Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Are you playing hard to get OR playing to win?

I have a valuable question for you today: Are you playing hard to get with your prospective clients?

No, I’m not talking about hard to get in the same way you did when you were a kid with a crush on someone.  I’m talking about making it hard for the marketplace to ‘get’ what you and your business is all about.

Clarity works

One of the oldest sayings in marketing is; a confused mind always says, “no!”

The logic behind this is sound.  It tells us that when we ask someone to make a purchasing decision, if they are confused about what the offer is, they will opt to stay as they are and maintain the status quo.  Clarity has the opposite effect.  Clarity makes decisions easier and when combined with a powerful marketing message, can massively increase the quantity and quality of your sales leads, as well as sales.

Service providers:  Make it easy for people to see why they need to hire you, rather than hire one of your competitors or hire no one.  Strip all the unnecessary fluff from your marketing copywriting.  Cut to the chase.  Make every word count.  Incidentally, I write another blog, which is exclusively for service providers and contains lots of useful, free ideas!

Product providers:  Make it easy for people to see what the direct benefit to them is, of using your product rather than buying an alternative or buying nothing.  As with the service providers, remove the surplus from your marketing messages and focus on what’s in it for them.

In short: A confused mind always says, no.  So, look through your marketing and ensure that there’s nothing, which is likely to lead to unnecessary confusion.  This one step can have a huge, positive impact on the success of your marketing and the development of your business.

photo: Dano

Why your blog comments don’t get published!

Ever wonder why you sometimes leave comments on blogs, but find they are not published?

Well, in today’s post I’m going to share some common reasons why comments are rejected AND share some ideas on how you can get your comments published more often.

Words count

Very short comments are often caught in spam filters or get manually deleted by bloggers.  The reason?  Commenting with just a handful of words is a common tactic used by comment spammers.  They will leave thousands of cut-n-paste comments on sites, like; “great post!” or “Just bookmarked this!” – Comments which could apply to any post on any subject at any time.  As a result, genuine short comments can get deleted by accident.

Why do spammers do this?  They do this, usually just to get backlinks for their site or client’s sites.  Each backlink is seen by Google similarly to a vote.  The more backlinks a site has, the more votes it gets and theoretically, the higher that site will rank in Google’s search results.  Comment spammers place these links into comments and then use software to attack thousands of sites; trying as many sites as they can, that have no spam protection.  Sites with no protection are flagged as weak and their URL distributed, meaning they get more and more spam!

Today, with tools on most blogs, such as the Facebook ‘like’ button or the Google+ 1 button, it’s easy to genuinely let the blogger know you like their post, without a 3 word comment.

Are you blacklisted?

If your comments are regularly not published, it’s worth finding out if you have been blacklisted (DNSBL’d).  Check your ip address.  Sometimes, a person using the same ip address range as you has been sending spam and been blacklisted.  This can result in you and everyone within that ip address range, being blacklisted too.

You can check your ip address for blacklisting on sites like this.  Alternatively, just search for “ip address blacklist” on your search engine of choice and try a few more.  If you notice your ip address on one or more blacklists, contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and let them know.  Then, contact the people blacklisting you and ask for reconsideration.  Some are better than others at managing their blacklists, so YMMV, (your mileage may vary)

Using SEO keywords rather than your name

When filling out the form before you leave a comment, enter your name into the name box and not a series of SEO keywords.  Some sites are fine publishing comments from someone calling themselves ‘cheap web design in Lincoln!” but others are not.  If you just have to insert keywords, I recommend you avoid keywords in that name section, which are commonly used by spammers.  These include; free, offer, save, webinar etc.

An ‘effin fast way to get your comment deleted

Avoid cussing or swearing.  Many blogs are set-up to send comments with bad language direct to the spam filter.  Others, like techcrunch, almost seem to encourage it.  If you want your comments published more often, match your commenting style to the particular blog.

Sell by dates

You may be commenting on a post that has had commenting disabled.  Many blogs disable commenting on posts, which are over a year old.  There are 2 reasons for this:

  1. Firstly, because people often fail to read the date on a post, you get comments on old posts saying things like; “HEY idiot, Facebook has 800 million users, not 100 million users like you wrongly state in your post!”
  2. Secondly, older posts tend to have high page rank and are targeted heavily by spammers.  Last year, I turned comments off the posts here, which are 12 months old or more, and saw an immediate 40% drop in spam.

Too many links?

Don’t put links into your comment unless you really need to and then, try and limit the number.  Putting links into the text of comments is a common ploy used by comment spammers, so many people configure their blog to either moderate or spam, comments containing links.

