This week it was 20 years since Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets book was published. Most people have read the Harry Potter series, but just in case you haven't, here's a quick summary (and bear with me because I promise there is a business point to this blog post):
A young boy who happens to be a wizard is faced with a big problem. The evil villain who killed his parents wants to kill him. What he wants is to find out the truth of who he really is.
But he has a few problems:
Luckily he has Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts school to guide him. Dumbledore has the authority to do this – he’s one of the all time great wizards. At the same time, he is fond of Harry and can really empathise with what the kid is going through.
He sets him a plan. Collect 7 Horcruxes (bits of Voldemort’s soul stashed in magical objects) and to destroy them. Sadly, he doesn’t give Harry all of the plan, forcing him to have to figure it out for himself. But he does leave him some pointers.
By the end of it (and without wanting to spoil the story for you), Harry can either fail and the world is plunged into doom, or Harry can succeed and save the world from evil while at the same time realising the truth about himself that he has been searching for.
It's a story that has made J.K Rowling a household name and a very wealthy woman. But the storytelling process used in this book - and most others - is the exact same process you can use for your business. Here's how it works:
Hero wants something. There’s a villain. He has several external, internal and philosophical problems. A guide comes along to give him a plan. He takes action. And the conclusion ends in success or failure. Ultimately the character is transformed.
So how does this relate to your marketing messages or brand story?
Harry is the hero. Your client is the hero.
Dumbledore is the guide. You are the guide.
Voldemort is the villain. Whatever your client’s problem is, that’s the villain.
Most companies make the story about themselves, not about their customer. If the Harry Potter books were told from the same perspective most businesses tell their stories, it would look like this:
A famous, very talented wizard is available to teach young wizards how to rid the world of evil villains. Dumbledore can rattle out a million spells and has a very fine wizard hat, cape and wand. He even has a pet phoenix. He has reams of testimonials from the Wizarding Council saying just what a stellar wizard he is. He recently helped a young wizard called Harry by teaching him how to track down and destroy an evil wizard. You should send him an owl if you’d like his evil villain slaying services.
If you were a boy wizard in need of this service, you might be compelled to get in touch with Dumbledore and enquire about his services. But isn't the story much more interesting when you put the character at the heart of the it?
Relook at your website. Is it written from a Dumbledore or a Harry perspective? If it's all about you and what makes you brilliant, you're making yourself the hero. You're being too Dumbledore. You need to be more Harry.
Customers want to be the hero. They are the one with a problem. They are on a journey to transform themselves and to do that they need a guide. That's you. Position yourself as such. Show them how you can help them but keep the story focus on them.
I'd love to claim this method as my own. But it actually comes from Donald Miller, whose book Storybrand, I read. I now help my clients tell their stories this way. I help them create a simple story that puts their customer at the heart of it, with clear messages about how they can help them, while taking your own back story, vision, misson, values and brand archetype into account.
It's not an easy thing to do. You really have to put yourself in the shoes of your clients. At the same time you have to cut out the noise that can make messages hazy and you need to keep checking that you're not making yourself the hero again. It's tough getting this right and may take several rewrites to perfect. But then again, most good stories do.
If you could do with this kind of help, get in touch or take a look at my CampfireClarity™ package. Let's make magic together.
You are ready to throw in the towel on marketing. You've tried just about everything but nothing seems to work. You aren't attracting your ideal clients, you aren't making money and you aren't growing as a business.
Or perhaps you have a brilliantly successful business, but now you want to pivot or add in something new and it's muddying the waters a bit. All of a sudden you feel a bit confused about what you want people to know about your business. You are starting to second guess whether this change was a good plan after all.
Confusion is the villain that stands between you and your customers.
The way to attract more customers is to create crystal clear messages that make potential clients take action. So how can you tell if your current messages are confusing both you and your customers?
Here are some signs that you don't have clear marketing messages:
If you found yourself nodding along to many of these, it might be time to get some clarity. It can be incredibly difficult to get to the heart of what your customers REALLY want and how you are best placed to help them get that. I know from first hand experience how hard it is trying to do this for yourself. We are too close to our own businesses. No-one will challenge our thinking or suggest and alternate point of view.
I work with business owners to create clear messages that transform their marketing and grow their business. Do you have any idea how many years it took me to get to that sentence?
