Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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The last word?

blogging, copywriting, content marketing

Photo: Maria Reyes-McDavis

When it comes to a conversation, the last word is way too important to some people.

The thing is, the last word is really just that: The last word.

  • It’s not the most valuable word.
  • It’s not the right word.
  • It isn’t even the most interesting word.
  • It’s simply the final comment in an exchange.

The willingness to listen to the other person and then make your point, allowing them to have the last word, is a sign of confidence and professionalism.  In my experience, once the dialogue has run it’s course and you have given your best opinion, you can weaken not only your point, but also your reputation, by insisting on the last word.

The last word on winning

Whilst there are a number of reasons why a particular person may insist on having the last word, commonly we find online (on blogs and in forums) that there’s a belief that by doing so, they they have somehow “won.”  They assume that their point is magically victorious, simply because it was made last, without response.

The reality is that each person reading a thread of comments, decides who they agree with, based on how well a point was made or whether a point was based on something they believe in – Not on the chronological order of the points.  After all, we often see people having the last word, purely because their comment was seen as irrelevant, off topic or an attempt to self-promote.

The secret behind the best paid, most valued people in your industry!

Today’s post is about the secret behind the best paid, most valued people in your industry.  It will show you how they attract the highest fees and work with the best clients.

I want to start though, with a plea:

Service providers: If you want to consistently produce great work, which will help you build a top flight reputation, get the information you need from the client and do what you are best at.

Clients: If you want to get the best results, hire the best service provider you can.  Then, get out of their way.

Clients: Get out the way

I once knew a restaurant, where the food was terrible.  Every 4 or 5 months, the food improved, then it dipped below par again after a couple of weeks.

What happened, was the guy who owned the restaurant would hire a chef because he liked the chef’s cooking, then he would slowly show the chef how to cook things the way HE wanted.  Because the restaurant owner was a poor cook, the quality of the food dropped like a stone, customers complained, so he would hire a new chef and the cycle would repeat itself.  He hired people who could create amazing food, then clipped their wings.

  • If you hire a designer, give them the input they need, then let them go and create something amazing.  Don’t tell them what to design, just give them their brief.
  • If you hire a copywriter, give them the input they need, then let them turn words into gold dust.  Don’t put words into their copy, which will ruin the flow.

Service Providers:  Do what you do best

I was once asked for help, by a web designer, who was struggling to attract new clients.  She received almost no word of mouth referrals, no repeat business and she had no portfolio on her website.  I was curious why, when she was clearly a really good designer.  She explained that “she let clients walk all over her,” so what would happen is she would get the requirements from the client for their site, build something amazing, then allow the client to tweak it and tweak it and tweak it, until it looked like crap.

One of the sites she showed me, looked incredible.  She then showed me the version of that site, which the client ended up with and it was shockingly bad.  “What do you do, the client is always right, right?”  It’s little wonder she got no referrals allowing work like that to go out the door, with her name on it!

The secret?

The best service providers work with their clients to create something amazing, which the client loves and values accordingly.  They work with people, who appreciate their expertise and give them the creative freedom they need.  As a result, they create amazing work, which attracts admiration, creates word of mouth and opens doors to other wonderful projects.  How do I know?  Because that is how every service provider at the top of their game works.

I had dinner last week with a friend, who is a web designer.  She currently has a 7 month waiting list and charges 5 times more, than the average in her industry.  Why?  Because everything she creates looks amazing and her clients love her.  She gets masses of repeat business and her clients are her sales force.  Her portfolio looks amazing too and all this is reflected in her fees and the clients who queue up to work with her.  She selects her clients wisely and works with them to create something that she is proud of and they are crazy about.

Her secret was to do work that mattered, rather than work that would pay her in 30 days.  Seth Godin gave almost the same answer, when asked about the secret of his success.  In fact, it’s the cornerstone of my own success and the work I do with my clients.

Photo: Marcin Wichary

Stop marketing to yourself

One of the keys to building a great client list, is to embrace the following 2 points.

