Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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How to tell a genuine business opportunity, from a scam!

Money

In today’s post, I have some ideas to share, which will help you spot genuine business opportunities and avoid getting ripped off.

I was prompted to write this, after Tim emailed me (that’s not his real name). Tim has wasted around $15000 on various sure things — programs, seminars, social media gurus, schemes, software, networks and memberships, which promised amazing results. None of them delivered.

Here’s how to avoid the same thing happening to you.

Heads and tails

Every coin has 2 sides, heads and tails. The only exception here, is a fake coin. A forgery that’s used to trick people.

Business opportunities are exactly the same!

Every genuine business opportunity comes with a flip side. A down side. A chance it will fail. The only exception here are fake opportunities, the scams that swallow people in with the promise of a sure thing.

The attraction of risk free opportunities

Scammers are masters of selling you the idea that something is risk free. They know that most people are risk averse, so they pitch you with promises, fake bank statements, fake testimonials and fake supporting evidence, which PROVES to you that their thing, is a sure thing. Ironically, the people taken in by the scams are the same people, who refuse to invest in legitimate business opportunities, because of the potential risk.

Three things to remember if you want to make better decisions:

  1. Genuine business opportunities will never interrupt you. In other words, they don’t come via an email, phone call or social media message from someone you don’t know or hardly know. YOU have to seek genuine opportunities out.
  2. Never trust anyone, who claims they can make you rich.
  3. The best business opportunities seldom seem obvious. A genuine opportunity only exists, because no one else has spotted it yet.

If you think your friends will find this post useful, remember to share it with them. It could be exactly what they need right now, to stop them from being scammed!

Tip: Here’s some solid advice, with lots of examples: How t build a successful business.

Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!

Mountain

The difference between good and great, is huge.

A great accountant, coach, lawyer, designer, etc., can sell her time for 3 times or 5 times more than a good one. She is also likely to have a waiting list, whilst her lower priced competitors are pestering people for leads at networking events.

From good to great

Great service providers earn more, work with better clients and attract more referrals… far more referrals than they need. Why then, are there so many good providers out there and so few great ones?

It looks like this:

  • Good feels familiar and comfortable. A good provider is someone who works hard, doing what’s expected of them, as well as they can. They were trained at school that you got the best results, if you fit in and studied hard. So, they took that mindset into the workplace.
  • Great feels risky and uncomfortable. A great provider is someone who stands out, by adopting the opposite approach to the good providers. They lead. They embrace change. They do work, which is meaningfully different. There’s no guidebook or dummies guide on how to be great, so they navigate their own route.

A great mindset or a good one?

Good service providers and great service providers are separated not by intelligence or work ethic, but by their mindsets. This difference in their mindsets is reflected in their decisions, causing them and their work to either blend in, or stand out.

I was prompted to write today’s post, after reading Dr Seuss with my son. Here’s a quote he really enjoyed:

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”

That’s a very good example of the mindset behind great service providers. A little risky, sure… but massively more exciting and rewarding.

PS: To improve your business, let go of the Failing Familiar!

Be the first. Be the best. Be remarkable!

After reading this post, a reader emailed me to ask what made the designer I mentioned so remarkable. He said he wanted to know, so he could do the same and make his design business remarkable too. He explained that he needed to attract more high quality referrals.

The thing about being remarkable, is that it can’t be copied. If someone in your industry is doing something remarkable, and you copy their example, your copy isn’t remarkable. You’re in their shadow.

Allow me to explain.

A remarkable first

When Sir Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes, it was remarkable. When the next runner did it, breaking Bannister’s record, it wasn’t remarkable. The second guy was faster, but Bannister was remarkable, because he was the first person to reach that milestone of human achievement.

If you want to be remarkable, I’ve found that the best place to start, is to embrace the edges. I explain what that means here.

Video: What makes a logo memorable?

How valuable do you think a great logo is?

Most small business owners pay too little attention to the design of their logo. They will often opt for a cheap logo or one they made themselves. In this interesting and informative video, acclaimed designer Michael Bierut, explains the value of an effective logo. [If you can't see the video, click here.]

Logos and being memorable

Bierut looks at what makes a logo endure over time and how some of the most memorable logos are the most simple.

Those of you interested in design will find the start of the video extremely interesting, when Bierut talks about working with his mentor, the late Massimo Vignelli. Vignelli was a design legend. Among other things, he designed both the signage for the New York subway and the New York subway map.

The video was created as part of a series called The Creative Influence, directed by Mario De Armas and produced by Sandbox Studios. You can watch the other videos in the series here.

When the vision pulls you, you don’t have to be pushed

Steve Jobs vision

Following yesterday’s post about building a successful blog, a number of readers emailed me with the same question. They wanted to know how I motivate myself to write and publish blog posts as often as I do.

Here’s the answer.

Push or pull?

This quote from the late Steve Jobs answers that question beautifully:

If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.

– Steve Jobs.

