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Beyond Profit: The Purpose-Driven Journey of a Social Enterprise

Beyond Profit: The Purpose-Driven Journey of a Social Enterprise

In this article we are joined by Mel, the heart and soul behind Social Care Solutions , a local Social Enterprise. Unlike traditional businesses where the focus is on profit, a Social Enterprise operates at the unique intersection of commerce and social good, with the goal of creating positive change in society while generating sustainable income. A Social Enterprise is not a non-profit; it is a dynamic entity engineered to generate sustainable income while delivering impactful social change. We'll hand over to Mel to take us through the ins and outs of running a Social Enterprise. What Makes a Social Enterprise Different? Running a social enterprise in the current economic climate can be a challenging, yet rewarding, experience. I am the founder, owner and CEO of Social Care Solutions, a child protection consultancy company delivering tailored, innovative solutions in the human services sector across Australia and Aotearoa. While my company is technically a for-profit company, we prefer the term ‘for-purpose’ because, while we aren’t a charity, we do not seek to make excessive profits. We do not have a board, we do not have shareholders as such; our stakeholders are the clients we built the company for in the first instance. All the profits we do make are churned back into the company to expand our service and delivery options, so we can better meet our brand promise -  Driven by purpose, powered by passion, we are change-makers committed to creating safer futures for children . The very thought of being ‘profitable’ in the child protection space is on the nose. But of course, companies which are fiscally responsible, accountable and achieving their objectives typically do so because they are efficient and effective. Making money to be viable is a critical part of the business being successful and being able to grow and expand. With the senior leadership team at SCS all coming from the government and non-government sectors previously, we’ve seen the waste and bureaucracy that can come from working in that space. Not always, and without meaning, waste happens. However, when your profit margins are tied to being customer-centric and client focused, you work smarter, not harder, to meet those commitments. The more efficient and effective we are, the more work we gain, as our reputation proceeds us and word-of-mouth speaks to our passion and drive. As a social enterprise, we then get to use those profits to do more work, effect more change and do more creative, innovative work to address some of the gaps of the systems in which we work. We give back to charities and support not-for-profits to meet their objectives, having team development days, social events and charity fundraisers for the breast cancer survivors, medical research, domestic violence services and other personal passion projects our team identifies.  A key difference for us is we hire team members who have lived experience, as they enrich us and the work we do. We have a 97% female team, with a full female executive. We hire mothers returning to work post maternity leave, foster and kinship carers, people with disabilities or those who are carers of children or partners with disabilities. We have a number of practitioners with lived experience in mental health, disability, regional/remote, LGBTQIA+ First Nations and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Our beautiful, diverse team is possible because we ensure our team members, no matter who they are, why they are here, where they live or how they live, they have a place with us. This may mean putting in more supports, adding more resources, offering more training and provision of professional development, but this is all central to our business being a social enterprise. We are guided by a social purpose, not profit. We are here to enrich, support and sustain our community, our families, our children. And I cant think of a better way to work. Written by Mel James Chief Executive Officer Social Care Solutions

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The Enduring Power of Live Events: Creating Connections Through Experiential Marketing

The Enduring Power of Live Events: Creating Connections Through Experiential Marketing

In today's digital age, consumers crave authentic experiences beyond the screen. Traditional marketing methods, while informative, sometimes need an extra something-something to create lasting connections. This is where experiential marketing thrives. So, in this article, we have asked the amazing Caragh from Triangle House to give us a run-down on experiential marketing. *** Experiential marketing focuses on crafting unique, interactive experiences for consumers. These impactful events and activations foster deeper connections between brands and their audiences, and positive interaction with your brand has a long-lasting impact on your customer loyalty. We see this all the time, but the effectiveness of experiential marketing is backed by some compelling statistics: Memorable Moments Mean More Customers People remember experiences more vividly than information. A recent study by Market Splash showed that experiential marketing capitalises on this by creating engaging events that leave a lasting impression. In fact, it reports that 74% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand after participating in a positive branded event experience.   Interaction Equals 3x Higher Return on Investment Experiential marketing allows consumers to interact with products or services in a fun and interactive setting. This can overcome purchase hesitation and lead to increased sales. A study by the Event Marketing Institute found that experiential marketing campaigns generate a 3x higher ROI than traditional marketing efforts.   Positive experiences don't just create loyal customers; they create brand advocates. The most important part of an activation is that it can surprise and delight the end-user, which means thinking outside the box.   When done right, experiential marketing inspires people to share their experiences with others, both online and offline. This organic word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly valuable, as it leverages people's trust in their peers. Brand activations that are engaging and share-worthy become social media sensations and conversation starters, propelling your brand further into the public eye.   What makes a great activation? Tailored Experiences Customisation is important. Just because something worked for someone else does not mean a campaign will work for your business. It is important to take the time to understand your unique needs and target audience to develop an experiential marketing campaign specifically designed to resonate with them.   Innovation The key to standing out in a crowded market is innovation. This means constantly pushing the boundaries and thinking creatively to develop unique experiences that capture attention.  As mentioned earlier, surprise is crucial in creating memorable experiences. Finding novel ways to incorporate unexpected elements or interactions into an activation can create buzz and generate excitement among consumers.   Community Focus Don’t underestimate the power of community engagement, especially for a locally-owned business. Experiential marketing campaigns go beyond brand promotion and aim to create lasting positive impacts on the communities they touch.   This can involve incorporating local elements, partnering with community organisations, or designing activations that leave a positive physical footprint.   Integration Experiential marketing is most effective when it is integrated with other marketing efforts. This means incorporating social media, influencer partnerships, and other digital strategies into your campaign. This expands the reach of your activation and allows for greater engagement and brand exposure.    Experiential marketing is not just a trend; it's a proven method for building strong and lasting connections with consumers. By creating memorable experiences, fostering interaction, and staying innovative, brands can use experiential marketing to stand out in today's crowded market and cultivate loyal customers who will continue to advocate for their brand.   Written by Caragh Bradbery, Co-Founder at Triangle House About At Triangle House, we translate your brand vision into unforgettable experiences through creative events and activations. We have a proven track record of success, having partnered with numerous corporations and government agencies to connect with their target audiences and achieve their marketing goals. Our team is a powerhouse of creativity. We've garnered national marketing awards with our client for activations like the "Butterfly House", which not only boosted foot traffic for our client but also became a cherished and engaging experience for the community. Reach out for a chat about how we can craft a unique and engaging event that resonates with your community and ignites a spark of connection.

