Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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4 Tips on how to spot a legitimate opportunity

Here are 4 tips, to help you identify legitimate opportunities and avoid the fake ones.

Opportunity

  1. Legitimate opportunities seldom look like certainties. There is always a risk attached. If it looks too good to be true, that’s because it is!
  2. The bigger the opportunity, the bigger the risk will seem. Warren Buffett wins big, however, he is prepared to lose big too and has lost millions on bad deals.
  3. Fake opportunities are packaged to look like there’s a massive upside, with little if any downside. So long as you send them X amount of money, of course. Low value franchise ‘opportunities’ are sold this way too. Scammers target people who are looking for low risk or no risk opportunities.
  4. You are seldom interrupted by a legitimate opportunity. You have to spot them or make them. They do not arrive from strangers, direct to your inbox.

How to take your business to the next level and avoid The Average Trap

If your business is not providing you with the lifestyle or financial rewards you deserve, you will find today’s post extremely useful. In fact, I wrote it just for you.

Here’s the thing:

  • When a business fails spectacularly, you know about it.
  • When a business becomes a success, you know about it.
  • However, when a business lands somewhere in between those two, it’s easy to get stuck in The Average Trap, without even knowing.

What is The Average Trap?

never settle

The Average Trap is what you get caught in when you run a business, which is too good to kick into touch (it pays the bills), yet not good enough to give you the financial freedom or lifestyle you want.

A failed business forces us to make dramatic changes. This is why so many super-successful business owners have previously gone broke, learned the lessons and then come back stronger. Their failed business forced them into making the changes required. Their so-called failure was a blessing, something that provided them with the lessons and motivation to try again with a better strategy.

A business stuck in The Average Trap simply lingers. This is why the average business is so average. Unlike the owner of a failed business, who HAS to make changes, the owner of a business stuck in The Average Trap doesn’t have to. In many cases they simply lower their lifestyle expectations, to meet the limitations of their under performing business.

Getting free from The Average Trap

The only way to escape from The Average Trap is to:

  • Admit that you are in The Average Trap.
  • Decide that you will no longer settle for average.
  • Do something about it. Make the decisions you have been dodging. Decide to fire your worst clients. Commit to charging what you are worth. Get the expert help you will need, to do those things  and more, correctly.

The hardest part

Of course, the hardest part of all is answering the question: Am I ready to go ‘beyond average’ or have I lost my desire for something better?

The reason that question is so hard, is that no one admits they have become comfortable settling for less – including everyone who has.

Breaking free

A useful starting point is to reconnect with the dreams you had when you started your business. You did not start your business in order to embrace being average. No one does. You started a business because of the freedom and potential you saw. It’s impossible to be free when you are worried about money. It causes you to make bad decisions, work with the wrong people and ‘make do’ with so much less than you deserve.

By reconnecting with the goals, dreams and ambition you had when you started your business, you get to see your future as it can be. This stark reminder of why you started out in the first place, can inspire you to take action. It can motivate you to get the help you need.

Maybe most importantly, it can compel you to never again allow yourself to settle for average.

2 Things to love about your business

As it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share 2 of the elements of your business that are worth falling in love with, (if you have not already).

Love

1. Love the people you work with

I’m not just talking about your co-workers. I’m referring to everyone you work with as part of your business. This includes your clients, customers and your prospective clients and customers too. If you have a blog, you should show some love to the people who take time out to share your work, comment on it and email you about it.

Business is all about people. Learn to love the people you work with and it will shine through in every decision you make and every interaction you have.

2. Love what you do

As a business owner, you will be spending a huge amount of your time working in and on your business. This can be either a source of great fulfilment or great stress, depending on how you feel about what you do.

  • When you love what you do, work becomes an enriching, enjoyable experience.
  • When you dislike what you do, you will see work as a necessary evil.

You don’t want to be one of those poor souls who wish their lives away, waiting for the weekend.

Either learn to love what you do, or find a way to make your business massively more enjoyable. As well as the huge improvements this brings to your quality of life, there is a sound commercial reason to love what you do…

… It shows.

When you love what you do it shows in everything you do. Just as people notice when we work through gritted teeth, they also notice when they are dealing with someone, who is passionate about their business, products or services.

Sharing some love

It also seems appropriate today to show my thanks to those of you who connect with me and my work. I love writing for you and I love hearing form you. Thanks for your comments, shares, likes, retweets, +1’s, emails and calls.

THANK YOU!

Photo: JimScottIMD

7 Benefits of business blogging

Here are 7 benefits of writing a business blog. Some of them may surprise you!

benefits blogging, Benefits business blogging,

1. Blogging is a great tool for building a tribe

Blogging is the best tool I’ve ever known, for building a community or tribe. Blogging allows you to show your leadership, rather than claim it. By being brave enough to write YOUR point of view, you demonstrate your ability to lead – rather than follow.

This is, of course, a double-edged sword. Most bloggers simply amplify what the most popular opinion is on their subject. However, for those who genuinely are prepared to show their leadership to people, via the work and words they share on their blog, it represents an amazing opportunity.

