7 months and 17 days. WOW! Pufferfish Marketing has been in operation that long! I'm amazed at how quickly the time has passed. I spent a bit of time today working "on" my business as opposed to working "in" it, and it probably couldn't have come at a better time.
Whilst I've got a list of great clients that I'm really happy working with, sometimes the "working from home" thing can feel a little like being locked in a dark room. I have to remember to get up, and get out from time to time! That said, I was really surprised when I realised that I've been working from home for 7 months now! Time does fly.
I started looking at my list of clients (you can find some of them here) and it was quite a large list - and quite diverse too! So I'm feeling a lot more energised now, and ready to tackle the next few months.
My aim, however, is to be a lot more active online in different forums; Flying Solo, LinkedIn Groups and keep reminding myself that there are a lot of people out there on their own too! My partner, HMS Print Management has a number of ideas on setting up for small business using low cost or no-cost methods. Whilst Facebook can sometimes be a distraction, I get quite a lot of information from different groups (like Flying Solo) , so if you're looking for inspiration, give Social Media Platforms a try - and look out for me when you're there!
It's been a while since I've done a blog, and this will be quick, as I'm about to dash off to a meeting. But one thing that's been on my mind quite a lot lately is the importance of color! I've been working with a few different clients, which is great, and in designing their brochures, or creating their logos I have really had to consider going back to basics and remembering what feelings are evoked when looking at particular colors! For example, a lovely lovely client of mine is using bright yellow as a background, and when I first looked at it I winced and strongly suggested to them that they changed it. When I understood their reasonings, it started to make more sense. I've spent so much time in the corporate world where white space is absolutely considered to be white space, so looking at the world in a different way has been really interesting!
So what kind of feelings do you get when you consider colors? How about bright green? I see green as being natural (the obvious one), but also it encourages stimulation! Many interior designers say that bright green should never be used in a bedroom as it will keep you awake! What about red? How many companies use red as a call to action? Red screams at you - it tells you to go and do it! Think of Red spot specials and discount tickets. They are often red.
So when you are starting off in business, or looking to do a new promotion, think about what you want your piece to be saying. And use color to subtly give your reader that message.
Would love to hear what other people's ideas are on different colors!
I recently caught up with a lovely lady that a number of years ago assisted me in revamping the Quality Management System for the company I was working for. Jane is a Quality Management consultant and we spent quite a deal of our catch up discussing the age old problem of why people seem to think that quality is such a BIG DEAL!
Implementing a quality management system like ISO 9001 can be daunting, yes, but often it's more about the perception than the reality. The reality is that a quality system should reflect what you do every day, but also show that you've considered all aspects of the service or products that you provide. For example, that you have clear objectives and goals for your organisation, that you understand, listen to, and act on customer feedback, that you document and keep important records like personnel files, invoices, customer records - oh - and that you keep your data secure!
The reason I chose Jane all those years ago was because she reflected my views on quality; that it could be practical, it should be part of business practice - not just something that's done on the side to satisfy an auditor, and it could be developed in ways that suit your own business (not a series of folders sitting on a shelf collecting dust in the back room).
Since that first introduction to practical quality management, I've helped two other organisations implement great quality systems. One has since been certified (with no non-conformances!), and the other simply uses those principles to ensure that they provide great services to their clients. You don't necessarily need to obtain certification to get value out of ISO 9001!
If you are looking for guidance on ensuring quality outcomes for customers, then you should consider ISO 9001. It helps you to see any gaps or flaws in your processes, ensures you keep the right documentation and focuses you on customer feedback. Give me a buzz if you'd like to know more about ISO 9001 - or if you're already looking at it, take a look at Jane's website: www.mapwright.com.au. She has a DIY 9001 Kit that can help too!
Last week I did 'handover' of my Quality Assurance Officer role to the 2014 kinder committee. Yep, I was on the kinder committee this year - and for most of it, really enjoyed the experience. Yet what really surprised me, on the night where the new committee members were appointed, was how many people (and by people you can insert the word 'women' in this instance) lacked the confidence and belief in themselves to take up a voluntary position in the kindergarten! The number of times I heard "how hard is it?", "do you think I can do it?" and "I'm not sure I have the skills to do it" was really surprising to me. (I was also surprised at the lack of men putting their hand up for positions, but that's another story!)
How often do we lack belief in ourselves to the point where we don't even make the effort to try?
It never ceases to amaze me how many women, particularly once they've had kids and potentially been out of the workforce for a little while, lack the confidence to give things a go. I was there too - and even when I started up Pufferfish Marketing I was terrified and wondered whether I could actually do it or not! But what's the point of living if you don't try new stuff?
I realised that I really did know something about marketing, and I was able to provide help and support to others, that perhaps knew all the same stuff as me, but didn't want to (or were simply unable to) devote the time to it. What I learned was that I didn't have to know more or be better than others in a lot of cases, I just had to be willing and able to get my hands dirty and get the job done. And that is something that has been valued more than anything else I offer!
So the moral of this story is not really about kindergarten committees (you do learn a lot from them!) or Pufferfish Marketing . It's about positivity, confidence and support. I encourage every person out there to give something new a go! Perhaps don't try Rocket Science if you haven't studied it, but try something new! It can be as simple as cooking a new recipe, but the point is - give it a go!
And perhaps even more importantly, if you see someone out there giving it a go - support them! Remember that whilst they might not be showing it on the outside, they are probably just as nervous as you would be if you were in their shoes.
I have had a week so different from so many weeks before it I felt compelled to share it!
This week I have stopped. Yep, stopped.