Why? Because I did it on my own. You don't have to. My CampfireClarity™ package will help you get this sorted out in 48 hours. If you look at it and think, well that would be great but I can't afford it, read this and see what a lack of clarity could be costing you.
Any time you are ready to book your Clarity Session with me, just click here and we'll get this party started.
Some people start up a business and they know exactly what they are offering, to whom and what problem they are solving. They've spotted a gap in the market, a real need. They typically do well and grow fast. But these people are the exception rather than the rule.
Most people start up their own business because they want to work for themselves, leave the 9 to 5 behind and follow their passion. They look at their skills and try to shoehorn them onto a market. They change their offering as they try to figure out what people will buy or not buy and then spend a good chunk of their time and money trying to find those ideal customers.
When things don't go according to plan, they think there is something wrong with their marketing tactics - like perhaps they should spend more on Facebook advertising, or they should create a more aggressive sales funnel, or they need to be on Instagram and Pinterest and Twitter and do direct marketing and a billion other possible things.
But it still doesn't work. And the reason? They do not have clarity. They aren't 100% sure how they are specifically helping their ideal clients. Their messages are confusing. They can be doing great 'marketing', but when people get to their website, they have no idea what they should do next, so they leave.
Confusion is the villain standing between you and your clients.
How do I know this?
Because I have just described myself. It is quite something to admit that you have battled to find clarity when you're in the business of helping other people find clarity. But the thing is, it is exceptionally difficult to figure this out on your own. And even with help, you may still have to tweak and refine things as you find your sweet spot.
I recently went through a process to really, really clarify what I do (the same process I now do with clients). I rebuilt my website three times in two months. I chucked out most of my previous copy. I created entirely new services. I know that I will still need to clarify further as I get feedback from people. That's normal.
But I know now that I am 100% in the market of helping people clarify their message. I am a Message Clarifier. I create clear messages so that businesses can market themselves better and grow faster.
Many people are confused by what that is. They think: I need fresh web copy. OR I need a better social media strategy. OR I need a new brand identity. Those are the end results of the clarity process. If you jump straight to those bits without doing the message clarity up front, your chances of failure are a whole lot higher.
So what does a lack of clarity potentially cost you?
If any of these sound familiar, please take a look at my CampfireClarity™ package. In 48 hours you can go from confused to clear. You can reignite your passion, rebuild your confidence, feel better physically and mentally, grow and earn what you're worth. What would that be worth to you?
A year ago I worked with Catherine Bowyer, an Australian lifestyle strategist and coach, to help her get clarity on where to take her business. During our clarity session, she realised that she wanted to shift away from corporate coaching towards personal coaching. She then used my Copy & Canvas package to give her website a make-over and to tell her brand story. You can read this blog to see the process we went through. I caught up with her to find out how things were going a year on from our work together. This is what she said:
How has business unfolded?
After our initial sessions of working together, I was able to gain clarity about the core messaging of my business and how all the pieces fit together – coaching programs, workshops, retreats and products. Having this clarity has really helped me to move forward with my business. I went from confusion and overwhelm to clarity and getting on and promoting my business.
The focus in my business has always been about helping people to be the best versions of themselves and living their best lives, however you helped me to narrow down what I really do. I’m really about helping people to be happy. This was a very important point for me as it is the underlying message of everything I do in my business.
You asked me a question of ‘What’s my thing’; what’s the ‘thing’ that represents me'. I pondered over this for a while because I wasn’t really sure, but after a bit of probing from you, I was able to crystallise that my ‘thing’ is being at the beach and being in the sun. This formed the basis for imagery for my website and marketing material and still does – I always look for fun, beachy images where appropriate.
Another big thing that came out of working with you was the name for my monthly women’s meet ups. As I hadn’t started the groups when we were working together, I was confused about how to market them. I knew what I wanted them to be but not sure how to create the right messaging around them.
You came up with the name ‘Happiness Hive’ which is absolutely perfect. I have been running these groups once a month for 12 months in June. This group is all about inspiration, motivation, education and having fun. I get 20-30 women attending each month and they lovingly refer to themselves as ‘Happy Hivers’ or just ‘Hivers’. I love this. We discuss a different topic each month and have different guest speakers. There is a core group of women attending with newbies each month. We have created an awesome place that has a really ‘buzzing’ vibe! It really is even better than I originally imagined.