Additionally, some bloggers do not like people leaving any links in their comments, because they believe these links will cause their readers to click away from their blog.  This may seem as odd to you as it does to me, but it’s true.

Their home.  Their rules

If the blog has a commenting policy, check that you are not violating it.  I have a policy here, which is designed to stop people abusing my commenters and reduce the amount of spam I receive.  It works extremely well and you are very welcome to copy it and use it on your site.  You can read it here.

Many people who comment on blogs believe they have the right to say anything, no matter what the legal ramifications are or how racist, sexist or simply offensive their comments are, on any blog they wish.  The reality is that just as every person is different, every blogger has a different threshold regarding what he or she thinks is OK to publish.  In short: When we visit someone’s blog, we stand a better chance of seeing our comment published, if we play by their house rules.

Some people hate being wrong

Some bloggers hate to be proven wrong and will delete your comment, if it shows they were incorrect.  A commenter here recently shared a comment with me, which an a-list blog refused to publish, simply because she spotted a genuine flaw in the point made in the post.  Other bloggers delete comments, that disagree with them.  In my opinion that’s a bad idea, but it’s their site and their rules.

Summing up

Unless there’s a technical glitch, there are only 2 things that will stop your comment getting published on a blog:

  1. It gets filtered automatically, because software has identified the content or sender as a threat.
  2. It gets deleted manually, by the blog’s administrator.

The first hurdle is relatively easy to resolve.  However, every blogger has their own ideas on what they will publish, making the second hurdle trickier.  In my experience, most bloggers are happy to allow any comment through, which adds to the value of their blog.  If you believe you have something worth sharing but the blogger refuses to publish your feedback, it’s their loss – Not yours.  Go and find a blog, where the blogger values their community and encourages people to share ideas and insights.

Photo: j9sk9s

Own your competitors with this powerful 4 step process!

If you want to attract the best clients and fees, you need to offer a more compelling service than your competitors.  The following is a simple 4 step process, which will help you be better than the best.

The 4 steps are:

  1. Think of the last time you received a service, which was so good you told your friends.
  2. Next, write down what it was that impressed you the most.  Add as much detail as you can.
  3. Then, think of at least 2 ways you could improve that service.
  4. Finally, find a way to adapt that supreme quality of service into your own business.

Every time you experience ‘service excellence’, look for the elements of that service, which can be ported into your business.  The best place to look for these ideas is outside your own industry.  By using service excellence ideas from other industries, you not only get to improve your service, you also get to develop something that could give your business a unique winning edge over your competitors.

Service excellence gets people talking!

Service excellence not only helps you retain your existing clients, it is a powerful way to attract more great clients too.  I’ve been in marketing for almost 26 years and in my experience, the best way to develop Word of Mouth referrals, is to offer a service, which is so remarkable that people feel compelled to remark (talk) about it to their friends.

NOTE – Here is a free, 3 part series on how to work with the best clients and the highest fees:

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 1

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 2

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 3

What everyone ought to know about influence

You can’t pick your family, but that’s OK, because you can be pretty selective about everyone and everything else in your life.

Do I need to be selective?

Yes.  I know that everyone and everything I give my attention to, influences me.  I know that miserable people will tend to make me feel low and optimists will tend to make me feel great.  I know that when I am in the company of creative people, my own creativity is ignited.  Everyone who connects with me in any way, influences me to a lesser or greater degree.

The same is true for you!

The people you associate with will have a massive impact on how you feel, the decisions you make and ultimately who you become.  The TV shows you watch, radio stations you listen to and music you listen to will also have an impact.  Everyone and everything you connect with, influences you in some way.

So, ‘who and what’ are you going to allow to influence your life in 2012?  No need to answer that question here on the blog, but I do suggest you answer it to yourself.

Why?  Because it’s one of the single biggest determinants of your; health, happiness, wisdom and wealth.

Photo: Gamma Man

Social Media: Spotting the fakes

Those of us who regularly use social networking sites, know that it has never been easier to spot a fake.

It’s hard for people to hide who they really are and what they know (or don’t know,) when they regularly update their social networking accounts.

Yes, anyone can fake it for a little while, but in the medium and long term, we get so much information that it’s very simple to build up a profile of the people we regularly see sharing.

Fakes, saying and seeing

Ironically, many of those people believe that the Internet makes it easier for them to fool the marketplace, because social media gives them the chance to say anything they like.  They can pretend to be experts, leaders or visionaries, so people will ‘just believe them’, right?

Wrong!  The exact opposite is true.  Today, we can see what the fakes are doing on social networks, regardless of what they say.

