Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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How to make your business more human and more profitable

One of the best ways to develop a successful and sustainable business, is to develop deep, rewarding relationships with your customers or clients.

A very common complaint people have, is that vendors often work hard to encourage them to become customers, but then become less interested in talking to them, once they have ‘converted’ them. This approach is myopic. It fails the customer and fails the vendor. It leaves the customer feeling unappreciated and leaves the vendor missing opportunities to strengthen her relationship with her customer. It’s also totally unnecessary!

The temptation to distance ourselves

With so many pulls on our time, it’s easier and faster to email someone when we have a message for them or we need some information from them. However, if we’re not careful, we can substitute too many of the human elements of our business for ‘efficient‘ alternatives. We can become a regular name in their inbox, whilst being a rare voice on their phone line.

So here’s a thought: What if you were to decide that from time to time, one of those emails would be replaced with a phone call or face to face conversation? What if you factored some conversation time into your working week, even if it’s just a catch-up call? (Especially if it’s just a catch-up call!)

Time is money

Yes, time is money, but investing your time building relationships with your clients is a sound investment.There will be days where you are just too busy to make one of these calls, but on the days where you can factor in 20 minutes of your time, in my experience, it’s a very good investment.

Here’s why:

  • It may simply make your clients feel more valued and less inclined to change providers, when your competitors target them with a great offer.
  • It could also allow you to identify ways to be of greater service to them, increasing your value to them and their value to you.
  • It might even be the encouragement they need, to feel confident enough about the way you look after customers, to refer you to their friends.

In most cases, you will enjoy ALL of the above when you embrace the human side of your business.

Photo: Mark Heybo

Making your own luck

The man who lives next door to me is about to become extremely lucky.

Next month, tourists on ‘walking holidays’ start arriving in the village where we live and on most days, at least one of them will tell John how lucky he is, to have such a beautiful garden. He generally just thanks them and smiles, as they admire and sometimes take photos, of the wonderful landscape he created.

Planting his own luck?

Of course, the key factor behind that stunning garden is all the planning and work John put in each day. When the tourists arrive, they won’t know how he protected his plants against the snow and ice or how he worked day after day, redesigning the layout of the garden. They won’t see him each morning, pulling out the weeds. They just see the end result and think how lucky he is, when in reality, luck had nothing to do with it.

The seasons and soil were the same for John as for everyone else. It’s what he did with them, which made all the difference.

Lucky in business?

Just as my neighbour had to work with the same soil and weather as everyone else in our village, so our businesses have to compete in the same fragile economy. Some businesses today are booming, whilst other struggle, even though they face similar challenges. Here’s what we know about the cause of these very different results – it has nothing to do with luck.

So, what planning are you doing right now, to ensure you get lucky and thrive, whilst most small businesses flounder? It’s the decisions you start making today, backed up with the work required, which will determine your results.

Not luck.

Not wishful thinking.

Not best intentions.

A sound plan, worked on methodically is the key to navigating your way from where you are to where you want to be.

Klout experiment update!

It’s a week since I started my Klout experiment and I thought I would give you a very quick update.

My Klout ‘influence’ numbers

  • klout, influenceWhen I set up my Klout account 7 days ago, my initial score was 10.
  • Then, after 3 days the score jumped to 60. Apparently, it takes around 48/72 hours for all your signals to reach Klout and contribute to your score.
  • Now, 4 days later my Klout score is 62.

My feelings, 7 days after setting up and monitoring my account, are mixed.

Klout: The good and the bad

I was impressed that Klout was able to quickly identify that I had a larger than average social network. Following my initial post, one of my readers, Mike Masin, decided to resurrect his Klout account to see how his experience differed from mine. Mike explained that he had a much smaller network than mine and that it would be interesting to compare the way Klout scores us. At the time of writing this, Mike’s Klout score is 28.

Sadly, there are 2 significant downsides to Klout, which become very apparent, very quickly:

  1. It’s extremely easy for anyone with enough spare time, to boost their score so that it seems they have influence. The whole point of Klout is to provide a way to identify people who have influence. Your score is, supposedly, an influence score – how influential you are on a scale of 1 to 100. I have seen people with scores in the high 70’s, who simply spend hours every day, playing around with social media. As a result, the number of signals they produce are huge (retweets, likes, +1’s etc), simply because they pump so much content into their social networks. They may only get a tiny number of retweets, likes and +1’s per share, but they share so much, that it totally fools Klout.
  2. Klout’s software seems incapable of understanding that there are days or weeks, where people are too busy to use social media regularly. When this happens, the person’s Klout score drops like a stone, because the software doesn’t detect as many of those all-important social media signals. In other words, when you are most in demand, you are scored as least influential!

