Posted on Leave a comment

Ready to outsource? How you can find the right people

Outsource by finding the right people.

Making the decision to outsource some of your business tasks is one thing. Finding someone you’d actually trust to do the work is quite another. If you’re looking for a full time employee you might be better off hiring someone to find suitable candidates. However, more and more businesses don’t want the hassle. It may even be that you only need someone for a couple of hours a week, or to work short term on a specific project. A freelancer with other clients is the ideal solution. But how do you find the right one?

Sole trader v Agency

Agencies or larger businesses are ideal if you’ve got a specific project or need help with a range of different things. There are agencies of all sizes, including some that are run by sole traders. The difference between an agency and one sole trader is that the agency will have built a team of people who can cover a range of different things and will manage them all for you.

Sole traders are great if you don’t need to outsource to lots of different people. For example, you might already have a designer who’s created your new website, but you need someone to write the copy. Managing two freelancers is relatively easy – it gets trickier if you need five or six different specialities.

Getting recommendations

When it comes to finding the right person, getting a recommendation from someone you trust is by far the best option.  You can get a personal recommendation based on their own experience so you can outsource with confidence. Of course, it’s worth bearing in mind that their needs might not be exactly the same as yours and their approach to work may be completely different.

Networking events have been invaluable for me in finding people to work with. My main memberships focus on relationship building so I’ve got to know a range of people and discovered who I get on with. Then when I need a particular service I’ve often already got someone in mind.

Personality is key

Whilst access to specialist skills is one of the main benefits of working with a freelancer, you’ll still need to consider whether their personality fits with yours. This not only makes the working relationship easier, it will get you better results. No matter what work you’re planning to outsource, communication is the key to getting it done well.

I’ve met and worked with all kinds of different business owners, but they all have one thing in common. I’ve found it easy to build a rapport with them. When I’m choosing service providers for my own business the only difference between two equally qualified people has often been that I like one better than the other.

Selection

Of course, there’s more to it than personality. It’s important to be upfront about what your budget is when you’re talking to people. This enables them to tell you whether you need more funds, to adjust your expectations. They might also be able to recommend someone else. It’s a waste of everyone’s time if a freelancer takes the time to prepare a quote only for you to find it’s double what you can afford.

Also, think about whether their working style is a good fit. You may simply need someone who gives you regular updates or uses resources that allow you to check progress. If you’re looking for coaching I’d also recommend looking at their whole approach. Some coaches help you to become more personally effective, others look at your whole business and deliver strategic operations to achieve growth. Which kind do you need?

If you’re ready to outsource your copywriting, get in touch and let’s have a chat. If you’re looking for a DIY approach, visit my online shop for resources that will help or sign up to my mailing list for monthly hints and tips as well as a copy of my free guide ‘Stop hiding your business! 5 ways to be seen online’ as a thank you.

Posted on Leave a comment

Why you need to outsource your blog

Is this your idea of fun? Why you need to outsource your blog.
Is this your idea of fun?
Image from Pixabay

It’s one of the most common misconceptions about blogging. “Shouldn’t I be writing that myself?” Well, if you’re writing as an individual about your personal life, yes. Otherwise, for most people, no. There are a couple of reasons why writing your own business blog is a good idea (I’ll come to those) but a few others which mean it’s a better idea to outsource. Here goes…

When writing it yourself is a great idea

If you’re writing a personal blog, it should be, well, personal. That probably also applies to influencer type bloggers too. However, if you’re writing a blog for your business it’s not necessarily about you. You’ll be talking about your business but focusing on what your customer needs or wants. However, when you first start out you’ll spend some time finding your way. There’ll be trial and error while you work out what people like and how you want to sound. You might even be working out where blogging fits in your marketing. If this describes you, keep writing. (If you’re struggling to get going because you need ideas, this book is for you.) If you eventually hand your blog over to a writer it’s much better for everyone if you have a clear style that your writer can adopt.

