Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Thoughts on Google +

I am facilitating a training workshop this evening on Social Media Marketing, covering the basics and a bit beyond depending on the range of online marketing experience in the group.  So as I put the finishing touches to the presentation, which generally means cutting back my expectations of the amount of information I can realistically share in 2 hours, I am pondering on whether to even include Google +.  I suppose it would be wrong not to as it is now 'out there' like it or not.  In my case, right now .... not.  Obviously this will be subject to change as the market responds.

My issue is that the fine line between bartering my identity in exchange for some great free gizmos has been crossed when it comes to Google +.   I am generally a fan of Google products, but with Google + they aren't even pretending to know only a reasonable amount about you, your friends, family, business, preferences, habits.... It is no secret that your information is being pillaged, on the contrary we are being persuaded to get over it.  Probably I will in time. Just now I am imaging a future when one day when I can't decide what to wear, up will pop my Google + app telling me that it has selected my underwear ready for me to get dressed. How is that for a nightmare scenario?

Friday, 21 October 2011

Small business branding issue - where is the line between you and your business? What are you really selling?

I have just received an email from a client who is seeking clarity on an issue she has with her marketing. Her query is as follows:
“I need to get clearer about ''my name" or "my company name's" (footnote 1)  USP, and I am still not sure whether I am my business or not”

First a little bit of context. My client is a consultant/coach working on personal and professional development with individuals and teams. Her specialist subject is by definition personal to people and in order to be effective she needs people's trust. The paying customer/decision-maker may be the direct recipient of her service or may be an HR person who sources and arranges on behalf of the organisation.

I hear business advisors tell business owners “you are your business”. They insist “you must sell 'you'. And the poor business owner, who is likely to be at home with the operational side of their business, but less comfortable being its marketing manager, is left unclear on what this means. Conclusions may be drawn that you have to be a nice person, or a popular person, to run a successful small business. Then there is the current buzzword 'authenticity', which a lot of people are translating as sharing everything about themselves as individuals. And, then add to that the now obligatory adjective 'passionate'.  Can't you just be good at what you offer any more?

I send out a challenge to these business advisors. I am not satisfied that you have to “sell yourself” and “you are your business”. I would like to offer some health warnings to small business owers regarding this advice.  

Back to the client query re the USP.  Let's differentiate between 'USP', ethos, brand, and 'personal selling!

USP – so hard to offer something “unique”. USP has been downgraded to “wow factors” with good reason. A wow factor of your business could be that it uses the latest technology, has the most comfortable premises, has some amazing quantifiable results etc etc (nothing personal there). If you are struggling to think of some wow factors trying asking your customers what they think.

Ethos and brand are very linked in my mind, as a brand without an ethos is in danger of becoming just a meaningless logo device. No matter the size of the business, there are brand values wrapped up in it. The difficulty for micro businesses is unravelling what they are because the business owners are so close to it and simply do things 'their way'. In Henmore's Marketing Club we have some fun working on this area. Have a think, what standards and values do you have that are appropriate to share with your customers? What values do your customers seek?

Personal selling is a marketing text book phrase for when there is a face-to-face sales person as one of your marketing tactics (part of your promotional mix - see 2 below). Sales reps are the essence of this tactic. So if you are the business owner and selling your expertise you are inevitably both the sales rep and the delivery mechanism so possibly the concept of having to sell yourself and be authentic and passionate looms large (see 3 below).

Could someone else sell your product/service?

Try testing yourself with this question. Could someone else sell your product or service for you? There should only be one answer to that question – yes! Imagine what information and approach this ficticious sales person would need. Actually, don't just imagine it, write it down. What steps would you suggest the sales rep takes to convert a prospective customer into a paying customer? Give your ficticious salesman the job description of having to demonstrate credibility - would you equip her with some prepared information? How would she build conviction? This may involve a demo or trial – so that is possibly where the real you comes back in again. How would you make sure your sales person sets expectations about price and service levels? I bet your sales person wouldn't give away so much for free in the way that small business owners do!