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The Great Expense Escape: Laughing All the Way to Profit Paradise!

The Great Expense Escape: Laughing All the Way to Profit Paradise!

Hey there, fellow entrepreneurs! Are you ready to sprinkle a little magic into your business and watch your profits soar? As your friendly neighbourhood business coach, I'm here to share some tried-and-true strategies that will have you dancing to the sweet melody of increased profitability in no time. Cost Reduction: Let's talk about trimming the fat, shall we? No, I'm not talking about your waistline after indulging in one too many sausage rolls (although, who can resist?). I'm talking about identifying those sneaky expenses that are gobbling up your hard-earned cash. Take a closer look at your operations and get creative with cost-cutting measures. Remember, every penny saved is a penny earned!  Reducing all of your costs by just 1 or 2 per cent will have a massive over all impact.  One clever strategy is negotiating better deals with suppliers or exploring alternative sourcing options.  This can help you reduce costs without compromising product quality and all it takes is 5 minutes and a phone call! Increasing Turnover: Picture this: a bustling shop with customers lining up around the block, eager to get their hands on your latest offerings. Sounds dreamy, right? Well, it's time to turn that dream into a reality! Get out there and woo your audience with irresistible products and your top-notch service. Remember, a happy and satisfied customer is a repeat customer, so go ahead and sprinkle some extra charm into those sales pitches. One clever business owner, involved in the pool cleaning industry, increased his turnover by 15% in 2 months simply by offering not just to clean his clients pools, but also offering an equipment maintenance subscription program. Could you create a subscription model in your business where customers pay you a monthly fee??? Something worth thinking about. Increasing Productivity: Who doesn't love a little productivity boost? Cue the power poses and motivational pep talks! Invest in your own and team's development and empower all of you to be the best versions of yourselves. Increasing Efficiency: Let's streamline those processes, shall we? Think of it as Marie Kondo-ing your business – if it doesn't spark joy (or profits), it's gotta go! Embrace technology, revamp your workflows, and watch as your business runs smoother than a well-oiled machine.  Talking of technology, have you investigated how AI can make your business more efficient?  The possibilities are truly endless. And hey, while we're at it, why not throw in a sprinkle of creativity and a dash of innovation?  Whether it's venturing into new market territories or dreaming up the next big thing, the sky's the limit when it comes to growing your business. In the end, remember that building a successful business is about more than just dollars and cents – it's about passion, perseverance, and a whole lot of heart. So, go ahead, dream big, hustle hard, and most importantly, enjoy the journey along the way. With a little laughter, a lot of love, and a whole heap of determination, there's no limit to what you can achieve. So, what are you waiting for? Let's turn those business dreams into reality – one profit-boosting strategy at a time!  (And we’ll share more profit-boosting strategies in future “Friends With Benefits” newsletters.) Now, who's ready to make some magic happen?  Written by Cathy Young - Business Advisor Accelarate Business Consultancy E : cathy@acceleratebusinessconsultancy.com.au PH: 0407 251 855 About the author Cathy has worked, with husband Geoff, in their business (and been married) for the past 38 years. They have been small, medium and large business owners. The business started with 10 people in 2 states - grew to 400+ people in 27 countries. They also began an online business in the USA to prove that you really can make money while you sleep. Cathy has experienced all of the highs and lows that business owners do and understands the simple systems that can increase profits for any business - any size, any industry. She is a business owner who has walked in your shoes!

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AI in Marketing: The New Tool on the Block

AI in Marketing: The New Tool on the Block

We live in an era where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer just a buzzword but a tangible asset for business owners. It's a tool with enormous potential to craft, streamline, and personalise customer experiences. But tools are only as good as those that wield them, and without proper oversight, we find ourselves wondering what is real and what is, in fact, fake news. You see, AI can make it frighteningly simple to bombard the world with messages. Yes, brace yourself because it has never been easier to spam or be spammed. It reminds me of the line from Jurassic Park, " your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn't stop to think if they should." As more tools crop up, making it easier to create and launch an online course in 15-minutes, think about whether it is actually part of your strategic plan. You see, although we are so connected and seem to rarely disconnect and turn off, true connection is becoming rare - the kind of connection with a business that resonates and lingers. As a small business owner, you're likely looking for ways to stand out, to be noticed, understood, and remembered. Not merely to add to the white noise that fills our inboxes and social feeds. The question is, how can you use AI, not merely for the ease of reaching out, but for the art of crafting relationships? AI is Only as Good as Its User Let's face it, AI is here to stay. But to harness its power effectively, we must remember that it's only an extension of the person wielding it. The clever use of AI for marketing does not lie in letting it run amok with a database of emails. AI can generate personalised content, predict customer behaviour, and automate mundane tasks, but it needs the human touch to make it meaningful. Pre-Built Bias: The Invisible Hand AI is not immune to bias because it's built by humans, and consciously or unconsciously, these biases seep into algorithms. We, especially as small business owners, need to be aware of and actively work against these biases. AI is only as unbiased as the data it’s trained on, and if the data contains gender stereotypes, the AI will perpetuate them. in 2019 a report was released that found only 12% of programmers working on AI were female. So the programs that you are using to target and connect with your audience – may be based on stereotypes of your audience. And by using them, it can reinforce them. No wonder people feel disconnected and not seen. Representation is important. Knowledge vs Information: A Delicate Balance We're swimming, no, drowning, in a sea of information that AI readily churns out. But more information does not equate to more knowledge. The ability to decant and absorb knowledge in this digital age is becoming more crucial. As a tool, AI can find and even interpret data at an unprecedented scale, but it's our responsibility to provide context and relevance -- the framework for turning data into insight. In Closing: Use AI, Don't Let It Use You Remember, at its heart, marketing is about stories and emotions that make your brand or product stick in your audience's memory. AI certainly opens up new chapters in this narrative, with capabilities unimagined in previous generations. But as we embrace this brave new world of AI-driven marketing, let's not forget that it's the human elements - empathy, creativity, and intuition - that make the real difference. Being seen and heard is about striking chords with your clients, not just keys on a keyboard and creating content for the sake of content. As you step into this landscape where AI tools are at your disposal, use them with care. Utilise AI to amplify your reach, but never at the cost of the personal touch that defines your business. After all, spamming someone is easy; connecting with them is an art.

