6 1/2 dud clients: Some customers are always wrong!

As one frazzled freelancer said to another: “Business would be great if it wasn’t for my clients!” The Seagull, Power Tripper, Jilted Lover… not only is the customer not always right, but here are 6½ that are very wrong.

Let’s talk politics, religion, vaccinations and equality… or not.

by Peter Crocker When it comes to building a personal profile and finding clients, social media is valuable for many soloists. But should passionate opinions be curbed by professional restraint? Or does authenticity demand unfiltered honesty? I recently came across outspoken blogger and bestselling author, James Altucher. James bares his soul in brutally honest writings about his life, failures, successes, …

But enough about me…what do you think of me?

by Steve Manning As a business owner, it’s natural to want to tell the world who you are, what you do and why you’re the best. So when it comes to writing marketing or advertising copy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only talking about “me, me, me”. I’ll break this to you gently…your potential customers don’t really …

Meet Crocks: Australia’s #1 bloke

by Peter Crocker Imagine if we spoke about ourselves the way some businesses speak about themselves. Imagine no more, Crocks is using marketing jargon and talking himself up.

7 reasons why people buy a product or service

by Steve Manning What drives someone to buy something? The simple answer is that they either want it or need it. But there’s more to it than that. Every purchasing decision has an underlying motivation that we, as business owners, marketers or copywriters, need to identify. You see, whether you’re selling clothing, microwaves or insurance, there’s a common set of …

Have you painted your Ferrari?

by Peter Crocker. I recently moved to one of those touchy feely fruity phones. Hardly a significant event, until I discovered many thought I’d been sucked in and paid a premium just to carry around a logo. Had I fallen for the marketer and ignored the engineer? According to people in the know, there are smart phones that deliver a …

13 golden rules to writing effective web copy – Part 1

by Steve Manning Writing website copy is a unique skill. It’s totally different to writing copy for brochures, newsletters and reports. Why? Because your web copy needs to attract, engage and persuade someone in a matter of seconds. After all, if a potential customer doesn’t like what they see, they’re out of there with the simple click of a mouse …

23 simple tips on writing for the web

by Peter Crocker Writing for the web is not the same as writing for a brochure or magazine. There are many essential differences that you need to consider. Here are 23 simple tips I’ve picked up over the years. According to usability guru Jakob Nielson, reading from computer screens is 25% slower than reading from paper, and 79% of readers …

‘How can I make mine look bigger?’

by Peter Crocker It seems that insecurities about size and shape abound among business owners. And the little question of size is one that pops up regularly. But does it matter? When talking marketing with solo business owners, especially those just starting up, a common question is “How can I make my business appear larger?”

I know what you did last event: Six terrible tips

by Peter Crocker You may think no one sees you lurking in the corner at networking events. But I know exactly what you‘re up to (because I’m in the other corner), and I’m spilling the beans. As a self-confessed introvert, I have to admit that mingling with a group of hand-shaking strangers is not my cup of tea. Especially at …

Is it time for you to rethink LinkedIn?

by Peter Crocker I’m being stalked by LinkedIn. Just today it sent me personalised news, endorsed my skills and connected me with a new business partner. Perhaps it’s time for me to stop ignoring it so rudely. I was preparing for a call with a potential business prospect. After a brief look at his website, my next step was to …

What’s in a name? Plenty these days.

by Peter Crocker Head to Google and type in your full name. It’s YOUR identity. But you might be surprised as to who claims it and how it makes you look. At a recent BBQ I met a parent from the local school. The conversation inevitably drifted to work. As we both work for ourselves, the next day after a …

Digital is seriously devaluing your industry. Now what?

by Peter Crocker You can embrace it or you can ignore it, but you can’t deny it. The mushrooming global online marketplace is disrupting the value proposition of every industry, including yours. A while back we ran an advertisement for a large, low cost provider in the communications industry, which took a swipe at more expensive independent providers.

Share your business pitch in 140 characters

by Peter Crocker Is Twitter a sign of society’s shrivelling attention span and trivia obsession, or does it provide the strict discipline we need to distil our thoughts into focused nuggets? We’ve previously explored the all-important 30-second elevator statement and discussed the benefits of a catchy one-line business tagline, but with the irresistible rise of Twitter, is it time to …

Business networking wimp: Tell me something I don’t know

by Peter Crocker It’s fair to say that ‘getting out there’ and business networking – online or offline – is not something that comes naturally to me. Truth be told, if left up to me I’d slouch alone in my home office all day listening to folksy music with headphones on and ignoring the telephone.

