What’s A V-Book?

What’s A V-Book?

 V-Books are the hot new marketing tool and I love them! Why? Because they give every business the opportunity to very quickly AND easily go online and all for free!

-> Cut to the chase and learn how to make them in my V-Book Masterclass now – JUST 9.99!

What IS a V-Book?

Well, you’ve heard of E-Books, right? An e-book is a PDF book usually used to teach a topic or subject. It’s made up of text and images and you can read it on your computer, mobile device and even some e-readers.

The problem is, e-books have their limitations. Yes, you can add hyperlinks but other than that you’re pretty much stuck with words and pictures.

V-Books are the next level. The V stands for VIDEO and it brings a whole new dimension to your content.

Unlike E-Books, you can’t download a V-Book. Instead, it’s like a mini-website that you can share. That sounds basic but once you understand the possibilities, you’ll start to get excited as your brain kicks into action!

  • Imagine being able to create a document where you have a video introduction of YOU, talking, saying hello and introducing the content.
  • Imagine being able, instead of showing screenshots, actually being able to walk someone through a whole process online right within the page they are looking at.
  • Imagine being able to explain a concept, or demonstrate a technique.
  • Imagine being able to link to additional resources on your website, or direct people to buy products in your shop, all from within your V-Book.
  • Imagine, and this is really exciting, creating a whole course within your V-Book – with lessons and videos, and even links to Jotform where they can submit questions or answers.

What Could You Do With a V-Book?

Hopefully you’re starting to get a feel for how amazing this could be for your business?

You could create fantastic freebies to encourage potential customers to sign up to your website.

You could create bonus V-Books for customers, to give them stuff to do at home in between sessions with you.

You could create paid V-Books containing lessons or whole courses on a massive range of topics.

You could create dynamic workbooks that explain each concept as you work through them.

Imagine how this could work for your business. Just imagine!

Are V-Books New?

Yes! I mean we have always been able to do stuff like this but the way I do it, I use ONLY free tools and it’s so quick and easy you won’t believe it! Even if you’re not very techie, you can still create these using tools that are available right now.

I’ve created a one-hour class where I walk you through the entire process from start to finish. I show you how to do every single bit. I show you, step by step, the free tools I use and exactly what I do. You could be making your very own V-Book today!

To buy the V-Book class for just £9.99 with lifetime access CLICK HERE

I know you are going to love this and once you learn how to do it, you will quickly realise why V-Books are the future. They are going to be huge and you can be in at the front of the queue, leading the way. I can’t wait to see what you do with this!

Love, Claire xx

10 Ways to help your small business survive the Coronavirus Pandemic

10 Ways to help your small business survive the Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s REALLY tricky for small and micro businesses right now. Falling sales and cancellations are leaving business owners scared and anxious, worried this will break their little business.

So what can you do to help keep the cash flowing at times like these? It’s time to think like your customers and anticipate their needs. It’s time to be flexible and adapt. It’s time to reframe this crisis and turn it into an opportunity to help and add value while keeping your business going, even if it’s in a different form to usual. Here are some things to think about. Also, you are awesome and you can do this.

  1. Be visible, communicate and reassure. Think about why people are cancelling or not buying and do your best to address those fears. Think about what you can say and do. What will make them feel better? Think about how you can help.
  2. The need for what you sell doesn’t really go away, your customers just can’t (or don’t want to) access it in the usual way. What can you do about it? How can you make it easier for them? How can you help?
  3. Everyone is having to adapt. Everyone is having to find new ways to cope and carry on. How can you change what you offer to suit this new, albeit temporary way of life? What do your customers need right now? How can you help?
  4. Diversify where you can. You can park your current business for a little while if needs be. You are a small business so you can quickly change direction. You have so many skills that others can use, even if you aren’t using them in your current business. What can you offer or create? How can you help?
  5. Look at how you can take your business online. How could it work? What would it look like? This way of working will quickly become the norm so make sure you embrace it where you can. Don’t worry about the tech, there are easy ways to do it. Just get clear on how you need it to work, then figure out the how afterwards.
  6. Turn the cancellations and quiet times into a positive. You just gained precious time to do all the things you never get around to. Create and schedule your social media. Work on building your email list. Write blogs and e-newsletters. Create videos. Work on your business vision and targets. Plan!
  7. Support other small businesses as you would want to be supported. Promote them. Buy from them when you can. Recommend them.
  8. Don’t sit and suffer in silence. Anxiety is amplified when you try to cope alone. Seek out others in the same position. Brainstorm. Support. Chat. Build community. Join my Facebook group! www.facebook.com/groups/takeyourbusinessonline 
  9. Remember this is not forever but it might be for weeks or months. Use your entrepreneurial brain to come up with solutions and embrace them now, not later. Be ahead of the curve.
  10. Keep marketing, more than ever. Businesses that stay visible, add value and keep marketing in tough times are the ones that hit the ground running when times get better.

One way or another we will find a way through this. We might come out the other end of it with a changed business and a changed life. Who knows? Why not treat it as an adventure and an opportunity to use your amazing entrepreneurial skills to help others while keeping your business going? We are in this together. You are awesome.

Love, Claire xx

Are Your Money Beliefs Hurting Your Business?

Are Your Money Beliefs Hurting Your Business?

I was teaching a class about Super Customers recently in my Brilliant Business Academy and a lady asked a really good question at the end.

She said something along the lines of “I make keepsake bears. I couldn’t afford one of my bears. I don’t think people will pay my prices”

Woah! That is a biggie. We had a talk about it on the call. Let me tell you how that went.

There was a whole lot going on here, as you can tell.

This lady – we’ll call her Pam – creates amazing keepsake items and focuses on teddy bears made from items of clothing.

Some of her customers want their child’s baby clothes made into keepsake bears.

Some customers though, have lost loved ones, from babies and children to parents and siblings and want a keepsake bear to hold, to remember their loved one by.

Pam doesn’t just whiz them together. She has special touches she incorporates into her keepsakes, things that make them unique and even more valuable to her customers. The quality is amazing. Her service is amazing. The feedback she gets is amazing.

Some people think she is too expensive, but they are not her Super Customers. Other people think she is worth her weight in gold because she creates something precious to keep when they are going through a sad and tough time – the cost isn’t vaguely an issue.

So why does she think her customers won’t pay her prices?

Maybe because Pam’s confidence in herself isn’t great? Maybe a few of those ‘too expensive’ comments from people hit home even though they weren’t her Super Customers? Or maybe because at the moment money is a bit tight for Pam and luxuries like keepsake bears would be out of her budget for now.

Any of these would give you pricing wobbles. Combined, they are enough to make anyone doubt themselves.

And Pam could be any of us.
Depending on how we feel on a given day, our confidence in our pricing goes up, down and all around. If we’re feeling a bit broke and sales are thin on the ground, then we might assume everyone else is a bit broke too – our mind does that to us. It projects OUR money beliefs onto other people.

In other words ‘If I can’t afford it, then others probably can’t’ or ‘If I wouldn’t pay that, nobody else would’.

But you know that’s not true, don’t you?

People value different things for different reasons, depending on what is happening in their life.

If I’m not into cycling then a bicycle has no value to me. If my doctor told me to lose weight and get fit quickly, I would probably see the value in that bicycle and even think about upgrading it, because it’s something I need now.

If I haven’t lost a loved one then a keepsake bear might not even enter my thoughts. When I do lose someone dear to me, all of a sudden a keepsake bear seems like a wonderful idea and a way to keep a loved one close, even after they have gone.

And when I look for keepsake bears, I will have a choice. I might only be able to afford a ‘budget’ bear or I might decide to buy a really special one, like the ones Pam makes, even if I have to forgo other expenses or save up.

The thing is, you don’t know what I would pay more for.

You don’t know what I’d save up for.

You don’t know what I value or what is happening in my life.

You are not a mind reader.

All you can do is figure out your Super Customer and speak to them in your marketing.

In Pam’s case, her Super Customer is the bereaved person who is looking for a beautiful, special keepsake created with love and care by someone who knows how hard this is for them.

