Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Look: Another misleading blog post title!

It just happened to me again! You know, where you see an interesting headline or blog post title, click the link, then find you have been fooled? You reach the post, only to find that it’s clearly not what the title promised.

blogging, copywriting, content marketingThat trick is used a lot, because it delivers short term results. However, there’s limited longevity in fooling people into clicking links. people are not stupid and the next time they see a headline from that blogger, they are far less likely to trust the link.

Headlines are promises

The headline of a blog post makes a promise. If the headline says “5 Powerful Time Management Tips”, we are expecting 5 great time management tips. If the content of that post then fails to deliver on that promise, we learn not to trust the next headline we see from them. They train us to ignore them.

I have regularly heard Internet marketing experts slam people like Seth Godin and Robert Scoble (and me) for writing post titles, which are not sensational every time. They suggest that we would get more traffic, if we made inflated promises with our post titles, rather than focus on titles that are compelling, yet make it easy for the reader to know exactly what the post is about. For me, and I am sure for Seth and Robert too, the trust of our readers is paramount.

Building trust

I reach thousands of people every day, using titles that people trust. That’s because people return to this blog, knowing that the content of my posts will deliver on the promise made in the title. If I over sold or made false claims in the titles, I would possibly attract more new readers, but they would only visit here one time. People really don’t appreciate being tricked.

We should write the best posts we can. We should write interesting, engaging titles too. It doesn’t matter which comes first. However, we must be aware that if the title is inaccurate, we will train people not to trust us. We have to deliver, if we want to earn the ongoing attention of our readers.

Photo: Maria Reyes-McDavis

How to turn your knowledge into power

You have hundreds, maybe thousands of followers and friends on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

You read just about every marketing and business development blog, worth reading.

You subscribe to some great newsletters and podcasts too.

You have a lifetime of experiences and lessons behind you.

The question is: Are you using these assets in order to create something uniquely valuable, or just consuming?

Passive consumers

The Internet is filled with passive consumers. These are the millions of people, who lap up the information, join the social networks and use the latest tools, but do nothing of any real value with it all.

We have to be smarter than that

An alternative approach to passive consumerism? Grab a pen and a pad and write down the 10 most valuable things you’ve learned from all that consumption. Then, go through the list and, one by one, do something proactive with each thing you have learned.

In an instant, that passive consumption is transformed into valuable research. The difference between the two is massive.

Photo: Orphan Jones

Is your marketing message too good to be true?

too good to be true

Here’s a quick marketing tip, for anyone setting their fees or prices at the low end of the spectrum.

It’s all about making offers, which sound too good to be true.

Too good to be true

There’s an old saying that assures us, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. As a result, when your prospective clients see an offer, which looks too good to be true, they are immediately on guard. They know that a great service at too low a price just doesn’t stack up. Great people don’t do cheap work – Cheap people don’t do great work.

So, the prospective client is left wondering what’s wrong with this picture.

  • Maybe the service is just poor quality and they are lying to me with their marketing?
  • Perhaps there are tons of hidden costs?

Whichever it is, when confronted with something that seems too good to be true, your prospective clients get super suspicious. Just like you and I do. This is why marketing at the low end of the fee scale, needs to focus more than ever on reassurance.

Open and honest pricing

A sure sign of amateur marketing, is when we see a small business owner offering something amazing, for what seems to be peanuts. Professionally marketed businesses at the low end of the fee scale, emphasis the value and lay it out in detail, so the prospective client gets to see exactly what is on offer for the money. Their fee structure or pricing is open and honest. They make great use of promises and guarantees, which reverse the risk attached to hiring a ‘bargain’ provider.

Don’t assume that marketing at the lower end of the fee scale is any easier than the high end. Be very aware that when people see a low fee, they become immediately suspicious.

What next?

Read this FREE, 3 part series on how to attract the best clients & the highest fees.

Photo: Cdsessum

Don’t let the critics stop you from standing out

I was 29 years old, when I finally figured out that you can’t keep all the critics happy, no matter what you do. This realisation, gave me the freedom to live and work, without fear. I was never the same again.

Critics

Some critics mean us well and genuinely give us their opinion, in an effort to help. Other critics, especially online, will simply want to attack us in order to satisfy a need they have, which they can’t fulfil in their offline world.

In either case, we can’t do anything of value or substance and keep them all happy.

Nor should we try to keep the critics happy!

Life is too precious for us to waste it, being less than we can be, just so we can be invisible to critics.

Yes, we need to listen to feedback. It may well offer us a valuable lesson. However, there’s a world of difference between monitoring feedback when we are taking action, and allowing fear of criticism to stop us from even getting started.

Photo: Banalities

What everybody ought to know about hard work

It’s pointless telling yourself to work harder, when you know you are already working as hard as you possibly can. A better approach, is to take a leaf from Apple Inc’s book and work different.

Too many hard working business owners work themselves into the ground, trying to get the results they need, from an ineffective strategy.

This then impacts their quality of life and often their health and relationships too.

If it isn’t working, do it differently.

It’s a wiser and more productive approach, than rowing your boat harder and harder, in the wrong direction.

What if it works?

If you want to quickly improve your results, this short post may well have the answer you need!

Many people have great ideas, but the fear of “what if it fails?”, stops them putting the idea into action. It becomes another opportunity, which never saw the light of day.

I suggest a different approach, an approach used by every successful businessperson I have ever worked with or studied!

So, what if it works?

Here’s a question for you to consider, the next time you have a great business idea:

What if it works – I mean REALLY works?