My thoughts after a week

A week into my experiment, I believe Klout has some serious flaws, which it will need to fix quickly if it wants people to take it seriously.

Most importantly, it needs to figure out how to tell the difference between people with influence (and busy work schedules), and those with nothing to do all day but chat to buddies on social networks. Currently, the latter group often rank far higher than the former!

Criticism is always personal

critics, feedback

How do you deal with it, when someone says something negative about you or your work?

I was thinking about this recently, when I saw someone reacting to some very negative comments on her blog. The blogger was clearly frustrated and angry, judging by the way she reacted. At one point, someone told her to stop taking the comments to heart.

That’s pretty good advice, but it’s just not as easy as that, right? When you are working hard and are passionate about your work, then someone slams it, it’s damn hard not to take it personally!

So, what do we do?

Understand that it’s about them, not about you!

One of the most powerful breakthroughs in my life, came when I figured out that negative feedback from people was personal – but personal to THEM and not ME! They say what they say, driven by their reasons or their motives. They are feeding a need they have. They react based on their views, biases and agendas, not yours.

Sometimes, the negative feedback you receive will be intended to help you identify something, which you need to improve. Other times, feedback will be intended to hurt you. In both cases, it will be feeding a need that the other person has.

Clearly, you can not control what people decide they want to say. However, you can decide how you choose to respond!

Photo: erokism

Let’s market your business!

Have you been thinking about joining my marketing program; where I work with you for a whole year, helping you to grow your business and boost your profits?

Well, if you have, I’ve some VERY good news for you.

There is a position available for you in just 4 WEEKS!

You can find out more here, along with how to get in touch. These places are extremely rare and offer you a great opportunity to work with me, on the marketing and development of your business. It’s your chance to find out exactly what you need to do, in order to turn your hard work into bankable results. It’s an opportunity to move forward with clarity, knowing you are doing the right things, correctly.

If you are interested and would like to know more, I recommend you get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. You can email me here.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Attract more word of mouth referrals with this simple marketing tip!

If you would like to attract more word of mouth referrals, this post is JUST for you!

I’m going to start with a question:

How easy is it for your clients or customers, to spread the word about how amazing your service is, to the right people AND with the correct message?

Word of mouth: When your salespeople are not your salespeople

Many small businesses invest in their marketing, yet have no dedicated salespeople, other than maybe the woman who owns the business. So, her sales force then becomes her clients and her advocates, (advocates are those who actively spread the word about you and your business.)

Now, if this business owner had some salespeople, they would all have been told exactly what type of prospective client they should focus on AND what the key sales message is. This way, the salespeople would be speaking with the right people and saying the correct things.

Word of mouth needs clarity and focus

If you would like to attract more high quality business leads from your clients and advocates, spend a little time explaining the type of prospective clients you want to attract and what they should say. If they don’t know who to speak to or what to say, you make it extremely hard for them to spread the word in a meaningful way. So, cover it in your newsletter. Write about it on your blog. Mention it the next time you speak with the clients and advocates, who you have a great rapport with.

Also, remember to keep it simple. Usually, you are just helping them identify the right type of people and explaining that all they need to do, is ask them to call you. That’s all you need.

Whatever you do, do not be pushy! Just make sure there is information out there, which people can use when recommending you, so they are not wasting their time.

Photo: Coolio-Claire

Massively boost your sales and profits by focusing on these 2 things!

boost sales, more profits, bigger profits

If you want to increase your sales, revenues AND profits, you will love this post. It shows 2 areas of your business you need to focus on and provides a link to dozens of practical ideas you can use.

1. You need to focus on increasing the value of your work

We live in an age where someone can go to Google and in a few minutes, find providers in your industry, claiming to offer what you offer, for less money. You don’t want to have to compete by being cheapest, so the alternative is to focus on value.

If you pump enough value into what you do and lift your service is head and shoulders above the average providers in your industry, you are no longer competing with them. Prices or fees are no longer the same factor they were.

