Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Are you doing it often enough?

Recently, I have had a lot of people asking me how I come up with fresh ideas for new posts.  So, here’s what works for me and hopefully, will be just as useful for you!

The short answer is that the more you write, the easier it gets.  For example, I used to publish blog posts 5 or 6 times a month and had to think long and hard, before finding a topic.  The posts would then often take me an hour to write.  Today, after publishing over 70 posts in the past 70 days, I have another 100 or so post ideas, just waiting to be written.

The more you do it, the easier it gets

It seems counter intuitive, as you would imagine that the more ideas you write about, the fewer you would be left with.  However, it appears that the process of getting ideas fleshed out, written down and commented on, actually produces lots of new, fresh topics for future posts.  So, I publish a post and usually get ideas for several more.

I have read many experts over the years, who agree that we can all massively increase our levels of creativity in a particular area (like blogging), by deliberately using our creative skills in that area, on a regular basis.  In other words, just as a muscle becomes stronger the more it gets exercised, our creativity becomes stronger the more it is exercised too.  That is exactly what my experience has been.

I have also discovered that it is important (for me anyway), to set a specific time aside each day, to write the posts.  So, although I capture ideas for blog posts all day long, I have found that the ideal time for me to write blog posts, is early morning.  This means my posts are written before my working day begins.  As a result, not only does blogging not get in the way of my work flow – It actually stimulates my creativity, for my work with clients during the day.

Do you have any tips or suggestions, which help your creative juices to flow?

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

Photo: Karin Dalziel

Business blogging at the weekends: Is it worth it?

Have you ever wondered about the value of posting content to a business focused blog, like this one, during the weekend?  If you have, you might find my experience interesting.

Blogging on a Saturday

Reader numbers here drop like a stone on Saturdays.  I get around 50% of my weekday average, sometimes even fewer.  Yes, there are exceptions to this, but typically I see around half as many readers show up.  Even yesterday, when I published 2 blog posts, I saw only a very slight increase in numbers.

Blogging on a Sunday

Sundays are very different! Reader numbers on a Sunday are the same as a regular weekday.  In fact, I have had some of the busiest days ever here on a Sunday.

Based on my experience, if you write a business blog and you are thinking of publishing content on one day over the weekend, I would recommend a Sunday.  Not only are reader numbers higher on a Sunday, I typically see a greater level of reader engagement  too.  That is to say, a higher percentage of readers will comment here or email me.  Page view numbers (per reader) are also higher on Sundays than on Saturdays.

Do you publish posts at the weekend? Let us know your experience!

In order to make this post as valuable as possible, I would like to know what your experience is, of publishing weekend blog posts – in relation to reader numbers.  Are my experiences typical? Please share your feedback!

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

Why yesterday was so special, and why every day should be the same!

Yesterday, I received some fantastic news! You know, the kind of news where you immediately burst into tears of joy – that kind of fantastic news.

One of my closest friends, got the results from a scan and found out that he is going to be fine.  This came after 3 weeks of tests for what initially looked like an extremely serious health condition. We put an impromptu party together, got a load of people around and had a great time.

This made me think…

My friend’s actual situation was no different yesterday, than it had been a week, month, year or decade earlier – yet there we all were, overjoyed that he was going to be his normal self.

It seems that we only REALLY value things, like; our health, our relationships, our friends etc, when we think we might lose them.

Here’s a thought

Wouldn’t it be fantastic, if we could all tap into that same level of sheer joy right now, today and every day, for all the things we have, but maybe take for granted?

I know that some countries and cultures have a few days each year, where we give thanks or show particular appreciation for our mothers or fathers.  But there are 365 days every year, which are worth celebrating.

Like today!

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

What do your links say about you?

What do the links on your website or blog tell prospective clients and customers about the kind of person you are?

One of the reasons that Google has become the dominant player in the search engine market, is that so much of what it does, reflects the way humans think.  If Google’s algorithm spots that your website is linking to what it calls a “bad neighborhood” it will penalise the site with a worse ranking in Google’s search results. 

I wrote recently about link exchanges and how they can hurt your site’s reputation.

In exactly the same way, if a prospective client or customer visits your website / blog and sees that you are linking to something that they believe is dubious, you will drop in their regard.  This can have a massive negative impact on their decision to contact you.

Just as our parents told us to be careful about the kids we hung around with when we were young, today, as businesspeople, we need to be careful not to associate our name and reputation with the wrong crowd.  Many people see a link as an endorsement.  After all, we certainly wouldn’t link from our site, to a site that we thought was dubious, right?

I think it’s a good idea from time to time, to review the people and companies we link to and the kind of message, which these links give to people when they visit our site.

If you were checking out a potential service provider, what kind of links would put you off?

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

Bad company?

I had a great conversation yesterday, with the owner of a New York based SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) business.  We were talking about the way that Google penalises websites, if that site links to what Google calls a “bad neighborhood.”  Here’s a brief clip from the Google Webmaster Guidelines;

“…avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.”

I find this extremely interesting!

What Google is doing there, is exactly the same as you and I do, when we see that a person, business or brand is associating with something that we believe to be negative.  If Google believes we are linking to something dubious, it assigns less credibility to us.  If we, as people, see that a person or brand is linking to something dubious, we do exactly the same.