The Happiness Hive isn’t a money-making venture for me (it actually ends up costing me money), however it is an awesome platform to promote myself and what I do. I have gained new coaching clients as a result of running HH. This really is a passion project for me and is leading to opportunities for my business. I have set up a Happiness Hive Facebook group where I mirror the monthly topics and interact with the group. A bit of a tricky thing is that the meet-ups are in Canberra, however people in the HH fb group are from all around Australia and the world. I try to make sure I cater for these differences, so people don’t feel left out if they can’t attend the meet up.
I have Trademarked ‘Happiness Hive’ so no one else in Australia can use that term – I own it!
Did the new brand identity help grow your business?
To a certain degree. One of the main things has been the Happiness Hive, which helps me market my services and which has brought in new coaching clients.
I am also setting up a ‘Happiness 4 Humanity’ program – personal transformation programs that I will be running in a little village in Cambodia in 2020, with participants from anywhere in the world. The programs will be multi-faceted: participants attending the programs will make profound and lasting changes in themselves and their lives and we will also contribute to the lives of women living in impoverished communities.
Another thing I plan on doing this year is setting up ‘Your One Life, Happiness Foundation’ where a percentage of all sales from my business will be donated. The Foundation will then give back to women in the way of providing scholarships, resources, and support to help them on their path to happiness and being the best version of themselves.
And hopefully this year I will also set up ‘The Happiness Hive Membership Lounge’ – this will be a premier membership program designed to support women experience happiness and success in every area of their lives.
These initiatives were there before I worked with you last year, however you helped me get the clarity about what to call them and how they fit together. As you can see ‘Happiness’ is the key theme that runs through my business initiatives. And now that I have clarity, it frees up my mind to get on and do stuff, instead of feeling overwhelmed how it is all going to fit together.
Did it change the way you felt about your business?
Yes! Having ‘Happiness’ as the core of everything I do in my business, has helped me to emulate this core message in everything I do – in my business and in my personal life. To be completely honest, it feels perfect. My business felt great before, but now it feels really great!
Having clarity about my core messaging has also helped me to think about my personal brand and do I match the ‘happiness’ vibe. I think I do!
How did people respond to your new look and the new services you were offering - particularly the meet ups that you wanted to hold?
People love it. I am focussing on working with women and that’s what my brand says. I chose to go with a bit of a retro, relaxed, friendly, upbeat theme for my website and marketing material. I get comments because people are recognising the brand. I think the imagery is fun, playful and friendly, which is what me and my business are about.
Women love, love, love the Happiness Hive. I’m getting 20-30 women there each month and I’m in two minds about whether to try and grow it or leave it at this size. I think I might try and get about 40 women there. If it get’s too big, it starts becoming something that I’m not sure I want it to be. There are lots of other opportunities to cater for larger group sizes.
What other new things have you implemented in your business since?
I have finalised my DIY program. I had the content developed before we started working together, however after the key messaging of ‘Happiness’, I called the program ‘Find Your Happy’. I also had a freebie resource which I referred to as the Life Wheel – I’ve changed the name to ‘Happiness Checker’.
I’ve run a free online program called Happiness Seven: 7 days to a happy, new you (the fastest and easiest way to being happy and loving life!). I’ve also run ‘Happy New You: Making 2018 your best year yet!
As part of my Happiness Hive fb group, I run regular fb live sessions which are based on the topic of the month.
What plans or ambitions do you have for it moving forward?
To expand the reach of my business including Happiness Hive and look for opportunities of collaborating with other women locally and online.
As my reach with Happiness Hive is reasonably strong, I am going to start introducing workshops and seminars that build on our monthly topics. I will continue to use HH as a platform for marketing my other products and services.
I’ll be introducing the membership lounge, Happiness Foundation and Happiness 4 Humanity programs over the next 12-24 months.
Any final thoughts?
Thanks again for helping me gain clarity in my business. It really set the foundation of what I’m about and has allowed me to move forward instead of feeling stuck and overwhelmed. Your work helped tie everything together and has freed me up to enhance what I do. I’ve definitely got the confidence now to promote my business, which I was a bit nervous about before we started working together. Thank you.