Help with talking to your customers

There will always be trial and error when it comes to blogging, but what if you’ve been trying for ages and getting mostly error? You know exactly what you want to say but it just doesn’t come out right. When you outsource and a writer can take random ideas from your head and turn them into sentences that sound like you (this is where ghost writing gets a bit spooky). The other benefit is that a writer or marketing expert isn’t part of your business. You might see something as boring and routine when it’s exactly what your customer needs to hear about. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking you to explain what’s in it for your customer or helping you to spot the things they don’t understand.

What’s your time worth?

Blogs are slippery little beasts because you never know who is watching. I’ve had new customers tell me that they love my blog but they’ve never visibly engaged with it. I’m telling you this because I know how disheartening it is to slave over a blog and get tumbleweed. It’s even worse if you’ve spent time on it that you could have spent having fun or doing something more productive. The truth is, if your analytics tell you that people are reading, it’s probably working. It builds your profile and it’s hard to put a figure on that. I pay a cleaner because I don’t want to spend my day off cleaning. If you resent the time you’re spending writing get it off your plate and go and play with your kids instead.

How much do you love writing?

If the days, hours or minutes you spend writing content for your business are an absolute joy, keep going. The more you do it, the better you get. If the time came when writing was competing with other things that are important to you, you might have to decide to let it go. If, on the other hand, you sit down to write with a sigh because you hate it, then stop. I know you might have to get some income into your business before you can do that, but you could make it something to aim for. Goals don’t just have to be about income. It could be ‘I want to earn enough to outsource my blog/pay someone to do my filing/ [insert your least favourite task here]’.

Are you ready to outsource your blog? Drop me an email and let’s have a chat (and if you just want to ask me how much it would cost so you can put a figure on your goal, that’s fine too).

50 blog post ideas for your business (if you're not ready to outsource)
Posted on Leave a comment

Networking: The business resource that keeps on giving

Networking - you are not alone

I’ve been thinking about the resources I use in my business a lot recently, trying to work out what’s working and what isn’t. I keep coming back to networking, mainly because business is often about who you know and partly because there are so many options. As I mentioned in this blog I’ve found that paid networking events have given me more solid relationships than free ones. But then I talk to other business owners and realise that not all networking is created equal. It got me wondering about the kind of networking I do and why it works for me.

Timing

There are so many networking event that you could feasibly spend all your time going to them, but you wouldn’t get much work done. The demands of family life rule out both breakfast and evening networking events for me which helps me narrow them down.

It means that I only go to daytime events, which has a massive impact on the kind of people I meet. They’re often senior employees of larger businesses, which usually means they have money to spend. (Yes, I’m totally capable of being mercenary.) I’ve also met people who’ve built up their side hustle or who threw themselves in at the deep end like me.

Connecting with people

Building a business is about creating relationships. Some of the people I’ve met networking have become customers, but others have become my unofficial ambassadors in their own networks.

My main networking group is women only and hugely supportive in lots of different ways. There’s always a listening ear and great advice. While approaches differ between business owners and employees, there’s still one common thread. We all promote each other, even though that’s not a requirement of membership. My network has widened because we mention each other on social media and attend each other’s events.

Follow up

My favourite networking groups have become my favourites because they make it easy to build relationships. I’ve no problem with making the time to follow up with new contacts individually, but it’s easy for your email (or theirs) to get lost in the midst of a heaving inbox.

While social media can be equally busy, the memberships with Facebook groups have brought more lasting relationships. Other members ask questions or share their content and the hive mind gets to work. People don’t just learn what you’re about in a chat over lunch, they see reminders all the time.

Other networking groups

I often turn down events because they don’t fit with my schedule or my budget. But I’ve also said no without really understanding why. I look at some of the people I’ve met over the years and marvel at the connections they have and the events they’re invited to. Often the only difference between us is that they’ve been in business for longer and have more contacts.