  1. There is more than one opinion:  You may believe you are right, but you have to believe that there is more than one way to look at things.
  2. There is more than one truth:  It may be true to you that cheesecake is delicious, but it is equally true to another person, that it tastes disgusting.

It can be tempting to assume that our own perspectives, are the only valid ones.  Now, if you are marketing exclusively to people, who are just like you, you may get away with that kind of narrow assumption.  But very few accountants will work only for other accountants, few lawyers will represent only lawyers and just as few fitness instructors will only train fellow fitness instructors.

Respect is essential

If we want to attract clients from outside our own industry, social class, age range or personality type, we need to embrace the right for others to be different AND respect their differences.  We don’t have to agree with everything our prospective clients think or inherit their beliefs, but it’s important to respect their right to be different.

In fact, if you want to build a valuable, diverse client list of great people, I believe it’s essential.

Of course, you don’t need to agree with that.

Photo: David Spinks

What everyone ought to know about Tribute Acts

Most of the world’s top rock bands have their work copied by tribute acts.  These people try and dress like the original band, look like the original band and sound like the original band.

But it’s never the same.  This is because we place little value on people, who simply copy the work of others.

What we do value, is originality and leadership.  This requires thought and courage, which is why most businesses take the cheap route and end up looking similar to everyone else in their profession.

In short

Your marketplace is full of tribute acts.  If you are brave enough to be yourself, you become more visible, rarer and can massively increase your market value.  So, learn how to embrace your inner freak!

Photo: Shht!

Thank you!

The American Thanksgiving holiday always acts as inspiration for me, to think about the people I am thankful for.

Here are some of the people from my commercial life, who I am extremely thankful for, in no particular order:

The people who read this blog and have left over 20,000 comments

OK, I know I said in no particular order, but YOU are the exception!  If you are one of the people who reads the blog and comments here, I’d like to thank you.  It takes time and often courage, to comment on a blog knowing thousands of people will see what you have written.

Many of the comments here are better than the actual post, which inspired the comment and as such, you have massively improved the value of this site for everyone.  When I shifted to blogging, from newsletter writing, I did it because I wanted to get regular feedback from real people.  I had no idea how valuable that feedback would be, or how much I would learn from you.  THANK YOU!

Nile Rodgers

I was a fan of Nile’s work for 30 years, before I had the chance to get to know him and meet him.  Nile is the most inspirational person I know, not only through his achievements with; Chic, Madonna, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, INXS etc, but also his strength in working through his 2010 cancer diagnosis.

Nile is someone, who I continue to learn from every day.  I’m proud to be able to call him a friend and look forward to working with him for many years to come.

Lance Ulanoff: Editor in Chief Mashable

I once wrote a technology blog, which covered not only tech news, but news on the people in the tech news industry.  Lance consistently demonstrated not only a passion for technology, but a total commitment to fairness.  You may of may not agree with what Lance says, but it is always what he truly believes.  Lance’s move to Editor in Chief with Mashable this year, was proof to me that nice guys can win.

Grant & Clay Griffiths from Headway Themes

Grant and Clay are friends, clients and the people who built the software I use, to design every site and blog I develop; Headway.  I’m thankful for their friendship, their software and even Grant’s terrible jokes.

The team at Google+

For developing a social network, which has allowed me to build a network of over eight thousand people in just 12 weeks.  Google+ has been an enormously valuable resource for me and allowed me to discover some fantastic people and resources.  You can join me on Google+ here.

Yael Rozencwajg from Yopps.com

For sharing her stories, struggles and victories with me and consistently inspiring me with her comments, tweets and conversation.

Robert Scoble

For showing me the kind of impact that one, hard working guy can have, on a huge industry.  Robert was also the only established blogger to respond to me when I was starting out as a blogger and looking for help.


What everybody ought to know about choices

It’s often easy to spot why people are not doing as well as they would like.  All you need to do is examine the choices they make.  They tend to major in minor things; to spend major time on minor activities.