2. Blogging and relationship building

Blogging allows people to get to know you, before they call you, email you or hire you. I get calls and emails daily from people I don’t know, who tell me they feel like they already know me. This has massive commercial value and leads into the next point…

3. Blogging helps you attract new clients and sales inquiries

Blogging is a great way to attract highly targeted inquiries from potential clients and customers. By blogging regularly about your core areas of commercial interest, you position yourself in the mind of your readers as an authority in your field. Then, when they need expert help they can trust, you become a very attractive option – far more attractive than going to Google and looking for a stranger or taking a chance on someone they don’t know, who’s recommended to them.

4. Blogging helps you communicate

When you write a blog post, you really need to think about what you are going to publish. You need to question the information you are about to share, for value, accuracy and clarity. I’ve found that by writing regularly for small business owners, it has massively improved my copy writing, when writing any commercial communication.

In short: Blogging is a superb communications training asset.

5. Blogging gives you an enormous reach

Blogging allows you to share ideas with an almost unlimited number of people. Your blog gives you the potential to build your own media asset – your own publication, with as large a readership as you are capable of building. This is an opportunity that was unthinkable for small business owners even a decade ago.

This alone makes blogging a wonderful business investment.

6. Blogging is amazingly powerful for market research

Blogging is a fantastic market research tool. You learn the topics your readership is most interested in, very quickly. Thanks to inexpensive or free analytics tools, you can see which of your posts are read the most and shared the most. You also see the posts which generate the most emails from your readers. By learning what your readership is most interested in, you can develop new products and services or adapt existing ones.

You can also improve the effectiveness of your marketing messages, knowing what your readers are most interested in.

7. Blogging allows you to prove your reliability

By showing up on your blog regularly with useful information, you are doing more than showcasing your knowledge. You are also showing prospective clients or customers that you can be relied upon to turn up.

It takes commitment, durability and a great work ethic, to regularly update a blog. Once you have been blogging for a few years or more, you also have a body of work that shows your longevity. We live in an age where people often set up a website and some social networking accounts, with no track record – and claim to be experienced professionals. Many of my clients told me that the fact they could see years worth of my work on Jim’s Marketing Blog, made them a lot more confident that I was an experienced professional.

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How to find windfall profits within your business, starting now

There could be a fortune in hidden, windfall profits in your existing business, just waiting for you. In today’s post, I want to help you find it!

I need to begin with one of the fundamentals of marketing…

marketing maximizer

You never get marketing right, the first time

No one gets their marketing right, the first time. The best marketing comes from testing each element and then measuring the feedback. You then make the required adjustments and test and measure again. You repeat that test and measure process until you can’t wring another 1% of improvement from it. Then, when you have maximized that, you move on to the next element of that piece of marketing.

For example, if I were helping you massively improve the success of your marketing emails, I’d start by testing and measuring each of the following areas, one at a time:

  • The headline or subject line.
  • The call to action.
  • The number of links within the email.
  • The language used. (Phrases like ‘click here’ or ‘amazing results’ within the text of your emails can result in them being filtered as junk mail)
  • The same is true of using characters in your subject lines, which are not letters, such as exclamation marks (!) and percentage signs (%) etc.
  • The length of the email. Most are at least 300% too long.
  • The font style and size.
  • The size of your paragraphs.
  • The day you send your emails out.
  • The time of day you send your emails out.
  • The form of distribution you use. Do you send them yourself or use a 3rd party? If you use a 3rd party, do they have a solid reputation for getting emails through filters?
  • There are many, many more elements we’d need to work on in addition to these obvious ones.

Small changes can lead to massive improvements

Even seemingly small changes to your marketing can lead to massive improvements in your results.

Let’s take the example of the first item on that list above. Something as simple as using a better headline in your marketing emails, can see your open rates increase by hundreds of percent or more. Most small business owners find a headline they like, then just use it because they like it. By testing open rates with different headlines (or subject lines) and then measuring the results, it’s possible to uncover headlines, which your prospective clients find irresistible and have to open.

By testing and measuring just that one element of your email marketing, you can see amazing results. Now imagine the potential, when you leverage all the elements!

One word of warning here: Only test and measure one element at a time. Otherwise, you will not know what change created what result.

