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
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.
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.
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.
When I started Campfire Communications, I didn't have a big plan or vision for what I wanted it to be. I didn't really know what it stood for. I knew that I wanted to help small business owners tell their stories better. I knew I was good at doing this. And I knew that campfires where a good place to tell stories. So I combined all of that, wrote some web copy, came up with some service packages and started marketing it.
Over time, it's changed and evolved, and I've spent more time thinking about what my business really stands for. And that question is bigger than just 'what problem am I solving'. It's: what do I believe in? What is important to me? What are my values?
And for me it comes down to freedom. I do what I do because I like the freedom to work the way I want to work. And I want to help other people have the same freedom. That could be freedom from a stifling job, a mean boss, financial hardship, having to stay in a crappy relationship because you can't afford to leave, to having the freedom to watch your kids grow up or spend time doing things you love. I realised that I want to help people create businesses that give them the freedom to do all of these things. And while I can't do it all for them, by helping them find, craft and share their stories, I am helping to set them on the path to freedom and living a life they love.
So what does my business stand for? Freedom. How do I demonstrate that? By the very way I work, what I wear, where I work, how I am flexible with clients, the results I get for them and how I'll go out of my way to help them and others even if they're not paying clients.
Here's a far bigger example of a company that doesn't just say what it stands for, it has evolved and is living it. And frankly, I applaud it.
Back in 2014, Airbnb went through a rebrand after having a rethink about what it really stood for. Here's how they described it:
In 2007, Joe and I opened our home up to the first Airbnb guests. They booked a place to stay, but they ended up with something more than just an airbed at a slightly messy apartment. They learned our favorite places to grab coffee, ate the best tacos in the city, and had friends to hang out with whenever they wanted. They were thousands of miles from where they lived, and yet they felt right at home. What started as a way for a few friends to pay the rent has now transformed into something bigger and more meaningful than we ever imagined. And what we realized is that the Airbnb community has outgrown the original Airbnb brand. So Joe, Nate, and I did some soul-searching over the last year. We asked ourselves, “What is our mission? What is the big idea that truly defines Airbnb?” It turns out the answer was right in front of us. For so long, people thought Airbnb was about renting houses. But really, we’re about home. You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong. And what makes this global community so special is that for the very first time, you can belong anywhere. That is the idea at the core of our company: belonging.
They introduced a new logo, which they called the Belo, with the intention that it becomes a recognised symbol that represents belonging. The video below explains it.
Three years on, Airbnb has grown massively. It has had to balance this growth while maintaining its purpose-driven ethos and sense of belonging. Everything it puts out reflects its mission, its values and what it stands for. Its most recent Super Bowl ad is another example of how it is tapping into current issues facing the world and wrapping its story into it.
When you land on Airbnb's home page, this is what you see first thing:
Their mission right up front, not tucked away on an About Us page. They could have said: We let out rooms around the world. Instead it is leading with its mission statement. By having a clear vision, Airbnb has a consistent message and story. And this has led to its phenomenal growth.
So my question to you is: What does your business stand for? What is your mission? How is it reflected in your web copy, your marketing and your actions?
As a small business, you may not have the budget to create clever logos or worldwide brand relaunches like Airbnb did. But you can run a purpose-driven business, where your values and beliefs stand front and centre in all you do. People talk about 'authenticity' a great deal. But something is only authentic when you really and truly believe it yourself.
What do you believe in and how are you letting your customers know that? Feel free to share it in the comments below.
If you want help getting clarity on what your vision, mission, values, beliefs and direction your business should have, get my free Campfire Clarity workbook, or book a Clarity Session with me.
As it's Yorkshire Day today, it is only appropriate that I share a little client case study from the city of York.
Hedley House Hotel in York is run by a born and bred Yorkshireman Greg Harrand. He got in touch saying he needed some fresh web copy. I took a look at his site and gave him some Yorkshire honesty, which was: you need a new website.
Websites date so quickly that even though you think you only recently had it done, within a few years that slick site can look a bit dull.
I know Greg, so I popped around to the hotel and took a brief. I wanted to get to the heart of what made the hotel different to all the others in York, a city not shy of hotels.
What came out strongly was that this is a hotel run by locals, who serve local food and have local knowledge. You get a proper taste of down to earth Yorkshire hospitality. Modern touches with old-fashioned friendliness.
I suggested a new logo, new fonts, new colours, new tagline and a better laid out website, with copy written in a tone of voice that matches the feel of the hotel.
Whenever I do this for a client who has their own web designer, I make it very clear how I think it should be laid out and what type of imagery should be used so that it is easy and quick to implement.
I'm pleased to say that the new site is now live - just a couple of weeks after sending the copy over! And it looks fantastic. Take a look at it here - and if you fancy a mini break in York, I can highly recommend Hedley House Hotel.
This is what the client had to say:
'I've read your work and I love it..!! A few minor amendments here and there but it's ace.'
If you need some fresh web copy and some brand direction, take a look at my Campfire Kit service.
This month I was contacted by a lovely lady who needed some help turning her idea into a business. She asked if I could help her with her web copy and give her a sense of what her website could look like, although she'd create the site herself - my copy & canvas package.
We had a call. She outlined what it was she did for clients and gave me an idea of what she thought her site should look like. She's an online business manager. She handles all the technical, process-driven, project management back end stuff for successful online entrepreneurs who are helping people transform their lives. Carolyn felt that her website and words should demonstrate what she did by being no-nonsense, process focused, using images like puzzle pieces or cogs, to reflect how she pulls all the different parts of a business together.
I suggested she flip her thinking.
Instead of having a website that reflected what she did, why not create a site that would demonstrate how working with her would make her clients feel?
Her clients - typically women who tend to have very feminine brands - are overworked, stressed, having sleepless nights. Carolyn takes all that stress away from them. Working with her lets her clients relax, rediscover their love for their business and actually get a full night's sleep. Interestingly, although Carolyn didn't want swirly, girly fonts, she did say that her favourite colour was purple and that if her website had a smell, it would be lavender.
I started with her ideal clients. I thought about the type of websites they had, the imagery they used, the vibe they gave off. I knew that they would be more drawn to something similar in style. These are not process people, so a website using techy type imagery and words would turn them off, not on. I put myself in their shoes. How would I feel? What would calm me if I was stressed out and at breaking point with my business?
The solution was immediately obvious. Lavender. Known for it's relaxation and sleep inducing properties, it is also feminine and likely to appeal to her ideal clients. I used that as the central theme running throughout the site. I sourced free images, wrote the copy and gave a very clear brief as to how the site should be structured.
I asked my designer Meg to create a brand palette to reflect the site that Carolyn could work from. Then we sent her the words, website outline, suggested imagery, a Pinterest board with links to the free images and the style guide.
Within 48 hours of the initial call, Carolyn had her site up and live. She has a business she can now take to market that will appeal to her ideal clients. This is what Carolyn said about the process:
“I contacted Melissa about creating the copy for my website, little did I know that my experience with her would not only completely change my mindset about what my website “should” be like but she was able to also clearly articulate my unique service offering. With one conversation, she created copy and set the tone for my brand in a way that represented me a way that I never could have gotten to by myself.
When she delivered her first draft, I literally sat in my car with tears of joy – she was able to articulate my value in a way that I’ve never been able to do in as succinct a manner. Looking forward to doing more business with her in the future.”
If you are writing copy or creating a new website for your business, follow these tips:
If you'd like the words and design to revamp your business, take a look at the Copy & Canvas options.