The most incredible article about headlines you’ll ever read!

incredible headlines

Here are some ideas, which you can use to massively improve the results of all your written marketing.

It’s all about the marketing power of headlines.

Your headline has to capture the reader’s attention

It doesn’t matter how great your message is, people need to read it in order for the message to have the desired impact. That’s where your headline comes in. The headline’s primary job is to attract attention and motivate the reader to carry on reading.

Think about it… the headline is what inspires prospective clients to open your email. It’s also what motivates them to read your blog post or article, when someone shares it on a social network. It’s what grabs their attention and interest when they see one of your advertisements.

Advertising legend David Ogilvy was in no doubt regarding the importance of headlines. He famously said: “When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

Treat your headlines with the importance they deserve. Give yourself plenty of time to craft the best headline possible. The following tips and examples will help you get the balance right.

Your headline should accurately reflect the theme of the content

Because headlines play such a huge role in getting your content noticed, it’s tempting to over exaggerate them. [Yes, the headline of this post is a tongue in cheek example of what I mean].

Sometimes called link bait or click bait, these attention grabbing headlines are proven to generate trafficThe reason I strongly recommend most people reading this not to adopt that headline strategy, is this:

Your headlines make a promise, which your content needs to deliver on.

Make your headlines as inspirational as you can. Use words that will compel people to read what you have to say. But make darn sure that your content backs up the promise of the headline.

Your headline needs to be written for your target market

Your marketing message is intended to connect with a very specific group of people: Your prospective clients or customers. The headlines you use should do the same. This means speaking their language and addressing their concerns and opportunities.

Here’s why this matters:

  • By focusing your headlines around the interests of your target market, you help your marketing message to attract the attention of the right people.
  • Conversely, by using headlines that attract the attention of a wider group of people, you cease to be directly relevant to your target market.

In other words, use headlines that are directly relevant to your prospective clients.

Your headlines should match your medium

If you’re writing a headline that’s intended for a print magazine, newspaper or flyer, you have certain freedoms, which you don’t have when writing for the internet. For example, if you want your internet article’s headline to be fully displayed in search results, you need to use around 55 characters or fewer. Going beyond that limit will see your headline cut short.

If your headline is intended for email marketing, you need to take other things into consideration. For example, if you include exclamation marks!! in your subject line, along with a number and maybe a word that’s in ALL CAPS, it’s highly likely to end up in a lot of spam filters. Email software looks for certain common factors used by spammers and if it sees them in the email headlines you use, it could wrongly treat your marketing as spam.

In short, when it comes to headlines, you need to adapt depending on the medium you’re using.

The only 2 types of headline that matter

There is a lot of debate among marketing professionals, regarding the correct way to use headlines. They take entrenched stances, each insisting that their approach is the only strategy that’s professional or effective. In almost every case I have seen, they totally miss the point.

When it comes to the headlines you use in your marketing, there are just 2 broad categories worthy of your attention.

  1. Headlines that work for you and your business goals.
  2. Headlines that are failing you and your business goals.

You need to find the correct balance for what you want to achieve. And it will differ depending on your brand, your industry and your business model.

For example, Upworthy and BuzzFeed have grown into massively successful media businesses, using a controversial, yet very powerful headline formula. Many have labelled their approach as being link bait or click bait. Here’s a nice piece from The Guardian that looks at Upworthy’s headlines. Now, it’s not a strategy that would work for my business. However, it’s proven itself to be an extremely successful strategy for the Upworthy and BuzzFeed business models. It’s fortunate they ignored the one-size-fits-all mantra. My point here, is that you should leave your options open.

I hope you’ve found this useful. More importantly, I hope it inspires you to improve the effectiveness of your own headlines and titles.

Worth reading: 5 Steps to improve the success of all your written marketing.

Exposed: The great Leadership lie!

leaders, leadership

Leaders lead. That’s what they do.

They don’t tell us they are leaders. They don’t self-proclaim to be leaders in their social media profiles or on the about pages of their websites. Instead, they lead.

Leaders are easy to spot

When everyone else is flapping, looking for someone to lead the way, the leader is the one who steps in. The leader commands our respect.

We all know leaders and in every instance, they don’t need to tell us they are leaders. They literally lead by example.

Leaders are courageous. They stand up for what they believe in. They inspire others by what they do. They’re massively valuable and extremely rare.

