Blog - Page 16 of 18 - Kara Lambert

2 Business performance review

Last week I mentioned that planning for the coming year should include a review of the year just passed. I thought, since this will be my last post of 2014, that I would honour it with its own post.

Review is a much maligned, yet valid, part of project management and it is at the centre of quality assurance – both integral parts of my knowledge. I’m not sure just why people are so reluctant to look to the past when planning for the future.

As I look back on 2014, I realise that there was one thing which stood out above all. It was carrying out my application for Telstra Businesswoman of the Year. So I wasn’t successful, but the application process included a very specific review element. Undertaking the review was a very revealing and raw process. It made me confront a lot of beliefs I had about myself, my abilities, and my achievements. What came from it was an amazing sense of achievement, pride, and ability. It was this process that actually kicked me from the planning stages of Write to Right to the action phase.

Business performance review - write to right

So, once again, I ask why are people so reluctant to conduct a review and use it to empower actions into the future? Are they so focused on what will be or what they want to be that reviewing seems obsolete? Do they believe that reviewing is ‘living in the past’ and as such dragging them back and preventing progress? Is it a lack of resources (expertise, time, money)? Is it that they have no goals and therefore believe they have nothing to review?

So back to the award process and why it was so empowering. While I had to provide details of my financials over the previous three years, it was the questions that focused on the outcomes of my actions which really hit home.

Outline your most memorable business achievement and what were the significant learnings.

What have been some of the most difficult business challenges you have had to face and how have you overcome them to achieve success.

What do you believe have been the driving factors for your success and why?

Please provide details of the involvement and contribution you have made to your industry i.e. board positions you have held, currently hold or actively seeking.

Outstanding leaders create a positive environment for learning. How have you invested time, money and energy in developing others to build your business capability for future success?

Please tell us about your most successful business relationship. What made (or makes) it successful?

Now, look at your finances over the past 6 months, year, and two years. Are you where you expected to be? Did you achieve financial milestones? What did you do to achieve them that worked well? Is there anything you could have done differently/better? Anything you shouldn’t have done at all? When I asked myself these questions it prompted me to be more active in following up on leads. As a result, I also introduced a new accounting system, with improved billing and credit card facilities.

I encourage you to consider what I taught you about goal setting and watch the following TED talk. When you have finished, go and answer the questions that were posed to me in the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Awards. Don’t spend too much time; the longest response I was allowed was 400 words. (It made me be targeted in my answers and I think this also played a part in its influence)

12 Planning for 2015

Goals, missions, visions. All worthwhile documents (or boards, let’s not restrict ourselves), however missions and visions are all just words without actionsTweet this Ironic, considering last week’s post was just on that topic.

I am yet to meet a business owner who does not want to grow in one way or another. Some may want financial growth, others might want to foster a better balance with their family life. There are no right or wrong answers, this is about what is right for you, your circle, your business.

I decided to make 2014 my year. It was about making myself and my needs a priority. Now 2014 is coming to a close, I am looking to 2015 and what I wish to achieve. I am looking to business growth and new opportunities, and so I need to plan.

What I thought I would do is to share some of the tools I have used, or heard about, in 2014. I have found that I have grown to know myself again, like when I was a child with that self-assured wonder. This hasn’t been without challenge, I have had to challenge my outdated beliefs, the outdated beliefs of others, and I admit to having moved on from people. But this is growth, and I am not upset as it is what I wanted for me in 2014.

