Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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A rare opportunity for you in 2012

Here’s a powerful message for those of you planning for 2012 right now: Don’t mistake movement for progress.

As we know, for many business owners January is not the start of a New Year. It’s simply the chance to relive the same old year, over again. Hard work and good intentions give the illusion of progress, when they simply create movement. This happens because no matter how hard you row your boat in the wrong direction, it’s not going to get you where you want to be.

A decision and 2 options

For those of you who want January to be the start of a truly New Year, you have a decision to make, then 2 options.

The decision is, ‘am I prepared to replace my current business development approach (or lack of one) with something that will give me the results and income I need?’ For those who say yes, there are 2 options:

  1. If you have the time and expertise to identify exactly what you need to change and then implement it correctly, you can do it yourself. Unfortunately, this option is most common among those who lack the expertise required, which is why their progress is frustrating year on year.
  2. If you are a specialist in an area other than marketing and business development, you can hire expert help.

I know some of you will contact me today, looking to work with me in January. Unfortunately, with 1 exception, you will be disappointed. I now have just 1 place available in January, than nothing until next spring!

So, if you own a small or medium-sized business and you truly want make January a new beginning, for you and your business, get in touch. It’s your opportunity to work with me for a year on the development of your business, increasing your sales and profitability. With just 1 place available, I strongly suggest you contact me as soon as possible, if you would like us to work together.

photo: Jake and Lindsay

15 Powerful ideas to help you grow your business in 2012!

Here are 15 ideas and suggestions, to help you and your business have your best year ever!

  1. Embrace brevity.
  2. Understand that you must fail more often, if you want to make meaningful progress. If you’re not failing often enough, you’re sticking to things you already know. This means you are no longer growing.
  3. Remind yourself that the process of giving and receiving starts with giving.
  4. Avoid chasing perfectionism. It will stop you getting started, kill your creativity and block your progress.
  5. Avoid these rhinos. They will hurt your business and motivate you to do the wrong things, correctly.
  6. Accept that not all advice is created equal. There is a lot of poor quality information out there, especially online. There are several well known business bloggers, who are working as sub contractors because they have no idea how to develop a viable business. If advice smells like bullshit, it probably is.
  7. Get yourself a Google+ account. If you are on Google+, you can connect with me here. For those interested in the numbers, in the few months I have been using Google+, I have built a network of over 9,500 people. It has taken me almost 3 years to attract just 6,000 on twitter.
  8. Stop doing work that pays and start doing work that matters. Here’s why. (Hint: The payback is better!)
  9. When an opportunity comes your way, trust your intuition. It’s your mind telling you what’s best, after running the information through all your past life experiences. In my own case, every time I have gone against my intuition, it’s bitten me on the butt!
  10. Get expert help in any area of your business, where you are under performing. Things don’t just change for the better because you hope they will. Hope is important, but it’s not a business strategy.
  11. Remind yourself often about the value of your time.  No one ever lay on their deathbed, regretting they hadn’t spent more time watching reality TV. Throughout the day, ask yourself, is this the best use of my time right now? If it isn’t, go and do something more productive.
  12. Take care regarding what you say online. Most of it will be stored somewhere and searchable. A reader told me that a drunken rant from back in 2009, was found by a prospective client this year, who immediately withdrew their interest. It lost him a very important contract and was, he says, instrumental in his bankruptcy. Just because you may think it’s OK to rant, doesn’t mean everyone else does. Do it if you must, but be aware of the potential cost.
  13. Ask better questions. If you want great answers you need to ask great questions. If you want to attract more clients you could ask yourself, “how can I attract more clients?” Alternatively, you could ask yourself; “how can I attract high quality clients and lower the acquisition cost?” Better questions cause you to focus on better answers.
  14. Consider the source. There is always a reason behind people’s actions. People give you advice or feedback based on their motivations, not yours. Equally, some well intentioned advice can come from people without a clue.
  15. Learn to embrace your inner freak. This may be the best advice on this list.

What would you add to the list?

