21 Great Resources that Will Save You Time in Your Business

clocktime-photoHere’s a great and very practical guest post from my friend and colleague, Alisoun Mackenzie. Scroll through it to find useful resources that YOU can use to help you market your business.

She says:

Having just returned from a wonderful six-month sabbatical I’m keen to ensure my business fits around my revived personal life, rather than the other way round.

One of the ways I’m doing this is by streamlining and automating much of what I do. And so in this blog I share some of my favourite apps, software, and resources that are helping me on this quest (read more by clicking on the link below):

http://alisoun.com/21-great-resources-that-willsaveyoutime/

 

Publicity – How To Get Journalists Calling You!

 

Getting great publicity is precious to a small business. Here’s how it happened for me lately, and how we learnt about the influence a great ‘hook’ can have.
coffins-24-1024x685 I, along with my colleagues Kate Clark and Karen Collins had organised a pop-up event to acknowledge national Dying Awareness Week in an empty shop space in our local shopping centre. Preparing for it the week before, we had brought in one of Karen’s beautiful willow coffins, made locally. We’d put it slap bang in the middle of the window, thinking this would definitely intrigue people.

And it did.

Just not in the way we had hoped.

My heart sank; but it soon soared again as I saw the funny side.  Despite negotiations it became apparent that the landlord (who had asked us to move everything out of the unit) was not going to budge, and we couldn’t find another location.

I sent a further press release to the papers who had received the first one, outlining the event and the schedule of fascinating talks we had put together.

Suddenly, the phone was ringing with journalists on the other end. P&J

The cancellation of an event about death due to complaints about a coffin was too ironic for them to miss. So today, here we are on the second page of the Press and Journal (the Northern Scot also photographed us yesterday for their issue tomorrow) having raised awareness of the idea of death, with far more publicity than we would have managed otherwise!

And then taking down the display this morning, along with my banner done especially in a hurry for this event.  Honestly, you just have to laugh!  IMG_1365

So what do you do when nothing goes as expected? Well, you say:

“Oh. Right. Okay, this means a change in plans. Let’s organise that and then look to see what we’ve learnt and what steps to take next.”

(Well, that’s the ideal scenario; sometimes there’s quite a lot of emotion that hangs around too, although the predominant feeling for us was one of laughter at the result of all our careful planning!)

So what was the difference between the first press release and the second one, cancelling the event?

The first had little sensational value (yes, it was Dying Awareness Week and it was a local event but there was nothing else that was of particular interest). The second had that sought-after ‘hook’ that journalists are looking for.

The second had that sought-after ‘hook’ that journalists are looking for. In this case the hook was not just the coffin in the window, but the complaints themselves, and the irony of an event about death being cancelled because of a complaint about a symbol of death itself. Plus there were obviously two points of view here – those who didn’t mind seeing a coffin with their coffee, and those who did.

Moral of the story:  find that hook!  The more sensational it is, the more likely the journalists will be ringing you up.

For your interest, here’s the list of the talks that would have been, and contact details, just in case you want to follow any of them up.

Before I Go: Practical Questions to Ask and Answer Before You Die – (this was my talk – you can get the book here and still come to a local workshop here)

Speaking to Children/Creating Memories Jill Stewart, CLAN

Caring for a Body At Home After Death – Kate Clark, Pushing Up the Daisies

Green Burial – What’s Different?  Will Russell, Wilkies Wood Green Burial Site

Funerals Don’t Have to Be DullEve Baillie, interfaith minister

Coffins – Karen Collins, Naturally Useful

How to Save £2000 on Your Funeral – Kate Clark, Pushing up The Daisies

If you have any stories about journalists, getting publicity or sensational stories, post them now and let me know!

How Grief is Transforming Wild Wisdom

I unwittingly jumped on a rollercoaster ride when I came back from holiday a few weeks ago.Roller Coaster 1

I was plunged into a tsunami of rage towards my dead husband of 3 years.

It’s been a very long time since I felt like this, and it was a bit shocking to be taken over so much by these intense feelings. It only lasted a couple of days, but I criticised myself for not being able to work; I berated myself for not being further forward in my life; and I felt stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck. Swirling around in the tears and the anger and the pain that it all brought, old habitual limiting thoughts rising to the fore.

It came to a head when I noticed how furious I was with the newly-retired man living next door. What for? Because he was retired and he and his wife could do whatever they liked on his pension. And I had no man, who had left me with a very precarious financial situation.

That stopped me. I had to laugh, it was so outrageous! He had done nothing at all, and yet he provoked my fury. Obviously, I needed help!