The choices people make

If you know someone who isn’t getting the results they want, here are some questions you may like to share with them, to help them:

  • How many hours have you spent watching TV this month – Compared to the number of hours you spent reading something educational or inspirational?
  • How many hours have you spent exercising this month – Compared to the number of hours you spent motionless?
  • How many hours have you spent writing content for your own blog – Compared to the number of hours you spent sharing your thoughts on other people’s sites, like Facebook or Twitter?
  • How many hours have you spent worrying about the future – Compared to the number of hours you spent making plans, so you can live by design, rather than by chance?
  • How many hours have you spent curating (sharing other people’s ideas) – Compared to the number of hours you spent developing and sharing your own ideas?

Choices and balance

If we spend major time on minor things, our life will reflect it.  If Bob could recognize the contestants of the latest reality TV show, but walk past the key people in his marketplace without knowing it, that’s going to cost him.  If Barbara puts content into Facebook every day, but her business blog hasn’t been updated in weeks, that’s going to cost her.

Equally, we need to get the balance right too.  If Bob eats doughnuts every day and eats fruit just once a month, he will look and feel very different, than if he eats fruit each day and a doughnut once a month.  If Barbara spends 95% of the time worrying about problems and 5% of the time working on answers, her results will be very different, than if she spends 5% focusing on her problem and 95% working on a great answer.

There is room for most things in life, so long as we make the right choices and get the balance correct, for whatever we want to achieve.

Should bloggers delete comments that disagree with them?

I was prompted to write this post, after 2 people recently thanked me for publishing their blog comments. They assumed that as their comments disagreed with me, they would be deleted. I am hearing this more and more often, hence the reason I want to bring this out into the open.

Here’s the problem: It seems some well-known blogs refuse to publish comments, if they take an opposing view to the points made in the blog post. Unless a comment is neutral, complimentary or has an argument that can be easily shot down in flames, it’s banned from being published.

Removing critical blog comments

What amazed me, was that in each case these people say they had left comments that were not offensive, but were removed simply because they made a solid argument that was opposed to the view, expressed by the blogger. In my opinion, it shows a total lack of respect (and self-confidence) on the part of the blogger, if they refuse to allow anyone to disagree with them! I believe the blogger also loses a useful learning opportunity, as banning such comments eliminates the opportunity to scrutinize their point more thoroughly.

Note: Here’s how Mark Zuckerberg used criticism, to improve Facebook.

One of the benefits of a blog is that it is designed for communication, rather than broadcasting. Communication needs to be 2 way or multi-way, which means giving people the right to question you, as well as compliment you or agree. Blog comments allow that to happen, if we let them.

Blog comment policy

Now, I do have a commenting policy on this blog, which is designed to eliminate comment spam and stop people from using this site as a platform for abusing others. You can read it here and you are also very welcome to copy it and use it on your own blog too. However, I warmly welcome you to contribute to anything I write here, if you have something you want to share. That includes expressing a different point of view to mine (so long as we agree my point is always right, of course! ;) )

Yes, your blog is your own property and you can do whatever you want to with it. However, when you decide to ban people from expressing a different point of view from your own, the word soon gets around. Bloggers don’t need a reputation like that!

Give a developer a hug!

I wrote a post a while ago, where I asked readers to hug a blogger.  The idea behind the post, was to encourage people to support the bloggers, whose work you enjoy (other then me); either by sharing their awesomeness with your friends, dropping them a note or, if they have a book or product for sale, consider buying it.

Today, I would like to ask you to hug a developer!

If you use a smart phone or write a blog, you will be using apps and  / or plugins.  Some of these are “free”, with an option to donate or buy a fuller featured version.  These developers invest their time, to make our lives easier or more fun.  They deserve our recognition; especially if we would like to see them continue to contribute their time and ideas, to make our world a little better.

If you are in a position financially, to donate to your favourite developers, please do.  If you are short on money right now, consider supporting them by sharing a link to their work among your friends.


However, do not do what Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer does in the video below.  That’s a little too much! (If you can’t see the video, click here.)

It’s not a good look, either! ;)

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