Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Why your Internet marketing NEEDS your voice!

I saw a joke on Google+ yesterday. It simply said:

How to start an argument online

  1. State an opinion.
  2. Wait.

There’s some truth in this

Many small business owners lack visibility online, because they fear being challenged for expressing their own opinions. So, they will like, retweet, +1 and stumble what others say and ensure their own messages are as uncontentious as possible. Whilst this approach does almost eliminate confrontation, it also robs you of the visibility you need, in order to succeed.

  • Your marketplace listens to you, when you have a message worthy of their valuable attention.
  • They follow you, when you lead. Not when you simply nod along like everyone else at the back.

Business should be challenging

Yes, you will get challenged, if you have the courage to share what you think and it happens to go against the grain. If you believe in the value of your opinion, you should welcome people to test what you say. In many cases, you will learn something about the strength of your own view point. In others, you will learn how to make your point more clearly. I have learned a great deal from people, who have caused me to dig deep and question my own opinions.

Looking through their lens

So, what about those people who just seem intent on arguing, when you confidently express your opinion? A quick look at what you have said, through their lens, will usually show you (in seconds) why they are arguing with you. Looking through their lens, is a phrase used to describe looking at what you said, from their perspective, so you can identify their motives.

Here’s what I commonly find, when I look through the lens of someone intent on arguing rather than discussing a viewpoint:

Vested interests: They have a vested interest in the opposing view. I saw a recent post by a guy who said that traditional networking groups were becoming less relevant, as more people connected with others on services like LinkedIn and Facebook etc. He was attacked by a lady who said online networking was of zero value, zero use and that he was in denial. After clicking through the link on her comment, I saw she ran several offline networking groups. Her business model needs that guy to be wrong.

Trolls: You are dealing with a troll. Trolls are going to troll, it’s what they do. Welcome to the Internet. It’s your call, but if they are only looking to insult you, there’s little value publishing their abuse or responding to their jibes on social networks. Seriously, you would not allow someone to do that to you in public and you shouldn’t online either. If someone’s just being a bastard, there’s no room for that in my business and I’m guessing the same is true for your business, too.

They want your juice: They want to gain your attention or the attention of your readers / followers. Some people seem to believe that it’s an effective marketing technique, to argue with people in their profession on social networks and on their competitors blogs. This is pretty rare and tends to happen more when you have a large readership or online following and a reputation for publishing comments that disagree with you.

In summary

I’ve written thousands of blog posts and only ever needed to delete a handful of trollish comments. Others who challenge my views, often open up the conversation and that’s how I evaluate their input: As an asset.

It’s your marketing and your decision, but it’s extremely hard to attract the attention of your prospective clients or earn their respect, if you’re simply nodding along with the masses.

Avoid this common social networking mistake

Positivity and negativity share a common factor: They are both extremely contagious. This can work for you or against you.

What I mean by that, is that when you speak in negative terms about your business, those who hear you will start to share your negativity. Similarly, when you speak positively about your business, your enthusiasm spreads too.

The value of speaking with positive optimism

Social networking sites are filled with business owners, either spreading optimism about their business or creating doubt and uncertainty. Those speaking with positive optimism about their future, build confidence within their marketplace. We associate them with a solid business and a bright outlook.

The danger of spreading negativity & fear about your business

Those speaking negatively about their business, stand a real chance of fulfilling their fears, as they scare prospective clients away from using them. Prospective clients are extremely unlikely to waste their time hiring a new service provider, if they believe the service provider’s business is in trouble. The marketplace wants the support of providers, who they can bank on being there for the long haul. A flaky business with a dark outlook is an unattractive proposition for prospective clients.

When using social networking sites to connect with your marketplace, be very aware of the damage you can do, expressing doom and gloom about your business. It has never been easier to become a self fulfilling prophecy than it is today, so focus on what you want and not what you fear.

If there is a reason for you to be worried about your business right now, fix what’s broken. Then, move forward with confidence and share that confidence and optimism with your marketplace.

Are you trying too much?

It’s ironic that when someone tells you they will try and do something, they often mean the exact opposite. Commonly, it’s an indication of a lack of commitment, rather than a strong intention to commit.

For example, if you invite someone to attend a corporate event, you know when they respond with; ‘I’ll try and make it’, that there’s at least a 50% chance they will not attend. What they have really said is that they almost certainly won’t be there, but they want you to believe that they REALLY wanted to. They did try, after all.

The marketplace is watching

Your prospective clients don’t need another provider, who can’t be relied on to follow through. They are not crying out for people, who make vague or uncertain promises. However, what there is always a need for, and shortage of, is professionalism.

This means:

  • If we say we are going to do something, we should not only do it, but do it as well as we possibly can.
  • If we know we are not going to do something, we should say so – Not lie that we will make some half-assed attempt.
  • If we have to tell someone we will try, then we should REALLY try. We should use all our expertise, resources and effort to make (whatever) happen. Let them know that when YOU say you will try, you really mean it.