If you couldn't answer yes to the salesperson question and you are more comfortable selling 'you' then let me leave you with this thought: You may be over-identifying with your business. You may be viewing its success, financial or otherwise, as validating you as a person. When something goes awry - business owners do make errors, products do fail, markets can collapse - the disasters or failures could have an affect on your mental well-being. Some entrepreneurs evaluate and start again with new information, others don't. What would you do?


  1. You'll spot that names were deleted – there's a balance between transparency and appropriateness.
  1. Personal selling is part of the promotional mix, which for the sake of completeness also includes advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, and publicity. The promotional mix part of your marketing plan specifies how much emphasis to apportion each of these techniques, and how much money to budget for each. (Reality check – not many micro businesses have a marketing plan beyond a 'to do' list unless their bank requires one).
  2. I will publish my blog on authenticity another time because I want to run it past a kindred spirt in the US first. In the mean time I'd advise people to start being wary of describing how passionate they are about their business or product because it is fast becoming a cliché.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Which is more important - the intuitive or rational mind?

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." Albert Einstein 

Marketing and running a business requires both, I reckon . . .

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Facebook for business

Setting up and managing Facebook FOR BUSINESS

With more than 750 million users, you are likely already using Facebook; you may even fall in the 50% that log on every day. The question is: How well are you using Facebook for business … if at all? If you would like to know how to create a winning Facebook page, increase the number of “likes” and generate business leads with Facebook, this session is for you. You will learn:

  • How to set up your Facebook page correctly
  • How to manage events on Facebook
  • Best practices and tips for creating engaging content
  • Communications strategies for your fan base

Venue:  Dove Studio, Dove Farm, Mill Lane, off Dove Street, Ellastone, DE6 2GY
Price:  £15 + VAT

2012 workshop schedule and booking form

Other details:  Please bring a laptop computer if possible and a note of password information to any applications (e.g. Facebook) so that you can access and make changes to your accounts.

This workshop is for a small group of people so we will do our best to answer individual questions and resolve issues.

“Catherine talks common sense when it comes to marketing, which is wonderfully refreshing for a small business trying to achieve top results on a tight budget. Her practical, down-to-earth approach is both reassuring and motivating. I found her social media workshop and her general advice extremely helpful.”

Monday, 1 August 2011

Netwalking in Churnet Valley

More opportunities to improve your work life balance!

- work bit is making/strengthening your connections with local business people
- the life bit is enjoying some fabulous scenery and getting some exercise by walking for an hour or so
- the balance bit is the consumption of refreshments afterwards!

So this is what to expect from netwalking!  Plus the easy, stress-free nature of this form of networking resulting from the format that Paul arranges.

Next netwalking: 23rd August - Churnet Valley, Staffordshire
meeting in Alton at the Parish Church to set off at 12.30pm.  
Walking for about an hour with a quasi-formal facilitated networking structure.    Booking via netwalking booking form

Comments about the network following the Carsington Water netwalk

Sort of small print:
Paul, the netwalking leader that we have partnered with (www.skylarkactivities.com), has a netwalker code:

You are your own best medical expert.
Accept the need for the group to make the journey together – being outdoors there is a shared responsibility. Alert fellow netwalkers to any hazards along the way.
Share your expertise - if you spot something interesting.
Help people over difficult patches or obstacles – like up inclines or over stiles.
Set your own pace and re-group every now and then.
Choose what information you want to share, who with and how.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Networking - the merits of connecting locally

Networking locally has been a useful activity for us at Henmore, even though are clients are UK wide, in Europe and USA.  As a result of local networking we have:
  • formed associations with marketing specialists to offer a wider marketing service 
  • worked collaboratively on new projects with the people we’ve met 
  • been invited as a guest speaker at UK events and conferences 
  • strengthened relationships with existing clients 
  • gained many new business referrals that have generated new customers (thank you to those that have supported us) 
  • built a network of ‘champions’ who help us spread the word about our local marketing training events and programmes 
  • gained insight and feedback on our ideas 
  • kept abreast of issues and events taking place in our local area 
  • made some new friends

After trying various groups and organisations I have settled on a select few groups in my local region of Derbyshire and Staffordshire that suit my style.  I regularly visit these groups:  WiRE, Matlock Business Club, The Business Cub, at Chatsworth, Moorlands Networking, SPDTA.

