure their VALUE compared to the others.  As a result, these companies find themselves competing for business based on price.  They blame the marketplace for being too cost-conscious or fee sensitive; when in reality it is they themselves that have failed to show the marketplace enough unique value.

Marketing and customer service

One way to really stand out and make a GREAT name for your business, is to provide genuinely exceptional customer service.

Here’s why:  Offering exceptional customer service is one of the best ways to retain your existing customers and develop new ones at the same time. It’s a super high leverage activity.

After all, people universally adore being looked after and being made feel special.  If you want to plug your business into the power of word of mouth marketing, this is a superb place to start.

The great news is that customer service excellence is rare today – So rare that when you provide it to people, they tell everyone.  In other words; if you become one of the few businesses that takes people’s breath away with YOUR customer service, your business can generate stacks of powerful word of mouth publicity.

A recent example

I needed to get my car repaired last week, so I used a local garage that had been highly recommended to me.  The garage examined the car and gave me a quote.  They were very highly recommended, so I told them to go ahead and fix it.  They told me that my car would be ready in two days.

The garage owner called me the next day, to say that my car would be ready to collect on time and offering to send someone to come and pick me up, to collect it!  When I arrived at the garage, they had repaired my car and given it a thorough clean; inside and out.  It looked like new.  There was a small note left on the passenger seat, with a list of free extras they had provided.  For example, they had filled up the screen wash and made sure the car’s tyre pressures were correct.  They also must have noticed my 4 year old son’s child seat, so they left a Disney stories CD in the car too, again with their compliments.

These are fairly small, inexpensive things to offer; yet they make a huge difference and have a massive positive impact on how their customers ‘feel’ about them.

What did I do after being treated like this?  First off, they got a MASSIVE tip from me.  In reality, my tip probably paid for all the extras 3 times over.  I also asked them for a pile of their business cards, which I have been handing to everyone I know locally; telling them how great these people are and what an amazing service they provided.

Promising exceptional service is easy.

The CHALLENGE is providing it!

If you want the marketplace to shout about you from the rooftops, your level of customer service has to be worth shouting about.

In my experience, business owners typically believe they already offer a good enough level of customer service, when in reality they are not even close.  They try hard and go the extra mile – but so do all of their serious competitors.  That’s just average – it’s not ‘exceptional.’

It’s easy to find out if we really are offering this level of service, because we will already have people eagerly recommending us to their contacts and friends.  We will already have the marketplace buzzing about the wonderful way we look after people.  We will have people sending in their résumés, because they really want to work with us.

If you are not getting that kind of traction, you might want to try this: Think of some companies you know, who already offer breathtaking customer service.  They don’t need to be in your industry.

Next, write down what it is that they do, which YOU could do, to make people feel just as good about you and your services. Then, work on adapting those ideas in a way that works for your business. It takes a little effort, but it’s well worth it.

This blog gets listed on the Adage Power 150!

It’s always great to be recognised for your work isn’t it?

That’s why I was delighted, when I was emailed this morning by Advertising Age; telling me that this blog has just been listed in their Adage Power 150!

power150badge_blankAdvertising Age is a very popular and well respected weekly publication and online resource; for people interested in marketing, advertising and the media.  As one of their regular readers for many years, this recognition means a great deal to me.

It’s also humbling to listed along with the likes of Seth Godin, BrandRepublic and Mashable.

News!

In 2005, I wrote and developed a massively popular audio program called; The Motivation Master Class – available at the time exclusively as a 3 CD box set.

MMC CDsThe program sold all over the world and is based around a set of powerful motivation skills, which I used in order to transform my sales results and thus my income and business results.

Stocks of the CD’s sold out over and over again.  So, I decided to turn the program into a downloadable, full length audio program.  Of course, I have also been able to slash the price!

The great news is that now, for the first time, you can get yourself a copy of The Motivation Master Class right here on the blog.

How will it help you and your business?

The easiest way to see how this program can help you and your business get better results, is to take a look at the product page.

I’m genuinely excited to be able to share this program with you via the blog for the first time and for such a great price too.

Free marketing can cost you everything!

The message behind this post can save you from years of frustration and help you dramatically improve your future sales results!

I received an email yesterday, from someone who has occasionally emailed me for marketing advice over the past couple of years.  This person (who will remain nameless for obvious reasons), is one of my newsletter subscribers and has been in business for years as a trainer and author.  She emailed me, asking for some free marketing advice – Before explaining that she was still unable to afford professional marketing help.

By the way, her work is very good and people seem to love her courses, as the feedback she gets is excellent.  She also works extremely hard.

So, we are talking about a hard working person, with a great product – Yet after years of trying, they are still making so little progress that they are unable to even afford a basic, inexpensive business service.

Here’s why:

Hard work is NOT the secret of business success

If it was, our grandparents would have been millionaires!

