I was at a networking event recently and was asked 'what do you do?'
Now the short answer is: marketing, copy and communications. But the bit that I do most and love best is the clarity bit. My challenge is that it's so hard to explain.
I found myself sharing examples of work I'd done for clients to make what I do more real. I could see the expressions on people's faces change from one of blankness to one of 'oh yeah, that would be really useful.' So what was it that made people go from politely glazed to animatedly interested?
Story telling. That's what.
If I said that I 'help small businesses get clear on what they want their business to be', it doesn't mean anything. But when I told them a story about how I actually helped a client change, they got it.
Story telling is what I do for my clients. And it's what you can do too to bring your business to life for your ideal clients.
Let me make up a story to explain.
You're an accountant. You've left the corporate world and decided to set up on your own. You think you've got your target market sorted: small businesses who can't afford the big accounting firms.
In your head you know that you hate corporate bullshit and you're a lovely, warm, funny person - despite being an accountant (sorry accountants). But you've got this hangover from the corporate days that tells you that you need to come across as serious and professional because, you know, you're an accountant and money is a serious business. So you create a website that shows WHAT you do for these small businesses e.g. tax returns. You may even go to great lengths telling them HOW you do it for them ....with your wonderful step-by-step, bite sized packages.
But you don't tell them WHY YOU. And you don't show them how you are different. You don't show them that funny, warm, lovely side of your personality (which incidentally is what makes you different from all the competitors. No-one is you).
You choose a name like: Whizzy Accounts. You think you're being different and showing off your fun personality. But you're still just another accounting firm with a more brightly coloured logo perhaps.
What if you flipped it over and made your lovely, warm funny personality front and centre of your brand? They're going to be working with YOU right? So make your brand and the experience they have working with you match.
What if instead of dreading doing tax returns, they wanted to come and see you? Because when they see you, they have a laugh and a lovely cup of tea and it just feels relaxed. So why not call it Tax over Tea (or something that you spend longer than the 10 seconds I just spent coming up with) that demonstrates not only what you do but your entire vibe and how it helps them?
Paint the picture of what that feels like. Show photos of you having a laugh with a client while you drink cups of tea. Sure you do tax returns. But really what you do, is take a truly shitty part of running a business and turn it into something fun. Isn't that awesome?!
Your approach should be front and centre of your brand story. And I don't just mean having a cup of tea as part of your logo (in this particular case). Remember, a brand is so much more than a logo. It's the entire story you tell people in every single interaction they have with you.
One thing to remember as you tell your story: You need to tell it in a way that shows how you help your ideal client. This isn't about you and how wonderful you are so much as it's about how your wonderfulness helps them. There's a subtle but important difference.
So ask yourself: what is your story? What sets you apart? Are you telling that to your clients?
No? Then change it.
A final thought: doing this can be hard as it's difficult to see ourselves clearly. We're too self-critical or close to what we do. Sometimes we need someone to hold a mirror up to us and say: hey, you are THIS. If you need someone to hold that mirror for you, drop me a note. That's what I do. Find our more here.
Self-employed parents up and down the country are breathing a collective sigh of relief as the kids return to school and they can finally focus on their business again. For others, September marks the first time their babies are off to big school, while those at the opposite end of the spectrum are facing an empty nest for the first time.
Whichever you may be, September is the new January when it comes to fresh starts and the opportunity to try something new. Now if you still have kids at home, flexibility is paramount, which is what makes working for yourself so appealing. Flexibility and doing something you're passionate about is just as important for people who've either been stay at home parents for years or who have been on a stressful career path and now want to live life on their terms.
Even those already in business can feel the need to change things that have gone stale or just aren't quite what they want their business to be.
But how to do it?
It can seem overwhelming if you've never worked for yourself to know where to start or what to do first. And it can be easy to get carried away with the excitement of it all that you don't stop and check whether it will work.
