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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes when you run your own business, you get stuck. You aren’t even sure why you’re stuck, you just know that you are. It makes it really difficult to try and figure out what kind of help you need because you aren’t quite sure where the problem lies. Sound familiar?
Well here’s an example of a client I worked with and how we got her unstuck.
In January this year I got an email from a lovely lady – Catherine Bowyer - in Australia. Here’s a snippet of what she said:
I have a business in Canberra, Australia where I conduct corporate training and coaching with Government organisations. I also conduct some personal coaching for private clients.
In relation to setting up my personal programs, I'm not really 100% sure of how to progress this. I have the concepts of what I want to do (big picture) and sort of know how they fit together. I get frustrated because I want to be doing everything now, but know I have to take baby steps and focus on one thing at a time.
I have had a website designed, because I felt I had to do something. I am happy with the layout and the look of the site, however I don't think it is very well written and there needs to be so much more done in relation to engaging with clients. I feel pretty overwhelmed thinking about it, because I honestly don't know what I don't know. Funny - I help people get unstuck as part of my business, but find it really hard doing it for myself. So that's where you come in .....
So here’s what we did.
Step 1: Clarity Workbook
Catherine found me as she had downloaded my free Campfire Clarity workbook and she’d completed it. This is a simple way to start getting clarity in your business, so if you need some help and aren’t sure where to start, get the workbook here. We used Catherine's completed workbook as a briefing document for our clarity session.
Step 2: Clarity session
We held a clarity session over skype. This involved a one to two hour call during which we discussed where she was currently at and what she wanted her new business to be. We clarified who her ideal target clients were, what problem they faced and how they felt. Then we looked at the programmes and packages she could offer to solve these problems and how to structure them. We analysed what similar coaches were offering and found her USP to stand out from the competition. Next we looked at the tone of voice she should use on her site and the type of imagery she should have. Lastly we identified issues with her current website and next steps.
What became clear through this process was that there was a mismatch between what she wanted the business to be and what her website reflected. For example:
We decided that Catherine’s USPs are that:
The imagery and words had to capture the excitement, possibility and freedom that women – who she worked with – would feel. I gave her four different imagery approaches to choose from, depending on which resonated most with her.
Step 3: Copy & Canvas
Catherine could have taken the summary document, complete with mini collages of imagery types and reworked her website herself.
But she chose my Copy & Canvas package instead. This involves plotting out a site map, writing all the web copy and creating an image canvas for the entire site. Some people want to have a photo shoot of their own. So for them I give them image types and styles with suggested pictures to include in the shoot to ensure that they reflect the words.
For others who want to buy or use free stock images, I help find those images for them and create a private Pinterest board so that they have them complete with purchase links. My clients can then hand this entire board and all the copy over to a web designer, who can weave their design magic and makeover the site.
Catherine loved the retro images of women who were living happy lives of freedom. She wanted to create a sense of fun and possibility. I felt that she needed to share her own story and her sense of fun and happiness through her site, so I suggested she intersperse plenty of pictures of her in the site.
I wrote the copy based on some of the exact words she’d said in our clarity call. I also took what we’d discussed in our clarity session and helped her shape her packages.
For example, Catherine was confused about how to structure her various offerings. Through the clarity and copywriting process, we created four distinct offerings:
That last one proved our biggest challenge. Catherine wanted to call it The High Heels Connection, because the events would help women ‘step up into success in all aspects of their lives.’ But I wasn’t keen on the name. To me, the high heels bit felt too corporate again. It didn’t say ‘happy’, which is what the rest of the site was trying to achieve.
Catherine suggested ‘Happiness Boutique’, which was a strong contender, but I still didn’t feel that we’d nailed it. I came up with a bunch of different names, with corresponding images and copy to support it. In the end, we both agreed that the Happiness Hive worked, as it gave energy, a buzz and excitement.
By the end of January, Catherine had all of this work done. She handed it over to her web designer to take care of while she focused on her existing corporate clients.
Her site is now live and she is beginning to market it. If you are a woman in the Canberra area or indeed anywhere in the world who needs coaching to live a happier life, do check out her website.
This is what Catherine said at the time about the work I did:
O M G!!! I've just had an initial read through while I'm sitting at the hairdresser and it is looking and sounding AMAZING! You are so talented - taken my garbled messages and woven your magic to make them sound wonderful. I almost cried when I was reading through it - it is really reflecting what my business and I are about. Thank you.
And more recently, this is what she has said about the process:
"Now that I'm several months down the track from the Clarity and Copy and Canvas programs I did with you I can see the real value of your work. Gaining clarity of how everything in my business fits together has catapulted me forward - I bring everything back to 'what is the core message of my business'. I make sure the messages in my marketing, correspondence and even how I speak with people all come back to my core message. You definitely helped me to get unstuck and move forward. Gaining clarity has done more than help me set the direction of my business, it has been freed up my thinking so I can work on the things that really matter. Thanks again for your amazing work! Cxx"
So if you are feeling stuck and want some help moving your business forward, get in touch.
