We all start out with the best intentions. Which is exactly how you should start anything. With gusto. But sometimes, and especially for those business owners who daily juggle the role of accountant vs marketer vs sales person vs customer service delivery, best intentions often get replaced all too quickly by business-of-today – the stuff that simply has to be done in order to make money.
That’s ok. It’s happened to all of us.
The only thing that’s different is how long it takes before business-of-today becomes the number 1 priority, and marketing and other “nice-to-haves” become the things we save for a rainy day.
And then we sit, when we have a lull in business, and we start to find that initial creative excitement that once ignited your business into being – and you realise that you have horribly neglected that one thing that you swore you’d never neglect.
For almost all my clients, the notion of creating content is daunting – which is why they use me to help them. Having a solid, consistent, regular content stream (in whatever shape or size) is essential to any business – especially if you want to
So, if you’re reading this and you’re feeling pretty rubbish that you’ve neglected something that you feel you should be doing more regularly, don’t feel that way. It happens to the best of us. It just means that your business has been moving – and you’ve been driving it.
Finding yourself some quiet time to get your focus back in check is the first way to get things back on track. Here are a few tips that may help.
I am forever making notes – on my phone or on a random piece of paper – about things that resonate with me, throughout the day. I may be walking my Spaniel and have a thought about a cool blog idea, or I may be having a chat with my best friend, and realise the importance of something else – and make a note to come back to it later to explore it in a blog. I may read an interesting article in City A.M. which sparks a discussion on a client’s blog, or I may see a picture that is simply worth sharing. Whatever it is – I make a note of it (mental, or otherwise) and when I’m ready, and in the right frame of mind to turn that into an idea, I develop that (usually into a blog) into something that I can use in my marketing activity, social media or emails.
Things don’t get done, because you let them. Yes, that does make sense. Scheduling time to get things done is one way to ensure that you get to everything on your to-do list – including blogging. So, whether it’s taking a Friday morning in your favourite coffee shop to write a blog and schedule some social activity, or whether it’s a first thing, every day, mission – whatever it is that works for you, identify 1 (or more, if it works) time in your diary, every week, where you focus on getting a piece of content together. You’ll soon see yourself looking forward to these focussed little meetings with yourself, and the excitement of getting something done.
It’s easier to spot mistakes in other work than our own – especially if you’ve read and re-read your content so many times. If you’re worried about grammar and spelling, or if you’re worried about simply getting your train of thought across, test your piece of content on someone that you trust – a co-worker, a friend, a business mentor. Do it for as long as it takes you to build up your confidence and start pushing out promising content that delivers even more traffic to your website.
If you don’t know what the point is, then how will your reader? Often, we start out with a great idea, and then once you’ve written the opening paragraph – you’re faced with a “but what’s the point” dilemma. That’s ok too. Sometimes we (and our message) gets lost in our excitement of delivering it in a compelling way. It just means that you need to strip it back. Try this:
Then – break your thought down into sections.
Tip / Thought 1
Tip / Thought 2
Tip / Thought 3
CALL TO ACTION (ie: Call us to talk about your query, today / Email the team for more / Take our survey today)
If you need some help building a content strategy that works – and finding out the best way to get your brand echoed through your website, then get in touch.
Recently, I was asked to write a 200 write-up about a hotel that I’ve never been to, in a city I’ve never breathed, in a country I’ve never set foot in. My tools: other content written about it, a few photographs, a couple of reviews.
So often, marketers are asked to perform miracles. Not in so many words, but certainly in as much expectation. “Build my brand,” the client says – when there isn’t an agreement on what that brand represents. “Help me engage with my audience,” when there is no audience to start with. “Develop my sales funnel,” when they aren’t even clear on what their value proposition actually is.
And it’s more common than you think.
In this day and age where everyone is encouraged to have an opinion, unfortunately, quite often, one finds the mouldy fuzziness start to appear around the line that separates uninformed and expert opinion. One becomes the other, and (often) one even drives the other. A dangerous territory. And unfortunately, very often, we find that it’s this same opinion that drives strategy – upon which targets are set, goals are made and visions created.
But lets pause for a second.
What is the purpose of storytelling? Well, storytelling describes the “social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment.”
So, if we look at that within a professional environment – marketing tactics is simply about telling a story (your message) through a series of actions which support it (social media, content, advertising, PPC, SEO, event marketing, partner marketing, email campaigns).
What’s the point?
I am often surprised by businesses who unconsciously blur the line between achievement and customer benefit. “We’ve been in business for over 30 years”. “We have the best technology and very accessible offices”. “We won the award for the best manufacturer in Britain”.
I say, “So what?”
The art of storytelling is uncovering and communicating benefit.
Here’s an example:
Client: “We have been in business for over 30 years”.
Me: “So what?”
Client: “Well, it means that we know how the market has changed over the years”
Me: “So what?”
Client: “Well, we have built up expertise that can forecast how things are going to go.”
Me: “So what?”
Client: “Well, it means that our clients get the best expertise to help them navigate their fields”.
Using the “So What” exercise in storytelling is probably one of my favourite things to do. Many of us get stuck in the all-about-us paradigm that we forget the relevance it holds to our customers. And that’s when things go awry. Sometimes it means that it really doesn’t matter what you’ve done. And sometimes it’s just a case of flipping the story – for it to resonate with your client.
I work with clients to identify and uncover their stories. It could be 1, it could be many. We identify the story, which then forms the fundamental basis for everything you do. Your sales team use the same story, your social media communicates the same story, your corporate culture emanates the same story – you are consistent, you are clear, and your customers understand the benefits they get when they work with you.
If you’d like help uncovering your story, I’d love to work with you.
Test. Test. Is this thing on?