I’m going to try and resist finishing this brief post with that famous Yoda quote from Star Wars, where he explains the Jedi view on the subject of trying:

Do or do not… There is no try. ~ Master Yoda

Well, I did try!

Here are 3 great reasons to put your next business idea into action

There are 3 powerful reasons, why you should take action on your next business idea.

  1. It might work out just how you wanted, right out the box!
  2. It might work later, after you make a few adjustments. By putting an idea into action, you attract feedback. Feedback allows you to tweak and improve.
  3. It might flop. If it does, you get to learn from it and invest that learning in future opportunities. This is how most true progress is made.

Feedback is your friend

When you truly understand the value of feedback, it becomes a lot easier to take action with your ideas and insights. Looking at the 3 possible scenarios above, you will have noticed that it’s impossible for you to fail – UNLESS you fail to take action.

One of the great paradoxes in life, is that the best way to succeed more often, is to increase your (so called) failure rate. The challenge here, is that many business owners have not yet figured this out. They avoid taking action on their ideas, unless they are convinced, in advance, the idea will work out exactly how they want it to.

Take action. Give your ideas the opportunity to fly and give yourself the opportunity to learn. Increase your failure rate by 500% over the next 12 months and I’m telling you, you will make more progress than you can imagine.

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Can you get to the point?

Have you noticed how some people in business seem unable to get to the point? They waffle, go round in circles, repeat themselves and succeed in looking and sounding confused. This post looks at why this happens and why you need to avoid it.

Clarity matters

marketing clarityIn business, you need to have crystal clarity, regarding your products, services and overall mission. You need to know exactly what your business does, who it does it for and why people should hire you or buy from you, rather than one of your competitors. Failing to do this will result in confusion and a confused mind always says no! In other words, when you speak with prospective clients and they are unclear exactly what you do, they will usually do nothing.

You can’t expect prospective clients or customers to understand the value of your proposition, if you are unable to give them the clear, concise information they need.

You can’t get to the point, if you’re unclear what the point is

Many small business owners are unclear about exactly what their business does. They know the industry sector they are in, but are vague or fuzzy, regarding THEIR SPECIFIC business and why people should be interested in them.

For example, if Mary is an accountant but is unclear about what sets her apart from other local accountants,it’s going to be extremely hard for her to convince prospective clients to use her services, rather than a cheaper competitor. With additional clarity, Mary could explain what sets her apart and those prospective clients who value that, will work with her. Otherwise, Mary is destined to market herself based on fees – The dreaded race to the bottom!

A clear mission helps eliminate confusion

The mission statement of my new project Creative Thinking Hub, is clear and to the point:

I want to help as many people as I can, think as creatively as they can.

Anyone bright enough to be interested in developing their creative thinking skills, will be able to see what Creative Thinking Hub is all about, in just 16 words. That’s the kind of clarity you need, in order for those you speak with, to get a handle on exactly why you are worthy of their interest. This has also made it extremely easy for people to spread the word about the project.

In short: Get crystal clear about your business, who your client or customer is and EXACTLY why they should hire you or buy from you, rather than a cheaper competitor.

Photo: Rob Ellis

Are you prepared or playing?

One of the BIG differences between successful business owners and those who struggle, is preparation. The average business owner doesn’t prepare very well. They want their business to succeed or their marketing to generate bankable results, but they fail to do the heavy lifting beforehand. They fail to prepare correctly, in advance.

Preparation

Last Monday, I launched a new project via an announcement on this blog. Just 7 days after launching Creative Thinking Hub, it has over a thousand subscribers, a Google Page Rank of 3 and more daily traffic than most older sites get. Here’s what people didn’t see: For 8 weeks before the launch, I invested around 100 hours to get the preparation right. I hired 2 designers. I spent money where it was needed and did the right things, correctly.

Conversely, I hear from business owners regularly, who have sites that are over a year old and still floundering, because they refuse to hire the expert help they need and prepare correctly for success. This strikes me as an odd attitude to have toward your own business: Like drowning and refusing to call for help.

Unprepared

There are many excuses why business owners refuse to prepare correctly. These range from those who say they can’t afford it, in a message sent via their iPad from the coffee shop where they blow a grand a year on coffee – To those who have settled for lowering their lifestyle aspirations, to fall in line with their under performing business results.

Ultimately, we have the freedom to start from nothing, prepare correctly and build something amazing. I started off with nothing, as the son of an Irish immigrant family with no connections and no money. I took the decision at age 21 to prepare for success and as soon as I could, I paid for the expert help I needed. I planned well and then worked the plan. It worked. Beautifully. I do the same today, like every successful business owner I know.

In short: Professional preparation is to business, as carbon is to steel. Don’t expect to wing your way to success in the worst economy in living memory.

