A guest blog post written by Wendy Molefi-Youri MD, and founder of Vital Wellness Clinic, Hertfordshire, England.
I write this NOT from some moral high ground, and certainly not from some expert vantage point.
A conversation I overheard just got me thinking out loud.
Often as business owners, especially SMEs, our clients will occasionally ask for a discount on our services. Some of us will feel affronted and somewhat undervalued by this, ‘How dare you ask for a discount??”
I get it, when there are overheads to maintain, suppliers to pay and families to take care of, it may come across unreasonable and even downright disrespectful when someone asks for a discount on your valuable services.
The fact of the matter is, someone will ask. Asking for a discount in my view is part of business, it is part of life. It has been going on for centuries. For some cultures it is the norm. Most of us will have some experience of doing it ourselves in a Ghanaian market or a Moroccan souk whilst on holiday. So why should we be offended when our clients ask?
If we ask a question, we're letting people know that we don't know something. Often, in our life experiences this can be met with laughter. It's usually not meant to be malicious, children ask the cutest things which often make adults giggle.
But sadly all too often laughter turns into ridicule, and if this happens to children it creates adults who are afraid to ask questions, for fear of looking "silly".
If this is you, then this quote is written for you, to remind you it's perfectly okay to ask questions, no matter how silly you might think you could appear to others.
Asking questions is the route to knowledge....
Our previous blog post discussed the importance of Corporate Brand Personality, and how it is created by every single person within the business.
This blog post, co-written by Mark Grey (Professional headshot Photographer) and Claire Boyles (Founder of Success Matters), explores how important it is for your business brand to have a professional headshot of the business owner.
You probably have a list of Facebook pages who's updates are important to you - whether it be local businesses who you regularly purchase from, industry pages of interest to you, or organisations which your family interact with frequently, businesses which you're a customer of that you like!
Facebook has changed their algorithm, meaning fans see less of the posts published by business pages.
Ensure you like the business Facebook page you wish to be receiving notifications for.
Change settings to be notified when the page publishes an update. Click on the settings drop down menu shown in the image.
A new book on branding has just been released, and it's not about graphic design and image!!
It's about how businesses need to understand that the personality of the individuals who work within and for the business...
It is the behaviour of those individuals which have the biggest impact on the brand, or personality of the business.
I often describe a "Brand" as the emotional connection, or relationship between the customer and the business. The behaviour of the individuals, how they relate to, communicate with, and
treat customers is critical in determining what kind of emotional connection the customers have with the business. Whether consciously aware of the emotional reaction (or not) to the
staff's behaviour and attitude, it shapes the way a customer views the business, which determine what decisions they make to become a returning customer, or not.
Whether you're building a business from scratch, or you're the CEO of a global organisation, understanding the personality and behaviour of the people who are the cogs of your business, is so important. Understanding how the behaviour of every person within the business impacts your customers emotional experience of your business is THE number one priority to focus on. That is, if you want lasting, sustainable results which turn customers into raving fans who do your marketing for you.
If you want to invest money in marketing, and you understand the values and foundations of your business brand, but don't know exactly how to implement those values into the every day business of providing a service or products to your customers, Corporate Brand Personality by Lesley Everett is the book you need to read.
I recently enjoyed listening to Lesley being interviewed by Alan Stevens, I recommend you listen to Lesley discuss corporate brand personality and the value you can expect from her book, a great interview I really enjoyed listening.
Lesley has been working with corporates over many years (1.5 decades apparently!), helping them refine and develop effective brands which result in business success. She's certainly someone I would pay attention to when discussing this topic, and in this book she provides case studies which make sense of the theory. It makes it easy to understand how to apply the principles in your own business.
You can of course order your own copy of Corporate Brand Personality on Amazon, I
am recommending to all my clients to get their own copy. Reading it will give insight into the value of brand and how to create it at a practical level, through the people
working in your business.
Once you have this understanding, it is so much easier to build a powerful brand, because you'll be able to identify the opportunities to improve and reward the behaviours which creates a positive impact on your customers.
Get your copy of Corporate Brand Personality now!
You can work with Claire on how to improve your marketing (even on a shoe string budget). Claire specialises as a business coach working with employees who want to transition from employee to entrepreneur, helping them creating business & marketing strategies so that they earn a living doing what they love.
How To Be Happy:
1) Find out what makes you happy*.
2) Minimise doing things that make those around you unhappy.
3) Find a way to earn a living doing what you love.
4) Encourage and support others to explore what makes them happy.
*Finding out what makes you happy is a lifelong project, what makes you happy will change and grow as you change and grow as a human being.
This is probably the shortest blog post I've ever written, because I want to keep things simple. Simple does not necessarily mean easy, and I could and will write much more on each step.