  • Someone who can guide them through the process of selecting the best fabrics and the best types of clothing to choose.
  • Someone who understands how precious these clothes now are
  • Someone who will handle these precious clothes with love and compassion

Pam does that and her Super Customers don’t care that she is more than twice the price of some other makers.

It’s irrelevant to them. What matters is the experience and how it makes them feel.

So, Pam realised her fear that people wouldn’t pay her prices was unfounded. Actually, for her Super Customers the price is secondary.

All she has to do is speak to them in her marketing. 

  • She needs to tell them what she does, and why.
  • She needs to show them how she creates beautiful keepsakes with care and compassion and tell them she will help them with the really tough bits.
  • She needs to involve them in the journey. Tell them how it will work and how long it will take. Explain how they can add personal, special features if they want.
  • She needs to show off her beautiful makes and her testimonials from happy customers.
  • She needs to be proud of the difference she makes and the joy she brings at a difficult time.
  • The LAST thing she needs to do is assume what they would pay, based on how she is feeling about money at the moment.

And even better, once she changes her marketing to speak to these Super Customers, who will be so happy they found her, she will sell more keepsakes and her money situation will improve. Win win.

And Pam’s question made me think of you.

  • How often have you projected your money beliefs onto your customers?
  • How often have you assumed people won’t pay *that much* because cash is a bit tight in your house at the moment?
  • How often have you thought it’s not worth marketing your products or services because it’s too far from pay day?
  • How often have you caved in and given discounts without thinking about how valuable your products and service really are, to the RIGHT people?
  • Every time you do this, you are devaluing what you sell. Every time you do this you are letting your money beliefs hurt your business.

To the right people – your Super Customers – the price is secondary, because they VALUE what you sell. They might even forgo other expenses or save up for it. Imagine that. Best get stuck into Super Customer marketing, eh?

You are awesome.

Love, Claire xx

PS: That class about Super Customers I mentioned? It’s in my Brilliant Business Academy now and you can get a week’s trial for just £1 HERE. Hope to see you in there, I think you’ll love it!

I Should Have Waited For The Bus!

I Should Have Waited For The Bus!

Oh my goodness, what a morning!

Chloe, my 11 year old, went back to school a couple of weeks ago after 3 years of being home-educated. Her decision and she absolutely loves it. Rather than put her into the big town school near where we live, she chose to go to my old school, a little rural Academy in a village about 6 miles away.

It means she needs to get the local bus service which goes past our lane end and yesterday she finally got her bus pass, which was the cause of much excitement.

This morning was going to be her first morning going on THE BUS.

I was going with her as it’s her first time and it’s not a school bus, so I wanted to make sure she knew the route and where to get off. We planned things meticulously. The bus is scheduled to arrive at 7.55 so I got up extra early, ran down to feed and muck out the horses, then ran home and got a shower and grabbed some porridge.

Chloe, in the meantime, got up, got a shower, got dressed, made a pancake (Happy Pancake Day by the way) and was waiting, hair brushed and ready to go at 7.30. All was going to plan.

We wandered happily up to the bus stop and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

7.55 no bus. 8.00 no bus. 8.05, 8.10, 8.12 no bus.

I started to panic as it’s a good 20 minutes in the car to her school. Finally, I bottled it and said, quick, let’s run home and get the car and I’ll drive you to school.

So, off we ran.

I’m not a big runner and I’d already run TO and FROM the stables that morning, so I arrived home slightly frazzled.

I looked for my car keys. Nowhere to be found. A couple of minutes of turning the house upside down and then I remembered I had worn another coat yesterday and they were in the pocket. Gah!

So now it was 20 past and I was stressed out. Chloe didn’t need to be there until 7.45 but it’s a busy road full of tractors and pickups and you can’t go fast, which is probably a good thing.

We finally got into the car, took a deep breath and set off, grumbling at the blummin’ bus and how annoying it was that it hadn’t come. Grr.

We got 2 miles down the road and found ourselves behind THE BUS!

It must have come just after we ran home. When I was panicking about losing my car keys, it was already on the way to school, 15 minutes late but still ahead of frazzled me.

It detoured around one of the villages while we carried on. I got to school, dropped Chloe off and passed the bus coming into the village where the school is, just as I was leaving and only about 5 minutes behind me.

It would have got us there at 8.40 in plenty of time for Chloe to walk over the road and get to registration.

Why am I telling you this? Well, as I was driving home I had a realisation and it made me think of you.

This morning could have been so different.

Until 8.00 all was going so well.

Then I got impatient, thought the system was broken, started to panic and ended up stressed and wasting almost an hour of my morning in the car only to find myself a mere 5 minutes ahead of the bus.

If I had trusted the system (the bus always comes) and been patient, I would have had a calm 20-minute bus ride with Chloe to school. We wouldn’t have had to worry about traffic. We would have got to school in good time and it would have saved me lots of time, worry and energy.

And it made me think of you.

Because this situation is very similar to marketing.

We have an expectation that things will go a certain way, don’t we?

We set up a business, start marketing it and sales will come quickly, right? That’s how it’s supposed to work? We set up a website, write a blog or two, get active on social media and wait for buyers. Except they don’t come, at least not as soon as we would like.

So we panic, think the system is broken and get stressed. Then we waste loads of energy and money trying to rush things through, only to find ourselves where we would have been if we had just trusted the system and been patient.

The ‘system’ in this case is marketing.

It always takes longer than you think. Things rarely go as expected. But the surest way to get your marketing working is to figure out who you should be targeting (your Super Customers) and market to them, day by day, little by little, consistently.

Even if it feels like nothing is working. Even if it feels like you’re talking to nobody. Even if it feels like you’ve been doing this way longer than you’re supposed to and the buyers just aren’t coming.

Here’s the thing. If you’re targeting the right people and putting a consistent stream of marketing out there, talking to your Super Customers, showing your value and reminding them why they need you, it’s got to work.

Like my bus, it might not work when it’s supposed to. It might not be as quick as other ways but your marketing system will get you where you need to be if you’re patient, keep doing what you need to do and trust the system.

Now, I’m off for a big cup of tea and we’ll be trying the bus again tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Love, Claire xx

Are You Caught In A Price Trap?

Are You Caught In A Price Trap?

Did you know that pricing is one of the biggest challenges in business? It’s true! Get it right and your business runs beautifully, attracting lovely customers and making you a great living. Get it wrong and you barely make a profit, even though you’re working like crazy.

I was talking to a lady recently, who was working way too many hours for not enough money.

She was burned out, fed up and broke. She knew something had to change before she gave up altogether but she was scared of getting it wrong. She was scared to raise her prices because, even though she wasn’t making any money at the moment, she was convinced if she put up her prices nobody at all would buy. She thought she just needed to work harder and get more customers, but she was already working way too hard.

She was in a price trap where she didn’t have enough hours in the day to make the money she needed and her current business model meant it could never grow.

I had to give her some tough love. I told her she had an expensive hobby, not a business. By the time she factored in all the hours she was working, her hourly rate was a pittance and she wasn’t making a profit. I told her  she was too cheap and giving out all the wrong signals, attracting bargain hunters and people who didn’t value her. And I told her she needed to change things fast before she made herself ill.

My biggest piece of business advice for her was to VALUE herself and her skills and put up her prices a LOT.

She was really shocked but she soon realised what I meant.

What To Do If You’re Attracting The Wrong Buyers

Even though this lady had probably known this for ages, she had been scared to put up her prices because she thought no-one would buy.  And people were buying but they were the wrong people – people who wanted cheap products rather than those who wanted GOOD VALUE (There is a BIG difference). She was marketing (verging on spamming) in local selling groups and trying to compete with cheap prices online and yes, she was selling, but at what cost? Something had to give.

When we worked through the numbers it became very clear very quickly that if she targeted a different type of customer she could charge more for her beautiful products.

She would need to make some big changes starting with her mindset. Instead of thinking of herself as ‘little old me’ who can’t charge much because nobody will pay, she needed to start thinking like a BUSINESS OWNER. Someone who sells an amazing product that the right people will adore and will happily pay a premium for. She had to start valuing her time and skills, her experience and expertise.