2015 Leonie Dawson planning workbookSo what got the ball rolling for me in 2013, heading into 2014? After reading “Get Rich Lucky Bitch” by Denise Duffield-Thomas I looked for her videos and came across Leonie Dawson. If you haven’t heard of Leonie, she is a former Australian Commonwealth Public Servant, who left her job to follow her heart (a woman after my own heart). After years of empowering women spiritually, she moved into empowering business women (in her own ‘hippy-dippy’ style). I used the 2014 workbooks to show myself just how far I had come and to set in place plans to start Write to Right. I found the workbooks cathartic, allowing me to clear space to move forward with my plans for 2014. Leonie has released her 2015 workbooks, they are available for digital download or in a very funky spiral-bound hard copy. You can purchase, and have them shipped, directly from Leonie. (affiliate link)

Productivity is never an accident Write to RightThe following tool I have mentioned previously, without it I couldn’t have maintained my social media presence while overseas for a month. Coming into the holiday period I would suggest grabbing this post planning calendar. I previously sat down with my phone calendar, open laptop and a hope that I didn’t duplicate any posts. The following calendar has a great list of helpful dates, to prompt posts, and a generous format for note taking. In 2014, I have found planning and scheduling ahead a great way to free up more time for myself and my family. Kellie has informed me that there will be a 2015 version of the calendar released next week, so if you can wait a few days sign up for her newsletter to be notified of its release. In the meantime, you can download the current version for planning out the rest of your December. (affiliate link)

2015 Creative Biz School Planner
Are you a list maker? I admit to being an intermittent, in my head, kind of list maker. If you are into lists and tight goal tracking then the following bundle from Darla at the Creative Biz School is for you. This year I have gotten very serious about tracking finances (thanks DDT) and this package from Darla certainly has making you financially accountable down pat! So, if your goal for 2015 is to be more serious about achieving your financial goals, then check out this package from Darla. http://www.cbizschool.com/workbooks/productivity-workbook/

 

Defined Image balance every outfitNow, back up at the start I said that 2014 was about me, so one of the big things I did was changed how I felt about me and instrumental in that was changing how I dressed. I don’t know about you, but the way I dress certainly impacts how I feel (compare corporate suits to tracky dacks). Since I have used the hints I have gained from the Make it Look Easy ladies I have greater confidence in what I wear, fewer “I have nothing to wear” moments, been more adventurous in what I wear, and (shock horror) I have saved money!!!! By teaching me what colours look best together and with my colouring, I have gained a whole new perspective on my wardrobe. So, thanks to Nat & Tatum for being a big part of my transformation. If you are looking to gain more confidence in what you wear, be warned it snowballs, then grab the e-book which started the ball rolling for me. http://www.makeitlookeasy.com.au/shop/how-to-balance-every-outfit/

So I hear that you are enjoying the videos I have been sharing. The following is one that my kids first watched at school. Kid President is such an amazing young man, with such an amazing story. The following video is a great motivator and inspiration, and I hope it makes you think about your plans for 2015. Before you run head long into 2015, don’t forget to review and celebrate your achievements in 2014, you (and they) deserve it.

4 Getting closer to meeting your customer needs

Focus on the customer - Write to Right

 

Where do your mission and visions cross? Are there any common words or themes? Where does you ideal customer meet with your mission? With your vision? When do you meet the customer needs? If you are unsure of any of these things, head back over to the previous posts and read more about how to get to this point, then come on back and continue on.

List the adjectives, or find relevant adjectives, to describe the intersections. These are the words you use to drive your interactions. There’s a word of warning, they must be for your client. If you start writing about the business it becomes about you. You don’t need to sell to, or convince, you. Also, unless your ideal client is a competitor, don’t write about your industry either. Your customer doesn’t want to know why your industry does xyz, they have a need and want you to meet it. Tweet this  It’s why they are at your website/Facebook/Google+.

Go back and look at the list and where it meets your ideal client. What words help to meet their needs? What benefits (don’t confuse these with features) are they looking for? Remember you wrote out their preferences, look to these for inspiration on how they want to be sold to and what needs you need to meet. Now, what are the benefits of your product or service and how do you meet your idea customer’s needs? This is the ‘what’s in it for me’ that your customer wants answered and you need to explain. Watch the following video, it gives a great (and quick) run down on the difference between a feature and a benefit; plus there’s a little extra business boost to get you ahead of the game.

