Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Is your marketing message too good to be true?

too good to be true

Here’s a quick marketing tip, for anyone setting their fees or prices at the low end of the spectrum.

It’s all about making offers, which sound too good to be true.

Too good to be true

There’s an old saying that assures us, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. As a result, when your prospective clients see an offer, which looks too good to be true, they are immediately on guard. They know that a great service at too low a price just doesn’t stack up. Great people don’t do cheap work – Cheap people don’t do great work.

So, the prospective client is left wondering what’s wrong with this picture.

  • Maybe the service is just poor quality and they are lying to me with their marketing?
  • Perhaps there are tons of hidden costs?

Whichever it is, when confronted with something that seems too good to be true, your prospective clients get super suspicious. Just like you and I do. This is why marketing at the low end of the fee scale, needs to focus more than ever on reassurance.

Open and honest pricing

A sure sign of amateur marketing, is when we see a small business owner offering something amazing, for what seems to be peanuts. Professionally marketed businesses at the low end of the fee scale, emphasis the value and lay it out in detail, so the prospective client gets to see exactly what is on offer for the money. Their fee structure or pricing is open and honest. They make great use of promises and guarantees, which reverse the risk attached to hiring a ‘bargain’ provider.

Don’t assume that marketing at the lower end of the fee scale is any easier than the high end. Be very aware that when people see a low fee, they become immediately suspicious.

What next?

Read this FREE, 3 part series on how to attract the best clients & the highest fees.

Photo: Cdsessum

Don’t let the critics stop you from standing out

I was 29 years old, when I finally figured out that you can’t keep all the critics happy, no matter what you do. This realisation, gave me the freedom to live and work, without fear. I was never the same again.

Critics

Some critics mean us well and genuinely give us their opinion, in an effort to help. Other critics, especially online, will simply want to attack us in order to satisfy a need they have, which they can’t fulfil in their offline world.

In either case, we can’t do anything of value or substance and keep them all happy.

Nor should we try to keep the critics happy!

Life is too precious for us to waste it, being less than we can be, just so we can be invisible to critics.

Yes, we need to listen to feedback. It may well offer us a valuable lesson. However, there’s a world of difference between monitoring feedback when we are taking action, and allowing fear of criticism to stop us from even getting started.

Photo: Banalities

What everybody ought to know about hard work

It’s pointless telling yourself to work harder, when you know you are already working as hard as you possibly can. A better approach, is to take a leaf from Apple Inc’s book and work different.

Too many hard working business owners work themselves into the ground, trying to get the results they need, from an ineffective strategy.

This then impacts their quality of life and often their health and relationships too.

If it isn’t working, do it differently.

It’s a wiser and more productive approach, than rowing your boat harder and harder, in the wrong direction.

What if it works?

If you want to quickly improve your results, this short post may well have the answer you need!

Many people have great ideas, but the fear of “what if it fails?”, stops them putting the idea into action. It becomes another opportunity, which never saw the light of day.

I suggest a different approach, an approach used by every successful businessperson I have ever worked with or studied!

So, what if it works?

Here’s a question for you to consider, the next time you have a great business idea:

What if it works – I mean REALLY works?

  • How would that improve the future of your business?
  • How would that increase your income and profits?
  • How would that improve the quality of life for you and your family?

It’s natural and important to weigh up the risks involved in any new opportunity. However, we mustn’t allow the fear of failure, to stop us from taking the decisions, which lead to meaningful progress. Very few (if any) legitimate opportunities in business, come with a guarantee. So, if you believe an idea has the potential to work, work on the idea. Do the research. Have the conversations. Get the advice and then, if it still looks viable, put it to work.

  • If it fails, you get the lesson from that failure, to invest in the next idea.
  • If it flies, you get the lesson from that success, to invest in the next idea.

Repeat this process often enough and the quality and quantity of your successes will set you on a path, which nothing can stop.

Photo: Roger Price

Seth Godin, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the next big thing

We can waste a lot of time, waiting for the next big thing to come along and change our future.

