Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Page 93 of 176

Proof: Why your marketing needs to prove itself!

Proof matters. It matters because the gap created by a lack of proof, is usually filled with doubt.  In business, you really don’t need people doubting you or your message.

Proof in marketingWhy proof matters in marketing

People typically want to believe you, but they like to have proof as a way to justify their belief.  These days it’s usually pretty easy to provide that proof, particularly online.  If you get a mention in a national or regional newspaper, there’s usually a link you can provide, to show your coverage.

For example, I provide a lot of proof on the about page on this blog. I include 5 different links to mentions of me that appear in The New York Times.  There’s also a link to the website of my friend and former client; Grammy Award winning producer, Bruce Elliott-Smith, as well as my current AdAge Power150 listing etc.  I use the links to help provide proof to new readers and prospective clients, that my narrative is genuine.

The problem with proof

Today, if you get mentioned in just about any regional or national newspaper / magazine, you can provide readers with a link to it on that publication’s website.  However, most of the mentions of you from 8 or more years ago in the press, are probably gone without trace. You may have a hard copy of the article that says how great you are, but nothing you can link to, which shows it on the newspaper’s own website.  Equally, appearances you made on TV or great radio guest spots from back then, are also hard to prove.

The challenge here is that in the age of click-able proof, many people expect proof to be available on the website of the newspaper, magazine, radio station or TV station etc.  Not simply on your site.

In my own case, I have appeared on dozens of BBC radio shows, with nothing I can link to as proof.  I list the BBC in an image on my about page and hope that my transparency and click-able proof are enough to build the trust required.  You know what?  For many who don’t know me, it won’t be.  They need that click.  To be honest, I understand them too!  I see mentions some bloggers make regarding coverage they have received, and find it hard to believe, based on the quality of their content.  Others I believe instantly and feel no need to click anything, because their content / work is clearly extremely good.

Maybe there’s a lesson there too: That people are less willing to believe someone who claims high level media coverage, when the quality of their content seems pretty average?

In my experience, if you can link to your mentions in the media, you should.  It removes doubt and encourages trust.  If you have enough credible mentions, which are easy to prove, you may find people are more likely to believe those achievements, which can’t be proven instantly with the click of a mouse.  Here are some tips on how to get more high quality media coverage, if that’s a challenge for you right now.

What are you thoughts?

I would love to hear your opinions on proof and how important you believe these issues are.  What are your experiences?  Please share your thoughts.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: katmere

The slow demise of the clueless social media rock star?

I’ve written previously about the way some social media gurus are totally clueless when it comes to anything, other than building impressive looking social media followings.

Well, even though influential people like Steve Rubel and Shel Israel are talking about the end of the road for social media consultants / gurus, some things never change.  I’m talking about the massive number of clueless social media gurus.

Clueless

I spoke yesterday with a web developer, who told me about an email he received from a well-known social media figure.  This person was trying to bag themselves a free website from him and unknowingly, sent the same begging email to a number of developers, who knew each other.  The email was forwarded on to me and I assume lots of others.  It is one of the  most cringe inducing emails I have ever seen.

It was also strangely familiar.

You see, one of that person’s closest social media associates called my office a few months ago, also looking for a freebie.  They promised to retweet all my posts and recommend me to their huge online network, if I would “just” give them a free marketing consultation. That’s the exact same offer their friend made in their begging emails to the web developers!

I politely said “no.”

NB: I find it’s common for people whose own time is of little financial value, to assume others give their time away too.

Anyhow, during our call, the guru explained that although they are regularly featured on all kinds of lists and in some top blogs, they earn almost nothing and spend most of their time speaking at conferences, for which they are usually paid little more than expenses, often nothing at all.  Commercially, this guru admitted knowing “very little when it comes to strategy!” Their only ability is to know how to build what seems to be a large following, which generates low pay – No pay speaking gigs.

The problem with clueless social media gurus, as opposed to genuine social media experts

The reason this matters, is that those 2 clueless social media gurus have a combined following of over 150,000, who they offer business development advice to; something they have demonstrated very little knowledge of!  No wonder we are now seeing social media rock stars moving into salaried jobs.

Before you decide who to listen to when it comes to the development of your business, check them out.  That means more than counting how many followers they have.  Some of the smartest people in business and social media have modest sized social networks, but extremely successful businesses!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

It matters!

