Posts Tagged ‘marketing’
Wherein I, very uncharacteristically, talk about beauty, as in beauty therapy treatments. But really, I’m talking about self-esteem and about marketing.
For those of you who don’t know what threading involves, it’s a method of facial hair removal. It’s all the rage these days, but 5 years ago there were hardly any places that did it in Cardiff. Normally my awareness of beauty techniques is pretty low (so something may have been around for 20 years and I probably wouldn’t have noticed) but I did look into it at the time for a friend who wanted her eyebrows threaded, not waxed, and had only found one place.
At that time, when I walked into that beauty salon to enquire about prices and whether they would do home visits (my friend was housebound), the first thing the owner (a very glamorous woman in her forties) said was: “You’ve come to have your eyebrows done, yes?” as if they were some kind of furry caterpillars rampaging across my face and had to be controlled immediately. I refrained from covering my eyebrows with my index fingers as I answered that no, I like my eyebrows as they are (dubious pout from her) and that I was enquiring for a friend.
Now beauty booths that do threading (and nails and other stuff) have sprung up in the middle of the shopping centres – ArchAngels in Saint David’s, something else, even maybe another ArchAngels? in Saint David’s 2. And I had a similar experience to the one 5 years ago, in Saint David’s 2. A plump lady armed with [insert name of beauty booth here] leaflets stopped me as I was on my way to Lakeland to buy edible glitter for my blissings. She told me I should have my eyebrows done, it only takes 5 minutes, it’s pretty cheap (quoted price at me), blah blah blah, and it would lift my face and I would look prettier.
Now I have to say, CHEERS very much. (“Yeah you look ok love, but you could do better.”)
I’m being told repeatedly (well ok… twice) that my eyebrows need doing. I DON’T CARE!
The truth is, I totally do care. It sucks, as a marketing ploy. But it works. You start by denting your potential client’s self image just so you can announce that you can fix it for them. And somewhere, even though I am loathe to admit it, a small part of me wonders whether they are actually right.
Maybe my eyebrows don’t need doing. It’s just sales. People’s eyebrows are easier to spot and comment on than nails for example. (If that random woman had accosted me and grabbed my hands to examine my nails, I would have either hit her or run away.) Then once I’m in the booth having my eyebrows done, she can check my nails and upsell me a manicure or somesuch. I get it.
Maybe my eyebrows do need doing. But hold on… what intangible benefit am I supposed to get out of it? What does “lift my face” mean anyway? I have a mental image of attaching a bunch of helium balloons to my face, perhaps with pegs.
No, seriously, are we talking facelift kind of lift? As in looking younger? People think I’m in my early twenties as it is – I’m 31 – and I don’t need to look any younger, thank you very much. Clients are just not going to take me seriously.
Are we talking happy kind of lift? If you’re frowning and grumpy no amount of eyebrow threading will make you look joyful. I’ll choose smiling over having my facial hair tampered with. Even though I once overheard an old lady on the bus say that she never smiles because it creates wrinkles.
[An aside: that being said, I did have a part of my face de-haired once. In my younger days, when I believed what other (random, ill-informed) people told me about my appearance. A boy asked me to have my upper lip waxed and I complied. Looking back, that was one of the silliest mistakes I have ever made, and I would like to reach back and give myself a good shake and a stern talking to. I’m brunette. I have a ‘tache. Live with it, or piss off.]
Moral one: thanks, beauty industry, but I don’t think so. There’s got to be a better way to do marketing than to knock someone down just to be able to pick them up and make them feel better again. If that were a relationship, that would be abusive.
Moral two: when I’m 40 and I need to look younger, I’ll have my eyebrows threaded. Until then, I’m not even going to bother thinking about it (which I confess I have been up to now, just once I a while… “should I? should I not?”). And this has just freed up a surprisingly consequent amount of mental space, which I can now use to… erm… dodge raindrops, coo over my newborn godchild, blog post about marketing a bit more, and about how much you need to drink water (these last two are actually coming soon).
All in all a resounding success, methinks.