What we know about our future

We each have 24 hours to invest every day. By learning the lessons from our past and investing in intelligent activity daily, we can create an increasingly bright future.

The problem with waiting for the next big thing to come along, is that we don’t know how long we will be left waiting or even if we will recognise it when it happens. As we all know, very few people can spot the next big thing, even when it’s right under their nose.

Seth Godin & Kentucky Fried Chicken

KFC founder, Colonel Sanders, offered his special recipe and business proposition to over 1,000 savvy businesspeople, before one actually spotted it for what it was. In this video from Seth Godin, the world’s most successful marketing author shares how he was rejected 900 times, with 30 different book proposals, before one publisher was able to spot Seth’s potential as the next big thing in business publishing.

It’s wise to have an eye on the future, in fact, I believe it’s essential. However, we need to learn the difference between waiting for something to happen and making something happen.

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Avoid these 4 common blogging errors and watch your results quickly improve

When business bloggers come to me for advice on how to make their blog more valuable, there are 4 tips I seem to give more than any others. Here they are, for those of you who want their blog to deliver better results. I hope you find them useful.

Get readable

No matter how valuable your content is, it will fail to achieve anything like it’s full potential, if it’s too hard for people to read. The 2 most common readability issues I see, are font size and column width.

Many sites use very small font sizes, which are just too small to be easily read. This is a fast way to lose readers, needlessly. There’s nothing to gain from using tiny fonts, which are almost impossible to read on anything smaller than a 22 inch monitor. The reason every popular website uses a readable font size, is they know the importance of having the main content comfortable to read on smaller screens.

For reference, this blog uses a Arial as my font, set at 16px.

Similarly, studies have shown that people find it a lot easier to read narrower columns of content, than wide columns. Many popular child themes fail to take this into account, which is why there are so many W–I–D–E column layouts out there.

In my own testing, I discovered that once I go beyond 95 characters across (including spaces) in a blog post, fewer people read through the whole page. Many people say you should stick below 75 characters, but using a large clear font, as I do, you should be perfectly fine up to around the 95 character mark.

If your current child theme doesn’t make it easy for you to reduce the content column width, either learn how to code it, pay someone to code it or use the theme I use here, which gives you 100% control over fonts and columns with the click of a mouse. It’s called Headway and that is NOT an affiliate link – It’s just an amazing piece of software that gives you the control you need, over your blog.

Have a call to action at the bottom of your content

If someone has just read all the way down to the bottom of a page or post, it’s because they were interested in the content. It engaged them. It earned their attention and their time. You now have an interested person, whose eyes are right at the bottom of your post.

THAT is the point where you should ask them to take action!

I use that approach here and it works extremely well, generating leads and inquiries all day, every day. Just remember to keep the call to action short and link directly to the conversion page. This may be a page that sells your products or services. It could be a newsletter sign-up page or maybe a link to subscribe to your blog via RSS. You decide what you want your readers to do, then put that call to action right where interested eyes will see it.

Don’t write anything just to publish something

This one goes against the traditional idea that you MUST publish something every day, even on days where you have nothing worth sharing. Despite what many people think, I don’t publish posts here every day. I usually publish 4 or 5 times a week on this blog, only very occasionally 7 times a week.

I use no blogging schedule other than this: If I have something useful to share here, I publish it. Useful is the key word.

I do recommend you publish at least once a week on a business blog(twice is better), if you want your blog to remain on your reader’s radar. However, there are no prizes for publishing anything, just so you can publish something. If you have something useful to say, share it. If you can’t find anything useful to say at least once a week, spend more time listening to the needs and opportunities of your marketplace and write about that. Keep informed of the latest news and trends affecting your marketplace, and write about that.

NOTE: This article has some great tips on how to write useful content.

Make your work easy to share

The content on Jim’s Marketing Blog is easy for people to share. There is a small Twitter and Google+ button at the top and bottom of each post. These are easily the most powerful drivers of share traffic here, so they get prominence. At the bottom of each post, I use the oddly named Twitter, Facebook social share plugin – which actually gives access to Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ too. I also recommend sharethis, which gives easy access to over 30 different sharing platforms and allows you to make your preferred ones more prominent (see below).