If your vision of blogging is that it’s a necessary evil, you will fail on every metric:

  • You will fail to write as well as you can, because when you work through gritted teeth, it shows.
  • You will fail to show up with new information, often enough.
  • You will fail to engage people.

My blogging vision was different

I saw it as a professional and personal development opportunity. I knew that in order for me to share useful information regularly, I needed to keep feeding my mind with useful information regularly. I quickly found another massive benefit to blogging, which is that writing regularly makes you a better communicator — a huge asset for anyone in business.

So, even if I failed to attract a commercially valuable reader community, I’d still be better informed and a better communicator, than I would have been had I not written all those articles. This made it impossible for me to fail.

If you’re struggling to publish posts regularly enough, don’t carry on working through gritted teeth — change your vision.

Yes, this works on every area of your business and your life… not just blogging.

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

marketing blogs

This is a very important post.

If you want to get more from your blog, you may find the following information extremely useful. It’s the answer to a question, sent to me by one of my readers, Shannon. As it’s an extremely common problem, I offered to answer Shannon’s question via this blog post.

With her permission, I’d like to share a key part of her email with you:

“I’ve been blogging for close on three years now and have found the results frustrating to say the very least! [...]  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I’ve followed the advice from (she mentioned a very well known blogging program) 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 millions of 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 affiliate marketers, 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 ineffective set of rules as everyone else, the less likely you are to get anything worthwhile from your blog.

Here’s how I built one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs, by avoiding the rules.

I found rules, then broke them

Here are just a few of the things I noticed on Shanon’s blog, which are extremely common on struggling blogs – along with why I decided not to do the same.

  • I didn’t SEO my posts. I wrote 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 and it’s robbing her of her voice and individuality.
  • 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. It works even better today than when I started in 2008, thanks to the popularity of social networking sites. However, 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. Shannon told me that she has guest blogged a lot, with nothing to show for it.
  • 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 a well known blog theme and (ironically) the content marketing program she’s following, along with 5 other products. Her posts also carry affiliate links for a predictable series of low value Internet marketing products.
  • I didn’t pump my posts with buzzwords. Disrupt, ruckus, intersection… these words fail twice. Firstly, they make informed people cringe. Secondly, they confuse the uninformed — not a great idea if you want people to understand your message! Shannon’s blog uses lots of Internet marketing buzz words. This, combined with the keyword loading she does for her SEO, means readers have no personality to connect with.

The key thing to remember, is that your blog has no chance of standing out, when it’s just like all the others. Make your blog your own. Do it your way. If you’re following a guide or using tips from popular blogging sites, you will find it hard to be seen.

I made 1 rule and stuck with it

I also 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. 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 ill.

Your rules

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

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

If you want your blog to get noticed and for your content to attract great readers and for your readership to grow, it’s essential to drop the generic approach.

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?

Here are some people that your business needs to avoid

There are certain people your business needs to avoid.

Some are easy to spot

Others are harder to spot

  • The strategist, whose own strategy isn’t working.
  • The social media expert, who used software to attract 100k followers, yet is clueless. Read this!
  • The accountant, who understands the numbers but can’t express what they mean to your business.
  • The PR person, whose own PR doesn’t create any buzz.
  • The business coach, who has never built a successful business.

Here’s the thing: With a slick website and some testimonials (fake or otherwise), anyone can claim to be anything.

So, before you hire the services of an expert, ask them to back up their claims in a way that is both meaningful and measurable.

Only when you are 100% satisfied with their credentials, should you consider investing in them.

Your business is telling you something. Are you listening?

now what

My good friend Jon emailed me this morning. He’d just used a new designer for a project and was so impressed with her work, that he wanted to show me what she did. He also said she was great to work with and recommended her to me.

Her work is indeed excellent and I passed her details to a contact of mine, who needs some work done.

Meanwhile…

All over the world, business owners will be getting up extra early. It’s the day they attend their weekly networking breakfast.

Here’s the thing:

  • If you have to attend networking events.
  • If you have to invest valuable time on Linkedin trying to generate leads.
  • If you have to pay referral fees or offer incentives for referrals.

… it’s time to listen to what your business is screaming at you! It’s telling you that your story isn’t compelling enough — that people can’t see enough value in what you do, to recommend you to their friends.

If your roof has a hole in it, placing a bucket below to catch the rain is not the solution. You need to repair the roof.

If your business isn’t attracting enough referrals, pushing an uninspiring story to more people is not the solution. You need to figure out why people are not talking about your business.

We have a choice

We can be like the designer I mentioned at the beginning, who is attracting high quality business leads because her service is worth talking about. Alternatively, we can push an uninspiring message, which too few people talk about.

If you’re tired (literally) of getting up ridiculously early, tired of wasting your time networking and tired of chasing people for referrals — stop chasing and start attracting.

Tip: Here’s one of the most important posts I have ever written. It explains how to make your business worth talking about!

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