I am the facilitator of Matlock Business Club, which has enabled me to observe many people’s approach and consider my own.

Here are few thoughts about networking:

Attend with an open mind, go with the flow.  Some people seem to judge an event by the number of business cards they collected.  After assessing the benefits to Henmore of our networking activities, I am not convinced of that as an evaluation criterion.

Be friendly – you would think this would be obvious!  Be friendly even to your competitors.  I’ve heard some horror stories of people slinging some mud at their competitors (worse still dissing them in the one minute slot).  Don’t go there . . .

Be open and welcoming.  Approach those on the edge of the room; invite them into your conversations.  As an extravert, I have to remind myself that some powerful business people are not necessarily natural networkers, so don’t overlook those looking on from the sidelines. 

Stay calm.  If you spot an influential business person please don’t go all gaga around them.   I’ve seen this happen and it is just weird.

Allow yourself to move on.  Some people will monopolise you so be kind to yourself, and to them, and move them on to someone else or request permission to continue networking in the room. 

Keep your business card in reserve.  I am not a fan of ‘card slinging’ networking events. Some people look for quantity rather than quality, but that doesn’t suit our business model.  Unless it suits yours, save yourself the hassle of unsubscribing from a million mailing lists and hold back your details until you are asked for them.

Introduce people within and across your networks – be the real-life face-to- face version of LinkedIn and Facebook.

Source and share in your networks.  If you need something then ask from within your network of contacts.  It sounds obvious, but if it is so obvious why do so few people do it? 

In conclusion, I offer a gentle reminder that your network of contacts is not just a place to push your own wares.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Marketing & Technology - Ideas into Action

Really enjoyed the discussions with everyone at the event today.  Thanks for listening to Chris Woodhouse and me doing our best to share some ideas and strategies to use technology for marketing improvement.  Great to listen to fellow presenters Mathew (www.peakdistrictcreations.co.uk) and Paul (www.spinlessplates.com).

I promised a link to the thoughts I shared on how to make marketing work for small businesses.  This takes you to a tool I use for sharing documents - box.net.  Can be handy for sharing.  It also allows collaborators or those you share documents with to leave comments.  And it is free so hey, nothing lost.

Insights, ideas, strategies, ----> actions.
Next steps:
Here are a few ideas to encourage you to take further action - some are free, some are low cost and some are regular price but attract grant funding if you get your skates on and talk to our event hosts at Live & Work Rural.

1.     Free, anytime, LinkedIn Form:  Join our private delegate forum on LinkedIn and post questions and discussions.  We'll answer as appropriate, and maybe others will add the benefit of their experiences as well. Click for the Marketing and Technology Series forum on LinkedIn.

2.     £30 + VAT:  Workshop facilitated by Catherine and Chris
Date:  20th July from 9.30am at Riber Rooms in Cromford
Half day workshop delving into the detail of online marketing and social media. Further info: Marketing and Technology Workshop

3.     £3 approx:  Teleconference Q&A. 
Date:  Thursday 21st July from 2pm for approx an hour.
All delegates of the Live & Work Rural Event are invited to phone in and join some of the panellists from the event today.  All you need to pay is the cost of the call which the provider states is 4.3p/minute (so an hour session is approx £3).  Ask your own questions or be inspired by those of others.  We are using PowWow for this event: Telephone number is 0844 4 737373 and then you'll need to enter a PIN code. If you would like to join us on that call please contact us for the PIN (email: web@henmore.co.uk).
If you would like to submit your question in advance it may help get a more precise reply in the time available.

