Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Are you making this common mistake with your marketing?

Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Linkedin are full to bursting with stressed out business owners, making unremarkable offers to uninterested people.

These business owners work hard sharing links to their special offers and webinars and wonder why they get nowhere, even though they have the whole process backwards!

Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Linkedin SHOULD be buzzing with their clients and prospective clients talking about how remarkable their business is, to an impressed audience who want to know what all the fuss is about.

Why this happens and how to fix it

In order to fix this problem, you need to understand what’s broken. What’s broken, is the assumption that people will talk about a service, which is average or similar to other services in the marketplace. Look at the providers in your industry and you will see what I mean.

You will find the vast majority of your competitors:

  • Offering similar services
  • For similar fees
  • To similar people
  • Making similar promises
  • and offering similar guarantees.

Now, here’s what we know about your prospective clients. They are being bombarded with unremarkable marketing about unremarkable services all day every day. It washes over them.


You know what catches their attention though? They stand up like meerkats, when something remarkable comes along. It captures their attention and inspires them to share what they have just experienced. It spreads and before you know it, people are out there, talking about how remarkable you and your service is.

Yes, it takes creativity and lots of work to develop something that’s remarkable about your business, your service and how you work. But business owners in this economy who insist on marketing unremarkable services, will find it harder and harder to earn the interest of the marketplace.

They will be forced into the race to the bottom, when they could be enjoying the journey to the top.

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How predictable are you?

Predictable can be life saving: The braking system on your car is a great example. You need to know that each time you put your foot on the brake, you’re going to slow down and / or stop.

predictable, predict, prediction, creativity

Predictable can be reassuring: It’s reassuring to know that the quality of products or services you receive from a vendor, will be predictably excellent.

Predictable can be dull: If we are in search of fresh ideas and insights, we avoid those who we can predict will have nothing original to say. We tune them out, just like those TV shows that go on for one too many seasons.

There are areas in your business, where predictability is not only important, it’s essential.

There are other areas, where predictability will weaken your position, bore your marketplace and make you less and less relevant. Typically, this is predictability caused through lack of creativity, such as when businesses offer the same predictable range of services, make the same predictable promises and use the same predictable marketing messages, as their competitors.

It pays to know when you need to be predictable and when not to. Get it wrong and there’s a hefty price to pay.

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Blogging Tip: Making time for a commercially successful blog

This post has some valuable information, for those of you either starting a commercial blog or thinking of taking their existing blog more seriously. It’s about understanding the time investment required, if you want to build a commercially successful blog.

marketing blogsBlogging time

A common misconception regarding blogging, is that the time investment required to build a successful blog, is primarily the time it takes to write posts. Whilst at the very beginning, the time it takes to write your posts accounts for a big chunk of your blogging time, once your blog gets established, the time you spend writing the posts becomes a smaller and smaller percentage. Currently, just 20% of my blogging time is spent writing posts. The majority of my time is spent looking after the elements that come into play, when thousands of people read your content every day and your work becomes highly visible.

That’s what I want to share with you in this post.

A wonderful challenge

It’s a wonderful challenge to have, but one that is seldom discussed. The thing is, if you are thinking of either starting your own commercial blog or you are about to start taking your existing blog seriously, you need to know the kind of time commitment required once your blog takes off.  In the case of this blog, it’s a few hours a day now.

When I started Jim’s Marketing Blog, almost 4 years ago, I would invest around 30 minutes writing a post and then an hour a day marketing that post and the blog itself. I would get to know the people who commented here, connecting with them on Twitter and (back then) Friendfeed. It was fun, enjoyable work, but there was a time investment required, which I knew I needed to make if I wanted the blog to progress.

Fast forward 4 years and I still do all of that, though I now use Google+ (a LOT), Twitter and Facebook. However, today I ALSO invest around 2 hours on other blog related activities.

Blog related activities?

