Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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An amazing opportunity for you to prosper, in this uncertain economy!

Today, I want to tell you about an amazing opportunity, for you and your business.

Whilst the economy is the worst it has been in living memory, I’m working with small businesses and seeing other small businesses, which are growing faster than at any time in their history. In this post, I am going to share what I believe to be a key factor behind their success!

No tricks

One of the great lessons in business, is that there are no tricks when it comes to creating meaningful, lasting commercial success.

Since starting my marketing business 17 years ago, I have found that there are 2 camps, when it comes to small business owners:

  1. The first camp want to know how to do the right things, correctly. They don’t want to waste time getting from where they are to where they want to be. So, they find out what works and then work at it.
  2. The second camp are looking for tricks. They ask me questions like; what’s the trick to getting my business noticed, Jim? Their hope is that I will offer them a sentence or two of trickery, which they can use and immediately turn their under performing marketing around. I get people asking me things like this on Twitter, fully expecting the “trick” to fit into 140 characters or less.

The market for trickery is huge

Look at the marketing aimed at small business owners and you will often see outrageous claims,aimed at those in the second camp. Everything from how to get 100,000 Twitter followers in 36 hours to promises like how to earn a 6 figure income working 5 hours a week. These scammy products attract paying customers, because people are looking for that kind of impossible result. The people looking for tricks make up a huge proportion of society, which is why wonder diets sell like crazy, if they promise rapid weight loss with little willpower required.

Usually, when people ask me what’s the trick to (whatever), what they really mean is one or all of the following:

  • What’s the quick way?
  • What’s the risk free way?
  • What’s the easy way?
  • What’s the cheap way?

Here’s the trick

When people ask me those questions, the answer I give is always the same. I tell people that the fastest, least risky, easiest and most inexpensive way to improve their marketing and business development, is to do the right things, correctly. It’s how 100% of the most successful business owners achieve their results.

One of my clients has grown his coaching business revenues by over 500% and his profits by closer to 700%, but it took us 2 years. He now hand picks his clients, but it took us 2 years. His life has changed, but it took us 2 years. He now lives where he wants to live, but it took us 2 years. In that same 2 year period, millions of other coaches and trainers have just carried on making the same errors, often copying what they see others doing, unaware the person they are copying is often in just as bad a spot as they are. So, these coaches and trainers are still fighting to get noticed, still selling based on fees, still trying to find the trick that will work for them. It’s totally unnecessary.

Your amazing opportunity

You have an incredible opportunity right now. The economy is in bad shape, really bad shape – the worst in living memory. So, your prospective clients are thinking harder and harder, before they spend their money.

Here’s why this represents an amazing opportunity for you:

When your marketplace are thinking hard before making a purchasing decision, the providers (that’s you) who market their services the most effectively, win a disproportionately massive share of their business.

That’s because you can provide them with exactly what they need to see and hear, whilst your amateurishly marketed competitors camouflage themselves with the same uninspiring marketing.

For those seriously interested in growing a successful business, the trick is to stop looking for tricks and get serious. This is a bad time to dabble, but it’s an amazing time to finally blow the lid off your business potential and build that business you have always wanted.

Photo: Steven DePolo

Highly Recommended: The Marketing Over Coffee Podcast

Very rarely, I ‘highly recommend’ a blog or podcast, which I believe you will find extremely useful. I’m happy to say that today is one of those days!

The Marketing Over Coffee Podcast

marketing over coffee podcastI strongly recommend you check out  the Marketing Over Coffee podcast, by Christopher Penn and John J Wall. The podcast looks at marketing related stories and provides common sense ideas and tips, covering all areas of marketing.

The hosts are experienced, respected professionals, with Christopher Penn an adjunct professor of Internet Marketing at the University of San Francisco as well as being co-founder of the PodCamp movement. John’s services have been employed by some of the world’s most respected companies and his work has featured on many US and international news outlets.

Insightful and entertaining

As the name suggests, the podcast is recorded over coffee at a Massachusetts coffee shop. The conversational style of the show and the obvious rapport the guys have, often makes Marketing Over Coffee as entertaining, as it is informative. It’s a balance that’s hard to pull off but these guys manage it beautifully.

Shows typically run for a little over 20 minutes and past guests have included Seth Godin and Simon Sinek. You can subscribe now via iTunes or any of the options on the Marketing Over Coffee blog. I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough and strongly suggest you subscribe now, to find out why.

Photo Credit: Marketing Over Coffee

Blogging: It’s all about doing the work

When it comes to commercial blogging, sometimes you just need to do the work.

Once your blog has been correctly configured, write the best content you can, as often as you can and make it as easy for people to share as you can. Put your work where the right people will see it, social networking sites are great for this.

Then, keep on doing the work.