I just want to congratulate Catherine on doing so many brilliant things with her business. How inspiring to see someone take an idea and grow it into something that makes other women - and herself - happy. Love it!
If you could benefit from Catherine's services, do check out her links or join her Happiness Hive on Facebook.
Catherine's Facebook page
Catherine's Happiness Hive Group on Facebook
I'm taking this moment to reflect on what has been a big week and to celebrate virtually. And in the process, hopefully inspire you with the message that you can do anything if you simply start.
When you work in a big organisation and you roll out a major initiative, there are celebratory beers in the boardroom or at the least, a round of backslapping to say: we did it. When you work on your own, you don't have that. You can work your socks off and do something huge and you turn to high five someone and find yourself left hanging. So I'm going to share my week here to give myself a virtual high five.
Back in January 2017, I set up a Facebook group for women who like walking - Glamoraks. I had no idea what I wanted it to be, but I knew that walking made me happy, and perhaps I could help make other women happy through walking. I spent the last year doing a lot to turn that fledgling idea into a potential business. You can read about that here.
This week I took a major step. I moved my Facebook group into a new home - a community network exclusive to us. Doing this was a terrifying move. I had no idea whether people would move. I had spent a year growing my Facebook group to over a thousand members and now I was going to throw a hand grenade into the mix and say: We're off!
The other bit that was terrifying was how fast this happened once I just got started. In January 2018 I spoke to some app developers about creating an app for Glamoraks. I wanted to find a way to help women find other women to go walking, hiking and adventuring with.
After getting some eye-watering estimates, I started googling: how to create an app without being a coder. I found someone who wanted to charge 4 figures who would teach you how to do this. I didn't have four figures in spare cash lying around. But that person mentioned the name of a network in passing. I googled that network - Mighty Networks - and began to investigate it. On 1 February I created the Glamoraks network on Mighty Networks. At the same time, I gave a brief to a graphic designer to create a logo and branding so that it looked more professional. On 12 February I had an intro call with one of the Mighty Networks team to find out how I should be using it.
I created the rough framework of my network and invited 10 people from the Facebook group to try it. I then tried to figure out how to use the network myself. We all learned together.
That same week I attended a weekend-long business planning course to try get clarity on what this group could be. I left still not entirely clear as it was such an unusual business model but I put a potential launch date for my new network for the beginning of June.
I started to see how people were using the network, what worked and what didn't. I invited more people in to try it out. On 27 February I discovered an absolutely jaw-droppingly amazing course from Tara Gentile who runs a Mighty Network who explained how to create a community. I devoured all 32 modules of the course in less than a week, creating my plan as I worked through each module. Having done the course, I had my aha moment. I could see how I could take a free Facebook group and turn it into a paid membership group if I just used the right strategy. (Here's hoping it's the right one....the proof will be in the pudding in a few months time).
In between all of this, I took on new and serviced existing Campfire clients, including some pretty big web copy writing projects. And my husband has been abroad for most of this period, which meant the parenting and household duties were exclusively mine.
The week commencing 12 March, I realised that I could make this launch happen much faster if I just knuckled down and created all the onboarding materials. So that's what I did. In two days I had written every policy document and created a heap of How To guides for the group. I rebuilt my website, complete with new branding, and updated all of my social media content to reflect the new branding.
I set a date for the go live launch - Tuesday 20 March. I sent out an email to my newsletter subscribers and posted in the Facebook group. Then I had to try figure out how to create a Facebook live that let me share my screen (Belive.tv in case you're wondering) - I literally did this the day the event was due to happen. I created the content I needed to share, practiced and then did it.
I ran my live Facebook event explaining why we were moving off Facebook, where we were moving to and gave them a tour of the new network. I told them they had until 13 April to move and they would get free lifetime access. Thereafter the payment plans would kick in. My reason for this: I wanted to thank my original members for sticking with me as the group changed and grew. But I also need a critical mass of people to make the network effective. Equally I need to make money from it to cover costs and frankly, to pay myself for the time I've invested in creating this. So by making it free to start with, I would get the numbers in, which means once the paywall starts, people would see that there is an active group rather than tumbleweeds - and would be more willing to pay to join.
I shared the link on several relevant Facebook groups and used other social media to drive awareness.
