Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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How NOT to look like a fake!

One of the big changes of the past few years, is that your marketplace can now see what you say AND what you do, like never before.

Until relatively recently, it was possible to have glossy brochures and advertisements, which showcased us as consummate professionals.  Then, our prospective clients wouldn’t know any different, until they met us or spoke with people who had experience of us and our work.

Thankfully, the world has changed

Today, many of our actions are visible to anyone who wants to check us out and these highly visible actions can be extremely revealing.  People can see how consistent we are, by looking at what we claim and comparing it to how we act.

For example, the marketplace can see:

  • When you preach the value of permission marketing, yet pester people with your unsolicited communications.
  • When you claim to be passionate about your business, yet feel the need to tell the world via your social networking accounts, how overjoyed you are to get the heck away from your business every Friday.  It’s understandable for a disgruntled employee to act like that.  When we see business owners doing it, the temptation is to suggest they quit and start a business they actually enjoy and are energized by.
  • When you say you offer a high quality service and believe in investing in quality, yet you operate behind an outdated or cheap looking website.  Don’t expect your marketplace to invest in your business, if YOU don’t.
  • When you claim to be a leader in your field, yet your online activity is that of a sheep.
  • When you market yourself as a creative person, yet your articles, posts or social networking accounts, show no craft.
  • When you market your services based on being reliable, yet you fail to show up on your blog regularly.

The best part is that everyone is free to do all of the above, which means that many of them will.

This makes it massively easier for YOU to shine, by showing people you are the real deal, through acting in accordance with what you say.

Steve Jobs: The passing of a genius and some words to live by

I woke up this morning to the news that Steve Jobs has died.

As I have frequently referenced the genius of Steve Jobs on this blog over the years, today, I would simply like to share one of my favourite Steve Jobs quotes with you.  It’s a message that regular readers will have seen me advocate many times, but never as eloquently or powerfully as Steve Jobs does here:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

How to create a GREAT 6 figure income online!

Here is how I generate a great, 6 figure income from my online marketing and how you can too.

Back in 2008, I was introduced to Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1000 true fans and quickly switched all of my marketing online.  Kelly’s theory is beautifully simple and massively powerful.  It suggests that if you sell a product, you can make a good living from having 1000 true fans; people who will buy everything you produce, travel across town to hear you and tell their friends about you.

More importantly to me and most small business owners reading this, if you are a service provider, this number is much, much lower than 1000.  Closer to 100, in fact.

Fans are not followers

It’s easy to get a follower.  It’s challenging to earn a fan.  For example, you can randomly follow 10 people on Twitter and gain a follower, simply because 1 of the 10 people you follow, will feel social pressure to follow you back.  To gain a new fan, you need to consistently practice your craft and figure out how to attract the attention of people who will fall in love with what you do.

Chasing the wrong numbers

The Internet is filled with struggling service providers, who have thousands of followers, yet very few true fans.  They chase the wrong numbers.  They do everything possible to increase the numbers that don’t matter and very little, to earn the numbers that do matter.  This usually sees them spend too little time sharing their craft with people and too much time figuring out how to reach their next, low-value, social networking milestone.

These people love to use software, to automate the people they follow, the links they share and anything else that may attract others.  Of course, they only attract followers, instead of Kelly’s true fans.

The trick to getting it right?

The trick is to stop looking for tricks.  As Seth Godin has been telling us for years, if it can be automated it has little real value because anyone can do it.  If you want to develop true fans rather than followers, you need to show them who you are and what you believe.  Those who get it will love you and what you do.  Those who don’t, won’t; which is perfect.

You see, unless you have people outside your circle, you can’t have people inside your circle and these insiders are your true fans.

The numbers approach gets this all wrong and treats everyone the same – just a number.  The reality is that behind every tweet, blog comment and Facebook update is a person.  A small, targeted minority of these people will have a need for what you do.  These insiders are the true fans you need to connect with.  It takes more time and work to attract these extremely valuable people, but the rewards are enormous.

