Since 1995, I have been helping small and medium sized business owners to make massively more sales than ever before. Today, I am going to share my top marketing tips, with you.
These marketing tips and ideas can help anyone achieve better sales results, so take a few moments to study them. I hope you find the following marketing tips and ideas useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with them. Let’s get started!
Marketing Tip 1: Throw that old marketing guide in the bin!
My first marketing tip is this: If you want to avoid wasting stacks of money and missing countless sales opportunities, throw your old marketing guides and audio programs in the recycling bin!
You need to know what works today and the marketing landscape changes rapidly.
So, before putting any marketing tips or marketing tactics into place, check the date of the information you are using.
Marketing tip 2: Content marketing – Learn how to use content to market your business!
Content marketing works. In fact, so long as the material you produce is of extremely good quality, Content Marketing can work REALLY well. Last year, I generated over £150,000 in fees and sales from this blog, exclusively through Content Marketing.
You may or may not be familiar with the phrase Content Marketing, yet you visit content marketing sites every time you access the Internet. When you visit news sites, entertainment sites or blogs like this, which offer business advice, you are visiting a site that uses content (useful information) to market itself. Content Marketing can successfully be used to market any type of business and it is unbeatable when it comes to attracting new clients, sales leads, inquiries and subscribers.
Briefly, here’s how Content Marketing works:
- You build and market a website and stock it with FREE information that has real value to your prospective clients, whilst offering them the opportunity to purchase goods, services (or both), which are closely linked to the information you give away.
For instance, on this blog I provide thousands of marketing ideas and regular, valuable, free marketing advice. People read the information, use the ideas and share what they find here with their friends. Then, some of those people see the quality of my information and decide to hire me, when they need expert marketing help. Others buy my audio program.
I’ve spoken about Content Marketing with thousands of people. The most common question they ask is a version of this:
“Hang on Jim. If I freely give all this valuable Content Marketing information away, surely people will simply do the job themselves?”
I answer by explaining that there are 3 groups of people, who will read your Content Marketing. Here they are and here is how your Content Marketing works with each group:
- The first group is small. They are what I call serial freebie seekers. These people never ever pay for professional help. They were never prospective clients, so you lose nothing.
- The second group is the largest. These people will try and do something themselves, but will hire professional help if they are not getting the results they need. They value genuine expertise.
- The third group is the smallest. These are the rare people, who value their time and also ‘get’ that by hiring an expert to do something correctly for them, it works out a lot less expensive, the results are better and things happen faster.
Here’s what that means to you:
- No one in the first group was going to spend a dime with you anyway. You lost nothing by giving them free information.
- Some of the people in the second group will use your information and have a go at doing the job for themselves, whilst others in the group will see that they need expert help, and some of those people will hire you.
- With the third group, if you demonstrate through your Content Marketing that you truly are an expert in your field, they will hire you. They already know all about you and your work. They trust you.
Content Marketing Tip: Ignore anyone, who tells you that ANY content will do or that you can automate the process. This is not the case. If the content someone produces is predictable, poorly thought out junk, it won’t do anything other than make them look bad. Today, we are starting to see many of the early Content Marketing gurus panic, as Google has become increasingly good at filtering low-value material from their rankings.
Content Marketing is a huge subject, which I cover here on the blog regularly. If you want to make sure you never miss a post, click here and get future posts delivered direct to your inbox, for FREE.
Marketing tip 3: Email marketing – Start using email marketing NOW!
Email marketing is extremely cost effective and one of the most powerful marketing tools available to small businesses. This is because it provides predictable results and costs little or nothing to use.
Another huge benefit of email marketing is that unlike Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or any other social network, YOU not only build your network… YOU own it!
Business owners who spent time and money building their Facebook Page discovered in 2013, that Facebook is showing their posts to just a tiny fraction of their fans. If they want all their Facebook fans to see their posts, they now need to pay Facebook. Facebook owns their network! This change of the rules is a perfect example of why you need to avoid outsourcing your network, to a social network. Email marketing puts you in control and allows you to build an increasingly valuable asset.
Here are just a few things for you to consider, before you start using email marketing.
I strongly recommend that you build your own email database, rather than buy one from one of those list broking companies.
The best way to start building your subscriber list, is to ask all your existing clients and contacts if you can have their email address. Never just add people to your email list. You need permission, otherwise they will regard your emails as spam.
Then, ask if you can contact them from time to time via email with a newsletter or special offers or announcements. This will get you your initial list and give you something to get started with. So long as you ONLY contact these people with useful information, and make it easy for them to share your newsletter, your list will grow… in size and value.