Fake leaders are even easier to spot

Instead of leading, the fakers tell us they are leaders and hope no one notices. But we do notice. We see them acting like sheep; sharing leadership quotes on social sites, having their photo taken with leaders… yet never actually leading.

For fake leaders it’s about telling, not showing. It’s about talking and bluster, not action. It’s about self-proclaimed titles, not the respect of their marketplace or community. It’s about following the flock, not leading.

Don’t fall for the great leadership lie

The lesson here is simple. Be suspicious of anyone who self-proclaims that they are a leader. Instead, decide for yourself based on what a person does and what they fail to do. Leaders lead. They don’t talk about it. They do it.

Read this: 7 Habits of highly successful leaders.

How to attract customers… from your competitors!

How to

So, you’d like more customers or clients. The question is, why should they switch to you, rather than carry on with their current provider?

In today’s post I help you answer this important question!

Why should they leave their comfort zone?

It takes effort for people to switch from one provider to another. This means the reasons you provide for switching to you, need to be compelling. Your offer needs to inspire them to leave their comfort zone… to dump their familiar, safe, current provider and risk the unknown.

We know that being a little less expensive, a little faster or a little better isn’t enough.

Here’s why: Marginal differences have marginal impact. They lack the power required, to inspire people to take action.

In short: Your prospective clients need to see an obvious, clear, meaningful reason to switch providers.

This will help you get it right

Take a look at your business from the vantage point of a prospective client or customer. Look at the reasons you provide, to motivate them to leave their comfort zone and switch to you.

Now answer this question: Considering the perceived risk involved with them switching providers, are the reasons you give truly compelling enough?

If not, what meaningful, measurable benefit could you add, which would make switching to you feel:

  • Less risky. For example, offer them guarantees. Here’s how I make this work, using something called Risk Reversal.
  • Less hassle. For example, offer to help with any of the tasks involved, when switching from their old provider.
  • More beneficial to them than staying with their current provider. For example, develop a service that’s unique to your business. [Need some creative help? I’ve got you covered. Here’s a website full of creative ideas, written by me. Everything there is free!]

You need to remember that every provider claims to offer great customer service and to go the extra mile for their clients. This means you should focus on developing a meaningful, measurable and motivating difference. Get this right and it can be a game-changer for your business. Yes, it’s that important.

PS: Here’s how to stop your competitors taking clients from YOUR business: How to use the lock-in effect to retain your clients.

How to inspire your marketplace and attract the best clients

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Nothing is more average than the average business!

These are the businesses that work for average clients and earn average fees. These hardworking folk look to the future with apprehension, rather than excitement. Why? Because they know there’s no future in being yet another average business. It’s a constant struggle. It’s stressful.

Today, I’m going to show you how to avoid the average trap and grow a successful, inspirational business.

The inspiration premium

Whilst average businesses struggle, inspirational businesses thrive. Maybe the most famous example came from the last recession, where Apple achieved record sales and record profits. They did this, selling high priced devices, which inspired their fans to spend billions of dollars with them.

Did you notice that? Apple has fans, not customers. That’s because when you inspire your marketplace, people position you or your brand very differently in their mind. And yes, this works for small businesses, too!

Take a look at any area of your business, which you think is underperforming. Now, instead of comparing that area of your business with what your competitors are doing, I want you to set your bar massively higher.

For example:

  • If you want people to tell their friends how great your service is, provide a service that inspires word of mouth referrals. Like Disney.
  • If you want more repeat clients or customers, do something that inspires them to return. Like Apple.
  • If you want more enquiries from your newsletter, write content that inspires people to contact you. Like Evernote.

In short: Walk away from average. Embrace inspirational.

It’s easier said than done, Jim!

Yes, of course it’s easier said than done. However, it’s not that hard.

This is especially the case for small business owners. You can use your agility to make the necessary improvements, starting right now. Whether it’s Disney, Apple, Rolex or another inspirational brand, look at what they’re doing. Look at how they are inspiring their marketplace.

Learn from the best. Let them set the bar on what you expect from yourself and your business. It takes more effort, but it’s far easier than owning a business that works for average clients and average fees.

This will help you to get started: How to grow your business, with Agile Thinking.

This is a marketing message. Really. It is!

