Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Your immediate attention is not required


Look at the updates below and consider how many of them need your immediate, urgent (as in drop everything) attention:

  • Geeta just sent a tweet to you.
  • Terry just liked your Instagram photo.
  • Mary just added you on Google+.
  • Jose just left a comment on your blog.
  • Jon has just invited you to like his new Facebook page.
  • Gill just added you to a list.
  • Ali just sent you a text message.
  • Tony just invited you to join him on Linkedin.
  • Maria just commented on your Facebook post.
  • Lee just favourited your tweet.
  • Louis just IM’d you.

Even though these are non critical events (they would have called you), most of us have our devices set up to notify us instantly, whenever they happen.

The endless stream of interruptions controls our focus, breaks our concentration, eats into our precious time and lowers our productivity. (Here are some ideas to improve your productivity.)

Unless you provide an emergency service…

Consider turning off your notifications, until you are ready for them.

Check them when you have a break. Check them when it suits you and your work flow.

Be deliberate, regarding where you invest your time, focus and energy. Don’t surrender them to instant updates. Your immediate attention is seldom, if ever, required.

Are you building a tribe or writing drive-by content?

drive by

Many people who write blogs, newsletters, email marketing, etc, think they are growing a tribe or community, when in fact, they are doing the opposite.

Allow me to explain.

Content marketing… and buckets

The problem with trying to fill a bucket, which has a big hole in the bottom, is that the water flows out just as fast as it flows in. It’s a never ending task, unless you get a new bucket or fix the hole.

Most Content Marketing, including that written by many so-called experts, is based around the idea of treating your content marketing, like a bucket with a hole.

  • It’s about attracting drive-by readers with ‘killer’ headlines.
  • It’s about SEOing your thoughts, rather than expressing your thoughts.

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin put it extremely well:

The copywriter/editor who trades in meaning for lists, using calculated SEO keyword loading and sensationalism designed to attract the drive-by audience, earns the privilege of doing it again and again, forever.

It’s like trying to fill that broken bucket. It’s also the total opposite of growing a tribe.

They drive by

The thing about drive-by readers, is that they drive by. They are attracted to hyped up headlines and quickly go from one “25 ways to write like a rock star” piece to the next. If your content marketing is based around chasing them, you’re making life way too hard for yourself.

Grow a great community

To grow a great community or tribe around your work, you need to attract the right people and retain their attention.

It means showing up regularly with useful information, rather than sensationalist, predictable content for the drive-by crowd.

It means expressing your ideas, rather than a keyword loaded version of what you think.

It means being brave enough to stop chasing easy, but low value, drive-by ‘traffic’.

It means building deeper connections with people who will value your work, share your work, call you, email you, hire you or buy from you.

What if they say your idea is foolish?

If you are working on a new idea or project, here’s some advice. It’s something that has been extremely valuable to me and I hope you find it just as valuable too…

Great ideas are not anointed

People often ditch a new idea before it has a chance to succeed, because the feedback they get is negative. The thing is, no matter how much you value or respect someone’s opinion, their opinion is just that – an opinion. It is not a guarantee of failure or success.

Imagine if scientists worked like that. They would never have to conduct an experiment. They would simply talk to other scientists. If some said the idea was crazy (as they did to Einstein), the experiments would be cancelled… and mankind would have been robbed of most major scientific breakthroughs!

Believe in yourself

If you see potential in an idea and want some feedback from people you trust, by all means talk to them. However, so long as the numbers add up, don’t allow negative feedback to derail you before you even get started.

Show faith in yourself and give your idea the chance to fly. Great ideas are defined by the impact they have and not whether someone anoints the idea before you even start!

Why people buy from you AND how to make more sales


There are a number of things, which motivate people to buy from you or hire your services. This post covers maybe the most important. It’s for those of you who sell products or services to businesses.

Selling your products or services to businesses

7 years ago, I recorded a very successful audio program, which shows you how to motivate yourself and how to motivate others. One of the areas I cover, is how to motivate people to buy from you, when you sell to businesses. You can download it here.

How selling to businesses differs from selling to consumers:

  • When selling to consumers, people are spending their own money. It’s all about value, trust and quality.
  • When selling to the employee of a business, it’s about them keeping their boss happy. It’s about them not screwing up. Then, it’s about value, trust and quality.

Your sales pitch and marketing needs to reflect this.

Make it easy for businesses to buy from you

When selling your services to someone who is spending company money, your approach should be to make buying from you or hiring you, as low-risk as possible. They need something from you, tangible or intangible, which supports their decision to buy from you. This does 2 important things.

  1. It makes them feel more comfortable about buying from you.
  2. If it all goes wrong, you have made it easy for them to justify their decision to their boss. They see it as a safety net.

Ways to reduce the risk of buying from you include:

  • Provide testimonials from named, checkable people.
  • Offer guarantees.
  • Provide insurance policies.
  • Offer risk reversals. (Satisfaction or your money back).
  • Show them any awards you have earned.