4.    One-to-one consultancy 
£400 + VAT for 2 x half days  (eligible for grant funding).   Training and Advice
Help to get your business properly set up for effective marketing and enabling appropriate use of technology.  Making sure you are on track with everything.  Either/both Chris and Catherine will come over and help get your business set up right for what you need to be doing. This consultancy and training package is eligible for grant funding if you're quick :-)  >

5.     Marketing Club 
£500+VAT pa (eligible for grant funding): With 6 x group sessions combined with 2 x one-to-one consultancy sessions and a supportive peer group of fellow members makes this programme excellent value for money. We have members of this year-long marketing programme who are grant funded; again, be quick applying. >  Marketing Club

And here is that thought-provoking YouTube clip, complete with cheesy music.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Brand management - moment of amusement

This morning I received a jolly note from a client pointing out a typo in the LinkedIn event information for my business development workshop this Wednesday.  I gave myself a telling off, but then I tripped over this message from Google and now I feel a whole lot better.  This has to be a fundamental brand management error for a leading search engine specialist.  Quite fun though.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Take a netwalk

How about this for work life balance?
work bit is chatting about business and making/strengthening your connections with local business people
the life bit is enjoying some fabulous scenery and getting some exercise by walking 2.5 miles.
the balance bit is eating cake afterwards!

So this is netwalking.  Try it with Matlock Business Club on Thursday June 30 and explore an unusual part of Derbyshire. Refreshments (that's the cake bit) are included.

Rendezvous at the secluded Cliff Farm (Peak Serenity) with walking shoes laced up for 4.30 pm. Take in the fantastic views and explore the surrounding area with its woods, stone circles and mock beggars hall. We'll return to Cliffe Farm around 5.45 pm for refreshments and to carry on networking.

After a welcome briefing by netwalking leader Paul Hunt from Skylark Activities (www.skylarkactivities.com)we'll walk 2.5 miles along well defined paths and country lanes over typical Derbyshire hill farm country and through woods. A few stiles will be encountered but these shouldn't pose a barrier as you'll be in a group that helps each other and that's determined to see the points of interest in this part of Derbyshire.

Location and Directions : Cliff Farm is on the lane between Elton and Alport.
Directions : Post Code for Google Maps and satnavs : DE45 1LL

There is a small charge of £5 ,which includes refreshments, and is payable on the day to Matlock Business Club .  Book you place by email to info@colemanbradshaw.co.uk

Distance : 2.5 miles / 4 Kilometres
Terrain : Hill farm countryside of grassed fields and woodland.
Well defined paths and country lane; some wooden styles and some squeeze styles.

Points of Interest : Cratcliffe Rocks, Hermits Cave, Robin Hood Stride, Nine Stone Close Standing Stones , Harthill moor and woods

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Ideas and strategies into action - Like!

A few months ago I ran a day's training on improving your online presence and using social media tools for business and one of the attendees was Lucy Cufflin, foodie and Cookery Writer.  In the group there were experienced social media users and total sceptics.  I hope that Lucy won't mind me saying that she came to the event yet to be convinced or the merits of any of it; persuaded to come by a business associate.  And look at Lucy today, my goodness.  She has three Facebook business pages.  And check out the comment below if you can read it. . .

Lucy posts"bring your friends, spread the word" and the reply posts says . . . . (I love this bit) "I already am! facebook definitely works, every Friday I get reminded its cake day and almost every week I'm trying a new cake from you . . ."

Lucy has found her online voice and things are going well.  I am off to check up on how the other course attendees are doing now.