We worked together to help her understand her value. The products she created were far better than the stuff selling cheap on Amazon and Ebay and yet she had been trying to compete with them. She realised the people buying those things were buying based purely on price. They weren’t bothered about quality or service, they just wanted a cheap commodity.

Her products were better. They were beautifully made. The quality was amazing, from the sustainable materials she used to her eco-packaging. She was passionate about creating products that would last a long time and even be handed down through families. Her customer service was fantastic.

She quickly realised there were a few different groups of people who would happily pay more, she just had to pick one and start marketing to them.

The Super Customer Marketing Journey

Instead of trying to find customers in local ‘buy and sell’ groups as she had been, she instead needed to figure out where her Super Customers were looking. After a little research we worked out that, with a few changes to her product photography style and some hashtag research, Instagram could really work for her.

She was already using Facebook but her page fans were the wrong sort of people, so she needed to start attracting more of the right people. She could do that by changing her behaviour on Facebook and instead of acting like a bargain-basement business, she needed to reposition herself as an artisan making handmade creations that oozed quality. It would take some time but gradually her fan base would change and Facebook could become a really effective marketing tool for her.

We talked about sharing her journey, from design scribbles to materials, work in progress, finished items, little touches, packaging and also a new focus on her, as a maker. Weaving her story into her online presence, sharing her inspiration, talking about why she did things the way she did, why she loves what she does – that personal thread running through a business is a game-changer. It’s not about price, it’s about the journey of amazing products from idea to completion.

I told her I often buy gorgeous things on Facebook and Instagram exactly because of this approach. Watching a sketch take shape and come to life is magical. Many’s the time I’ve already decided I’m going to buy something even before it’s finished because I feel that I’m part of its journey. From felted bees to oil paintings, embroideries to cookies to make-up bags, I bought them all this way.

She realised she had just got herself into a ‘cheap’ mindset and it nearly broke her AND her business BUT it was reversible. She saw that she could reposition her business and she got very excited. She had looked at other makers featured in magazines and online and never dreamed she could be in the same league and yet, there was nothing stopping her other than her self-belief. Yes, it would take some time but the sooner she started, the sooner it would happen.

Do You See The Shift?

Do you see how things changed from an attitude of ‘I have to be cheap to compete with Ebay sellers’ to ‘I’m a skilled maker and the things I make are unique, beautiful and valuable’? Do you see how that would change a business beyond recognition?

Which would you rather have? Which would you rather be?

As soon as you realise your value and your worth, the energy in your business changes. Your marketing takes on a new feel. Your prices increase to reflect the quality and the journey of your work. You start to make a really nice income AND you attract customers and fans who adore you and your work.

A few weeks after repositioning her business and putting up her prices she started attracting the RIGHT kind of customers. She deleted all her ‘cheap’ posts from social media and gave her website a mini-makeover. She looked on Instagram and Pinterest to see how other makers were using props and lighting in their product photos and she learned fast.

She started sharing her journey. She started building online relationships with other makers and artisans and shared their beautiful work on her social media with no expectation of them returning the favour, but guess what? Some did! And even for those that haven’t (yet) the fact she was sharing their gorgeous (not cheap) things helped to position her and her business in the right way. It elevated the perception of her business into a higher league.

None of this cost her much money – it just took a weekend of online tidying-up, research and learning.

The best thing is it’s going to get better and better for her. She is gaining confidence. She is attracting new fans. She’s enjoying doing her marketing and social media. She is feeling more inspired and creative. And she has to work fewer hours to make the same money. Yes, she lost a few people and had the odd grumbler but her business needed to let them go, they were the wrong fit and were keeping her stuck in the price trap.

So, Why Do Business Owners Struggle With ‘Proper’ Pricing?

Well, I reckon a lack of confidence and that pesky ‘little old me’ syndrome have a lot to answer for when we talk about pricing.  Loads of people accidentally fall into the price trap because they don’t know any better and they don’t feel confident enough to charge what they are worth.

Let’s look at how most people price their products and services – maybe this is how you did it, too?

  • You look at what your competitors are charging and opt for prices just above or just below them, depending on where you believe you rank in the pecking order (which can have damaging consequences if you’ve made the decision on a day when your confidence is low!)
  • Perhaps you’ve asked your friends and family what they think and been greeted by a sharp intake of breath.
  • Maybe you started off well but a catty comment by a ‘bad-fit’ customer knocked your confidence and convinced you you’re too expensive?

This happens all the time. For many small business owners, pricing seems to be a particularly emotive topic and one we take personally.

  • We worry that we don’t have enough experience or we’re not good enough to charge ‘proper’ prices
  • We fixate on what our competitors are charging without questioning whether they are right
  • If we can’t find out what others are charging, we worry we’re getting it completely wrong
  • We also fear being judged by others. After all, perhaps other people might think you’re getting a bit too big for your boots if you put your prices up? You know what I mean, the voice in your head that worries people are saying ‘who does she think she is?’
  • Then of course there’s the fear that you might lose customers or not attract new ones

Do any of these seem like a proper, sensible pricing strategy a ‘proper’ business owner would create? Or do they all seem a bit knee-jerk and random? Hmm?

So, Are You Caught In A Price Trap?

  • Are you working too hard for not enough money?
  • Are your prices based on the value you bring or are they based on what other people are charging?
  • How can you reposition your business to attract better customers who love what you do and are willing to pay for it?
  • Even if you don’t completely scrap your current product or service range, maybe you can create a luxury or VIP tier? You can focus all your marketing on your higher-end offerings. That way you can transition out the ‘bad-fit’ buyers and unprofitable offerings without removing your income (however meagre).

The only way to do it is to do it. Be brave. Dig out that self-confidence and go for it. In a few weeks you could have a completely new business and you won’t look back.

And what’s the worst that can happen?

Nobody buys, right?

Well that’s just a sign that you need to keep tweaking and keep marketing.

  • Make sure you’re walking the talk. Make sure your marketing is up to scratch, that your website reflects your new higher-level business and that your social media is on point.
  • Focus on the VALUE you bring to your Super Customers.
  • Share your journey as you develop your products and services.
  • Engage your audience. Talk about what your products and services do for them. How will they help? What difference will they make? Why are YOUR products and services a cut above the rest?
  • Keep marketing. Keep tweaking. Keep marketing. Repeat.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell HR training or make handbags, the principles are the same. Get really clear on the value you bring. Understand how it makes your Super Customers feel, then charge what you’re REALLY worth.

Let me know how you get on and good luck! You’re awesome.

 

Is Your Motivation In Hibernation?

Is Your Motivation In Hibernation?

Remember all those New Year’s resolutions? You had plans to take on the world and make this year a year to remember. You were going to get tons of new customers, make a load of money (and lose a few pounds at the same time)?

But, now it’s time to actually make it happen, the resolutions have gone by out the window, reality has set in and you’ve gone a bit flat. A lot flat. In fact you just can’t be bothered.

You’re feeling like you just want to curl up in a ball rather than face another pile of paperwork or come up with a miraculous marketing plan. Right?

Motivation? You might as well be speaking Klingon!

I know, it’s tricky to keep motivated when you’re running a business, seeing to the kids, working other jobs, trying to keep on top of housework and keep everyone fed and watered. It’s even worse when the weather is rubbish,  and the New Year festivities feel like a distant memory.

Add in those jobs you really don’t want to do in the business, like writing that blog, doing tax returns, chasing payments, filing all that paperwork or coming up with some bright ideas to drum up more business and it’s no wonder you feel flat as a pancake.

But these things still need doing.

Without them the house would turn into something you see on the reality TV shows, where they have to send in a cleaning team to dig out the kitchen. They would find you in the corner of the dining room trapped under a pile of invoices, business at a standstill, in your pyjamas watching box sets and drinking coffee. However appealing that might sound right now, it’s not going to grow your business.

And you DO want to grow your business, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading business blogs, right? You WANT to snap out of perpetual PJ mode and back into business mode, so you can get the cash flowing and make your dreams come true? 