Value and quality matter

Just because the primary motivation of someone spending company money is to avoid making a mistake, value, trust and quality are still extremely important.

In fact, the better you can demonstrate the quality of your product or service, the more comfortable the prospective client will be about spending the company’s money.

Be a safe pair of hands

My point here, is to incorporate risk reduction into your sales pitch and associated marketing. Show them that you are a safe pair of hands. Earn their trust. Make it so that they know their boss would understand them hiring you, if things went wrong.

If you simply tell them about cost savings or a unique selling point you have, you will achieve far fewer sales. It’s essential to make it crystal clear, that you are a low risk or no risk option.

You can learn more about how to motivate others (and yourself) by downloading my Motivation Master Class audio program.

How to get the most from the feedback you receive


One of the master skills for business success, is understanding how feedback works – why people say what they do.

It’s all about the lenses they use, to view the world around them.

The lenses people use

We each see the world through a unique lens. Our lens is created from our lifetime of experiences. It’s created from what we know and how we feel about what we know. So, when we look at the feedback we get from clients or prospective clients, it’s important to consider the lens through which that feedback is being delivered.

A great example of this is the feedback you receive, when you talk to a prospective client about your fees.

Let’s assume you charge a little above average, for the services you provide:

  • If a prospective client looks at life through a lens, which tells them that ‘cheap’ is the same as great value, it’s likely that your fee will be too expensive.
  • Similarly, if they look at life through a lens, which says value is all about great quality, they will be far less fee sensitive.

Your fee is the same in both instances. All that changed was the lens each person used, to look at your fee.

Everyone says it’s going to fail

Some years ago, a friend of mine decided he was going to start a business. When he told his colleagues about his decision, every one of them told him he would fail. He went home and told his wife what happened and that he was now reconsidering the decision to become his own boss.

His wife said something extremely powerful, which gave him the courage to start what was to become a multimillion dollar business. ‘Well of course they think you will fail, honey. None of them are entrepreneurs. They only see the risk.’

Check the lens before you take the advice

Whenever you get feedback from anyone regarding your business or your plans, always, always take their lens into account.

Even when people are being completely sincere with their feedback, check their lens. Don’t confuse sincerity with truth. It’s possible to be sincerely wrong.

Why people criticise you and how to deal with it in just 3 steps

negative criticism, critics

Here is a simple, powerful 3 step process, to help you totally overcome the impact or fear of negative criticism.

Broadly, all of your critics can be divided into 1 of the following 2 groups:

  1. Those who want to help you and encourage you.
  2. Those who want to hinder you and see you fail.

It’s the second type of critic, which I want to talk to you about today. It’s that type of negative criticism, which stops many of us from being willing to stand out. It stops us putting our work or art out there. It encourages us to keep our head down. To follow the crowd.

The power of a critic

If you want your business to stand out, to attract lots of word of mouth referrals, it’s essential that you stop negative criticism from influencing you.


Because just about everything you need to do in order to market your business successfully, especially online, is visible and wide open to criticism. Anything you do, which is different enough for the marketplace to value it, is also visible enough for critics to criticise it.

So, you either learn to deal with it or do what most small business owners do, and run a business in the shadows, which is not a wise marketing move!

3 Steps to deal with negative criticism

Fortunately, dealing with negative criticism is relatively easy, so long as you learn to accept it for what it is. Once you understand why criticism happens, it eliminates its negative impact and allows you to focus all your effort on putting your best work out there.

Because I publish lots of material to a large audience, I get negative criticism regularly. In fact, the better my work, the more likely it is that at least one person will criticise it or criticise me for writing it.

Here are the 3 steps I used, to totally eliminate the negative impact of criticism.

1. Consider their motivation

When someone feels the need to negatively criticise your work, they are satisfying a need they have. It’s always about them, not you or your work.

Even if someone is negatively criticising you because they hope it will help you improve, it’s to satisfy their desire to help. 

So, whatever the intention, criticism is always about the critic!

Understanding this is a key part of disempowering the critic’s influence over you and how you feel. When you accept that it’s NOT about you or your work, you see criticism for what it is – a selfish act perpetrated to feed a need the critic has – positive or negative.

Of course, even if the motivation is negative, if they are an expert in the field, you can still learn from what the critic says. Scientists often negatively criticise the work of their peers, people who really know their subject. That kind of criticism may be negative, but it can bring value with it.

This brings us nicely to the second step.

2. Consider the source

Is the person who is negatively criticising you, qualified to criticise you? Most criticism is unqualified. That’s to say, the person criticising your work doesn’t know enough about the subject or what you’re trying to achieve, to offer anything other than an uninformed opinion.

Negative criticism from an unqualified, uninformed source is of so little value that it’s meaningless. It makes zero sense to pay it any of your valuable attention.

