Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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2 Things you need to know, if you want massively better marketing results!

Before you send your next piece of marketing to anyone, there are 2 important things you should consider if you want to get the best return on your investment.

Here they are:

1. Do I have permission to contact this person?

A lot of marketing is still based on interrupting people. For example:

  • They send us email because our address is on some list they bought.
  • They send us junk mail because they know where we live or work.
  • They cold call us because they have our phone number.

Yes, you can get people’s attention by interrupting or pestering them, but it’s not the kind of attention they welcome. People repel pests, they don’t embrace them. Walking into a company unannounced and poking the boss in the chest will get their attention, but it’s unlikely to win their willing cooperation or earn their trust.

So, rather than add people to some list and pester the crap out of them, we should earn access to them instead.

A great way to achieve this, is via the type of message you are receiving right now. Everyone reading this blog post, either by email, RSS reader or on jimsmarketingblog.com, has subscribed or searched for the information. It’s seen as useful, not an interruption. I work hard to deliver as much useful, free information as I can and as a result, thousands of prospective clients read my work every day. This blog is what’s called a permission marketing asset.

Permission based marketing delivers the kind of response rates that interruption marketing can’t touch. Newsletters, blogs, YouTube channels, Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups are permission assets that take time to build, but they offer unparalleled potential, for business owners seeking to earn the attention and trust of their marketplace.

2. Am I contacting them with something they need or is it all about me?

Most marketing (and almost all small business marketing) fails because it’s all about the sender and not the recipient. This happens for a number of reasons, but mainly because business owners wrongly assume ALL marketing has to be about pushing a sales message.

That assumption is not only incorrect, it’s toxic!

Successful marketing is about building permission and earning trust among a targeted group of prospective clients. It’s about making you an obvious choice, when they need the type of service you provide.

For example:

The local health food store, which offers advice on the best foods to eat for your unique needs, is building a relationship with you. They are also positioning themselves in your mind as an authority, when it comes to health food.

Their free newsletter offers healthy recipes, the dates of their next subscriber-only, healthy cooking evenings and the latest news on the benefits of certain food types – So, it’s eagerly awaited by its readers. These readers buy the ingredients from the store because they trust it. They are a part of the community and recommend it to their health-conscious friends. People LOVE to be part of a community of like-minded people.

It’s about them

Effective marketing is not just about pushing special offers and new product lines at people. It’s about engaging with them and building a relationship with them. It’s about earning their trust. It’s about being seen as the obvious place to go, when they have a requirement you can fulfil. It’s about them.

Photos: Tim Parkinson & Vale

Thinking of developing a digital product? If you’re a service provider, you should!

If you sell advice for a living (coaching, consulting, training etc) and want to make more money, without having to work more hours, I have a suggestion for you.

Turn an element of your expertise into a downloadable product. Here’s why!

Why I did it

Before my son was born, I spent a lot of time away from home. Once he was born, I decided that I wanted to be there for him every day. I’d seen what was happening to the health and relationships of people I knew, who were on the speaking circuit and often away from their loved ones. It was too big a price to pay. As my speaking work accounted for over half my income, I needed to figure out a way to replace it, without all that travelling.

So, I took an extremely powerful element from my live events and turned it into a very successful audio program.

How I did it

The program I developed is called The Motivation Master Class. In just under a couple of hours it shows you how to get things done, even things you hate, dread or fear AND shows you how to motivate other people too! It’s based around the strategy I used, to unlock my own potential and transform my life.

Anyhow, it took me 3 days to record and edit the program. Ever since, it has generated an extremely profitable income. Initially, I offered it at a price of £40, as a 3 CD box set and made over £72,000 (sterling) in the first 12 months. That’s a nice additional income, I think you will agree. I then made it available as a download here on this blog and was able to slash the price down to just £5.75. That’s when it REALLY took off! Every day, people from all over the world buy it. They simply click the download and are listening to my voice in minutes. You can get a copy here.

Why offer a digital version rather than CD’s?

The reasons I decided to offer The Motivation Master Class as a download, rather than a physical product are:

  • It allowed me to massively lower the price. Anyone who needs it, can afford it.
  • It allowed people with an urgent need for the program, to be listening to it and benefiting from it immediately.
  • It removed the work flow related to dealing with suppliers, packaging the product, posting it and dealing with things like incorrect addresses.

As a result of moving to a 100% digital product, people are on this blog buying the program whilst I’m writing a blog post, visiting the gym or at the park with my son and there’s no additional work for me to do. The profitability is incredible.

Is that it?

Nope. Regardless of how great your audio program is, you will need to market it. You will also need to know how to get the price right and decide things, like whether or not you want it to become an affiliate product, which others can sell for you. Developing a successful audio program is something I offer to those of my clients who want to be able to make money from their knowledge, without it always meaning they need to physically be client facing.

Yes, there is some work required if you want to get it right and develop a worthwhile income. However, for those willing to get it right, the rewards can be stunning. In my case, they were life changing.

