Jim Rohn RIP

jim rohn, jim rohn international, e james rohn,

On 5th December 2009, my mentor passed away.

E James Rohn, known to millions simply as Jim Rohn, was a truly incredible human being. Though we never met, Jim’s words of wisdom helped me turn my life around and for well over 20 years, Jim’s work has been a regular part of my life and my business.

There may have been days where I didn’t read, listen to or watch something of Jim Rohn’s – but not many.

I own just about every word Jim has ever published and I believe I have every recording he ever made too.  This was easily the best commercial investment I ever made.

Jim Rohn’s impact on me

One day, around 23 years ago, I discovered Jim Rohn’s work and my life changed instantly.  I became a completely different person.  So much so, that although I was broke at the age of 21 and living in a slum, I was financially secure for life just 7 years later. That’s the life-changing impact Jim Rohn has had on me.

Jim’s work was the spark that ignited something, which even I did not know I had.  He showed me, in plain English, with no bullshit, that I could become whatever I wanted to; that my past did not equal my future.  You can find out more about Jim and his work here.

Jim’s words helped me more than ‘just’ commercially.  In fact, at the lowest points in my life, when my parents passed away, Jim’s advice helped me remain sane and kept me moving forward.

Perhaps the strongest testimony to the impact of Jim Rohn’s work, is that right now, all over the world, there are millions of people who are feeling his loss just like I am. That’s quite an achievement, for a farm boy from Idaho.

Photo credit: Jim Rohn International

Why Google means so little to me (and you mean so much!)

One of the first rules of business is not to rely too heavily on any 1 client or customer, for the majority of your income.  If you do, and that customer goes broke or takes their business elsewhere, you’re in BIG trouble!  Even if that customer just decides to pay you late, it can kill your cash flow or put you out of business.

Everyone knows that it’s far better and a lot less risky, to have a wider spread of business.

Or do they?

For some reason, when it comes to the Internet, it seems many site owners and bloggers focus the majority of their efforts on just one form of traffic development; search engines.  Then, the vast majority of that is focused on just 1 search engine – Google.  As a result, some people are now very dependent on Google traffic.  Many invest a staggering amount of time and effort doing everything they can, to keep Google happy.

Even the most read sites on the Internet can become extremely dependent on Google.  In a recent blog post, Darren Rowse from problogger explained that he almost went out of business, when Google decided overnight, to cut his traffic (and thus his sales/leads) by 30%!

I believe it’s insane to allow any 3rd party to have that much control over:

  • Your sales
  • Your leads
  • Your enquiries
  • Your income
  • and maybe even your business’ future

Whilst I recommend that every business invests in professional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), I ALSO strongly suggest that you consider investing in alternatives too.  Why? Because the results can be amazing AND it removes your exclusive reliance on search engines.

For example, although this blog is currently ranked one of the top 100 marketing blogs in the world by Adage, just a small percentage of my traffic comes via search engines.  The vast majority comes from people, via social media (more on that in a moment.)

SEO, social media and your Internet marketing mix

When I started this blog, I decided that Google was NOT going to play any deliberate part in the blog’s development.  I do NOT recommend others follow this path, it’s not the right move for the vast majority of people.

Why did I do it? Because as someone from a traditional marketing background, I wanted to use a form of marketing for the blog, which was not so reliant on Google.  I elected to use a strategy, which used a number of social media related activities. The idea was (and still is) to provide my blog with a much wider spread of human-powered, marketing options.

I use some basic SEO here, like tagging posts so that it’s easier for search engines to correctly identify what my posts are about.  This takes seconds to do.  However, I do not deliberately use Google friendly key phrases or key words – I don’t even have a sitemap!  I also do zero off-site SEO.  If Google stopped sending people here tomorrow, it would have very little impact on the development of this blog. Chris Brogan claims to have gone 1 step further than me, and says he does no SEO on his blog whatsoever! That’s incorrect, as his theme is optimized and he has requested people to link to him – I think he means he doesn’t keyword stuff. Ignoring SEO completely is at best, a little blinkered.