I’m about to go slightly hibernat-ey (yes, even though it’s pretty much the high of summer) and not do very much on the socialising/hanging out/sitting in the sun in the park front, for the next few months. Until I go to New York in mid-August for the Focusing Institute summer school to be precise.
Until then, I have much to do. My current projects are:
- putting together a framework and basic information for the 2011 Moon Diary, which I’m working on with Emma Jones, Nicola Pledger and Nadia Ansari
- preparing a bunch of workshops for the Welsh Training Academy
- and (biggest and most exciting of all!) completely reworking my marketing strategy and product offering. Sounds technical and horrible, but that’s only words. In practice, I’ll be putting together a bunch of creative fun activities that I think people will really enjoy!
The rationale behind this last point came from reading Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid. (If you are self-employed or an entrepreneur with a small company, read it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.) It has been a total revelation and changed my outlook on marketing and selling my knowledge/expertise/products/offering – from “I know I *have* to but… – ick!” to seeing it as something simple and natural, which isn’t offensive like cold-calling can be, and which only requires a bit of thought, planning and a big burst of creativity. Which is what I’m getting ready to do over the next few weeks. Expect many amazing, beauteous and fantastical new things by the end of the summer: at least one free e-book, the Ping! ideas exchange, a happiness course and a mentoring programme, and a workshop or two. These are all bubbling away happily in my head and it’s time for me to make them happen.
While I’m exercising my creativity and having this period of intense cerebral activity, it will do me good to do things that keep me grounded – particularly bodywork, as I enjoy it so much, and especially as I’ve perfected an amazing multi-sensory massage and since my reflexology sessions totally rock.
- telling everyone about my sessions. Please spread the word as widely as you can and much good karma will come back to you! Here’s the link: http://www.beamazingtoday.co.uk/bodywork/ ready for you to share on Facebook, tweet, email, snail mail, etc. My sessions are amazing. No-one else does them quite like me. That’s worth talking about.
- treating yourself to a massage or a reflexology session. This is the option I recommend most highly. It’s good to do something amazing for yourself. You’ll thank yourself, I kid you not.
- treating someone you know to a session: your nan, mum, sister, wife, fiancee, girlfriend, or BFF; a sensitive man you know who doesn’t think massage or reflexology is only for girlies (cause it’s not!); your boss, even, if that’s the way you rock.
And I will dance my massage dance and smile at people’s feet (maybe even yours?) and work my magic and the world will be a happier place. And while I’m not doing this I will be pouring my heart and soul and sizzling synapses onto the flipchart / the page / the screen and smiling all the while and giving thanks.
So muchos thanks. Ta muchly. Much appreciated. You rock. Keep being wonderful. xoxoxo
People usually fall into two categories when you talk about Facebook – they either love it or hate it. Initially I was a bit wary of it, then created my personal profile and quickly got a bit (very!) addicted to it, then got bored and slightly annoyed with the amount of silly applications and various invitations to become a zombie slayer or take random quizzes. My usage dropped right off but I still liked checking the newsfeed and finding out what my friends were up to on a much regular basis than I would achieve if I were only keeping in touch by email.
Now that I have started using it for business and networking, I enjoy FB a lot more. I’ve been doing some work sorting out and organising my account today, and helping a friend sort hers out too. I thought I’d throw some notes together which would be of use if you’re setting up a business and aren’t sure where to start, so you can benefit from the learning curve I’ve been on and avoid some of the mistakes that I made and later learnt how to correct!
Admittedly, a lot of people are (still?) not on FB for various reasons – a lot more already are though. Depending on the nature of your business – if it would benefit you to be able to talk to many people about what you do – it may be appropriate for it to have a FB presence. If it is – read on. [At a later date I'll put a post together about what you need to think about when you're about to set up your website - if you're in the process now and need it sooner rather than later I can be persuaded to do it asap if you ask me nicely ]
It’s worth spending a bit of time initially thinking about setting up a business profile separate from your personal profile, and being clear for each one about what you want on there, who will see it, and what functionalities you are going to need.
