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Dreams…

“You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.”

Seth Godin

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“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.”
Napoleon Hill

What type of clients do you choose to work with?

Are you working with the right type of clients or customers, doing work that inspires you and rewards you on every level?

Well, you should be!

The challenge here, is that many small business owners and consultants, are not choosy enough to work for great clients. Instead, they decide to work with pretty much anyone who will pay them. In doing so, they create a cyclical challenge, which many never recover from.

It looks like this

They find themselves doing work for people, who don’t give them the freedom to do amazing work. After a while, the great clients won’t hire them, because they want to hire the ones who ARE doing amazing work.

A reader whose business is really struggling, told me that she will carry on taking whatever work comes her way, because she ‘can’t afford to be choosy’.

After a while she explained what her ‘cycle’, was. She said she was working flat out, doing crazy hours, and so broke that she can’t afford to turn away the low paid work that’s destroying her business. So, she accepts more low quality work and ends up undervaluing her time and doing work that makes her unhappy and pays poorly. The cycle then repeats itself.

Until you decide to take control.

It’s your business: Take control

Sometimes, especially when business is sluggish, it’s easy to forget a few critical facts:

  • The marketplace doesn’t set your prices or fees. You do.
  • The marketplace doesn’t determine how much unique value you provide. You do.
  • The marketplace doesn’t decide who you choose to work with. You do.
  • It’s your choice… a choice you make every working day of your life.

At any point, you can choose to draw a line in the sand and do work that matters, rather than work that merely pays. You can choose to operate at the top of your industry or profession, rather than the uninspiring, unrewarding and overcrowded middle.

The key here, is that YOU get to choose… every day.

by Courtesy of Jim Connolly

Why people buy from you AND how to make more sales?

How selling to businesses differs from selling to consumers:

  • When selling to consumers, people are spending their own money. It’s all about value, trust and quality.
  • When selling to the employee of a business, it’s about them keeping their boss happy. It’s about them not screwing up. Then, it’s about value, trust and quality.

Your sales pitch and marketing needs to reflect this.

Make it easy for businesses to buy from you

When selling your services to someone who is spending company money, your approach should be to make buying from you or hiring you, as low-risk as possible. They need something from you, tangible or intangible, which supports their decision to buy from you. This does 2 important things.

  1. It makes them feel more comfortable about buying from you.
  2. If it all goes wrong, you have made it easy for them to justify their decision to their boss. They see it as a safety net.

Ways to reduce the risk of buying from you include:

  • Provide testimonials from named, checkable people.
  • Offer guarantees.
  • Provide insurance policies.
  • Offer risk reversals. (Satisfaction or your money back).
  • Show them any awards you have earned.

Value and quality matter

Just because the primary motivation of someone spending company money is to avoid making a mistake, value, trust and quality are still extremely important.

In fact, the better you can demonstrate the quality of your product or service, the more comfortable the prospective client will be about spending the company’s money.

Be a safe pair of hands

My point here, is to incorporate risk reduction into your sales pitch and associated marketing. Show them that you are a safe pair of hands. Earn their trust. Make it so that they know their boss would understand them hiring you, if things went wrong.

If you simply tell them about cost savings or a unique selling point you have, you will achieve far fewer sales. It’s essential to make it crystal clear, that you are a low risk or no risk option.

Shared Kindly By Jim Connolly

Have you done your business MOT?

About 3 weeks ago I wrote a post about  How do you drive a business? , it’s time to have your MOT done.

The only difference with the car MOT is that you don’t need that done to be able to drive your business, you still can keep going but I am sure will not be long before you find out you should have done some checks before getting into trouble with your numbers. Like a car you can have breakdowns if you don’t do the proper checks. One of the biggest issues is your cash flow…but not less important is your marketing checks. Doing a big campaign, having a great website selling lots of products, being in Social Media,…  but not tracking the results, could be trouble ahead.

Business spend lots of money in online marketing without a clear idea how is their ROI. The same happens in direct mail, PPC/advertisements, an exhibition or even just the advert in the local newspaper. You need to know how much return you will get and how long it will take to do it. Sometimes one marketing idea may look great but will not be the best return of investment.