So I have created an easy to follow FREE e-book that outlines 15 steps you can follow that will help you set up your very own business without spending more than about £100 (and even that is variable depending on the type of web hosting and domain name you go for!)
I have included all the tools and super low cost or free ways you can get your idea out of your head and into a start up.
Here's what it covers:
I won't pretend that this mini guide covers all you need to know about starting up or pivoting a business. But it will give you some quick and easy pointers to get you started without you spending heaps of cash. They are all tools and services that I have used in starting up and running my business. None of the links in the guide are affiliate links. They are simply useful things that may help you.
If you want the guide, click here to get it. If you want extra advice or support, head over to The Campfire Club on Facebook where you will find plenty of likeminded small business owners who aren't going to claim that they've made 6-figures over night. They are simply trying to follow their dreams and do something they love. So why not take the #30daystostartup challenge and see if you can have a business live in just 30 days.
Ever since I set up Campfire Communications (almost exactly three years ago) I have wanted to run a virtual campfire for small business owners and start ups. But I wasn't sure what it would do or be or if it should be free or a paid membership club.
I've done plenty of research and asked my regular tribe of campers. A few things kept coming out time and again. They just want to feel less alone, more motivated and less intimidated by all the apparently successful people out there. They want to chat and discuss things, rather than have to consume heaps of information. They're overloaded with information already.
What they want is a friendly, non-judgemental group who they can ask questions of, get advice from or simply be supported by, without feeling as though they have to fake it or pretend to be something bigger than what they are. They want to find business besties, accountability partners, butt kickers or actual business partners.
These are the people who have ambition and dreams but equally value honesty and integrity. They may lack self-confidence or self-belief. And they may feel very small in contrast to what everyone else is achieving. Or they may have felt like that in the past and have now got to a place where they feel so much stronger, more confident and happier about where they are in their business journey.
Based on all of that, I have created The Campfire Club. This is a free group run on Facebook. It is open to anyone thinking about starting up a business, new start ups, people who have been running their small businesses for a while, people who want to pivot their business, career changers, sole traders, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. It's open to men and women and you can be based anywhere in the world.
The aim? To make you feel less alone as you head out on this adventure of running a business.
This group is NOT for people who like to tout how they have made six-figures in a matter of weeks or how if you buy their unique formula you can transform your life. In fact, this is a zero bullshit club. It's also not for people who join simply to plug their wares before leaving again. It's for real people who value honesty.
The vibe: Imagine a crackling campfire. The air around you is crisp and cool, but the fire is keeping you toasty. You have a mug of hot chocolate or perhaps a glass of your favourite red wine. The sun is setting and the stars are coming out. You hear the breeze in the trees and can savour the epic view of mountains, lake or sea. You're sitting with a bunch of people just like you. You chat, ask questions, share some of your challenges, get friendly suggestions, a much needed pep talk or a comforting hug of understanding. This isn't corporate. It's not competitive. It's not fancy. It's down to earth and real. You leave feeling revived, cheered up, motivated, ready to tackle that thing you've been afraid of, knowing you've got a friendly place you can return to anytime you need help again.
What can you do in the Club:
Every Monday it's #CampfireConnections time - your chance to find a business partner, business bestie, an accountability partner, someone who can help you with a specific issue or project or job you need doing, or just someone to kick your butt. Start off your week by asking someone to hold you accountable and make sure you eat that frog by the time the week is over.
Get it off your chest
Every Wednesday it's #CampfireConfessions time - your chance to share whatever it is that is bothering you. Perhaps you feel deflated or flat. Perhaps the thing you launched has failed. Perhaps you feel like a fraud. Perhaps you have no clients but don't know how to get them. Whatever it is, this is your safe space to open up and get some advice, motivation or simply some sympathy. It's not meant to be a pity party or a place to simply moan about how hard it is. It's your chance to get whatever is bothering you off your chest and for others to help you move forward. You will be AMAZED at how often others are in the exact same boat. All it takes is for one person to open up and you'll quickly discover that you're not alone. Together you can help each other to move forward and believe you can do it.