By working hard marketing her business incorrectly, this lady is like the rower; rowing their boat as hard as they can in the wrong direction. The harder they work, the further they go from where they want to be.

I have to admit, even after 15 years of running a successful marketing business, I’m still amazed whenever I hear an intelligent person say that they have been conducting their own marketing for years with no success; yet they persist in carrying on with no professional help.

Now, I can understand a relatively new business forgetting to put a budget in place for their marketing.  However, when a business has been trading for years, never making any real money because it’s determined not to invest in professional marketing help, that’s just something that makes zero sense to me.

Ironically, these businesses often spend MORE on marketing, than those that have their marketing looked after professionally.

How come?

Because they waste so much money on ineffective marketing:

  • They send out mail shots that cost money, but no one reads.
  • They buy costly brochures, which achieve nothing for them and in many cases will LOSE them sales because of how they are used and how they are worded.
  • The send email marketing to people, which contains ‘pedestrian’ copy and thus fails to inspire people to call them or buy from them.
  • They attend dead-end networking events.
  • They market haphazardly, with no idea of how to leverage what they are doing so it’s massively more effective.
  • They get websites built that fail to convert readers into customers.
  • They waste massive amounts of their valuable time building online networks via; Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc – with little if anything financially to show for it.
  • They buy advertising, which contains the wrong message, so no one takes any notice of it.
  • They make short-term marketing decisions – rather than work from a simple but powerful marketing strategy.

…. and they keep on repeating these mistakes for years; until they either go broke or become too demotivated to continue.

Conclusion

Here’s what I have found: Many businesspeople confuse having the tools to do the job, with having the experience and expertise.  They think that because they have a; computer, Internet access, a car and a phone, that they can market their services.  They just need that ‘lucky break.’

This is like suggesting that owning a surgeon’s operating theatre, means you can perform heart or brain surgery; so long as your luck’s in!

Thankfully, sales and marketing results are extremely easy to measure. If you are getting the sales and profits you want, change nothing. If not, I strongly suggest you speak with a marketing professional.

Check them out!

I saw someone on FriendFeed recently, who described himself as a “medical expert.”
Turns out he isn’t. When I asked him what his medical qualifications were, he told me he had none, but he had, “read some great books over the years.”

I read a blog last week, written by a lady who claimed to be an “SEO expert.”
Turns out she isn’t. Her website is very poorly optimised and lacks some of the most basic forms of SEO.

I saw someone on Twitter earlier, who describes himself as a “social media expert.”
Turns out he isn’t. He simply using Twitter to ReTweet other people’s posts and post links to the tunes he’s listening to. No conversation, no connection – not very social.

When someone isn’t getting the results they want, it’s often simply because they are taking the wrong advice.

Right message, wrong person!

You can waste a LOT of time trying to give the right message to the wrong person.

I have a book in my office, which was given to me a few years ago, by an employee of one of my clients. This man was very likeable, yet totally demotivated.  He was doing the same job at age 45 that he has done all his working life and earned less than anyone of similar age within the company.

He handed me the book one day, telling me that it would be “just my thing” because “it’s all about motivation and success.”  I asked him how come he didn’t want it.  He explained that he was not into that kind of stuff.

I then asked him why he bought the book in the first place and he told me he didn’t buy it – but that his wife had given it to him; though he had no idea why.  He went on to say she often bought him books like that, which he never read. “You’d think by now that she would realise I prefer novels,” he said.

No matter how great your message is, you are wasting your time sharing it with the wrong people.

Marketing and value

Here’s a quick marketing tip that can help you produce amazing sales results on an ongoing basis.

If you have read my blog for any period of time, you will know that I am passionate about the importance of pumping as much value into your products or services as possible.  The marketplace is sick and tired of ‘average’ products and services – so when something comes along that represents great value, they LOVE it.

By making your offering as valuable as you can, you will never have to sell based on price again – even in a recession.

Really?

Oh yes!

Apple Inc’s recession beating profits

For example, Apple Inc sells hardware that’s typically far more expensive than their rivals.  However, their sales have grown impressively throughout the current economic recession.  Impressively? Yes – Whilst PC sales have fallen during the recession, Apple Inc has posted record profits.  Although Apple has great marketing, what sets it apart from its competitors is the value its products bring to the marketplace.

The good news is, small and medium sized businesses can use the exact same approach as Apple, to achieve great results too!

I have a client, who’s a UK based accountant and his company has experienced phenomenal growth during the past 18-months – a period where many good accountancy practices have really struggled or gone under.  Accountancy Extra specialises in helping its clients develop their businesses and improve their profits; (rather than just processing columns of numbers for them and keeping the tax man happy).  As a direct result, people have flocked to their services, rather than pay a similar or smaller fee for a more limited accountancy service.