For instance, in February, I wrote a post offering a single place on my marketing mentor program.  In the following 24 hours, I had 92 people asking for information about that 1 place on my program.  Based on my typical conversion rate, of inquirer to client, if I had enough places, I could have sold almost £100,000 worth of placesYou can read about it here.  Now, compare that approach to the emails I receive weekly, from business owners with more “followers” than me, who are slowly going broke.  People with thousands or tens of thousands of followers, yet too few of Kelly’s true fans.

If you can connect with what I am saying here, it’s a game-changer.

How it works

Sadly, I can’t show you a quick, foolproof way to attract true fans.  I would need to be working with you directly and know exactly what your ideal profile of client is, your industry, your services, your resources etc.  I can, however, give you some general ideas.  This is based on a few of the things I work on with clients, on my Marketing Mentor Program:

Start by reading these 2 posts:  The first is about doing work that matters and the second, is about how to apply your craft.  These will show you how to create the kind of impact, which true fans are searching for.

Stop chasing the wrong numbers:  Instead of measuring your success in “likes” and followers, measure it in conversations.  Measure it in emails from people, who love your work so much that they feel compelled to email you and say thanks.  Measure it in telephone calls from people, who connect with your craft and want to hire you.  But don’t measure it in followers.  If that’s your thing, go and buy 100,000 followers and see how that works for your mortgage payments at the end of the month.

Spend more time creating and less time curating:  Yes, it’s wonderful to share other people’s ideas with your social network, but people need to see your work too. I see people who share hundreds of words every day on social networks, yet their blogs have not been updated in weeks.  True fans need to see YOUR ideas and connect with your experience, as well as connecting with you on social networks.  They need to see value in your work.

Show them who you are, what you think and what you know.  Then, share other people’s pearls of wisdom.  If you simply ping out links and retweets, I can get that from an RSS feed.  Remember, if it can be automated, anyone can do it and it has little meaningful value.

Don’t complain, then stay the same:  If you like the idea of being able to write a single blog post, as I did in February, which generates an avalanche of income, change your current approach.  Don’t keep rowing your boat harder and harder in the wrong direction, complaining you have not reached your destination yet.  If you have hundreds or maybe thousands of followers and wonder why you get so few inquiries, you need to change your current approach.  It’s screaming at you that you are missing the true fans, who are just waiting for you to engage, and educate them with your craft.  These insiders will only be attracted to you and your work, when you stop chasing followers and connect with real people.

However…

Most people will dismiss this concept, because it’s uncomfortable.  It requires courage and conviction.

  • It means an almost certain initial drop in your follower numbers, as you swap from the numbers game, to the business of people.
  • It means having the courage to be the best YOU that you can be; rather than yet another number chasing, social media sheep.
  • It means more than telling yourself and others that you are a people person, whilst using software to build your following or spit out links 24/7.
  • It means being prepared to have outsiders, because that’s the only way you can attract insiders (or true fans.)  That’s frightening.  Too frightening for most to even consider.

But for those with the courage to stand up, get their work out there and connect with the people who “get it,” the rewards are life changing.

Photos: MGM_Photos & AnnieHP

The day everything improves for you

Today is my 46th birthday and I will start the day with the same commitment I make every year at this time.  I will promise to become a year better over the coming 12 months, rather than just a year older.

I have often listened to business owners boldly proclaiming that they have 20 year’s worth of experience in their field, when in reality, they have just a few years worth of experience, which they keep repeating.  They mistake movement for progress and end up with similar frustrations in year 20, to those they had in year 2.

Older and wiser?

Older does not always equal wiser because longevity and competence are not the same thing.  There are people reading this right now, who have been struggling to grow their business for years, yet have never hired the specialist help they know they need.

We all know people who make the same basic errors year after year, then blame their luck, the economy, their star-sign or their past, for their lack of progress.  In reality we know that nothing improves until we do.  If we keep doing what we have always done, we will keep getting what we have always got.

The day everything improves for you

You don’t need to wait until your birthday or the New Year, before you make the commitment to massively improve your future.