For example, the most expensive restaurant in your city isn’t competing with the local fast food joints on price. The reason people will pay hundreds for a meal in a top restaurant, is that they are not paying for the calories. They can buy the calories at Burger King for pennies! They are paying for the experience. They are paying for the value.

The answer? I suggest you stop doing what 99% of your competitors do. Instead, be different. Not different just for the sake of it, but different because you are offering a uniquely valuable experience. The starting point for me and many others I know, came when we stopped doing work that paid and started doing work that mattered.

2. You need to focus on marketing your value

You don’t want your business to be the best kept secret in town. For your business to succeed, you need your marketing to attract the attention of the right people and show them just how great you are.

Earning people’s attention is harder today than ever before, because your prospective clients have never had so much information to navigate through every day. Your marketing is trying to get noticed, in a non-stop deluge of messages. Your prospective clients are being bombarded with everything from radio / TV commercials, email marketing, text messages and social media updates, to direct mail, websites, cold callers and newspaper ads. It’s non-stop and somehow, you need to get noticed.

The answer? If you are serious about getting your message heard above all those other people trying to do the same, you need to be significantly better then they are, at earning the attention of your marketplace. Some of those guys are very good, others are good and others are just very noisy. A great place to start, is to understand that the more you pester people, the less likely it is that they will listen to you. People hate being pestered or pursued.

Small business marketing 2012 style

The kind of marketing you need, is marketing that earns people’s attention and then earns their consideration. This blog post is a great example. You are reading this now, because you either subscribe to the blog or visited the blog and read it. Below this free information, there’s a short note letting people know that if they want me to show them how to get great marketing results, they just need to get in touch. This week, around a hundred thousand people will see that message below my posts, without me needing to pay for ads, attend networking events or pester anyone.

Some free help

I’ve just updated my Top Marketing Tips. It’s now a few thousand words long and contains dozens of practical ideas, tips and suggestions, to help you massively improve your marketing.

Of course, if you’d like me to work with you and show you exactly what you need to do, read the message below.

Photo: Slightly Everything

Klout: Has the service improved?

Klout, the controversial service that claims to be able to measure our influence, say that their algorithm has become more accurate, since I ditched the service last year. Like many users, I was amazed how inaccurate Klout scores were and asked for my account to be deleted.

klout, influenceToday, there are well qualified people being refused jobs because their Klout score is too low. That’s how highly some people regard a persons Klout score. It’s also claimed in Wired Magazine that some airlines are offering free upgrades to Klout users with high scores and restaurants are offering better service.

I needed to know if these Klout-based decisions stack up now or of Klout is still as unreliable and easy to fool as it was when I last used it.

So, I had an idea…

I decided to set up a Klout account today, to see what my Klout score will be by simply connecting it to my active social networking accounts and using them as normal – Rather than playing the Klout game.

In other words, I want to find out what Klout score I will get, with me refusing to use Twitter, Google+ and Facebook the way Klout suggest users should, which is pretty much to use social networks non-stop, never stray off-topic and to tweet about Klout every time their pop-up boxes tell me to!

My Klout score on day one of the experiment is (drum roll please) 10 out of 100!

Klout V Clout

A common belief is that Klout is easily fooled into giving influential status, to people who have no real world clout or influence, so long as they spend huge amounts of time doing what Klout says is important. This is why we see kids and long term unemployed people, who play with social networks all day, with a higher Klout score than self made millionaires and business leaders. I want to know if this is still true or if the boffins at Klout have managed to tweak their service, so that it now knows the difference between someone with zero influence who RT’s links non-stop on Twitter and someone with real influence. I recall a year or so ago that Bill Gates had a lower Klout score, than the unemployed son of a friend of mine!

I have no idea how Klout will score me over the coming months. For those of you who don’t know me, here are some of my influence metrics, so you can get a handle on how they might score me:

  • This blog was mentioned in The Guardian newspaper recently, for being the most influential marketing blog in the UK and the second most influential UK blog.
  • My work is read by over 100,000 people a week (often a lot more).
  • My Google+ account is in the top 1%, with over 13,100 people circling me.
  • My Twitter account has around 6,500 followers, including Robert Scoble, Mitch Joel, Brand Republic and the Editor in Chief of Mashable, Lance Ulanoff. (Apparently, Klout takes the influence of those who follow us into account.)

I will keep you updated regarding my progress. It will certainly be interesting to see how Klout decide to score me; as someone with some real world influence, who isn’t trying to game their algorithm!

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