So many important things in business get overlooked, because we think they probably don’t matter.

In business, every action you take is either working for you or working against you.  Nothing is neutral.  Everything matters.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: twodolla

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

If you want to attract the best clients and the highest fees, you need to understand the commercial value of originality.

Photo: John Trainor

The original Mona Lisa was insured in 1962 for a hundred million dollars and today that valuation would be closer to a billion dollars.  However, you can buy a copy of the Mona Lisa for the price of a coffee!  This is because the marketplace values originality and attaches no value to copycats.

The easy route

The easy route is what the masses decide to take.  This is what Seth Godin refers to as; “offering an average service to average people.”  They attract average clients and have to charge average fees.  This approach is soul destroying and those who take it look to the future with apprehension.  However, it requires little thought, which is why it’s so common.

The challenging route

The challenging route is what the leaders in every field decide to take.  They look for ways to offer a uniquely valuable service, rather than looking for excuses for why they MUST toe the line and do what their competitors are doing.

Whenever I have written on this subject before, people have left comments saying that it’s just not possible to offer anything new or original in their profession.  That is factually incorrect.  What they are really saying, is that it’s challenging, so they quit.  The people get on and do it, push through that challenge.  They invest the effort and energy to come up with something uniquely valuable and then they have the courage to implement it.  That’s why they get to work with the best clients and earn the highest fees.

In a world full of copycats, you can achieve huge commercial success if you seek out and implement your own, original masterpiece!

You can catch up on part 1 and part 2 of this series, using the links below:

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

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

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Is blogging something you fit in after the important work is done?

A reader emailed me recently, to say she is about to start a business blog.  She wanted to know how I find the time to keep this blog updated as frequently as I do, with useful content.

blogging, copywriting, content marketing

Image: Maria Reyes-McDavis

The answer is that I don’t have to “find time” to write here!

Let me explain: I see business blogs a little differently from most people.  I regard business blogs as massively valuable assets.  So, I give this site high priority within my business.

To me, business blogs are online magazines, which provide articles to interested people; with an opportunity for the readers to connect with the author and their fellow readers.

Just as you can’t play around and accidentally produce a worthwhile business magazine, you can’t play around with a business blog and expect it to develop a great community of highly valued readers.

Magazine thinking?

Think of any great business blog.  It provides valuable articles for people interested in their niche, just like any high quality business magazine.  For example, Brian Clark from copyblogger refers to his site as a media asset and his posts as magazine style content.  I have always been of the same mindset.  I see this site as a genuine media asset and I treat it with the respect it deserves.

  • It’s not a hobby.
  • It’s not a passtime.
  • It’s not a gesture.
  • It’s not something I do when there’s no real work that needs doing.
  • It IS an extremely valuable business asset.  Look at this!

This site never needs me to have spare time to invest in it.  If it did, it would be another infrequently updated business blog.  I regard Jim’s Marketing Blog and the reader community here as an integral part of my business, so it gets worked on ahead of many other less important (to me) business activities.

  • People who just write posts when they have spare time, after the important work is done, end up with a site which reflects that level of investment.
  • People who regard their site as the important work, treat their site very differently and see very different results.

The bottom line:  It’s a question of priorities.  Professionally, I place an extremely high priority on developing this site, so it always gets the time and attention it deserves.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to avoid making bad decisions

Photo: Michael Karshis

If you want to know why some business owners make such poor quality choices, you simply need to look at the lack of professional care they apply to the development of ideas.  I call this lazy thinking.

Lazy thinking?

Lazy thinking is a term I use, to describe the process of applying very little real thought to the solution of problems, leading to; low value decisions, ineffective actions and poor results.

I saw a great example of lazy thinking recently, at a late night pub in my local town.  There’s a small sign on the door, which asks people to respect the local residents, and leave the premises quietly.  The reasons that the sign fails to resolve the problem, are obvious.

  • Firstly, the loud, obnoxious people who leave bars making so much noise that it’s likely to offend local residents, are loud and obnoxious people.  They make that noise because they NEED to be noticed.
  • Secondly, the drunks who leave these bars making tons of noise, are often unable to walk in a straight line.  They are hardly likely to read a message, make a decision and then adjust their behaviour to magically act in a sober way.