Next course June 15th - Cromford Mill.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Training and thinking, marketing forum 15th June, Derbyshire

Ideas + Strategies -----> Making Connections
We are planning a new style event on 15th June at Cromford Mill. We'll facilitate IT and Marketing-based subject discussions and provide the environment for you to join other forward-thinking business owners to take a little time out to concentrate on your business, generating ideas and workable strategies.
Broadly, the morning session will cover strategic marketing and IT subjects, delving into some how-to and top tips for success with the tools and techniques we showcase:
  • Ways to keep in touch with your customers and create champions and referrers.
  • Seamless ways to collaborate with associates and present work to customers.
  • The mindset and toolset to create a more marketing-led organisation.
. . . and it will be lively and interactive with presentations, case studies, thought-provoking exercises, peer group discussion. More than that we have built into the agenda an extended 'let's take that off-line' break-out session designed to be free flowing. Choose between the opportunity to pose detailed questions to the experts or engage in discussions and networking with other attendees.
Ideas & Strategies – Marketing and Technology

9.30am – 12.15pm Facilitated interactive sessions (as above)
12.45pm – 2pm Freeflow and break out sessions - Marketing and IT questions answered and debated.
£15 + VAT (book in advance cw@cwoodhouse.com)
Lunch and refreshments available at the on-site cafes

Why not arrive early and include some breakfast networking taking place in the same room.
7.30am - 9am Matlock Business Club – networking and business support group meets
£5 including breakfast payable at the door (book in advance web@henmore.co.uk)
Call or email us to reserve your places at these events.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Online Marketing Conference and Exhibition, #omce2011

Spent a worthwhile day yesterday at the East Midlands Conference Centre visiting the OMCE event put on by @ebizclub. 

I always find with these sorts of events that you sign up to go because an aspect of it is tempting, then come the night before all enthusiasm to take a day away from the office has evaporated because a long 'to do' list is beckoning.  On this occasion I stuck to my resolve because managing online marketing is a service we offer clients and social media for business is one of Henmore's popular training events.  I needed to check we are on the pulse of all that is new and vibrant in social media for business.  We are!   

I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Andrew Grill (@AndrewGrill).  He made exactly the same comment that I always use to open my presentations:  "Am I a social media guru?  In social media there are no gurus, just practitioners."  Things evolve very quickly in social media and even quite minor-sounding changes have far reaching implications for online marketing.  Take the Facebook business page change a couple of weeks ago for example. And Google's changes to its algorithm always puts the cat amongst the pigeons  - watch out for Panda Farming and some Google house-keeping is coming up as @IanLockwood explained in his fab presentation on the future of search.

During the conference and presentations some of us were tweeting our thoughts.  As @IdeasStrategies we were having some fun with @somecallme_Jem, @zaddleMarketing, @davedawes, @tom_geraghty, @AndrewGrill (and somewhere on another continent @hotelPRguy tweeted that his ears were burning). 

I just did the #omce2011 search on Twitter again (this is the day after) and I see others have just joined the fray.  I guess they are doing the same as me, blogging and sharing their views on the day.

Well, it was worthwhile.  Check Andrew Grills slides and enjoy the notion of the Twitter Tax.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Marketing & Technology Workshops - spring 2011 series

Please view/download the flyer for the Marketing and Technology tutorial events

I co-presented a workshop recently with Chris Woodhouse, an IT and technology expert.  We trialled the one event to see how it went.  Quite honestly we were quite pleased with it.  But obviously it is not what we think it is what the delegates thought of it, and it seems they were pleased with it too.  Phew!

We were delighted to receive this comment on the LinkedIn page for the event:  "Really enjoyed this workshop and came away with lots of practical ideas.  Highly recommended."

Since then Chris and I have put our heads together and the result is a number of workshops on Marketing and Technology working together. 

Is your website doing its job? Let's ask Google! - we take you through the best way to analyse your site traffic and interpret findings into a plan of action.

Grow your business using loads of free stuff  - we short cut delegates to low cost / no cost marketing tools that we know work and demo case studies of clients that are doing a good job.