It’s been a while since my last blog on Fresh Brew Marketing’s site. And for good reason, too. The world of engaging content has absorbed me into delivering some awesome bits and pieces for my clients – and with readership figures up, demand is big – and they reap the rewards of successful campaigns that deliver.
But scroll around to content of a different nature. Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham. One of the most well-attended transport-related trade shows in the UK, the NEC was home to vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, service delivery, workshop innovators and more.
And strolling around on those carpeted concrete floors, it took my thoughts back to my own exhibition days; the frantic preparation of a stand that delivers the most impact, on a sustainable budget, equipped with the dream team of traders; armed with clear targets, missions and mayhem – acutely tuned in to potential opportunity.
Fast-forward to my visit last week. Representing one of my clients, I was there for a very specific mission – to get information. I had a job to do, and I was going to get it done. No amount of insecurity or industry-uncertainty was going to get in my way – and as event auto-pilot engaged, I strategically made my way through the passages of exhibitors, from hall to hall, to successfully make my way down my checklist of targets. But what I found was enough to unshackle my event autopilot.
The Commercial Vehicle Show, and in fact, probably any large-scale exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham, is hardly a cheap event to exhibit at. When I last checked, a simple 2m x 2m shell-scheme setup would cost you in the region of £700, as a start. That’s before any marketing material, before any stand decor, before any transport and overnight costs, before any production costs, before any staff-related transport / overnight / sustenance costs. So, as a start, your ROI is set. That’s, of course, if you take a small 2 x 2 stand. Most of the exhibitors at the show appeared to occupy stand sizes in excess of, say, 16 square meters. We won’t talk about the vehicle manufacturers who occupied massive open spaces to display all their vehicles, and latest innovations in. We’re talking big money here.
And yet, what shook the core of my Clarks was the number of stands I visited where I had to take a walk up to the exhibitors seated on chairs, interrupting their mobile phone activity or munching through a bag of Hula Hoops, to ask them whether they could help with a query.
At first, I assumed that perhaps in this this very male dominated environment, they simply didn’t think I suited the occasion – but as I stood in the middle of Hall 4, and looked around, I noticed that even the stands that appeared to be busy, were all occupied with the same exhibitor behaviour – a distinct lack of interest, a pre-occupation with the latest email (and dare I say it, Facebook profile update), and a general apathy to a) recoup the costs of being there and b) actually fulfil the purpose of being at the show in the first place – to generate new business.
And it dawned on me.
We are plagued by the “But Surely” assumptions. “But surely people should know how to behave on a stand”, “But surely if it’s a sales person who works on commission, they’ll be driven to talk to as many people as they can”, “But surely they know how much I’m paying to be at this show?”.
Trade Shows have evolved, most certainly. Technology and innovation, as with all other industries, drives the latest cool news story, and product placement – you just need to check out the Event Tech event – which, by definition, is all about technology developments for, and within, the event industry.
But one thing that doesn’t seem to have evolved – is our basic ability to interact and engage. That, I’m afraid, still appears to be stuck in the stone age – and given the pressure on making each penny count – astounds me that we find ourselves having walked a full circle – and we still haven’t learnt.
And that’s why I believe in Event and Exhibition Training. It’s not to get you to try and buy the latest glittery shiny piece of technology that is magically going to transform your stand. Nope – it’s about something far more simple. It’s about interaction and personal behaviour that either makes, or breaks, your stand as a place where your visitors (and potential buyers) would want to visit, or simply walk past.
Your people represent you – let alone building your bottom line. Wouldn’t it be in your best interest to make sure they do that?
If you want to know more about how I can help, get in touch.
An online and printed newspaper for global expat South Africans featuring news articles, humorous stories, recipes, advertising and other newsworthy articles relevant to South Africans around the world. Published and printed within the UK and other major cities around the world.
|Personal experience as a South African living abroad. Articles included anything from stories to recipes, travel tips to anecdotes.||Click Here|
Beaminster.net was a Community website started by Katy Roberts and fellow Beaminster-residents and aimed to promote the town, its businesses, its activities and the beautiful Dorset countryside as a destination town to visit. It played host to blogs, events, gardening tips for the areas, and became the number one search result for anyone searching for the town, or any of the neighbouring areas. After this was handed over to the local information office to continue running, sadly, they were unable to maintain the website and it was unpublished.
|Content included restaurant reviews, news articles, advertorial articles, web-based content and more.||Click Here|
|The South African Magazine||
The South African Magazine was another online magazine dedicated to expat South Africans living around the world. Similar to the SouthAfrican.com, this publication also aimed to raise awareness of South African issues facing expats and aimed to create a global community and link back to South Africa.
|Content included general news articles, recipes, anecdotes, personal experience blogs.||Click Here|
|Eat Balanced Food Blog||
I was invited to contribute towards the Eat Balanced food blog following my passion for cooking and experimenting with new flavours and combinations. This blog aimed to demonstrate seasonal food options for those who had a passion for healthy alternatives.
|A personal twist on a family-favourite recipe||Click Here|
Talmix is the Home of Independent Talent. A marketplace that matches the right independent consultant to the right organisation requiring assistance, Talmix, previously MBA&Company, makes it possible for independent consultants all over the world to find new work opportunities. My job was to develop a community content plan that touched on key industry topics including Change Management, Strategic Workforce Planning, the Future of Work and more.
|Consultant Interviews, Prediction articles, Tips and Advice on developing a freelancer profile, general How To articles and more.||Click Here|
CFPro Ventures is a business that bridges the gap between businesses who are looking to grow, and the investment community through providing the right business support and resource
|All Web content, entire marketing and content strategy, business blog, press releases, marketing collateral,
white paper development and more