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Tip: Do great work & put it where the right people can see it

No one likes to be pestered. Yet, when it comes to marketing, it seems some people still think they can pester their way to success. This post is about a different way to do business. It’s based on one of the most powerful ideas in commerce and I strongly recommend you take a few minutes to read this post in full.

Pestering their way to the bottom

Over the weekend, I received more than 100 emails from people I don’t know, all asking me to do something for them. Most want me to blog about their latest product or tell you how great their blog is. They send me spam email, because I have a well known blog and they think that means it’s OK. In 100% of the emails, where I have checked the link, the stuff they are pushing is uninspiring, at best.

It seems they have not figured out yet that if their product was worth talking about, they wouldn’t need to spam me or anyone else.

Here are a few examples that came to mind immediately.

An alternative approach

  • I recently bought a Lenovo Ultrabook and was so impressed with it, that I told the 11,000 people who connect with me on Google+ and the 6,000 who follow me on Twitter. The quality of the product was worth talking about, so I did exactly that. I wasn’t asked to. I just did it because I am like you: I talk about the things that impress the pants off me.
  • I received such amazing customer service from Dell computers, that I was compelled to blog about it. Again, I have no connection with Dell, other than being a customer. The service was so good, I had to share my experience.
  • I saw a Facebook update, where Peter Bestel shared a video of his 14 year old daughter, Zoe Bestel singing. Zoe wrote, sang and played on a beautiful track called “Into the Night” and I must have shared that link dozens of times. Why? Because it’s fantastic. You can see Zoe’s video in a moment!
  • A couple of weeks ago, I had an amazing caramel latte at a place in Gainsbrough, Lincolnshire called Creme and it was so good I photographed the cup and sent it to everyone on G+ and Twitter, with my recommendation. Again, the recommendation was totally unasked for. Like all those in this list, it was earned. It was remarkable, so I remarked on it.

Do great work and put it where people will see it

If Bob puts his work out there, where his clients and future clients can see it and they value it enough, they will share it with everyone. As in the above examples, this works whether it’s a multinational company, an independent coffee shop or a 14 year old girl with an amazing gift. Seth Godin makes the point beautifully, in this post about Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true Fans. I suggest you read Seth’s post.

Now, what does Bob do if he has a product or service that he’s always pushing and when people see it, it fails to inspire them? I believe he has 2 options:

  1. He can try and pester his way to success. It may mean cold calling hundreds of people or spamming hundreds of thousands of people to make a sale, but he will make some sales. He will successfully piss off a huge number of people in order to make a sale, but Bob may feel OK with that. This approach will work for a while, until he gets added to enough spam lists and nuisance caller lists, that it’s not effective to push people any more. This pestering approach is extremely common, as your spam folder will confirm.
  2. Bob can develop something that is of such genuine value, that people will want to share it. I call this doing work that matters. As I wrote yesterday on Creative Thinking Hub, this requires a lot more thought than pushing something that’s average, but it’s where the value is. It’s also a far more enjoyable way to develop a business.

‘Average’ isn’t good enough to motivate people to tell your story

Life is too short and people are too informed, for us to waste our time offering a service or product, which people are underwhelmed by. Those interested in being better than average and attracting the best clients, doing work that matters, rest assured I am here to help you with this blog. To those of you committed to being better than average and attracting the best clients, doing work that matters, get in touch. Make it happen.

Finally: Here’s Zoe!

Before I wrap this up, I have to share the following video of Zoe Bestel with you. If you can’t see the video below for any reason, you can watch it here.

Generate massively more sales leads, with this simple yet powerful idea!

This short post gives you a simple, yet powerful way to massively increase the number of sales leads you attract with your marketing.

lead generatingWhen someone who is interested in working with you calls you, emails you or meets with you, you welcome it. Furthermore, you are helpful, extremely friendly and not at all pushy. So, let people know!

Lead generating: Removing the pressure

If you want to increase the number of marketing leads you generate, your marketing needs to reassure prospective clients. It needs to tell them that their call is welcome and that they will be under no kind of obligation to buy, just because they speak with you or email you. This takes the pressure out of the situation, for the prospective client. They are now confidently expecting a friendly chat, where they can get the information they need, in order to make the right purchasing decision.

In my own marketing, I reassure people by explaining it like this:

For more information about working with me, with no obligation whatsoever, simply email me using that link or via jim(at)jimsmarketingblog.com.  Alternatively, you can call me on 01427 891274.  I will happily answer any questions you have and make sure you get all the information you need.

This ultra low-pressure / no pressure approach can be extremely effective, when combined with a compelling product or service. Every day, people call or email me, to find out more about us working together.

Be one of the few

Never assume that your prospective clients will know, in advance, that you will handle their inquiry in a friendly and professional way. Be one of the few, who makes it clear that they are not about to face a high pressure sales pitch and watch what it does to your lead generation!

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