Can you improve your online marketing? - we help you assess whether your online marketing efforts are working and throw in some alternatives to consider.

Business development using The Cloud technology - using case studies we explore how to make the most of the tools already at your disposal and the software and gadgets that you can add for smarter marketing and business development.

More details on all of these tutorial workshops >> Marketing & Technology
Please add your name to Henmore's mailing list to be sure to receive details of our workshops, programmes and speaking engagements. 

REGISTER - When you are ready you can book your place online.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Marketing Club 2012

Marketing Club is one of my favourite services.  I love the enthusiastic participation of everyone in the group and I am gratified by the positive steps that the business members take as a result.

Henmore's Strictly Marketing group
Business owners say they benefit from a sustained focus on their marketing over the year. Marketing Club is designed to help you find 'clarity' and 'certainty' in all areas of your business development. The primary aims of this long-term programme are to help you to do more business and to do that business on your preferred terms.

This translates to minimising wasted effort and/or budget on sales and marketing, making sure you are selling at the right price and achieving maximum customer satisfaction. We know this is aiming high, but justifiably so because our Marketing Club members are benefiting from the positive results.

In the words of a Marketing Club Member:

Strictly Marketing has provided me with the know-how and motivation to develop and implement a structured and focussed marketing strategy for my business.

Catherine’s step-by step approach, one-to-one mentoring and engaging group sessions enable businesses to adopt a professional approach to DIY marketing. It saves time and gets results. Highly recommended and great value. Chris Mills, Barlow Associates

What we cover in Marketing Club?

During the group sessions and in the one-to-one sales & marketing consultancy sessions, we build knowledge and improve techniques in the following marketing essentials:

  • Know the customers you want to win
  • Establish a strong brand and generate strong sales leads
  • Understand the available methods to reach your customer types
  • Position your products and services to wow your prospective customers
  • Communicate effectively with prospects and customers
  • Convert more sales, doing business on your terms
  • Evaluate what works and what doesn't
  • Help your customers become your champions
  • Extend your successes further into the market and/or enter new market segments

Workshops are held six times a year on dates/times agreed with the group.  There is networking and meeting room space available before and afterwards.  We meet at Dove Studio, Ellastone, DE6 2GY.

Enjoy the extra encouragement via the peer support and feedback of other group members.  Come along and address those hard, strategic questions: is your business approaching the best customers, in the best way, at the best time, with the best products?  Is there more you could be doing?  How will you find out what is working and what needs improvement? Make sure your ideas are put into practice in a structured way.

More Marketing Club Members' comments:
"Many thanks for the speedy response - and really useful feedback. It's so hard to be objective when promoting your own business."

"I think there's a lot of 'marketing tips' on offer through events and online, and people tend miss the point - one size does not fit all, and though general advice can be helpful, successful marketing needs to be right for your business and you personally. In the same vein, although a 'quick hit' can be effective, keeping your marketing going is crucial, and this is where ongoing support, that can be tailored to your particular circumstances, is invaluable...and where Marketing Club really fits the bill."

"Marketing Club is good use of my time and budget"

“I am a member of Catherine's Marketing Club which is a fantastic opportunity to receive professional marketing advice, expertly tailored to my business, at a reasonable cost. The club consists of a group of businesses with bi-monthly meetings facilitated by Catherine. These meetings are highly practical, informative and enjoyable. Club members also benefit from regular a one to one session with Catherine. These are an excellent follow-up to the group sessions. I can really see how my business is benefiting from this regular and focussed input. I also very much value the input of the other group members and find it an ideal forum to get honest feedback on my ideas and strategies. All in all, highly recommended.”  A recommendation from Frances Taylor, Brightspark Training, posted on our LinkedIn page.

Venue:  Dove Training Suite, Ellastone, DE6 2GY.  To join one of these programmes please email us on web@henmore.co.uk or call Catherine on 01335 289075