You also need to have an email sign-up box on your website or blog. This needs to be easy to read and positioned in an uncluttered area of your site, which everyone will see. I offer a free email version of this blog. The subscriber box is clearly positioned on the top right of the site. This position works extremely well and people use it every hour of every day to subscribe.
Be extremely cautious of any marketing expert, who says you need to use annoying pop-up boxes in order to get their reader’s attention. NO YOU DO NOT. It simply shows they have no idea how to optimise their website.
Pop-up boxes are also extremely annoying and tend to generate low quality subscribers. We find that people who happily click on pop-up boxes, tend to click on LOTS of pop-up boxes. As a result, they get hundreds of newsletters sent to them and are unlikely to notice yours.
If you are asking people to subscribe to your newsletter, I also suggest you offer them something of genuine value, in return for joining your subscriber list. For example, when I was writing my newsletter, I used to offer a free ebook. I also advise that you only ask for people to give you their name and email address… not their whole life story.
Note: Every additional piece of information you ask for, will reduce your sign-up numbers.
It’s also really important to let people know you will never, ever pass on their email details to anyone. I built a newsletter readership of over 60,000 targeted subscribers using that approach.
I also recommend you only send one email message every 7 to 14 days. That’s what I did with my newsletter, because people hate being inundated with information, even if it’s great information! As a direct result of not bombarding people with emails, people looked forward to receiving them and very few people asked to be removed from my subscriber list.
Finally, (and this is very important) you must ask your readers to forward your emails on to their contacts. If the content is good enough, they will – but never assume anything, always ask them. Include a message at the end of every newsletter, which says something like this:
“If you have had this email forwarded to you by a friend and you would like to receive a regular copy, you can join our readership here.” (Then link from that text, to the newsletter sign up page on your site.)
I also recommend you learn and abide by the rules governing email marketing in your country.
Bonus: If you want to achieve the very best results possible, always, always invest in expertly written content. It can be the difference between a super-successful campaign and one that generates nothing!
Marketing tip 4: Build a well-connected network
One of the biggest myths in business is that you must have a large network if you want to succeed. In fact, you need just 5 or 10 people to begin with, as I explain here.
The reality is that the size of your network is not what’s important. It’s the influence of the people within your network that counts.
- IF MY NETWORK has 1000 people BUT they lack influence, it will have a commercial value of close to zero.
- IF YOUR NETWORK has just 10 people BUT they are motivated and have real influence, it will have a massive commercial value to you.
Stop wasting your time swapping business cards at networking events. The people attending these events are there to sell to you, not to buy from you and very, very few well-connected people waste their time attending them. None of the influential people I know or have met over my 25 years in marketing, network at these events. The best networkers have discovered out that the way to get connected to the right people, is to deliberately target them.
Here’s a suggestion: Draw up a list of the 30 most influential people in your marketplace. These people could include high quality prospective clients or maybe influential introducers; introducers are people who can recommend you to lots of buyers. Then, put a plan together that will allow you to EARN their attention. This targeted approach takes time, but the rewards are enormous. Don’t believe me? Okay, think how different your business would look, of you had already done this, and you could now pick up the phone and talk to the most influential people in your industry! It’s a game-changer.
Marketing tip 5: Internet marketing – Start taking your website seriously
Most small businesses are unaware that their website is capable of being a 24/7, lead generating or sales machine.
Your website can generate high quality enquiries, leads, phone calls and sales from interested prospective clients… so long as you do it right.
When a website is professionally designed and marketed, it’s like having a store that is BANG IN THE MIDDLE of Oxford Street or 5th Avenue. Most small business websites are more like stores that are on an unused dirt road in the middle of nowhere. They are outdated and poorly marketed, when they could be so much more valuable to the business owner.
Today, the investment required for a professional looking website or blog is minimal. Yes, you certainly can spend thousands on a website, however, for the vast majority of businesses there’s absolutely no need to spend that kind of money.
This site, for example, is one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs. It’s built on WordPress (which is free) using a blog theme, which cost around $80. There are sites that cost 100 times more, which generate a fraction as many leads. So, you don’t need to spend a fortune, to have a successful, professional website or blog.
Another reason you need to take your website seriously, is that almost everyone now uses the Internet to ‘check out’ a potential service provider. Before deciding whether to do business with a provider or not, the vast majority of people will look for the provider’s website! That includes the people YOU market your services to. So, what is your website ‘telling’ them about your business?
Your website is a unique part of your marketing in one really important respect: it alone has the power to either kill or to supercharge the response rates of all your other marketing activities. So, if you send a mailshot for example, be aware that the people that were interested in what you offered will visit your website before deciding to contact you (or not!) This means the quality and content of your website has to encourage people to completely trust you and see you in a wholly professional light.