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, first of all know you are not alone. I go through this a few times a year – mainly after Christmas and after holidays or long weekends. It seems to take me forever to wind down but once I’m wound down, I take a lot of getting going again, no matter much I love my business. I have to drag myself to my desk and try to snap my brain back into work mode, even though it feels like a giant, sluggish marshmallow.

There are a few ways to tackle motivation hibernation. Different options work for me at different times so take a look and see if any of these feel appealing or even vaguely doable. I’ve used them all at different points and although it might take me a bit longer than I’d like to ‘snap’ back into work mode, I get there eventually and so will you.

1. Be kind to yourself

If your number one motivational tactic is beating yourself up because you’re not doing what you’re supposed to, maybe stop that? 

You know what it’s like when you have deadlines and you just aren’t feeling it – the more pressure you put yourself under, the less you feel like doing it and the less creative you are. Adding pressure makes it worse.

Take a step back, understand your body and brain have just had a well-earned and much-needed break and it’s going to take time to get back into the swing of things. Think of it like this – you’re restarting a cold business engine and it’s going to take time to get it warmed up again and working as well as it was before your break. So, stop being so mean to yourself and give yourself a couple of weeks to reacclimatise and fall back in love with your business. You’ll still get stuff done, probably more than you think but you’ll do it without that horrible, counterproductive stress.

2. Do the worst job first

I’m going to suggest two completely contradictory tactics now – I have used both at different times and they both work, it just depends on which feels most appealing at the time. The first is to do the worst job first.

Often the reason we can’t get back into work mode is that we have a horrible or tricky job to tackle once we get started and that immediately puts a dampener on any enthusiasm you managed to muster. It could be a tax return, stock take, filing, invoice chasing or some other job that makes you want to run away and hide in the biscuit tin.

If that feels like a huge black cloud over your business then tackle it. Now. No procrastinating, no excuses, just grab a cuppa, gather whatever tools and energy you need and do it. Once it’s done you will feel AMAZING and it’s a huge block out of the way, leaving you to do the nicer jobs you enjoy without the horrible one looming over you.

3. Do the nicest job first

If you just can’t face doing the horrible jobs first, pick something you enjoy doing in your business and do it, guilt-free. Give yourself a couple of hours or even a couple of days to do what you love (which is probably the reason you set up your business in the first place) without any of the less enjoyable stuff clouding your day.

Don’t let the mind monkeys stop you enjoying it – you will get the ‘horrible’ jobs done soon but for now, it’s time to fall back in love with your business and reconnect with the feelings you had when you started it.

Often this feels like a real treat because our time is usually taken up with business stuff we can’t avoid and don’t necessarily like. Simply spending a little time doing what we love can reinvigorate us, remind us why we do this every day and get us back into work mode in the nicest possible way.

4. Do a brain dump

Sometimes all it takes for us to unlock ‘work mode’ in our brain is to bring a bit of clarity to the situation.

Often after a break (and actually at regular intervals throughout the year) I feel that my head is full of ‘things I must do’.

It’s like when your computer gives you a ‘memory full’ message and refuses to do any more work until you have cleared things out. My brain is stuffed to bursting and I can’t see what I need to do first, or even what I need to do at all because my brain has crammed it all into one big ball of ‘THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING NOW, WHY ARE YOU SO RUBBISH?’.

Before I can even begin to do anything productive I need to see what I am dealing with, so I do a brain dump. That involves taking a big sheet of paper or a notebook and writing down everything that is taking up space in my brain. All the tasks. All the ideas. All the nagging doubts. All the appointments you must not forget. Everything. Keep writing until you can’t think of anything else and don’t be surprised if some weird stuff comes out too! My brain dumps include things like:

  • Must set reminder on phone for dentist appointment on Monday
  • I never have parking money. Why do I never have change in the car? I need to sort this.
  • When did I book Chloe in for a dance lesson? Need to find out
  • I must get some bulbs for the living room light, it’s doing my head in
  • Phone mum
  • Phone British Heart Foundation to get those boxes of charity stuff in dining room
  • Buy spinach
  • Get Chloe to do Latin homework

I can keep writing for ages. Those were just the little non-work bits swirling around at the top of my brain, I haven’t even started on the chunky business stuff.

Brain dumps are really useful because they achieve several things at once:

  • They help to free up your brain’s processing power so you can get past the feeling of ‘brain overload’ and see what you are dealing with.
  • They help you to feel more in control of what’s going on.
  • They help you to see what is taking up space in your brain and deal with it.

When I do a brain dump I use my 3DS system – Do, Ditch, Delegate or Schedule. You’ll often find that several things on your list can be done right now, in 2 minutes.  Others can be scheduled into your diary because they need doing, but not now and if you schedule them, you know they are dealt with for now so they don’t need to take up space in your brain. Some can be delegated, some can be crossed off altogether (I actually bought the light bulbs yesterday but for some reason they are still taking up space in my brain). If you’re struggling to get motivated, try doing a brain dump and see if it helps – it usually does for me.

5. Pick a Sticky Note

Another technique to help you break that productivity block and kick-start your motivation is the Pick a Sticky Note method – it’s great if you’re prone to procrastinating and overthinking.

Get a pad of sticky notes and write each task on your to-do list on a different sticky note (if you use erasable pens you can reuse your sticky notes many times). Then stick them all on a wall, then pick one. Don’t look at it, just close your eyes and pick one THEN DO IT. When you’ve done it, if you feel up to it, pick another one and do it. That way there is no room for overthinking, you just take pot luck and let fate decide. No swapping them out either, if this method is going to work you have to take what you get and crack on. It’s very effective and when you run out of work time, gather up those that are left until next time you have a spare hour.

6. Work on your business vision

If you can’t face ‘work’ work, then why not do some dreaming? All in the name of building your business, too! I’m talking about working on your business vision. Your business vision is where you think about where you want your business to be in 12 month, or 5 years or further into the future. It’s all about getting very clear on what success looks like to you and how you want your business and life to look in the future – if you are clear on that then you can create plans and targets to help you achieve it.

To create a business vision you can use a notebook, a sheet of paper or a Pinterest secret board. It’s even better if you can get loved ones involved in this process because what you’re going to do is dream big.

Think about what your business could help you achieve, if you really focused. Holidays? A new home? A new car? What would your family love to be able to have or experience in the next few years? There is no need to worry about the ‘how’ for now – the first step is to get those dreams down where you can see them.

Try to be really specific too – rather than saying ‘holiday’ say ‘A holiday at Disneyland, in the hotel where giraffes look through the windows and where we can afford to get those VIP queue-jump tickets’ When you think of what you want, imagine how it would be and include all the details in words or pictures that will really bring the dream to life.

Finally, and this makes it real, put a price to it. How much do you need to save for a holiday like that? How much of a deposit would you need for your dream house? By adding money/costs into the mix you can turn those into specific, meaningful targets to work towards in your business.

If that doesn’t get you motivated into work mode again, I don’t know what will!

7. Do some preparation and planning

If you’re not ready to tackle your to-do list, can you do some preparation?

  • If you can’t face writing a blog or a newsletter, can you come up with the rough topics for the next few? Can you maybe come up with titles? Even scope them out? 
  • If you can’t face your tax return, can you stick on the radio and at least get all your receipts together and sort them into date order?
  • If you can’t face a stock check, can you set up the spreadsheet on your computer or print off your check list?

Don’t underestimate the power of preparation – when it comes to doing ‘the actual job’ you will be happy you took time to prepare as it will save you time later. 

8. Go for a walk and listen to a podcast

There are some days I just can’t be bothered with work but I also don’t want to waste my precious work time (these days are usually when I’m tired or getting over a bug) so I stick on my wellies, grab my phone and headphones and take the dog out for a walk. I’ve always got a couple of podcasts downloaded and in my case I usually choose not to listen to business coaching podcasts. I prefer things like The Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox, or BBC Business podcasts where they tell stories of different businesses or industries around the world, or History Hit podcasts with Dan Snow.

I immerse myself for a while in something totally unrelated to my business, something I can learn from and enjoy with no pressure and get some fresh air and exercise at the same time.

If I do nothing else productive all day, I have still managed to keep my brain active and more often than not, it will spark an idea or a thought that will help my business later. That’s where the Notes app on my phone comes in handy!

