Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Marketing and reliability

This post is all about the role that reliability plays in marketing.

Close to where I live, there’s a sign on the road outside a cafe that says open. Now, even though this place is only open during certain hours each day, the open sign is always there.

In effect, the sign is useless or maybe even less than useless for the owners of that cafe.


Because people will see the sign, pull over and try to go in, during times or days when the place is closed.  If you really want to hack-off a potential customer, get him or her to get out of their car in the rain and run over to your cafe, so they can learn that you’re actually closed, but you’re too lazy to change the open sign.  So, by not changing this sign, the cafe will be wasting a lot of potential customer’s time – people who will never again trust that the place is actually open, just because the sign says so.  It’s easier for them to go to a reliable place, that’s open when it says it is.

Marketing and reliability

I saw something similar last year, with a restaurant that kept changing it’s opening hours.  One week it would be open Monday – Friday another week it would only be open 4 days a week and another week, it would only be open on weekends.  Guess what?  It pretty quickly went broke.  Potential diners never knew if it would be open or not, so if they were out and wanted a meal, they wouldn’t risk going all the way there, to find it closed.

In business, there is a need for reliability.  People need to know that if we, as service providers, will be there when we say we will.  We need to ensure that we turn up regularly.  We need to earn the trust of our marketplace, so they know they can rely on us. This is part of the reason, why I sent out scheduled blog posts last week, even though I was on a week long holiday.  People come here expecting to see something new, so I made sure they were not disappointed.

I’d be interested to know what examples you have, regarding the reliability or consistency of a service.  Let us know what your experiences are, with a comment.

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

Photo: Mykl Roventine

2 steps to improve your marketing messages!

Did you ever hear that old saying; “You can’t keep everybody happy”?  Well, when it comes to marketing messages, you shouldn’t even try!  When you embrace this idea, it can provide a massive boost your sales figures.

It’s all about using a more targeted marketing approach.

Targeted marketing messages

A targeted marketing message consists of 2 equally important components:

  1. The message is sent to a targeted group; those most likely to have a need for whatever you are offering.
  2. The message is composed exclusively, with the people in that target group in mind.  In other words it’s directly relevant to them and their needs.

Marketing to a targeted group

Every day, you will see offers in your mail and your email inbox, from companies offering things you have absolutely no need for.  What do you do with these?  You ignore them!  That’s because no matter how great a product or service is, it will only succeed commercially, if it’s marketed to the right people.

For example, you may have just been offered the best deal ever on a new coffee machine, but if you are not a coffee drinker, that offer is not going to motivate you to buy the coffee machine.  So, make sure that you are speaking, writing and advertising to the right people.

A targeted marketing message

Most of the marketing messages we see are very poorly targeted.  The reason this is so common, is that amateur marketers often think that by writing for the widest spread of people possible, they stand the greatest chance of making a sale.

They want to ensure that everyone who reads or listens to their marketing message, will find “something” there that’s interesting.  However, that approach is the exact opposite of what effective, targeted marketing is all about.

Effective, targeted marketing is about getting a directly relevant message in front of a targeted reader / listener / viewer.  It’s about talking to that person, about their needs and what’s happening in their world, and showing how you can help them, with your products or services.

The bottom line here is this: The more compelling, inspiring and motivating your message is, the more successful it will be.

If you would like to see a better return from your current marketing efforts, take a moment to check who you currently market your services to, and also, how targeted your marketing messages are.

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

Photo: Erika

A simple way to stay on your reader’s radar!

As you may know, I’ve been on holiday for the past 8 days.  Because blogging is such a valuable part of my communications strategy, it was important for me to be able to maintain my blogging pattern, whilst I wasn’t here.

This post is all about how wordpress’ scheduled posts feature allowed me to have a fresh post here for you each day – even though I was holidaying with my family, and why scheduling posts can be so valuable for business bloggers.

WordPress’ Scheduled Posts feature

Scheduled postsLike many people who blog regularly, I often write several blog posts at once and then use wordpress’ scheduled post feature, to publish my posts over the coming days.

This is always a really useful feature, but when you are away from work and, as in my case, away from an Internet connection too, it’s pure gold dust!

Why bother posting when I’m not here?

There are a number of reasons, why it makes sense for business bloggers to maintain the regularity, with which they post.  I mention most of them here, in “why some bloggers post every day.”