Share your celebrations and successes
Every Friday it's #CampfireCelebrations time - your chance to let us know what amazing things (no matter how small) you have achieved. Perhaps you found a business friend or finally ticked that thing off your to do list or secured your first client or made your first sale. Whatever it is, it's time to celebrate it. Feel free to stuff your face full of marshmallows as a reward.
You can ask questions any day of the week. Just use #CampfireQuestions and ask away. As a member of the club, if there's someone you can help, answer them and try to be supportive. That way, they get the info they need and you get to showcase that you're an expert. It's the best way to win new business. Being genuinely helpful is what people remember and they're far more likely to do business with you as a result.
That's it! It'll probably evolve over time but for now, this is enough to kick us off.
JOIN HERE - it costs you nothing. And please share it with any fellow business pals you may have who might benefit from it too.
Chat to you round the Campfire!
Right. Listen up. If you have returned from your summer break and are finding it very hard to relight your business fire, I am going to try to help. Now admittedly, if you are feeling super low, you probably won't be reading this because it will fall into the 'can't be arsed' category. And it will be YET ANOTHER person telling you what you should be doing, when really, all you want to do is lie in bed and binge watch Netflix or lie in the sun and attempt to recreate your holiday. Except, it's England and it's wet and cold.
I have been you. In fact, until yesterday, this was me. Like all self-employed people, I have been on this particular mojo rollercoaster before. Except this time, I couldn't even be bothered to get onto the sodding rollercoaster. It was like I had business mojo flatlined.
And the worst thing about losing your mojo, is that the longer you don't have it, the harder it is to find. Apathy breeds apathy. Then you feel bad about doing nothing, so you do even less. All around you, peppy people are raving about how awesome everything is and what they're achieving and trying to rev you up so that you can join in their energetic success ball. But frankly you just want to pull the blanket over your head and eat chocolate.
Then I watched a video by Mel Robbins on the micro-decisions that make our lives what they are. I'd seen it before but somehow it popped into my Facebook feed (while I was wasting time pretending to work but not). And it's like the universe was trying to give me a bitch slap. Obviously, my life isn't a movie where I suddenly transformed into an energiser bunny and changed the world five minutes after watching that clip. Nope. I stayed lying in bed binge watching Suits, wondering how come all the women in that show are so incredibly well put together and how many times they say 'Godammit!' in any episode.
But Mel's message stuck with me. This morning I woke up and decided that I wouldn't lie in bed reading angry tweets about Trump. And I wouldn't eat a big breakfast that would delay me from doing my workout. Before I gave my brain time to think, I got out of bed, got in gym kit and headed outside for a run. I decided that I would use the run to decide what I'd achieve that day.
I tried to do that. But every time I thought I had a game plan, little voices of doubt would creep in telling me that it was unrealistic or the wrong thing to focus on or not big enough. By the end of the run I still had no game plan for the day. And I knew that without a game plan, I would waste another day going around in circles achieving nothing. And my mojo would plummet further.
So here's what I did.
I asked myself, what is the ONE thing you really NEED to do? And what I really NEED to do is make money so that I can buy my husband a brilliant 50th birthday present. I had a clear goal. Make money.
I immediately thought of the billion different things I could do to attempt to market to clients to make money. My mind leapt to fanciful ideas and projects that would take time to get off the ground and I could feel that mojo slipping away. It was all too big and complicated. So I said to myself: If I had zero money and I HAD to make some by the end of the week, what would I do?
The answer was blindingly obvious. Ask people directly for business. I decided to do just that.
Buoyed by getting that done, I noticed two emails that came in about events taking place in the next few months featuring keynote speakers. I decided that I would email them and ask if they needed any other speakers. I didn't hesitate and ask 'Will I be good enough?', 'What if it's a waste of time?', 'Will they think I'm insane asking at this late stage?', 'Will be scary?' I just did it.