Your prospective clients are attracted to value

The marketplace is attracted to value – The bigger the value, the more attracted they become.

Now, one way that many smaller businesses try and increase the value of their offering, is to lower their prices or fees.  Whilst this can be effective, it can also drag you into a price war or what I call a race to the bottom.  Additionally, we know from years of research that customers attracted to bargain basement prices, are the most likely to leave as soon as someone beats your price.

In my experience, it’s far better to find ways to pump massive value into something (like Apple do), and sell your offering for a great, value for money price, than to offer an average product and sell it cheap.

The most successful companies I know of, are always looking for ways to add more value to whatever they do.  They say that; “success leaves clues,” and I believe the ongoing pursuit of genuine value is something we can all benefit from enormously.

Marketing that makes you cringe

This week, I have already received several, ineffective “old school” marketing messages, based around the same tired, generic format.  I wonder if you get these sales pitches too?

The person introduces themselves to you and then asks, “how can I help you?” The subtext here, is that the person wants you to believe that they are offering this help out of the goodness of their heart and not as part of a commercial transaction.  Money, prices or fees are never mentioned – Just the mysterious offer of help, from a stranger who knows nothing about you or your business or your needs.

They want you to think of them the way you would, if your car had broke down miles away from anywhere and they kindly stopped to offer you a lift.

Of course, in this case, they were not just driving by – you were deliberately targeted for marketing purposes. They know and you know that in reality, they are actually looking to make you a customer.

Like most people, I cringe when someone tries to market to me under this kind of false pretence.  I also wonder what they believe they will achieve, by starting off a commercial dialogue, with both parties aware that there’s an unspoken, yet blindingly obvious ulterior motive in play.

If you want to help someone, that’s great. If you want to market to someone, that’s great too. But please, don’t pretend to be doing one thing when in reality, you are doing the other. The marketplace is not stupid.

Response rates and timing

Here is a simple marketing tip, to help you quickly improve your mail shot, email marketing and blogging response rates.

response rate email mail shotsIt’s all about – Timing.

Even if your marketing message is irresistible, you will only get the maximum return form it, if you get it in front of people at the right time.  This holds true, regardless of what form of marketing you use – though in this post I will focus on; mail shots, email marketing and blog posts.

Mail shot response rates

If you send a business to business mail shot out, which people receive first thing Monday morning, it will typically get a lower response rate than the same mailing would, if it arrived on a Tuesday – Friday morning.  Letters that arrive on Monday morning, have to fight for the reader’s attention, against all the other Monday mail PLUS all the mail that arrived on Saturday.  Equally, Monday morning is usually a particularly busy time for most businesses, meaning the reader often has less time to read their mail too.

In short, by arriving first thing Monday morning, your mailing could be reaching people who have less time to read it and it will have to compete for their attention, against a lot more mail.   Does avoiding the Monday morning post make a massive difference? No, but it will usually give you a better return.  Now, as it costs you the same to send a mail shot, regardless of what day you post it, it makes sense to avoid Monday’s and improve your response rates.

Whether you sell business to business or direct to the consumer, you need to find out when your target audience is most likely to have the time to read your message.  This is why testing and measuring your marketing feedback is so important.

Email marketing response rates

Timing is also important for email marketing.  In my experience, you should get business to business marketing emails out during office hours; again avoiding Monday mornings.

For example, the best time to send my marketing newsletter, is after 9:30am Tuesday – Friday.  I have tested and measured this for almost 4 years and the results are constant.  Think about it and it makes perfect sense.  If Sue gets into her office Monday morning and finds my newsletter in with 30 pieces of spam or junk email, that arrived since she left work on Friday evening, it’s way too easy for her to delete the newsletter by mistake.

It also makes it harder for her to actually see my newsletter, in with all that clutter and junk.

Blog post viewing numbers

I have spoken to many, many business bloggers who have all found that their weekend posts are usually read by far fewer people than their weekday posts. Clearly, a lot of people disconnect from their business or job between Friday evening and Monday morning.

However, a lot of bloggers write their blog posts during the weekend, because it’s the only time they have available to write – Then publish their posts immediately.  In my experience, this is not usually the best way to maximise your reach.

I find that when I publish a post on a Saturday, the post will usually get just 25% as many views as it would have got, if I published the same kind of post during the week.  On a Sunday the numbers are usually a lot higher, but still 50% lower than a midweek post.  So, if you only post once a week or less and you write a business to business blog, avoid publishing your content during the weekend.  It’s fine to write posts whenever you like, but businesspeople read in greater numbers during the working week.

Of course, if you blog 7 days a week like many professional bloggers, this is far less of an issue.

Your experiences?

I would love to know if YOU have noticed any time-related trends, when you send or publish marketing material. If you have anything to add, please share it below.