Here are just some of the ways that people, via social media, have helped me generate targeted traffic to this blog:

  • People share my blog posts on Twitter. I use Twitter most days and have connected with a some great people. Some of them are kind enough to share posts on Twitter, if they find them interesting.
  • People use sites like Facebook, Delicious, Stumbleupon and Digg etc to share blog posts. For example, this 1 post gets hundreds of views every week from Stumbleupon users.
  • Fellow bloggers link to posts here, which alerts their readers to this blog.  Some bloggers link to the entire blog.
  • People have mentioned the blog in podcasts.
  • I link to this blog in my marketing newsletter; which helps new newsletter readers discover the blog.

Because SEO is very much the secondary focus of the blog’s development, I focus on optimising my posts, so that they are as attractive as possible for people.  I have to admit that as a writer, I find it far, far more natural to write for people, than to alter my writing style, so that there are key phrases and words scattered strategically – to attract Google’s attention too.

It’s wise to combine great copy writing with powerful SEO.  Particularly when writing copy for a website, as opposed to a blog, the combined SEO social media approach is extremely valuable.

Love SEO – but give social media a hug too!

Do not misread this post and think for one moment that I am suggesting you ignore SEO.  That would be wrong.  I am not saying that at all.  However, I AM saying that all site owners and bloggers should spend some time exploring additional ways to generate targeted traffic. Keep up with your SEO, but seriously consider adding a little people-power to your Internet marketing mix!

Can I have your attention?

It amazes me that there are still businesspeople, who have not figured out that there’s a right way and a wrong way to grab someone’s attention.

For example, I’ve been emailed this morning by 2 unrelated companies.  Both wanted me to write a review here on the blog, about their service.  Each email consisted of a poorly written, cut-and-paste sales pitch.  Both senders thought that the best way to grab my attention, create a great initial impression and inspire me to blog about them, was to spam me.

Attention grabbing

If you walk up to a stranger at a networking event, you can quickly grab their attention by simply poking them hard in the chest with your index finger.  However, this is not going to be the kind of attention you want.  Spammy emails are just like that! They may gain someone’s attention, but only to alert them that the sender is a spammer.  That’s not the kind of attention any business wants to attract.

Now, if one of the companies that spammed me earlier had actually took a moment to market their service to me correctly, I might have checked it out. If, for instance, either of them had followed me on Twitter and then tweeted to me, I would have definitely checked out their website.  This would have presented them with a window of opportunity, to make a great impression.

Attention grabbing – Done right

  • Seth Godin didn’t spam me and ask if I would write a review about how brilliant his marketing blog is – but I did!  Seth’s blog was mentioned on a radio show I was listening to years ago.  I read it and was hooked.
  • The reason I bought a Samsung when I was shopping for a netbook, is because there were universally excellent reviews for the NC10 all over the Internet, from trusted sources.  I even mentioned the netbook in a blog post.
  • When Danny Brown told me how great the Headway (affiliate link) wordpress theme was, I had to check it out.  Within 15 minutes of reading about it, I had bought it.  A few hours later, I had it installed.  A week later, I became an affiliate; the first product I have ever been an affiliate of!

The bottom line is this: If you want people to write positively about you, recommend you and buy from you – don’t poke them in the chest.

6 Marketing tips – Good timing!

Great marketing and great comedy have at least one thing in common: Great timing!

Of course, the opposite is also true.  A comedian with bad timing isn’t very funny and poorly timed marketing isn’t very effective.

With this in mind, here are SIX timing-related marketing tips, to help you improve your results.

Marketing your events

If you are thinking of hosting any kind of event, Google the date you have in mind and check if anything that’s likely to cause a problem is happening on that day. I spoke with a UK based business owner once, who unknowingly picked (and advertised everywhere) the same date for his company’s open evening, as England’s opening game in the football World Cup Finals.

