Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Blogging: An equal opportunity!

I received an interesting email this afternoon, from a blogger who sounded extremely disheartened.

He is just 5 months into writing his blog and he was wondering if he was wasting his time. He explained that he was not seeing the results he wanted and that he was rapidly of the opinion that unless some influential people would promote his work, he’d never get noticed. What struck me about his email, was that he repeated several times, how it wasn’t possible to grow what he called an ‘A List’ blog, without influential friends. This is not the first time I have heard that point made and so I decided to cover it, in today’s post.

I’m going to start by sharing three examples of extremely successful bloggers with you: Two who started from what we’d think of as a normal position and one who started off from a position of wealth and influence.

We all start from a different place

The thing is, although every blogger begins by writing their first post, we write that initial post from very different starting positions. Most bloggers start from scratch, with no contacts and no one to help them amplify their message, like the guy who emailed me. A tiny number of others start off with influential friends and hit the big time extremely fast.

However, the great thing about blogging, is that it’s possible to achieve what we want from our blog, regardless of our beginnings!

Here are those examples I mentioned earlier, from the total opposite ends of the scale.

At one extreme, we have Seth Godin

It would be fair to say Seth Godin had a head start on most bloggers. For example, Seth started blogging by writing his first post, sitting next to his friend, Google co-founder Sergey Brin!

When Seth began his career, his father, William, was president of a multimillion dollar business. He saw Seth attend the world’s best business school, Stanford. Stanford students went on to become CEO’s of; Ford, Microsoft, Paypal, Google, Coca Cola, Wells Fargo etc as well as US Presidents. That’s a wonderful head start in business / blogging, with advantages that the rest of us couldn’t even imagine.

So, does this mean that people from a ‘normal’ background are excluded from the top level of blogging?

No. Not even close!

At the other extreme, we have self made guys like Brian Clarke & Chris Brogan

Brian Clarke was a Lawyer, turned Real Estate guy and entrepreneur. Brian started copyblogger by himself, from scratch, and went on to launch a number of million dollar businesses from the success of copyblogger. Today, Brian shows others how achieve great results from their blogging. Similarly, my favourite blogger, Chris Brogan, started from scratch. Today, Chris writes one of the world’s most popular blogs and his client list includes many of the most respected companies in the world. (He’s also a New York Times best selling author.)

Both Brian and Chris (and many, many others) are proof that no matter where we start from, we can achieve outstanding results from blogging. In fact, very few of the top bloggers came from a privileged beginning.

Here’s what I have found, whenever I’ve studied extremely successful bloggers (and businesspeople in general):

  • They determined NOT to follow the flock and do what everyone else was doing.
  • They learned how to do the right things, correctly.
  • If they needed influential contacts, they went out and made those connections.
  • Then, they committed to work as hard as required, for as long as needed, to achieve their objectives.

In short: Blogging is like everything else in life – Regardless of where we start, we have the opportunity to determine where we finish!

Photo: Nick Slater

Too much information?

How much information do you ask people for, in order to subscribe to your newsletter?

I ask that question, following an experience I had yesterday after I discovered an interesting new blog and decided to subscribe to their newsletter. I clicked the ‘subscribe’ link and was taken to the sign up page. Here’s the information they required, in order to email me their newsletter.

They needed:

  1. My first name
  2. My surname
  3. My company name
  4. My profession
  5. My region or state
  6. My telephone number
  7. And finally, my email address

Slow down – I don’t even know you yet

I saw that pile of requirements and decided not to subscribe. It felt like too much information, just to have a newsletter emailed to me. As a new prospective subscriber, they had not earned my trust yet or developed any rapport with me, so it felt uncomfortable to be asked for more than my name and email address.

I have seen various statistics over the years, which suggest that after asking for a persons name and email address, every additional piece of information you request will lose you between 5 and 10 percent of potential newsletter subscribers. Regardless of the exact percentages, in an age where people are extremely busy and also very aware that some companies sell their data, the more information a newsletter provider requires, the fewer subscribers they are likely to attract.