These steps are the essence of what I've learned in the last twenty years, since aged 21 I reached a point in my life where I was so unhappy I decided to review everything I'd ever done in my
life. I've read many self help books, psychological studies, reports, research, followed different styles of counselling, been in self help groups, done many courses.
I flew out of Luton Airport last week, and returned yesterday. Because of the faff & time it takes to go through security, I arrive early and hang out at the airport and usually have lunch/meal before/after I go through security. Less stress to arrive early and wait than panic when I realise I'm nearly missing my flight!
I browse the food that is available to me in the various Cafes and fast food outlets, I want something as healthy as possible that is wheat & sugar free (what I want is less relevant than the fact that I was looking for something specific)...
I end up in Marks & Spencer, and I choose a quinoa & edemame salad with garlic prawns (reduced to clear). I also bought a apple & asparagus juice. All of these are products that I would not normally buy, but I had little option as I hadn't had time to prepare food that morning before my flight.
I enjoyed my meal, and it was healthy which meant my body experienced the positive benefits of it too.
Now, here's the point to me sharing this story.
Guess how many times since I first purchased that salad (7 days ago), that I purchased it again, after never previously have been interested in it? (I've seen it on the shelves before and never chosen it).
Three, the 2nd time was when I flew back yesterday, I bought it on the way home, and ate it before I got on the train. Today I bought it again, and I specifically drove to Marks & Spencer's to buy that specific salad. Whilst I was there I bought 3 more of the cooked prawns (3 for £10) and in total spent £64 that I wouldn't have done, had I not eaten that salad on my way to Edinburgh last Sunday.
There's an ever growing popularity in the personal development/coaching/ motivational sectors with inspirational content to help "overcoming your fears", "getting rid of your fears & doubts" or sometimes "Filling your mind with dreams, so there's no room for fears".
Here's the thing, while giving yourself permission to #dream is really important, dreaming is only the first small step of many before you're likely to achieve that dream.
Fears & doubts are brilliant, and an integral part of being an emtionally healthy human being. They also have the useful benefit of highlighting the problems & challenges we could face, and when we pay attention to them, and take appropriate action can ensure that we create practical #Plans for achieving dreams.
Think about it on a most basic, practical level, if we didn't have the fear of being run down by a car, we wouldn't look both ways before we crossed the road, and if we didn't look, the chances of us being severely injured, dramatically increases.
It's not healthy to be completely fearless, in fact, it's dangerous, and is highly likely to cause you harm!
When you build a community connection with people around a common theme (hobby, purpose, geographical location, etc) it connects people. People are attracted because of that commonality.
However, you will also attract people with different perspectives, ones that do not match your own. What do, or should you do when you are "in charge" of "leading" the community and someone has a dissenting voice?
Many people chose to shut out those who are "trouble makers", why would you want to keep "negative" "critical" people in your community?
Here's why: When you don't include these people, you alienate them, and you send a clear message out to others, if they don't agree with you, they aren't welcome either.
That's a good thing, though isn't it? Well, it will certainly make people fearful of expressing themselves, their concerns, so it will help minimise "negative" feedback. It will also encourage those who are not #likeminded to leave the community.
And here's what happens...
The community becomes splintered, those who have been hurt, excluded, isolated then start their own communities, they become "competition". They become even more determined to show others your short comings, because they have nothing to lose; and they have proof of your wrong doing because you've isolated them from their community.
To sum up- if you "create" or "lead" a community, it doesn't belong to you, it's not down to your personal preferences to exclude/or include people, the community has a life of its own. You are responsible for serving that community, and all of the people in it. Including facilitating discussions which may include conflict.
If you're not capable of mediating conflict, allowing, and encouraging different view points and open discussion, then what you have is a dictatorship, not a community.
And, what's more than that as a leader you need to nuture those outspoken people; they are the leaders within the community, you need to encourage them to lead other members of the community because one person alone cannot build a community, it takes connected leaders within the community to help it thrive and grow.
As a leader you need to learn how to include these individuals, giving them the freedom they need to be the individuals they are. When you show that you are not threatened by others (even when they have differing opinions) you show to members of your community that you are strong, and that they do not have to fear that if they do something you don't approve of, that they too may be excluded from their community.
We all have a desire/need to "belong" to something, and there is a strong psychological driving factor that will encourage us to exclude those who aren't "In" with us, it's how societies, tribes are built. We know who is "them" and who is "us", who we can trust, and who we cannot.
Except that it doesn't really work like that, collaborating with those who have different perspectives enriches our communities, enriches individual lives. This is why racism doesn't really work very well for anyone. It has a negative affect on those who experience it being directed at themselves, and it prevents communities from benefiting from diverse cultural richness.
If you want to spread your business message to a large number of people, using a community or tribal model, think twice about creating enemies, doing so (besides being horrid to the people you're excluding) will only make it harder for you to achieve your goals.