If your marketing hasn’t generated the response rates you hoped for, remember, the people who ‘were’ going to contact you visited your website first. A professional looking and optimized website is essential. It’s as simple as that.
Marketing tip 6: Match your fees to your promises
There is a common mistake, which loses small and medium sized businesses a fortune. It’s simply this:
Their marketing promises a high quality service, BUT they charge a bargain-basement fee. By doing this, they send a mixed message to prospective clients, which loses theme businesses.
Everyone knows that quality never comes cheap. We have been trained from childhood to believe that if something looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Promising people a high quality service for a low fee, creates doubt. That’s the last thing you want to happen in the mind of your prospective clients.
Make your services as valuable to the marketplace as possible and then charge accordingly. If you do, your prices will match your promises and you will have made it easier for future clients to trust your marketing message.
Here are 3 articles, which show you how to sell your services to the best potential clients, for the highest fees:
Marketing tip 7: Use inbound or ‘attraction marketing’ — not pursuit marketing
I am sure you will have noticed what happens whenever a beautiful woman or a handsome man walks into a crowded room or a bar? People look at them. In fact, some people will actually walk over to them and offer them a drink or strike up a conversation with them. The reason we call these kind of physically striking people ‘attractive’ is that they literally attract the attention and also the interest of other people.
So, you might be wondering at this point, what this has to do with you and your marketing? The most successful businesses ALL use the same power of attraction I just highlighted, in order to attract sales, clients readers or customers. The most successfully marketed businesses gain the attention and interest of potential clients by making themselves attractive.
I rely exclusively on attraction marketing for 100% of my sales income. How? Simple: People find this blog ‘attractive’, so they recommend and forward it to their contacts, their colleagues and their friends. This, in turn, helps me attract more people. These new people then do the same etc, etc…
Without spending anything on ANY form of advertising, (pay-per-click, affiliate marketing or anything else), there are now millions of people who know all about my ability to help them produce great sales results.
So, whenever my readers decide that they want someone to help them make more sales, guess what? Yes, they give me a call or send me an email. I attract clients rather than pursue them, which is great because people HATE being chased or pursued. Spend a day doing cold-calling and you will learn very quickly just how much people HATE being pursued.
Most businesses get it the wrong way around. They choose to ‘pursue’ new clients and even though people are not responding to their letters, emails or calls; they just keep on grinding away regardless.
Marketing tip 8: Do some competitor research
It’s impossible to effectively sell or market your services unless you have researched your competitors. You need to know what offers, guarantees, prices or fees you are selling against, in order to make YOUR offering the most attractive to potential clients.
In my experience, business owners often assume that the service they offer to potential clients is superb, when in reality it’s pretty average, when compared to what their competitors are offering. One of the reasons for this, is that a key way service providers gather feedback on their competitors, is when they speak with former clients of their competitors. An accountant, for example, speaking with the disgruntled, former client of one of her competitors is likely to get a very biased, worst case scenario view.
The key is to find out what you’re really up against and THEN BEAT IT by adding massive value.
Marketing tip 9: Joint Ventures
Sometimes known as a J.V, a Joint Venture is where you and another business or person get together to (usually) cross-market your services. The key to Joint Venture success, is to find someone credible, who offers a non-conflicting product or service to the exact same profile of person or business as you do.
So, if you sell recruitment services to the hospitality industry and they sell employee benefits packages to the hospitality industry – BINGO! They can include one of your flyers or letters in one of their mailings and you can do the same for them; everybody wins. Avoid doing a Joint Venture with anyone who contacts you via email, unless of course you know them or can check them out. If in doubt, leave it.
Marketing tip 10: Endorsed Relationships
An endorsed relationship is similar to a joint venture – But with a massive difference: The person you do the venture with actually gives you their professional or personal endorsement. This is marketing gold dust.
For example: Rather than just slipping one of YOUR marketing flyers in with one of THEIR client mailings (as they would in a Joint Venture), they actually write to their clients and give you their full endorsement.
An endorsed relationship is one of the most powerful marketing tools on the planet. I have seen endorsed mail shots and emails return a 90% positive response rate.
Marketing tip 11: Don’t mistake movement for progress
I have worked with thousands of businesspeople and found something amazing. The owners of under performing businesses almost always work just as hard, and sometimes even harder, than the owners of successful ones. At first glance, this doesn’t seem to make sense – until you dig a little deeper and realise that the reason their hard work is getting them nowhere, is that they mistake movement for progress.
In other words, they work hard and put in a huge number of hours, doing the wrong things! A well written advertisement, placed in the wrong section of the wrong publication will still fail, no matter how hard you work at it.