Yet sometimes I think I hold myself back through fear. What if they’re just better than me? Maybe they’re ‘proper’ business owners and I’m just someone who’s going to be found out one day? I think it’s something I need to address.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this, it’s to look at the events you’re going to (or not going to). Are they the right ones for you? Is avoiding some holding you back? The reason I tell you this story is not because I have a networking event to sell (I don’t), but because I hope it’ll help. It’s also because being honest and sharing my story has helped me to build my business and meet some amazing people along the way.

If you want some help sharing your story in the right way, just get in touch.

Posted on Leave a comment

Where do you need to spend money in your business?

Spend money in your business - image shows woman at laptop with credit card.
Image by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels.com

Let’s face it, when you’re a brand new start up it’s unlikely that you’ll be rolling in spare cash. Unless you’ve got a trust fund or have managed to attract a massive investment, there are going to be areas where you need to economise.  That doesn’t mean cutting corners. There are lots of free resources that you can use to build your business (I wrote about some of them here) and they can be amazing. Even if you’ve been in business for years prioritising your spending is hugely important. But if you’ve just started your business and are taking a DIY approach to things, there are still times when you need to spend money. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Coaching

Getting the right coaching has transformed my business. It’s helped me to set goals and learn what’s getting in the way of me reaching them. (Sometimes it’s my own brain.) It’s something that I couldn’t do by myself, so it’s been worth the money. I’m not going to tell you what kind of coach to choose as what works for me could be completely irritating to you. You can find everything from spiritual guidance to coaches who’ll create your business plan for you and everything in between. My coach never tells me what I ‘should’ do (which is good because I’m deeply stubborn). She challenges me and asks great questions which let me uncover what’s actually going on.

Training

Generally speaking, when you spend money to learn a specific skill it’s because the person offering it has invested time and money in knowing their stuff. It also means that you can ask questions if you need to. YouTube tutorials are great for smaller stuff but they won’t give you feedback if you get stuck. There’s also the fact that you’re fishing around to find what you need. There’s no-one to tell you if you’ve missed something important.

Of course, there could be things that you need to learn but where you don’t have the budget for one to one training. Online training and books can give you well organised, useful information for a fraction of the cost.

Branding

I hesitated over including this. Branding is important for building your profile but a full branding package can cost you serious money. You may not have that to spare when you first start and I’m not convinced that it’s always necessary.

If you’ve got a clear idea about who your customer is and how you want to be presented the right designer can work with you to create a logo and images to get you started. You can always change things later. It’s also worth investing in a few good quality photos that are unique to you. I asked a student friend to do mine – I saved some money and she got new shots for her portfolio.

Networking

When you get together with other business owners you create relationships that help you in all kinds of ways. I’ve experienced a definite difference between free and paid events. It could be because people who’ve paid want to get the best out of their sessions. In some cases a paid membership means that you need to attend regularly to get the most from it so you build better relationships. Maybe everyone’s just in it for a decent lunch! All I can say is that the people I’ve met at paid events are the ones who’ve turned into friends and supporters along the way.

So, where do you spend money in your business? Let me know in the comments.

50 blog post ideas eBook

Resources

Need some blog writing training? Find out more about my 121 and small group sessions here.

My no-nonsense, stubbornness defying coach is Jo Lee at Life Atlas Coaching.

If you’re a woman in business check out the Love Ladies Business Group for networking throughout the Midlands and in London.

Posted on Leave a comment

The top 5 marketing tools you need for your small business

Marketing tools - image shows a smartphone, laptop, glasses and coffee.
Image by Dominika Roseclay via Pexels.com

One of the biggest challenges a lot of us face as small business owners is knowing where to spend money. You might have some cash to invest in essential resources. Maybe your business depends on buying stock or equipment. But when it comes to marketing the choices can get a bit trickier. Do you pay someone to do it for you or buy some tools and take the DIY option? If there’s a free and a paid option which is worth having? (I’ll be talking about that one in another post.)

I take the view that it’s always worth doing your own marketing to start with, so you can get a feel for what works. Here are some of my favourite marketing tools to get you started.