I didn't hear back from one. The other replied saying yes. There was a small cost involved. I weighed it up and thought, sod it. No hesitation. Just do it. I am now booked to be a speaker at an event with 100 women next month!
My learnings on how to kickstart your mojo:
If you my lovely reader are feeling mojo-less, take heart. Do not give up. Do not beat yourself up. Just start with one little thing. And then keep going. It will return.
If you'd like my help (now that I have my mojo back) please check out my services. I would absolutely love to help you develop your brand story.
Loss is not simply the sadness that radiates from the space someone leaves behind them when they're no longer there, it's the responsibility to keep on living deeply and joyfully in their absence. Because it is through living and celebrating each day, embracing every experience - the good, the bad, the mundane - that we do justice to the opportunity we have been given to be alive."
I wrote these words this morning after waking at 5am and remembering what day it was. 26 July. A day forever etched into my memory after an unimaginable family tragedy changed all of our lives forever 30 years ago.
I don't normally write about personal issues on this blog but I wanted to share these words here because I think they are so important to remember, regardless of whether you have suffered a loss or not.
Often when I work with clients we look at their values and beliefs. These often shape where they want to take their business. But I wonder how many of them know why they hold those values and beliefs. I've not really examined why I believe so strongly in freedom, honesty and adventure, for example. But on reading my own words back today, I realised that there is a part of me that wants to live fully to honour two people who can't. I want to be free to experience whatever comes my way, to say yes to new challenges and to live openly and honestly because I can.
It's the same reason I am self-critical and lack self-belief. Why I feel that I have never achieved enough. Because no matter how much I might try to do - even if I am unknowingly trying to do it to prove that I'm living a good life in their honour - nothing will ever be enough. Because I cannot make up for two missing lives. All I can do is live my own. And live it well.
Being successful or achieving great things so that you have a rich and fulfilling life is brilliant. But a more brilliant life is to be happy with the one you have. To accept every day, no matter what it brings, and be grateful for it.
The point of this post?
Simply to say that your life has made you who you are. You can't unmake it. You can simply continue the story. You have the ability to change the storyline anytime you like. You can make it as exciting or as mundane as you feel comfortable with. But whether you are writing an edge-of-your-seat blockbuster, or a repetitive, predictable plot, own it. It's your story. You are the author of your life.
If you're a parent, summer holidays have either started or will be soon. Even if you're not, summer is typically a quieter time for businesses as everyone heads off to the beach or drinks their bodyweight in Pimms while burning sausages on a bbq.
This quieter period is a brilliant time to catch up on the big projects you've been planning on doing but haven't had the chance to get to yet. Things like giving your website a makeover, or changing your business direction, plotting out new products or services, creating new marketing campaigns or comms plans for the rest of the year.
While others are sunbathing, you can be plotting out the rest of the year so that come September you are ready to roll!
Some ideas to use the quieter weeks well:
Here's how I can help you over this period:
Clarity - if you want to change your business in any way, whether that's new packages, new clients, an entirely new direction, new messages, I can help you get the clarity you need. I recently helped Juliet, a coach, restructure her packages. This is what she had to say:
"I just wanted to say that I've had time to go through the summary doc in detail and love all the ideas, the ones we discussed and the new ones. And the angles you've suggested for the copy. I'm now in the process of restructuring my services and creating new material. Argh so much to do, but it's fun too and am feeling a lot more positive about the future of the business."
Copy - if you need fresh copy for your website or any of your marketing materials - perhaps a job lot of blog posts or newsletter content for the next few months, I can write this for you. You can lie on the beach while I take care of the words you just can't seem to find. Return to a heap of new content all done for you. Here's how I helped a nutritionist, a new product and a life coach find the words they needed.
