Would You Pay To Shovel Poop? I Did…

Would You Pay To Shovel Poop? I Did…

I did, today. And last Wednesday. It’s not me doing the poop shovelling, I hasten to add but Chloe, my 9 year old daughter. She is horse-mad and has been having weekly riding lessons for a few months now, so when ‘Easter Pony Experience Days’ were mentioned, she was all for it. Here is the advert from her lovely riding school (below)
You see where it says ‘stable management lesson’ and ‘practical activities’? That’s basically mucking out the stables and cleaning tack.
Yes, there were lots of other lovely activities but a good part of the day was learning to look after the ponies, which is mainly the messy stuff.
Chloe won’t even clean her room without a huge fight, so when I saw THIS photo I was a bit gobsmacked…Chloe has the purple and pink coat on…

Chloe with her nose far closer to Pony poop than I would ever have thought possible…

So, naturally it made me think of you.
Chloe won’t clean her room but she will happily shovel pony poop when it’s part of a Pony Experience Day because it’s fun and it’s something she doesn’t usually get to do. It’s a new experience. How could you use this in your marketing?
Let’s think about it…People will happily pay for an EXPERIENCE.
The riding school isn’t daft, they get a bunch of horse-mad kids in doing work that they would usually pay staff to do but it’s a win-win because the kids LOVE it. So the riding school SAVES money, while MAKING money AND has delighted customers.
How can you use that in your business? What do you do that people would pay to learn? What would your customers love to EXPERIENCE that is part of your daily business activity?
Be a florist for a day? ‘Sew your own cushion’ workshop? ‘How to set up your own Yoga Business’ taster workshop? ‘Self-Assessment Made Fun’ masterclass (might be stretching it with that one…).
Remember, Build-a-Bear and Pick-Your-Own farms have made an entire business out of charging people to do something other businesses have to pay staff to do.
I’ll leave that one with you – let your imagination run wild and remember not everyone gets the chance to do what you do every day and some people would PAY to experience it….How could you use it in your business?
Let me know what you come up with, I’d love to hear from you,
Love, Claire xx
The Money Is In The Follow Up

The Money Is In The Follow Up

How many times do you start researching something you were thinking of buying, just to get distracted? Or realise you need to talk to someone else before you buy? Or you’re just doing initial research? How many times do you put things in your online basket and aren’t quite ready to check out yet? How often do you go into a shop just looking for ideas but you want to think about it before you commit?

In other words, how often do you start the ‘buying’ process but don’t finish it? Fairly often, if you’re anything like me.

And your customers will be just the same.

So why then, do we not follow up with these people? Why are we so worried about pestering them or feeling stalky? Surely, if they enquire there is a possibility they might be ready to complete that sale, hopefully with you, at some point soon?

Let me share a story.

I was shopping for a dress online and I got it in my online basket, paid and the payment failed. It was because my card had been cloned earlier in the year and I got a new one, but I’d saved my old card on this site and didn’t realise when I clicked to use it that it was my old one. The message said ‘payment failed’, I couldn’t be bothered to go downstairs right at that point to fetch my purse but I thought I’d remember to go back and get this lovely dress while it was still in stock.

The trouble is, I didn’t. Remember, that is. Even when the store kindly sent me an email an hour later reminding me that I still had things in my basket and I just needed to update my payment method. I meant to do it because I definitely wanted the dress, but I was putting my daughter to bed and by the time I got back downstairs, I was zonked and updating my payment method didn’t even enter my mind.

It wasn’t until I got a phone call the next day from the team at the store – as soon as I answered the phone I knew exactly why they were calling and I was happy to speak to them and finish my purchase but I was just about to go on another call and didn’t have time to speak.

Finally, the following day the team called me, a lovely lady very politely asked if now was a good time and would I like to complete checkout with her. I did indeed want to and I finally bought the dress.

Now, did you see how that worked?

How many steps it took for me to actually buy? It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, it’s just life got in the way. I was really happy to receive the email and 2 phone calls. I didn’t feel pestered or stalked or freaked out. I was just glad they persevered because I wanted to buy that dress but my life is busy and often chaotic and I get tired and forget because I’m a mum and a business owner and a wife and a dog mum and a home educator.