Now let’s step it up a notch and investigate how it will make your customer feel. What will they experience from the product? Here’s a word of warning, quality is on everyone’s list – meaning that it can also be on yours, but it can’t be alone. The following video is a brief overview on when businesses get this next step right. I can vouch for the Disney experience and the desire to be a repeat customer (yes, I am considering making the long-haul flight back to the US to do it). Watch the video and think about how you want your customer to feel when they use your product/service, deal with your business, and see your marketing.

I’ve learned that people  will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

So now you have the adjectives to help describe your product or service and you have the benefits you need to include when you write those descriptions. But which tone do you use?

Finding your voice

Look at your adjectives, benefits, and your ideal customer – what language suits these best? Will they appreciate slang, a conversational tone, factual, or formal speech?

I would suggest that if your business has more than one person writing for it that you establish a style guide. While I use the Commonwealth Style Manual for proofreading, while in the Commonwealth Government I also worked with a departmental style guide. This guide outlines various things, such as:

– how the business name is written (capitalisation, abbreviation)
– use of acronyms
– how owners are referred to
– tense
– tone
– how customers are referred to, and
– font style, size, & colour.

This certainly helped when writing for different media and clients. There were guides for press releases, ministerials, client letters, and an overarching guide. Unless you are a business with a few hundred staff who communicate across many media and stakeholders, you are unlikely to need this many guides. However, a document that outlines your mission, vision, ideal client, benefits, key adjectives, and preferred tone is a great start. From here it can evolve to including which messages are distributed over particular media. You can even detail how minutes will be taken and distributed.

Style guides are beneficial for copywriters and copy editors. It allows us an insight into the back end of your business and means that we can easily support you and help you to achieve your outcomes. It also saves lengthy discussions when engaging us to undertake work for your business: saving you time and money.

8 The glorification of ing & the power of being

The importance of being

I remarked to a friend that last week was quite strange. A number of fellow business owners were outwardly struggling with depression, anxiety, cyber-bullying, lack of sales, and generally just feeling funky. I have to admit, I was one of them. Now we couldn’t answer the world’s problems in our five minute walk from the car, if only! But it has stuck with me; perhaps it’s the psych grad in me wanting to know the ‘why’. I haven’t found a ‘why’, but I believe I have found a ‘what’.

I believe that we are stuck in the glorification of the ‘ing’. You know what I mean, we are all busy do-‘ing’. As business owners we are busy:

– chasing

– planning

– selling

– learning

– marketing

– making

– writing

– budgeting

– accounting

– worrying

I am certain there are others, as we each run different businesses and each in our own ways. We are projecting all of this energy out of us and into our business and customers. Then on top of that some of us have families.

As a wife and mother I have a whole other list of ‘ing’s and they seem to grow around Christmas. This time of year we add attending/organising Christmas functions, organising school holiday activities and chasing the right present (anyone who has had a child who has wanted this years’ must have present will know exactly what I mean).

Then when the list is made, we glorify it. Friends come and ask how we are, and we openly respond with “Tired”, “Rushed”, “Exhausted”, “Busy” and they nod in empathy, for they are the same. We talk about all the things we have to do, obligations we have, how we need xyz for the business, and how we are waiting to steal a few days of rest over Christmas (amongst the other ‘ings’ we have lined up).

It was another conversation that I had over the weekend, with a client, which pointed it all out. You see, she was establishing a new business, sorting out stock issues, and planning and growing her business; but she was too busy to enjoy it. With a wistful look in her  eye she said “I just wish I could create what I wanted to, I miss playing”. You see, in all of our ‘ing’ we miss out on some of the greats:

– playing

– loving

– sharing

– being

I like the last one as it can encapsulate the others. Watch this talk from TED to see how big business is encouraging creativity and profiting from the investment.

As a small business owner, I need to back away from the ‘ing’ and look to the creative. I took a month away from work and travelled with my family. In this time I had the space to be and in that I found clarity. This clarity has formed a new direction and untold benefit. Last week, I needed that time again, time to just ‘be’ and in that time I found strength to move forward.