Keep your personal profile personal
First of all, your personal profile page should be just that – personal. You don’t necessarily want your business contacts to know you’re about to bake a cake or have bought new socks; the groups you choose to join and artists you are a fan of are not relevant to your business activity. You don’t want to have to constantly be checking yourself from sharing information with your friends and family about what you do in your downtime. And most of all, by keeping your business dealings separate, you can keep your privacy settings on your personal information as high as you like them.
By the way, since 13th June 2009 you can have a “vanity URL” on your personal profile page. This means that instead of your profile having this kind of extended URL: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=1620308868&ref=ts, you can set it to look like this instead: http://www.facebook.com/noreenblanluet. Not necessarily a huge amount of use, but tidier. Now, the important thing to think of here is: always set your personal profile vanity URL to your own name. Sounds obvious saying it now, but initially there was a lot of my business stuff on my profile as I hadn’t clearly split the two, so I set my vanity URL as http://www.facebook.com/beamazingtoday. You can change your vanity URL/account username once and once only! So choose wisely.
Groups and pages
For your business, you’ve got a choice of creating either a group or a page. There are pros and cons for both, but personally I think a page is better for most businesses. Read on…
With a page, people add themselves as fans. With a group, people join the group. Some people say that it makes a difference to one’s commitment to the business (more commitment if you actively join, more passive attitude if you just become a fan). Personally I think that’s a pretty minor consideration – other factors are more weighty.
Fan pages are visible to anyone (including not on Facebook), and they would come up in, say, a Google search (try Googling “beamazingtoday” – the FB page comes up top of the list). This is good as far as web exposure is concerned! (This doesn’t happen with groups.)
Addendum (added about 24 hours later): About the FB pages being indexed in major search engines – I was thinking about this earlier today and realised I haven’t actually emphasised quite how important that is – especially for a new business with a new website. I will post in more detail about getting started with a website at a later date, but basically it can take months before your new website even appears in Google and the other big search engines. Having a fan page in FB means that you can stand on the shoulders of a giant, which is very well indexed in all the major search engines, and which means you’ll appear on there very quickly. (Twitter and LinkedIn are two other giants also worth using – and I will also post about them in due course – but because of their different formats and purposes, I still think FB is the first one to concentrate on as it can communicate the most information to the general public.) Getting as much exposure as possible is incredibly important, and difficult to achieve, for a new business! That’s probably – even if you ignore everything else – the best reason for having a FB page for your business.
Structure-wise, a fan page looks very much like a personal page. There is a wall (for newsfeeds) and an info tab, you can have notes, boxes, photos, links, videos, a discussion etc. The structure is quite flexible and you can add and delete several of the elements according to your needs. All your updates appear in your fans’ newsfeeds – the communication is immediately out there, and it keeps you present in people’s minds, as opposed to groups where people have to actually check in regularly for the latest news (unless you message out – more about this later).
A group only has one page (no tabs) and holds some info and recent news, a discussion board, wall, photos, links, and videos one above the other. I find that when a lot of information has accumulated over time, navigation is not as clear as on a fan page.
Additional bonuses of a page: you can push your blog feed through to your FB page (your posts appear in your newsfeed as well as in your notes – just take a look at the beamazingtoday FB page). You can sync your Twitter account with your FB page so that your updates on FB are automatically pushed through to Twitter. Each one of your fan pages can have its own username URL, which means you can have an easy to remember (and to type in) URL on your business card or website, such as http://www.facebook.com/beamazingtoday (this is not available for groups).