I put aside my terrors of starting my own business, and wondering about where that next job is going to come from and finally realised that sitting in front of my computer stressing about it wasn't really helping.
So I stopped. And I found peace.
And yes, for those people that know me - my kids were out of the house last night in particular, so it was very, very peaceful!
I've been working pretty much non-stop in the last month, mainly on client work, which is great, but also on getting Pufferfish off the ground. I've also been busy on the kinder committee and having a rather large birthday party done and dusted (which was great fun!)
I know there are heaps of articles out there that tell you that you need to take time out, and I always read them, but don't actually practice what they preach. This week, by actually stopping and not even OPENING my laptop this weekend I became much more productive during the day, and then felt relaxed enough to go to sleep without my mind racing about all the things I had to do the next day! It was great!
Yes, I do need more work, and I do need to get out there and find it, but finding it doesn't mean sitting at my computer at 9.30 at night after the kids have gone to bed. I have started taking notes and getting on with it the next day.
As one of those people that can't help but check emails every second of the day, this is a big step. It has enabled me to see that there can be a work/life balance even when you have your own business, and that every minute of every day does not have to be devoted to "doing something related to work". I think my kids will appreciate it, but I know that my mind and body will love it!
Now the trick is to keep it up...... stay tuned!
Hopefully I'm preaching to the converted here, but I think there are a few little fish out there that are not getting the most out of their customer base.
It's important to go back to basics and remember that once someone has purchased something from you once, if the purchasing process was positive, chances are they will buy from you again!
You don't have to wait for them to come to you though! Why not look at a strategy for inviting your customers back to visit you often! Here are a couple of examples of what you can do:
If your business involves shipping product to your customers:
If your business is service oriented:
In most cases, the use of social media is designed to draw people to your website and to encourage them to purchase your product or service. Whenever you send out information, whether it be electronic or in hard copy, make sure that the piece is branded well and clearly shows the company's web site. For example, advertise a great offer or promotion on Facebook, but ensure that the customer has to click through to your website to see more. Who knows what other products they might purchase whilst looking through the site? Branding and consistency is also key - make sure that all your collateral has a similar look and feel which will help in recalling the company name or web address down the track!
If you'd like further advice on looking after your customers, consider me your new BFF! Give me a buzz!
I saw a question posed on LinkedIn the other day that asked this question. I found it strange because right away my answer is that you need to focus on both! But it got me thinking... are there any reasons why you should focus on one or the other?
It really does depend on what you are trying to achieve. If, for example, you are selling product on your website, then your social media should drive people to your site. So which one is more important? I'd say both! Your website has to be up to date and contain relevant content, but social media is the best way to inform people about the existence of your site.
If your website is all about raising awareness, then I think the answer is slightly different, but we end up at the same conclusion. Social Media AND the website will therefore be doing the same thing. However, a website enables you to provide more information than social media can offer. For example, instagram allows you to post a picture and a comment, Facebook allows you to post a status, and as for Twitter, well, you're limited to just a handful of characters! Of course there are many more options but I think you get the drift. Your website will give you more room to promote your product, service, or cause - and potentially promote it in different ways to different audiences! But again, you have to have some way of driving people to your site, so social media is an excellent vehicle for this.
If you think you only have time to do one or the other, I think you need to re-address the way you divide your time. There are plenty of tools out on the market that allow you to link your social media to each other, so potentially you only need to post something once, and it populates across the different platforms you have chosen. So keep that website up to date, and consider posting when you've updated your site - do you have a new product or service, or is there a special offer you're promoting for the month? Whilst many sites state that you must be putting information up on social media frequently - like 3 -4 times a day, you are much better off posting relevant and up to date content when it is available than just posting because "you were told you should do it that way".
IS WHAT YOU'RE DOING EFFECTIVE?
If you haven't looked into Google Analytics or Webmaster tools (or plenty of other tools out there), it might be time to do so. There's no point continually posting information if no one's looking at it! Then it is truly a waste of your time. You might be making lots of sales, but if this is the case, then it's not from your social media or website strategy! (Imagine what you could be achieving if your online strategies worked??!!)
Make a plan, stick to it for a couple of months, and regularly keep track of who's looking at what. If it's not working, consider another strategy! And don't just expect that because you're paying someone to do it for you, that it is being done, and it's working! Ask to see the reports of effectiveness, and if they can't show you that what they are doing is making a difference, then it's definitely time for a change.
So after all that rambling, the answer to my question is BOTH! But what do you think?
I have to admit it. I'm one of those people that sees a sign, no matter where it is, and immediately notices the bad spelling or grammar! I'm sure we've all seen them and groaned! What fascinates me is that there are people out there making money from bad signage!!
What's with people not understanding the difference between' your' and 'you're'? Or there, they're and their? Or my personal favorite: "Loose 5 kilos in 5 days". I don't know about you, but having loose kilos does not sound appealing. I'd rather lose them, thanks very much!
I'm a stickler for spelling, and can't understand why it can go so wrong! Computer programs are fully equipped with spell checkers, and I'll almost always ask someone to check my spelling before I send something out - unless it's absolutely urgent!
Whilst some people won't care that you've spelt something wrong, trust me, I will! I'd prefer to find another supplier that has made enough of an effort to get things right. It's a small thing, but in a world where we are all competing against each other to generate leads and win over more customers, why not take that extra 5 minutes to check if your sentence is correct? Or ask someone to help!
Beware those that don't get it right - you may see me growling at you as I pass by! Grrrrrrrr!
So many people in small businesses are time poor or don't understand the rapidly changing landscape of marketing, particularly how they can best use online marketing to their advantage. Here's a collection of ramblings designed to help those little fish out there!