I got help in the form of good colleagues helping me get my mind straight, after the floods of tears which were the aftermath of the tsunami. But the washing through of this, and a willingness to trust the process (which I had been resisting) emerged again and I spent the next two days doing what I really wanted to do – have a good clear out of my flat.

Normally, I spend most of my time doing what I want to do. So this whole episode was unusual to say the least. But I’m sharing it here because it was the precursor of another event – and looking back, I can see it was the darkness before the light.

At the same time, I was working with Julia Stege, The Magical Marketer (This is the woman I mentioned to you last week – our call together has been moved from Monday 11th to Tuesday 19th May, details following in a separate email).

The result of this has been far-reaching. I am celebrating another change for Wild Wisdom, woo hoo, bring it on!  I seem to thrive on change, once I get used to the idea it is happening 🙂

Julia and I came up together with a statement that encompasses how my work with Wild Wisdom and my forthcoming book Gifted By Grief combine together:

“I help spiritual women business owners who have been stopped by grief to awaken to the gifts and wild wisdom in their situation, so they can step fully into their new life and make the contribution they were born to make.”

It was so obvious! I even remembered that my business coach had mentioned this connection to me a few months ago – but obviously I wasn’t ready to hear it, let alone act on it.

I was resistant because I thought it meant a very narrow niche – how many spiritual solo professionals and small business owners had been stopped by grief, like I was?  Well, on reflection, when I realised everyone has had grief of some kind in their lives, quite a lot!

Grief is all part of the human tapestry of emotion. It comes with being alive in a body. What’s important about grief is how it is pushed away, tolerated, or welcomed in. When either of the former two happen, it will make its presence felt (eventually) in no uncertain terms.

It is well-documented that when grief is not processed fully it can have a detrimental effect on the body, let alone on any other aspect of life. And even when it is welcomed, it can still cause problems.

So how does grief show up in life?  Here’s a list with a few ways:

  • Death of a loved one (person or pet)
  • A loved one has illness/diagnosis
  • Kids leaving home (empty nest)
  • Forced to move
  • Losing a business partner
  • Career change causing confusion
  • Loss of health
  • Divorce
  • Failure
  • Loss of innocence (eg if raped)
  • Loss of hope (eg infertility)
  • A dream not realised

So I will be focusing my website and my marketing to this end. I’ll be posting about the myriad ways that life ‘interferes’ with your plans, and causes you to stop, both at an inner level and an outer, more practical level. And of course, what to do about it, even if it is just being comfortable with stopping.

My heart really sings when I facilitate and witness an inner transformation, a light bulb going off in someone’s head as they see/hear/feel things differently, and which impacts their behaviour. Then I’m in heaven, grateful for the opportunity to serve, and delighted that this is my work and I get paid for it!

My Spirit in Business 5 Steps to Success programme begins with the element of discovering exactly who you are, and what you offer to the world, so that will stay the same. Likewise, there is still a place for the Radical Income Welcome Toolkit, which is full of gems that are useful in all walks of life, not just when you’ve been stopped by grief.

So the website will be changing in the next few weeks as I get my head around what my heart wants to move forward with.

 I invite you to come on the journey with me.

And if you would like to explore the situation you find yourself in at work or in your life, please contact me for a free 30 minute exploratory session, where I can listen to you, hear what’s being said in between the words, and help you get clear about your next steps forward.

The easy-peasy way to get more testimonials!

How often do you feel challenged when asking someone to recommend your work? It’s so easy to let this slip, and yet when you do that, you miss a huge, and golden, opportunity.

Why? Because people are much more likely to believe what someone else has said about your service or product than you. It’s just a fact. They’re not biased, whereas, you are!

Testimonials provide evidence of your credibility, they demonstrate you are trustworthy, and they encourage and inspire others to use your services too.  Which is what you want, of course.

I spoke about this to a client recently.

You want to be training your brain to listen out for possible phrases as testimonials, so you can use them. Once you’ve done that, then you need to ask if it’s OK to use what they said as a testimonial. And then you need to take action and get it up on your site, or wherever you can use it most effectively.”

A few days after her last session, she emailed me, it just came through and inspired this article. Towards the end of the email, I read the following:

I’ve just typed up my session 11 notes – all on a big Word document starting with my session 1 notes. I can’t believe how far I’ve come in my thinking and success since then, the questions and things I am thinking about are at a whole new level from when I started working with you [PING – TESTIMONIAL ALARM!!!).