So I wonder, maybe the ‘ing’ that we need to incorporate more into our business (and life) is being. Taking the time and being in a space where we are not bound by rules and expectations; a space where we can play, experiment, and tell stories. A place where there is no right or wrong. What the video was looking at was using the life of children to fuel our creativity. The thing about childhood is that most of us were left to be. We were told to go outside and play, to entertain ourselves; why as adults do we not give ourselves that space? We are too busy with and glorifying the ‘ing’ to go and just be.

So, in the comments below, where do you go to just be? How do you recharge and explore your creativity? There are no right or wrong answers, and you just might inspire someone.

8 Business mission & vision statement & core values

In the previous posts, I spoke about defining your ideal client and your core business values. These are your defining ‘who’s, who are you working for and who you are. They are also key start and end points in your business, where you are working from and to.

You need to get these definitions out of a book, off of the wall and into your actions. My years of Quality Assurance, project management, staff management and public sector experience all drew one key aspect from my Psychology degree, which is that values drive behaviour. So when I took over a dysfunctional team, I sat down with the members and discussed their values and drivers. From there I was able to align them with the functions (outputs) of the unit. An amazing thing happened, when the staff could see their roles aligned with their values, their performance improved exponentially, complaints decreased, and morale (and attendance) improved. All because I listened to the core values of my staff and matched them to their jobs and the function of the team. Now, imagine what you can do with your business, when you align your values, mission, and vision! Imagine what you can achieve, how easy it will be to bring in staff, how you will grow.

Leaders of tribes - Write to Right

Does your business have a mission statement? Do you know why you are spending your time in it?

If you don’t have one then this is where you need to start. These questions set the foundations of how others see your business. Here are some simple prompts to help you write your mission:

Who– who are you, are you a multi-national, family company, or sole trader? Who are your customers? Are they families, singles, seniors, small business, multi-nationals?

What– What is it that you do? What do you sell?

Why- Why do customers use your business? What is the benefit to them?

Where– Where can they find you? Are you a bricks & mortar, online, franchise?

Do you have a vision statement? Do you know where you want your business to be in one year, three years, five years?

This is where you have to be SMARTER. Make sure your vision is:

Specific– No wishy-washy motherhood statements. Say exactly where you want to be, put a dollar figure to it.

Measureable- If it can’t be measured then you can look back and see if you have achieved it. It also means that it’s likely to be a motherhood statement and you are less likely to hold yourself to account.

Achievable- The goal has to be appropriate, able to be attained in the given timeframe.

Reportable- You have to make yourself accountable for the goal and the only way to do that is to make it reportable. That could be in your end of year financial report, quarterly reports, cash flow reports, stakeholder reports, reportable to a mentor or a friend.

Time-sensitive- The goal has to have a deadline. Don’t make it a moveable goal or you are less likely to set tasks to achieve it.

Evaluated- Is it reasonable, achievable, how does it compare to others in your industry?

Reviewed-
How often will it be reviewed so you know if you are on track?

Now we move on to aligning the previous work you have done.

Where do your mission and visions cross? Are there any common words or themes? Where does you ideal customer meet with your mission? With your vision? List the adjectives, or find relevant adjectives, to describe these intersections. These intersections are powerful points. Remember, when you align values, missions, and visions magic happensTweet this

So when you have these magical sweet spots, you need to leverage them. These are the words which need to drive your interactions. There’s a word of warning, they must be for your client. If you start writing about the business it becomes about you. You don’t need to sell, or convince, to you. Unless your ideal client is a competitor, don’t write about your industry either. Your customer doesn’t want to know why your industry does xyz, they have a need and want you to meet it. It’s why they are at your website/Facebook/Google+ .

Go back and look at the list and where it meets your ideal client. What words help to meet their needs? What benefits are they looking for? Remember you wrote out their preferences, look to these for inspiration on how they want to be sold to and what needs you need to meet. Now, what are the benefits of your product or service and how do you meet your idea customer’s needs?

So now you have the adjectives to help describe your product or service and you have the benefits you need to include when you write those descriptions. Make the most of these powerful sales tools to drive your business to your ideal customer. Remember, they are your goal, your target market and anyone else that you catch along the way is fantastic.

