The Home of Thought Leadership and Content Marketing


  • 19 Nov 2017 1:32 PM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    Join me on a flying visit to Malta for the Advanced Blogging & Social Media Strategies event. 

    Confirmed dates for January and February 2018 include:

  • 23 Oct 2017 11:26 AM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    Everybody gets 24 hours in a day. Some people are naturally good at getting more value out of their day than others, while some have to work really hard at it. But one thing’s for sure: Waste a single second of your allotted 24 hours, and you’ll never get it back.

    Control Freaks

    In business, I meet a lot of control freaks who want to squeeze as much out of their 24 hours as possible. They forgo sleep, dodge relationships and openly brag about how much harder they are working than everyone else. In entrepreneurial circles, the lack of a work/life balance is followed with almost cultish devotion.

    Sadly, many of these people aren’t making the best use of their time.

    They refuse to let go of business processes that could function quite adequately without their persistent attention.

    A Waste of Time

    So they waste time on impossible administrative tasks (getting their inbox down to zero), pointless meetings (because they fear not knowing what everyone is up to) and work that could be done much more efficiently by a trained member of the staff or outsourced help (accountancy, HR, IT, etc.).

    Not only are these people wasting their own precious time, they are preventing others from maximizing the potential from their working day. This results in longer working hours and lower morale, and it can impact productivity.

    There is also the huge risk of simply burning out. This is when you reach the point where your body tells you that you simply cannot go on any further. Burning out is neither good for your own personal health nor for your business’s health.

    Trust Your People

    Trusting the people you have hired (after careful consideration of their skills and experience) to get their own work done without your interference is a vital first step in the process of stepping back from being that control freak and becoming a great business leader instead. Setting clear targets and giving people the tools to reach their goals is vital in this process and much more important than micromanaging every situation.

    Trust Technology

    Smart technology will also help maximize the potential from each and every day. For example, marketing automation technology like iContact Pro, combined with a CRM system like, will not only ensure you are communicating with your clients more efficiently, it will ensure everyone in your business is kept fully up to date with the progress of any campaigns and projects or any customer issues (as and when the information is required).

    Freedom to Succeed

    By letting go more, you’ll not only get more out of your day but give your colleagues the freedom they need to succeed. And with the right systems in place, you can maintain the level of control you require without becoming the freak who wastes so much time.

  • 20 Oct 2017 10:54 AM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    How’s business? If things could be better or are just plain steady, I want you to give yourself a little shake. This week’s marketing challenge is to find £1,000 in extra revenue from a source you’ve never tapped before.

    You might want to try selling a new product or service, perhaps offering training or consultancy services alongside your existing offerings, or perhaps you could develop a new route to market. Alternatively, you might want to look at reducing costs (saving money is almost as good as earning it) or chasing deadbeat debts.

    Now £1,000 might be a lot of money to some businesses and it might be a drop in the ocean to others – but I’d struggle to find a business that wouldn’t welcome the extra revenue.

    Discover Your True Potential

    The purpose of this challenge is to take you out of your comfort zone and enable you to fully realize the true potential of your organization. It will also help you develop new business opportunities should old ones fall by the wayside. In this disruptive digital age, you never know what’s around the corner and how it will impact your business – so spread your risks.

    Chances are, in the course of everyday business, you are leaving money on the table. When this happens you open yourself up to attack by less complacent competitors.

    This challenge will also help you identify new opportunities that will allow you to diversify and strengthen your business.

    Low-Hanging Fruit

    Your existing client base is the perfect starting point to search for this new, untapped revenue, and email marketing is the obvious way to start the conversations that lead to additional sales.

    How quickly can you formulate a plan to get email marketing working for you on this challenge? If you don’t have the time – find the time. If you REALLY don’t have the time, speak to one of our email marketing experts who will happily help you plan and execute your campaign strategy.

    Go Big

    Larger organizations might want to expand the scope of the challenge. Why not ask all of your employees to find an additional £1,000 this week? And if £1,000 seems like not a lot of money, feel free to add some zeros.

    What could you do with an extra £1,000 per week, and how easily do you think you could find it? Share your comments below:

  • 19 Oct 2017 5:30 PM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    As an entrepreneurial marketer, you’re probably sitting on a ton of good ideas. That’s great news because it takes just one of those ideas to successfully come to fruition to completely change your fortunes. The bad news is, I meet countless marketers who have any number of good ideas but never seem to manage to do anything with them.