Your Super Customers are just the same and your business could work the same way as the store I bought from.

Imagine if you followed up with customers who put things in their basket but didn’t check out? Imagine if you followed up with people who enquired about services a little while ago but never came back? Imagine if you got your web visitors to sign up to your email newsletter so you didn’t lose them when they left your site. Imagine how many more sales you could achieve and how much more profit you could make? And all you have to do is follow up.

Not in a pestering way or a stalky way. Not in an uncomfortable way. Just in a helpful way because your Super Customers are like me that day, life gets in the way.

You’re helping them like the store helped me and I was happy to be helped.

Yes, you may get people who were genuinely researching and don’t want to buy but at least you have tried to help them and for every one of those, there could be a busy home-schooling mum and business owner whose brain feels like a sieve some days and who will be eternal grateful that you helped her finally buy that thing she wanted. Just a thought.

Avoid These 7 Cashflow Killers

Avoid These 7 Cashflow Killers

Running out of cash is one of the most frightening (and sadly most common) things to happen to small businesses. It’s easily done if you’re not keeping an eye on things and can sometimes be hard to spot before it’s too late. So what can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen to you in your business?

1. Understand the numbers in your business When it comes to the numbers in your business, knowledge is everything. At any given point you need to know what you owe out and what is owed to you. You need to know how much you have tied up in stock. You need to know how much you will need to fulfil orders. You need to be able to pay yourself, pay the bills and pay for any help you employ. Make sure you know your costs and how much profit you make on everything you sell, as an absolute minimum.

2. Don’t count your chickens Don’t assume you have an order until you have the order! Don’t assume people will pay on time. Don’t buy extra stock ‘in case’ you’ll need it. Don’t overstretch yourself. One of the biggest cashflow killers is tying up money in stock or supplies or committing to costs without having the cash to cover it. All it takes is one non-payer, late payment, cancellation, change in circumstances to throw your plans out of whack and your cashflow with it. The last thing you need is to end up with stock you can’t quickly liquidate or commitments you can’t meet because you trusted someone to do the right thing. Get your terms and conditions in place. Have a clear refund policy that protects you if someone cancels once you have ordered stock. Don’t take risks on someone else’s behalf using your business. Protect your downside (in other words don’t commit more than you can afford to lose) and be mindful. It’s not magic money, you have to earn it to cover what you pay out, and then some.

3. Track your sales Don’t guess how much you have taken in sales, KNOW it for certain. Track every sale coming in. Track deposits. Track instalments. Know what is due, when. Look for patterns. Know your quiet times, so you can come up with ideas to drive additional business. Know your busy times so you can plan for them and manage your cash accordingly. Where you put your attention is where the magic happens, so if you track your sales and understand how they work in your business, you will get more. Know how much of it is profit at any time. This is important because your profit is what turns into your salary or gets reinvested back into your business – if it’s not profit then you shouldn’t be spending it unless it’s directly related to delivering your products or services.

4. Collect your payments If you give credit to customers, collect it when it’s due. Don’t let embarrassment or fear of offence stop you. Think like a business owner and put processes in place so you know what is due, when. Make your credit or payment terms very clear at time of purchase. Get the customer to read, acknowledge and sign them so they can’t come back later and say they didn’t know how it worked. On the day the money is due (or even the day before) send a polite reminder notice. As soon as the payment is overdue, chase up every day or two.This is YOUR money. You are not here to cashflow someone else’s business. Successful business owners don’t let their money collection slip. You’re doing nothing wrong by reminding late payers and requesting payment, you are simply running a business in a professional way and if they don’t like it they can go elsewhere. It’s not worth putting yourself under stress trying to accommodate bad payers, when you could focus your attention on your Super Customers and have people who would happily pay in advance.

5. Plan ahead If you know you have shows or events or busy times coming up, plan ahead, not a week or two but a few months ahead. That way you’re giving yourself time to buy stock a little at a time, make the most of special offers and set aside cash as a contingency. Businesses are more likely to run out of cash if they get caught out or haven’t planned ahead. Don’t put yourself in that position.