If I get REALLY inspired then I stop and let Meg the dog have a run around while I use my Otter app to dictate my idea. That’s how some pages in my Awesome Marketing Planner were born.

9. Watch a motivational video

If it’s horrible weather or you can’t (or don’t want to) leave the house, get onto YouTube and look for TED talks, or whatever motivational speaker you prefer. Watch some feel-good videos, raise your mood and know you are doing a great thing for your business. Creating a positive mindset is a wonderful investment that will reap rewards far into the future.

The best thing is, you don’t have to take any action. You can watch motivational videos for the sake of it, as many as you like. No pressure, just enjoy them for what they are. If you do get inspired, you can scribble a note or two to look at later but just raising your mood is enough when you’re feeling flat and demotivated. A few days of that and you’ll be making your own motivational videos as you power through your marketing.

10. Look at your Book of Awesome

If you haven’t got a Book of Awesome, read this blog I wrote about it. In short, it’s a book where you collect all the lovely, positive, complimentary things people have said about you and your business. Your Book of Awesome is something to dig out and dip into when you’re feeling flat or sad – and especially if you’ve just had a ‘bad customer’ experience that has left you wondering why you bother and doubting your ability. Reading about the joy you have brought, the difference your business has made, the lives you have improved even in just a tiny way – it makes your heart sing and it’s good for the soul.

If you don’t have one, create one now. Treat yourself to the prettiest notebook you can find or decorate a boring one so just looking at it makes you happy. Print off lovely reviews and feedback. Write down things people have said to you.

Make it a book about all the amazing things your business has done and why you matter (you definitely, absolutely matter). And when you need to, when times are tough and you’re feeling flat, demotivated or defeated, dig out your Book of Awesome and read it. Properly read it. Think about how those people were feeling when they said or wrote those words. You’re awesome.

 

If all else fails, come into my This Girl Means Business free Facebook group and join in. Help other people if you can. Ask for help if you want. Do what makes you happy, knowing you’re among likeminded awesome business owners who totally get how you feel. You can do this.

 

7 Fab Engagement Ideas That Work!

7 Fab Engagement Ideas That Work!

Facebook can be a brilliant business tool when it comes to marketing your business. The trouble is, it only works if you get people engaging with your page. A page with unengaged fans is as bad as no page at all because it simply doesn’t get seen, so what can you do to get people talking, commenting, liking, reacting, sharing, viewing and clicking on your Facebook page and why bother? Well, engagement is a funny thing – you have to have it to get more of it. When someone engages with your post in Facebook – in other words, interacts with it in some way such as liking or using a reaction on a post, sharing it, tagging someone, commenting on it, voting on a poll, responding to an offer or event or watching a video or story – Facebook does several things.

1 – First, it shows MORE of your page content to the person who interacted with that post – they will start to see many more of your posts for a couple of days, then the effect will wear off until next time they engage with one of your posts.

2 – Second, because someone engaged with your post, it will show that post to more of your other page fans – the more engagement you get on a post, the more other people Facebook will show it to.

3 – And third, whenever someone engages with your post, their friends will see that they did so and some of them will check out that post, too. They might even get tagged in it by their friends, which means it shows up on their friend’s timeline too.

Do you see what I mean? Once you start getting engagement, it then carries on building without your help, at least for a day or two – which makes it even more important to get regular engagement so the effect doesn’t get a chance to wear off.

So how on earth do you get it in the first place?

The first thing you have to remember is that every page fan is a real person and this is SOCIAL media. When you’re struggling to get seen, it’s easy to forget you’re dealing with people.

I can spot this a mile off on those Facebook pages that just have random post after random post, as though they are trying everything and nothing is working. Their page is full of shares from other pages with no explanation as to why the posts were shared. They paste random ‘inspirational’ images  with no branding. They post sales message after sales message. You can’t even see what the business does or who owns it – there is nothing on the page to tell me there is a real person behind it with a business they, and other people love. Then they wonder why their page isn’t working for them.

If you remember you’re dealing with real people and potential buyers, things look a little different. Business owners who do this well have engaging pages full of news, ideas, inspirational posts that mean something, questions and polls, works in progress, stories and feedback from customers. At a glance you can see there is a lovely, real person working hard on their business, someone who wants other people to be as excited about their business as they themselves are. Someone who cares what their customers and page fans think, who uses their page as a relationship builder and shop window and who is proud to share their products and services because they know their fans will love them.

Where does your page stand compared to the two descriptions above? If you’re secretly thinking you’re more like the first, don’t worry! I have some tips and ideas for you that will definitely help.

1. Understand The Potential Of Your Facebook Page.

Instead of treating it like an annoying thing you have to update when you remember, think of it as an amazing free tool to help you share your gorgeous business.
You could be using it to build relationships, turn strangers into fans, showcase your amazing products and services, build groups and communities, attract new email subscribers, build credibility and get sales.

All it takes is focus and a little bit of time – I always say ‘where you put your attention is where the magic happens’ and this is definitely true when it comes to marketing, including Facebook. Once you get the hang of what works on your page, you can use Facebook Creator Studio or another scheduler to quickly create engaging posts for the following week or beyond and pop in regularly to answer questions or respond to comments. It works!

2. Have Daily or Weekly Themes

(download my free DAILY SOCIAL MEDIA THEME PLANNER here)

pinterest-the-girls-mean-business-daily social media theme plannerHaving a daily theme really takes the guesswork (and headaches) out of posting on social media.

I know one of the reasons many people struggle to post regular, engaging content is because they just can’t think of what to post, especially when they are busy with so much else.

Having a daily topic or theme makes it much easier to come up with ideas and means your content will be relevant, varied and interesting.

You don’t need to announce you have a daily theme (as in ‘it’s Top Tip Tuesday’) but you can if you want – or you can take a few ideas for each day and rotate them.

There are loads of ways you can use this idea and all of them will help your page become more engaging for your lovely fans.

3. Sign off your posts.

Hardly anyone does this and when you don’t, you are creating a block on your page. Why? Because people buy people, especially when it comes to small businesses and relationships matter. Many people buy from small businesses because they want to deal with a real person rather than a faceless corporate business. You and a few friends might know that you are the person behind your page but nobody else does. How can page visitors build a relationship with you and your business if they don’t know who you are? How can they turn from strangers to customers if they don’t know who they are dealing with?

You will see on almost all my posts I sign off with ‘Love, Claire xx’. That way, anyone reading that post knows who wrote it and can reply to ME (because it’s much nicer and easier to reply to a real person rather than an anonymous post from a business page, isn’t it?) I am always sad when I see a great post on someone’s page and they don’t sign off and say who has written it because I often don’t feel I can reply as I don’t know who I’m talking to. Remember what I said at the start of this article – every page visitor and fan is a real person. Oh, and don’t think you have to copy my very informal sign off – just your name would be great!

4. If you’re a local business, say where you are!

Again I can’t count how many times I’ve seen amazing posts and things I’d love to buy on a business Facebook page I follow, just to see a note saying ‘collection only’. But it doesn’t say where they are and I follow a LOT of pages for lots of reasons, so I can’t remember where they are unless their business name makes it really obvious. They might be 10 minutes or 100 miles away from me and I don’t have time to dig around and find out.

Don’t assume everyone who follows your page is local, even if you are a local business (and also don’t assume non-locals won’t travel, because they might but only if it’s really obvious for them where you are so they can make a judgement call). Don’t assume everyone who follows your page knows where you are, even if they ARE local. If you put ‘collection from Grafton Street only’ that doesn’t help me if I don’t know whether it’s Grafton Street in Darlington or Grafton Street in Luton.

There will be people who follow your page who will sit up and take notice if they see the name of their town or city mentioned in a post – it’s human nature so USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Make it really obvious how people can buy from you and where exactly you are (collection from our shop at 56 Grafton Street, Darlington – we’re open Mon to Sat from 8.30 till 6). Do you see what I mean? That’s really clear. Every time they have to stop reading to Google or dig around your website to try and find an address or contact details or opening hours, there is a big chance you will lose them because they are busy. Take away all the barriers to buying and you will sell more.