    The moral of the story is that you cannot put an idea in the bank, so unless you are going to put your idea to work, it’s pretty much worthless.

    Capture Ideas

    I’m a great believer in capturing ideas at the source. This means making a note of them as soon as they appear (stopping whatever you are doing at the time to ensure they don’t evaporate) and displaying them in a prominent place where they cannot be forgotten (I have a large whiteboard above my desk that I use for this purpose).

    Because some ideas are better than others, you’ll want to occasionally edit your list, and it’s always worth running ideas past a trusted client to see if they actually solve problems. If your idea doesn’t solve a real problem, it’s probably not worth the effort of rolling out and should be discarded – or at the very least, put on the back burner to be improved upon.

    But coming up with an idea is only the start of the process. An idea can only ever be great if it is acted upon.

    Test Everything

    One of the many great things about working in this digital age is that we can test ideas with minimal risk.

    For example: Crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter can take an idea from prototype (or even just concept) and prove market interest while the project is being funded.

    Simpler ideas can be rolled out via a wide range of online marketplaces or app stores.

    It may even be possible to dip your toe in the water and test an idea with a simple blog post, an email campaign, some social media activity and a buy-it-now button linking to an online payment service provider like PayPal.

    When you commit to a solid testing strategy, you will never be left in any doubt whether that great idea of yours has any chance of success. You’ll know it either works, needs improvement or falls flat on its face.

    Remember: Testing never fails if you learn from the experience and move on.

    What Are You Waiting For?

    Stop simply being an ideas person and start being someone who puts their ideas into action.

    Are you sitting on an idea that could change your life (as well as the lives of the people around you)? Your idea isn’t worth a thing if you don’t push it out there. So stop being an “ideas person” and start being someone who takes their ideas further.

    What ideas are you sitting on? How could you make something happen by doing more than thinking or talking about them? Share your comments below:

  • 19 Oct 2017 10:51 AM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    My (at times) rather evangelical approach to highlighting the benefits of developing a strategic content marketing strategy, combining the powers of blogging, email marketing and social media, sometimes elicits a rather cynical response.

    At a recent training seminar, a confused and skeptical voice at the back of the room asked: “Can you really make money with content marketing?”

    There is a short and long answer to this question.

    The short answer is: Yes!

    But I’m guessing that you want more detail, so here goes:

    The Long Answer

    Great content marketers use content (distributed via a wide range of digital mechanisms) to perform a number of tasks. These include:

    • Building community
    • Raising profile
    • Highlighting best practices
    • Demonstrating thought leadership
    • Encouraging debate
    • Solving problems
    • Building trust

    These tasks alone might not generate any income, but that’s the beauty of content marketing.

    No Selling Zone

    Great content marketers don’t actively sell. Yes – they will include a simple call-to-action alongside every piece of content they publish, but revenue generation is not the primary objective. I prefer to think of the revenue content marketing generates as a happy by-product.

    For example:

    I use this blog, my social media activities and regular email marketing newsletters to share useful and engaging information with my community of online marketers.

    I always strive to share industry best practices, inspirational advice and actionable tips. I do this because I want you as a marketer to build a more cohesive and engaging strategy. As I do this, I build trust and present multiple opportunities for new customers to engage with me – helping to increase customer lifetime value. It’s not rocket science – I just believe the more engaging and useful I am, the more opportunities potential clients and existing customers will find in my service.

    This approach can be rolled out to suit the needs of any business.

    Some examples:

    • A hotel may wish to highlight festivals, sporting or theatrical events, or business conferences in the town or city they are based. By demonstrating their “local” knowledge, they differentiate themselves from other hotels with similar facilities that market themselves on price alone.
    • A specialist food retailer might want to share recipes, promoting food that is in season and perhaps persuading a customer to try something new and exciting. Once you show people how easy it is to do something different by providing the tools for them, they’ll keep coming back to you and tell their friends.
    • An accountant could highlight important dates in the financial calendar and share insight into how a client might save money on their taxes. Yes – some people may use this information to do the job themselves, but they probably would never become clients anyway. It’s the “cash rich, time poor” audience (the best kind of client) who appreciate openness and expertise and who will ultimately buy the accountant’s services.

    So yes, you really can make money out of content marketing – if you focus your efforts on engaging your audience with authority and creating value in your marketing output.

    By the way, if you’re looking for the call-to-action – it’s right here.