I teach marketing strategies that create "raving fans who do your marketing for you", and what those fans do is refer you and your business to others. It's a vital foundation of any
effective marketing strategy.
In the latest episode of The Global Networking Show four of the world's leading experts on getting referrals for business all come together in this broadcast. Excellent tips for business owners, and especially those fairly new to networking.
The keys to getting referrals for your business can be counter intuitive, so make sure you watch this to find out how to make sure you are getting the results from business networking that you need.
The Show's hosts, Dr. Ivan Misner, author of 'The World's Best Known Marketing Secret' and Andy Lopata, author of 'Recommended: How to Sell Through Networking and Referrals', are joined by Bob Burg, author of 'Endless Referrals.' and Thomas Albrecht, Director of The Referral Institute in Germany. You'll also spot me in there briefly as I helped out fielding the questions that were received online during the show.
Malcolm Levene shares his success & failures of 2013 in our series of guest blog posts, it's great to have others share the reality that successes don't appear in isolation!
As Albert Einstein once said: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
And as Bram Stoker has said, "We learn from failure, not from success."
As Mr Stoker and Mr Einstein note, the most effective form of learning is derived from our failures and mistakes. So, by making friends with our misjudgements, failed ventures, mistakes and errors, we become more powerful. That's because adversary is our greatest teacher.
And like most teachers, particularly those I can recall at school, a reluctance to learn was my default. Yet in later life, I've found some of their lessons invaluable.
The last few years I have been on an upward spiral having personally transformed myself.
I have gone from someone with no true confidence, self-worth or direction, and a full-time employed person who enjoyed partying, to the owner of my own youth coaching business: Find Your Spark! And I'm also en route to becoming Masters qualified in Coaching Psychology.
I am no longer a wild, ‘crazy’ party girl (unless it’s my birthday!) and am now much more sensible and driven to empower others in my ‘old’ age.
This has meant there have been some seismic changes to my life which have on the whole been for the better and 2013 has seen a large majority of them.
Successes of 2013:
2013 was year 2 of my business, Find Your Spark and by the end of the year I had culminated 7 clients (new and pre-existing) and was coaching 20 young people from October onwards which was my highest number to date.
This was within schools and in charity organisations such as the Prince’s Trust delivering career coaching, life development coaching and speeches.
The Prince’s Trust is my biggest, regular client to date and I was kindly told by them that they did not want to lose me hence they have kept booking me to come back.
Hearing this was a highlight of my year as I could clearly see it was making a tangible difference to the lives of young people.
Personally I achieved success through selling my property (which was both a success and a failure but more of that later) and moving in with my lovely boyfriend to North London, which helped strengthen our relationship further.
There is so much encouragement of businesses to give away products and services for free, talk about "Freemium" business models, it's hard to know as a business owner what to give for free, and
what not, and where the limit needs to be drawn to protect your own resources.
In addition to this, with the popularity of social media, so many people assume that just because you're connected online, you're somehow boosom buddies, and there's nothing you'd rather do than help them out for free. This can create a serious problem.
A problem of giving away or doing too much for free, a problem of being drained of time and energy into activities which are not an investment into your business, no matter how you might justify them as "Building Your Network", or following the "Freemium" business model.
I know this trap, as I've been in it myself, and so does Sharon Hayes, successful entrepreneur and builder of many very successful online businesses. She's particularly popular with her social media presence, and has over 138,000 followers on twitter!
Over the years she's been inundated with requests for help from business owners who wanted to "pick her brain", and these requests still continue, daily.
Initially, being the helpful generous, kind hearted person that she is, she did help many people, for free. What she found very quickly was that the people she was giving free help to,
weren't implementing the wisdom she was sharing, and had more issues that they needed help with, and drained more of her time than her fee paying clients... Does that sound familiar to
She's certainly now mastered the skill of converting Free to Paid, having several monthly turnover figures exceeding $1million dollars in the last year alone, I'm honoured to have Sharon as a good personal friend, and when she told me about the free training she's doing to help people tackle the issue of "free to paid", I was excited about sharing it with others.
The free online training this is this Thursday (20th June) at 8pm (London time, noon PDT, and 3 pm EDT).
Now of course, learning to say no is a good way of getting out of this trap, but how do you say "no" politely, how do you explain, without causing offence that actually, you're busy running
your own business, and as much as you'd like to help everyone, you just aren't able to.?
Only a few weeks ago I had a follower on twitter ask me to help a friend of theirs with a personal bank loan application!! When I politely declined the opportunity to get involved in someone else's personal finances (Who I'd never met, or even heard of) the response I received was less than polite, they let me know how disappointed in me they were, how they had believed I was a "good person"...!