  • Today can be the day you decide to stop dabbling with your business development and get the help you know you need.
  • Today can be the day you start writing that book.
  • Today can be the day you start working on one of those great ideas you had.
  • Today can be the day you fire that client who is sucking the life out of your business.
  • Today can be the day you stop following the flock and be yourself.
  • Today can be the day you decide to start building a wall of financial security around the people you love, which nothing can penetrate.

Have a GREAT day!

Give a blogger a hug!

In the tiny village where I live, we have just one small shop.  When severe weather kicks in and we can’t get into the nearest town, that place is our only option.

Every day, I buy something from them; even if it’s just a pint of milk or some bread.  It costs about 10% more than buying the same thing in town, but I know that if everyone does what I do, that little shop will be able to stay in business, serving the local community.  Then, the next time our village gets snowed in, it will be there for us.

The harsh reality is this:  If you find something genuinely useful or valuable, you need to either support it or risk losing it.

Free, valuable information

As a blogger and blog reader, I often see people commenting on blogs regarding how useful they find all the free information, which the blogger shares with his or her readers.  I see business owners thanking the blogger for saving them time, money or both.

It’s important to understand that the free information on these blogs is only free for the readers.  The blogger picks up the bill.  It can be a pretty hefty bill too.  A blog like this one, which gets many thousands of daily readers, requires thousands of pounds/dollars every year in managed hosting costs alone.  Then there are the billable hours, which the blogger invests writing all that free content for their readers.

Give a blogger a hug

If there is a blog you find useful (any blog other than this one, see below), I ask you to do one small thing for me.  Go there today and either buy something they are selling or, if you can’t afford to buy something, recommend the blogger’s work to your network.

Otherwise, you may go there for some valuable, free information one day and find their shutters are down!

BTW: WebFusion pick up the hefty bill for my hosting, on my reader’s behalf.  I’d like to publicly thank them for their support and for keeping this site super-reliable for over a year.  They ensure my work is here for you and accessible, whenever you need it.

What self proclaimed gurus are REALLY telling us

Do you ever find yourself cringing when you see the titles some business people give to themselves?

Social networks are packed with self-proclaimed gurus, thought leaders and mavens.  The challenge here is NOT with the title, but the fact that it’s self-proclaimed.  In reality, we don’t self proclaim a title, we earn it.  If people in your marketplace refer to you as a thought leader, you have no control over that.  They decided, based on their experience of you, that you lead them with your thinking.

What you DO have control over, is how you choose to refer to yourself.  This is why the titles people proclaim for themselves, tell us so much about them; usually the polar opposite of what they intended!

The smartest person in the room?

Whenever people self-proclaim a lofty title, it immediately puts us on guard.  For example, if you are at a networking event and someone tells you they are the smartest person in the room, you know that they are not.  Their decision to proclaim that to you, is something that even a moderately bright person wouldn’t do.  It’s plainly ridiculous, shows a lack of self-confidence and makes them look like a fool.

The reason we see so many self proclaimed gurus, is that they fail to see the disconnect, between the message they THINK they are giving us, and the message we actually receive.  They genuinely think it looks impressive to call themselves gurus, oblivious of the fact that it makes most people instantly suspicious and others (like me) cringe.

The bottom line:  Think extremely carefully before you hire a self-proclaimed guru, maven or thought leader.  Their need to self-proclaim that title, tells you massively more about them than the title itself.

Google: How to get your photo to show up in Google search results

A number of readers have noticed that whenever a post from this blog shows up in Google’s search results, Google displays a photo of me next to it (see above).  People are emailing me more and more, asking how I did it, so here goes.

I need to start by saying that I didn’t do it. Google did! This is really important. Even if you follow the steps in the guide I am about to share, there’s no guarantee it will work for you. According to Google:

This feature is being rolled out gradually, and ranking will be implemented algorithmically, so author information will not always display in search results.

So, this may or may not work for you. Currently, I know just a few bloggers other than myself who has had the feature activated by Google. Every other example I see comes from huge sites like mashable and a-list bloggers like Robert Scoble.

Why are Google attaching “author information” to Google search results?

There is a huge issue right now, with people stealing other people’s content and claiming it as their own. Thanks to this new author information service from Google, it will be easier for people to identify the initial or original source of a blog post or article. In essence, when you see that photo show up in your search results, it means Google are verifying that the blog post was written by that person.