As a result, there will be business owners out there today, who have lost hundreds or maybe thousands of subscribers, simply because they asked for more information up front, than a potential subscriber feels comfortable giving them.

Just what you need

If you are a newsletter provider, look at the information you currently require on your subscriber form and see how much of that data you really need. Think of what you want to achieve from your newsletter marketing and whether you can achieve those objectives, with people just giving you their email address or name and email address. If you need more information for some reason, make sure to ask for no more than absolutely necessary. Remember, if your marketing message is clear, those who subscribe to your newsletter will be targeted around your area of commercial interest, regardless.

In short: Ask only for the personal information you require, in order to provide a new subscriber with a great newsletter. Don’t risk losing thousands of prospective readers and future customers, by asking for too much information.

Are you childish enough?

If you’re interested in developing your problem solving skills, you may find the following observation useful.

It was my son’s 7th birthday party on Saturday and around 35 of his friends joined him for music, games and some delicious party food. One of the many blessings of being a parent, is that I get to spend a lot of time learning from children. Their open minds, incredible imagination and total commitment to having fun is inspirational.

Childish inspiration

At my son’s party, I noticed that the parents acted very differently when surrounded by children, than the way they behave when I meet them in the grown-up world. They (including me) were dancing, singing, joining in with the games and every face had a smile.

This got me thinking.

Are adults childish enough?

I wondered to myself, how the adults from the party would benefit, if they applied that same childish abandon to grown up things, such as problem solving. After all, it’s easier to find the answer to a challenge, when we start off believing that anything is possible. Equally, when we need to do creative work, it really helps to tap into our imagination, just as children do when they are playing.

As adults, we know that we are here to protect, help and guide children. I just think we are missing out on an enormous learning opportunity, if we forget that we can learn from our children too.

Photo credit: N D Strupler.

Here’s how top earners manage to earn the highest fees!

This post is all about how the highest earning businesspeople manage to attract the highest fees.

time managementSome business owners constantly complain that there are never enough hours in the day. Others understand that it’s perfectly okay, because they are not paid for the hour.

No one is paid for the hour: We are all paid for the value we deliver in that hour. If you were paid for the hour, you could send your clock to the office, stay in bed and still get paid.

For example

If Sarah finds herself working too many hours, it’s usually because she is paid too little for the hours she delivers. If she was paid 4 times as much for each hour, she could work 10 hours a week instead of 40 and still earn the same amount. With those extra 30 hours, she may decide to set up some additional income streams and tighten up her time management. However, all the time she thinks the solution is ‘just‘ to manage her time better, she will always place a very low ceiling on her income.

Here’s how you get paid 400% more!

So, how do you increase your fees by 400%? You become 500% more original. You become 600% more in demand. You become 700% more valuable.

It all starts when you discover the difference between normal work, and work that matters.

So, you want to be in high demand? Then read this!

Every business owner wants to build a service or offer products, which are in high demand. After all, without demand, a business is going nowhere.

Here are some thoughts on what drives demand and what we can learn from it.

What does it take to be ‘in demand’?

Let’s look at a few examples, which have one thing in common:

  • High quality is always in demand. Apple products sold in record numbers throughout the recession, despite them often being 300% more expensive than ‘budget’ alternatives.
  • A product or service, where the value clearly exceeds the price, will also be in demand. When a supplier has found a way to profitably sell a product, well below the typical market price, the product will be in demand.
  • Originality, which brings something of unique value, is always in demand. A work of art is a good example of this.
  • A product or service, which people need and is in short supply, will always be in demand. If you’re the only gardener in your area and there are lots of homes that need their gardens looked after, you will be in demand.

A common factor behind those examples, is that demand was driven by a product, service or situation being ‘non standard.’