I allocate more than enough of my time and expertise in helping others for free, I have one mentee who I invest a lot of my time into, and once they've flourished, I will take on another. I help my network, I provide my expertise to my own mastermind group members, I even provide a regular supply of free advice and tips through my social media accounts.
But at the end of the day, I'm a marketing/business consultant, I get paid for my expertise, that's how I earn my living. Asking me to work for free is like asking your bank to stop charging you for the service they provide, or walking into your local electronic store and asking for the free use of the latest flat screen Tv, you just wouldn't do it, would you?
Free products are also a challenge, how can you persuade customers to take that next step and purchase the products that you actually generate your profit from?
These are the areas that Sharon will cover on the Free To Paid online training, and as the last one was midnight our time, I'm looking forward to being able to listen in live to this one!
I'm gobsmacked by what greeted me this morning on Facebook when I tried to send a message to a new "Facebook Friend"...
I'd connected with someone on Twitter yesterday who is doing similar things, and runs similar Facebook page to one of mine, so I sent a friend request this morning.
I always send a quick "Hello" message with it, so that people know why I want to connect with them, so they know I'm not just randomly adding people (which I don't do).
Facebook then kindly gave me two options; either I had my message sent into their "other" mail box (which most people don't even know exists, let alone check) or, I could pay £0.71 for the privilege of having it sent directly into their inbox!
It's now more expensive to send a Facebook message than sending an old fashioned letter via snail mail!
This reeks of desperation to me, and I'm really not sure Facebook will survive these tactics. It seems their approach is "We've got a captive audience now, we can do whatever we want". I'm not as confident as they are that this is a winning strategy...
This is yet another reason why I'll be spending even more time building a network using Google+.
While most of Facebook's "customers" probably won't leave, or search for a different platform to connect on, the innovators, the early adopters WILL.
And it's the early adopters, the leaders who influence where other people go.
I've been saying for about a year now that I see Facebook becoming the next MySpace, (A thriving social media platform that died) and I haven't yet seen them doing anything about it.
They don't seem to be respecting their customers, and I really doubt that is an effective long term strategy. Especially as people like to buy from people that they know, like, trust
and respect. Businesses that don't make their customers feel good about doing business with them, usually have retention problems, and that's costly.
Right now Facebook may have a captive audience, but how much can they get away with before the avalanche? How long will it be before people leave by their droves, looking for platforms that do respect them, their information and aren't trying to take their money for basic functions?
I can think of many much more effective monetisation strategies, but it seems that Facebook is dancing to the tune of big brand marketers, who are using old style marketing strategies. And those old style strategies are the reason why social media used to be so effective, because social media is so very different.
These days, because of all the manipulative, less than straight activities of businesses using social media it's lost its "trust" factor. And I see Facebook as a platform losing more trust
than any other.
What do you think? Is charging more than a price of a stamp & envelope to send an email a strategy which is going to benefit Facebook in the long term?
Is the revenue they generate from these types of things going to outweigh the negativity it creates with their existing customers?
Following on from the social media big six blog post Claire Boyles wrote
recently which outlines the key distinctions between the big 6 social media platforms we received requests for more information on Google+
Chris Ogle who runs courses on getting the best from Google+ was kind enough to write a guest blog post to provide you more information. If this doesn't answer all your questions, please ask them in the comments section at the bottom.
In December following the announcement of “Communities” within the Google+ framework Google had created the final component I was looking for to enable me to deploy GPlus in the project I am working on...
But this raises an interesting question... why GPlus? Aren’t there enough social media tools out there already? … well... in both the workshops I recently delivered on G+ the overwhelming state of mind of those attending (at the start) was...
Look... Why should I switch to G+ or waste (spend) more time on yet another social media platform? Everyone I know is on Facebook... G+ has hardly anyone on it I know... and to be quite frank no one has given me a big enough ‘Why’ to do it... I would just spend more time on Social media and to be really honest I am questioning the value from a business perspective of the time I am already spending on the existing platforms... so thanks, but no thanks.
Sound familiar? Well... In viewing the philosophy and personas of the the top three social networks they are all taking and staking different positions online.
Facebook positions its social network platform as being about people’s identity. The “Timeline” update further reinforces this position as it allows you to update your life history and place it with the appropriate date stamp in your timeline stream.
Twitter sees itself as about “Events”. Breaking news and events globally in real time but keeping its charm and interface simple.
Google+ is positioned as a platform to enable us to bring all the different online tools that we use, and our interactions with others, into one integrated tool.
In a very simple analogy... If we took a street with bars and nightclubs in it... Facebook and Twitter own some pretty fancy clubs... but Google owns the street they are on (and a few clubs too)... Google is creating a platform that by the time we get to 2018, will deliver to us the information and tools that we, as yet, do not even know we need... and in order to collect the knowledge about us and learn all about us as individuals to do that the platform must be comprehensive enough for us to supply that information in a myriad of ways...