Communication - if you are finding it hard to come up with regular marketing updates, I can help you either with one-on-one coaching, or by spending an intensive day with you planning, brainstorming and training, or by writing you a communications plan that you can roll out. Here's what a producer of babywear said after I had a one-on-one strategy day and wrote her comms plan:
"I found the session very useful and feel like you managed to put into words what the brand stands for. I also think we nailed who the target consumer is. Thanks so much for the comms plan and for all your work – looks very comprehensive! I will start reading this evening – excited to get started with it!"
Publicity - a quiet period is also a good time to learn a new skill. So whether you want to spend just £49 and 75 minutes listening to my PR Masterclass on how to get in the press fast, or you want to get an in depth understanding of how to get in the media on an ongoing basis with my Publicity for Solopreneurs course, use the time wisely! I also have a PR Firestarter Kit that gives you the tools to get your story out to the press with minimal effort. Summer is quiet for media too and they are always on the hunt for good stories. Use the lull to get fabulous publicity.
I also have kids on holidays so will have less time available to me so get in touch ASAP if you want my help with any of this before I get booked up. Email me.
Does this sound like you? You've been running your business for a while but it's no longer what you really want to do. There are bits of it you love and bits you'd like to drop. But you aren't sure how to make the switch. You'll need to come up with new packages, services, messages, copy and possibly even a new name, tagline and logo. You can't market the new things you want to offer because you have nothing to steer people to. It all seems too overwhelming so you don't do anything and stay stuck half-heartedly doing the thing you've always done while dabbling in the new bits.
I see this all the time. Clients who come to me in desperate need of clarity to help them make the shift. Sometimes it takes an outsider to validate the change and give them the confidence to take the leap.
I was recently contacted by Suné Markowitz-Shulman, a nutritionist who has spent years helping people lose weight. It's what she trained in but it is no longer her passion. Over the years of working with people trying to lose weight, she noticed that it wasn't what they were putting on their plate that was the problem, it was what was going on in their heads. She began to incorporate coaching but clients kept coming to her for a quick fix diet plan. She knew she wanted to change her offerings but she was stuck as to how to do that.
Should she change her business name? Should she target different people? Should she still offer the nutrition services? What should she offer? How could she make her business different? In fact, when she came to me, she said this:
"I have so much going on in my head that I may take up a lot of airtime explaining here. In short, I'm a nutritional therapist and have been in practice for over 10 years with various successes. I am looking to rebrand/revamp my career and message and do more coaching and although health and wellbeing has always what I've been doing, I'm a bit bored of the 'what is your diet like' question. Not sure if I should 'marry' all my skills or focus on the rebrand and what will that look or sounds like. As it looks like at the moment I need everything that you offer but would love to find out more and discuss what the best way forward is. I've had about 6 websites and have never been proud or happy about my offer and want to get it right without wanting to change everything every two years."
We decided that it was best for her to start with a Clarity session so we could get clear on what it was she wanted to offer. Suné had already completed my free Campfire Clarity Workbook so we used that as her starting point. Over two hours we chatted about what she was hoping to achieve. I then went away and condensed that into a summary document for her that included:
"Thank you SO much for this. The whole experience has been exactly what I needed. You are amazing at capturing my muddled thoughts. I am excited and inspired and reading it all over and over again!"
Next up, I got to work on her Copy & Canvas. We had a second short call to clarify a few things before I knuckled down to the process of transformation.
Here's what changed:
Business name: From Nutrition Redefined to Kitchen Table Coach (www.kitchentable.coach) - site not yet live
Tagline: A nutritionist for the mind
Her location: Suné works from home - out of the spare bedroom. But I suggested that she move her nutrition coaching into the kitchen. The idea was to create a feel of sitting at a kitchen table - the heart of any home and where nutrition really matters - with a friend who listens, encourages and educates.