Content Marketing, copywriting, coppy, writing

In today’s post, I’m going to show you how to make your marketing so attractive, that people would miss it if it wasn’t there.

Think about it: Most of the marketing messages we receive are unwelcome. At best, they are the price we pay for being able to watch a YouTube clip or listen to a radio station. At worst, marketing messages are an unwanted, annoying intrusion.

The good news is, marketing doesn’t need to be this way.

How some brands get it right

Some of the marketing we receive is welcomed. For example, when Evernote send me their newsletter, I read it. Always. Why? Because it’s packed with tips on how to get the most value from the Evernote app, so users can organise their ideas and improve their work flow. As a daily Evernote user, these tips and ideas are of huge value to me.

Yes, I have made additional purchases because of the Evernote newsletter. However, they have never sold me anything.

Think about that for a moment. It’s extremely powerful!

Leigh inspired me to write today’s post

Earlier today I received a message from a reader. Leigh said that she reads my blog via email. The reason she got in touch is that she hadn’t had an email from me for 5 days. She wanted to make sure everything was OK. It turned out to be a problem with her new email provider. But that’s not the point.

The message behind Leigh’s email may not sound that important at first glance… but it is. It’s a powerful example of the effectiveness of content marketing.

I’ll explain why in a moment.

The best content marketing delivers value

Just like the Evernote newsletter I mentioned, the best content marketing is packed with independent value. [Note: By independent value, I mean that the content itself delivers value, independent of the reader needing to purchase anything].

When people connect with effective content marketing, they feel like they have gained something. Because of this, they welcome it in a way that’s impossible to achieve with a sales pitch.

A great way for you to get this right, is to ask yourself the following question: “If I stopped publishing my newsletter, blog posts, email marketing or social networking updates, etc., would people miss them?”

This is a marketing message. Seriously!

If you think my blog posts aren’t marketing messages, think again. Yes, I give you useful information for free, without pitching you anything, but consider this:

  • Hundreds of people email me every week, because of something they read on my blog or in the email version of the blog.
  • A subset of these great people will become clients of mine or customers of my audio program.
  • Other readers become advocates and recommend my services to their friends.
  • Some share my blog posts, helping me reach more people.

Now consider this:

Think for a moment how useful it would be for your business, if you were receiving emails and phone calls all day every day, from interested people who already knew all about you and what you do.

What next?

Provide your marketplace with useful information, not sales pitches. Make your content marketing about the reader, not about you. Help them solve their challenges with your expertise. And let people know what you can do for them [like that short message below], so they know where to come when they need expert help they can trust.

Remember… the process of giving and receiving starts with the giving part.

Read this. It will help you: How to make your Content Marketing more compelling!

How to attract more clients, using deadlines!

marketing tips

Most small business marketing lacks urgency. And it’s losing those businesses a fortune.

If you want people to take action, you need to motivate them. A proven way for you to do this, is to set a deadline.

The thing about deadlines

Deadlines focus the mind. They take something that’s interesting and make it both interesting and urgent.

It looks like this:

  • Without a deadline, people will think your offer is interesting and decide to check it out later… then forget all about it.
  • With a deadline, people will think your offer is interesting and take action now… to hire you, buy from you, email you or call you.

If you’re not including a deadline as part of your marketing mix, you’re leaving money on the table.

Bloggers: Why too few people read your blog and how to fix it!

blogging, blog tips, content marketing

This is a very important post. If you want to get more business, feedback and recognition from your blog, this could be exactly what you need to know.

The post was inspired by an email I received from Shannon. She kindly gave me permission to share part of it with you. Here’s the core challenge she wanted help with, along with my answer and lots of tips and examples to help you build a successful business blog.

Here’s what Shannon wanted to know:

“I’ve been blogging for close to three years now. It’s been frustrating to say the least! […]  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I’ve followed the advice from [she mentioned a very well known blogging site] totally.  I’m just about ready to quit.  Can you take a look at my blog and tell me what I’m missing?”

I did take a quick look at her blog and it’s exactly the same as countless other business blogs, following the same, general blogging advice.

Here’s what the challenge is and how to resolve it!

Blogging is exceptionally effective

I’ve worked in marketing since 1987 and nothing I have used, studied or witnessed, comes close to the marketing power of an effective blog. Period.

So, why has Shannon and the vast majority of business owners, seen such poor results?