Creating graphics

Great images will help your posts stand out on social media as well as making your website look good. I use Canva to put my brand colours and logo on my images as well as creating quotes, memes and all manner of other stuff. The free version is fab and there’s a premium option if you need more features.

It’s worth paying for your own photos but I supplement mine with copyright free images from Pexels and Unsplash.

Email marketing tools

I’m with Mailchimp, even though the recent changes mean that some of the features that used to be free to new subscribers aren’t any more. I’ve heard a lot of recommendations for Mailerlite’s free account and also for Active Campaign as a paid option.

When you choose, look at the advanced features too. You might not need them yet but it’s much easier to move to a paid version of something you already know than to shift to a whole new platform further down the line.

Know your numbers

You might not think of analytics platforms as marketing tools, but they are. Being able to see where your customers and enquiries are coming from means that you can focus your marketing there. You can track which pages get the most traffic and what people visited on their way to your contact page. Your business social media accounts have their own analytics functions to tell you which posts were the most popular.

Of course, this doesn’t rule out the possibility that you get a message from someone who hasn’t interacted at all, but it’s still a good guide.

Planning and scheduling

Planning your marketing stops you from winging it and creating social media posts in a panic. I have a marketing planner from The Girls Mean Business where I can map out what I’m promoting at any given time and what posts I’m going to create to tell people about it. Then I tick each post off when I’ve created and scheduled it.

Ah yes, scheduling. Scheduling platforms are great marketing tools as they allow you to spend a few hours creating posts to go out later. Then you know it’s all done and you can move on to something else. I use the inbuilt Facebook scheduler and Hootsuite for everything else.

Get some help

There is tons of information out there to teach you how to market your business. It ranges from completely free to really expensive, with the cost often depending on how much the person selling it does for you. Free is great but you might have to spend time wading through information that doesn’t help you that much before you find something useful.

Alternatively, you might want to buy a book or sign up for a course that organises the information for you and offers a bit of support as well. That way you spend less time searching and more getting organised.

50 blog post ideas ebook

Further reading

There are loads of useful marketing tools out there – this great blog from Hubspot has a few more.

For more on knowing your numbers read this.

Posted on Leave a comment

Are we really pivoting?

Are we pivoting? White arrow on purple background.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I know, I know, I’m sorry – I’m sorry if you’ve heard the word ‘pivot’ far too many times in the last couple of months. I’m definitely tired of it (along with ‘unprecedented’) but if I’m going to face the thing I have to use the word. So. Are you pivoting? I keep getting it mixed up with pirouetting. That may actually be a better choice. If you feel as if you haven’t stopped spinning you’re not alone.

Pivoting has become a key term because a lot of us have had to consider it. Whole industries have come to a standstill overnight. Some are eligible for Government support but others aren’t. We’ve all got bills to pay and mouths to feed. I started pondering the actions I’ve taken since lockdown and what I’ve seen other businesses do. What’s been happening for you?

Are we pivoting or just readjusting?

To a word geek like me, pivoting means turning in a completely new direction. This has clearly been necessary for a lot of people. I’ve seen friends whose work has disappeared overnight apply for all kinds of jobs. Delivery drivers and grocery shop workers are in higher demand than ever before.

For the rest of us, it’s possible that we’ve just changed the way we do things. Your business might be able to continue online rather than in person. I’ve done online networking and a friend’s yoga class is now taking place over Zoom. My eight year old’s guitar lesson and football sessions have gone virtual as well. Virtual football coaching with a kid hurtling around the garden is quite an experience! The great thing is, we’re able to continue even if some bits have changed.

Getting creative

For some of us, adapting has meant getting creative. Pubs have started offering takeaways – I’ve even had a socially distanced gin delivery! My personal favourite was the lady who is painting rainbows on people’s windows. She’d normally be creating beautiful hand painted signs and chalkboards for shops and events, now she’s cheering people up at home.