However, on a very basic level, I have found that just as people get used to visiting a blog regularly, they can also get used to NOT visiting that blog just as easily.  This simple, long established feature of wordpress means that so long as you have the content written up, a blogger never needs to have those 7 or 14 day gaps, where they drop from their reader’s radar.

Do you use scheduled posts?

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

Blogging perfection?

Are you interested in improving the regularity and value of your blogging?  If you are, you might find this post extremely useful!

I was recently asked how long I spent, writing my blog posts.  The answer I gave was that it usually takes me between 20 to 30 minutes; occasionally a little longer.  The guy who asked me, said that he often spends a couple of hours writing a single post.  This is something I hear about a great deal – people who love the idea of blogging, but who find it takes too long to produce great content regularly.  This makes it very hard to build a substantial readership or develop a community around the blog’s readers.

Blog posts do not need to be perfect

I’ve spoken with dozens of bloggers, who are only able to publish a post a handful of times a month or so, and in almost every case, their problem is that they are seeking perfection from every post.  The challenge with the perfectionist-blogger’s mindset, is that it stifles their creativity.  It clogs up momentum.  In my opinion, it also makes the blogger seem less natural or personable too – which is a BIG mistake, if you want your readers to identify with you as a person!

One of the great things about writing a blog, is that errors can not only be fixed (if you wish;) they often open up great debates in your blog’s comment section.  Yes, you should always strive to make what you write as good, valuable and clear as possible, but ultimately, you need to give yourself permission to be human.  This means allowing yourself the freedom to be just 99% right, occasionally ;)

A blog post or a special report?

Another reason why many people find it takes them so long to write their blog posts, is that they write such LONG posts.  Some of these posts are so detailed, that they read more like special reports, than blog posts.  Now, for those people, who are happy with blogging less often and writing GREAT, long, detailed posts – this is perfect.  However, if you blog (like I do) as a way to market your services and you want people to regularly get involved with your blog and contribute – you may want to think about shorter, punchier posts.

I know that many people struggle with brevity.  Some find it hard to make their points in few words, others feel that the length of a post is a key determinate of that post’s value.  I can tell you from experience, that most popular posts on this blog, are usually the shorter ones!

Your blogging tips

I know that many of you are bloggers and I would LOVE to hear your tips, for producing great quality, regular content.  It would be great if you could share your ideas here, with your fellow readers and myself!

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

It’s all about them!

Why do so many marketers focus on what THEY want in their marketing messages, rather than the needs of their marketplace?

I was looking through my inbox earlier, and found several emails from people, who have been hounding me for business.  Not only have they been emailing me too frequently, but the tone of their emails is all about them, them, them.  Here’s what I keep seeing, from various people marketing AT me, right now:

  • THEY WANT the opportunity to show me their wonder product.
  • THEY WANT just 10 minutes of my time.
  • THEY WANT to add me to their mailing lists.
  • THEY WANT me to call them before Friday, when THEIR sale ends.

Guess what?  The marketplace does not care what THEY WANT!

It’s all about the customer

One of the golden rules of effective sales and marketing, is that it needs to be customer focused.  We need to look for ways to help our prospective clients or customers, using our products or services as part of that solution.  As a wise man once told me;

“To a guy with severe toothache, who is in constant pain and has not slept in 2 days, the pain of that toothache is more relevant than the news that scores of people perished in a disaster on the other side of the world.”

The more relevant something feels to us, the more inclined we are to give it our attention.  This is just as true with marketing.  A well targeted marketing message, which focuses on helping the reader improve their situation, is far more powerful, than a self-focused sales pitch.

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

The marketing power of giving

Whilst I had not planned to write any new blog posts during my holiday, (I’ve been sending out scheduled posts since last Thursday), I really wanted to share this with you.  It’s all about the power of small, simple human connections – the kind that are easy to forget, yet can be so powerful for you and your business.

What follows is a recent example, of how taking a few moments to think about another person’s situation and then offer some help, in even a very small way, can totally change that person’s day and the way they think about you.

It’s cool to help

On Saturday, I took my family to visit a castle in North Yorkshire.  It was a hot, sunny day – around 80 degrees.  The place was packed.  The castle shop and ticket office were looked after by a very warm looking man, who I would guess was in his early sixties.  He was busily working hard, to get everyone into the castle, whilst serving the gift shop’s customers too.  I took a moment to speak with him and handed him a cold drink, which I’d got from the drinks machine.

His face lit up!  He told me that in 14 years of working there, no one had ever done that before.

