Author Archive:Katy Roberts

An ode to Value: the life of the independent worker.

The past few weeks have been pretty bumpy – for a number of reasons which I won’t necessarily go into in this blog. A mixture of personal challenges have meant that I’ve had to keep my head down and weather the storm a little more than usual. So please excuse the introspection for a second, but I’m hoping that my glimpse into these lessons learnt may just serve as solace for another someone who may be stuck in the middle (with me).

The story is this:  When you hire Fresh Brew Marketing, you hire me. Katy. An individual and an independent – but an individual and independent that comes with over 10 years’ marketing experience, a world traveller, an empathetic and sympathetic person who seeks to understand what drives you first before just doing something I think you need, and overall – just a nice person.

And while my day-to-day may be void of the banter of an office environment, there’s value that keeps popping up in being in the rather isolating world of freelance working that has taught me 3 critical lessons about keeping on keeping-on.

 

Spending your time with people who value it

From friendships that have slowly become disappointments through to clients who do not grasp the value of the ability to deliver over the cost of the bottom-line, what being independent has taught me over the past 3 years of life-after-corporate is that building any kind of relationship (be it personal, romantic, professional) is, and always should be, a symbiotic one; one where actions result only as a result of working together.

I cast my mind to my year 8 biology class where were were learning about relationships in the natural world and how varying results were achieved dependent on how much, or how little, they worked together, and instinctively I start to list relationships (professional and otherwise) where one or the other occurred. Many of which, I am thankful to add, still continue to grow to this day. But I look at the ones that died along the way – and I start to think (objectively and without emotion) about the real reasons they did.

I realise that the core of the relationships that died were formed on a single point of reference: a lack of understanding of value. That lack of value appeared either in the form of unrealistic expectation, value with anterior motives, value based on a different visionary outcome than agreed or value based on a complete lack of understanding.

And it’s only when I think back, objectively, on what value means (especially now as an independent contractor), that I realise the relevance it bears on my current working life and how I run my business, and in fact, my life.

 

Not sweating the big stuff

Yep. I said ‘big’.  Ludicrous, right? I say, ‘nope’.

Big stuff happens – that’s life. Sometimes more to some than others. And yes, we’re reminded to not get consumed by the smaller, less significant hurdles that cross our paths, daily, but inevitably the big stuff arrives at our door and we crumble to a blubbering mess.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trivialising crisis – not in the least. I’ve experienced my fair share, and I’ve seen people who have experienced far worse; worse than I could ever imagine.  But where we’ve been inclined to completely fall apart, losing all hope of any silver lining, Plan B or remedy, we drop to the only way we know how to handle crisis, dependent on where we are emotionally, and that’s quite often where things go from bad to seriously bad.

And when you’re faced with the big stuff, and it’s staring you in the face with its menacing red eyes and salivating yellow mouth holding a raised hand above your head in a stage of near-victory, that’s when you truly need to know how to get your focus back – in whatever way you can, and regain  control (even if you don’t quite know what that control is, and how you’ll do that).

For me, regaining control usually involves starting to list (in no particular order), every single little thing thing that I’m thankful for. It looks something like this;

  • I’m thankful for a roof over my head
  • I’m thankful that I’m warm and comfortable every night
  • I’m thankful that I have milk in the fridge for my tea
  • I’m thankful for having shoes that fit my feet
  • I’m thankful for a voice to sing with
  • I’m thankful for dogs that depend on me
  • I’m thankful for a garden that continues to grow – even if the weeds are staging their own rebellion in the beds
  • I’m thankful for fingers that work and a brain that can think
  • I’m thankful for a tap that, when opened, flows with drinkable running water.
  • I’m thankful for eyes that can see, ears that can hear, skin that can feel.

And then, yes, I go onto the bigger things, friends, family etc etc. But sometimes I need to start ultra simply to get my head focussed, and geared to the realisation that I do, actually, have more than I feel at the moment.  (Yes, sometimes admittedly a Gin may help, or an entire slab of Whole Nut Dairy Milk).

And although it doesn’t make the big stuff disappear, it simply gives me room to breathe, space to think, and an ability to ask for help, when I need it most – something that is critical, when the only way out is despair and destruction.