 

 

10 Define your business core values

Core values - Write to Right

My last blog post was all about getting to know your ideal client. When you understand the ‘who’ it gives you something to aim for, but with what are you aiming?

Do you know why you are spending your time in it? What drives you and your business? What are your goals or ambitions? What is your purpose? (Deep, I know!)

These questions set the foundations of how others see your business. Here are some simple prompts to help you:

Who– who are you, are you a multi-national, family company, or sole trader? Who are your customers? Are they families, singles, seniors, small business, multi-nationals?
What– What is it that you do? What do you sell?
Why- Why do customers use your business? What is the benefit to them?
Where– Where can they find you? Are you a bricks & mortar, online, franchise?

I would like businesses to dig a little deeper. Big business does it, government departments do it; why don’t small businesses? Small business has the advantage of size and that they often are their culture and that their culture is a large part of who the business is. But what is culture? What underpins it culture is values. It is the values which we hold, individually and collectively, that help define who we are and how we portray ourselves to others. With the integration of social media into business, the injection of our personality through our values is key to developing lasting and valuable relationships with our clients. Tweet this

What are your core values?

Professionally, personally, collectively as a business – what are your core values? What are the fundamental underlying traits, behaviours, and values that you hold? I have included ‘personally’ as so many business owners instil parts of their own personality into their business.

Why should your business define its core values:

  • Point of difference with your competitors
  • Alignment of staff
  • Communicate what is important
  • Influence behaviour
  • Inspire action
  • Contribute to success
  • Shape your culture

I have written on how the culture & values impact on staff behaviours in my Masters of Management, should you wish to read further on the topic please email me directly.

Customers ask how to define their core values. There are a number of ways. Personally, I looked at the one thing I would love to do even if I never got paid to do it; then I looked at what it was about that thing which drove me. For me, it comes down to quality (read my latest post on this) and giving business owners the skills to get the most out of their business and to get themselves to the next level.

At its essence you are looking for what you and your business stand for, what ultimately drives what you do and what it is you actually do.Tweet this

Here is a video, which I have found, that will help you on the journey to finding your core values.

I’ve also found the following video on how large corporations use their core values. I particularly like the point made by Tony Hsieh that their company used the values to ‘hire and fire’. From my research, I know that (certainly in the public service) the alignment of core business and employee values is a key driver in customer satisfaction.Tweet this I believe that the private sector is no different. This is, in part, reiterated by the second statement by Jim Collins in the following video. (I also find the clip from Steve Jobs quite inspiring.)

Now over to you, comment below with your core values (business or personal). Don’t be shy and don’t worry if you only have one. Now think about how you will use this value and transmit this value to your customers.

 

Define your ideal client avatar

Know your client - Write to RightA while ago I wrote about finding your online voice. While all of it is important, there is one step that I am finding businesses either struggle with or skip altogether – defining their ideal client.

Now, I grew up with the adage:

You can please some of the people some of the time, you can’t please all the people all of the time. So why do we as business owners try?Tweet this

I know in my handmade business that I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t want to be. So why does my service business (Write to Right) have to be any different. Well, fortunately I don’t believe it and in fact, before I started the business I worked with a leading marketing professional to define many aspects of my business.

Why did I define these aspects of my business? Well, I knew that I would need to market Write to Right differently to my handmade business. That being the case, I took a corporate approach and went to a consultant. The first thing we didn’t do was sit down and discuss how she was going to revolutionise my business, nor did we work out strategies for different media. The first thing was working out who my ideal client was.

This pushed my buttons as I hadn’t even considered defining my ideal client, and to be honest I was happy to provide my services to anyone. I hadn’t realised that the fundamentals I had learnt in the handmade sphere translated to business services. The thing I have realised since is that I am not alone. Most of the businesses that I have worked with do not know who they are marketing to. They haven’t gotten to know their ideal client.