On our way out, the guy came over to us and thanked me again.  The queue in the shop had gone and he was looking a lot cooler.  He then gave my son a quick lesson on the castle’s history and handed all three of us, free tickets to a medieval jousting and falconry display; taking place there that evening.  These tickets had been sold out for ages; we knew this because we tried to buy some before we set off on holiday!

The marketing power of giving

When I started out in sales, a former boss of mine told that it was important to help as many people within our marketplace as possible.  He said these should be small, easy things – acts of kindness or help, which didn’t take too long to deliver – but were hard to forget.  It worked.  In fact, it worked extremely well and has continued to do so for the past 24 years!

Now, back when I started out proactively looking for ways to help prospective clients, it was almost exclusively with a focus on what I would get in return.  Interestingly, after just a few weeks, I found that it had become a natural part of my daily routine and not just limited to business.  I started looking for ways to help people, no matter who they were and without any thought of how it might benefit me (hence the castle example above.)

Most people will help someone in distress.  This is different! This is about helping people, who may not be standing with their arms waving for help – those whose need may be less obvious or less vocal.  If you have not previously tried this approach, I suggest you give it a try.  As I wrote previously, small things can have a massive positive impact on your results AND make work a lot more fun too!

I would be interested to hear if you have had similar experiences to mine or what you think about this simple idea.  Get in touch and let us know!

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

Quick blog announcement

This is just a quick note, for regular readers and especially those, who comment here.

As you may already know, I’m on holiday until Friday 28th.  This is just to let you know that although I will be publishing blog posts this week, I won’t be available to reply to your comments until I get back.

Be good while I’m away and enjoy the posts ;)

Some signs to help you to the top!

This post is designed to help you advance further, faster – by helping you spot some warning signs, before they become a major issue.  You know what’s great about this?  When you spot a warning sign and act on it correctly, it is transformed from a warning sign, to a highly positive leap forward in your business!

Warning signs and flashing lights

I was prompted to write this post, after a conversation with a friend, who had been ignoring a warning light in his car.  He checked the handbook and thought that as it seemed like a very minor fault, that he would leave it “for a while.”  Fast forward 3 months and his car was broken down with a major engine problem!  Apparently, has he heeded the warning light, he would have been able to avoid all this, with a small fix and for a very small fee.

The problem with the warning signs in business, is that they don’t come with flashing lights, like those in our cars.  This means a lot of people miss them while they are still tiny problems – Then, like the car story above, they end up with a much bigger, costlier challenge on their hands.

From a marketing perspective, here are some early(ish) warning signs that are easy to miss:

  • Too large a percentage of your income is from too small a percentage of your customer base.
  • Too few enquiries from your direct marketing.
  • Your turnover or revenue figure has been static for more than 3 quarters or it has started contracting.
  • Not enough targeted people visiting your website or blog – and little sign of an improvement.
  • Your attrition rate is high.  Your attrition rate, is the rate at which you lose clients or repeat customers.
  • Not enough sales or marketing enquiries from your website or blog.
  • Too few referrals generally – But ESPECIALLY if you are not getting regular referrals from existing customers.
  • A low conversion rate, when dealing with sales leads.

All of the challenges listed above are far easier to resolve, the quicker you take action.  If you recognise one or more of those challenges in your business right now, don’t panic!  With the right help, all of them are relatively easy to resolve.

I suggest three possible courses of action – depending on your resources:

  1. Speak with a marketing professional.  Pick someone you trust or if you don’t already know someone, ask a friend or business contact who THEY use for marketing.  Most marketing professionals will be able to tell you very quickly if they can help and what’s likely to be involved in time and fees.
  2. If you have a lot of marketing knowledge yourself, but have not been using it for whatever reason, get into action!  List the challenges in order of importance and put a strategy together to turn it around.  The key thing here is to get started.
  3. If you don’t have the resources to pay for professional help and you are not an experienced marketer either, check out this post, which lists lots of free information and over 140 marketing ideas and answers.  Also, use the search box on the right hand side of this post and search for other marketing tips and advice.  There are hundreds of pages of answers here and thousands of ideas – all free.

Bottom line: Whatever your current marketing challenges are, they can be 100% resolved with the right action.  You can achieve amazing results and see the kind of rewards that make all your hard work worth while – so long as you do the right things, correctly.

Go for it

As we approach the second half of the year, this is a GREAT time to renew your focus and start kicking the butt of your sales targets for 2010.  Go for it!

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

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