Her opt in: We switched this to be a guide that helps people figure out what the real reason behind their weight problems are (and it's not what they eat)
Her packages: Suné had too many packages on offer, which became confusing. They also attracted the wrong kind of client - the type who wanted a quick diet fix. We changed this into a very simple process of:
Her ideal clients: Suné no longer wants to work with people who just want to know which foods to eat and in what quantities. She wants to work with people who want to address the real reasons behind why the eat what they do and how they can change their entire approach to food and thoughts about themselves.
Her message: We completely shifted the words on her site from being diet and nutrition focused to being about coaching, personal contentment and freedom from food.
Her logo, colour scheme, fonts and imagery: I mocked up a new modern logo for Suné, with suggested fonts and a choice of colour schemes. I asked her to send me a photograph of her kitchen and used the colours in that as the palette for her brand. I suggested the type of images she should have taken by a professional photographer. She will now get a designer to create a final logo version, get photography done and is building her new site.
Her future plans: We plotted out some ideas to expand both the number of one-on-one clients she will see, to holding group cooking demonstrations in her kitchen to writing a book. But these are all plotted out in a way that feel manageable and achievable rather than overwhelming.
This is what Suné had to say once she got the completed copy and canvas package:
"I was so excited to get your email on Friday and the excitement is lasting. You have totally captured my message and brand so beautifully and this is the one thing that has been holding me back for way too long. I am looking forward to building the website and getting out there promoting my new brand and concise message to the world. You have been so professional and speedy, which is also a great inspiration, but I can think of so many people who would benefit from your work. THANK YOU!"
Many nutritionists have before and after pictures of their clients - pre weight loss and after. Well here are some before and after pictures of the nutritionist! She's lost her old business and gained an entirely new one! (I should say that these images are suggestions only. The final product will come from a designer.) But now Suné has an in-depth brief she can take to a designer to ensure that her new business comes alive.
Could I help you do the same for your business? Get in touch.
I know it seems insane to be thinking about Christmas in June, but if you have a product that you think would make a great Christmas gift and want to get it into the press, you need to act fast (by 15 June for this opportunity).
I have teamed up with Kate Woodward - an expert in placing products in shopping and product news round up pages - to provide three businesses with the chance to get their products in front of key shopping editors for the winter and christmas period.
It is only available to three businesses - and I need all three spots to be taken to make it affordable to all. And I need all three spots taken by 15 June at the very latest.
So what is it?
YOUR CHANCE TO GET INTO CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDES AND SHOPPING PAGES OF NATIONAL MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS (POSSIBLY EVEN TV!)
Kate and I go way back (she was a freelancer for me in my previous PR business). She has spent years focusing specifically on getting products placed in magazines. You know the pages I mean – What’s hot, Top Five lists, Shopping, Product news…. well she has all of the editors of those pages on speed dial. Her contacts span a range of national and weekly magazines and newspapers plus contacts at This Morning and Lorraine. We're talking everything from women's weeklies to luxury titles.
During the last week of June, she will head to London to have meetings with these contacts. Why the last week of June? Because all of the Christmas preview events happen in July and this is the best chance of getting in before they're deluged. Why only three clients? Because any more than that and it becomes overwhelming for the press. Any less than that, it becomes less affordable per client as the costs of her time can't be shared three ways.
Who is this suitable for?
Who is it not suitable for?
What's the benefit of doing this?
What do you get?
£1,300 per client if all three spots are taken.
How does it work?
To make this cost effective we ideally need three clients to join in. Any more and we over face the press. Any less, and the costs go up. So if you want one of the three spots, please email me ASAP
I will take a brief from you to determine your ideal publications and to check that you are right for this.
I will craft a one-page backgrounder document on your products. This isn’t a press release. It’s a product overview with key information. Once approved by you, I will send this to Kate.
You will send your images via dropbox or WeTransfer to Kate, who will select them based on suitability and what she knows the press will like.
Kate will secure a series of face to face meetings with the editors of magazines in London, to take place during the last week of June. Timing is critical. Miss this slot, and you miss the Christmas gift guides.