As your readership builds and your blog ranks well for lots of popular search terms, you will attract lots more attention. This includes:

  • Sales pitches: Anyone Googling the words ‘marketing blogs’ will find my blog on page 1, so, when they want someone to pitch a marketing related product to, they always find me.
  • Guest bloggers: I also get emails daily from people asking if I will let them ‘guest blog’ here. Because none of them do any research, they are unaware it’s a self-authored blog, so email me anyway.
  • Reader questions: I get lots of emails every day from readers, with often extremely complex marketing related problems. Whilst I am unable to offer them individual support, I do reply to every reader email.
  • Advertiser emails: Because of the blog’s position on Google, I get emails all the time from people who want to advertise here.
  • PR spam: PR firms insist on adding me to their lists, without consent, when sending out their client’s press releases, even though I have never published a press release here. PR spam is easily the biggest source of unwanted email I encounter, with 30/40 emails a day.

N.B: Yes, I know it would be a lot easier for me to just hit delete on every email or have filters set up to try and catch the pitches, PR spam and link requests, but it would mean many genuine, reader emails being lost and I am not prepared to do that.

All in all, I would say that actually writing blog posts is now less than 20% of the time I currently invest in this blog and activities directly related to it.

And in return?

The rewards are many and huge!

If you have the time or can make the time, to handle the feedback created by a successful blog, the pay-off is amazing. Make no mistake, starting this blog was easily the most valuable business decision I ever made and has repaid me many, many times over for what I have invested into it. The benefits of blogging can be stunning, if you manage to develop a large, targeted reader community:

  • Most important for me is the opportunity to connect with, work with and meet amazing people. The readers of this blog are my biggest commercial asset. I feel like I know many of those who comment here and must have spoken to a couple of hundred of you so far. It’s a true reader community and invaluable to me.
  • You can contribute to others, in a way that helps hundreds of thousands of other people every year. It’s impossible to overstate the value of this, for those of us who are committed to serving others.
  • You can build a very enjoyable, 6 figure business from it, as I did here. If affiliate products or software sales are your thing, look at what Brian Clark did with copyblogger, launching several, million dollar businesses off his blog. It just requires skill, time and a LOT of work!
  • You will attract countless opportunities for you and your business, as your reach and influence increases.
  • You will also get a massive amount of enjoyment from it.

In short: If you are serious about developing your blog into a massively valuable asset, make sure that you have processes in place, for what happens as your blog takes off.

What everybody ought to know about words

Words have an amazing influence on us and the people around us. The right words can open doors for us. The wrong words can see those same doors slammed in our face. Some words make us feel inspired and energized, others make us want to give up and sulk in a corner.

Some years ago, I told a friend that I was nervous about a job interview I had lined up for that afternoon. He offered me some advice. He said rather than say I was nervous about it, I should tell myself I was excited about it. I asked what difference it would make. He then told me to try it. I immediately discovered that changing just one word, transformed me from feeling apprehensive about the interview, to looking forward to it.

How careful are you, regarding the words you use?

  • In your marketing: Do you offer ‘strategic implementation’ or ‘help people blow the lid of their potential and achieve breakthrough results’?
  • In your conversations with prospective clients: Do you speak in a monotone voice, which suggests you have not slept well, or do you use your voice as an instrument, to engage the other person and share how passionate you are about helping them?
  • In your conversations with yourself: Do you use words that empower you and cause you to move forward (excited), or words that work against you (nervous)?

Most small business owners inject little, if any, passion or energy into their written or spoken words. They phone it in. They talk about ‘strategic implementation’ and ‘client focused solutions, as if they were reading from some lame 1990’s glossy brochure. Their story is dull.

In short: Take some time to review the words you use and the way you use them. Look for opportunities to replace negative words, with positive words. Inject passion and energy into your conversations, when appropriate. The results can be amazing!

How to become a creative thinker!

This post is all about creative thinking and why you should proactively develop your creative thinking skills, if you want your business to thrive!

Creative thinking: You do it all the time

Every time you see a traffic jam ahead, then figure out an alternative route, you are employing creative thinking. Every time you go into the kitchen hungry, then put a meal together using the odds and ends you find, you are employing creative thinking.

Whether you know it or not, you already think creatively all the time.

Creative thinking in your business

It’s often said that business is all about problem solving and I agree. Business is an ongoing series of challenges and opportunities, which require creative answers.

