Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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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! ;)

How to grow your business during a tough economy, without lowering your fees

With daily media coverage of the turmoil facing most of the world’s economies, how come certain businesses, of all sizes, from all industries are flourishing?

It’s not about price

fee settingWhenever times are tough, people think harder before they make a decision.  This doesn’t mean they buy the cheapest.

The fact Apple products have repeatedly smashed their sales records, is not because they are cheap.  Apple products are almost always far more expensive than budget alternatives.  Apple have seen record growth throughout the credit crunch and recession, because they provide what their customers consider amazing value.

Google and the race to the bottom

If you think you can undercut your way to success, you are probably in for an costly disappointment.  Google has made it easy for your prospective clients or customers, to find the lowest price for almost anything, in seconds.

Only one person in your industry, profession or location can be cheapest and the price shopping, fee-sensitive people who hunt for the cheapest deal, will spend as long as needed, to get the lowest price or fee.

Another approach

An alternative approach, is to increase your value, rather than lower your fees.  If you are the only person in town, who can do something YOUR way and YOUR way has value, you can strive during a bad economy.

For example, I have a client, who has used this approach whilst working with me and he’s seeing a 45% increase in revenues this year, after enjoying  an increase of close to 200% last year.  His profits are even higher.  Another client has increased her fees several times over the past 2 years and has smashed every income and profits record, in a business, which is in a hugely competitive industry.

With 2012 just weeks away, it’s a great time to plan for the year ahead.  With every prediction suggesting that the economy is unlikely to improve significantly, if at all, I recommend you take a value-based approach.  If you wan to know exactly what to do, read this.  You can enjoy an outstanding year in 2012, so long as you do the right things, correctly!

Writer’s: Yes, plumbers DO GET Plumber’s Block!

It’s common for people to quote urban myths, as if they were facts; especially if the myth seems to make sense.

One popular myth, spread by super smart Seth Godin among other highly respected authors, seems to make it’s way into most intelligent discussions about Writer’s Block.  It goes like this:

Well, you don’t hear about plumbers getting Plumber’s Block, do you?  They just get up every day and do it!

Plumbers DO get Plumber’s Block

Thanks to a recent series of water related challenges, I’ve met with 2 plumbers in the past week.  I have always known the Plumber’s Block argument to be bogus, so I took the opportunity to ask both of them, if they ever got Plumber’s Block.  I defined Plumber’s Block as a feeling that they simply can not do a plumbing related task, because they don’t know where to start or their brain can’t focus.

Both said YES!

It seems that (at least some) plumbers do occasionally get Plumber’s Block, particularly when faced with a complex, unique plumbing challenge.  Both plumbers said they sometimes experienced what people from every profession do, when trying to solve a puzzle (including writers.)

They hit a mental block!

They explained that there are elements of their job, which they can do almost on auto-pilot, because they require zero creativity and they have repeated the exact same task thousands of times.  This is the equivalent of a writer, writing their name and address.  Writer’s don’t get Writer’s Block when it comes to auto-pilot writing, such as writing their address, just as Plumbers don’t get Plumber’s Block when doing one of their automated processes.

However, both writers and plumbers (and everyone else) occasionally hit a block when working on something unique, which requires creativity.

So, the next time you hear someone quoting the fact that plumbers don’t get Plumber’s Block, explain that everyone occasionally hits a block, when doing something unique or creative.  To suggest otherwise might make for a good sound-bite, but it’s based on bullshit.

Photo: Elsie esq

No, you do not have to be cruel to be kind!

There’s a lot of common knowledge out there, which is stated as fact, but is incorrect.

For example, have you ever stopped to consider the actual meanings behind those often repeated old sayings?

  • You’ve got to be cruel to be kind.  No you haven’t!  It’s perfectly fine to be kind to people, without the cruelty.  You will find it works a lot better too.
  •  A man’s best friend is his dog.  Really?  Not his wife, his children, his parents or siblings… his dog.  I know a lot of men who own dogs, I know none who would choose it over their children.
  • You can’t have your cake and eat it too!  Every cake you have ever eaten, you bought or were given first.  You had the cake, you ate the cake, because cakes are made to be eaten.

Critical thinking

Just as people repeat these old sayings every day without giving them much thought, people often apply ideas to their business, which they have failed to give enough critical thought to.

I have lost count of the times I have heard people say; “We have always done it like this.” as a way to justify why they do, what they do.  Now, if they have always done something a certain way, because they have looked for better ways to do it, and failed, that’s fine.  But to keep on doing something ONLY because of familiarity, makes little commercial sense.

It does us all good, to regularly review the processes within our business.  In fact, it’s hard to make meaningful, ongoing progress, without constantly seeking to improve.

Photo: fireflythegreat

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