Get more targeted traffic from Google with these 5 simple tips

If you get less high quality traffic from Google than you would like, here are 5 basic things you should look at.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Does your blog link to what Google calls ‘Bad neighborhoods’?

Google are constantly looking for sites that are trying to game or fool its ranking system. When it finds one, it looks for the other sites that link to that site. When it finds them, it will often apply an SEO penalty to them. Here’s what Google has to say:

Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

I strongly suggest you do not enter into a link exchange deal with people, unless you know them and trust them. Those emails you get from strangers asking for a link exchange are best ignored.

2. Do you publish new posts often enough?

People value frequently updated content and so does Google.

Think of it like this: If someone checks out your site today and reads a great post, then returns in a few days to find nothing new and 2 weeks later there’s still nothing new, they are unlikely to keep returning. Sites that offer frequently updated content and fresh information, remain on our radar because we discover something new on them, regularly.

According to Google, sites that are updated frequently are seen as being a better potential source of up to date information, than sites that are seldom changed. Whilst in reality this is not always the case, (some sites are frequently updated with crap), Google uses frequently updated content as a ranking signal.

So, if you are going to publish 4 posts next month, publish 1 a week, rather than 4 in a day and nothing new for another 30 days, and in my experience, you will see better results.

3. Are there too few links pointing to your blog?

There are a few things that all the top SEO guys agree on and this is one of them. The number of links pointing to your blog, especially from good quality sites, is the single biggest factor in your SEO effectiveness.

As far as Google is concerned, links act like votes. The more links or votes  you get, the higher your site will rank over those sites, with fewer links. Great, original content should attract links from people sharing and referencing your posts. If you are not getting a steady supply of links because your work is new, you may want to do some proactive link building. There are lots of ways to do this, from commenting on other great blogs to asking your contacts if they would like to link to your site as a resource for their readers.

The strategy I used here, was to do the best work I could and put it, where people could see it. I used social networking sites, which small business owners were using and thankfully enough of them liked my work to share it and link to it. This got the ball rolling and it has rolled along ever since. As Seth Godin says, if you put your art (work) where people can see it and it is good enough, they will share it.

4. Does your site load too slowly?

In 2010, Google announced that site load speed would be a factor in search engine ranking. This was done to encourage the use of clean code and discourage people from stuffing their sites full of plugins and other software, which slow sites down and damage the reader experience.

You can find out how Google scores your site loading speed by using their speed test tool. Just enter your full site address into the box and press the Analize button.

In addition, you can speed up your blog by ensuring it’s using a fast, premium WordPress blog theme. The only theme I use or endorse, is Headway. It’s fast and very SEO friendly. You can see how Headway works in this video (affiliate link.)

5. Do too few people share your blog on social networking sites?

Google is increasingly taking social sharing into account. It has become a useful way for them to determine content that is likely to be of interest to people using their search engine. So, make sure you share your blog posts with your friends on your social networks, to ensure your work gets the chance to be noticed.

As you may have heard, there is an increasingly common problem with the use of social networking shares as part of the Google search signal. Sadly, many high profile bloggers and social media figures, are regularly sharing low value links to their clients and cronies. This is resulting in a lot of junk getting a high number of reshares and ranking a lot higher than it would.

What would you add to this list?

If you look at these 5 basic points, you will notice that all of them can be achieved by using an SEO friendly blog theme and writing content that people want to read, share and link to. In fact, with Matt Cutts from Google recently announcing a crack down on what he called over SEO’d sites it makes more sense than ever to focus on building great content, which people will value and Google can find easily.

There are literally hundreds of signals that Google use, when ranking a site in it’s search results. What suggestions would you add to this list? I’d love to hear from you!

Photo: Danny Sullivan.

Are you building an exceptional customer experience?

It pays to make the experience of connecting with your business, as exceptional as you possibly can!

My wife and son visited The Tower of London this week and had such a wonderful time that they have been telling everyone. As a result, my wife’s friends and the couple of hundred people who connect with her on Facebook, have been given a very strong endorsement of where to take their kids, the next time they want a fun day out in London. A very high percentage of our friends, have children of similar age to us and are always looking for interesting things to do when the kids are off school, making this a valuable recommendation.

The value of building an exceptional customer experience

As a business owner, it makes sound commercial sense to invest your time, imagination, energy and money, in developing the best customer / client experience possible.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Those who receive a remarkable customer experience from their service providers, become the advocates who spread word of mouth recommendations throughout the marketplace.
  • They are also far less likely to move their custom to another provider. Happy people seldom jump ship.
  • In addition, they are far less likely to be fee sensitive. The reason there are restaurants that can successfully charge 20 times more than others, is because people are not paying them for the calories. They can get the calories from KFC for pennies. People are paying for the experience; great atmosphere, sumptuous food, incredible service etc.

An exceptional choice

As business owners, we each have a choice. We can do the minimum required to keep customers happy or look for ways to consistently do more than expected. You know from what you see out there, that despite what they say, the vast majority of providers go for the first option.