Don’t worry, defining your ideal client does not mean you can’t work with anyone who falls outside the definition. Defining your ideal client allows you to develop so many strategies to help your business, to grow your business, and to save you stress. Yes, it’s another ‘thing’ you should do and need to do, but I promise that it will save you time (and help to make money) in the long run.

Defining ideal client - write to right

Current research indicates that it takes between seven and ten ‘touches’ before a customer will purchase from a business. A touch can be them seeing your business name, speaking to you, reading a social media post, or seeing you in person. If you are consistent with how you speak to your customers, then these touches are easier. By having an idea of who your ideal client is, it is easier for you to formulate these interactions.

There are many tools and videos online to help you define your ideal client. I have found these two videos to be simple and informative. Watch them in the order I have posted below and use the questions in the second video (they are more in depth) to help you define your ‘who’, and the instructions in the first for the ‘why’.

 

 

I’d love to know how you go defining your ideal client, so leave me a comment below. Did you find the videos helpful? Was the exercise enlightening? Or, do you already know your ideal client and can share how you use this knowledge?

 

Quality, heart-centred online business

Quality websites - Write to RightIn my last blog post, I wrote about how I kept my online presence whilst I was on holidays. Now, during those four weeks I not only had a marvelous time, I received a shot of clarity. See, I thought I knew what was at the heart of Write to Right, seems there is something in the Parisian air and I now know what is at the centre of the business.

I have a burning desire to help business owners make their online presence the best it can possibly be. My focus is on quality. While I have been teaching you the skills and sharing my insights in running an online business, what I wanted to do was to help you make the most out of what is inside you, what drives your business. I want to help you get that out to your customers.

I was talking to a prospective client, who was looking for a content author (something I can, but prefer not to do), and I spoke to them on how I like to focus on getting the most out of a business’ existing online resources and how they will benefit. I explained that although I write all of my own content, I don’t write for others as my experience is that business owners are best placed to write their own content. (Read my blog post on why you don’t need a copywriter) I also explained how, though web designers/builders are great for building your site – they will only put in to it what they receive from their customer (you).

Now, while I am a firm believer (now) in getting something up live and rejuvenating it, I also am a firm believer in the need to make it the best it can be at that time. Some would say that it’s advocating for polishing the proverbial dog dung, but some customer’s prefer theirs shiny and isn’t it better to show your customers what you sell on a polished turd than not letting them know at all?

I’ve read a lot recently about quality being an entry requirement to the marketplace, I’m also seeing more on how marketing is changing from a push to a pull. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. As a consumer, I am turning away from the hard sell and I am also becoming wary of the soft sell. As a business owner, I (and others) am developing the ‘social’ part of my social media presence. (Read how you can be more social in my blog)

I believe that consumers are looking for genuine interaction when purchasing and I firmly believe that businesses find genuineness easier when they come from a place of quality.

Why? Quality, and delivering what you say, engenders trust and customers will only perceive genuineness when they trust the message and the method. (Tweet this)

Take some time to watch this TED talk from Joseph Pine. While this talk is now a decade old, I believe that we are still in the transition phase and that when businesses realise that customers are after more than just a product or service they open up another level of their business’ earning capacity.

Social media is ingrained in current culture. In fact, Facebook has an average of 1.35 billion people using the platform every month (Tweet this). While businesses might believe that they can afford not to be on a social media platform, I’m not one to ignore the potential of reaching 1.35 billion people every month. Incidentally, I am also aware that there are a number of consumers who shun social media, and as a result I maintain a website presence. The benefit of both is an increased potential client base.

I want your business to make the most of the opportunities afforded it. I want you to shine above your competitors. I want you to extend the quality you invest into your products and services to your online presence. I see benefit in moving to the experiential model and believe that a lot of this lies in your online communication.

I believe that ensuring the quality of your business’ online presence is what lies at the heart of my business. There is science behind this. Google has quality indicators in its search algorithm, customers will not buy from websites that contain spelling and grammatical errors. (read more about why I think this is important) I want to take this science, meld it with my Management and Psychology qualifications and balance it with my years of website experience to offer you ways to have the best online presence possible for your business.