The end result? He was the only person there.

Planning your marketing

The time to start planning your marketing strategy for 2010 is NOT the first day of January – it’s NOW!

Just as you wouldn’t wait until the day you set off on a round the world trip, to start booking accommodation and flights, the same applies when planning your marketing for the year ahead. Leave yourself enough time to plan ahead properly.

Mail shots & follow-up phone calls

If you are sending out a mail shot, which you intend to follow-up with a phone call, send the mailing so that it arrives on a Tuesday.  This way, you can make your follow up calls on Wednesday and Thursday.  If your letter arrives on a Friday there will be a weekend between your prospective customers reading your letter and you making those first follow-up calls.

That’s a long time for your prospective client to remember your letter. Equally, you don’t want to be making follow-up calls on Monday mornings; when your prospects are often at their busiest.

Industry specific timing

There are times of the year where it’s pointless marketing to certain industries and professions.  In the UK, for example, the accountancy profession is extremely busy in January.  As a result, you are far less likely to be able to meet with or even speak on the phone with accountants in January, than you would be in February, March etc.  Of course, US based accountants are busiest on the lead-up to the 15th April rush.

Companies selling training courses and seminars usually find it harder to fill venues during the summer holiday months, than the rest of the year.  That’s because organisations are much less likely to send employees away for a day, when they are already short of people because of holiday cover.

The key thing here is that whatever industries or professions you target with your marketing, make sure you are aware of their busiest months and focus your efforts accordingly.

Email marketing

Whenever possible, I strongly recommend you avoid sending out your email-based marketing on a Friday afternoon.  If your email isn’t picked up that afternoon, it will be stuck in the bottom of their inbox, under a whole weekend’s worth of junk mail, when they check their email again on Monday morning.  This makes it unnecessarily hard for YOUR email message to get noticed.

You have an entire working week to send out your email marketing, so even if it ‘just’ helps your response rate by 10%, it’s got to be worth avoiding Friday afternoons.

Investing your marketing time correctly

My final time-related marketing tip is simple: Don’t waste major chunks of your marketing time, on minor things.  There are only so many hours in a day and only so many of those, which you can invest in your marketing.

For example, I see people waste weeks researching what type of email software to use – and then use it to send hastily written marketing emails.  That’s all wrong.  I see people wait months before they start blogging, doing hundreds of hours of ‘research’, and they still end up repeating the exact same mistakes that most new bloggers make.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Use your marketing time as effectively as you can.

Okay – now it’s your turn

What do you think?  What time-related marketing tips do you have? Share your feedback!

Mouth-watering marketing

I just want to quickly share something valuable with you, which happened to me a couple of days ago.  It’s a simple, yet powerful example of how extremely persuasive words can be, when we use them to create strong, mental images.

I’m writing this post just after returning home from a delicious lunch with my wife and son.  We went to a small local place, where the food and atmosphere are always good.  After we finished our food, the waitress asked us if we would like some dessert.  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but decided to ask what was on their lunchtime dessert menu anyway.  Here’s what she told me:

“This afternoon Jim, we have a mouth-watering strawberry cheesecake and some freshly made profiteroles in a delicious, smooth chocolate sauce, which melts in your mouth.”

She listed several more options, but to be honest, I was already sold by the time she reached the freshly made profiteroles.

The marketing power of words

Here’s the thing: We all had dessert, even though we hardly ever eat dessert at lunchtime.

So, why did we have dessert?

Because it sounded delicious, before we even saw it!  The mental pictures she painted in our minds, as she described each dessert, took them from being items on a list and turned them into tastes in our imaginations.  If she had simply read us a list of dessert choices, I know we would not have had any.

Take a moment to look at the copy (wording) you currently use for your marketing.  Are you painting inspiring, compelling mental images with them?  Are your marketing messages motivating prospective customers to; buy from you, recommend you, call you, email you, subscribe to your mailing list etc?