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Why it is Important to Have a Will

Why it is Important to Have a Will

What is the Purpose Having a Will? A will is a legal document which states what you wish to happen with your assets (estate) once you pass away. Those nominated to receive your estate are known as the beneficiaries. It will also indicate who you want to administer your estate once you are no longer here (executor/trustee). Your will may also: Name a guardian/s for your children; Establish a trust to provide for your children or a beneficiary with a disability;  Preserve your assets; and Give money to a charity and/or philanthropic organisation.  Why You Should Have a Will?   It is important to plan for the future by having a will drafted. A valid will is the most effective measure to be certain your estate goes to family, friends or a charity you nominate once you pass away.  Having a valid and current will can assist in: Minimising the stress for your family and friends; Reduce the costs to administer your estate; and Limit the likelihood of disputes about your will. What are the Issues of Not Having a Will? If you pass away without a valid will in place, the laws of intestacy will apply. The Queensland laws of intestacy are detailed in Part 3 of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) which outlines the rules for distributing your assets.  Without a valid will , the following issues could occur: Your estate may not be distributed to your beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes;  If you do not have any relatives then your assets may be given to the state government; Conflicts may arise between beneficiaries of your estate; and It may take more time and money to finalise the administration of your estate which can reduce the value.   Who Should Have a Will? Anyone over the age of 18 years old who has capacity (is of sound mind, memory and understanding) to make a will should do so. It does not matter how small your estate may be, it is still important to have a valid will. How Do You Make a Valid Will? For a will to be valid it must be in writing. Writing is defined to include any way of representing or reproducing words in a visible form. Ideally, a will should be typed but a handwritten will is still valid provided it is clearly printed. The same writing instrument i.e. a typewriter or pen, should be used throughout the document to prevent confusion about the intention of the will. Although a will may be in any language, to avoid issues of translation and interpretation it is recommended that it be drafted in English.  A will should be executed by the person making it (testator). It is not an inherent requirement but recommended that the signature of the testator appears at the end of the will. If the will is longer than a page the testator and the witnesses should also sign their name or initial the bottom of each other page in the will.  The will should be dated when it is signed. If no date is inserted then it may be a requirement for the witnesses, once the testator passes away, to provide an affidavit regarding the date the will was signed. A will is effective from the date the testator passes away, not from when it is signed. The date, however, is crucial to prove that the will is the testator’s last one.  The testator’s signature should be witnessed by 2 witnesses over the age of 18 years old, after the testator has signed. This is known as attestation. Both witnesses must be present together at the time the testator signs the will. To avoid confusion, it is recommended the witnesses’ signatures are directly below the testators.  When Should You Update Your Will? You may review your will as frequently as you wish. However, it is recommended that you should at least review it every 5 years to ensure it still reflects your wishes and situation. 
Your will should be updated if: You get married; You start or end a de factor relationship; You get divorced or your marriage is annulled; Your children, grandchildren or any other persons who you wish to include in your will as beneficiaries are born; Your assets or financial situation changes; Any person nominated in your will as a beneficiary passes away; Any person nominated in your will as an executor/trustee or guardian passes away or is unable or unwilling to act due to their age, health or any other reason; You wish to change your beneficiaries, executors/trustees or guardians names in your will; You retire; You are affected by a natural disaster; or You make a valid arrangement with the trustee of your superannuation fund to pay the proceeds of your superannuation into your estate. 
Marriage will officially cancel your will, except where it makes a gift to your spouse or nominates them as an executor/trustee or guardian unless your will proves that it has been drafted with marriage in mind.  Divorce will not legally deem your will invalid but it will delete any term in favour of your former spouse, as well as any appointment of them as an executor/trustee or guardian.  Where Should You Keep Your Will? Your will is a very important document and therefore must be kept in a safe place. Solicitors and private trustee companies will generally hold a will for you at no charge. The executor/trustee, close friend or family should be informed of where your will is stored so they can easily locate it once you pass away.  If you have any questions about wills or would like assistance with drafting or updating your will, contact NB Property Law for a no obligations free consultation. Written by Kayleigh Swift , Director NB Property Law kayleighs@nb-lawyers.com.au (07) 3876 5111 About the author Kayleigh Swift   is a Director of the Wills and Estates and Property team who assists clients with finding a way forward with their legal matters. With a high level of experience in estate planning, commercial and retail leasing, voluntary and involuntary purchase and sale acquisitions, property development and body corporate legal matters, Kayleigh provides practical advice to ensure clients estate planning needs are met and seamless property transactions are undertaken.