For example:

  • Creative marketing: You need to find creative ways to attract the attention of your prospective clients. This has never been more important than today, because your prospective client’s have never had to cope with so much information. There’s a lot of noise out there and your message needs to cut through it.
  • Creative copywriting: If you want the people who read your marketing messages, blog posts, social media updates or newsletter, to contact you or share your work with their friends, your content needs to be compelling. This calls for creative copywriting.
  • Creative vision: If you want to spot the opportunities, which other people miss, you need to be able to see what they can’t see. You need creative vision. Most people miss genuine opportunities, because opportunities usually come disguised as hard work or they come wrapped within a problem. Creative vision allows you to see the diamond, when it’s still in the rough.

Creative thinking in an ideal world

I’ve often spoken to business owners about developing their creative skills, who said that in order to create, they needed everything to be ‘just right.’ They need the phones not to ring, they must have had a great night’s sleep the night before, they mustn’t be worried about anything and they need to feel great. Otherwise, they just can’t get creative.

At that point, I share these 2 ideas with them.

1. Creative thinking and comfort is not always a good match

A common factor behind 99% of successful musicians, is that they start off unknown, broke or both. It’s from that position of discomfort, that they create the work that gets them famous.  Then once fame comes and they have used up all their material from when they were struggling, they often disappear. Very, very few chart acts achieve smash hits for more than a handful of years. Some are one hit wonders.

The mansions, luxury cars and huge bank balances seem to have no positive impact on their creativity. Often, quite the opposite!

2. Things are seldom perfect

By deciding you can only think creatively, when circumstances are perfect, you’re not going to create very often. This is why it’s really important to give yourself permission to create, even when you may not have had a great night’s sleep and especially when you have a worry on your mind. In fact, the best time to employ creative thinking, is when you need a creative answer.

Permission to create

Whatever reasons you have given yourself in the past, not to create, I suggest you kick them into touch. You are a creative person. You have answers within you right now, to your most pressing challenges. You have ideas within you right now, which could lead to the creation of life changing opportunities.  Give yourself permission to create and learn to trust your answers.

NOTE: If you want to know how to become a confident, creative thinker, I recommend you subscribe to my NEW site, Creative Thinking Hub. It’s packed with ideas designed to help you develop your creativity and improve your problem solving skills.

The secret to achieving your goals

goals, goal setting

Goal setting is easy. This is why so many people set goals.

Goal attainment is tricky. This is why so few people achieve them.

Goals: The difference between goal setting & goal attainment

  • Goal setting is fun, liberating and can be completed in an hour.
  • Goal attainment is fun, but requires ongoing commitment and a lot of work, often over a period of many years.

The initial set of goals, which took me from poverty to financial security for life, took me around 45 minutes to commit to paper. The work required to make them real, took me years.

Goal attainment caused me to stretch more than anything in my life. It required me to leave my comfort zones and stop blaming my past, for my future. It was the hardest, most fulfilling work I have ever done and I continue to set new goals all the time.

Set your goals, then do the work. That’s the secret to goal attainment.

9 Ways to blow the lid off your potential!

Make 2012 your best year ever, with these 9 powerful business ideas and professional development tips!

1. Show them what you know

In business, anyone can claim to be an expert. Look at the profile of any businessperson on a social network, even the most inept ones, and you will see them claiming to be anything from an expert or thought leader to a guru or ninja!

Use your blog, newsletter or social media accounts to demonstrate what you know. This is one of the finest ways to attract the interest of genuine, prospective clients. I get email inquiries for my services via this blog daily, with almost all of them telling me that the reason they want me to work with them, is they value my approach to marketing and business development. How do they know what my approach is? They see it here on the blog.

You know you are great at what you do. Your clients know it too.

Now, show the rest of your marketplace and blow the lid off your potential!

2. Walk more

Something almost magical happens when we walk. Not only do we get some extremely valuable health benefits, it seems to have a massive impact on how we feel. I have already written about this in detail here.

However, I really want to share the following video with you. It’s from Dr Mike Evans, and is all about the many medical and fitness benefits of walking, even for just 30 minutes a day.

If you can’t see the video, you can watch it here.

3. Fire any clients that make you unhappy

You can not run a successful business, working with people who make you miserable or pay you late or speak to you like you’re a fool. This is one of the first things I work on with new clients and the difference it makes to their businesses and quality of life, is enormous. Seth Godin said this was a key reason for his success.

