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Fifteen years ago, on the 1st of December 2003, I opened the doors to my fledgling small business. Running a small business wasn’t something I grew up dreaming I would be doing. It isn’t something I discussed with my career counsellor (in my case an ancient nun with wobbly dentures who insisted on furtively passing me tattered brochures on becoming a teacher).
The Simplest Way You Can Personally Make a Difference to a Small Business: Run a Festival of High Fives
Is it just me, or does the world seem to be getting more filled with negativity and hate? Every time I turn on the news, or open my social media, I am bombarded with people ranting about this or that, or my feed is filled with stories of corruption and rampantly evil policies. I have been feeling myself spiralling down into despair and finding it harder to find the positives in what I do at times.
I am 6 weeks into living surrounded by rubble. It all started as a simple plan to redo the kitchen, and then somehow morphed into a whole house renovation.
My hair is now permanently set into fixed Einstein style waves thanks to plaster dust and rampant humidity. My skin and glasses are tattooed with indelible paint splots. I can’t remember the last time I saw a room without a drop sheet or innumerable storage boxes piled in corners.
Most small business owners struggle with marketing their business. They sweat blood to finally get their offer out to the public without realising that they may be breaking a raft of laws.
A common discussion we have with new clients is around their legal compliance for their marketing. They often don’t know what they don’t know, so have slipped over to the dark side without realising.
I was not always a digital marketer. My first role out of uni was as a Personnel Officer with 500 staff in freshly built retail store in Bateau Bay on the NSW central coast.
In that role, I had the dubious honour of sacking Santa the week before Christmas (more went into his sack than came out). I also manually calculated and counted out wages for all my staff into little beige pay envelopes each and every week (this was pre-computers and direct credit banking); and recruited for every role from pastry cooks through to checkout operators.
Taglines, punch lines and brand development people all start by focusing on your uniqueness. If you talk to most marketers, one of their first questions is “What is your Unique Selling Proposition or USP?”
If you don’t know, they move onto the heartening, “There are thousands of businesses in the same industry as yours. What makes you different from them? Why should people buy from you and not them?”
“Gee they’ve got a great personality!”
When you first meet someone and get that magical “click” with them, often the first thing that you comment about is their personality. Yes, you may go on to rave about their looks or something funny that they said, but your first comment is about their personality.
Every business also has a personality (also known as your brand). People look at your business and are either attracted to the business personality or repelled by it. It’s what makes people want to find out more about what you offer and helps make people want to connect with you.
If you have the business equivalent of a great personality, then your business is heading down the fast track to a happy bank balance.
Are you a leaper or a planner? The first version of my small business came about after I had burned into a tiny frazzled husk from working in government. Pretty much any other option (including weapons check assistant for the zombie apocalypse) seemed like a good alternative.
I meant how hard could it be? You just think of an idea, register a name and head off into small business nirvana.
Nirvana turned out to be a bad 1990’s rock group, and the first iteration of my business self-destructed in a cloud of burned money and self-loathing. It was only marginally less memorable than the permanent exit of Nirvana’s frontman, Kurt Cobain.
If your business is not converting lookers into buyers, perhaps you are sending out mixed messages and confused signals with your branding and marketing. Perhaps your brand has become muddied and disorganised over time as you became busy and focused on doing the work of your business.
If people can’t figure out who you are or what you do, then they won’t buy from you. Simple as that!
Maybe it’s just a mum thing, but I have noticed that people seem to be yelling more. There is almost a competition to see who can yell the loudest, while drowning out the voices of anyone else who wants to get a word in edgeways.
I am not just talking about parents yelling at their kids in shopping centres, this is happening right across the board in society (especially in people marketing their business).
Hands up who gleefully adores going to networking events? Most small business owners would prefer to do two rounds with their accounts at tax time rather than make small talk at a networking event.
If you are a reluctant networker, then read on!
When you are running a small business, you are so focussed on doing the work that the marketing side of things can slip through the wibbly wobbly time vortex and join the remains of missed good intentions.
The last things you want are fancy marketing strategies that take up days each month and shrink your budget faster than a teenager with their first credit card.
That’s why I have put together a list of truly simple and powerful small business marketing tactics that don’t take a load of time, effort or money … and which are delivering results right now.
I have a teenager who is just about to finish high school (…10 class contact days and counting).
These past two years have seen many deep discussions with her teachers, with her friends and with me about what she is interested in – what sorts of subjects and tasks that she likes and dislikes.
Her career guidance book is more well-thumbed than any fashion magazine, and she has mentally tried on hundreds of different career options for size.
If you have ever launched a marketing promotion and the only thing that you hear is the tick of the office clock heralding the passing of yet another minute without a sale, then this article is for you.
To succeed in marketing your small business, you need to get on top of some fundamentals that apply no matter what and where you choose to do your marketing.
One of the most common challenges that small business owners face is finding the time to market their business while still delivering exceptional service to the customers who come through their doors.
If they focus too much on marketing, their service delivery suffers. If they focus too much on service delivery, their marketing suffers and their funnel of new customers dries up faster than a conversation about toenail fungus.
Last week we looked at strategies to help you get better testimonials for your business. This week we look at the other side of the coin: how to GIVE better testimonials for individuals and businesses.
If you are asked to give someone a testimonial, or to write a testimonial for a business, your brain can go into paralysis mode. You say “sure” and then sit and stare at your computer for a while, your brain spinning, and not knowing where to start. You type in some words, and then delete them. Your brain draws a blank so you put off writing that testimonial for another day … and another day. You really mean to write it, you just don’t know how.