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My Mum vs Intuitive Design

My Mum vs Intuitive Design

My Mum didn't know how to subscribe to my blog. It's on me. I knew Mum would want to subscribe, so I sent her a text that said, 'I have a blog!' with a link to my blog. I didn't follow it up. Mum didn't subscribe. Or read my article. I have analytics. I know this stuff. The next day, my sister told Mum about my blog. Mum called me and asked why I didn't tell her about my blog... I did not clearly explain what she needed to do or the expectations: “Hi mum, check out the blog I just wrote. You can subscribe with the sign-up button on the page,” is what I should have said. It's a classic example that we have to meet our clients where and how they comfortably interact with our business. Or they simply won't engage. I’m in marketing, and I should know better. But sometimes in our excitement, we all forget to apply the basics. We all have blind spots in our business. As much as we try, we are not objective when it comes to our own business. A particular platform may work for us and is a convenient and efficient mode of contact for us. But we need to stop and take stock of the platforms we use to communicate with our clients. Are we missing out on opportunities by not communicating better with our clients? When we communicate we transfer information and then it is interpreted through the very complicated lens of when and where your client is. Generally speaking, this means the way anyone uses a device is in context to how comfortable they are with the technology. And their comfort level is going to be subject to how frequently they use it. Most businesses understand to look at whether our clients are using mobile devices or laptops. Being optimised for those devices is essential. However, both Garry who works in IT and my Mum could have a secret passion for Mariachi bands. How Garry interacts with his phone to book in for a class will be very different from how my Mum interacts with the same site on an iPad. If we are only catering for Garry who ‘gets it’, we lose my mum as a customer. Few businesses will have an audience with a similar technical aptitude, and we need to be adapting for all users across the sliding scale. How do we cater? In my opinion, it is best to step back and think about your user experience throughout your company. Every interaction you have with your clients is an opportunity to make a loyal advocate or lose them, so ask yourself - how can you engage better? Review the tools you use to communicate with your customers and ask if they are effective for your audience? Do you offer more than one way to connect? Do you provide clear instructions on how to connect and what happens next? In truth, my Mum is pretty good with technology, especially when she knows what is expected of her and what she should expect from the platform she is using. It’s up to us as businesses to provide clear communications and expectations for our clients. We all see the world differently so you will never have the perfect solution for everyone, and that is ok. But we need to understand and accommodate for people who need information delivered in different ways.

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Communicating for conversions

Communicating for conversions

When was the last time you made an enquiry with your business and walked through the process? Do you know what message someone gets after they submit an enquiry on your website? Do you know all the platforms that someone can contact you on? Some of the platforms could include Google My Business, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Website, Etsy… the list goes on! I am alluding to the real question: Can you say with certainty where all your notifications go? Are you accidentally ghosting your clients? If you can’t say with certainty what happens after someone enquires or purchases a product from you from any platform, it’s time to make sure you don’t have a bottleneck in your process. A good exercise is to plot out how you communicate with someone once they become a client or prospect. You can draw up a flow chart in Word or Excel. The balancing act As a small business, we have to balance resourcing to do the job with the administrative burden of ‘good customer service'. And we, of course, also don’t want to annoy our clients! Let’s say you received an email enquiry for a quote today. You know you will reply to that email with a quote tomorrow, but you need to do some background work first. Without a confirmation email that says ‘Thank you for your enquiry, we will respond with a quote within 24-hours’… how does your client know their message has been received, let alone your response time? I liken a thank you email to the social norm of saying hello. Imagine that you are at a party and you say hello to someone. And they ignore you for 10-minutes. By then you have probably moved on, found someone who acknowledged you and made you feel like you were valued. At the end of the day, a simple thank you email from a web form can potentially improve your customer retention and conversion. Yet so many small businesses don’t have them set up. This is communicating for conversions. If you were to enquire as a customer and go through your system, ask yourself at every touchpoint: Can I communicate this better? Can I automate this? What action do I want my clients to take ( not calling you for a progress update also counts!), and is this communication effective in making that happen?
Map your customer journey I like to flip the customer journey when I map it and start at the end. I start by asking: How do I want this interaction to end? If we are honest, it ends with me being paid on time and with a happy client. To get to this endpoint, my communication process needs to know what potential pain points I may have as a business and what will irk my prospective clients. Ask yourself: What do I need to have in place that clearly defines the scope of work and payment terms? What are the pain points that my clients might have that would make working with me a poor experience?
Start with the end Look at how your interaction ends: How do you sign off on the completion of work? Can this be automated if you finish a service, so an invoice is sent as soon as the work is complete? If you are a face-to-face service with a client or send products, are you asking for a review at the point where they are happy with the purchase or service? Let’s work back How do you keep clients updated on the progress of work? Communicating that a project is on track, especially when there is nothing new to report, can seem like a waste of time But from the client-side, does a quick note at the end of the week letting them know you are on track for delivery give peace of mind? Is this something that can be automated, so it is not an administrative burden Will it stop them from calling you for updates and free up your time? Are automations the death of personalisation? Personalised service is a strength of small businesses. You can spend time on the interactions that matter by reducing your administrative burden. Automations help you communicate better and help you compete with better-resourced companies. In fact, by removing these little time-consuming tasks, you can spend more time working on your client relationships. Technology is constantly changing, so it is worth taking a moment to workshop your communication processes. If you can get your process right, your preferred endpoint becomes easy to achieve.

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A crash-course in ‘pivoting’ without the Buzz Words