The pub owner knew the sign would have no positive impact on noisy late night drinkers.  The local residents knew it too.  That’s what happens when you apply no thought to the solution of a problem.  As I mentioned recently, when you apply the right kind of thinking to a problem, you get a far more effective result.

Lazy thinking in small business marketing

Lazy thinking is behind the dumbass marketing you see small business owners waste their time and money on.  For example:

  • It causes business owners to waste money on mail shots and email marketing, which they write themselves in order to save money.  These home-made, DIY marketing messages are almost always extremely ineffective, so rather than save money, these letters waste a fortune.  They also fail to generate the sales, which a professionally copywritten message would have generated.  Lose – Lose.
  • It causes business owners to buy mailing lists, rather than build communities.  In 2011 we build lists of interested people, by attracting them (here’s how to do it.)  We don’t buy them.
  • It causes business owners to add you to their newsletter list without your permission, just because they have your email address.
  • It causes business owners to leave sales messages in the comments section of blogs, without realising how cheap it makes them look.
  • It causes business owners to waste money on ebooks, which promise unbelievable results.
  • It causes business owners to put lots of great content on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc – Whilst their own blogs are seldom updated (if they even have one!)

We place a very low ceiling on our potential, if we apply the lazy thinking model to business decisions.

Your prospective clients have never been better informed.  Thanks to low cost (and no cost) global digital communications, they have never been so actively targeted by competing providers, either.  If you want to survive in business today, let alone thrive, lazy thinking just doesn’t cut it.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

The secret of successful selling and magical marketing

Ever have a salesperson approach you and you just know that they are only interested in making a sale?

Photo: The Cynthia

When a salesperson is more interested in the commission they will make from selling to us, than they are in helping us, they usually lose the sale and wonder why.  They seem to be unaware that their prospective clients can sense that they are not looking out for them.  If the salesperson realises this and then decides to link their own success, to a genuine commitment to helping others, everything changes.

Suddenly, without using any new fancy footwork, they are selling more than ever before and people are now recommending them.

Honesty signals

What the salesperson in that example needed was a change in their mindset – Not better negotiating skills.  By genuinely giving the best advice and trying to help people make the right decision, they gave the honesty signals that their prospective clients are always looking for.

One of the beautiful ironies of business, is that the more we care about the marketplace, the more the marketplace cares about us.

One of the beautiful paradoxes of business, is that our own self-interest is best served by looking out for the best interests of others.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

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

Photo: Aaaarrrrgggghhhh

This is the second post in a series on how to attract the very best clients and work for the highest fees.  You can read part 1 of this post here if you missed it.

One of the cornerstones of every successful business is that the business owner knows the difference between what people pay for and what people buy.

Paying and buying

Smart business owners understand that people pay for the product or service you offer, but they buy the experience.

For example, when people go into Starbucks, they pay for the coffee.  The reason they pay for the coffee, is that they buy the experience of being able to drink coffee in a space, with other people, who also like to drink coffee and read or work or surf the web etc.  They are part of what Seth Godin would call the coffee tribe.  You can buy equally good coffee from your local store and make it at home for a fraction of the cost of drinking it at Starbucks, however, at home, you don’t get the same coffee tribe experience.

It’s the experience that justifies the 300% extra you pay for drinking coffee at Starbucks, rather than making it at home.  Starbucks don’t try and win your business by selling you coffee cheaper than your local grocery store.  They sell the experience and charge a premium.  There’s a very big lesson here for anyone, who is sick and tired of fee sensitive clients.  Your experience needs to improve, if you want to avoid attracting those low value inquiries and competing on fees.

What experience do you offer?

So, what kind of an experience do you offer your clients or customers?  What do you do for them, which makes it compelling to do business with you, regardless of your fees or prices?

If this is not something you have previously given much thought to, I strongly suggest you start.  Thanks to Google, people can find the least expensive provider in your niche, in minutes.  Thanks to social networking sites, people can learn about the providers in your niche, who offer the most remarkable customer experiences.

Unless you want to sell your services by being the least expensive (and you don’t), you better start thinking about being that provider in your niche, who everyone is talking about.  If you do, you will attract more word of mouth referrals than ever before and never have to compete for business based on your fees.  This is what I help my clients to achieve.  I strongly suggest you get to work on it too.

This is a subject I am going to be covering a lot in future posts, so remember to subscribe to the blog for free, if you don’t want to miss out!

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees part 3.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

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