So that’s the ‘why’, what about the ‘how’? Read through my blog posts, sign up to the newsletter, like my Facebook page. These are all ways in which you can find out how you can DIY a better online presence. If you are time poor check out the services I offer to do it for you.

Where to from here now that you have read, signed up and liked? I want you to watch the following TED talk by Seth Godin on Tribes. I want you to think on what is at the core of your business and how you will lead your tribe in a new direction. Think about what influence you can make in the next 24 hours and take your tribe on a new journey. Better still, when you take them on the journey, let us all join you by sharing it in the comments below.

 

1 Hints to maintain business social media while on holiday

Keep working while you play Write to RightEver wonder how you will keep your social media followers engaged whilst on holiday, while ill, during peak periods, or even when you need some time away from your devices? My family and I have just returned from a four-week overseas holiday (I feel refreshed and with a clearer direction for both of my businesses) and I maintained my Facebook post reach of 90%, engagement rate of 10% and increased my number of followers.

Even though I did have my smartphone with me, wifi connectivity was unreliable and patchy. The other issue that I had was being between 9 and 12 hours behind my regular time zone, meaning that ‘on the fly’ posting to my main follower base was not an option. I wanted a relaxing holiday, so in the four weeks leading up to my holiday I scheduled 70+ Facebook posts and four MailChimp newsletters. I did post occasionally to Instagram and used some time to increase my Twitter following.

 So how did I achieve this?

As I said earlier, I used the four weeks leading up to the break to schedule my content. I do not use a social media scheduler to post across multiple platforms, it doesn’t suit me or my business (in fact I have just read an email from Crush Social outlining why my approach is correct). In the past I have used the calendar on my phone to keep track of which day I am up to with my scheduling. This time I had a social media calendar.

 Social media calendars

There are a number of free and paid social media calendars on the internet. I have looked at a number of them and was lucky enough to receive one from Kellie O’Brien Media. It is a month-to-a-page calendar (affiliate link), BUT (and it’s a big one) the thing that stands out for me is the hints and the special dates. It is the special dates which helped me to determine posts when I had run out of my popular content (I will post later on this topic). The special dates include things like awareness weeks (or days), holidays, and sporting events. While Kellie has used Australian dates, a lot of these awareness events are international and it is these special dates that sets her calendar apart from the others available. (Note: while Kellie did provide me with the calendar, it was done so for user testing, my affiliate link was provided after)

Productivity is never an accident Write to Right

 Pinterest

I am an avid Pinner. I admit to having more than your average number of boards and a few secret ones too. While I do pin content from the internet to Pinterest, I most often repin. The key to Pinterest is to understand your ideal client & pin that. Tweet this  According to hubby, I spend too much time on there, but I see it as all valuable research time (ok, sometimes it’s like a rabbit hole).

If you are not on Pinterest, I would suggest having a look. Many businesses, including my own, use it to promote their own products. While I do not find it a good sales vehicle, it is handy for brand awareness. I would suggest starting with the ‘Popular’ pins and over time Pinterest will learn your tastes and customise your feed to suit. Follow the boards of your favourite Pinners or just follow them entirely (some people I follow entirely and others I select certain boards). The thing I like about Pinterest, is that in the main, you will be linked back to the original source. This is great for sharing the content directly and makes attribution simple.

Facebook Scheduling

I regularly schedule Facebook posts and have for a while now. I don’t like being flustered and pushed into posting content on the fly. I regularly check my Insights and I post when my followers are online (a great way to help engagement). Scheduling posts allows me to post when they are on, but I might not be.

I have found this recent video by The Stacey Harris on how to schedule a Facebook post.

MailChimp scheduling

If you have subscribed to Write to Right’s newsletter, you would have received my scheduled newsletters. (You haven’t? Head over and sign up now and receive a free set of my top social media hints) I use MailChimp as my email platform, there are dozens out there, but MailChimp is a well-known provider and integrates with my website.