A crash-course in ‘pivoting’ without the Buzz Words

Ok. Maybe a couple of Buzz Words. Because words like ‘pivot’, ‘agile’ and ‘transformation’ have saturated business conversations for the last 12-months. Especially when talking about small businesses 'surviving', maintaining 'relevance' and 'embracing' the brave new world that will rise from the ashes. Quite frankly, the Buzz Words and drama are getting a little old. All this talk of pivoting is really about understanding how your customers' needs have changed and meeting your customers where they are . It's not a new concept. I mean, there was that catchy song about how Video Killed The Radio Star.
And now look at how popular podcasts are these days. If you have been running your business for a number of years, you have probably adapted and changed with your audience, and it's happened organically. Coffee loyalty cards have changed from physical cards that you stamp to a phone app that the user swipes, and we were happy for the convenience. The difference is that businesses have had to adapt quickly. Really quickly. There is no time for market testing products, research reports, testimonials from early adopters to reassure you that your business decisions are the right ones. The safety net of our decision-making process - the ability to rationalise our choices - is gone. And that is terrifying. But is the ability to make informed decisions really gone? The cookie cutter approach is doing something that is tried and tested. It is the easy solution where we do what has always been done, or what everyone else is doing. When we have so many competing priorities and are feeling unsure, it's the safe path. But now there is no mould, we have to go back to basics. I get it. Spending so much energy on just surviving leaves little brain-energy to commit to the overwhelming task of changing your business model. So grab a coffee and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for the next 5 minutes and lets dig around some ideas. Who Is Your Customer? Firstly, I want you to think about: Who is your customer in 2019? Who is your customer in 2021? When I ask who is your customer, it’s a generalisation.
I don’t mean specifically Garry who comes in every Saturday at 8am for his usual order of Eggs Benny and a long black. I want you to be thinking about a typical customer's age, gender, location – perhaps Garry is the embodiment of your typical customer, or perhaps Garry is the exception to the rule. This is an audience profile. When you understand who your clients are, you can start to consider what motivates them. A Little Something I Prepared Earlier... Let's say that you run a high-end dining establishment. Your customers are typically aged 40+, couples or groups, affluent and local. Consider: Why do they come to your restaurant over the one down the street? The quality of food The service of your staff The atmosphere – it's an event to treat yourself to dinner The Convenience - no shopping, preparation, or dishes The challenge is - how do you re-engage with your clients when the point of going to a restaurant is physically going to a restaurant . The meals you have might not travel well as a takeaway - and you don't want to compromise your reputation you have spent years cultivating by providing anything sub-standard. So how can you get around this? Break out the neon markers. We need to get creative. Case Study: Restaurant We know your customers typically come in as couples We know it is the atmosphere they like We also know it's about convenience and quality Idea Offer a date-night hamper. Your 'hamper' could include a 3-course meal, a paired wine and even some candles and flowers for the table. Convenience : Everything is supplied in a nicely presented box or basket and delivered to your clients' door Atmosphere : Why not include a menu with tasting notes If they are a regular, perhaps a hand-written card from one of your waitstaff, or add an extra dessert because ‘I know XX loves the homemade Gelato so we included an extra scoop!' Service : Include instructions or ‘tips’ for serving and presentation Special instructions from the chef What about recording a posting to youtube a how-to tutorial for the finishing touches
Let's not stop now that we have re-purposed your product!
Encourage clients to share and tag your social media with their creations The instruction will mean your food is restaurant presentation even at home, so looks good when shared We all know that sharing and tagging is fantastic organic content How about running a competition judged by your chef for the best presentation It can be as simple as clients post the photos on Instagram or Facebook and tag your restaurant Get creative and set-up a spotify playlist on-theme with dinner We are changing how we interact, so these new ways of connecting are also able to continue when we are not in a lock-down. A form of takeaway hamper could be encouraged for weekend picnics, or for someone who is not a cook but wants to impress friends or a date - you're their secret weapon. These products are also easy to scale-up and roll-out for future lock-downs.
We hope it doesn't come to that, but be prepared. It’s all trial and error to work out what works for your business. What you might consider a failure is what we marketers call Market Testing! Followers and Subscribers Do you have an email list and/or Social Media pages? You probably do. I want you to re-think your use of these platforms. Instead of just looking for sales, you can do your own customer research. Example: Date night hamper Run a promotional email campaign to your database Run a promotional campaign on your social media Take a moment to consider who has ordered the hampers: Ladies or Gents? Do you have their birthdates, or when people pick-up the hampers you can get a feel for the demographics? If it's delivery then you know the locations You might find that you have received 50 orders, 40 of which are from ladies aged 40+ in a 5 kilometer radius of your restaurant. You have just found your target audience for this product You can use that to tailor the targeting of your paid ads on Social Media - your return on a campaign improves with better targeting Yes indeed. A marketing campaign doesn’t only have one purpose. Next time, promote 3 versions of the hampers to your database to see which sells the best Perhaps you could have a limited supply of Hampers and they are only available on Sunday nights
Creating your own sense of urgency and tapping into everyone's fear of missing out is an old tactic that works wonders if executed well. Now, start considering how you can apply something similar to your business - think about the customers' motivations, not yours. Social Media Now you have a product that has been market-tested and you know which hamper is your best seller in this crazy new world.
So let’s go find your new customers with a small social media budget. One of the easiest ways to kick off Facebook advertising is to boost a post to a radius of your business. Because Facebook likes your $$, you can easily follow their step-by-step instructions to promote a social media post. This is especially useful when you know what types of posts are going to have a good engagement to give them an extra push. However, creating content is a lot of work. Yes. It is. So much work. Sometimes for so little reward. This leads us to frequently question: Is it worth our time? I've said it before and I will keep saying it: Don't shout into the void, post with a purpose. Look strategically at what and when you are posting. Posting regularly to platforms such as Facebook creates analytics that allows you to see: What type of posts are interacted with most frequently: Videos Images Blog articles How-to guides What day and what time is best for you to post for the most engagement Scheduling programs allow you to schedule your posts across a range of your social media assets - at the optimal time for post types Next time you run a promotion, you want to know that a video tutorial posted at 10am on a Sunday is your peak time for exposure.
Your orders for that product also seem to increase on Sunday Nights. Co-incidence or strategy? Don't t hink outside the box. Repurpose the box. That's quality cardboard. Case study: Cafe If you are small and local, your weakness is also your strength. Can you be a local connection for people in isolation? Do you have a book co-op or op-shop nearby? Why not team up and do a mystery book included in a Saturday breakfast order? If it suits your audience, connect with a local fitness instructor and do a healthy brunch bowl Have your box include an exercise series by a local instructor Set up a 'mystery gift' - encourage neighbours/friends to send a coffee and book as a gift with a note to someone in the community All efficiently ordered and paid for online Do you have a local organisation with a list of people who are in social isolation or vulnerable - your clients can donate a coffee and book to these people? Pair up with your coffee roaster and run a competition for the best at-home coffee art next lock-down Have one of your Barista's do a coffee tutorial or challenge video to post on your socials
These are not game-changing ideas. They are a few ways to quickly adapt resources you already have. The aim is to expose you to a new audience, create a fantastic piece of PR, and build a very loyal customer base coming out the other side. Take a risk and if it doesn’t work – you have lost some time, but investigate why your promotion didn’t work. Maybe your idea was solid but the timing was bad or the audience was wrong. Was your idea too complicated? Even if you haven’t started to change your business model yet, it’s not too late. Start looking at what has worked for businesses in your niche, and ask yourself why it worked? It's time to get back to work and I hope you have a bit of inspiration now to adapt and overcome. If you want to tailor a plan or flesh out some ideas for your business, check out my idea-intensive workshop .