In 48 hours the group has grown from the 140 initial users who had been dabbling with it, to 515 at last count (it's gone up by 3 in the time I've written this post). Given it took me a year to grow the Facebook group to 1000 and it's taken just 48 hours to get to half that, I am really happy. And the comments from the people in the group make me happier still. And the fact that they are coming from all over the world is even better.
I know that this is the easy bit. There is so much more work to do to retain them, engage them, to manage to grow that number and more importantly, manage to grow it once there is a monthly fee. I need to create branded merchandise and connect with outdoor brands to get sponsorship, advertising and discounts. I need to set up an entire calendar of member events and run member interviews. I need to create my marketing plan. And I still need to finalise my legal policies. It is a gargantuan amount of work and frankly it's terrifying. The little voice of fear keeps popping up to say: who are you to do this? It's going to fail. You went too fast. You weren't ready.
But if you wait until you are ready, you will never, ever start. Like ever. You need to learn as you go. It is the best way to learn. Evolve it and change it and adapt it if necessary, but just start.
If I think about the fact that it's been just over a year since I set up the free Facebook group with nothing more than an idea. And it's been not quite two months since I discovered this new platform, the fact that it is live and has over 500 members in it who are chatting and communicating.... well that looks like success to me. My inner critic wants to rain on my parade and without any team members to say: 'Hell yeah, we did it!' it can be easy to listen to it. But I'm not going to.
I am taking this moment, right here, right now, to say: Hell yeah, you did it!
What comes hereafter is a challenge for another day.
Thanks for listening and being my virtual high five. And if you are currently sitting with an idea but aren't sure how to make it happen. Just start. The rest will follow.
If you would like to see the fruits of my endeavours, go to www.glamoraks.com and if you are a women who likes walking, please join. I would love it if you could share the link with anyone you know so that I can rapidly grow the group before the 13 April deadline.
This is a post dedicated to women.
This is for you: Never underestimate all you do and all that you are. You are so much more powerful than you realise. Without you the world would genuinely be a less lovely place.
I support #MeToo and #TimesUp and #PressforProgress. But I'd like to add: #IamIncredible. Go on - say it out loud. Because you are.
Happy women's day 2018.
At 65 years of age, Colonel Sanders received his first social security cheque of $99. He was broke, owned a small house and a beat up car. He made a decision that things had to change. His friends used to like his chicken recipe very much. The fact that this was the only novel idea he had, he decided to act upon it.
He left Kentucky and started his travels to different US states to sell his idea. He would tell restaurant owners that he had a chicken recipe which people liked and he was ready to give it to them for free, in return for a small percentage on the items sold. He got rejections after rejections, but did not give up. In fact, he got over 1000 rejections.
He got 1009 NO’s before he got his first Yes. With that one success Colonel Hartland Sanders changed the eating habits of the whole world with Kentucky Fried Chicken, popularly known as KFC.
(This story comes care of yourstory.com)
It is National Storytelling Week. So my question to you is: what is your business story? By business story, I mean the reason your business exists, how you got started or why you got started. It's the storyline that underpins your brand and your mission.
Everyone has a reason why they started up their business. Some admittedly are more exciting than others. But even if you don't have a very exciting business back story, there are things you can do to transform it into something more memorable.
Before we get into how to come up with a good business story, let's look at why you even need one:
So how do you come up with a good business story? Answer these questions:
Why did you start your business?
Think beyond simply needing to make a living.
What was your background?
Imagine being at a dinner party and someone asks about your life.
Have you had to overcome something significant, experienced a tragedy or hit a major milestone?
Everyone loves a story about people who've hit rock bottom and had to climb there way back up. But you don't have to have hit rock bottom, you may just have had something happen that affected your status quo that led to you starting a business.
For example, an previous client of mine got the idea for her baby and toddler friendly travel company after her 2 year old fell into an unenclosed pool while they were on holiday.
Have you had a light bulb moment or chance opportunity?
Some of our best ideas happen when we're busy making other plans. For example, when I was weaning my baby, I decided to make baby food for a living. While researching the market, I came across a baby food company I'd not heard of. I got hold of them and suggested they could do a better job marketing to mums. They hired me. I went on to set up a PR business helping companies in the parenting sector. That became my business story.
Have you got a terrific customer story you can tell?