My business has always been online, so it’s mostly business as usual. (Apart from the fact that I’m currently home schooling two under 10s.) The trouble is, some of the businesses I work with are struggling. It’s made me look at creating new products that will help without breaking the bank. What’s more, they’ll still be there when we go back to whatever the new normal turns out to be.

Is this a pivot?

Even though I’m creating new things and have adjusted my working week to fit around the kids, I’m not actually pivoting. I’m doing the same thing I was doing before, writing words and trying to help other business owners. All the same, things have changed. It’s not that long ago that I swore blind I was never going to create any kind of digital product. It all seemed like far too much work. Creating something I could sell wasn’t too much of a stretch. I just had to get over my horror of generic content by creating something semi-generic.

The real challenge was the techy bit. How on earth was I going to set up an online shop that would actually take money without me being involved? Well, I’ve done it. Turns out that the people who make shop software want small businesses to be able to use it so they make it easy. I know, who would have thought it?

Are you pivoting or just adjusting? Whatever your experience I’d love to hear about it so please share in the comments.

Further reading

This is my third dispatch from the realms of self-isolation. Here’s the first. And the second.

Also, if you’re in the Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire area and would like your windows painted with rainbows here’s the lady to talk to.

If you’re looking for a shot in the arm for your business marketing, sign up to my email list for blogging and content tips straight to your inbox. You’ll also receive a free copy of my guide ‘Stop hiding your business’ as a thank you.



Posted on Leave a comment

What is PR?

What is PR - guest blog

PR (Public Relations) is a long-term promotional strategy aimed at building authority and influence over time. It’s a form of marketing that can be used to generate positive awareness of a company or brand and its products or services.

“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.”

– Chartered Institute of Public Relations

I like to think of public relation as a form of ‘attraction’ marketing. You can attract people to you, and your brand through PR.  

Rather than pushing out a promotional message saying how great you are, in the form of an advert for example, PR is focused on helping others come to that conclusion themselves through what they have seen and heard from others.

Those ‘others’ might be the media, it might be celebrities/influencers/industry leaders, or it might be through other people – friends and family etc.

I particularly like this quote because I feel it states the difference between advertising and PR really well:

“Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.” – Jean Louis Gasse

While advertising messages are biased to highlight the positives of a particular product or service, in contrast, people speaking highly of you or perceiving you as an expert based on something they’ve read, heard or seen, is more persuasive and therefore more powerful. 

What PR is not

PR is NOT…

  1. …advertising

You earn it, rather than pay for it. PR is about reputation and this has to be earnt and is developed over a period of time.

  • …a quick fix

My suggestion would be that if you need to sell a certain amount of product or service quickly, advertise rather than rely on PR. Positive goodwill and media publicity shouldn’t be relied upon to generate sales, especially not within a short time frame.

  • …a guarantee of business success

You can generate a ton of positive press coverage about you and your business, and be highly regarded by potential customers, peers and other third parties, but still not have a successful, profitable business.

Rather than rely solely on PR, I believe businesses should use it alongside other forms of marketing. PR should be part of an integrated marketing strategy, where all aspects of marketing work simultaneously alongside each other.

Why should businesses use PR? 

PR can be used by business owners to promote who they are and what they do, to establish and protect their image and reputation, and to build credibility and influence. In my mind, the potential benefits far outweigh the costs!

For example, being featured in the media is attractive to business owners, and rightly so! There is a vast number of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV programmes, websites, online publications, blogs, podcasts and video channels out there, all hungry for fresh and relevant content. The opportunities are there for the taking!

By using PR tactics such as press releases, networking with journalists, and pitching story ideas to the media, you can put yourself on the radar of journalists who are seeking content and potentially gain valuable exposure for your brand and your products and services.

Leveraging the power of the media, which has large, established audiences, is a great way to increase your visibility, build your reputation, grow your audience, attract new email subscribers, and sell more of your products and services.

Of course, this can be great for your business!

What are some of the benefits of PR?