6. Be Frugal You have to earn every penny you spend. It’s very easy to spend, spend, spend but how much will you need to sell to replace that? If you start adopting this attitude, you will soon get a different perspective on your business. That swanky new laptop bag might be gorgeous but if you have to find 5 new customers just to cover the cost of it, is it really worth it? If you’re spending money on stuff for the business, make sure you get a good deal but don’t talk yourself into stockpiling to get a ‘wholesale’ price, otherwise you’ll potentially have loads of stock tied up in the business that could take months or years to turn into cash. Always think about the return you’re going to get on anything you spend.

7. Choose wisely Choose your customers (not all customers are good customers). Sit tight, be really clear who your Super Customers are and market to them rather than saying yes to everyone. Make wise decisions. Don’t cashflow someone else’s business to the detriment of your own. Don’t be bullied into putting up with someone else’s bad money attitude  – you keep control over your business. Have confidence in yourself and your ability, you know more than you think.

I know it can be tricky if money is tight but the more you plan, the more you know your numbers and the more you realise that cash is the lifeblood of your business, the more likely you are to make sound business decisions and protect your business. My sales coach used to make me justify every penny I spent for months until I understood how much extra profit I’d need to make to cover my less-than-thrifty spending habits. I promise I’m not a killjoy, I want you to love your business but I also want you to keep having a business and not fall victim to dodgy cashflow. Did anything in this blog resonate with you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments and I’d also love to hear any other cashflow tips you have. Protect your cash and keep building your gorgeous business.

Facebook Video – Getting Over Your Fears

Facebook Video – Getting Over Your Fears

If you’ve been putting off doing Facebook video because it’s way too scary, this is for you.

In my last blog I shared Facebook expert Mari Smith’s excellent blog post about the changes going on at Facebook and the top things we can do to get Facebook working for us. She was very clear it was all about video and I shared her top 10 tips along with my own input and explanations on using video in your Facebook marketing and business.

I’m going to take those Facebook video tips one by one and show you how you could use them in your business. So, in this blog we’re going to tackle number 1 – focus on video but this is a HUGE topic in itself, so I’ll cover some today and the rest over the next couple of weeks. This is going to be a mammoth FACEBOOK VIDEO MASTERY series, I think you’re going to love it!

Video already takes priority in Facebook’s newsfeed. It’s only going to get bigger.

If you have tried putting videos on your Facebook page you’ll hopefully have found they get much better engagement than other posts? Obviously it depends on what’s IN the video, but if you can crack this, you will get lots of video views, which improves your Facebook page engagement, which in turn helps your page get seen by more people. At a time when it’s harder than ever to get seen on Facebook, it’s definitely worth grabbing video with both hands while its working well.

So, why might you NOT be using videos yet?

Let me take a guess…

Oooh, maybe you feel like you’re not ‘right’ for video. You might think you’d like to lose a bit of weight before going on screen? Maybe you keep telling yourself it would be better if your hair was tidier, or your voice was different or you had a more photogenic ‘look’. Hmm?

Or maybe you’re using the ‘I’m not techie enough’ excuse? I can’t ‘do’ videos! What about the editing? What do I use to record ON? Do I need a tripod? It’s all too scary!

Maybe you’re up for it but you’ve got video block – whenever you think about doing a video, you get stuck on what to make a video about? I mean what could you say that your customers and page fans would want to hear and watch? And what if they don’t like it? Oh heck, what if they laugh at me?

Blimey, what a lot of reasons NOT to do video! If you’ve talked yourself out of it before you recorded a single second  of video I’m not surprised!

But let me share something with you. I’m going to tell you how to work with and around all those reasons and excuses above.

GETTING PAST VIDEO FEARS AND OVERCOMING THE EXCUSES

Creating videos for your business, whether for your website or social media can be a nerve-wracking experience. It triggers all sorts of insecurities within in us about our appearance, our self-worth, our value – so why on EARTH would you want to drag all that up?

What if people laugh at me? What if they think I’m too fat/thin/ugly? What if I sound stupid? What if they think I’m unprofessional? What if my friends / old boss / mother-in-law see it? What will they think? What if people realise I’m just winging it and don’t really know what I’m talking about?

Run away! Run away! Why would you even want to go there? Even I had a wobble with those as I wrote them but do you know what? We all feel like that. Even people who are on TV every day!