I have just returned from climbing - and summiting - Mount Kilimanjaro, the world's highest freestanding mountain. I am not a mega fit, courageous adventurer. I'm a 40-something woman who enjoys walking, who should probably lose a stone and who far prefers a comfy bed and glass of wine to a tent and peeing in a bottle. But a friend asked me to climb it with her for charity and I said yes.
That was the sum total of my qualifications. I simply said yes. I didn't think about how I would do it or whether I could do it or how difficult would be. And that is the first learning you can apply to business:
Say yes first. Figure it out later. Don't overthink it. Don't read the fine print because it will scare you off. Just say yes.
But there are many other learnings that came out of my experience of climbing a mountain that are exactly like running a business:
Put the effort in before you start
Walking for miles in the cold while lugging a backpack, hitting the gym and spending hours researching what kit you need isn't a huge amount of fun. In fact, it's hard work. But the more effort you put into your training and preparation before you start, the easier the actual climb is. The same is true for business. If you are trying to launch something, the more effort and research you put in before you launch, the more successful you're likely to be. Don't confuse this with researching and training before saying yes. Say yes, then research and train!
Have a hard deadline to focus your mind
If I had decided to climb Kilimanjaro at some point, I wouldn't have had any pressure on me to really ramp up my fitness or get my gear together. I had a hard date I had to be ready for. Same goes for your business. Unless you set yourself a specific date you want to get something done by, you will let the deadline drift and you'll never get it done. Particularly if it's a difficult thing you have to do.
Get expert help
I paid for a personal trainer, a specialist boot fitter and spoke to numerous people who had climbed the mountain first to ensure I was prepared. I could have done it without their help, but perhaps I wouldn't have made it to the summit or perhaps I would have hated every minute of the experience, instead of enjoying it - like I did. In your business, you can probably do things for yourself without paying for an expert, but getting some guidance and expertise can make all the difference to your success and enjoyment.
A positive mindset will overcome any challenge
I was told that climbing Kilimanjaro is a physical challenge, but really it's the mental side of it that will affect you most. I was determined to maintain a positive mindset. That meant I refused to worry about what ifs. I didn't dwell on the tough bits. I stopped myself from complaining as much as possible. I tried to help others. I visualised being at the summit. I never doubted that I'd get there. I didn't compare myself to others climbing. I just remained focused and positive. Funnily, it was easier for me to do this climbing a mountain than it is running my business, where I am regularly knocked back by comparison-itis or self-doubt. I will be taking that focus and positive mental attitude from the mountain and will apply it to my business. You can too.
Being fastest doesn't always equal success. Slow and steady perseverance has a higher success rate.
On the mountain, you are told to go 'pole pole', which is Swahili for slowly slowly. People who charge ahead up the mountain are often the ones who don't reach the summit as they haven't given themselves a chance to acclimatise. In business, we see the small business superstars who seem to have overnight success and multi-million pound businesses in less than a year. It makes us feel like we should be going faster to be successful. But going pole pole can give you more sustained growth at a pace that you can manage. Perseverance really does have a higher success rate than those who strike out fast and collapse.
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will get there eventually
On summit night, you walk for 9 hours in the dark before you finally reach Uhuru Peak. There are many times during those nine hours in sub zero temperatures and little oxygen where you might want to turn back. But you simply have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you eventually get there. A business is exactly like that. There are times when it all just feels to difficult, you want to give up or stop and cry. Just keep going. The steps don't have to be big or fast. They just need to keep you going forward and eventually you will reach the top.
Enjoy the journey - even the tough bits and take time to appreciate the view
I am a firm believer that every journey - no matter how uncomfortable - is worth taking because you see so much and learn so much. You will find pockets of elation and utter beauty right alongside your darkest moments. The important thing is to look up and around you, appreciate the view from where you are right now and embrace all you see. It's very easy when you run a business to get bogged down in how tough it is or the busy-ness of it all, that we forget to enjoy it. Stop, breathe, look around, appreciate where you are and the journey you're on - and then keep going.
Just because a challenge seems daunting doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You may just surprise yourself at your resilience, tenacity and ability to succeed
I wasn't looking to climb a mountain. The opportunity presented itself to me. I could have said no because it seemed too much of a scary challenge. But I said yes. And I now I can say that I've stood on the roof of Africa. If an opportunity comes your way, remember to say yes. You can figure it out later. You may just surprise yourself at how capable you really are.
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If I can help you get clarity in where you want to take your business or what your brand story should be, write your copy for you, coach you in how to communicate your story to your ideal clients or help you connect with other like minded small business owners at my Campfire Retreat, please get in touch.
Now go climb that mountain!