Kate will take your product, backgrounder and images along to the meetings. She will show your product to the editors, explaining the different features they can be used in (it won’t just be Christmas focused – it could cover winter warmers or top five new products etc)
Expect up to 9 face to face meetings with key editors. She will then send out your product information to a further 10 relevant publications, depending on the number of relevant magazines. She will call them up to secure interest.
Kate will repeat this process again in September to hit the newspapers and weekly magazines, that have shorter deadlines than the monthly magazines.
If she sees any relevant reactive opportunities in the build up to Christmas, she’ll respond to those on your behalf too. She’ll also send out your info to a further 10 titles.
A summary report of the publications that have been targeted with expected or actual coverage received.
Do you guarantee press coverage?
No – because no-one can guarantee press coverage without paying for the space. That’s why people pay (a lot per magazine) to advertise. PR is seen as more credible because your products or company are selected on their merit. So we can’t guarantee coverage but we will do our utmost to get you included. Kate typically gets a third conversion of the number of titles she reaches out to.
How many press do you reach out to?
There will be approximately 9 face to face meetings in June, and roughly the same again in Sept. In addition, the product info will be sent out and followed up with approximately 20 other publications. So approximately 40 targeted titles.
Do I get a list of press contacts?
You will be send a summary of the publications that your product went to e.g. Shopping Editor at Good Housekeeping but you won’t receive their contact details as those are Kate’s hard-earned contacts.
What is the timing of it all?
So do you want one of the spots?
Email me ASAP to get one. First come, first served. Final decision date about whether we have three spots and therefore can do this at this price is 15 June.
This could be your chance to rapidly ramp up your visibility and boost your credibility and make those all important Christmas sales. No more playing small!
If you want to learn how to do your own PR for service-based businesses, check out my Publicity for Solopreneurs course.
Is there anything lovelier than a hand written note? Whether it's a love letter or a note of friendship or even a personal journal, there is something utterly beguiling about the written word. Even more so when that note is secreted away, waiting to be found.
Which is exactly what you get with a brand new product called My Billet Doux. Literally translated as 'sweet note', My Billet Doux is a beautiful handmade silk cushion that has a discreet pocket on the back for a hidden notebook and pen. The cushions are decorated with a vintage ribbon, each with a story of its own and some dating back to the 1800s.
Natalia Willmott, the creator of the cushions, asked for my help in crafting the words for her new website. She explains: 'I needed help getting word clarity for my website and to explain a new concept. My product is unique but can be difficult to describe. I wanted to really capture the romance and history behind the idea.'
As a Publicity for Solopreneurs student, I already knew Natalia but this is a brand new business venture for her and she wanted to nail the words to explain the concept. I spent a bit of time with her, looking at the cushions, and seeing the details and finishing touches that make the products so unique. I learnt about her back story and her motivation behind the cushion idea. Then I set to work.
It was a lovely, but tough, challenge. It's a tricky concept to explain and as the cushions can be used for so many reasons - from romantic wedding gifts, a gift between friends, or a keepsake item to be handed down - it took a careful use of words to get the tone just right. There were also many elements that needed explaining, like the concept of love letters, the quality of the silk cushions, the vintage stories of the ribbons and the ways in which the cushions could be used. Not forgetting that we needed the words to be SEO friendly and had to sound beautiful too!
The scope of the copywriting work included her about page - including the idea behind the products and her back story - and product category descriptions. But I also helped Natalia flesh out some new ways the cushions could be used to broaden their appeal even further and I came up with ideas on how to turn her blog into a series of love letters.
This is what Natalia had to say: 'Melissa got the message I wanted to convey and tone of the website spot on. She has the ability to 'tidy' your words and sentences into proper language that is clear and engaging. She works really well under time pressure and delivers everything (and more) she offers. Thanks for helping me out!'
You're welcome Natalia - it was a fabulous project to work on. And best of luck with your new venture.
If you know anyone who would love a gorgeous gift like this, please do check out her website (and while you're there, read the copy!)