4. Start blogging

If you already have a blog, start taking blogging seriously. Blogging is the single most powerful marketing tool I have ever found. Every day, thousands of business owners read this blog and share it with their friends. In 2011, this site generated over £145,000 for my business in client fees, sales and consulting work. If you are not sure where to start, relax. I have another blog, dedicated to it and all the information is free. Click here.

5. Become super selective who you listen to

There are many different voices you can tune into these days. Some will make you healthier happier and wealthier. Some will do the opposite. Listen to people with the knowledge and experience to help you.

6. Be yourself

The single most valuable lesson I have learned from my 25 years in marketing, is this: Be yourself.

The world is filled to bursting point with people, who simply copy what others say or do. For a 16 year old child who has little confidence and wants to avoid standing out, this is an effective strategy until they grow up. For a business owner seeking to gain visibility, it’s total insanity. I call this process embracing your inner freak. You can read all about it here.

7. Understand that there is often, more than one truth

You can make the coming year (and years), a lot less stressful with this basic mindset adjustment.

One of the reasons people get so frustrated, is that they know they are right, yet the other person simply doesn’t get their point or the other person is wrong and won’t admit it!

Here’s an alternative approach, which may make your future a lot less stressful and make YOU a lot more attractive to others. It’s about understanding that often, in business and in life generally, there is more than one truth.

For example, I love the taste of oranges. You may dislike them with a passion. If a third person asked each of us what oranges taste like, we would give completely opposite answers, yet both of us would be telling the truth, or to be more exact, we would be telling our truth.  When you get your head around this concept and learn to respect the opinions of others, you will be amazed what it does for you in just about every area of your life.

8. Go deeper

One of the most common mistakes people make with their marketing, is that they build large, shallow networks online. In other words, they may have hundreds or thousands of Twitter followers or Facebook friends yet find it’s of little real benefit to their business.

I suggest you try a different approach. I suggest you focus on building a deeper relationship, with a far smaller, more focused group. Why? Because if you focus on attracting just 10 passionate advocates, they will each bring you another 10. That 10 will then do the same and before you know it, you will have a massively more targeted network. It’s all about shifting the focus from building numbers, to building quality.

I explain how it works in detail, in this post.

9. Answer this powerful question

There is a question, which every business owner should answer and then get to work on. The question is this:

“If my business were perfect in every way, what would it look like?”

A few things to consider, may include:

  • How many hours would you work?
  • What would you earn?
  • Which causes would your business support?
  • Where would you work?
  • What kind of clients or customers, would you work with?
  • What kind of systems would you have in place?
  • What would you charge?
  • What would your business’ image be?
  • Which business specialists would you hire as consultants?
  • How many people, if any, would you employ?
  • What would be your unique twist, the thing that set you apart from the competition?

One of the reasons many business owners fail to grow a business that inspires them, is that they never took the time to decide what THEIR ideal business looked like. Getting clear on exactly what you want, makes it a lot easier to achieve. Its easy to take a wrong turn, when you’re not sure what your destination is!

Finally, I hope the next 12 months are the best ever for you, your family and your business. Thank you for your support over the past year!

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My predictions for 2012

Here are some predictions for business owners in 2012:

  • Those who do the right things correctly, will do extremely well, just like they do every year.
  • Those who do the wrong things correctly, will do poorly again and remain frustrated. They will be wondering why their perfectly executed plans are getting them nowhere, unaware the plan is what’s screwed, not their implementation. They will lose yet another year, wasting major time on minor things.
  • Those who do the right things incorrectly, will struggle and remain zapped of energy. This group work extremely hard and make little real progress. The errors in their marketing and business development are usually easy to fix, but they prefer to dabble with it rather than get the help they need. So, they carry on making the same mistakes. They use all the right tools and wonder why it never seems to work for them, whilst others in their industry fly!

Everyone reading this message will fit into 1 of those 3 groups. Yes, there are some people who are in a 4th group, where they do the wrong things, incorrectly, but they tend not to read marketing blogs.

Business as usual

So, once you identify which group you are in, here’s your challenge for 2012: What are you going to do about it?

Business as usual is only an effective strategy for those in the first group.

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