  • 18 Oct 2017 10:03 AM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    I’ve worked in the online environment for a very long time. My very first “online job” was powered by a dial-up connection, a 14k modem and an HTML 4 for Dummies textbook. It would be fair to say that over the 20+ years I’ve worked in Internet marketing circles, I’ve built up a ton of experience and achieved a great many things that I’m exceptionally proud of. Despite this, I still get the occasional bout of self-doubt.

    I’m not alone in feeling this way. It’s called “impostor syndrome,” and while it might not stop us from achieving our goals, it can certainly slow us down.

    What Is Impostor Syndrome?

    Wikipedia tells us: “Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the imposter experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’ The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.”

    A Self-Imposed Roadblock

    As I travel the country (and further afield), speaking with clients about their content, email marketing and social media activities, I meet countless individuals who suffer from impostor syndrome.

    They can normally be identified because they ask a variation of a single question: “Why should anyone believe anything I say?”

    My answer is simple.

    If you can demonstrate your ability based on previous experiences and highlight successes using real data and testimonials, your position as an expert is well grounded.

    Conversely, you should always be suspicious of anyone who is not able to back their story up with real-world experience. Successful people in sales and marketing are often referred to as having the “gift of the gab.” This is beyond insulting. Success can only be measured by long-term achievement, and a slick presentation will only take you so far.

    Find a Cure

    If you suffer from impostor syndrome, it’s time to find a cure. Take stock of your achievements and the network of people you have worked tirelessly to build around you, and celebrate your success.

    How have you overcome a bout of impostor syndrome? Share your comments below:

  • 17 Oct 2017 10:52 PM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    Following the success of three SOLD OUT events on the island, Becoming THE Expert will be visiting Malta again on November 14th, 2017 with the Advanced Blogging and Social Media Strategies Seminar.

    In recent years the corporate blog has transformed from a simple online publishing channel into an incredibly powerful and strategic traffic generating, reputation building and revenue earning business tool.

    A good blog will help you become more visible on the major search engines, drive email marketing subscriptions and social media followers, and help bypass traditional media gate-keepers enabling you reach and influence your target audience without stretching your marketing budget.

    During this 3 hour course you will learn:

    • How to craft the perfect blog post
    • How to drive traffic to your blog
    • How to build community around your blog
    • How to integrate your blogging activities with your wider email marketing and social media strategies
    • How to create an effective call-to-action (CTA)
    • How to attract and work with guest bloggers
    • How to monetise your blogging activities and create new streams of revenue

    The Advanced Blogging Seminar is open to any previous attendees of The Content Marketing Boot Camp or anyone who is currently blogging or planning to build a cohesive content-led marketing strategy.

    Hosted by John W. Hayes, international marketing strategist, trainer and author of the best-selling Becoming THE Expert series of content, email marketing, social media and eCommerce books.

    Tickets are limited and available here.

  • 16 Oct 2017 12:15 PM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    One of the biggest challenges marketers face when attempting to build a comprehensive content marketing strategy (one that fuels their blogging, email marketing and social media efforts) is finding the time to create enough good content.

    The good news is that great content is absolutely everywhere – you just need to know where to find it and how to capture it.

    Not all content needs to be painstakingly planned, drafted, edited and strategically published. In fact, you probably produce and discard great content every day without realizing it, wasting a valuable opportunity.

    Document and Create

    I recently spent the day with a commercial artist, who told me that she didn’t have time to create new marketing content alongside her daily tasks of designing, liaising with clients and doing the everyday boring stuff of running a business (paying bills, sending invoices, etc.).

    The crazy thing was that she was already creating a massive amount of marketing collateral. She painstakingly documented every aspect of her job. She created numerous sketches, she photographed and videoed projects throughout their creation, and she avidly collected “inspiring images,” which she curated on her personal (non-work) Pinterest board.

    As a creative entrepreneur, she had more than enough material to showcase her work. It just needed a careful tweak here and there, a little thought about scheduling – and most of her marketing woes were over.

    Smart Marketers Love Their Smartphones

    The most useful tool in any marketer’s arsenal is their smartphone. Use your smartphone to capture ideas at the source (remember to send yourself an email reminder to avoid losing any inspiration to the fogs of time), document works in progress, and share ideas, inspiration and conversation with your community of followers.

    Millennials get it. They document and share everything, and this is definitely a habit many (and I include myself in this number) perhaps more mature marketers need to embrace.