The non standard approach to business

Think about it for a moment:

  • Apple sell non standard devices.
  • An extra low price is, by definition, non standard.
  • An original work of art is certainly non standard.
  • A product or service, where there is not enough supply to go around, is a non standard situation.

Most business owners will tell you that the safest thing you can do, is to play it safe, to emulate what you see others doing. Experience tells us that the opposite is true – that playing it safe is one of the riskiest things we can do. The more we copy others in what they do, how they do it and how they market it, the harder we will find it to get noticed. Whilst the non standard approach helps us develop demand, the standard approach acts as camouflage.

In short: Taking the standard approach pushes us into the background. High demand is the result of a non standard product, service or situation.

Photo: baldheretic

Do your best work then let it roll!

I want to share a simple, yet extremely valuable idea with you today. It’s all about how to improve your mindset, regarding your business.

As you know, one of the ways we protect ourselves from feeling disappointed, is to set our sights lower that we should.

For example, we start work on a project, where we know we really need X, Y and Z to happen, for the project to be a total success. However, to buffer ourselves from the pain of failure, we tell ourselves ‘it’s ‘okay’ if we just get X and Y‘. So, armed with these lower expectations we start the project.

The thing is, by insulating ourselves from the pain of disappointment in that way, we significantly limit our potential. We start off aiming for second best or third best.

Why do we do it?

Tackling a project with low expectations feels less of a risk, because we make it easier for ourselves to reach the lower objective. If we started that same project with high expectations, we would have stood a good chance of being disappointed. Most people regard that type of disappointment as failure and none of us like to fail.

Failure is painful and we are programmed to do whatever is required to avoid feeling pain, so we aim lower.

An alternative approach: Let it roll

Here’s another way to approach our business development. When I set my marketing business up in 1995, I was talking about my expectations for the initial year, with an experienced business owner. He gave me some wonderful advice, which I have lived by ever since. He explained that he never expected the best or the worst when he started anything – he simply ‘did the work’ as well as he could, then allowed the work to roll.

By eliminating the fear of failing to meet our expectations AND eliminating the damage caused by deliberately setting our sights too low, we give ourselves the freedom to put everything we have into our work. We also make it impossible to fail, so long as we do our best work and then, let it roll.

This was a massively valuable lesson for me and I hope you find it useful too. If you do, please remember to share it with your friends.

Photo: David Brodbeck

Do you own your words?

If someone were to check you out online right now, would the image they build be an accurate reflection of you? Would your digital footprint show them who you are and what you stand for?

Whether we are blogging, social networking, contributing to a forum or adding our thoughts with a comment on a blog post, we need to be ourselves. We need to own our words.

One of your biggest assets

In a super noisy marketplace, one of the most valuable business assets we have, is our uniqueness. Everything we do to stifle our true voice forces us into the background.

The good news? You already have the tools you need, to attract the right kind of attention and connect with people:

  • You have a voice.
  • You have opinions.
  • You have a lifetime of experiences.
  • You have a unique mind.

Use your social media channels to share what makes you unique. It’s the best way I know, to earn peoples attention and connect with them.

Photo: Laffy4k

Another perspective on your business

Perspective is a fascinating thing.

My elderly neighbour refers to me as ‘a nice lad’. She is 40 years older than me and from her perspective, I’m just a kid. However, as far as my friend’s 12 year old son is concerned, I’m ancient. From his perspective, I’m almost as old as his father, which makes me really old.

Another perspective

As business owners, it’s tempting to look at things from OUR perspective. The challenge with that approach, is that our success will be determined by the value we deliver – as seen from the perspective of the marketplace. We know we care about our clients and we know we are committed to delivering excellence, but can the marketplace see it?

It can be a very useful exercise, to take a step back form our business and consider how things look, from the perspective of our clients and prospective clients. Sometimes, we can be so close to our own business that we can hardly see it!

Photo: Erik Johansson.

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