 

Understanding your true worth

“When a client quibbles about the low-rate of engagement vs the rate of payment you’ve quoted, consider this: They’re not paying for the 30 minutes it takes to deliver something. They’re paying for the 10 years of experience you’ve built up that enables you to deliver that result in 30 minutes.”

Communicating value to someone who doesn’t understand it, is probably one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn to master as an independent consultant.

  • Business A calls in for my help.
  • In my case, they have seen my work somewhere else, or have met me somewhere and they’d like to discuss how I can help them.
  • They are almost entirely unfamiliar with the Marketing mix, having very little understanding of the varying levels of value delivery across marketing channels – where, in their minds, a tweet holds the same weight as a face-to-face appointment and the same as a sign in a parking lot.
  • Back-and-forth we discuss until proposal-stage, upon where they are unable to make a connection between value-deliver, the little amount of time they receive from me compared to the cost involved in securing my services.

The biggest lesson of ‘going-it-alone’, to me, has been identifying the rate of value you place on your knowledge, insight, and the ability to deliver results.  I’ve been lucky – the clients I’ve had the fortune to work with have developed into symbiotic relationship that saw true, tangible benefits throughout the relationship but for many others, the road may not always have been as easy.

That’s not to say that mine was easy – there were many an occasion where I’ve completely under-valued my ability to deliver – and then find myself stuck with a need to re-negotiate, re-discuss or review; a lesson which I’m still learning.

I salute independent workers the world-over. Whether you’re earning the big bucks, or whether you’re just churning the wheels to keep going, day-after-day; the world is filled with stereotypes and expectations that make us judge ourselves against expectation – and removes the incredible fact that in 2018, 99.3% of *all* private business was made up of small businesses – people doing their own thing, underpinning a massive economy, and simply trying to make their own mark on their world, in the best way they can. Some succeed, some don’t, but there’ll always be someone new who just wants to ‘give it a go’.

So, in the spirit of all of that – well done to us. Use us – as much as you can. We’re agile to work with you, as quickly or as slowly as you need us to. Make sure we both understand the value that each of us brings to our working relationship.

 

 

 

To-Do content with relevance, and pizazz.

Hello.

If you’ve landed on this page, then you’re probably interested in hearing more about how I can contribute to your Marketing mission by providing content for your blog that is relevant, compelling and (most importantly of all) gets people interested in what you’re doing as a business.

Here’s how I help

I’ve created content for businesses for a number of years now. After a lengthy corporate career, I now work for myself, providing a range of Marketing services to teams throughout the UK.  Whether strategic or tactical – I can do both, and am available to be as involved in your team, as you need me to be (or not be).

 

Who:

List of businesses that I’ve written for (and many that I continue to write for still):

Talmix: A platform that enables users to connect to business talent for project, interim and permanent roles from a global network of 40000 high-end executives, consultants and professionals.  Click here

CFPro: A business services team that provides critical growth services to high-growth organisations through  IPO support, Fundraising, Accounts Conversion and more. Click here

CFPro Ventures: A consulting business that focussed on bridging the gap between businesses who are ready to grow, and the investment community. Click here

The Ollerod Hotel & Restaurant: A award-winning restaurant with rooms, owned by former Michelin-chef Chris Staines and his partner Silvana Bandini, set in a a 13th Century County House in Dorset. Click here

ChipsAway: A division of Franchise Brands plc that provides vehicle bodywork repair throughout the UK. Click here

Ovenclean: A division of Franchise Brands plc that provides Oven-cleaning services throughout the UK. Click here

Maistro plc: A tech platform that enables procurement professionals to find the business services they need, from anywhere in the world. Click here

Journals and Newspapers: I’ve been asked to contribute to a number of journals and publications, including some dedicated to the South African expat community. Click here and Click here.

What I can do

Content generation services that I can help you with today.

  • Online compere; eg online webinars, Hangouts on Air, training sessions
  • Blog articles (short)
  • Blog articles (longer, research-driven pieces)
  • White Papers

How it works

I work at the pace that my client needs from me. Whether they drop a few topics into my inbox, with the associated required deadlines, or they ask me to deliver a content plan with suggestions for articles, it’s completely dependent on what they need.