The software alone is not enough

I often see people who seem to spend more time changing the design of their blog and the plugins they use, than they spend blogging and improving their writing.

The thing is, it’s the quality of our content and the regularity with which we show up with great content, which makes the difference. This is why you can have blogs like ZenHabits or Seth Godin’s blog, which are extremely plain looking and get hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, and blogs that use the latest glossy WordPress theme, which very few people read. Leo and Seth write great content, regularly.

For those who want a bigger, targeted readership for their blogs, there are 2 areas I recommend you focus on.

1. Show up regularly

If people respond well when you write, (i.e they share your posts, link to them and talk about them), but you don’t write very often, increase the frequency of your blogging. Here’s how to write great content every day. The big secret to being able to produce useful content on a regular basis, is to do it. The more you write, the easier it becomes.

2. Show us what you know and what you think

If you write regularly, but people tend not to respond when you write, I suggest you take a look at what you write. People love to read and share blog posts, which offer them some kind of value, either because it makes them think, makes them act or makes them laugh out loud. The best thing you can do is be yourself, rather than try and copy what others are doing. One of the reasons you have not seen me writing about Pinterest or SOPA, is that thousands, maybe millions are already doing that. I can’t add value there. It would be a me too post.

Turn up regularly and do the work. Show us what you know and what you think. Give us a reason to keep coming back for more, to share your work with our friends, and that’s exactly what we will do.

Why your Internet marketing NEEDS your voice!

I saw a joke on Google+ yesterday. It simply said:

How to start an argument online

  1. State an opinion.
  2. Wait.

There’s some truth in this

Many small business owners lack visibility online, because they fear being challenged for expressing their own opinions. So, they will like, retweet, +1 and stumble what others say and ensure their own messages are as uncontentious as possible. Whilst this approach does almost eliminate confrontation, it also robs you of the visibility you need, in order to succeed.

  • Your marketplace listens to you, when you have a message worthy of their valuable attention.
  • They follow you, when you lead. Not when you simply nod along like everyone else at the back.

Business should be challenging

Yes, you will get challenged, if you have the courage to share what you think and it happens to go against the grain. If you believe in the value of your opinion, you should welcome people to test what you say. In many cases, you will learn something about the strength of your own view point. In others, you will learn how to make your point more clearly. I have learned a great deal from people, who have caused me to dig deep and question my own opinions.

Looking through their lens

So, what about those people who just seem intent on arguing, when you confidently express your opinion? A quick look at what you have said, through their lens, will usually show you (in seconds) why they are arguing with you. Looking through their lens, is a phrase used to describe looking at what you said, from their perspective, so you can identify their motives.

Here’s what I commonly find, when I look through the lens of someone intent on arguing rather than discussing a viewpoint:

Vested interests: They have a vested interest in the opposing view. I saw a recent post by a guy who said that traditional networking groups were becoming less relevant, as more people connected with others on services like LinkedIn and Facebook etc. He was attacked by a lady who said online networking was of zero value, zero use and that he was in denial. After clicking through the link on her comment, I saw she ran several offline networking groups. Her business model needs that guy to be wrong.

Trolls: You are dealing with a troll. Trolls are going to troll, it’s what they do. Welcome to the Internet. It’s your call, but if they are only looking to insult you, there’s little value publishing their abuse or responding to their jibes on social networks. Seriously, you would not allow someone to do that to you in public and you shouldn’t online either. If someone’s just being a bastard, there’s no room for that in my business and I’m guessing the same is true for your business, too.

They want your juice: They want to gain your attention or the attention of your readers / followers. Some people seem to believe that it’s an effective marketing technique, to argue with people in their profession on social networks and on their competitors blogs. This is pretty rare and tends to happen more when you have a large readership or online following and a reputation for publishing comments that disagree with you.

In summary

I’ve written thousands of blog posts and only ever needed to delete a handful of trollish comments. Others who challenge my views, often open up the conversation and that’s how I evaluate their input: As an asset.

It’s your marketing and your decision, but it’s extremely hard to attract the attention of your prospective clients or earn their respect, if you’re simply nodding along with the masses.

Avoid this common social networking mistake

Positivity and negativity share a common factor: They are both extremely contagious. This can work for you or against you.

What I mean by that, is that when you speak in negative terms about your business, those who hear you will start to share your negativity. Similarly, when you speak positively about your business, your enthusiasm spreads too.

The value of speaking with positive optimism

Social networking sites are filled with business owners, either spreading optimism about their business or creating doubt and uncertainty. Those speaking with positive optimism about their future, build confidence within their marketplace. We associate them with a solid business and a bright outlook.