    Note: One of the many reasons why I run “real-world” training events is to seek inspiration from my delegates. I always tell attendees that if they leave a training session with at least one good idea that they can successfully implement, their investment in time will be paid back many times over. My investment often sees far greater returns. I rarely leave a session without numerous ideas – all carefully documented on my smartphone during the actual event. Sometimes these ideas are turned into blog posts (which can be developed to form the basis of multiple marketing campaigns) on the train or flight home.

    More Inspiration

    When you document everything, marketing just happens. You’ll also find you have a very usable bank of inspiration from which you can withdraw already tested ideas when you want to plan and execute more fully formed campaigns (such as eBooks, drip campaigns, webinars, etc.).

    How do you capture great content marketing ideas? Share your comments below:

  • 10 Oct 2017 8:22 PM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    The nine-to-five is dead. It seems everyone has got a side gig these days. Whether they are driven by financial necessity or motivated by the pursuit of a passion, a side gig can be, for many, the first step on a hugely rewarding entrepreneurial journey.

    When I look at my own circle of friends, many have side gigs. A marketer friend makes money on the side working as an artist, selling prints and giving painting lessons. Another friend, an electrician, plays bass guitar in a cover band and can boast he’s played Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club. If you have a talent, you have the opportunity to earn a little on the side. I’ve even know a man who works as a bus driver during the day and a stage hypnotist at night.

    Then there are many more – people who may not even realize they have a side gig – buying and selling at flea markets or on online marketplaces like eBay. These micro-retail businesses help many people pay for vacations, fund a hobby or just make sure there’s a little left in the bank at the end of the week.

    Small and Sophisticated

    Just because your side gig is small, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of some of the tools and techniques big businesses use every day to engage their customers.

    The good news is, many of these options are suitably priced for your side gig enterprise.

    So, we’ve compiled a list of six tools, techniques and attitude your side gig needs to succeed.

    1. Your Blog: Even as someone employed by an email marketing company, I will tell you that your marketing strategy (including your email marketing) begins with your blog. WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). It powers approximately 25 percent of the world’s websites, including the one you are reading now. Use your WordPress blog to share news and information, drive traffic, encourage social media engagement and build your email marketing lists.

    2. Your eCommerce Platform: Shopify is the current eCommerce platform of choice for many small businesses, with more than 500,000 online retailers currently selling via the platform. The complete eCommerce platform comes straight out of the box with its own free credit card payment gateway – meaning you don’t even need to have a PayPal account. Shopify has a number of extensions allowing you to sell both online and in your “real world” retail environment (a brick-and-mortar store or a car trunk) – helping you sell everywhere and manage your inventory professionally. While many small businesses start by selling on platforms like eBay, Etsy or Amazon, having your own eCommerce store will help you avoid expensive acquisition costs and take ownership of your own customers, allowing you to re-market to them via email.

    3. Your Email Marketing Platform: With your blog and eCommerce platform readily sending you new email subscribers, you’ll need an easy-to-use email marketing system to keep customers and clients engaged and repeat business coming in the door. Remember, email marketing works best when it is relevant, timely and engaging. Don’t sit on email contact details – hit them when they are fresh, and they will stand a better chance of delivering a positive return. Good email marketing software should grow with your business. Start by sending regular newsletters, and as your business grows and you become a more sophisticated sender, you’ll find yourself taking your first steps into marketing automation.

    4. Your Social Media: There are too many social channels to try and engage with them all, so focus on the ones your audience uses and loves. Facebook, with its 2 billion active users, is a no-brainer. Seriously, if you cannot find a niche in an audience of 2 billion people, that niche probably doesn’t exist. If your side gig is particularly visual, you’ll probably want to also look at Instagram or Pinterest. Remember, it’s called “social media” for a reason, so don’t just post to advertise your business – get social and join the conversation.

    5. Your Live Video: Got a smartphone and an idea? Congratulations, you’re now a broadcaster on channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Live video presents an amazing opportunity to put your products or ideas in front of the people who count – your potential customers. The secret to successful live video broadcasting is to turn up regularly, deliver authentic content and try and engage your audience by asking lots of questions. In the social age, broadcasting is more of a conversation than a one-way presentation. If you cannot quite face the idea of live video, remember to use your smartphone to take lots of pictures and, in the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, document everything on social media.

    6. Your “A” Game: OK, it’s not all about technology. Sometimes you’ve just got to bring your “A” game to work. And the one thing that will make your side gig stand out from the competition is your passion – so don’t be afraid to show the world how much you care.

    Remember, a side gig is something you do in your own time – so it should be something you enjoy doing. And who knows, if that side gig really takes off – it might turn into something you enjoy full time.