There are loads! These are just some further ways that you could benefit:

1. PR is more credible than advertising.

 If a newspaper, magazine or online publisher has chosen to include you within a piece of content they produce, then they are effectively endorsing you and your brand.

 Although you don’t have complete control over how your company is presented in the media, a positive editorial mention, for sure, packs a far greater punch than an advert in the credibility stakes.

2. Potential reach

My local paper has a circulation of around 19,000 and is read by over 50,000 people every day. National and online publications reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. So, being featured in the media helps you and your business to get exposure to a potentially huge audience.

3. PR exposure is free but worth a lot of money

 Advertising is expensive. Ads in magazines and newspapers costing anything from hundreds to tens of thousands of pounds to take out. The Daily Mail charges between £20k-£60k for a full-page advert!

In contrast, publicity in the media is free. Yes, there is the cost of your time and effort to secure the publicity (or the cost of a PR expert if you choose to outsource), but this can pale in comparison to the equivalent cost of an advert within that same publication.

4. Boosts your SEO

Getting a mention and having your website linked to from a high domain authority site, such as that of a newspaper or media outlet, can help you rank on Google.

Not only that, but the fact that online press coverage remains published forever (unless it’s taken down at some point) is working for you all year round and helping you and your brand name to get discovered in organic search.

Is PR suitable for every business?

Yes, in my opinion, PR can and should be used by businesses of all sizes.

If you have a service-based business or have expertise in a particular area, journalists writing on that topic could be interested in hearing what you know. If you have a product-based business, it could potentially be the perfect fit for a product round-up type feature or gift guide.  

There is likely to be a journalist out there right now looking for exactly the kind of content that you can provide! 

Isn’t PR expensive though?

An independent PR consultant or freelancer, like myself, would be the most flexible and more affordable option for most small businesses. PR agencies, working on retainers, can cost multiple thousands if not tens of thousands of pounds per month, and you’ll typically need to commit to a six-month retainer at a minimum.

To minimise the cost of PR, many small business owners do their own, as they might also do their own email marketing, social media marketing or accounting. But if PR isn’t something that you understand how to do or don’t enjoy, then outsourcing can often be the more cost-effective option and help you can achieve results more quickly.  

What are your three top PR tips for small business owners?

1. Recognise that you are an expert

Many business owners doubt their own expertise and don’t consider themselves worthy of being featured in the media. I would say, aim to fight the inner critic that is telling you that you aren’t an expert in your niche. Adopt a positive mindset and recognise the value that you can offer journalists.  

2. Prep before you pitch

Before pitching yourself to the media, read the publications that you are trying to target and become familiar with their regular features and which journalists work on which sections of the publication. Develop a deep understanding of the publication, its target audience and the kind of content that they typically run so that you can align your PR pitch accordingly.

3. Recognise that PR is about serving journalists

The media doesn’t exist to promote your business. They don’t give away their valuable media space lightly.   Journalists want genuine news, credible experts and, usually, timely responses. Aim to serve journalists and that effort could reward you with a positive piece of money-can’t-buy coverage for your small business!

PR takes time and effort to implement. It is a long-term, rather than a short-term, promotional strategy. Yet, it can potentially reap great rewards. I hope I’ve excited you about the possibilities!

Any professional photographers reading are welcome to join Zoe’s free Facebook community, ‘PR-Savvy Photographers’ for PR and content marketing tips, support and accountability.

Zoe Hiljemark is a PR and content consultant with 16 years of marketing communications experience. She works exclusively with professional photographers, helping them to attract, connect with and convert dream clients via impactful publicity and content.

www.zoehiljemark.com

Posted on Leave a comment

Are you winning at email marketing?

Woman with a cup of coffee checking her email marketing on a laptop.