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SEO Be Damned, I Will Write My Irrelevant (Sometimes Irreverent) Blog Titles!

SEO Be Damned, I Will Write My Irrelevant (Sometimes Irreverent) Blog Titles!

(Ironically, that is one of the most relevant titles I have had to date.) Let’s talk Search. Have you ever considered that in that split second between hitting enter on your search terms and the answers appearing, a Battle Royale is going down behind the scenes between every relevant website? No? That is probably for the best. Because this is not exactly - or even close - to how a search engine works. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a lot to get your head around. I recommend you grab a glass of wine and settle in whilst we take look under the bonnet. When it comes to SEO, the algorithms used by search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing are kept under wraps. And they change. Aiming to 'crack' the algorithm is not an approach that is recommended. So why bother trying I hear you ask? Because SEO is important. Because engaging your audience is just as, if not more, important than your SEO. Because having your site optimised for search engines and having your site optimised for humans are not mutually exclusive goals. Trying to 'crack' the algorithm means you are not prioritising the human part of your business: Search engines aren't purchasing your products or services, people are Search engines are constantly being updated to mimic the human decision-making process so all that work can quickly be outdated Your content should be engaging because it is written for people Ranking high in search results, driving lots of people (traffic) to your website and delivering irrelevant content is not doing you any favours. Think of it like this: If I am looking to buy a case of wine online - I don't want to be taken to a webpage selling equipment for making wine. I am going to leave your machinery website pretty quick, because I am focused on finding a case of wine that is going to be conveniently delivered to my door in the next few days. This is called a bounce. Clarification: Leaving a website as soon as you land is called a bounce Buying a case of wine online is called Wednesday Typically, your pages will have relevant headings and titles such as 'Our Wine Range'. Written with some nice spacing. Maybe a few bullet points to make it easy on the eye. Probably something describing the product - what we call the Key Words - Shiraz, Merlo, Red, White, Urgent, Express Delivery. Boom. By writing for people, you are on your way to writing SEO content! You see, SEO is what we call ‘Organic’ advertising. You are not paying to show up in a Google Search. Your site appears because you have met the criteria and your website or page is deemed worthy by the search powers-that-be. Sorry, what did you just say? "Hey Alana, But you don't follow the rules - your structure is terrible, and your blog titles are always misleading?" Yes. Writing for people is just the start. So let's look into this a bit deeper. Cataloguing Your website is catalogued by search engine bots. I like to think the bots are like little librarians, with rules about where everything ‘fits’. When your website was set-up, someone should have rolled out your basic SEO so the bots can find you. This includes a Sitemap - a file that sits on your website and is formatted for the bots to easily read. Like a map. To your site. Most new website platforms automatically update this. Simply put, if you are regularly creating content, uploading new stock, blog posts or services - your site will automatically get updated in the various search engines as the bots review your website intermittently. This is where those relevant headings and keywords all come into play. They tell the librarian bots how to catalogue your content. Behaviour We have already touched on it, but user behaviour on your site is also important. If my mum is my only reader and she spent 5-minutes on a post - that alone is not going to help my rankings. I need a number of readers spending 5-minutes on my pages. I need you spending time reading my content. I am in the analogy zone with this article, so let's try another one: Do you know someone who can walk into a room and everyone listens to them? They always seem to have something interesting and relevant to say. People gravitate towards them.
They have Social Authority. The algorithm is trying to mimic this social behaviour. Based on the quality of interactions with your site, it is determining your Authority. If your site shows when I search for 'Wine Purchase Urgent' AND I, plus everyone else doing a similar search, spend time on your site visiting multiple pages and/or purchasing something - then the search engine is going to tick this site as relevant. Which means it will prioritise this site in similar searches. Sorry wine machinery company, your listing is going a lot lower because we don't have time to make wine. It's Wednesday. Side note: By feeding us the most popular opinions, there is a valid concern that the information we find is framed by the status-quo. Aka, are we only reading what we want to read or being exposed to the most popular opinions? This is an entirely different, but very interesting conversation. But I digress. It’s actually quite fascinating when you start looking into the complexity behind something so simple as a search result. Why do I break the ‘rules’ in my blog articles? You see, my articles are written to maximise engagement - the amount of time someone is staying on my page. When I was writing this, the average time spent on my Musings is just under 5-minutes. Do you know how hard it is to have a full 5-minutes of someone’s attention online? Let's take a second to consider... Right now, where are you? According to the stats on my site 75% of you will be on a mobile device. Which means you are probably killing time waiting for a train or on said train, flicking through cat videos in front of the TV, lying in bed about to go to sleep. Lying in bed just waking up. Calm down. My website doesn’t tell me if you are actually lying in bed. That is weird and creepy.
There are many moving parts that contribute to your search rankings, and we will need a few more articles to break this down further. However, creating engaging content is a good place to start. At the end of the day, SEO is more a game of strategy then a bloody Battle Royale.
In saying that, if there was a Battle Royale my website would absolutely be represented by Xena, Warrior Princess. On Wednesday when you are searching for that a case of wine, take a moment to take note of the search results and how closely they match what you were searching for. And most importantly, wine recommendations can be emailed to alana@musecommunications.com.au .

