Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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How do people feel about your business?

I heard a guy in my local coffee shop explaining to a friend, why he bought himself an iPhone. “I needed cheering up, so I decided to treat myself to a new iPhone. I had to wait 3 days for the phone to arrive and to be honest, the wait was pretty exciting.”

That’s an example of someone using the purchase of a product, to improve how he was feeling. His feelings about Apple and the iPhone brand are extremely positive and he knew that he’d feel better if he ordered one.

Now, can you imagine someone feeling so strongly about the prospect of working with you, that even the process of waiting was exciting?

Marketing and feelings

Whether you are a service provider or a vendor of products, you need to be aware that feelings have a huge part to play, in the purchasing process. The relationships you forge with prospective clients at the pre sales stage, are extremely important. Equally, the way people feel about the idea of working with you (or buying from you) is a key factor in whether you earn their custom or not.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you demonstrate how passionate you are about helping your current clients, to your future clients? In other words, do your marketing, networking and social networking interactions suggest you love working with your clients, or are you one of those who finishes work every Friday, by posting ‘TGIF!’ all over Twitter and Facebook, because you can’t wait to get away from them?
  • Does your reputation showcase you as being friendly and approachable? The balance you are aiming for is professional and human. Business is all about people, so it’s essential to show your human side if you want people to feel good about the prospect of doing business with you.
  • Is there a feel good factor associated to working with you or buying your products? If not, you are losing more business than you can possibly imagine.
  • When people arrive at your website, does it look polished and professional or does it look like something that was done on the cheap? If the latter, you need to think about the image you are creating. If a prospective client sees a cheap looking website, it suggests the person behind that site either doesn’t care about presentation or is unable to pay for professional site. Both of these will hurt your business and lose you money.

Success leaves clues

Take time to think about the businesses, which YOU have strong, positive feelings about. Look at what they are doing, in order to earn that positive feeling from you and see what you can learn from them.

Photo: Ganmed64

Change: Love it or hate it but you can’t avoid it!

How do you feel about ‘change’?

Yesterday, Google released an all new look for it’s Google+ project and the reaction from users is exactly what we see, whenever any major change is made to any major project:

  • Some people embraced the change and quickly adapted their Google+ account to get the best from it. For instance, I changed my cover photo. If you’d like to connect with me on Google+, click here.
  • Some people were just happy to see Google continue to innovate, rather than allow the project to become stale.
  • Some people hated it (their words). They either hated the change because of the way it looked or the way it worked (the UI User Interface.)
  • Others just said they hated it and were leaving the service.

Every person has the right to express what they thought of the new Google+ design and some of that feedback will be acted on to make the Google+ experience better. You usually learn more about how to improve a product from so-called negative feedback, than you do from fans saying they love it.

Change is everywhere and constant

The thing is, we need to learn how to deal with change, because whether we like it or not, the world around us is in a constant state of flux. Everything changes all the time.

Not that long ago:

  • Google didn’t even exist.
  • Myspace was massively bigger than Facebook.
  • The global banking system was seen as reliable.
  • And until the launch of Apple’s iPad, the market for tablet devices was believed to be dead.

The set of your sail

In our businesses and our lives in general, it pays to keep an open mind regarding the changes around us. It has often been said that what determines our success and happiness is less about what life throws at us, but more how we respond. My mentor, Jim Rohn, used to say it was all about the way we set our sail and in my experience, Jim was right.

Your marketplace is changing. Your competitors are changing. The needs of your clients are changing too. If you want to remain relevant, let alone thrive, it’s better to adjust the set of your sail, than to hope that things just stay the same.

How to develop clear, compelling marketing that attracts high quality clients

Would you like more high quality clients and a predictable flow of targeted, valuable business leads?

Do you find you attract either too few leads or that prospective clients are too cost conscious?

If you just answered yes to either of those questions, you may find this post useful.

So, exactly who is your ideal client?

When I work with a new client, one of the first things we work on is to build a clear picture of exactly what their ideal client profile is and what these high quality prospects need to hear. This allows us to produce powerful, compelling marketing messages, which inspire the right people to take action. It also eliminates the kind of scrambling tactics you see every day, from small business owners who use all the latest online tools, with no idea why it’s failing to generate bankable results.

Here are just a few, very common signs that you need to make your marketing clearer and more relevant to the right people.

Vague networking: You will find yourself developing networks, with the wrong type of people. If you have hundreds or maybe thousands of ‘followers’ on social networking sites, yet you attract few clients, introductions or referrals from all those people, it’s likely you are connecting with the wrong people and missing the right ones.

Poorly targeted marketing messages: If your marketing is failing to generate enough sales or inquiries, it’s a sign that your marketing messages either lack clarity, are being seen by the wrong people or both. For a marketing message to work, you have to know exactly who you are writing for and what they need. Your marketing should offer a targeted message, to the right person, with a compelling reason to get in touch with you. When you do that, it works. This is why I focus on it so heavily with my clients. The results are immediate and measurable.

Attracting cost conscious or fee sensitive leads: If you find prospective clients are particularly cost conscious when you speak with them, it’s a sign that you are attracting the wrong people. Even if you offer exceptional value, by failing to target your ideal profile of client, you will find yourself regularly speaking to those looking for a bargain basement provider. Remember, one of the qualifications needed for someone to be your ideal prospective client, is the ability to pay you what you are worth!

The good news

If one or more of the above applies to you, there’s some good news. When you develop the right strategy, which eliminates all that fuzzy marketing, everything changes.

Get specific

You’re not going to find the strategy you need from any form of general information, such as books, blogs, seminars or courses. These are designed to be of general use to a wide number of people. Your unique situation, resources, marketplace, goals and even your approach to business ALL need to be taken into account, for this to work.

If more than one of those warning signs earlier related to you and your business, I strongly recommend you speak with a proven marketing professional. Start by asking your friends and business contacts if they know someone they can recommend to you – especially if they have worked directly with the person. Alternatively, if you find my work here useful and would like to find out about us working together, you’re very welcome to email me here. You may also find this useful. I’d be happy to share my most effective marketing strategies with you and show you exactly what you need to do.

Photo: second mouse

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

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