The danger of spreading negativity & fear about your business

Those speaking negatively about their business, stand a real chance of fulfilling their fears, as they scare prospective clients away from using them. Prospective clients are extremely unlikely to waste their time hiring a new service provider, if they believe the service provider’s business is in trouble. The marketplace wants the support of providers, who they can bank on being there for the long haul. A flaky business with a dark outlook is an unattractive proposition for prospective clients.

When using social networking sites to connect with your marketplace, be very aware of the damage you can do, expressing doom and gloom about your business. It has never been easier to become a self fulfilling prophecy than it is today, so focus on what you want and not what you fear.

If there is a reason for you to be worried about your business right now, fix what’s broken. Then, move forward with confidence and share that confidence and optimism with your marketplace.

Are you trying too much?

It’s ironic that when someone tells you they will try and do something, they often mean the exact opposite. Commonly, it’s an indication of a lack of commitment, rather than a strong intention to commit.

For example, if you invite someone to attend a corporate event, you know when they respond with; ‘I’ll try and make it’, that there’s at least a 50% chance they will not attend. What they have really said is that they almost certainly won’t be there, but they want you to believe that they REALLY wanted to. They did try, after all.

The marketplace is watching

Your prospective clients don’t need another provider, who can’t be relied on to follow through. They are not crying out for people, who make vague or uncertain promises. However, what there is always a need for, and shortage of, is professionalism.

This means:

  • If we say we are going to do something, we should not only do it, but do it as well as we possibly can.
  • If we know we are not going to do something, we should say so – Not lie that we will make some half-assed attempt.
  • If we have to tell someone we will try, then we should REALLY try. We should use all our expertise, resources and effort to make (whatever) happen. Let them know that when YOU say you will try, you really mean it.

I’m going to try and resist finishing this brief post with that famous Yoda quote from Star Wars, where he explains the Jedi view on the subject of trying:

Do or do not… There is no try. ~ Master Yoda

Well, I did try!

Here are 3 great reasons to put your next business idea into action

There are 3 powerful reasons, why you should take action on your next business idea.

  1. It might work out just how you wanted, right out the box!
  2. It might work later, after you make a few adjustments. By putting an idea into action, you attract feedback. Feedback allows you to tweak and improve.
  3. It might flop. If it does, you get to learn from it and invest that learning in future opportunities. This is how most true progress is made.

Feedback is your friend

When you truly understand the value of feedback, it becomes a lot easier to take action with your ideas and insights. Looking at the 3 possible scenarios above, you will have noticed that it’s impossible for you to fail – UNLESS you fail to take action.

One of the great paradoxes in life, is that the best way to succeed more often, is to increase your (so called) failure rate. The challenge here, is that many business owners have not yet figured this out. They avoid taking action on their ideas, unless they are convinced, in advance, the idea will work out exactly how they want it to.

Take action. Give your ideas the opportunity to fly and give yourself the opportunity to learn. Increase your failure rate by 500% over the next 12 months and I’m telling you, you will make more progress than you can imagine.

Photo.

Can you get to the point?

Have you noticed how some people in business seem unable to get to the point? They waffle, go round in circles, repeat themselves and succeed in looking and sounding confused. This post looks at why this happens and why you need to avoid it.

Clarity matters

marketing clarityIn business, you need to have crystal clarity, regarding your products, services and overall mission. You need to know exactly what your business does, who it does it for and why people should hire you or buy from you, rather than one of your competitors. Failing to do this will result in confusion and a confused mind always says no! In other words, when you speak with prospective clients and they are unclear exactly what you do, they will usually do nothing.

You can’t expect prospective clients or customers to understand the value of your proposition, if you are unable to give them the clear, concise information they need.

You can’t get to the point, if you’re unclear what the point is

Many small business owners are unclear about exactly what their business does. They know the industry sector they are in, but are vague or fuzzy, regarding THEIR SPECIFIC business and why people should be interested in them.

For example, if Mary is an accountant but is unclear about what sets her apart from other local accountants,it’s going to be extremely hard for her to convince prospective clients to use her services, rather than a cheaper competitor. With additional clarity, Mary could explain what sets her apart and those prospective clients who value that, will work with her. Otherwise, Mary is destined to market herself based on fees – The dreaded race to the bottom!

A clear mission helps eliminate confusion

The mission statement of my new project Creative Thinking Hub, is clear and to the point:

I want to help as many people as I can, think as creatively as they can.

Anyone bright enough to be interested in developing their creative thinking skills, will be able to see what Creative Thinking Hub is all about, in just 16 words. That’s the kind of clarity you need, in order for those you speak with, to get a handle on exactly why you are worthy of their interest. This has also made it extremely easy for people to spread the word about the project.

In short: Get crystal clear about your business, who your client or customer is and EXACTLY why they should hire you or buy from you, rather than a cheaper competitor.

Photo: Rob Ellis

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