The secret to creating like an artist

A copycat simply copies what he or she sees another person doing.

An artist takes elements from what they see and then builds it into something unique. This is commonly referred to today as a mashup.

Some successful mashups

  • Apple didn’t invent the first tablet computer. I owned a HP tablet device 7 years ago. It was horrible. What Apple did, was make a great tablet that people wanted to own, by mashing up the idea behind the original tablet devices, with their super successful iPhone.
  • I spent an evening with Nile Rodgers recently. He explained that when he created the lyrics for his International smash hit, Good Times, which is one of the most sampled tracks ever, he fused the lyrics from Al Jolson’s, About a quarter to nine with the lyrics to, Happy days are here again. He then used those old time tunes, to inspire him to write the words to one of the most influential tracks in modern music history.
  • In 1999 I listened to a talk by Professor Ian Angell, where he said that the advent of the global digital communications revolution, means we now (in 1999) own the equivalent of “the factory”, in the industrial revolution. This was before Seth Godin made the idea famous, with his unique mashup of the idea and amazing gift for words.

Creatively cutting through the noise

The tools we have available to us today, make it possible to reach and connect with more people than ever before. The opportunity is enormous, but to benefit from it, there’s a challenge we need to overcome.

The challenge is finding a way to cut through all the noise.

Noise? There are over 800 million people pumping information into Facebook. Hundreds of millions more pump information into services like Linkedin, Twitter and Google+. There are also tens of millions of blogs and then there are all those email marketing messages too.

To get your voice heard when so many other people have something to say, is a huge challenge for many businesspeople. However, it needn’t be!

The creator’s opportunity in a world of curators

One of the most common issues business owners come to me with, is that they find it hard to build awareness of their work or grow their networks. When you embrace the concept of mashing up YOUR influences and turning them into YOUR unique art, you become a creator, in a world full of curators.

This changes everything for you:

  • It gains you visibility.
  • It positions you in the mind of others, as someone with something original to say.  YOUR original mashup!
  • It increases your reach.
  • The increased reach and clearer positioning, combine to make more people aware of who YOU are and what YOU are all about.

There are millions of curators out there. I’m part curator myself, as anyone who connects with me on social networking sites can confirm. Most creators are curators but a tiny percentage of curators are creators. A curator is someone who actively looks for interesting ideas to share with their friends and networks. Curators especially value information that’s different in some way. They also like to share opinions and ideas, which come from a fresh perspective.

Mashups can be used to develop fresh ideas on anything

I wrote recently about the value of taking great ideas from outside your industry and mashing them up, into something unique for your business.

For example, I adapted an idea from the phone industry into my business. Years ago, I was offered a deal, where my contract would remain at the same fee, for as long as I kept that same contract rolling. As a result, I now pay the same tiny monthly bill for my phone calls and data that I paid in 2004! It’s pennies. I was so impressed, that since 2004, I have given the same amazing offer to all my Marketing Mentor clients. If they join me today, they will pay the same annual fee next year or in 5 years. Never a penny more. It works great for me and my clients love it too.

We can waste a lot of time waiting for the muse to arrive

Many great people waste years, waiting for inspiration to gift them a wholly original idea, inspired by no one and no thing. In my experience, there truly is nothing new under the sun. For example:

  • The Beatles were inspired by Buddy Holly and Elvis, among others.
  • The modern computer can be traced back over four and a half thousands years, to the abacus.
  • The building you are sitting in as you read this, will have architectural elements that date back centuries.
  • Britney Spears was inspired by Madonna, who was inspired by Debbie Harry, who was inspired by Marilyn Monroe…

A freaky way to create

We start to create after we allow ourselves the freedom to embrace what I call our inner freak.

I use the term inner freak to describe the unique mashup within our minds, of all the influences that have combined to make us who we are. This is one of the reasons why we need to be careful regarding the people and inputs we allow to influence us.