There are lots of ideas that can help you increase your business profits, generate more leads and get more customers. Some you have to pay with money other you may be able to pay with your time or even with your services.

If you know another business that could expose your products, there are campaigns you could do together, and with a reduced cost promote two different products. Another positive point to consider is that maybe that company has a good brand and you will stand even more being close to it.

Just doing is not enough, checking the results are really important. Did you had more customers or maybe just more enquiries, did you sell more products? How much profit did you make? Would you be able to do the same using just your website or your shop? Did you got notice by being side by side with another big brand?

Charities could be a great way to expose your business and for a small cost. You may decide to give a % of the sales done during a period of time, and generate some press around the event. You may not increase profits here, but you may increase your exposure. So it is really important understand your numbers and how you can use them in an efficient way.

Social media could be considered the cheapest way to marketing your business. You can do it yourself or have someone in the company doing  just that for you. Some companies pay another companies to do their tweets and they don’t even know what is being said about them. Is there a return or are you just paying to someone and not getting results? Business owners need to get involved, they should understand their marketing strategies and not just have someone taking care of it. If something goes wrong you need to be able to check it before escalates. Social media can give you a good reputation but also can quickly give you an headache if you don’t keep a check on the feedback you receive.

Basic things like a logo and a website, should have their checks also. Are you updating your contents to improve your SEO? Is your logo too old or maybe you have changed addresses and all your stationery need to be updated. Can you improve your business image, the way you look compared with your competitors? Maybe you have a shop and a quick revamp will bring more customers.

Do it and check the results, sometimes you need to simulate first to decide if it will give you the return expected.

A car MOT is done annually but your business MOT should be done as often as necessary. Monthly in case of some of your numbers, weekly or in some campaigns daily or per click.

Any action will give you a result, depend on you to check if it will be positive or not.

Is Google’s SEO loophole hurting your business too? Here’s how to check

Google has opened the door to an aggressive SEO tactic, Negative Backlink SEO.

Here’s what it is, how it works, how to tell if you’re being targeted and how to stop it hurting your business!

Negative backlink SEO

Google now proactively punishes sites, which are linked to from sites with a bad reputation. Previously, Google only punished you, if you linked from your site to a ‘bad neighbourhood’. This included link farms, article directories, link exchange portals, etc.

Now, you get punished if they link to you – even if you know nothing about it!

So, your competitors or anyone who would like to hurt your business, can do so simply by linking to your site from dubious sites or directories. They can do it anonymously too.

The move by Google is supposedly aimed at stopping websites from buying links or exchanging links, in order to boost their search rankings. Instead, it has created a huge headache and Google is showing no sign of relenting.

Are you being targeted?

The only way to know if your site is being targeted, is to monitor the sites that link to you. There are lots of tools to do this, some you pay for others are free.

If you use Google analytics, you can set up a Google Webmaster account for free and it will provide you with a list of all the links it can see, which point back to your site (backlinks). You can access Google Webmaster Tools here. The benefit of using Google’s solution is that it shows you what Google can see and as Google is the hub of the problem, this makes sense.

I have also found other backlink tools often inaccurate, when testing them. There are over 107,000 backlinks to Jims Marketing Blog, with most backlink apps and programs only able to find between 10% and 20% of them.

Fixing the problem

Technically, this should be pretty simple. You find the toxic links using Google Webmaster Tools, then send the links to Google, using their Disavow Tool You can find it here. Google then disavows (or accepts you show no responsibility) for those links and stops penalising you. You then ask Google to reconsider the penalty it applied to you and hope for the best. Here’s how Google’s Disavow Tool works.

In reality, this can be a massive pain in the ass. New, toxic backlinks can be added to your site at any time, meaning you need to remember to check for new links, regularly.

Also, if you’re new to this, it can be hard to tell a valuable link from a toxic link. Some toxic links come from URL’s that look pretty normal and some genuinely great links come from URL’s that seem dubious. So, be very careful what links you decide to ask Google to disavow. Whilst you can reverse the process, it’s best to be sure before you disavow anything.