But wouldn’t it be great to NOT worry about all those things? I mean, if they are holding you back from doing videos, imagine what else they are stopping you doing?

What if I told you these fears are not important and definitely not worth worrying about? What if I told you nobody really cares what you look like or sound like, as long as there is something for them in the video? What if I told you there are some things you can do to make Facebook video MUCH easier? It’s true!

Remember, it’s not about you

The first thing you have to realise is, it’s not about you.

People don’t watch videos ABOUT YOU unless you are a celebrity (sorry!) unless it’s an ‘about me’ video on your website (which is an awesome idea) but generally in our world, as small business owners (with big ambitions) people watch our videos to get help. They watch our videos to learn something they need to know or to see if they are missing something.

As long as you are sharing something interesting, relevant and of value TO THEM they don’t care what you look like or sound like, as long as they can understand what you’re saying. Occasionally you might get a nasty comment because Facebook does have trolls. I’ll tell you how to deal with them in a mo.

They want to know wiifm

What’s in it for me? Why are you reading this email? To see if I share something that could help you in your business, right? A tip, an idea, a new way of looking at something. Well, that’s the same for your Facebook fans, email subscribers, in fact anyone you come into contact with in your business.

Once you realise that, the whole Facebook video ‘thing’ gets much easier. What do your fans and customers want to know? What could you share that would help them in their life? What would make them take notice? What words or phrases could you use that would grab their attention? What are they thinking about or worrying about that you can help with? What would make them happy? What would they find intriguing?

“Why does my dog eat grass?”
“How long should my baby nap for?”
“Should I send e-newsletters to my customers?”
“How do I deal with email overload?”
“Why aren’t people visiting my website?”
“Why has my silver jewellery gone black?”
“How can cheese help my concentration?”*

*I have no idea how cheese could help your concentration, but if you know the answer then I know a load of people who would love an excuse to eat more cheese!

Think about what your customers and Facebook fans might be putting into Google. Think about what YOU put into Google! I know, right? Weird and random things (if you’re anything like me) but if you can figure out what your fans are bothered about, then YOU can be the person showing up on Facebook videos in their newsfeed with the answers!

What if I get a nasty comment?

It might happen, it might not. Depending on what you’re sharing, you might ‘trigger’ someone who then feels hurt or upset or angry or jealous and makes a nasty comment. The more controversial you are, the more likely this is to happen.

If you’re not controversial and you’re just sharing how you painted your latest picture of a puppy, it probably won’t happen. If you’re talking about vaccinations, politics, parenting, money, anything that people are likely to have strong feelings about, you’re probably going to get all sorts of comments, good and bad.

So what do you do? Well, understand first of all that people are very brave when they are on Facebook and will say things they would NEVER say in real life so they are unlikely to be a real threat. Don’t reply. Don’t bite. Don’t engage. Ban. Delete. Move on. No matter how hurtful a comment might be, don’t let it get to you. Don’t let it hurt you because then they win. Let it slide off and have a way of dealing with it so it doesn’t ruin your day.

As someone who has had ALL sorts of nastiness happen on my Facebook page I can tell you this is easier said than done – but for your own sanity you have to just ban (so they can’t comment any more), THEN delete the comment, then do something that requires you to focus so you can get them out of your head. Whenever you catch yourself dwelling on it, STOP IT. DON’T LET THEM WIN. Focus your precious time and energy on making your business stronger.

If you can’t BEAR the thought (yet) of putting your lovely face on a video, in my next blog (coming soon) I’m going to show you that you don’t have to be ON video to make a video.

And in the following blog  I’m going to give you some great ideas for Facebook videos.

And that’s just part 1! After that we’ll cover video production tips, technology tips, different types and sizes and lengths of video, monetising video, captions, and more! You’ll be a Facebook video pro before you know it.

The Facebook Feed Rumours Are True! (Sort Of)

The Facebook Feed Rumours Are True! (Sort Of)

The Facebook Newsfeed Rumours

OK so for AGES rumours have been flying around that very soon the only way we will get our business posts seen in the Facebook newsfeed will be to pay for ads. So is it true?

Well, sort of.