It’s a lot easier to create something of unique value, when we feed our mind with a nutritious diet of rich mental protein. Feeding it on the same junk food diet of reality TV and celebrity news, which the majority of the population digests, makes it far harder to create something unique. I’m convinced the reason I find it so easy to write fresh blog posts every day, is that I don’t watch TV and am extremely selective who/what I allow to influence my thinking.

Photo: Ganesha Isis

The magic of showing up, when it’s easier not to

Today’s post is about the value of finding a way to do something, when it would be easier not to.  It’s about showing up and doing work that matters, even when you have a valid reason to give it a miss.

Christmas Eve

Based on last year’s figures, just 40% of my usual readership will visit here today, because this is a business site and today is Christmas Eve; a huge day for many people around the world.  So, it would have been extremely easy for me, to not show up today.  No one would blame me.  Even those of you who visit this blog today would understand, if you’d checked and saw nothing had been posted.

In business, we are often presented with compelling reasons not to show up or take action.  For example, the current economic downturn presents us all with a reason to put off investing in just about anything.  Then there’s writer’s block, it’s challenging to get a great newsletter written, when you don’t feel creative.  What about the weather?  If the weather’s really bad, you have a valid reason not to attend that client meeting.  There are always plenty of reasons not to do something.

So, why did I post today?

For those who are prepared to look, there are also lots of valid reasons to show up and make things happen.  I’m publishing this post today, because I know that 40% of this blog’s reader community will value it today.  In a few days, the other 60% will notice it too and all 100% will know that I looked for a valid reason to turn up for you.

I wrote this post, because I knew it mattered.  It shares a useful message and also demonstrates exactly what the message means: By showing up today, when I had a valid reason not to.

The magic of finding a way, when it’s easier not to

People are unlikely to think negatively of you, if you are unable to do something and you have a valid reason.  Some things genuinely can’t be avoided.

However, when you are able to find a way to ‘do the work’, at a time where people are not expecting it, they notice.  It’s a chance for your business to shine.  It’s an opportunity to invest in your relationship with your clients, customers or marketplace.  It was actually very easy to share this post with you today.  I simply wrote it on 12th December and scheduled it to be published on 24th December; when I hope to be with my family getting ready for Christmas.  No one said it needed to be difficult.

For those, like myself, who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.  For my friends who do not, have an amazing Saturday!

Photo: Jennifer Donley

It’s here: The key to your success in 2012!

Imagine being able to put into action, your best ideas and the most valuable lessons you have learned – Even the things that really challenge you.  Well, I’m going to share what I believe to be the key to unlocking your full potential.  It’s based on the same ideas, which transformed my life from one of poverty and lack, to commercial success and an amazing quality of life.

It starts with an understanding of the following: Knowledge is not power.  Knowledge only acquires power, when you use it.

I know people who invest massive amounts of time, learning how to make their businesses and lives better, yet the key to their success is still missing.  The reason, is that no one has told them how to unlock the motivation required, to put all that great information into action.

They know what they need to do, they just need to know how to get themselves started.

So, I created an audio program, which shows you how!

A lot of people have asked me why I decided to record The Motivation Master Class audio program.  People assumed my first downloadable audio program would be about marketing.  The answer, is that without the ability to motivate yourself and others to take action, all the advice in the world won’t help.  This program provides the key, to get yourself to do what’s required, even things you currently dread, fear or hate doing.

It’s a fact that no man or woman can succeed all by themselves.  That’s why I show you how to motivate others too; so you can get the help and support you need.

Success, knowing and doing

Success comes from doing the right things, correctly.  Not from knowing what to do, but actually doing what’s required.  One of the common factors behind the world’s most successful business owners, is their ability to do what their counterparts find easier to avoid.  Most business owners work hard, but the vast majority work hard doing the things they are more comfortable with, often avoiding the tricky tasks, which they know need to be done.

This 110 minute audio download will show you how to motivate yourself to take action, whenever you need to.  Just think what this low cost, high value audio program can do for your business and indeed your life.  It’s ideas and strategies transformed my life beyond recognition.

So, if you want more from your business and your life in general, I recommend you get yourself a copy of The Motivation Master Class.

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

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