They think that the harder they work, the more successful they will be; as if rowing a boat with all your strength in the wrong direction, will still magically get you to the right destination.
If you find yourself working hard on your marketing and NOT getting the sales results you want, STOP! Make sure you are doing the right things, then ensure you are doing them correctly. If you are not already doing any of the above marketing activities – give them a go because we already know they work extremely well. That’s a great place to start.
Marketing tip 12: Hustle… do ALL the work!
The Internet is packed with people selling the idea that you can automate your way to success. They offer products, programs, webinars, seminars and services, which promise shortcuts to success.
Just last month, a reader emailed me after she’d lost over $10,000 on a financial success event, offered by a well-known self-help guru. She explained that it had wiped her out financially and that she felt a fool for being tricked into believing there was a shortcut to becoming a millionaire.
Their are 2 things you need to remember, when people offer you shortcuts to business success or wealth:
- They are seldom shortcuts.
- They never lead to success.
The reality is that you can’t trick your way to the top. Success comes from working hard AND working smart. Success comes quickest, when you find the most direct, effective route from where you are to where you want to be. It looks like this:
- Decide what you want to achieve.
- Put a strategy together, to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be.
- Then, work your strategy. Put in the effort. Invest the time required and reap the rewards.
I have studied and worked with some amazingly successful people. My clients include 2 Grammy Award Winners [Nile Rodgers and Bruce Elliott-Smith]. I’ve also worked with dozens of self made millionaires and my clients include 2 of the 10 largest companies in the world. I’ve discovered that the best shortcut to success, is to avoid costly detours.
In short: Ignore those who claim they have shortcuts to make you rich or successful. The only people who gain from that worthless junk, are those who sell it.
Marketing tip 13: Use the power of curiosity
Every sales enquiry or new client enquiry you receive, has one thing in common.
The prospective client or customer is curious. They want a piece of information, so they contact you to in order to find out. And in doing so, they provide you with an opportunity to convert them from an enquiry, to a client.
Instead of building curiosity, most small business marketing does the opposite. It tries to answer as many questions as possible. You will see lists, detailed information and FAQ’s: A series of answers the most common questions. All this does is reduce the need for a prospective client to contact you. Yes, there should be a basic level of information, but anything you do beyond that his hurting your marketing results.
Instead of bombarding your prospective clients with information, your marketing should seek to ignite their curiosity. It should inspire them to feel they need to call you, email you or visit you.
So, review your current marketing and decide whether it’s building curiosity or eroding it. If you’re not building curiosity, you’re missing out on an extremely valuable marketing opportunity.
Marketing tip 14: Focus on dissatisfied prospective customers
A common mistake made by small business owners, is that they fail to focus their marketing correctly. As a direct result, they get too few sales leads or client enquiries.
The most effective way to increase sales is to focus on people, who are dissatisfied with their current provider. When someone isn’t happy with their current provider, they’re actively interested in switching to a new provider. They are highly motivated buyers; the exact people you should be targeting with your marketing!
Despite the massive value of dissatisfied prospective clients, most small business owners market less targeted groups. They waste time and money marketing to people, who are happy with their current provider or who have no need or interest in the kind of product they sell. This makes things unnecessarily difficult. It’s a low-leverage waste of your resources.
Yes, it’s a good idea to create awareness of your service. That goes without saying. However, the best way to invest your marketing time, is to focus on the best prospective clients… those dissatisfied people who want what you provide. That’s because when you focus on marketing to the dissatisfied, your results go through the roof!
One way to market to the dissatisfied is to be easy to find when they’re looking for help. Search engines provide an excellent way to achieve this.
For example, if you go to Google right now and search for marketing tips, you will find Jim’s Marketing Blog as the number 1 or 2 organic search result. [At least if you’re in the UK or USA]. The same is true for around a dozen other popular, marketing-related search terms. This sends thousands and thousands of people to my website every week. Moreover, these are people looking for exactly what I provide.
Advertising on Google is another way to be there, when the dissatisfied are looking for the kind of product or service you provide. Paying for a top search engine result is a lot faster and easier than earning a top organic search ranking. However, it’s a far better advertising investment than typical ads, aimed at specific industries or geographical areas. With typical ads, you pay based on the size of the audience, even though the vast majority will never see your ad or they’re disinterested. You need to be smarter than that when you invest your advertising money.
In short: Seek out the dissatisfied. Not the disinterested.
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I hope you found those marketing tips and ideas useful.
If you did, you’ll be pleased to know that I provide marketing tips and business development ideas, for free, several times a week on Jim’s Marketing Blog. You can have them delivered to your inbox, using the form below.
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