Without doubt, the main reason is that blogging is often touted, incorrectly, as the written equivalent of painting by numbers. In other words, you follow a set of rules and success will follow. This myth persists because it’s repeated by well known bloggers, selling generic guides and programs on how to grow a successful business blog.

The polar opposite is actually true: The closer you follow the same general format, rules and techniques as everyone else, the less likely you are to achieve anything worthwhile from your blog.

Here’s how I created one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs, using a more individual approach.

I didn’t SEO my posts

I decided to write for my readers, not Google. This gave me the freedom to express my thoughts, rather than SEO my thoughts.

Shannon’s blog posts are written using SEO software. This means they are often too long, just so she can reach her minimum SEO word count and keyword density. Posts that should be information rich and 250 words long, are filled with fluff to make them more SEO friendly. It has totally robbed her of her voice and individuality.

Google likes it. However, it reads like crap. As a result, Shannon attracts drive-by traffic, rather than client enquiries.

Tip: Read this – Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

I didn’t guest blog

I focused on building my readership, by producing the most useful content I could and then made it extremely easy for people to share it.

This approach works even better today than when I started in 2008, thanks to the popularity of social networking sites.

Many bloggers waste their best material on other people’s blogs, because their blog guru convinced them it’s a great idea. It’s one way to build your readership, but certainly not the best. Or the second best. Shannon told me that she has guest blogged a lot, with nothing to show for it. She’s not alone.

Build your own platform. Put the primary value on your own turf. Don’t be someone else’s unpaid content provider.

I removed comments

It was summer 2013, when I removed the commenting feature from my blog. Blog commenting is a vestige from the days before social networks. It was also a huge time suck for me, as I often got 2500 spam comments a day.

It was still a tough decision though. The only other person I knew who’d done it was Seth Godin, and he had a very different reason. But it was the right thing to do. So I did it.

Back then, I was attacked. Social media gurus said you HAD TO have comments on your blog or it wasn’t a blog.

Today, the mood is changing.

Since I removed comments, other popular blogs including; copyblogger, Chris Brogan and Michael Hyatt, have done the same. And they’re absolutely right.

My point is that you need to question perceived wisdom. Then if you believe something needs to change, do it your way. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you — be prepared to lead. We need more leaders.

Shannon has comments enabled and she gets very little feedback. Many comments are from people trying to get backlinks or score free advice from her. This lack of so-called social proof, does nothing to enhance Shannon’s reputation. It also makes her blog look like a ghost town, when prospective clients check her out.

I didn’t fill the blog with affiliate links

When I recommend something to a reader, it’s a genuine recommendation and I don’t get a penny for it. The trust of my reader community is worth far more to me than affiliate money.

Shannon’s blog home page has affiliate banners for 3 products. None are related to her profession. It makes her site look cheap, which is toxic for a service provider.

I didn’t pump my posts with buzzwords

Disrupt, ruckus, growth hacking, big data, intersection… buzzwords like those fail twice.

  • Firstly, they make informed people cringe.
  • Secondly, they confuse the uninformed. That’s a bad idea if you want people to understand your message!

Shannon’s blog uses lots of content marketing buzz words. This, combined with the keyword loading she does for her SEO, means readers have no personality to connect with.

I made 1 rule and stuck with it

I made a rule, which I have stuck to since summer 2008. It’s simply this

I will only publish a post when I have something useful to share and I’ll make sure I find something useful, often.

This means I often write when it’s easier not to. I update older posts daily, to keep the information relevant. Blogging is a primary business activity for me, rather than something I fit in. As a result, I write when I’m extremely busy, when I am tired and even when I’m not feeling great.

Your rules

The Internet is packed with sites that offer largely the same, general advice on how to build a successful blog.

Their advice seems to make sense, until you consider that by following it, you become invisible – lost in an ocean of millions of other bloggers using the same, general advice.

If you’re following what they say, you will be able to identify with Shannon’s situation.

In short: Your blog needs to be as individual as you are. Otherwise, you’re invisible.

Tip: This post asks an important question: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

Get out of your own way!

get out

Don’t wait for permission. You don’t need it.

Don’t wait for the perfect time. The time is never perfect.

Don’t wait for inspiration to appear. Command it to appear.

Don’t wait for them to pick you. Pick yourself.

Don’t wait for the initiative. Take it.