3. Use negative criticism as weights in your mental gym

With each piece of criticism that you run through the previous 2 steps, you build your resistance to the negative impact of critics. Just as lifting weights builds your muscles, processing negative criticism builds your emotional defences. Each time you are criticised and see it for what it really is, it becomes easier. Less daunting. Less fearsome.

Pretty soon, you learn to be fascinated by criticism and what it tells you about the other person. You quickly learn that if no one is criticising you, you are either invisible, doing work that fails to stand out… or both.

Don’t try and avoid negative criticism. It will rob you of your voice. No criticism means no impact.

2 Reasons not to be a copycat writer

copycats, copywriting

As many of you were kind enough to point out, one of the world’s biggest websites ‘borrowed very heavily’ from a post I wrote last week. They did so with no reference to my original post and yet people spotted it immediately.

There are 2 useful lessons here, which I would like to share with you.

1. Copies seldom have the same impact as the original

Even though that site gets millions of visitors a week, their rewritten version of my post achieved just 30% as many social shares as my original.

By padding out my points so that his post wasn’t an exact copy, the power of the original post was lost. He’d wasted his time. He deserves better than that. Time is too important to waste.

Had he started with my post, referenced it and then expanded on the original or added some new, relevant information, he could have improved my work and avoided the embarrassment that followed.

Here’s some great advice on why it’s a bad idea to copy other people’s work – It’s from Steve Jobs and Picasso.

2. People notice

Within an hour of the rewritten post being published, people started contacting me via email, Facebook and Google+ to tell me. Although I decided not to join in (I found it interesting but unimportant), the conversations on social networks naming the author and site have created a bit of an embarrassment for them.

Here’s the thing: Every piece of work we produce will get noticed, to a lesser or greater degree. If we do anything we are not proud of, as soon as we hit send or publish, it’s out there.

Thankfully, the opposite is also true

When you put your own work out there and share your own ideas, people value the uniqueness of your contribution.

It makes you stand out from the ‘ditto heads‘ who just agree with everything.

It makes you stand out from the copycats, who copy everything.

It makes you stand out for being you!

Is Google’s SEO loophole hurting your business too? Here’s how to check

google problem

Google has opened the door to an aggressive SEO tactic, Negative Backlink SEO.

Here’s what it is, how it works, how to tell if you’re being targeted and how to stop it hurting your business!

Negative backlink SEO

Google now proactively punishes sites, which are linked to from sites with a bad reputation. Previously, Google only punished you, if you linked from your site to a ‘bad neighbourhood’. This included link farms, article directories, link exchange portals, etc.

Now, you get punished if they link to you – even if you know nothing about it!

So, your competitors or anyone who would like to hurt your business, can do so simply by linking to your site from dubious sites or directories. They can do it anonymously too.

The move by Google is supposedly aimed at stopping websites from buying links or exchanging links, in order to boost their search rankings. Instead, it has created a huge headache and Google is showing no sign of relenting.

Are you being targeted?

The only way to know if your site is being targeted, is to monitor the sites that link to you. There are lots of tools to do this, some you pay for others are free.

If you use Google analytics, you can set up a Google Webmaster account for free and it will provide you with a list of all the links it can see, which point back to your site (backlinks). You can access Google Webmaster Tools here. The benefit of using Google’s solution is that it shows you what Google can see and as Google is the hub of the problem, this makes sense.

I have also found other backlink tools often inaccurate, when testing them. There are over 107,000 backlinks to Jims Marketing Blog, with most backlink apps and programs only able to find between 10% and 20% of them.

Fixing the problem

Technically, this should be pretty simple. You find the toxic links using Google Webmaster Tools, then send the links to Google, using their Disavow Tool - You can find it here. Google then disavows (or accepts you show no responsibility) for those links and stops penalising you. You then ask Google to reconsider the penalty it applied to you and hope for the best. Here’s how Google’s Disavow Tool works.

In reality, this can be a massive pain in the ass. New, toxic backlinks can be added to your site at any time, meaning you need to remember to check for new links, regularly.

Also, if you’re new to this, it can be hard to tell a valuable link from a toxic link. Some toxic links come from URL’s that look pretty normal and some genuinely great links come from URL’s that seem dubious. So, be very careful what links you decide to ask Google to disavow. Whilst you can reverse the process, it’s best to be sure before you disavow anything.

You can also email the site owner, to ask if they will manually remove the link or links to your site. Obviously, your success will depend on whether the site owner wants to help or even if the site linking to you is still being actively managed.

Google is not the only game in town

Google has never changed the rules as often or as dramatically as it does today. As I wrote a few days ago, many small business owners are seeing Google search traffic drop like a stone. I received dozens of emails from people following that post, whose businesses are suffering seriously from these changes. It’s a very real problem. One that Google seems oblivious to.

Thankfully Google is not the only game in town. It is just one component of Internet marketing.

So, regardless of whether you are being punished by Negative Backlink SEO or any of the other 3 changes Google has made recently, I strongly recommend you diversify your Internet marketing.

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