Examples:

The drop and deliver: Simply send me an email and let me know the topic that you need me to cover, and the deadline by when you’d like the article to be ready by.  Where necessary, I’ll suggest my angle – with the necessary call to action that would be fitting to the topic. Once you’re happy, I’ll get cracking.

The leave-it-to-me: Give me a broad idea of what you’re trying to achieve, what you’re trying to say and who you’re trying to say it to, and then let me come up with a content plan that includes regular blog contributions befitting of your strategy. Where necessary, I’ll make sure that I’m running in line with your business development strategy and the critical messages you want to broadcast. Once you’re happy, I’ll get cracking.

The One Hit Wonder: Need a one-off document, like a white paper? I can do those too. Simply tell me what you’re aiming to achieve, what access to data I may have within your organisation (to keep the paper original and relevant), and what you want the paper to achieve, and I’ll come up with a draft on what that could look like. Once you’re happy, I’ll get cracking.

 

My charges

I’m flexible. I can offer one-off charges per article, or I can work on a retainer basis which means you can control your costs, and you get a regular contribution of content at a fixed price – giving you the ongoing flexibility to change direction when you need to with me involved as an extended part of your team.


There’s no hassle. Get what you need, when you need it. Give me a whirl today. 


 

Your job, as a brand, is to stop the scroll.

photo credit: Anita Stafford

 

What makes you stop scrolling?

Social Scrolling: a gesture that’s become synonymous with killing time while waiting for a coffee date, or while blandly watching some sub-standard show on tv. We scroll – when we have nothing better to do.

Scrolling: The only true sport inspired by social media.

But what makes you stop?

By stop, I don’t mean to close the page you’re on and move on with something more fruitful in your life – I’m talking about the pause to read that which has just caught your attention and absorb whatever message that lies behind it.

Your job, as a brand or as someone who manages any kind of social media campaign, is to make your audience stop scrolling and read what you’re saying.

 

My scroll stop

I was recently partaking in exactly this numb-scrolling activity while waiting for the kettle to boil – and a friend of mind had shared the most amazing picture of a flower. No message, nothing profound, just something that interrupted the mundane on my wall, and hiccuped my attention to take note.

It was a picture (the one above) that she’d taken of a flower while out and about – the most beautiful and intricate design that I’ve ever seen in a bloom. It stopped me in my tracks. And for a few milliseconds, I was absorbed.  I continued scrolling, but for the rest of the day, I seemed to keep remembering what I’d stopped for.

 

What your audience looks for

Knowing how to stop the scroll comes down to a very simple thing: Understanding what your customers desire.  There is no magic recipe that translates social tactics into guaranteed winners, but there are certainly ideas that are inspired through knowing your market:

  • What turns them on?
  • What makes them feel better about themselves?
  • What upsets them?
  • What problem do you solve for them?

When you understand what your audience’s trigger points are, then you’re a huge leap ahead in understanding how to translate that into something that impacts them. And whether you choose to do that through video, imagery, promotions and deals, giveaways, access to info that others don’t have, fancy quotes or controversial comments – all of those become mediums through which you translate your customers desire into solution. And when you get it right, they’ll stop scrolling.

 


Need help re-defining your social media strategy? Get in touch and lets chat today. 


 

4 reasons why you need to show your customers who you really are.

I recently had the joy of taking photos of local business-person Kay Joy, from Kay 9 Dog Training. My remit was clear – we needed to capture some informal, yet professional, photographs of Kay and her dogs Beryl & Betty to use on various platforms – including memberships of professional bodies. And Dorset being Dorset, we headed to the beach.

Kay is no stranger to the camera – she gives her clients clear visibility into her business through regularly posting pictures and videos of her classes, tricks and tips, and more. But, she’s often behind the camera, not in front of it. Thankfully, she realised the one thing that so many businesses simply don’t:  People buy from people – and if you’re not visible, how are they going to be able to establish any sort of connection with you – before they’ve set foot in your class / office?

 

I’m amazed by how often businesses overlook the importance of having a personal visibility to what they do. And if you’ve ever been in any doubt, here are 5 reasons why you need to show your customers who you really are.