Email marketing is officially still alive (and if you don’t believe me, read this). But how do you get it right? There are (of course) lots of different approaches you could take. Some of my favourite emails are written like letters, giving you an insight into the writer’s life. They always make a point but there’s usually a personal story behind the advice. Others have a mixture of behind the scenes insight and advice. As with any other kind of content, the most important thing is to offer something useful that fits with your brand and that your audience will enjoy. There are also a few best practice rules that you should pay attention to. Here are just a few.

Be helpful

Before you send any email marketing, ask yourself why you’re sending it. Yes, I know you want to sell stuff but that shouldn’t be your only focus. People are much more likely to buy from you if they know you want to help them rather than just rake in the cash. So, you could explain why a particular service might help them, or talk about ways to do it themselves. You could talk about practical steps to take – I’ve seen some great ones from accountants covering the Covid-19 financial support. I always view it as offering my services but enabling people to do it themselves if they need to.

Show behind the scenes

There are some emails that don’t feel like email marketing. It’s more like an update about what’s happening in their life before mentioning something you might want to buy at the end. Laura Belgray (aka Talking Shrimp) is great at this. Of course, that might not suit your style. I show glimpses of my life but don’t talk about every detail. Showing your customers what goes on behind the scenes doesn’t have to involve sharing personal details. You could tell them what events you’ve been to or where they can meet you in person. That said, the more they see you as a human being, the more likely they are to trust you.

Create a good subject line

A good subject line can mean your email gets opened rather than deleted. Just like good headlines, a good subject line should be relevant to the subject and have good emotional resonance. Even the most conservative audience will respond to it. It can also be a good idea to personalise your subject line using the recipient’s name. I’m hearing some suggestions that using emojis in your subject line can increase open rates. I think this probably depends on your audience and their views on emojis generally. I like them but not everyone does.

Whatever approach you take at first, it isn’t set in stone. Experiment and change things to see what works for you.

Get the basics right

Good design is important but doesn’t have to be complicated. Have you ever been put off reading an email because the design was so fussy it made it hard to read? Kind of defeats the point. Keep your design simple but with some appealing images – basically the same approach you’d take to the rest of your marketing. Most email marketing platforms allow you to check how your email looks on mobiles. A lot of people will read on their phones so check it doesn’t get scrambled.

Also, one final note. Pay attention to GDPR. There is loads of guidance out there, especially from the ICO, so make sure you follow it.

Further reading

Test your headlines for emotional resonance with the Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyser.

Power words to use in your subject lines.

If you’d like to receive fabulous marketing tips straight to your inbox, including hints on email marketing, blogging and much more, you can subscribe using the form below. You’ll also receive a copy of my free guide helping you to get your business seen online.

Posted on Leave a comment

Is email marketing dead?

Email marketing with an image of a blank laptop and coffee.

How many emails are currently sitting in your inbox, unopened or otherwise ignored? We subscribe to so many different things, ticking the box to accept email marketing because we like the look of a free download or a special offer. Then the emails start to land… The thing is, if we feel like this as business owners, why on earth would we bother with email marketing ourselves? Who on earth is actually reading? If you’re tempted to give up writing your email newsletter (or just not bother starting) here’s why you might want to change your mind.

The right people are still reading

There are techniques you can use to encourage people to open your emails (more on that later) and to keep them reading once they’ve opened. The key is to be helpful. Email is a great marketing tool but it shouldn’t just be about marketing. You can share knowledge and advice that will be useful to your customers in the same way as you do in your blog. The people who like what you’re saying will keep reading even if they don’t buy straight away. They might be keeping in touch, knowing that they want to work with you when the conditions are right for them. Or they could just be waiting for the right offer to come along.

The numbers are on your side

This helpful post from Optinmonster gives some great, detailed statistics around email use in the US. As depressing as it may be at this point, we tend to follow them pretty closely (plus I couldn’t find any UK-specific stats – sorry about that.) More than 90% of people have email (even my Mum and she resisted for years). Mobile apps give us the opportunity to check our emails even more frequently. Even teenagers are still using email despite having access to multiple messaging platforms. Email even outperforms social media for engagement. Generally speaking, as long as you don’t go into spam you’re pretty much guaranteed to be seen via email. How often can you say that about Facebook?