Other areas to maximize

Every area of your marketing can and should be fully maximized, not just your email marketing. Here are just a tiny number of examples:

  • Test and measure the call to action message on the sales pages of your website, blog, mail shots and advertisements, etc.
  • Test and measure different locations for the email capture box on your website. Time and time again, I have found the top right hand side to be the most effective – even out performing annoying pop-up boxes.
  • Test and measure different voice mail messages. Subtle changes can increase the number of people who leave you their number.
  • Test and measure different advertising vehicles.
  • Test and measure different window displays.
  • Test and measure different guarantees within your marketing.
  • Test and measure sending out your mail shots, marketing emails, catalogues, newsletters, etc., with different frequency. If your newsletter is sent once a month, try sending it out every week or every 10 days. If you offer a catalogue and it’s sent twice a year, consider sending it 3 or 4 times a year. I’ve seen this double a company’s turnover and profits.
  • Test and measure different order amounts. If people currently buy from you one item at a time, test selling your product in batches of 3 or 6 or 100. If you sell individual blocks of your time, test offering your time in batches of 3 sessions or 5 sessions.
  • Test and measure different prices or fees. Start by testing increases as these tend to have the best results.
  • Test and measure offering an elite version of your service or product. There is a highly profitable section of your marketplace, who will happily pay more for a more exclusive service or product.

Uncovering your windfall revenues and profits

No small business owner can afford to leave a fortune in windfall revenues and profits on the table. However, that’s exactly what most of them do, by failing to maximize their existing marketing assets. Test, measure, maximize and start enjoying massively better sales results.

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Online advertising: Looking beyond the obvious

Today’s post is about an element of online advertising, which gets very little attention. I’m referring to the longer term impact of a successful advertisement.

looking

Mercedes and the longer game

I recall Seth Godin talking about the way Mercedes look at advertising.

Mercedes’ head of advertising said that if he focused on showing people advertisements for Mercedes the day before they were about to buy a new car, it wouldn’t work. Instead, Mercedes focus on getting their advertisements in front of us when we are children – so that when we’re 35 and looking for a luxury car, we buy a Mercedes.

Understandably, that’s a longer term approach than most small business owners are interested in. I mention it, because it highlights an element of online advertising that is often overlooked. I’m referring to the lifetime value of an ad and the need to look beyond the obvious, immediate, trackable results.

People are still hard to track

When we decide to advertise, we need to look beyond the obvious and beyond the short term. Yes, there are some people who only use one device, only use one Internet connection and have cookies enabled on their one device. However, most of us use multiple devices and multiple ip addresses (connections) to connect.

For instance, I use half a dozen different connected devices and access the Internet from lots of locations, such as; home, work, coffee shops, hotels and my phone provider’s data connection, etc. If I were to access your site via an advertising link, using my phone from a coffee shop’s wifi connection, I will not show up as coming from that ad a week or a month later, when I Google you from home using my notebook. I will just show as a new visitor, accessing your site with a new device from a new IP address for the first time.

Beyond the obvious

If online advertising is part of your marketing mix, don’t make the mistake of only looking at the immediate, obvious metrics. Look for an increase in sales and inquiries, related to the advertised offering. Look for an overall lift in visitors to your site. Oh, and never miss the opportunity to ask a new customer or client, where they first discovered you. The trackable metrics matter. In fact, they are essential, but they are not everything.

It will become possible at some point for all online advertisers to trace people across multiple ip addresses and multiple devices. Until then, I believe it pays us to look beyond the obvious.

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Photo credit: Jessica Flavin

A confession about the blog post I published earlier today

I want to share something with you, about the post I published earlier today.

It was written on an inexpensive, Google Nexus 7 tablet, with no special software. I wrote it straight into the web browser, edited it, added the image and hit the publish button.

nexus 7

Here’s why this matters

In marketing, it’s all too easy for us to get hung-up on the tools we use, when we should be focusing on the outcome. The tools alone are not what make us productive. It’s what we do with them, which determines our productivity and our results. For instance, this post is being written in my studio, using a Lenovo machine that cost me more than 10 times as much as that cheap tablet device.

Now, here’s a question… Can you spot the difference between the two posts?

Of course you can’t spot the difference, because there isn’t one.

The ultimate blogging machine?

When it comes to blogging, newsletter writing or marketing in general, it isn’t the computer you use, which people care about. It’s whether you have written something of value to them – that’s what matters.

  • That’s what earns their attention.
  • That’s what positions you in their mind as an authority in your field.
  • And if you do it frequently enough, it’s also what demonstrates your ability to consistently show up and be useful.

Certainly, get yourself the best machine you can. Then, use it as well as you can, as often as you can.

Photo: Google

What is winning the battle for your attention?

The most successful business owners focus on doing what matters. In order to have enough time to do everything that matters, she ignores everything that doesn’t matter.

Her approach is simple: She knows what needs to be done, she does it first and she does it as well as she possibly can.

The average business owner focuses on whatever is noisiest in that moment. He allows what’s happening around him, to dictate his attention and productivity.

He finds himself often complaining that there are not enough hours in the day, rather than accept that it’s his use of time that’s the issue. He has the same 24 hours each day as the most productive person in his field, after all.

24 hours

An alternative approach

Identify the key tasks we need to do each day. Then do them, first.

When they are done, we’re ready to receive calls, check Facebook, tweet or hit send/receive on our email. We may even have enough time to respond to the noisy people who we often mistake for needing our urgent attention, because of their volume. Just do the important tasks first.

There will never be enough time for you to do everything, so make sure it’s the least important stuff that’s left on the table at the end of your day.

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