You can also email the site owner, to ask if they will manually remove the link or links to your site. Obviously, your success will depend on whether the site owner wants to help or even if the site linking to you is still being actively managed.

by courtesy of Jim Connolly

Getting less traffic from Google? Here’s why it may not matter soon

I found this article  about Google (kindly shared by Jim Connolly)  really good, so I am sharing it with you.

If you’re one of many business owners experiencing a drop in search traffic from Google, here are 3 important changes you need to know about.

I’m also going to explain why I believe Google search traffic could be of less importance to your business soon.

The first change: Google changing the rules dramatically and often

For years, business owners have relied heavily on Google to generate online sales or inquiries. They danced the Google dance. They did what Google wanted. They invested heavily in SEO, either financially or by pouring their valuable time into making their site the way Google wanted it.

And it worked. Consistently.

Then something happened!

Google decided to change the rules dramatically and regularly. Suddenly, what worked, no longer worked. What was once within Google’s guidelines, was suddenly outside their guidelines. It’s causing a lot of small business owners a lot of pain, as they fall lower and lower down the rankings.

The best SEO experts are starting to figure out how to work with the new search engine landscape. If you can’t afford the best, it may be some time before the rest of the SEO industry catch up. However, this is not the only reason you may be seeing worse results from Google. It’s not even the most important reason.

Two far bigger changes are happening, which are lowering the value of organic (natural unpaid) search results – even if you manage to rank on the first page.

The second change: Google has made your organic search results less visible

At the same time as Google changed the way it ranks sites, it made those sites that do rank, harder for prospective customers to find.

How?

By burying your organic search results below an increasing number of Google ads. Now, for many valuable search terms, your prospective customers will see a page full of ads from your competitors, BEFORE they see your organic search results. All the results in the screen below are paid ads.

For instance: On my MacBook Pro, I needed to scroll down the screen, past ELEVEN paid ads, to see the first organic search result!

So, even if your SEO gets you the number 1 organic slot on the first page of Google’s Search Engine Results, it may provide fewer sales or inquiries than before, because that number 1 organic search position is buried under so many paid ads.

The third change: Google sends less traffic to sites than before

The third change, is that Google search may be becoming less relevant with fewer people using it. Google search traffic could be 30% down on last year, according to a huge study!

This report from buzzfeed looked at Google search traffic to leading sites, including: The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, Newsweek, Time, Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone. In total, the sites it tracked have a readership of 300 million. That’s a lot of data. They found that between August 2012 and March 2013, search traffic from Google nosedived an incredible 30%. That’s a huge drop in such a short time.

However, it was expected. Here’s why!

The rise of social search

It seems that people are now increasingly asking their social networks for recommendations and answers. These networks have added a totally new dynamic, to the way we find information online.

Think about it. Which would YOU trust more:

  1. A restaurant recommendation from a trusted friend on a social network, who knows what you like.
  2. A restaurant that appears on Google via a paid ad or simply because they have good SEO.

It’s no contest.

Facebook has invested heavily in Facebook graph search, which was launched in March 2013 and looks set to eat into even more of the Google search user base. Other social networks, including Twitter and Linkedin, have search facilities too, which they are now developing constantly.

Why these changes?

Simple: Google is trying to make as much money as it can. There’s nothing surprising here. It’s a business after all.

Google has a near monopoly on search and is now leveraging that power, to get you to pay them if you want to be found.

Unless… you choose to take control of your Internet marketing away from Google and make SEO and SEM (search engine marketing), just part of your Internet marketing strategy.

Diversify your Internet marketing

This post from 2010 was largely scoffed at, when I suggested people should rely less on Google and use a wider, human focused approach to their online marketing.

Some listened to me. They started building their social networks, created communities around their businesses and stopped writing keyword optimised content for Google – choosing to write for humans instead. As a result, people now talk about their products and services and share their content all over social networks.

That’s an approach I recommend you at least add, to your overall marketing strategy.

In short: Stop relying on Google (or any one tactic) for the majority of your business. Instead, build a community (or tribe). Spread your reach and spread your risk.

You don’t have to ignore SEO, especially if you optimise for search terms, which few competitors buy Google ads for.

Just make sure your online marketing consists of more than keeping Google happy. Too many eggs in one basket is seldom a wise, long term strategy.

Kindly shared by Jim Connolly

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