In other words, the ground is set for those of us committed to doing the exceptional.

10 Marketing questions to focus on if you want fast, measurable results!

Here are 10 small business marketing questions for you, based on ideas I have been working on with clients over the past week.

Take a look through the list and see if it helps you identify areas, where you could improve.

  1. How many of the people I follow on social networks do I really need to follow, and would unfollowing some allow me to have a more meaningful connection, with the people I really want to follow?
  2. As I am a service provider, why the heck am I copying the tactics from a blog that focuses primarily on how to sell software to bloggers?
  3. How can I improve my customer service enough, to attract 3, 5 or 10 times as many word of mouth referrals?
  4. Why do so few people share my blog posts or forward my newsletter to their friends?
  5. How can I ensure I am setting my prices or fees correctly, so I earn what I am worth, without putting prospective clients off?
  6. How can I quickly improve the effectiveness of my written marketing (or marketing copy), so that it generates far more high quality leads?
  7. What new markets could use my services, which I have not marketed to before?
  8. What elements of my blog need to be removed, added or moved, in order to increase the marketing effectiveness of the site?
  9. How can I increase the profitability of every sale I make, by a minimum of 15%?
  10. Which 5 people would I most like to add to my contacts list, and how can I earn access to them?
  11. How can I exceed people’s expectations?

As always, there are 2 options for you, if you have spotted areas where you know you need to improve. You can have a go yourself – DIY marketing is fine, so long as you have enough money and enough time, to learn what’s required in order to get the results you need. Alternatively, you can find someone who already has the answers you need and can guide you through exactly what to do.

Whichever route you take, I am happy to help – either through the free information here on the blog or via you and I working together on the development of your business.

Photo: Kirsty Hall

Seth Godin is still killing his blog, thankfully!

Last year, I wrote about how Seth Godin and I were ruining our blogs. According to the experts, we do it all wrong.

There are lots of expert guides to blogging, which suggest you need to do everything a certain way, in order for your blog to succeed. The problem with these guides is that the closer you follow them, the less visible you become. They tend to focus on the same dozen or so rules, which hundreds of thousands of other bloggers follow.

It’s hard to get noticed, when you are following a massive crowd like that.

Great news: Seth Godin is still killing his blog

I was reminded of the alternative to these ‘how to’ guides, when I read a wonderful post by Seth last week. Seth mentioned a post he saw, which listed 12 things that kill blogs – at least 7 of which should, apparently be killing his blog! If you don’t already know, Seth writes the largest single author blog on the Internet. It’s very alive!

Seth summed it up brilliantly in his post: ‘One way to work the system is to work the system. The other way is to refuse to work it.’

It’s all about choice

We can either become extremely good at following the rules and hope to out-perform the thousands of others using the same approach or we can refuse to work within those rules. It’s a matter of choice. Neither option comes with a guarantee, however, in my experience, it’s easier to stand out, by standing out.

Photo: lejoe

Live today!

As I write this, the UK is basking in wall to wall, spring sunshine. It has been like this for a week; not super hot, but warm enough to go out in a T-shirt. The trees, hedgerows and plants are all coming into leaf, there are blossoms everywhere. It looks wonderful.

business development, business model, time management

Enjoying the sun or waiting for the rain?

Some people have really enjoyed the week. They have lived in the now, each day. They have felt the sun on their faces – really experienced it.

Others have complained all week, that although the weather is unseasonably warm NOW, the forecast is for a colder weekend. These people have ignored the now, focussing instead on what may be ahead.

Although we need to plan ahead, we also need to enjoy today. Life is a journey, not a destination. Postponing our peace of mind until a week from now, every week, means we never actually get there.

Live today!

Photo: Audry

Success and decisions: The undeniable link!

I’d like to share with you, one of the best pieces of advice anyone ever gave me:

“If you want to make more progress in the next 7 days, than you have in the past year, start making those difficult choices that you know you need to make, but have been avoiding until now.”

We are all capable of making the easy choices, those which require just a little stretching. Because these decisions require marginal effort, they tend to lead to little, if any, meaningful progress. After all, we can’t grow without stretching.

Big decisions

The giant strides are made, when we dig down deep – when we make the decisions we have been ducking, because they are difficult. These are the BIG decisions that lead to lasting, quantum change. However, these major decisions almost always have a significant risk attached, which is why the vast majority of people avoid them. Very few things in business come with a 100% guarantee. One of the exceptions to this rule, is that we can guarantee that we will place a very low ceiling on our potential, if we avoid making difficult decisions.

When I recorded my extremely popular Motivation Master Class audio program, I interviewed a number of very elderly people, to ask them about the things in life they looked back on, with regret. I wanted to learn from their experience. It was extremely valuable. In every case, the things they regretted were the things they didn’t do. Their focus seems to have been on, ‘what if it fails?‘, so they did nothing. Then, as they looked back on their lives, they were left wondering ‘what if it had worked?’

In short: When we put off making the big decisions, we are feeding our need for short-term comfort, at the expense of our future happiness.

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