So, what are you waiting for?

How to grow your business with Agile Thinking

agile thinking, advanced thinking

Business is changing. Moreover, business is changing fast!

This is great news for agile business owners, who embrace the opportunities. However, it’s not such great news for business owners who are working in today’s rapidly changing environment, with a 1995 approach to business.

In today’s post, I share some ideas on how you can benefit from the new opportunities around you. First, I’d like to demonstrate how things have changed and why we need to apply a new mindset, to the new landscape.

A new mindset for a new landscape

Many of the world’s most influential businesses were unknown 20 years ago. Some, such as Facebook and Twitter, weren’t founded until the mid 2000’s. That kind of global growth was previously unthinkable. What’s more, billion dollar companies that lead their industries have been started by relative unknowns, in very untraditional ways.

Here’s a great example. Writing in Techcrunch, Tom Goodwin summed up the new age of agile business:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

Tom is right. Something interesting is happening. None of those achievements or business models were possible until very recently. The game has changed. And it has changed for ever.

The age of agile business

When I look at small businesses, they tend to fall into one of the following 2 broad categories: They are either dinosaurs or agile progressives. That’s to say their approach to the agile business landscape means they are facing extinction or facing unparalleled success.

Armed with a laptop and an idea, there’s very little an agile business cannot achieve.

  • The new business landscape allows an agile small business owner to have an idea in the morning, and put that idea into play before the end of business that same day.
  • Using social networks, we can listen to what our marketplace wants and provide that want. No more guess work. You can get it right every time. And in a fraction of the time.
  • Instant access to data, means research that took weeks or months can now be done in days and at a fraction of the price.
  • With a great marketing email and some email software, a struggling business can generate a fortune in sales…  and fast!
  • With a blog and the correct strategy, anyone can develop their own reader community. I reach thousands of people every day, many of whom are prospective clients, without spending a penny on advertising or promotion.
  • If you have a great business idea, you no longer need a bank loan. Thanks to Indiegogo, Kickstarter and others, you can use crowdfunding and get exactly what you need.

In spite of all that potential, many small business owners operate their businesses with a 1995 mindset. They lack agility. This places them at a huge disadvantage.

  • They try and find customers for their products, instead of finding products for their customers.
  • They still take just as long to make a decision, even though they can get the feedback they need in a fraction of the time. As a result, their agile competitors have already eaten their lunch.
  • They use social networks to follow the crowd, rather than lead their marketplace.
  • They have a website that’s almost an online brochure, when they should have a site that’s a lead-generating machine.
  • They waste money advertising, when they should be building their own platform.
  • They waste time, money and energy attending networking groups, like it’s still 1980, rather than build their own audience or community.

In short: No matter what industry you are in. No matter where you are. Your potential right now is as limitless or limited as you choose.

Exposed: The great workaholic lie!

workaholic

Workaholics are not really workaholics.

It’s never work, which the so-called workaholic is addicted to. Instead, they’re hooked on the feelings that come from doing something they love. That passion and joy is what inspires them all day, every day.

When you do something you love, it’s natural to want to keep doing it.

  • It’s why Nile Rodgers still creates and performs.
  • It’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger is still making movies.
  • It’s why Bill Gates is still making a difference.

ALL of those guys are in their 60’s. NONE of them need the money. What they do need, are the feelings associated with their “work”.

Conversely, someone who finds their work frustrating, boring or stressful, pays to go on vacation… to get away from work. They spend a tiny amount of time each year, doing what they love. They have the equation completely the wrong way around.

No one is addicted to meaningless work

If you get paid for doing what you love, you may be a passion-aholic. You could be a joy-aholic or even a pleasure-aholic. But you’re not a workaholic. No one is addicted to working, just for the sake of work.

  • Work without meaning is a way to pay the bills.
  • Work without meaning is empty.
  • Work without meaning leaves you doing things you don’t want to do, for the majority of your adult life.

If work feels like work for too many days in a row, switch sides. Join us!

Become a passion-aholic. Find what you love and make that your “work”. Transform your business from something you work in, to something that fills you with joy and passion… every day.

Can you do it? Yes, yes you can. I know because I’ve helped business owners worldwide to make it happen and experienced it in my own life since 1995. All you need is the right strategy and the courage to put it into place.

If you do that, I promise you will never work another day in your life.