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Dear Raphael, I am sorry I compared you to a Turtle

Dear Raphael, I am sorry I compared you to a Turtle

I used to have an amazing Barista. One quiet morning, my Barista started a conversation with me. He introduced himself as Raphael and in all my wisdom I replied: ‘Ah, like the Ninja Turtle’. To which he stared at me blankly for a few seconds. Then replied ‘Yes, like the turtle… I have never thought of it like that’. Slowly, he turned around to make my coffee and that was the awkward end of our interaction. I am telling you this story because March 1st is National Barista Day. It makes me think of Raphael. And all the ways I could have not made a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle reference. So, let’s all show some appreciation for that Barista who greets us warmly in the morning and sends us to face our day with a coffee made just the way we like it. At least, I think today is National Barista Day. It kicked off with a bang in 2019. And then 2020 happened… But I am going to run with it because it’s a day for appreciation of our Baristas, and do you know what that means? My third coffee today is absolutely justified. National Barista Day is the brainchild of Almond Breeze. Yes, a milk company promoting the consumption of their products. It’s quite clever marketing. Why is it clever? Because is it easy to get on board with. It’s a great opportunity for a coffee shop or café to have some topical content to connect with your clients. Get them to try something new. Like an Almond Milk Latte. Clever. As a café, aligning yourself with Barista Day is pretty easy: It is on-brand, and it can be fun without being unprofessional. If your brand is a little cheeky, roll with it! Fun equals meaningful connections with your clients, and meaningful connections means building your client loyalty. Put simply, to find the ‘Newsworthiness’ of a story we look for a combination of seven elements: Impact – does it affect a lot of people? Timeliness – Is it a recent event? Prominence – Does is involve a well-known person or entity? Proximity – Is it about something local? Conflict – Is it a disagreement? Weirdness – Is it something unusual or strange? Currency – Is it related to a topic people are already talking about? For a café, Barista Day is going to cover a number of these elements.
At the very least: It has an impact on you and your clients if you run an event or special It is timely (today) It is in proximity, because you are promoting to your clients who are likely to be regulars and physically come into your café It can be weird – that one is up to what you want to make of it In a nut-shell, it makes great content. This is not to say you should jump on board with every cause around. If your cause is political or divisive, consider what you do all year round to support it. A timely show of support is nice, but keep in mind that token efforts can backfire. For instance, a shop that specialises in Fair Trade and ethically sourced products could find ‘Fair Trade Day’ on the 8th of May an opportunity to raise awareness, educate and expand their reach, whilst promoting the cause they back all year long. If you are a coffee shop and you don’t sell Fair Trade Coffee, you might want to sit this promotion out. There is a day of a year for pretty much everything. Align yourself strategically, and these can be a fun way to engage with your clients and customers. For some inspiration, check out this site dedicated to ‘days of the year’: www.daysoftheyear.com . And just so we are all clear; the next time I meet a Raphael there will be no mention of turtles.

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My Sister is an Alchemist

My Sister is an Alchemist

My Sister is not an Alchemist. That was misleading. The thing is: My Sister is a Chemist. A very good one. February 11th is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. My Sister is my favourite person to troll. This will never get old. Ever. I have a blog. I am not sorry. I refer to her as an Alchemist to annoy her. Standard sister stuff. Alas, to my eternal disappointment she is so used to me referring to her as an Alchemist that I don’t get a reaction anymore. This blog article has upped the stakes, I will keep you posted. Also - in my defence, there is no Alchemist without Chemist! That joke does not go over well with my Sister either. But in all seriousness, today is about important stuff. Firstly, why do we need an International Day to recognise Women and Girls in Science? Well, because ‘History is written by the Victors’. It is written by those in power. And sometimes we need to highlight that there are alternative narratives to those that we have been told. This is not always a dichotomy of right and wrong, just sometimes there is more. Oh wait, you just realised this was political? Yes, indeed. But you have made it this far, so you might as well keep going. The thing is, we all have internalised prejudices’. Oh, yes you do. Calm down, it is a fact not an accusation. We are all the result of the constructs of our environment and culture. So acknowledging our internalised prejudice means we can take note and address it. Let me ask you this, when you think of a Scientist – who do you envisage? Personally, I see Einstein. Did you miss that? Let’s re-cap. My Sister is a Scientist . But I instinctively envisage Einstein as what a quintessential Scientist should be. Do you see what I am getting at? Cultural Norms. Let’s try another exercise. How many Famous Scientists from history can you list? Off the top of my head there is: Newton Einstein Curie Frankenstein I said what I said. And I have only one female in my list. Let’s delve a bit further. Last year two female scientists won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Read about it here . Indeed, the title of this article is: ‘ Two Female Scientists Awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry ’. Why is it so notable that they are female, that this is the headline? Turns out 2020 was the first time this Prize has gone to two female scientists. I concede, that is a big deal. But please read the article because the research is also a big deal. Like in many industries which are predominately male-dominated, we see too frequently ‘Female Scientist’. Not ‘Scientist’. Because a Female Scientist is not the 'Norm'. Let’s flip that. Shout out to the Female Scientists: Do you even want to be the 'Norm’? Wouldn’t it be nice if when we read ‘Female Scientist’ we were to read it and think: ‘Now, there is a woman who has overcome barriers. Someone who was held to a higher standard and slayed.’. It's a badge of honor. But that is not what happens when we see ‘Female Scientist’. We read ‘being female is so far outside the normal that it is a more notable then the actual contribution’. And because of our cultural conditioning, more often than not we don’t even realise that we read this. It’s a blind spot. Similar debates circulate about ‘Female CEO’. And let’s not start on the debate of infantilisms in the ‘Girl Boss’ label... Simply put, Norm is in our heads. But now you realise he is there, you can do something about it. It won’t be easy. What barriers will we face? Let’s take a look: With the decentralisation of our news and the emergence of platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook we have seen the ease of spreading misinformation. We also have the challenge of everyone Shouting into the Void. A place where legitimate thought leaders are drowned out. I mean, it is International Women and Girls in Science Day and you are reading my self-indulgent blog designed to annoy my sister. And then we have the Echo Chambers, places where we hang out online. Places such as a Facebook Group where we feel safe because everyone has the same core values and our beliefs are reinforced by repetition and insulated from rebuttal and challenge. These barriers are significant, but not insurmountable. So long as we are brave enough to acknowledge the power structures so ingrained they become cultural blind spots. Because with that same technology that gives us barriers, we have the opportunity to write our own narratives. No offense Norm, but you have to change. And words can change the world. If you are in a STEM field, the truth is you need us artsy types with our waffly words. Those are our tools used to subvert cultural barriers and blind spots. And we need you to quantify our waffle and give us credibility when we write a blog post without a single source... please. You see, the fascinating power of a narrative is to be able to make someone think and examine their fundamental core beliefs. An idea that we weave into a story can resonate in the mind long after the pure facts of the matter are forgotten. Each time you read ‘Female Scientist’ you are now going to notice those words. Ideas are powerful like that. Final question - did anyone ever ask you what label you wanted? Because I am asking. And I want to know. You can decide if you want to be a Female Scientist, a Female CEO, a Lady Boss, a badge you have earned because of the glass ceilings you have smashed. Or you can be a Scientist, CEO, Boss - because you should be on an equal playing field and there should be no 'us' and 'them'. I like to think Norm is waiting to become Norma and just needs our help. You can boost your profiles, use your tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to reach those beyond your echo chambers. Show you are not the exception to the rule. You just Rule. At the end of the day, I would probably understand more of what my Sister does if she just said ‘Magic’. And if asked, she would probably surmise what I do as ‘Waffle’. But what we can all agree on, is that you can blame her for the time you lost reading this post. Because when I mentioned the 11th was Women and Girls in Science day and my Sister said sarcastically ‘What, are you going to write a blog about me?’, she really should have seen this coming.