Perhaps your business started up because you had a client that you helped and off the back of that awesome work, you set up an entire business. Like I did, with the baby food company.
There are plenty of ways you can tell your story if you think creatively. But what if you just don't have a story?
Sometimes we start up businesses for two very simple reasons: it's what we can do and we need to earn a living. You don't have a brainwave. You don't overcome some tragedy. You don't have to overcome any insurmountable obstacles. In fact, let's make up a story based on the truth behind many small businesses:
Penny - in her 30s - had a nice, normal childhood growing up in the midlands. She had no major family issues and no health scares. She went to college and got a book keeping diploma. She began working at a local business in her home town. In her spare time, she cycled and enjoyed a glass of wine and a chat with her friends. She's just a friendly, bubbly person who is happy to help others. She met a nice bloke, got married and had kids. They're all fine too. Her husband earned a good salary as a manager at a local IT company. They realised that someone needed to be at home with the kids while they were little, and as her husband earned more, Penny decided to stay at home. She volunteered at the pre-school by acting as treasurer and did a little bit of book keeping work now and then for extra cash. She still cycled when she got the chance.
Once her kids go to school, she decides to set herself up as a freelance book keeper so that she can still be there for the kids when they get home but she can actually start to earn some money. She has a think about who might need her services and decides to target the small to mid-size businesses near her. Now she's stuck. She doesn't have a big vision. She doesn't really want to set fire to the world and create a bookkeeping empire. She doesn't have a burning desire to transform the bookkeeping world. She just wants a steady stream of paying customers. How does she market herself? How can she create compelling marketing based on her story? She has nothing to say that makes a good story. Right?
Here's what Penny might do:
How to craft the story
Once you have the nub of your story figured out, it's a case of sitting down and writing it.
No matter who you are, you can craft a story and a brand that reflects the true you and will attract your ideal clients. If you want help telling your story, get in touch. I offer a clarity and / or copywriting packages that will help you get to the heart of your story.
I'd love to hear your story. Share it in the comments below or over on the Campfire Club on Facebook.
If you have a Facebook page, you may be getting increasingly frustrated by the low engagement or eyeballs you're getting on your posts. A recent change to Facebook's algorithm means that the posts from family, friends and groups will be given priority.
That doesn't mean you should get rid of your Facebook business page. But you do need to ensure that the content you share on your page is going to generate conversations between users, and not in a spammy way. Ways to boost the visibility of your page posts include using live videos, not sharing links that send people off Facebook, paying for advertising and creating content that gets people talking.
But what about groups. Should you create a Facebook group for your business? After all, the new algorithm specifically says that groups will be given priority. But is running a Facebook group just another job to add to your to do list? Will it actually do anything for your business?
I run two Facebook groups. One supports my business, the other is the business. Here's my experience of running groups and tips on how to do it.
The Campfire Club
This is a free Facebook group I set up as an extension of my Campfire brand. I set it up because I know how hard it can be running a business. It can feel lonely, overwhelming and demoralising when everyone else seems to be nailing it, yet you're battling to make any money. Sometimes you just want to ask a quick question or get advice, without having to pay a fortune for an expert's help. So I set the group up as a way to have a virtual campfire with a warm, supportive and friendly vibe. It's my way of giving to people who may not be able to afford my services.
How I run it:
I have three set days to drive discussion:
What does it do for my business?
I set this group up a year ago. At the time I didn't have a Facebook page and I had a basic website. I didn't have a business. All I had was an idea - to get more women out walking and to help them connect. I set the group up as a way of doing that. It has grown to over 900 members and is largely the business. For now (I am working on other ideas behind the scenes). It acts as a way for women to find other women to walk with, share ideas, pictures and walks.
How I run it?
What does it do for my business?
Facebook groups have given me a completely new way of connecting and communicating with my ideal target audience. Yes it has added to my workload, but the insights the groups have given me have been invaluable. So would I recommend having one? Yes - if you have a community that you want to learn from and a business you want to grow. Be sure you know who your audience is before setting it up. Keep it targeted and you're more likely to be successful.
How to set up a group
Got any tips on how to manage a Facebook group? Share them in the comments. And if you want to join either of my groups, feel free.
Click here for the Campfire Club
Click here for Glamoraks (women only)
I often hear small business owners say: 'I spend so much time marketing my business but it doesn't seem to do anything. I still don't have enough business.'