I have tested a ‘floating share button’, which attaches itself to the side of the screen and follows the page, so your share icons are always in the reader’s view. This was very effective, for those who could see it. The challenge was that many people told me that they couldn’t see it. It wasn’t visible on many tablet devices or any phone I tested it on. It was also invisible on some smaller resolution netbooks. There may be a way around this visibility issue, which you might like to share with a comment.

If you do use this type of sharing system on your site, I suggest also adding a traditional sharethis or addthis set of icons to the foot of your posts, though this can look a little like overkill.

You can’t be outstanding, without standing out!

What areas of your business really stand out, when compared to your competitors?

Your prospective clients are just like you, in that they are being bombarded with information all day every day. For your product or service to stand out against all that noise, it needs to be outstanding. This takes time and effort, but unless you want to place a very low ceiling on your potential, you have to come forward and command people’s attention.

Does ‘stahow to be outstandingnding out’ really matter?

When I speak with business owners, here’s what I find almost every time:

  • Small business owners want to attract word of mouth referrals, yet most fail to do anything that makes them truly stand out, so there’s nothing compelling for people to say about them.
  • Service providers want to work with the best clients for the highest fees, yet most fail to offer the kind of exceptional or unique service that stands out and attracts the best clients and fees.
  • Business bloggers and newsletter providers want a large, high quality readership, yet most fail to invest the time or expertise required to stand out against the millions of other sites, fighting for the valuable attention of those same readers.

It takes creativity to be outstanding

It takes creativity to stand out, but that’s OK. I have built a site full of free information on how to develop your creativity. I also have a page, which lists every creative thinking article, on one easy to bookmark page, you can visit it here.

One of the most valuable things any business owner can do, is separate themselves from their competitors by creating an element of their business, which stands out against the competition.

  • When you give your clients and marketplace a reason to talk about you, they will.
  • When you offer high quality prospective clients a compelling reason to work with you, they will.
  • When you offer your blog readers a motivating reason to subscribe to your blog (or newsletter) and share it, they will.

However, it all starts with the decision to stand out.

Photo: Sonny Malone

What are you planning today?

So, what marketing ideas are you working on right now?

I’m talking here, about the plans you are fleshing out and putting into place, for the development of your business over the next 30-120 days and beyond.

Here’s why these plans are worthy of your time today: As surely as your past planning cultivated your current results, the plans you put into place today will determine your future results.

A better tomorrow, starts today

If you are currently making meaningful progress in reasonable time, I suggest you don’t change much. Look for areas where you can refine and improve, based on past feedback, but keep working with what’s working. If you are not seeing the kind of progress you need, then I suggest you stop your current marketing and work on developing a better plan. Now, depending on your resources and your attitude to investing in your business, you have 2 obvious choices:

  1. You can hire expert help. If you can afford it, this is the least expensive solution and takes all the guess work out of the equation. An experienced marketing professional will be able to look at where your business is today, find out where you want it to be and then show you how to get from A to B. I can help you with this and work with you on the development of your business, if you want advice you know you can trust.
  2. You can develop your own marketing plan. This should be seen as a last resort and not a money saver, but if you are literally unable to hire the help you need, you still need to do something. I recommend you begin, by ceasing your current under performing marketing and then look at the options open to you.

And then?

This free marketing guide will give you some ideas and tips on effective marketing strategies for you and your business. Look at the options in that free guide and select the ones you feel are most suited to you. As well as the free advice in that guide, there are thousands of other small business marketing ideas available to you here on the blog, for free. I recommend you use the topics section of the blog for a list of marketing topics on a specific theme.

I also suggest you use the search box on the right hand column of the blog and search for specific answers to your marketing problems.

In summary

The marketing and business development plans you are working on today, are what will feed your business over the coming months or more. For a better future, you need to be making the right decisions today. Finally, rest assured I am here for you, to provide you with as much free help and support via this blog, as I can.

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