5. Tag other businesses

If you’re friends with other business owners or you’ve had great service from another business, tag them in a post. Give them a shout out and tell your page fans why you’re doing it. It’s a brilliant way to celebrate fellow small business owners, who are probably also struggling to get seen and when you tag them, they will see and usually respond – which starts engagement going on your page.

You could even make this one of your daily themes we talked about in point 2 (make sure you download that DAILY THEME PLANNER HERE). Also there is a good chance they will mention you or tag you back on their page, which is another way to boost your engagement and get you in front of new eyes.

6. Use Video – and NO it doesn’t need to be you on camera!

I know you might hate being ON video but there are loads of ways to use video without your face being on it. The thing about video is, it’s a really easy way to get engagement on your page. Why? Because every video view more of more than a view seconds counts as someone engaging with your page even if they only stopped scrolling for a little while, which then leads to Facebook showing that video and your page to more page fans, who are more likely to watch and interact with your video and your page and share it with their friends as we discussed earlier. Bingo!

Some videos are definitely better than others and surprisingly, it doesn’t depend on whether your face is in them. The things that make a big difference to how engaging and effective a video is are whether it has a great title (that ideally appears in the opening frames as well as on the post), whether it has subtitles and whether it’s easy to watch. If it’s really dark and it’s not obvious what you’re doing, do you think people will persevere and watch it? Probably not, why would they? If it’s your face talking but it’s not obvious when the video appears in your Facebook feed what you’re talking about, why would anyone bother watching? Having subtitles or captions makes is immediately obvious what you are talking about AND makes it accessible to those who are hard of hearing or people who are watching with the sound off. Think about the videos you watch when you’re scrolling through Facebook. Funny animal videos win every time (how can you use THAT in your marketing?!) but then it’s a title that sounds interesting and a video that’s easy to watch. You can do that.

7. Ask questions that resonate with your audience

Here’s the thing: people love to help and people love talking about themselves. How can you use that in your marketing? Well, you can build a great relationship with your fans and followers by asking for their help. I use this often with my audience and they love getting involved. Sometimes I get page messages from people asking for my help but often I’m not the best person to help them, so instead I check it’s ok if I share it with my page audience and if so, whether they want their name included or to remain anonymous, then I post it as a ‘Reader Question’ – people always help them.

Sometimes I’ll create a poll on my Facebook page asking people to choose between topics the want to learn about, or cover designs for my planner. Sometimes I’ll ask them what they are struggling with, or what they would change if I had a magic wand for their business, or what they don’t understand about marketing. Sometimes I just need a good cold remedy and I always get loads of suggestions.

Also, twice a week I run introduction threads on my Facebook page – every Monday I do a ‘Tag an Awesome Business Owner’ thread and every Friday I do a business showcase. Both are always very popular. I’ve also seen people asking their page fans how many pets they have and to share a photo, or what order their children arrived in (using emojis). It doesn’t matter what you ask as long as it captures the imagination of YOUR page fans. 

Engagement isn’t difficult – you just need to think about what you’re doing and create engaging posts – those above should help!

If you want even MORE help, then you will love my Social Media Sensation package that has a 12 month calendar with daily social media prompts AND over 400 ready-made images you can use, you just need to add your branding.

Have you tried any of these ideas before? How did they work for you? What else works for you? I’d love to know so leave a note in the comments!

 

What my lovely customers are saying about Social Media Sensation

“My post reach is up by 73%” ~ Julie Edwards, of Julie Edwards Fitness

“I never thought it could happen, but I have got all my social media for the year planned out, and half of this month already designed and scheduled to go. All this in less than 12 hours. If you haven’t bought the Social Media Sensation pack yet, I’d highly recommend you get it now! It’s worth every penny for motivational purposes alone.” ~Kat Wills, Serenity in Saltburn

One Nasty Comment Ruined Her Day

One Nasty Comment Ruined Her Day

I was chatting with some of the ladies in my This Girl Means Business® Facebook Group recently and one lady said she had been totally thrown off track because someone had left a horrible comment on her Facebook page about her business (the silly thing is the commenter isn’t even a customer).

This comment had been left the previous day so our lady had not slept at all, had agonised over what to do, had taken it to heart and was really, really upset.

All this, despite the fact that she had over a hundred lovely comments saying how fantastic her products and services are.

Isn’t it amazing how one nasty comment can ruin your day? Or your month? Or take over your life, paralyse you indefinitely and give your mental health a severe bashing?

It’s always that one, nasty, insidious, evil little comment that consumes your brain and makes everything else pale into insignificance. It is always there, at the front of your mind, stealing your joy and your energy and stopping you seeing all the good things.

One messed-up person leaving a comment designed to hurt and inflame you, that takes over your life and your brain and makes you forget all the GOOD people out there.

PLEASE don’t let that one small-minded, nasty little comment, just a few evil little words have the power to affect your life so severely.

Don’t hand over the keys to your happiness to one negative person.

Remember how many people love you and your business.

Remember the good you do in this world.

Remember the happiness you bring to others.

Remember the difference you make, to so many people.

Remember you’re an amazing person running a business when others wouldn’t dare

You are brave and tough. You are amazing and clever. You are resilient and adaptable. You are reading this for a reason – it’s meant for YOU.

I am so proud of you – running a business is HARD and you’re a living, breathing example of everything that’s good about it.

Keep going. Ignore the trolls.

Delete the negative stuff – you don’t need it in your life.

You’re not alone (come join my group if you need moral support from people who get it This Girl Means Business®) and remember why you are doing this.

Big hugs. Love, Claire xx

School Holiday Marketing Plan For Busy Business Mums

School Holiday Marketing Plan For Busy Business Mums

How to keep your business going (and growing) during the school holidays

I’m guessing you’re here because you have school holidays coming up and the thought of them is making your brain pop?

It’s hard enough running your business when your little (and not so little) ones are at school all day, but come the school holidays, it reaches a new level of tricky.

Your ‘normal’ routine goes out of the window. Your quiet house turns into a playground. Mess appears from nowhere. The fridge empties within hours of being filled. You seem to spend your life shouting, picking up plates and shopping for snacks. That’s before you factor in the days out or weeks away.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Children aren’t children very long and the holidays are your chance to spend precious time with them (even if they spend most of it on the X-Box) so you probably don’t want or need your ‘normal’ routine. You want to get out and about with them. Also, YOU need a rest.

So this blog isn’t about you pretending the holidays aren’t happening and finding ways to magic the kids away.

Nope, this is about finding a new normal for the holidays. One that lets you spend time with your children and have a rest, while doing bits and pieces here and there that will keep your marketing in front of customers and your business ticking over (and even growing).

 

‘HOLIDAY NORMAL’

The further ahead you can plan and prepare, the easier your school holiday business situation will be. Even a few hours spent getting things set up will free up your time and make you feel like a business superstar as you head off on your days out with the kids.
Even if you’re not a natural ‘planner’ there are some quick and easy things you can do to ensure your marketing keeps the business in front of potential customers the whole holiday.

But before we get into that, I have something to tell you.

Your customers are probably in the same boat as you. If they are parents, then they will also have the kids around for a few weeks. If they work, they will be struggling for childcare. Grandparents will become holiday sitters. They’ll be scouring the internet for kids’ clubs and activities. They’ll be spending a lot of money to keep the kids entertained. They’ll probably be feeling guilty they can’t spend as much time as they would like with their little ones. They will also be facing the perpetually empty fridge challenge. They will probably be going away as a family for a week or two. They might also need to find a new normal for the holidays.

So, your first challenge is to figure out what your CUSTOMERS’ holiday normal is and more importantly, how you can help them?

  • Think about what their life looks like during the holidays
  • Think about the challenges they face
  • How will their priorities change?
  • What will they be spending money on that they don’t usually?
  • What will grab their attention at this time of year?
  • What’s different for them?
  • Where do you fit and how can you help them?

HINT: This might mean that you create special products and services JUST for this market. Things you only promote or roll out during long school holidays. Things like workshops, kits or ‘experiences’ (just to get your brain whirring).