That could be because they're marketing in the wrong place, to the wrong people, or using the wrong messages and attention grabbing stories. Or they could be too tactical. They see an opportunity and think,' Heck I need to do something for that!' and they cobble something half-heartedly together at the last minute. Funnily enough, it doesn't work. I speak from experience here. I have often seen last minute opportunities (which I could have planned for) and pulled something together at the last minute and lo and behold, tumbleweeds.
For other small business owners, they know that they need to put out regular content but they are stumped as to what they should say. They are all out of creative ideas.
What they need is a strategic plan. And that's not as scary as it sounds. It simply means thinking more carefully about where you want your business to go, who you're trying to reach and how you can help them - and then making sure that whatever marketing you are doing, supports that.
Which is why I will be running an hour-long workshop on Wednesday 17 January at 10am to help you get strategic and focused in your marketing to help your business grow. It will cover:
You will also get (if you haven't already got it) my free content calendar that plots out all the major events, initiatives, awareness days, anniversaries and more throughout 2018. It comes in a pretty to look at version and an easy to print one. PLUS you get my free plan template, which we will use as the workbook for this workshop.
You will leave with a clear sense of where you should be heading. More than that, you will be able to confidently cut out a bunch of stuff you're currently doing if it isn't moving your business forward. Less work with better results. And did I mention that you'll be buzzing with ideas that you hadn't thought of before?
I'd love to have you join me. The cost is just $35 (£25 approximately) which is nothing for an hour of training, advice and super useful documents that go along with it.
Over on the Campfire Club, someone asked how you manage when you simply have too much to do. I shared some tips on making a list of what has to happen and then outsourcing. But it got me thinking. There are just 5 weeks until Christmas and only 6 until 2018. It's like someone put the clocks on fast forward. And for many people, there is too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
Often the worry of what we need to do is actually bigger than the thing itself. Once you've written a list, it's easier to see what you have to do and can start to tick it off. But sometimes it will still be easier to hand some of the tasks over to someone else.
But that in itself can seem like a job: Find someone to do XYZ, brief them, manage them. What if they don't do it well enough? And so you don't do anything and your to do list gets longer.
I wanted to share three examples from the last week of how I helped people by taking something off their plate effortlessly. They didn't need to spoon feed me or wait on lengthy proposals or micro manage the process. They simply got in touch, explained what they needed and I did it. Job done.
Peter got in touch on Sunday and asked me to write an award submission for him as the deadline was fast approaching but he couldn't find the right words. I chatted to him at 3pm yesterday. He had his completed award submission by 6pm. Job done. He said:
'Thanks Melissa, That looks good.'
Jane got in touch last week, saying she needed words for a flyer for an event, but didn't seem to be getting to it because of everything else she had to do. I took a brief in the morning and she had her copy that afternoon. It's now with her designer and printer. She can hit her event with marketing materials sorted. Job done. She said:
'Yep - this fits the bill very nicely!! Thanks, Melissa - I knew you’d crack to for me!'
I went to see Helen and team on Wednesday last week. She had some blog posts that needed to be written, one of which I felt could make a good press story. By yesterday afternoon I had written a communications plan; four blog posts; three emails going to staff, customers and colleges; researched an industry issue; discovered that it was going to be covered in the Autumn budget speech tomorrow; wrote up a press release; found the email for the CEO of a company we wanted a quote from; reached out to her and got her quote approved via her press team; wrote tailored pitches for trade, regional, national and broadcast press; found the right press contacts; sent the news out; put the news on a wire service; sourced a videographer for them; identified three award opportunities for the company and am now working on those. Job in progress but mostly done. They said:
'Thank you Melissa. All fantastic!' and 'You are a machine!'
My point? You don't have to do this all yourself. If you have little thing that needs to be written or a major project that you need help with, I - or someone like me - can take it off your plate. I work fast and efficiently. If I see marketing opportunities that may benefit you or have ideas that might work, I'll suggest them free of charge.
I charge an hourly rate or if it's a big project, can give you a project-based quote in advance. It doesn't matter if you are a sole trader or a big company, I am the extra pair of hands you need to help you get through your to do list. Get in touch and give yourself the gift of time this crazy season. You will be so glad you did.