If you would like help with your website copy, take a look at my Copy packages and then get in touch.
I want to tell you a tale of two brands - and my experiences with them - that will explain why some brands can charge a premium. It also shows why some brands are better loved than others and what you can do to improve yours.
Like many busy working mums, I order my food shop online. Contrary to what my children believe, food shopping is not a task that I relish. It is tedious. Not least because you have to do it week after week after week (it's so annoying how everyone keeps needing to be fed, right?) Which is why anything that can make the experience easier will be appreciated.
I have used Ocado for years because they were the first company to deliver to where I used to live. And because I had all my favourite foods saved in the system, it was easier for me to keep going back to them.
However, Ocado has two problems. First, if you forget to order your food until the evening, it's unlikely you'll manage to get a delivery slot for the next day - unless you're prepared to wait until 10pm at night. Second, it is more expensive despite claiming to price match. I've been prepared to pay the premium though thanks to the convenience and the fact that they guarantee the food life, rather than giving you a bunch of stuff that is about to go off the day it is delivered (glares at Tesco and Morrisons....).
This week I decided to try Sainsburys online as I'd left it too late to get an Ocado delivery and even my ready steady cook abilities were being challenged (there's only so much you can do with half a bag of cous cous and some baked beans.) As I regularly shop an in store Sainburys and as I have a Nectar card that tracks all my shopping purchases, all of my favourites should be stored in Sainsbury's system. And Sainsburys has a new tool that allows you to import your favourites from another online shopping site. All of which should make it easy. Right?
Except that using the Sainsbury's site is difficult. It's hard to navigate to find the things I want. It's just not intuitive. And once you have things in your trolley and you want an overview of what you've got, it's difficult to get a single view to check what you're missing. If you want to add or delete something in your trolley, the page reloads after each addition, meaning that you have to scroll down to where you were in your list again. You lose your place and it takes an age. As a result, I ended up with two jars of honey and no bread in this week's shop.
But it's not just the IT user interface that is less pleasant with Sainsburys. When you order from Ocado, you get a cheeky text message reminding you that Bob in the Onion van will be with you in the next hour. Just that little message personalises the experience. And when Bob in his onion van arrives, he is smiling and helpful, taking the bags out of the crates, offering to carry them in for you or at least handing them to you. Then he'll ask whether you want to return any shopping bags and will give you a cheery goodbye.
Contrast that with Sainsburys. No text or reminder that anyone is coming. No personalisation. When the unnamed delivery guy arrived he had the crates stacked outside the door and stood back and watched as I wrangled the bags free, even though he could have started to ready the next set of bags as I carried a load into the kitchen. He didn't offer to take old bags and wasn't particularly friendly.
After an Ocado shop, I feel a tiny bit of joy, that hard to name feeling that comes from a pleasant experience and a sense that the world is a friendly place. After the Sainsburys shop, I felt 'meh', just another job ticked off my to do list.
My point is this: A brand isn't what your logo or colour scheme says it is. Your brand is everything that you do - from user experience, to tone of voice use, to quirky additions to friendliness of customer service. And, the easier you make it for people to buy from you, the more likely they are to do it.
If Sainsburys polished up its customer service, made it's online shopping experience more user friendly and added a few clever marketing twists, I'd use it as it's cheaper and it's easier to get a delivery. Hey Sainsburys, I've got some ideas for you if you want them!
You don't need to be a giant supermarket chain to implement ideas that build brand loyalty. Even if you're a solopreneur, if you are battling to differentiate your brand from multiple other similar offerings out there, take a look at the little things you could change to delight your customers and to make it easier for them to work with you. Even a little change could make a huge difference.
If you fancy brainstorming ideas with someone to get clarity on how to differentiate your brand, book my Campfire Clarity session. To make it super easy for you, click HERE to find out more about it or click HERE to email me to set up a free 15 minute campfire chat to find out whether I am really what you need before you commit to buy.