Very simply put, Facebook has so much content, paid and organic, that it’s impossible to show every user every post that’s targeted at them. And although Facebook has shareholders and advertisers to keep happy, they also have to keep their USERS happy, otherwise they will stop using Facebook.

This article by Facebook expert Mari Smith explains LOADS about what’s going on and what we can do about it.

I’ve pulled out some of the key things I think will help you. Firstly this video from Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Head of News Feed where he explains how the newsfeed works. I found it really interesting. Here is the link to his article.

Secondly, here are Mari’s top 10 tips on what businesses can do to keep getting seen. Not unsurprisingly, it’s all about VIDEO. We’ve known for ages that videos, especially FB live videos take top priority in our newsfeed – this is just the start!  Mari’s version has a lot more technical detail that might feel a little overwhelming so I’ll leave you to read the tips in full on Mari’s blog here but here is my ‘translated for small business owners with big ambitions’ summary. 

Over the next few weeks I’ll take each of these tips and give you LOADS of ideas on what you could do, and how you can use them in your business, so make sure my emails aren’t going into your spam folder!

1. Focus On Video

Video already takes priority in Facebook’s newsfeed. It’s only going to get bigger. Facebook is putting even more things into place to make it a viable alternative to your TV, after all I tend to get my news via Facebook these day, THEN see it on TV later. How about you? If you’re not already doing videos then you need to start embracing the idea. They don’t have to have you talking to the camera, there are loads of alternative ways to create fantastic videos. Don’t worry, there will be a way that works for you.

2. Do More LIVE Videos

OK so the novelty of Facebook live videos has worn off a bit. To start with we watched all of them. Then we realised that some aren’t as good as others. Now we’re being more selective and picky about which we watch and there are certain things that DEFINITELY make your live videos MUCH more likely to be watched. I’ll share those with you in next week’s newsletter. Even though the novelty has worn off, Facebook Live videos are still top of the newsfeed priority list so it’s definitely worth doing them (but the RIGHT way). 

“We’ve seen that people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos. ~Facebook”

3. Do more short, punchy videos

According to Mari, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer recommends creating ‘snackable’ video content. That is, between 6-15 seconds. This is the ideal length to be used as ad breaks. Now, I’m sure Sheryl was referring to the big brands when she mentioned this but how can we, as small businesses with big ambitions use it in our marketing? Well, 6-15 seconds is not a lot of time – what could you do as a teaser? What could you demonstrate in 6-15 seconds? What could you share that your fans would love? I’ll give you some ideas in one of my newsletters very soon.

4. Create longer videos too

OK so the short videos I just mentioned are what you’ll already be seeing while you watch longer videos – the longer video stops while a short video ad plays. Yes, I find it intensely annoying too.

But Facebook still needs longer videos in which to insert the ad breaks. Also, your fans won’t just want short videos, if you have something awesome to share with them. So, how long is longer? Well, according to Mari anywhere from 90 seconds to 30+ minutes for your regular Facebook videos. And, for your Live video broadcasts, a minimum of five minutes and up to four hours. And for Instagram, 60 seconds. Phew!

5. Add captions to your videos

According to Mari’s research 85 percent of videos are watched with sound off. It’s not surprising when you think how often you’re somewhere that makes listening tricky. Also, sometimes you just want to watch the story and read what’s being said – it’s definitely how I prefer to watch videos.  Adding captions is easy and lots of the work is done for you. I’ll show you how to do this in one of my newsletters very soon!

6. Create highly shareable videos

According to Mari ‘Share is the ‘holy grail’ on your Facebook business content. It’s free viral marketing, when you can get it. According to Facebook, “Recommendations from friends are powerful: in fact, 48% of video watch time on Facebook comes from shares. ~Facebook” So, how can you create videos that are sharable? Well there are lots of ways and obviously I’ll be sharing a load with you very soon in one of my newsletters but to get you started, think about sharing stories about your business. Think about sharing those time lapse videos of work in progress. Think about sharing videos of magical things in your business – I sat yesterday and watched a wax melt melting. I watched it 3 times. It was mesmerising. More ideas coming soon!