 

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and scribble some ideas down

We’re not trying to do this for every single customer, we’re trying to see if our ‘typical’ best- fit customer (our Super Customer) needs different things during the holidays.

It’s important you do this because there is no point trying to sell the same old things to people whose needs have temporarily changed. You don’t have the time or energy, particularly during school holidays, to do marketing that’s doomed to fail. You want to make sure that any marketing you can do during this time has the best chance of turning into sales.

Now, when you think about your customers it might be that they are completely unaffected by school holidays, in which case great, but YOU still need to keep your business going even if nothing changes for them.

 

PLANNING AHEAD IN THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Planning ahead can really make your life easier during school holidays. From planning and scheduling your marketing, to managing customer expectations and coming up with marketing activities you can build into your ‘holiday normal’ routine, a little bit of planning can save you hours of stress and hassle later AND mean you get a steady stream of enquiries or orders to tackle when you’re back at work.
Try to start preparing and planning for the school holidays a couple of weeks in advance if you can. If you can’t because you only found time to read this during the holidays, that’s fine too.

There are still loads of things you can do to make your life easier and keep your business going and growing and one of the biggies is social media. Even if your customers are in ‘holiday normal’ mode, off work with the kids or away on trips they will likely still be on social media, in fact they might be on there more.They could be looking for things to entertain the kids, or planning days out, or just browsing for fun while the kids are off playing. They could be planning ahead, thinking about ‘back to school’ or doing that ‘holiday dreaming thing’ where they decide they are going to make much-needed changes in their life, so it’s really important that you’re there on social media where they are looking.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR BIG MARKETING JOBS?

One thing you can do well in advance is work out what your BIG jobs are and plan them in. That might be writing newsletters, building up stock, finding holiday help, pre-empting client needs so you can get THEIR work done in advance – what are the big jobs in YOUR business that really need to keep happening while you’re in school holiday ‘normal’ mode?

For me, it’s about blogs, newsletters, podcasts and social media – the marketing. I don’t need to create any classes or programmes over the school holidays: they can wait until I have peace and quiet and thinking time. What does need to happen though, is brand visibility. I can’t disappear from social media for 6-8 weeks because I’d then have to go from a standing start after the holidays and try to build up momentum and engagement after weeks of being invisible.

That’s going to take ages.

Social media likes regular engagement – whether it’s FB, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter, they are all basically the same. Regular, engaging posts mean the social media algorithms see your business as an ‘engaging’ one, so they will continue to show more of your posts to more of your followers. As soon as you stop posting, you’ll drop down the list and other businesses will take your place. I don’t want that to happen, so I make sure I have good quality, engaging posts scheduled at regular intervals on my main social media accounts.

All I need to do is find a few minutes each day to go on there and react to or reply to comments, so my followers can see I’m there engaging with them.

So, my big jobs are all about marketing. What are yours?

And how can you plan, schedule, automate or outsource as many of them as possible so your business runs as smoothly as it can with the minimum of stress, hassle and involvement from you while you’re in ‘holiday normal’ mode?

 

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and work out what you can do in advance to give yourself a break over the holidays?

 

There is a lovely additional benefit to this. You see, if you can do this during the holidays – set up systems, automate your marketing, bring in help – you can do it any time.

What you’re doing is making your business more efficient and making you more productive and those are two elements of a successful business, so the work you do now will build brilliant foundations going forwards.

 

 

WHAT CAN YOU MANAGE TO DO DURING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS?

Next, I want you to work out what you can easily manage to do during the holidays. Assuming you’re not away for the whole time, do you have any time free during the day or at certain points in the week to do a little bit of the ‘day-to-day’ work? And what would that look like for you?

  • You might not be able to make much stock but you might be ok packaging and sending it out…
  • You might not be able to do many treatments but you can sell vouchers and take bookings…
  • You might not be able to do much client work but you might be able to schedule it in for a few weeks’ time…
  • You might not be able to do much marketing but you might be able to create bits of marketing material to use later (I have some ideas for you)…
  • What could you realistically manage, especially if your BIG jobs were already taken care of?

There are loads of little jobs you can do while you’re out and about that will help keep your business going during the holidays, AND will also make your life easier going forwards.

The great thing about this is that you get a new job title. For the duration of the holidays you can become Work From Anywhere Girl.

You can even treat yourself to a cape if you like because you’re going to take on some Super Powers. You’re going to learn how to use slivers of time while you’re out and about and turn them into amazing business building tools and assets.

 

 

10-MINUTE MARKETING JOBS

10 minute jobs aren’t just for the school holidays. I’m a big believer that 80% of marketing (and many other things) you do in your business can be broken down into smaller and smaller tasks that you can tackle in around 10 minutes, from building a website to writing a blog, managing social media to setting up sales funnels! You can use this for client work too.

Breaking jobs down into their smallest possible tasks is brilliant for your business.

It stops you getting overwhelmed and means you can be much more productive.

Fitting 10-minute jobs into the little gaps in your day is much easier than finding hours or days to tackle something that’s been on your to-do list forever, so you get more done.

I love it and my 10-minute job list is something I write as I have my morning cuppa, then it goes in my jeans pocket to be pulled out every time I get a few minutes. It means I never have that ‘brain blank’ moment when I actually get time to tackle some work – I just pick a task from the list and do it.

10-minute jobs could be business or personal – if they need doing and they can be broken down into tiny tasks then get them on there.

10-minute tasks might include:

  • Check comments, messages and emails
  • Record quick videos
  • Instagram stories
  • Make memes
  • Take photos
  • Scope out blog ideas
  • Making a phone call
  • Planning what you’ll say in a phone call
  • Planning an email
  • Writing an email
  • Answering an email
  • Coming up with ideas for blogs or newsletters
  • Scoping out a blog or newsletter
  • Writing an introduction to a blog or newsletter
  • Writing a paragraph of a blog or newsletter

You see where this is going?

Even if your job seems big, like ‘revamp my website’ it’s actually a collection of tiny tasks that you can fit into your day. Revamping a website consists of looking at what you have, seeing what changes need to be made and making the changes so it might look like this:

  1. Look at website home page and make a list of changes needed
  2. Look at website contact us page…
  3. Look at product number 1 page…

 

So, you’re tackling a page or two at a time and making a list of things you would like to change.

When it comes to actually making the changes, it might involve some bigger jobs like writing wording, finding images, doing photography, getting testimonials but again, all of these can be broken down into tiny tasks.

Writing some wording for a page or writing a product description can be done in stages.

  1. Plan out what you want to say or achieve – just scribbles or bullet points
  2. Write the first paragraph
  3. Write the second paragraph and so on

Getting testimonials can be broken down into tiny tasks

  1. Work out what sort of testimonials would be good to have
  2. Make a list of who to approach
  3. Write a basic email that you can tailor for each person
  4. Send one email when you get time
  5. Add one testimonial at a time to your site
  6. Repeat

Doing photography for your site can be broken down into tiny tasks

  1. Work out which photos you would like to have
  2. Do some research online to get ideas for setting up the photo, lighting, location, props
  3. Work out where you could take photos and what you are missing
  4. Work out what times are best for lighting and if you need to buy a light or two
  5. Do research online on lights
  6. Look for props you have in your house
  7. Make a list of props you would like to have
  8. Ask on FB to see if anyone can lend you props
  9. Do ONE photo set at a time
  10. Leave your little photo area set up if you can, then tackle the next photo
  11. Do one or two at a time, as and when you can
  12. Add one photo set to your website
  13. Repeat

Do you see the pattern here?

If you tried to tackle a job like ‘revamp my website’ or ‘get testimonials’ or ‘do new photography’ then each of those feel very big and overwhelming, something you would definitely need a day or two for.

If you break them down into tiny tasks, you’ll find you can fit them in and around your day which is exactly what you need in the school holidays. If you can get into this really useful habit, you’ll find your business is much easier to manage going forwards once the holidays are over. Win win!

 

 

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and see what you can break down into manageable tasks

 

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS DURING SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

School holidays often leave you time-poor and lacking in focus due to the whirlwind that is children!
Although I’ve given you loads of ideas of little things you can do before and during the school holidays to make your life easier and keep your business going (and growing) some things will still have to give. This is where managing expectations comes in – yours and those of your customers.