You’re in control of your list

There will be a few subscribers who never open your emails but don’t unsubscribe. What do you do about them? That’s where list cleaning comes in. If people aren’t reading, they aren’t helping you. Removing inactive subscribers means you’ll only be emailing people who are interested in you. Your open rates will improve and that reduces your chances of ending up in the spam folder.

Your email marketing platform statistics will tell you who’s opening and who isn’t. If anyone hasn’t opened an email in the last 60 days, get rid of them. You might want to give them a final chance, say by sending a final email letting them know you’re going to remove them unless they choose to stay. Chances are they won’t read that one either.

Getting email marketing right

The beauty of being a small business owner is that you can make decisions quickly. If something in your email marketing isn’t working you don’t have to consult with a committee to try something new. Maybe you started out with a sign up form inviting people to subscribe to receive exclusive offers or tips. If that approach didn’t work, or just ran out of steam, try something else. Perhaps you need a new offer to tempt people in, a free download or a tutorial video. Ask your existing subscribers what they would find useful, or talk to your network. That enables you to create freebies that will tempt people in and to write emails that help your audience.

If you’d like to receive fabulous marketing tips straight to your inbox, including hints on email marketing, blogging and much more, you can subscribe using the form below. You’ll also receive a copy of my free guide helping you to get your business seen online.

Posted on 2 Comments

How to stay sane by using exercise at home

Being in lockdown and having restrictions placed on our movement is going to affect us all in different ways. If you’re like me just the knowledge that you can’t go anywhere is enough to sometimes bring on that feeling of suffocation. I might not have actually had any major plans but knowing I can’t spontaneously decide on a day out and then just go is a little stifling!

So what about all those really simple things that we took for granted before like visiting family, going to the shops or going to the gym or out for a run? We can’t do most of these things now either let alone those bigger outings or holidays.

A picture containing indoor, ceiling, room, table

Description automatically generated

Up and down the UK gyms are standing empty and thousands of people are wondering how they can continue to stay fit and exercise on a regular basis.

The quick reaction would be to get out for a walk or go for a run during the one exercise period we’re each allowed every day but it’s not always as simple at that. Maybe you’re on the high risk register and you’re not allowed out at all, maybe you have been displaying symptoms and you need to fully isolate. Maybe you have seen floods of people all deciding to suddenly take up running so social distancing seems hard. Or maybe like so many other people I have spoken to you just don’t want to risk being out away from your home when you absolutely don’t need to be.

A group of people getting exercise running down a highway

Don’t panic, you can still exercise at home, stay fit and help to protect your mental health at the same time.

Here are my top 3 tips for being active at home:

  1. Put together a simple routine using only your own body weight, there are lots of moves you can do at home. Why not give this a try, repeat the whole routine 2-3 times.
    1. 15 squats
    1. 15 lunges (each side)
    1. 30 seconds star jumps
    1. 30 seconds high-knees
    1. 15 squat jumps
    1. 15 push ups
    1. 30 seconds jogging on the spot
    1. 30 seconds mountain climbers
  2. Turn up some music and dance around the living room for a crazy 20 minutes
  3. If you have a garden put a couple of things out to mark a set distance and then do shuttle runs between them, you don’t even have to just run. Try the following and aim for 20 minutes total.
    1. Run
    1. Skip
    1. Hop
    1. Jump
    1. Frog jump
    1. Bear crawl
    1. Side step

The key is to have some fun and create some variety. By still exercising at home you can stay fit, get fitter if that’s your goal and of course continue to support your mental health through the release of “happy hormones”. Let’s not forget that by creating fun and imaginative ways to stay active at home we can also keep the boredom at bay.

I’d love to hear how you are staying active – you can reach me at lbland81@gmail.com and of course if you need some support right now then head on over to my website for some more ideas and access to some very yummy healthy recipes www.laurab-fitnessmentor.com