Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Page 20 of 176

Why following the crowd is a bad idea

follow like sheep

It’s hard to follow the crowd and achieve anything beyond average.

The wealthiest investors buy, when the crowd is selling. The most successful businesses stand out, while the crowd fits in. The wisest business owners work smart, while the crowd works hard.

Clearly the crowd is missing a key point

The worst reason to do anything in business, is because everyone else is doing it. It’s a short-cut to being average. A guarantee you will never stand out from the crowd. An immunisation to stop you attracting word of mouth publicity.

We must dare to be different or accept the price of being average. Why? Because history shows that if we keep on following what the average, struggling business does, one day, everything they have will be ours.

Content Marketing: Is your design killing your content?

The primary design task of any newsletter, website or blog, is to ensure the content is as readable as possible. The design should work like a picture frame and enhance, not hide, your work.

content marketing design

I was on a site earlier, where the design was so loud and busy, that it was hard to find the actual content. When trying to read the content, the rest of the site was so distracting that I left after just 30 seconds or so.

Most newsletters are just as bad. Instead of focusing on the message, they’re packed with distractions. Lots of different font sizes, colours, options, boxes and buttons — all getting in the way and breaking the reading experience. As a result, their actual content gets very little attention… and the newsletter providers wonder why their readership isn’t growing.

The poor readability epidemic

Unreadable design is such a huge problem now, that there are apps that try to combat it. Readability is maybe the best known.

Take a look at the design you use for your newsletter, website and / or blog. If the content is playing second fiddle to the design, change the design. After all, it’s your content that people come to you for and your content, which builds your relationship with your readers.

A quick tip: Clear, big fonts and lots of white space work better than almost anything, when it comes to making your content stand out.

How to get more value from me

Did you know that the free information I offer you here, is just a fraction of what I share each week?

Here are the places where you will find the majority of my free work.

CHTshadow

I write far more frequently on Creative Thinking Hub. It is sometimes updated several times a day! It’s a website dedicated to sharing ideas, to help you solve problems and think more creatively. You can find it here.

Let’s get social

I share ideas and useful resources every day on Twitter. You can join me on Twitter here.

I also share ideas and resources on Google+. You can join me here.

I have an active Facebook page, which you can join me on here.

Please say hi when you connect with me. It would be great to hear from you!

How to get better results without working harder

business development

I have a business development tip for you today, which is essential to the success of your business.

Most small business owners are busy people. They work hard. They work long hours, too. Yet, very few make the kind of progress they would like. All that movement and hard work isn’t getting them where they want their business to be.

That’s because there’s something missing from this picture… something that transforms movement into progress.

So, what’s the answer?

The answer can be found, when we look at those business owners who are making real progress, often working fewer hours than those who spin their wheels.

It looks like this: Those who make progress learn from every experience. Then, they invest what they learn, to make better and better business decisions.

Here’s how you can do the same!

Here are a couple of examples, which show how this works in practice. The same approach can be used to massively improve your success in every area of your business.

Example 1: What was the last marketing email you opened and started reading?

Dig it out and spend some time studying its subject line (or title). Learn what it was, which motivated you to open it rather than trash it like all the others. Then, invest what you learned from that email, so that your next marketing email gets a great open rate.

Example 2: What was the last service you received, which impressed you so much that you had to tell everyone?

Think about that exceptional service, from start to finish. Now, look at what it was, which made that service so different from what you were expecting. Then, look for a way to incorporate something similar into the experience you give to your own clients or customers. Congratulations… you’ve just massively improved the volume and quality of the word of mouth publicity you receive!

In short: Don’t just get through the day. Get from the day.

PS: I wrote an article for Microsoft.com yesterday, which gives you another 5 habits of successful business owners.

Create some momentum

new day today

Today could be just another day for you. Alternatively, you can use the opportunity today brings, to create some real momentum.

For example, you can:

  • Start reading a book today, which will educate or inspire you.
  • Publish something on a blog or social network today, which will be useful for your marketplace and showcase your expertise.
  • Learn the meaning of a new word today, which will widen your vocabulary.
  • Make a decision today, which you have been procrastinating over.
  • Invest in something today, which you know your business needs.

If you want to keep the momentum going, do something progressive tomorrow. Rinse, repeat.

Uncovering your unique voice

different

I get a lot of email, from business owners who want to uncover their unique voice. In most cases, they are seeking to improve the quality of their newsletters, blog posts or articles.

They note that most material in every niche seems to be extremely similar — with just a few people writing anything fresh or original.

I have a theory about why this happens and how to avoid it.

My theory

I believe it’s linked to the mass consumption of the same kind of inputs. It looks like this:

We have known for years that if you watch TV, just like the masses, you’re likely to start thinking, just like the masses.

My theory is that the same is true of writers within a niche, who read the same popular books, magazines and blogs. By consuming the same inputs, they work from the same information base. This results in them adopting and sharing very similar ideas. It can also result in very similar writing styles.

Thinking differently

As I said earlier, this is only a theory. However, it’s based on years of study and observation. I am yet to find a unique voice in any field, who feeds her mind with the same mass market material as her peers.

In short: To think differently, we need to feed our mind differently.

PS: You may find this useful. My name is Jim Connolly and I am a freak!

The thing about remarkable work

… is that it is risky, courageous and challenging. That’s what makes remarkable work stand out. It’s also why remarkable work attracts so much word of mouth publicity.

Those who want to attract word of mouth, must pay the admission price in advance. They need to do work, which is worthy of being remarked on or talked about. They need to embrace the risk, summon the courage and rise to the challenge.

Where to begin?

Ask yourself the following question, then take as long as you need to write your answer down:

If people were already talking about my business to their friends, what would I like them to be saying?

Once you’ve come up with your answer, think about it for a while. Next, commit to making the improvements to your business, which would motivate people to say those things about you.

Be the author of your word of mouth referrals

The most successful business owners already do this. They are the authors of what people say about their business.

How?

By creating amazing customer experiences, which people feel they HAVE to share.

To age online or not to age: That is the question!

Jim Connolly

Yesterday, I had some new photos taken for use on my blogs and social networking accounts. I asked the photographer to take honest photos… photos that reflected exactly what she saw. I’m happy with the end result. It’s me.

Honest photos?

Not everyone uses a recent or even accurate photo online. It’s understandable too. Whenever I change my photo, at least one person will feel compelled to criticise how I look. Here’s why people criticise you and how to deal with it!

It’s a great idea to use a complimentary photo you feel comfortable with. However, the photo should accurately reflect who you are and what you actually look like. If not, you could find it hurts you and your business, when people see the real you and wonder what else you’re hiding from them.

This reminds me of a recent story I heard from my friend Kelly in California. Whilst extreme, it’s something I have experienced to a lesser degree many, many times.

Picture this

Kelly is an attorney and recently visited a new client for the first time. When she arrived at his offices, she introduced herself to the receptionist and explained she had a 9:30am appointment with the CEO.

Kelly was taken to the meeting room, where a man in his 60′s was already sitting. This seemed odd as there was supposed to be just the CEO and herself attending. She was then stunned, when the guy in the room introduced himself as the CEO. He looked nothing like his photo on the company website, which was at least 10 or 15 years out of date.

She told me that her first thought was: ‘I wonder what else he will hide from me?’

To age online or not to age online, that is the question!

Thanks to photo editing software, we can instantly lose our wrinkles. However, we don’t have to. The decision is always ours. If we choose to, we can use kind but honest photos and change them every year or two, so we age online just as we do offline.

…. or we can stay eternally young online and fool ourselves into believing that no one will notice, when they meet us.

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