Your expectations of what you will realistically be able to do need to err on the side of caution. You might think you’ll just want to do as much work as possible during the hols because you’re busy, but once you start to relax and spend time with the kids you might realise you just want to do a whole lot more of that.

Assume that you won’t have a lot of time to do anything while the kids are off and that way, if you DO get more time than expected it’s a bonus.

If there are things like deliveries, see if you can draft in help?

School holidays mean there are usually students or older children (who are hopefully more responsible and desperate for a bit of spending money) who can help you with packing, post office runs and even managing the shop if you have one.

Remember this isn’t business as usual, it’s ‘holiday normal’ and that’s about making the best of what you have available.

Then there are the expectations of your customers and if you get this right, it will make your business run smoothly any time of year, but especially in the school holidays.

Now, here’s the thing. I know you love your business. I know you love selling things and making money. I know you love to make customers happy and maybe, just maybe you end up saying ‘yes’ to things when you should have said ‘no’ and that sometimes you have to deal with the consequences. That’s tricky any time but during the holidays it can be a right pain in the bottom.

Why not manage customer expectations well in advance and stick to your plans, so everyone knows where they stand and you’re not faced with ‘urgent’ anything?

Here are some things you can do a couple of weeks in advance to manage customer expectations.

  • Let existing customers know your ‘holiday normal’ arrangements.
  • Tell them how your response times will change and when they can expect to hear from you.
  • Tell them what you will and won’t be able to offer.
  • Ask them to put in any orders by a cut-off date and let them know you’re happy to book work in after the holidays so they get ‘first dibs’.
  • Write a post for your social media where you give cut-off dates, response times and what they can do if they need help.
  • Pin it to the top of your business Facebook page, business Twitter account and leave it as a prominent post on Insta (you can post the same holiday post every few days on Instagram if you have other posts scheduled).
  • Put a ‘holiday arrangements’ message on your website and web shops and let people know when they can expect to hear from you.
  • Write a list of frequently asked questions and pop them on your website then direct people there from social media.
  • Set up an email autoresponder setting out your holiday arrangements and linking to your FAQ page on your website.

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and map out your Holiday Countdown Plan!

 

 

EASY, ENGAGING SOCIAL MEDIA DURING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Remember what I said about not disappearing on social media for weeks at a time? This is where we’ll tackle that. The trick is to set up a bunch of engaging posts to go out on social media regularly during the school holidays. We’re going to drip, drip, drip lovely posts throughout the week that will keep you visible and remind your customers and fans why they love you.

There are a few ways to tackle this but one easy one is to have daily themes for your social media.

You might have:

Monday Motivation, Tuesday Tips, Wednesday Wisdom, Thursday Thoughts, Friday Fun, Saturday Sales Offers and Sunday Chat.

This combinations of daily themes means you have a mixture of promotional opportunities, engaging and fun posts.

You can use the Monday, Wednesday and Thursday posts to do little videos, behind-the-scenes stuff, tagging lovely customers or suppliers, polls, questions, all sorts of things.

You don’t have to TELL your fans the days, have a theme you can just plan out your weeks knowing that’s the structure you’ll follow.

You can use software like Hootsuite, Buffer or other schedulers to set it all up in advance. All you have to do is check in for a few minutes each day to ‘like’ any comments and respond.

 

 

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and write down some social media post ideas using your daily themes & install a scheduling tool if you don’t use one

BEING MARKETING MINDED DURING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Finally, in this school holiday marketing plan, I want to talk to you about being marketing minded. If you can train your brain to do this, all your marketing will get easier and it’s so simple to do. The key thing you have to remember is ONE QUESTION which is:

HOW CAN I HELP OR ADD VALUE?

If you do this every day and add it to every social media post, email, message, product or service you, will find the energy around it shifts.

If you are always looking to add value, build relationships and be helpful your marketing will feel very different, your audience will notice and your business will grow.

Being marketing-minded is also about being aware and seizing opportunities.

  • It’s about having your ‘work from anywhere’ bag with you.
  • It’s about taking photos to use as meme backgrounds when you’re out and about
  • It’s about making notes on your phone or in your notebook when an idea strikes you
  • It’s about using ‘waiting’ time to learn
  • It’s about taking every opportunity to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and seeing the world as they see it, then working out how you can help them.

Marketing isn’t just a list of tasks, it’s a habit and mindset.  The sooner you can get into the marketing habit and develop a marketing mindset, the faster your business will grow.

TELL ME YOUR BEST TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR BUSINESS IN THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!

 

How To Think Like Your Super Customer

How To Think Like Your Super Customer

A lovely accountant on my Brilliant Business Academy Q&A call recently was feeling as flat as a pancake.

She said “Claire, I know what I should do, I just can’t bring myself to do it. When it comes to posting on Facebook or writing a blog my mind just goes blank and I lose all my enthusiasm.

Do you know what? I hear this all the time. It’s not that she doesn’t love her business – she does, she just can’t get into marketing.

Do you know what I did that really helped her?

I spent 5 minutes telling her what it’s like when you have to deal with accountants.

What it’s REALLY like from a non-accountant.

  • I told her we don’t understand accountant speak.
  • We are all terrified we’re going to get hit with huge bills from the tax man, with no notice.
  • We are scared we’re going to run up a huge accountancy bill with no clue what it’s for.
  • We are scared of looking and sounding stupid.
  • We don’t know how accounting and tax works.
  • It’s a scary subject and we hate it.

 

She was surprised.

She didn’t understand that’s how we feel because she is an accountant.

She is kind and lovely and helpful, but she didn’t realise what it’s like NOT to love accounting or think like an accountant.

Once she realised that she started asking us questions and getting loads of ideas. We spent another 5 minutes of the call brainstorming with her. She finally understood a little bit what it’s like to be us, her Super Customers.

After 10 minutes she was fired up and motivated with a list of brilliant things to post on Facebook and LinkedIn, a bunch of blog titles, a load of ideas for new packages (with great names) and a list of quick, easy changes she needed to make to her website.

It’s amazing what you can do once you start to understand your Super Customer.

Your Mini-Marketing To-Do List

Imagine you are your Super Customer and you’re looking for the sort of thing your business sells. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What am I looking for?
  2. Why do I want or need it?
  3. When do I want it?
  4. What will make me buy?
  5. What will put me off buying?
  6. Where will I look?
  7. What will I do before I buy?
  8. How will I feel once I’ve bought it?

So if you are a dog-walker your Super Customer might be a dog owner who feels really guilty about leaving their dog while they go to work. Here are their imaginary answers…

  1. A really lovely, kind dog walker who will treat my beloved dog like their own
  2. I need to know my dog is getting some love, attention and walks when I can’t be there
  3. I need it as soon as possible, this is doing my head in!
  4. If I see lots of photos of happy dogs out on walks in exciting places, some lovely reviews and it fits my budget I’ll buy. I need it to be really easy to see what it costs but to be honest, money isn’t the issue here – it’s all about the person
  5. If it’s really hard to book, if there are bad reviews, if the person doesn’t respond to me – things like that put me off
  6. I will look in local FB groups, I’ll search FB for dog walkers in my town, I’ll Google dog walkers in my town, I’ll ask friends
  7. I’ll stalk them online. No, really! I need to see that this person is right for me so I’ll look all the way through their business page, I’ll check out their website, I’ll look at their reviews, I’ll Google their name and business name to check there are no nasty surprises. My dog is my baby and I have to trust this person.
  8. I will feel RELIEVED and so happy I have found the right person. A substitute me. Someone I can trust with my precious dog AND my house keys! It will be a weight off my mind and I’ll stop feeling so guilty at work. I’ll keep looking on the dog walker’s FB page to see photos of my dog because I know she will post one every time she takes him for a walk and that makes me happy.

Get the idea?

Whether you sell cushions or baby clothes, stairlifts or jewellery, photography, consultancy or business training do this little exercise and see what comes up. If in doubt, come into my free This Girl Means Business Facebook group and have a brainstorm.