Email lists are a fantastic way to reach your customers in a more personalised and direct mannerTweet this It’s also a fabulous way to offer digests of your social media content, deliver special offers and generally remind people that you are still there (let’s face it, not everyone spends as much time as I do on Facebook). So my email subscribers didn’t miss out, I scheduled my regular newsletter. Ok, so it didn’t contain new content (there’s nothing wrong with recycling and I will discuss this in another post), but it did help me to stay in front of mind whilst I was away. I found this great video from Chris Durnan, who details how to schedule a MailChimp campaign.

 

These are the main tools I used to keep my businesses running whilst I was away for four weeks. While they work for my businesses, they might not be right for yours. If you have any other tools or hints you would like to share, please leave a comment below. If you would like to learn more about writing for social media, please read my other blog posts.

1 6 big ways blogging benefits business – part 2

big ways your business benefits from bloggingLast week I let you in on the first half of why you should be blogging, how your business benefits from blogging, and a little bit on how you can go about it. This week I round out the series with three very ‘feel good’ reasons to get blogging.

  1. Research

Blogs are fantastic ways to find out more about your customers. You can uncover more about their demographic, their needs, or their preferences.

Start with your ideal customer (find out how to determine this in the online voice post) and start chatting to them. Ask some questions. I am fortunate enough to fall into the category of being my own ideal client, so I often discuss things which I feel are relevant to either my personal or business life. (Great when I have writer’s block)

Ask questions. Engaging in conversation is a great way for you to reveal your personality, develop relationships and learn. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, you never know who else is thinking the exact same. Ask a series of questions and pose answers or solutions. These solutions can prompt further discussions and learning.

Post a number of related topics over a number of posts to discover where your customer interest lies. Posts with more interaction could indicate more interest, allowing you to hone your subject matter. Running a series is a great way to promote a newsletter, RSS, or other subscription service you might have. Never neglect the opportunity to increase your subscriptions (sign up for mine over here and receive a free ebook).

  1. Social media content

Blogs provide fabulous content to share on all of your social media profiles.

They don’t just fill a hole, they provide a vehicle to drive content to your website (helpful if your sales are run through your site). When answering questions on a blog, try to incorporate your product, this allows for internal linking (read how it benefits your site), education, and drives sales. By linking to your blog post from social media you can receive numerous benefits.

If you use catchy pictures on your blog, these can provide useful and shareable content for your social media profiles. Having shareable content is a great way to increase marketing and social reach. Word of advice: when creating shareable content ensure your business name, logo, or website address are on the image; nothing worse than having great viral content and not profiting. (tweet this)

Pay attention to the following items in your blog post as they will be used by Facebook to generate supporting content for your link:
Blog title: this is used by Facebook as your title
First 20+ words: the first 20+ words are used to generate teaser content in the link, and
Meta-description: if you use a meta-description, Facebook will use this in the place of the first 20+ words.
As a WordPress User I have installed Yoast SEO, in their program you have the ability to customise the title and description used by a number of social media platforms, including Facebook. This can be useful if you want to undertake split testing or if you prefer not to show your Social Media followers a description filled with SEO keywords.

  1. Relationship building

Building relationships is my favourite reason, outside of education, to blog. When I blog I impart a little piece of my own personality. It might be the language I use or my experiences, but there is a little piece of me in every post. I think that doing this is important as it means that when you meet me, you already have a sense of who I am. If I have already shown you a little of myself, then we are on the road to developing a working relationship.

I have previously mentioned that many experts believe that it takes five touches before a customer will purchase. Blogging allows businesses to make another touch with a customer. Reaching out to them, where they are keeps you in mind. Even if they are not quite ready to purchase, a post gets you one step closer and can help keep you in front of mind.

If you blog to answer customer questions, or you answer their comments on your blog, you are showing them that you are listening. No one likes to be ignored, so listening and responding to customer needs is an important part of building relationships.

Why do you blog? What do you enjoy about blogging? Is there something you would like blogged about by Write to Right. Leave a comment below.

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