  • How would that improve the future of your business?
  • How would that increase your income and profits?
  • How would that improve the quality of life for you and your family?

It’s natural and important to weigh up the risks involved in any new opportunity. However, we mustn’t allow the fear of failure, to stop us from taking the decisions, which lead to meaningful progress. Very few (if any) legitimate opportunities in business, come with a guarantee. So, if you believe an idea has the potential to work, work on the idea. Do the research. Have the conversations. Get the advice and then, if it still looks viable, put it to work.

  • If it fails, you get the lesson from that failure, to invest in the next idea.
  • If it flies, you get the lesson from that success, to invest in the next idea.

Repeat this process often enough and the quality and quantity of your successes will set you on a path, which nothing can stop.

Photo: Roger Price

Seth Godin, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the next big thing

We can waste a lot of time, waiting for the next big thing to come along and change our future.

What we know about our future

We each have 24 hours to invest every day. By learning the lessons from our past and investing in intelligent activity daily, we can create an increasingly bright future.

The problem with waiting for the next big thing to come along, is that we don’t know how long we will be left waiting or even if we will recognise it when it happens. As we all know, very few people can spot the next big thing, even when it’s right under their nose.

Seth Godin & Kentucky Fried Chicken

KFC founder, Colonel Sanders, offered his special recipe and business proposition to over 1,000 savvy businesspeople, before one actually spotted it for what it was. In this video from Seth Godin, the world’s most successful marketing author shares how he was rejected 900 times, with 30 different book proposals, before one publisher was able to spot Seth’s potential as the next big thing in business publishing.

It’s wise to have an eye on the future, in fact, I believe it’s essential. However, we need to learn the difference between waiting for something to happen and making something happen.

Photo.

Avoid these 4 common blogging errors and watch your results quickly improve

When business bloggers come to me for advice on how to make their blog more valuable, there are 4 tips I seem to give more than any others. Here they are, for those of you who want their blog to deliver better results. I hope you find them useful.

Get readable

No matter how valuable your content is, it will fail to achieve anything like it’s full potential, if it’s too hard for people to read. The 2 most common readability issues I see, are font size and column width.

Many sites use very small font sizes, which are just too small to be easily read. This is a fast way to lose readers, needlessly. There’s nothing to gain from using tiny fonts, which are almost impossible to read on anything smaller than a 22 inch monitor. The reason every popular website uses a readable font size, is they know the importance of having the main content comfortable to read on smaller screens.

For reference, this blog uses a Arial as my font, set at 16px.

Similarly, studies have shown that people find it a lot easier to read narrower columns of content, than wide columns. Many popular child themes fail to take this into account, which is why there are so many W–I–D–E column layouts out there.

In my own testing, I discovered that once I go beyond 95 characters across (including spaces) in a blog post, fewer people read through the whole page. Many people say you should stick below 75 characters, but using a large clear font, as I do, you should be perfectly fine up to around the 95 character mark.

If your current child theme doesn’t make it easy for you to reduce the content column width, either learn how to code it, pay someone to code it or use the theme I use here, which gives you 100% control over fonts and columns with the click of a mouse. It’s called Headway and that is NOT an affiliate link – It’s just an amazing piece of software that gives you the control you need, over your blog.

Have a call to action at the bottom of your content

If someone has just read all the way down to the bottom of a page or post, it’s because they were interested in the content. It engaged them. It earned their attention and their time. You now have an interested person, whose eyes are right at the bottom of your post.

THAT is the point where you should ask them to take action!

I use that approach here and it works extremely well, generating leads and inquiries all day, every day. Just remember to keep the call to action short and link directly to the conversion page. This may be a page that sells your products or services. It could be a newsletter sign-up page or maybe a link to subscribe to your blog via RSS. You decide what you want your readers to do, then put that call to action right where interested eyes will see it.

Don’t write anything just to publish something

This one goes against the traditional idea that you MUST publish something every day, even on days where you have nothing worth sharing. Despite what many people think, I don’t publish posts here every day. I usually publish 4 or 5 times a week on this blog, only very occasionally 7 times a week.

I use no blogging schedule other than this: If I have something useful to share here, I publish it. Useful is the key word.

I do recommend you publish at least once a week on a business blog(twice is better), if you want your blog to remain on your reader’s radar. However, there are no prizes for publishing anything, just so you can publish something. If you have something useful to say, share it. If you can’t find anything useful to say at least once a week, spend more time listening to the needs and opportunities of your marketplace and write about that. Keep informed of the latest news and trends affecting your marketplace, and write about that.

NOTE: This article has some great tips on how to write useful content.

Make your work easy to share

The content on Jim’s Marketing Blog is easy for people to share. There is a small Twitter and Google+ button at the top and bottom of each post. These are easily the most powerful drivers of share traffic here, so they get prominence. At the bottom of each post, I use the oddly named Twitter, Facebook social share plugin – which actually gives access to Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ too. I also recommend sharethis, which gives easy access to over 30 different sharing platforms and allows you to make your preferred ones more prominent (see below).

I have tested a ‘floating share button’, which attaches itself to the side of the screen and follows the page, so your share icons are always in the reader’s view. This was very effective, for those who could see it. The challenge was that many people told me that they couldn’t see it. It wasn’t visible on many tablet devices or any phone I tested it on. It was also invisible on some smaller resolution netbooks. There may be a way around this visibility issue, which you might like to share with a comment.

If you do use this type of sharing system on your site, I suggest also adding a traditional sharethis or addthis set of icons to the foot of your posts, though this can look a little like overkill.

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