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The Iceberg Illusion: What people see & what is underneath

The Iceberg Illusion: What people see & what is underneath

I’m not normally one to throw around some Jargon, but the Iceberg Illusion resonated with me, and also it made me think of a lot of discussions I have had recently about knowing your worth. Let’s jump back a step. I hear you saying ‘What is the Iceberg Illusion?’. To everyone’s disappointment, it has nothing to do with the Titanic. Or with lettuce for that matter. It is ok if you are disappointed about the lack of lettuce in this post. I am as well. The Iceberg Illusion is where Success is measured by what you accomplished. Kind of like this: “ Hey Alana, This blog post is so informative. I can’t believe you rattled it out over a cup of coffee at lunch time! It doesn’t ramble or digress. At all. You must really know what you are doing. I should hire you…” It's the conversations that frequently end with: “ Oh, that much? I saw something similar on Freelancer for $6.50 an hour, so I’m going to go with them. Its seems like a simple task ”. What they see is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Below the surface is what makes a successful outcome. It’s the sacrifice – the training, school, university, internships, the eating of your feelings, the fights because someone ate your chocolate you brought to eat whilst cramming for an exam (a grudge you take to the grave). These are the sacrifices we made to get where we are. It’s the amount of failures you had. The things you screwed-up and your ability to learn and never do them again. Never. Ever. Again. You know the one. They don’t see the disappointments. They don’t see the hard work. They don’t see the persistence and dedication. How many years have you spent refining what it is that you do? Educating yourself? Practicing? Training? Upskilling? You can do a task quickly. Obviously it is because you are awesome. But it is also because of the part of the iceberg that is underwater. The market will dictate what people are willing to pay for your services and products, true. But think of it more as a price range. Don't get me wrong, if you are selling for less than you think you are worth - I am not discrediting the fact that you are selling. This is an accomplishment and you should own it, because the practicality is that you have to eat more than just lettuce. But I want you to start thinking about why you feel you are not valued – and come up with a plan to show people your worth. Because understanding the value you bring to the table means your clients and customers will understand the benefit of engaging you at a better price. Some food for thought: If we were having a coffee, could you tell me what distinguishes you from your competitor? If I am about to buy your product online, do I have the same feelings and knowledge as I did when you pitched over coffee? How do people know what is unique about you if you have not told and/or shown them? Loyalty is not dead. We consumers are just a bit more picky – and not very forgiving when you break our trust. Look at the About Me that you use on your website, store, etc. How does it position you? How could it better reflect your values and passions? This is absolutely easier said than done. Make no mistake. My humble advice is: Don’t lie. Ever. You will be found out. Find your voice and speak your truth. If you feel your elevator-pitch is more of a Shakespearean soliloquy, indulge me by trying a little exercise. Explain what you do to someone, then have them surmise it back to you. Don’t pick the nice supportive person who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. You know that person who is brutally honest in only the way a family member or close friend can be? That is the one you want. Explain what you do and ask them to explain it back: Maybe this little exercise will help you to refine your pitch. Maybe it will tell you that what you think are the interesting points, are not the aspects which stick in someone’s mind. And if not, what is it that stuck - or didn’t? Is this a new angle for you? Maybe it will tell you what aspects you need to clarify better? Maybe it will make you question your life decisions, so please have supportive friend or family member on speed dial and a block of chocolate on hand when you do this exercise.
I may not know you, but feel free to call me with an existential crisis and I will absolutely eat chocolate with you. In a nutshell, conveying your worth is about how you communicate with your clients. And how you communicate, how you connect with your customers and clients will convey your point of difference. This is your worth. Often we don’t think a communications strategy is necessary in small businesses. But it is. Communications is more than talking, and it shouldn’t be in the realm of something only relevant and attainable for Corporations. It starts with the first interaction: How easy is your site to navigate? Does your Ad take me to a relevant page? It’s the follow-up: Do you send an automatic thank you or confirmation email from a subscription or a purchase? It’s the personal touches: If you do commission work, how about including a hand-written thank you card? And finally, my pet hate. Brace yourselves as we are going to get controversial here: Are you on sale all the time ? Personally, I love a good bargain. But If you are always on sale, you might be conditioning your clients that you are not worth your value. We expect that big stores mark-up their prices so they can then mark everything down and still turn a profit. Small businesses don’t have those margins. Please don’t sabotage yourself! Try adding value, instead of discounting. Hang on, what is that? You have just subscribed to my blog? Naw, you make me blush. Well, if you purchase my Motivator Package , I will give you an additional hour of follow-up training and set-up assistance. FYI - I will absolutely do that for you. And also, that is value-adding simply put. The thing is, we often fall into the trap of thinking that Marketing and Communications are just what we do to get exposure to clients. We think it is all pumping out ads and content. But I want you to take a minute and think about what happens after a client has connected with you. Could you improve your communications? Communicate better and show your value, you might find it converts clients in your pipe-line more easily, and you get that repeat business. In the end, with better conversion rates you can spend less on ads whilst maintaining the same sales rates - at a better price.

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