    Have you got a side gig? Share your story below.

  • 3 Oct 2017 8:35 PM | John Hayes (Administrator)

    The marketing industry is full of cool, self-assured characters who can speak with ease and write in a style that reflects their confidence. We follow these people on social media, check out their keynote addresses at industry conferences and avidly tune in to every podcast and YouTube broadcast, hanging on their every word.

    These are the people we “lesser” marketers aspire to be like. We look up to them and try to emulate their style, to somehow capture their “voice” in the hope that some of their marketing gold dust will rub off on us. But in doing so, are we actually doing ourselves a disservice?

    Remember: For every superstar marketer, there are many more who find success outside of the limelight. You don’t need to be the next Gary Vaynerchuk or Seth Godin to consider yourself successful. For most of us, hitting our targets and earning a decent wage is more than enough. So take inspiration from these awesome marketers, but don’t judge yourself based on their success.

    Finding Your Own Voice

    Too many marketers fail because they struggle to find their own voice in their marketing output. They compare their work with the superstars of the “scene,” and it puts doubt in their minds, forcing them to delay, overwork and eventually scrap projects. And when you stop marketing, everything else stops – including the flow of revenue, which is the lifeblood of your business or organization.

    Because of this, I speak to marketers every day who struggle to get anything done – because they are overcritical of their work. They just don’t think it is good enough, and this is a shame because in this industry there is only one thing worse than doing something badly (although you really should aim a little higher), and that is doing nothing at all.

    Instead of pumping out reasonably confident blog posts, targeted email marketing campaigns, engaging social media posts and informative white papers (and nobody is more informed about your business than you), they prefer to sit on their hands and do things the old way, which normally involves paying for leads through expensive acquisition marketing techniques.

    It’s a Secret – Don’t Tell

    I’ll let you in on a secret: Despite the fact I earn my living through my writing and speaking engagements, I’m not one of those characters who can simply breeze onto a stage or throw words at a page with effortless ease. Like many other marketers, I really have to work at it.

    But the one thing I have learned not to work on is trying to emulate other marketers. This lesson didn’t come easy. I was perhaps 10 years into my marketing career before I realized that I could be myself and get away with it.

    Lightning Bolt

    My “lightning bolt” moment came when I was speaking at an event where I knew a very senior executive from a major high street retailer was in the audience. I was racked with nerves. What could I possible teach this man with my more “meagre” and certainly less corporate experience? I saw him standing at the back of the room, scowling in his pinstripe suit, taking the occasional note. I tried to put him out of my mind and focus on the “smaller” guys at the front of the room.

    Following my presentation, the senior executive made a beeline for me, thrusting his hand into mine. Apparently he really valued the idea of creating a more “agile” and “human” environment, which I had spoken about during my presentation, and he bemoaned the fact that his old-school business was falling behind more agile, smaller competitors who were adopting these practices. A couple of months later, the executive contacted me and let me know that he had quit his role with the corporate entity and started a new career with a fledgling start-up. The catalyst for this change was apparently my presentation. I bump into him every now and again, now wearing jeans and a T-shirt, often accompanied with a broad smile. While the business is still in its infancy, in many ways he’s already found success.

    A New Approach

    Since that day, I’ve never tried to deviate from my own style to try to impress an audience, because it turns out just being yourself is more valuable. The fact is that people buy from people they like, and if you are trying to be someone else it will create a barrier to forming a proper relationship.

    Your potential clients (certainly the ones who will eventually commit to spending serious money with you) will always value authenticity and expertise over any pretence or fake veneer. So never be afraid to be yourself.

    Never compare your style of delivery against those “slick” marketers. Just ask yourself: Is it good enough? And remember, good enough is often good enough.

    4 Rules for Success

    For those of you struggling with marketing confidence – stick to the following rules and you should be OK.

    1. Focus on Solving Problems: Your content should always focus on solving a particular problem for a particular client.

    2. Be Prolific: Every day you fail to publish, post or hit the send button creates an opportunity for a competitor to sneak in and take business from you.

    3. Be Inspired: Taking inspiration from other marketers doesn’t mean you need to plagiarize their style or ideas. If you really know your own products, services and clients, the content should nearly write itself.

    4. Be Yourself: You’ve been doing this all your life – it shouldn’t be too hard.

    Do you struggle with the idea of just being yourself? Have you found a more authentic route to marketing has brought you great success? Share your comments below:

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