Just about every book on personal or professional development, advises us to be very careful about the kind of people we associate with.  I still recall getting into bad company as a kid, and then being accused of things I never did; simply because I was associating with the kids that were responsible for 99% of the mischief in our area.  By linking with these kids, I was making it easy for people to think that I was “like” they were.

There are a number of good reasons for this sage advice.  For example, if we associate with negative people, it’s all too easy for us too, to become primarily negative in our outlook.  Conversely, if we associate with people, who are goal orientated and positive in their outlook, it’s a lot easier for us to remain primarily positive.

Be extremely selective who you align your name, reputation or online presence with.

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

Looking for answers?

If you have some BIG challenges facing you right now, this post is written JUST for you!

In my experience, most business owners greatly underestimate their ability to make things happen; to turn things around and create a big, positive impact.  They see some of the challenges facing their business or their life in general, and use their imagination to visualise all the worst case scenarios, instead of using it to find effective answers.

You are capable of amazing things!

Here’s what I believe: A business problem can only beat you, if you allow it to.

That’s because you have within you, the basic tools required to either solve a problem yourself, or to find someone who already has the answers you need.  When you look at the various challenges facing you right now, using that answer-focused mindset, it’s interesting how much more resourceful you feel and become.

The late Anita Roddick once said;

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.”

Whatever you have facing you right now, start focusing your resources on the answer.  If you invest enough time researching the answer or finding the people with the answers you need, you will have those challenges whipped in no time.

Have you used a similar approach to get the answers you need?

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

Photo: d3 Dan

Time wasters and your business!

It seems that some things in business just never change. Like those people we affectionately call time wasters.

I was prompted to write this, after being emailed today by a reader, who had wasted a lot of time dealing with a time waster.  This guy claimed to be interested in using her as a freelance designer for a large project.  She later found out, after meeting his colleague at a networking event, that the person she had been dealing with, was simply pumping her for free advice, for a project he was going to do in-house, for his boss! The reader explained that she has only been in business for 6 months, and “feels like a fool” to use her own words, for falling for this trick.

As businesspeople, it’s important for us to learn how to spot the time wasters as soon as we can, BUT without missing the people who are genuinely interested in our products or services.

I wrote a post about time wasters, that gives a few tips.

In my experience, I find that the longer you are in business, the better you become at spotting time wasters.  Do you find that too?  I’d like to know.

Sometimes, it’s possible to spot patterns of behaviour, that immediately alert you to time wasters.  In my own business, for instance, I’ve discovered that whenever someone tells me via a social network, that they are going to get in touch to find out about working with me, they never do.  After all, if someone’s interested in speaking with me, it’s easier for them just to call or email me.  Interestingly, 100% of my clients simply got in touch with me, without any public pre-announcements.

Here’s where I would really appreciate your help!

It would be extremely useful if you would share any of YOUR tips for spotting or dealing with time wasters.  If you have anything you would like to share, please leave a comment and maybe help someone avoid the kind of frustration, that lady in the email experienced.

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

Are you marketing with a hammer, an axe or a chainsaw?

How would you describe the way you market your business?

When I used to speak with marketing students, I would explain the three basic small business marketing approaches like this.

Marketing approach 1: Chopping down a tree with a hammer

Yes, you can chop a tree down with a hammer but it will take days of needless, backbreaking work.  This is what happens when you use the wrong tool for the job.

Most of the small business owners I hear from fit into this category.  Instead of using the correct marketing tools for what they want to achieve, they use the tools they are comfortable with.  They complain about their lack of success, but keep repeating the same old errors.  If you are not getting the results you want from your marketing, stop whatever you are doing and make sure you are using the right tools for what you want to achieve.

Marketing approach 2: Chopping down a tree with an axe

Yes, you can chop a tree down with an axe and instead of it taking you a few days, as it would with a hammer, it might only take you a couple of hours of hard work.  This is what happens when you use a tool that’s designed specifically for what you want to achieve.  It’s massively more efficient.  You get better results, for less effort.

From a marketing perspective, a far smaller group of small business owners fit into this category.  These are the people, who have invested their time refining how they market their business and thus eliminated what didn’t work and embraced what did.  What’s left is a shiny set of effective marketing tools.

Marketing approach 3: Chopping down a tree with a chain saw

You can chop a tree down with a chainsaw in minutes; without even breaking into a sweat.  Like an axe, it’s a tool that’s specially designed for the job.  Unlike the axe, which was designed hundreds of years ago (or more), today’s chainsaws use the very latest technology.  So, not only will the chainsaw do the job, it will do it better, more accurately and  in a fraction of the time.

From a marketing perspective, very few small business owners fit into this category.  These rare people are the ones who have not only discovered some marketing tools that work; they have also discovered the perfect tools for what they want to achieve and the most effective way to use them, so they get the best possible results.  They plan their marketing ahead of time and make far better decisions.

Compare that approach, to the more typical small business owner’s attitude to marketing. Marketing is something these guys do when there’s a problem; like the loss of a major account or the sudden realisation that they are not making any real progress.  So, for example, they might decide to “try a mail shot” and send a poorly written letter (which is essentially a sales pitch) to an out of date list of people, who never asked to be contacted.

They then usually proclaim; “we tried mail shots – they don’t work!”  I’m assuming they are the same people who think “cars don’t work” because they don’t know how to drive! ;)

Most people reading this, will see themselves primarily in one of those three general groups.  The best advice I can give you, is to get yourself into that third group, as quickly as you can!

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

Photo: Foxhill Matt

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