Are you lost for words?

by Steve Manning Words. They’re everywhere. We hear them, speak them and read them all day long. So why is it so hard to write them down sometimes? Whether it’s an important email, business letter, article, web page or advertisement, most of us have experienced writer’s block at some point in time. Although you may be a good writer and …

How to write an effective sales letter

by Steve Manning If you run a business, chances are that you’ll have to produce a sales letter at some point in time. Whether it’s to launch your business, a new product or to attract more sales, a well-written sales letter can be an extremely effective tool in your marketing mix. However, it’s easy to get it wrong. There are …

Is it acceptable to use smiley faces in business emails?

by Steve Manning I have a problem. 🙁 I seem to be including smiley face characters in more and more of my emails these days. 🙂 Most times, it’s quite upbeat. Other times, it’s just a cheeky wink. 🙂 All pretty harmless stuff really. Why do I do it? Well, mainly for the following reasons.

Client Christmas gifts: hot or not?

by Peter Crocker Up until last year I thought giving clients a gift at Christmas – or at least a card – was a sure-fire winner. It turns out there is a very passionate divide on the subject amongst business owners. In response to my newsletter last year called four unique corporate gift ideas, 75 commenters jumped in to have …

Beware tired and emotional typing

by Peter Crocker We’ve all said things we regret. In the real world, a sincere face-to-face apology and explanation can usually put things right, but in the virtual world our words can take on a life of their own. You may have heard of the dangers of text messaging under the influence (TUI). Also known as ‘intexication’, TUI can result …

The importance of a good client brief

by Steve Manning Whether you’re a copywriter, designer or event planner, receiving a good brief from your client is essential in delivering the best possible job for them. Confusion often occurs when a poor brief is given at the start of a project. Valuable time can be wasted because the work parameters weren’t agreed upon from the outset or you …

Do you de-brief?

by Steve Manning Well, of course you do. We all need to shower and change our clothes. But what I mean is, do you carry out de-briefs on your work? If you’re like me, you probably finish a job and move quickly onto the next one. This is fine because it means that business is good and the mortgage is …

Prime online real estate going begging

by Peter Crocker Here’s a quick experiment that will speak volumes about your online presence. The results may be inspiring, frustrating or ho-hum all at the same time. I call it window shopping the competition. Here’s how it works. Hop onto www.google.com.au and type in the main keyword related to your business, along with the name of your suburb or …

Self promotion: Making it easy to get found

by Peter Crocker A recent experience reminded me just how many businesses make it unnecessarily difficult to be found by their prospects. In a world that’s increasingly obsessed with Google ranking, let’s not overlook the basics of self promotion. I’m in the market for an automatic driveway gate. But with hundreds of options online, I decided to take an old-fashioned …

Effective business websites

by Peter Crocker In my web browser, I have a folder called ‘business websites I like’. It contains random sites that, for one reason or another, drew me in. Looking back at the list, they have three ingredients in common that make them effective business websites. These are: clarity, intelligence and personality. Spending time on an effective business website is …

It’s time to get serious about online marketing

by Peter Crocker In Flying Solo’s recent survey, you told us online marketing strategies such as websites and social networking were among the top ways to find new clients. Yet only 53% of us soloists have a website we’re happy with. Delving deeper it turns out that of the soloists who had a website, only 40% had done search engine …

Use the power of channel marketing

by Peter Crocker Selling products or services direct to customers is all good and well. But could you be missing out on a potentially larger and more lucrative marketing opportunity? In the past I’ve done a lot of work on channel marketing for IT companies. Put simply, channel marketing involves selling through partners or resellers rather than direct to customers.

Four unique gift ideas

by Peter Crocker Okay, it may seem early to bring up the silly season, but it is officially October and this is one issue that, left untreated until December, quickly becomes a huge headache. At about this time each year, I start making a list (and checking it twice) of those people who have been an important part of my …

The online brochure website is not dead

by Peter Crocker At the risk of suffering the wrath of website developers and online marketing consultants the world over, I’m going to go out on a limb and say “There is nothing wrong with a simple online brochure website!” Any online marketer worth their salt will tell you that the Internet is completely different from print.

Six steps for solo business branding

by Peter Crocker Credible business branding has been revealed as a big issue for soloists. Is it our problem if people don’t take us seriously? I think it is. Here are some ways we can show the world we mean business. Karen Morath’s article, Meet two types of home-based business, and Sam Leader’s follow up, Small business credibility: You cannot …

Business branding: Are you a Virgin?

by Peter Crocker When it comes to your business branding, rather than trying to emulate others, it’s more revealing to look in the mirror. It feels like every second marketing brief I’ve received over the last year or so is followed by the comment “…we want to sound a bit like Virgin and Nudie Juice.” Now, I’m all for the …

4 steps to getting customer testimonials

by Peter Crocker Getting impressive customer testimonials on your website or marketing collateral is a very powerful way to win new business. But how do you get them? If you’ve ever tried to get a client to write a testimonial for you, you’ll know how difficult this can be – even if they’re your number one fan. The problem is, …