If not, it’s highly likely you are simply giving details of the benefits your services provide. I know you have been told that you should sell based on benefits, but you need to make those benefits come alive.

Your written marketing needs to jump from the page or the computer screen and produce the motivation required for the reader to take action!

Quick marketing tip

Copy writing is one of the master skills of successful marketing.  If you are serious about making regular, high quality sales or filling your client base with brilliant clients, I strongly recommend you make 1 of the following 2 investments.  I recommend that you either invest the time required to learn how to write effective marketing messages OR invest the money required to hire the best marketing copy writer you possibly can.

By relying on pedestrian marketing copy, you simply place a very low, uninspiring ceiling on your business’ potential.

What’s your take on this?  Share your feedback or experiences of great (and not so great) copy writing, with a comment below.

This is marketing madness!

Here’s a great example of how bad marketing can not only result in you making fewer sales – But actually LOSE you existing customers too!

As you read this post, the owner of a small web hosting business is wondering why so few people have responded to his latest marketing email.

In his marketing email, which was forwarded to me by a reader, he explains that over the Christmas holiday period, the load on his servers increases and this means people’s sites will load really slowly. To frighten his customers still further, he explains that the server speed could be too slow for their customers / clients / readers to bother with.  It could screw up their business and make them look bad. (Ouch!)

Sounds horrible right?  Well, the email goes on to paint a picture of increasing doom – Until he asks his customers to consider upgrading their hosting package, claiming that the new, more expensive package, will deliver a reliable service.

Marketing madness

Can you spot the problem here?  This guy has just sent all his customers an email, which tells them the servers he has placed their sites on are overloaded.  However, on the page of his website, which sells the package that he now says is unreliable, he says the total opposite.  In fact, he makes a number of very bold promises about the reliability of the servers he uses.  I have never heard of this hosting provider, his services might be great – but that’s not the point!

Not only has he just informed all his customers that he put their sites on overloaded servers, they now know they can’t trust his company’s marketing promises either!

In a shockingly bad effort to up-sell his clients onto a 400% more expensive package, he has actually massively damaged their opinion of the current service they receive from him.  They will now be worrying about the problems that he has forecast for December and some will be looking for a reliable alternative to him and his false promises!

It’s madness for someone to try and scare their customers into upgrading, by claiming that the service he previously sold them is not what he promised.  It’s also just plain stupid to tell lies to your customers.  This up-sell approach does nothing, other than damage the provider’s reputation and alert the customer to change provider.

Marketing an upgrade to your customers or clients

If you want to encourage existing customers to upgrade from one level of service to the next, you need to demonstrate huge, additional value in the upgraded service.  You create a vast difference between their current service and the upgrade, by massively increasing the value of the upgrade – NOT by telling them that what you already sold them is crap. You need to pump so much value into the upgrade, that they would be nuts not to use it.

This value focused approach makes the upgrade process less of a risk for the customer and enhances their experience of your business.  They get to see you as being able to grow to meet their demands.

Your turn

What do you think of the approach used by this hosting company?  Have you seen examples of it before and did it encourage you to spend more money with them?  What do you think when a provider bad mouths the quality of their own, entry level services?  Share your opinions with us.

Why bloggers post every day!

Ever wondered why some bloggers write blog posts every day?  Well, I did too – So I tried a 14 day experiment, and I am going to share my results with you.

Usually, my blogging schedule is erratic; often just a handful of posts in a month.  However, as regular readers will have noticed, I have been updating this blog with fresh posts every day, for the past 2 weeks.


I wanted to measure for myself, just what the value to a blogger is, of updating their blog every day with new posts.  I assumed (rightly as it turned out) that 2 weeks would be a long enough period, for me to get some worthwhile data for you.  The results have been VERY interesting!