If you look closely at the image above, you will see that next to my photo are the words “by Jim Connolly.” If you then click on my name in the search results, it takes you to my Google+ Profile. By the way, you can join me on Google+ here!

For bloggers like myself, whose content is used without attribution on lots of other sites, this author information allows people to find the original source. Within minutes of my posts being published here, they start appearing on other blogs; something known as content scraping.  This is an effort by Google, to help match the correct blogger (or author as they call us) to the correct post. Most of my posts are scraped around a dozen times, meaning there are lots of versions of my work out there, often attributed to people who simply scraped them.

How does Google Authoring work?

The idea is actually extremely simple. You link from your blog (or your website), to your Google Profile and then, you link from your Google Profile back to your blog. This reciprocal linking verifies that the owner of that Google Profile is also the (or an) author on that blog. If you own a multi authored blog it works too. You just need your bloggers to link from their Google Profile, to their author page on your blog. Once that process is completed, a circle is created, allowing Google to confidently identity you as the rightful author of your own work, in their search results.

Whilst the idea is extremely simple, the process is currently a little tricky. Rather than try and explain it here, I’d like you to read the instructions from Google, which I followed. I also recommend you watch the short video on that page.

Then what?

Once you have followed the instructions, check that you have done it correctly using Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool. This tool is extremely useful and will show you if the code is working and what your blog’s listing will look like in Google’s SERPS (search engine results page), AFTER they have activated it. To use the Rich Snippets Testing Tool, simply paste the URL (address) of one of your blog posts into it and press the preview button. It’s that simple.

Then, if everything looks OK and you see your photo in the preview, it’s a matter of waiting!

Sadly, I don’t know people at Google who can fast-track your site and I am not the guy to help you if you try this and find it doesn’t work; so please, no technical questions in the comments. I just followed the instructions and it worked for me.

Is it worth it?

Yes. It’s useful for people to know that they are reading something, where there is a verified connection between the author and the content. I have also seen a significant increase in Google search traffic since the author information was activated. This makes sense as anyone searching Google, who knows who I am, will see my photo next to a search result and be more likely to click it. Photo’s act a lot faster than text and give an immediate signal.

I applaud Google’s work in helping bloggers to be credited with authorship of their own work. I look forward to seeing your smiling faces staring at me when I’m next searching!

For more useful tips and ideas, simply click here and get future updates delivered to your inbox!

Here is some specialist advice for you

The marketplace will pay a premium for specialists.  A specialist lawyer, who is an expert in medical negligence, may be the wrong person to deal with the sale of your home, but she’s exactly who you need, to get that medical negligence issue successfully resolved.

The value of specialists

Successful business owners and consultants in every niche, have figured out that if they become specialist in a key area, they can work with great clients and earn attractive fees.  Specialists have this additional value, because unlike generalists in their niche, they focus on being truly outstanding in one or two areas.  So, if we need expert help with a specific issue, we hire a specialist rather than a generalist.

Struggling business owners and consultants also know it’s important to specialise.  However, they get it all wrong.  Rather than focus on the areas where they have expert knowledge, they claim to be specialists in everything (see photo.)  In an effort to appeal to everyone, they use a message that fails to be directly relevant to anyone.  This is a big mistake.

I took the photo for today’s post on a visit to my local town.  The sign belongs to a small, generalist law firm.  However, their sign claims that they are specialists.  Not only that, they claim to specialise in everything!  This is, of course, factually incorrect.  Law is a massive, complex subject with specialisations within specialisations within specialisations.  To claim that they are specialists in all areas of law is ridiculous.  It also hurts their marketing.

Specialist marketing

From a marketing perspective, signs like that are pointless.  They make it impossible for people to know what the law firm really is good at.  If they listed their two or three main areas of expertise, anyone seeing that sign, with that problem, would stop and take note.  By listing nothing and claiming everything, they are invisible.

Claiming to specialise in everything, simply tells people you specialise in nothing.

Claiming to specialise in one (or a few) complimentary areas, is vastly more effective.

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