Five years ago on March 11, 2011 the NZ Herald online published my first marketing column.

It was called 'Ask your way to business success.'

In this first column I talked about how easy it is to helpful advice from experts just by asking for it.

Since then I've had over 200 weekly marketing columns published in the Herald.
And in this week's message I thought I'd share three valuable lessons I've learned from writing these weekly marketing columns.

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Graham McGregor: Finding a 'better way' to sell

Lesson 1:

If you regularly share useful ideas you'll build an audience


Over the last five years a large number of people have contacted me and told me they have found some of my Herald marketing columns useful.

In fact I got a delightful email two days ago from Sue Nash at Living Fruits in KeriKeri who told me

"Your column is easy-read and uses very practical examples, so I will now be reading it regularly."

(Thanks for the kind words Sue. I really appreciate them.)

The advantage of building an audience for your ideas is that over time people get to know you and like you.

This makes it very easy for some of these people to become paying clients when the timing is appropriate.

In my own business I've been hired for speaking presentations, marketing projects, marketing consultations and much more as a result of building an audience of people who like the marketing ideas I share.

I encourage most people in business to build an audience by sharing useful ideas related to what they sell.

It's a valuable marketing strategy that works best when you do it consistently.

Lesson 2:

Stories make your ideas interesting and memorable

For some reason we all seem to remember stories a lot better than facts and figures.

So whenever I include stories in my marketing columns they seem to become a lot more interesting to readers.

Here's a good example of using a story to illustrate a point.

In early 2012 I took up cycling as a way to get some regular exercise.

On my sixth ride I rode down a steep hill far too fast and crashed at over 65 kilometres an hour.

I broke a lot of bones and was off work for nearly two months while I healed from my injuries. (Fortunately I made a full recovery with no permanent damage.)

Once people heard about my accident I received a lot of emails wishing me a speedy recovery. These came from all round the world and I was delighted to get these positive messages.

I replied to each person and then deleted the emails. (Today I couldn't tell you which people sent me 'get well' emails.)

At the same time I also received a handful of 'get well soon' cards and letters by good old fashioned 'snail mail.'

There were 7 in total.

And years later I still remember positively the names of every single person who sent me a get well letter or card in the post.

(I have used this story a few times in my marketing columns to illustrate the value of sending something out by good old fashioned 'snail mail' to get positively noticed in your marketing.)

Lesson 3:

It's okay to repeat useful ideas to your audience

I used to think that I had to come up with a brand new marketing idea every single week for my Herald marketing columns.

However I quickly realised that it was more helpful if I regularly repeated useful marketing ideas in my weekly columns.

The reason is that most of us already know a lot of useful marketing ideas but we sometimes forget them or stop using them.

So we all need reminding about some of these ideas from time to time.

In fact a lot of the time when I write a marketing column I'm reminded that the idea I'm writing about is something I should be using more of myself in my own business.

What I'll do if I'm repeating a useful marketing idea is try and include a new story or example which illustrates how to use the idea.

One of the biggest things I've been surprised about is how fast the last five years has actually gone. (In a blink of an eye it seems.)

I really appreciate all the feedback and encouragement I've had from Herald readers during this time.

And I hope that what I share with you in the future will continue to be of value.

"The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson." Tom Bodett

Action Exercise:

Think about the last year or two in your own business.

What valuable lessons have you learned?
What would it be useful to do more of or less of in your business based on the valuable lessons that you have learned?
One last thing: If you have found any of my Herald marketing columns helpful in your own business I'd love to hear from you.

Just contact me using the email links at the top or bottom of any of marketing columns and share your feedback on what you found that was useful.