Some common examples we see all the time include:

  • The web designer, who talks every day about the need for great design, yet whose own site has rookie design errors.
  • The leaders on Twitter, who ask you to follow people on Fridays because that’s when everyone does it.
  • The thought leader, who never shares an original thought.
  • The business development expert, who feels compelled to scream “TGIF!” to everyone who follows them every Friday, because they can’t wait to get away from their own business.
  • The marketing expert, who uses social media to pester people for their attention, rather than attract their interest.
  • The social media guru, who shows they have no idea about being social.
  • The business networking expert, who works behind an avatar photo that was taken 15 years ago.
  • The copywriter, who is unable to write interesting social media updates.
  • The work-life balance gurus, who go missing for months, because their own work-life balance is totally out of control.

Thankfully, the same visibility that exposes the fakes, makes it easier than ever for genuine people to demonstrate their knowledge, professionalism and consistency.  It has never been easier or more rewarding, to be your unique self.

Your plan for 2012

When you put the plans in place, which allow you to develop your commercial future by design, rather than chance, everything changes:

  • You find yourself looking ahead with optimism and excitement, rather than apprehension and fear.
  • You experience far less stress and far more peace-of-mind.
  • …and you enjoy the elevated levels of motivation that come, when you can see the prize before you.

Whose plan am I working to?

We are all working towards a plan; either our own plan or someone else’s plan.  Many business owners and entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming that because they own their businesses, they are running those businesses.  The reality is often very different, with their businesses being directed by over-demanding clients, their bank, their creditors, their fears or their colleagues etc.  Their days, weeks and months are largely guided by reacting to these voices.

Just as you can’t bake a great cake without a great recipe, you can’t build a compelling future without a compelling plan.  Your plan should be so inspirational that you can’t stop thinking about it.  It should propel you out of bed in the morning with excitement and energy and compel you to do whatever is required, to make your plans a reality.

It’s your business

You get to decide what your plans are for the year ahead.  Make your plans worthy of you!  Make plans that are so compelling that I would get motivated if I knew them.  Get back in touch with that same feeling of excitement you had, when you first started your business.  Dream big dreams, commit them to a plan and then set to work on making them real.

Photo: Stockerre


It has never been easier to tell the world, what our unique take is.  Thanks to social media, those of us with an Internet connection have a voice, which previous generations could only dream of.

So, what do we do with this amazing opportunity?

Some embrace it

A small minority of people have grabbed the opportunity with both hands.  As a result, they have developed large, targeted audiences of people who follow and value their work.  They tell us what their story is and what they think, which allows us to decide if we agree with them or disagree.  This means they attract insiders and repel outsiders.  Their insiders go on to hire them, buy from them and share their work, because they value what these rare people think.

Some ditto

The majority have decided to ignore the opportunity.  Rather than tell us what they think, they choose to ditto those who grabbed this opportunity.  They are the people we occasionally bump into, but know almost nothing about.  This means they attract few insiders or outsiders.  They are fascinated with rhinos and use all the cool tools.  They are largely invisible, because they choose the camouflage that comes when we keep our thoughts, ideas and perspectives hidden.

The bottom line:  We can show the marketplace who we are and what we think or we can simply ditto what others have to say.  It’s our voice and our choice.

Are you making this common marketing mistake?

Many outstanding small businesses struggle needlessly.  Right now, they are looking to 2012 with apprehension, rather than justified optimism.  I don’t want your business to be one of them, so I would like you to consider the message in today’s post and avoid making this common, sometimes fatal marketing mistake!

Photo: katerha

The success of your business is largely determined by your ability to do 2 things:

  1. Deliver consistently outstanding value.
  2. Communicate your outstanding value to the marketplace, so non-clients know how great you are as well as your clients.

The best kept secret in your industry

You really don’t want to be ‘the best kept secret’ in your industry, however, many business owners are just that.  They work extremely hard, offering amazing service, and then totally fail to communicate how great they are.  The marketplace should know they are awesome, but it doesn’t.  They are almost invisible to potential clients, then suffer the frustration of watching lesser competitors growing, whilst they struggle.

The belief that hard work alone is the secret to growing a successful business, is bogus.  It’s essential that your hard work is channelled into doing the right things, correctly.  This means exceeding your client’s expectations, but also ensuring that the marketplace knows all about you and why they NEED to hire YOU, buy from you etc.

When you get that balance right, it changes everything.  You will have just discovered the key to growing a thriving business in any economy.  You will have secured your commercial future.  You will be one of a tiny minority of small business owners, who can justifiably look ahead to 2012, with optimism.

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