In brief, here’s what I have found:

RSS Subscribers

One of the biggest differences (in percentage points) has been the increase in new RSS subscribers to the blog.  New subscriber numbers are up an amazing 400% on the 2 weeks previous!  I was expecting to see some increase, but this was far, far higher than I imagined.

Blog Comments

The number of comments per post varies all the time, literally from post to post, making it very hard to measure over such a short period.  Equally, comments are often added to blog posts weeks, months and even years after a post is written.

Comments in total during the past 14 days are up by around 300%.  This is less impressive than it may sound, as there were many more posts for people to read and thus comment on than usual.  Also, regular readers have been visiting the blog more often and sharing posts with their friends more often, which increases comment numbers.

This leads me on to the biggest difference I have noticed with the comments, over the past 2 weeks.  The biggest (and most interesting development for me), has been the number of new people commenting here.  I have seen a lot of new commenters, many of whom have said that they have only just discovered the blog.

Blog traffic

The number of unique visitors here increased by just under 30% during the 2 weeks.  That’s a significant increase, especially as most of it came over the past 5 days.

Interestingly, the number of page views here increased massively.  This seems to be from new visitors having a look around and established readers visiting more often, in line with the number of new posts.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that daily blogging, even for a relatively short period of time, has significantly increased ‘traffic’ into the blog.


The biggest revelation for me has been how much fun I’ve had! I have REALLY enjoyed putting the posts together.  More than this, the increased activity on the blog from commenters and those discussing posts on Twitter, has been amazing.  The whole ‘atmosphere’ of the blog has been improved in every way.

However, it is very clear from the significant increases across the board, why so many bloggers post fresh content every day.  Daily blogging has improved literally every metric I have measured – not just those mentioned in this brief post.  It’s also improved areas that are far harder to measure, like making the blog a lot more ‘alive’ and vivid.  These things are harder to plot on a chart than RSS subscribers or traffic, but they are massively valuable to anyone who genuinely cares about their blog and it’s community of readers.

My dilemma

I strongly believe that the only time to write a blog post is when the writer has something VALUABLE to say, which is worth sharing.  I don’t believe in having a blogging schedule. As a professional writer, I have found it relatively easy to publish fresh content each day – but what about the quality of that content?

I see zero point in posting dross occasionally, just so that I don’t miss a day!  That material will live on the Internet forever, with my name attached to it. My 4 year old son will see it when he’s older – I don’t want him thinking his daddy writes pedestrian, generic bullshit occasionally, because I’m a slave to some self-imposed, daily blogging schedule.

I occasionally read posts by people considered to be GREAT bloggers, which seem ‘pretty average’ at best.  The thing is, these guys are NOT average writers; they are the top of the blogging pile.  I always wonder if the reason I find those posts average, is just that the subject is not of interest to me, or if it’s because the blogger wrote an average post, just to maintain his or her daily blogging schedule.

The bottom line for me, is that by blogging here each day, the value of this blog has improved in every way.  So, I’ve decided to aim for blogging here on a more regular basis than before, but only when I have something I believe is worth sharing with you.  If that’s daily, then fine. If not, then I assure you, you will be missing nothing worth reading.

What do you think?

Did you find any of that data useful or interesting?  What has your experience been?

Photo credit: UnSung

Your 5 step marketing make-over!

This post is all about how to improve your marketing and it contains links to stacks of great, free marketing advice!

I wrote this today, because I know that many of my readers work really hard and yet fail to get the sales or profits that their hard work deserves.  In the majority of cases, their products and services are great – But they are being let down by ineffective marketing.  So, in this post I am going to give you a quick marketing exercise, designed to get you on the right track.