What’s a testimonial alarm?  I’d coached her to listen to what people say about her work, and here she was demonstrating her ability to listen by pointing out to me a possible testimonial for myself!

So her brain has already locked into identifying possible testimonials, which means her business is going to benefit far more in this area than before. Hurray!

Now I’m putting the lesson into practice (having asked her) by turning this into an article, which covers three things – the importance of testimonials, using one myself, and providing evidence to you that working with me is a great idea. 🙂

Which is exactly what you want to be doing too, if you are interested in gaining more clients, credibility and confidence.

You’re likely to get more clients, because most business is done by word of mouth still (whether on or off line) and testimonials are just that. More credibility comes because the more people you have out there saying how great you are, and what fantastic results they’ve had since working with you, the better it reflects on you. And more confidence because it just feels plain damn good to be told you are great a lot!

So, please do embed the Testimonial Alarm in your consciousness and begin to gather them in from all sources.

By the way, I was writing this in a coffee shop, and as I was leaving, the lady at the next table said ‘Are you Jane?’

“Yes,” I replied, looking puzzled.

doing business differently“I’m on your mailing list and I really love getting your newsletters, they’re great. And especially reading about the whole wild wisdom thing, you know, upside down thinking, the lot!”

So there was another testimonial too!  What a lovely morning 🙂

Have you got any inspiring testimonial stories? Share them with me by clicking on the little number to the right of the title and entering your story.

Why appearances really DO matter (especially if it’s chocolate!)

‘There’s something that isn’t quite right’, I said to my friend, who I was visiting over Christmas, ‘not sure what it is though’.
‘I know what you mean. I wonder what it is?’
‘Actually, I think it might be the fact that we don’t have a BOX of chocolates!’
‘What?  We’ve got loads of chocolate!’
‘Yes, but it’s not in a box!’

It was true. We had lots of bars of chocolate and very nice stuff at that. But we didn’t have a box. So on Boxing Day (no pun intended!) on our way to a lovely walk up by Tarn Hows in the Lake District, we stopped at a garage and bought ourselves a beautiful box of chocolates.

Later that day, some friends came by for an evening of game playing. They brought a huge box of chocolates which they’d already opened, but there were lots left.  Lucky us, now two boxes!

‘Oh no!’ said Jenny, as the new box fell to the carpet and all the chocolates fell out. ‘I didn’t realize it was already open.  Well, I’ll just get a bowl and put them all in that’.

And that’s how we discovered that chocolates need to be in a box. Because what had looked lovely before in their special display packaging, looked very ordinary indeed in the bowl. Not particularly appetizing looking, we couldn’t see the nice little decoration on top of each chocolate, and they clearly needed the packaging to set them off.

‘Oh my goodness!  We really are paying for the packaging, and even when we know that, when it’s so obviously demonstrated, we don’t mind!  We actually WANT the chocolates in a box!  Perhaps not for every day, but definitely for a special occasion’.

And how often do we complain about the packaging, and having to pay for it?

This reminded me of the importance of a great frame to complement a good painting. I’m aware of this in particular because I was brought up by two artists, so I have an eye for this kind of thing. So often a lovely picture is ruined because the mount and/or the frame are not bringing out the full potential of the painting.

And that reminds me of why it’s important to package what you offer in an attractive manner. If you’re running a business, packaging is essential even if it’s for a service. But you could just be talking about your self – why else do you pay attention to how you dress when you want to make an impression?

Here’s how it can translate into your website if you have one. If you look at my home page, you’ll see a picture of the front cover of my free report ‘Stop Hiding, Start Shining and Watch Your Business Blossom’.  I could have just told you that title in words – but by putting it into an image, it looks much more appealing.  Then when you download the e-book itself, it’s full of doodle drawings and laid out attractively – just like the chocolates in their box.

I try to do the same for all my products or services, and for myself of course. Actually we all do it all the time – you spruce up your home when someone comes visiting or you’re preparing to sell; you clean your car before your mother in law comes to visit; you clean up the kitchen at the end of the day because you like it to look fresh and welcoming first thing in the morning.  But it’s particularly prevalent when it comes to selling anything.

Whether we like it or not, even when we realize we are paying for packaging, sometimes that is exactly what is needed in order to present our wares in the most attractive and tempting manner possible. Even when the buyer knows this is what is going on, they are still willing to pay for that, especially when for whatever reason, it’s a special occasion.

So – think about the packaging of what you’re offering in the next situation when it’s appropriate. Do you want to give the chocolates in a box?  In a bowl? Or just a bar of chocolate? They all have their place – but what do YOU want to be offering?