  • People buy from people

Whether you’re selling products or services – your About Us page is your opportunity to introduce yourself (or your team) to your prospective client. The way you portray yourself is the definition of your brand. Some choose to be silly, some choose to be stern. Some prefer a professional headshot, while others prefer the more relaxed. Whatever it is, and however you choose to show yourself – remember, you’re creating an impression. So make sure that the pictures match the service that matches what the client gets.  Someone who is looking for a fun-loving, creative way to do some guerrilla marketing, may not be pulled to an image of someone in a suit, in black and white, sitting in front of a bookshelf full of encyclopaedias.

Fresh Brew Marketing Corporate Photos

 

  • There are real people who work there

In a world filled with AI, Bots, Automation, Robotics – we’re at risk of losing a very crucial part of our buying process – the human interaction. I’m not saying that automation is bad, I’m saying that we’re going to have to work twice as hard to demonstrate our personal values, outlook, humanity – in a world that is filled with the immediate.  Displaying and using images of your team (even if if it’s just you) is the key to standing out from someone who does exactly what you do. People buy you – let them see you.

Fresh Brew Marketing Portrait Photography Dorset

  • You build buyer confidence before you’ve even spoken to them.

Many, especially as I’ve experienced personally in the world of dog training, are nervous about taking their first step. In a B2C service environment, and certainly from what I’ve seen industries like healthcare (joining the gym), dog training (taking your less-than-behaved cocker spaniel to a class of all-stars), or even attending just joining a community group for the first time – people are nervous to step out of their comfort zones, to be exposed, to look silly. Before committing to joining anything for the long-run, consumers do a lot of research about the group they’re joining, and the people who run it. And it’s not too dissimilar in the B2B world either. Consumers (regardless of who they are) want to know what they’re buying into – and unfortunately, a bot or a great piece of content that says lovely things, is not enough to give them the confidence they’re looking for.

Fresh Brew Marketing Business Photos Professional Dorset

  • Images (if named correctly) help you get found on the web.

Stepping away from the personality reasons for a sec – in the world of SEO – people often forget the importance of a picture. Search results from image searches bear as much importance as a good blog or a solid SEO write-up. Sharing images, and relating them back to your business, to you, to what you do – is a great way to build your search rankings in a different way.

 


If you’d like to update your staff photos – or even just build a personal portfolio of professionally taken photos, then I’d be happy to help. Whether you’re looking for studio photos, or spontaneous office shots – I can help. Just give me a holler.


 

We’re not built for this. (That’s ok, because I am).

Looking out of my London hotel room this week, I’m greeted by beautiful sunshine, blue skies, and a fan sitting on the windowsill, working overtime – but providing very little relief.

It’s a hot summer in the UK at the moment – and I love it. Coming from South Africa, the heat and sunshine is a welcome nod to outdoor living, al fresco lunches, chilled watermelon in the fridge and random, spontaneous walks on the beach. But (and there’s always a but), one thing is certain – many buildings in the UK are just not built for the heat. They’re built to keep us warm – because it’s usually chilly. And the amount of heat that most experience in the UK is minimal compared to the need for cosy, snug, insulated indoors.

 

But that’s not what this blog is about.

“We [our hotel, or us physically] are just not built for this heat”, says many, in an effort to excuse or cope in some way. And I realise that we are – we’re just not planning properly.

Or at least, we don’t have the tools we need to be able to cope. Give us a rainy day – and we have an assortment of wellies, coats and umbrellas, anti-wet dog coats and special little water-absorbing mats that we magically pull out from nowhere. We’re geared for that. Because we’re used to that.

So, how does business who is not used to something, overcome in times of challenge? Simple – they look at the tools they need.

The beauty of us as freelancers means that we have years of experience on our side – and we’re accessible.

I’ve worked with one client whose raison d’etre is to equip businesses with access to the best specialist consulting know-how. When organisations know they need help, but they have no idea how to access it – Talmix matches them to an independent consultant who has been vetted, has the experience, has the ability to step in, pick up and move on.

As a freelancer myself, we bring something that many others simply don’t: A flexibility and versatility to work according to your timeline, budget and need. It doesn’t matter if you’re not “built for that”, because we are.


Looking for help to become better? Let’s chat.