Here’s a simple 5 step process, for improving the effectiveness of your marketing:

  1. Make a list of every marketing activity you currently invest time and / or money in.
  2. Write down the results you are getting from each marketing activity. If the results can’t be measured for any activity, stop it immediately!
  3. If any activity is on that list purely because it’s something you are COMFORTABLE with or it’s there just because YOU HAVE ALWAYS done it, that’s not a good enough reason. (This is where I find a lot of people are wasting valuable time and money!)
  4. Next, grab your beverage of choice and read the 3 posts linked to below. They will show you some of the most popular and effective forms of small business marketing.
  5. Finally, select the marketing activities that you feel are most suited to what you want to achieve.  Then, spend some time studying how to do THOSE activities correctly and add them to your marketing mix.

Below are the posts I recommended earlier.  The first is a 2 parter, which contains a number of different marketing activities and explains what they are.  The final link will take you to the most popular page on this blog; a list of my top 10 marketing tips for small businesses.

Designing your marketing mix (part 1)

Designing your marketing mix (part 2)

Top 10 Marketing Tips

This is intended as a launchpad, to get you focusing on more effective ways to market your services.  If you want to know more about any of the activities mentioned, remember to use the search box on the right hand side of this blog.

If you found this information and the links useful, please take a moment to share this post with your friends.

How to have zero competition for YOUR business!

This post is all about how to market your business, without ever having to worry about the threat of competition.

I decided to write this after receiving an email from a reader, Elizabeth, who asked me a great question.  Elizabeth wanted to know why I promote the websites and blogs of fellow marketing professionals.  She went on to say that this seemed, “an unusual way to treat the competition!”

Apparently, Elizabeth was specifically referring to the fact that I often link to other marketing sites and ReTweet interesting posts and articles from other marketing professionals.

In a way, I can understand what Elizabeth’s saying.  It probably seems counter instinctive to most people, when they see me use my network to promote someone, who could be a direct competitor.

However, I see things in a different way!

Marketing and competition

When it comes to growing my business, I don’t operate from the mindset of having competitors.  I operate from a creative mindset.  I focus on making what I do so uniquely valuable, that there isn’t anyone else offering that set of unique skills to the small business marketplace.  You know what? It works really well too! There are some great marketing people out there, but none that compete with me.  They do their thing and I do mine.  Operating from a creative mindset allows me to work without limitations.  For example, I actually market the services of a number of great marketing and marketing-related businesses. Isn’t that brilliant?

I genuinely believe that if any business tries hard enough, it can make its services uniquely valuable enough to never have to ‘worry’ about the competition again.  The challenge, is that most businesses, large and small, look just too similar to the other providers in their industry. As a direct result, they are constantly worried that prospective customers will see the ‘competition’ and then use them.

If they were uniquely valuable enough, they would never have to worry about that.

Marketing your business

Here’s my suggestion for you – something for you to consider.

Look at what your competitors do and re-design your raft of services, your promises and guarantees, to make your offering massively more uniquely valuable.  Market your unique value and show the marketplace how brilliant you are.  Get this right and will OWN your very own hyper-valuable niche. Become the only show in town, for someone looking for YOUR kind of service.

What do you think?

Don’t treat people like numbers!

Many businesses seem to forget that people are people and numbers are numbers.  As a result, they lose touch with the ‘people‘ side of their business.

Here’s why this is a REALLY bad idea:
It’s People
who work for us, buy from us, recommend us and help us – not numbers!

When a business starts regarding people simply as ‘numbers’ on a spreadsheet, customer base or mailing list – it becomes disconnected from those people.  This is madness!

Each client, customer, potential client, reader, follower and contact you have is unique.  These people have feelings. They have good days and bad days. They have ups and downs. They have days where they want to cry with joy and days where they cry with sorrow.  These unique, immeasurably valuable individuals are many things to many people, but they are NOT numbers.

Always focus on the people behind ‘the numbers’ that you use in your business and whenever possible, try to connect with them.  Sometimes, something as simple as a sincere offer of help, a quick phone call or even a smile, can turn someone’s day around.

Will this help you grow your business? Quite possibly.

Will it transform the way you FEEL about your business and the way others FEEL about you? Definitely!