One advantage groups have over fan pages is that you can “bulk invite”, i.e. easily invite all your friends to join by sending a nice personalised message. Also, any group member can also send bulk invites to all their friends, and spread the word easily and more widely. With fan pages, you can suggest the page to people but it’s a bit dry as you can’t personalise the message. Instead it’s a good idea to message people personally to suggest they become a fan – a bit more work but once you have a template that works for everyone it’s a nice (semi-)personal touch (kinda like: “hello, I have a professional page at blablabla, I would really appreciate it if you could become a fan, and even better if you could spread the word to people you think would be interested in what I do, thanks a bunch, your support is appreciated as these are early days in my fledgeling business, blabla – feel free to use )
Now this last point is both a pro and a con: when you send a message to all the members of a group, the message drops straight into their inbox. When you send an update to the fans of a page, it goes into their updates box (a separate folder which sits just under their inbox). Personally, I like it – it keeps things separate; my inbox gets horrendously cluttered by messages from various groups I’m not really *that* interested in. (But then, I’m freakishly tidy sometimes.) But it’s a fair point I think, that to stay at the front of people’s minds with a group (unlike the fan page whose updates will slot naturally into the newsfeeds), you have to keep messaging people and filling their inbox. And they may not be that interested… With a newsfeed you can choose to hide updates from people/pages you’re not too interested in. With messages filling your inbox, you don’t really have a choice – bar leaving the group, which is counterproductive to our purpose! However, having the fan page updates in a separate updates folder can also be a bit of a disadvantage – if people are not that FB-savvy, they might not even notice that there are unread messages in their updates box.
Finally, and this is pretty important if your business is involved in setting up and managing events of any kind, with a fan page you can create related events but you cannot actually *host* an event – i.e. you have to manually invite guests and these must be from your (personal) friends list. There is no way (so far?) to invite all of your fans with one click; so if you have a bunch of fans who you don’t have on your friends’ list, they won’t get invites directly. There are ways round this, e.g. updates, posts to newsfeed to publicise the event, etc – but it’s worth thinking about. Groups allow you to host an event and automatically invite all of your group members.
So – in summary…
… and in my opinion: with a fan page you can build better long-term relationships with your fans, readers or customers, whereas a group is more useful for attracting quick attention, for example for a one-off event or maybe series of events. You could even have a fan page for long-term stuff and a focussed group for something more specific.
Additional miscellanious thoughts
You can create a memorable web address for your personal profile as well as your groups and your fan pages, such as http://companies.to/beamazingtoday. This is also available with: band.to/, artist.to/, politician.to/ (presumably for trendy FB politicians – I haven’t looked up any!), facebook.dj/ by adding the web address application to your profile. Now that the vanity URLs are available, I don’t see any real point in this, but it may be worth doing anyway just so no-one else uses your business name. (And if you have a group, you can’t have a vanity URL (yet?) so that would be useful.)
You can also put a fan box on your website or blog, which will show a small amount of information directly linked to your most current FB fan page information – e.g. your fan page photo, latest page news update, etc – and people can add themselves as a FB fan of your page without even leaving your website (apparently!). The link (“add fan box to your site”) is under the photo on your fan page, and takes you to a page for customised widgets.
Don’t you just love the word “widget”?!
Hope this is of help – do leave a comment and share how you use FB for your business. What have you found works for you and doesn’t, and why?
I’ve been meaning to blog for the past few days and indeed have a few ideas and started articles staring at me from my “draft” folder… However – I found out last night how to merge my website with this blog, i.e. to have them all on the one website (www.beamazingtoday.co.uk) which would mean all my info in the same place, a brochure website with blog updates, and also no adverts on my blog!
I’m going through such a steep learning curve at the moment, it’s magical and unreal and it sometimes feel like my little brain is going to implode. I was chatting to a friend this morning and saying once I have got my head round all this using the web to promote your business [Twitter, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, search engine optimisation, blogging, etc etc] I should probably write a blog article – and share some of what I’ve been spending the past month teaching myself about!
Anyway. That was an aside. I found out this morning that unfortunately the company I have been hosting my websites with ever since I’ve had my first website… doesn’t support the blogging software I want to use. I’m moving a step up in my technological endeavours and it is time to bid them good-bye after several years of effective services. I’ve just transferred the domain name and purchased hosting with a new whizzy company that supports WordPress, so in the next few days (once all the registration is done and files are created their end and whatever clever stuff they need to do to set me up) I will be migrating this blog over to www.beamazingtoday.co.uk
Then there will be more interesting blogging happening. Thank you for bearing with me in the meantime while I blog about not blogging ;-p
Catch you all soon!