7. Create square videos

According to Mari’s research  “square videos perform better on Facebook, resulting in 28% more views, more likes, and shares, while leading to a 67% greater view-completion rate.” Wow! That matters when you’re trying to make an impression and build relationships. Also, you get more space in the newsfeed with a square video as opposed to a landscape one, which is a good thing.

Adobe Spark is great for creating square videos and it’s free! I’ll share some more apps and software very soon. Remember if you make your videos 60 seconds or under, you can use them on Instagram too.

8. Monetise your own videos

According to Mari, there are three primary ways to monetise:

  1. Your own offer. This is probably the most relevant to us as small business owners. It’s where you put a link to your offer in the video, or the post, or both.
  2. Sponsors. Worth a look but probably not your best option.
  3. Ad breaks. You need at least 2,000 followers and your live broadcast needs to have more than 300 people watching at the same time. Then, you’d qualify for ad breaks after you’ve been live for at least 4 minutes. You can take additional ad breaks every 5 minutes after your first break. But they are really annoying for your viewers. Just saying…

9. Stay away from the Boost button

According to Mari Smith, “most savvy marketers on Facebook have long known that the Boost button is a ‘lightweight’ ad interface. The Facebook ad algorithms know that you are a somewhat novice advertiser if all you do is boost your posts…” It’s time to get familiar with the Facebook Ads Manager and start looking at proper targeting and custom audiences. Luckily, I can help you with this – there will be a newsletter about it very soon!

10. Be a more sophisticated advertiser

According to Mari, if you “Use Ads Manager + install the Facebook Pixel + Standard Event tracking + use Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences + do retargeting + choose Traffic, Conversions, Products or Leads for your ad objective. This combo shows the Facebook ad algorithms that you are a much more sophisticated advertiser, compared to a business that only hits the Boost button.”

OK if that sounded like a very scary foreign language to you, I’m not surprised! What Mari is saying is that if you start to use the Facebook Ad Manager tools properly, your ads will perform better and you MIGHT get better organic reach too. Hmm. I don’t doubt it’s true but it feels like hard going! Try the first few options first, I reckon!

So, in my next few newsletters and blogs I’ll be taking Mari’s excellent advice and translating it into ideas you can use in your business. Don’t worry, you’ll be using Facebook like a pro very soon.

I’d love to know what you think of this. Does it make you excited? Worried? Scared? Are you already using videos on Facebook? How are they working for you? Tell me! 🙂

If you want to get all of my Facebook Video Mastery lessons as they come out, sign up to my newsletter here and they will pop into your inbox – SIGN UP HERE and get 12 free e-books while you’re at it!

Scared To Put Your Prices On Your Website?

Scared To Put Your Prices On Your Website?

Don’t be scared to put your prices on your website. Here are 4 REASONS why:

1. If you’re scared of your competitors finding out, they will find out somehow anyway. Forget about them and focus on building a loyal following of people who LOVE YOU and love what you do. Your Super Customers won’t care if you’re not the cheapest – they come to you because you are awesome and they trust you.

2. Leaving your prices off is off-putting for customers. If I have to dig around a website, fill out a form, make a phone call or send an email just to get an idea of price I’d sooner go elsewhere. I assume the prices will be so high that the company will have to get a salesperson on the phone to HARD SELL to me (eeek!)

3. Out Of Hours Shoppers – I do most of my online browsing and shopping when my daughter is in bed, after 9pm. Here’s how it works: If I love what I see on your website or Facebook page AND if I can see the price and it feels like good value AND if I can get answers to any questions from your Frequently Asked Questions section AND I can see lovely reviews and I can see videos of you and I can see you’re a real person who can be trusted – I WILL BUY. You’ve made it easy for me. I like that.

4. Be proud of your business and what you sell and don’t be ashamed of pricing properly. Your Super Customers know you have to make a living. They know you are worth it. You’re not after bargain hunters – you want to attract people who value what you do because it’s perfect for them.

If you offer bespoke or custom products or services then at least say “prices start from” or “basic packages start from” or “this item cost £XX as a guide price, this is how we cost it” Give us a clue. We will still love you.

YOU ARE WORTH IT

YOU ARE WORTH IT

YOU ARE WORTH IT

Got that? Good 

Love, Claire xx