Kyneton Community & Learning Centre and Straight Shooter Introduce Marketing Course for Regional Businesses

A new course starting in July will help local business people in regional Victoria become more comfortable with marketing – a topic that has been identified as a key skill gap for businesses in the Macedon Ranges region.

Run through Kyneton Community and Learning Centre (KC&LC) and delivered by marketing consultant, Leah Taylor from Straight Shooter Marketing, the D.I.Y. Marketing course will give participants specific, realistic and achievable tools and techniques to market their businesses.

According to Leah Taylor, most business people recognise that they need to do some form of marketing, yet a full strength marketing program seems out of reach – particularly when resources and budgets are already stretched just getting the work done to deliver to customers.

“I’ve worked in marketing for 20 years in companies of all different shapes and sizes. Consistently, business people have said to me that they would like to do more marketing, but they are not confident that they have the skills or the time required,” she says.

“Simply put, marketing is telling and selling a compelling story about your business to the right people, at the right time and for the right reasons.”

“Great marketing doesn’t necessarily need to be costly, complex and time consuming, but it does take a steady commitment and clarity of purpose.”

The D.I.Y. Marketing course highlights that the same core skills that are necessary to be a successful business person can also be used to efficiently and effectively market a business.

Participants will be encouraged to work to their strengths first in order to build marketing momentum, then use those successes to push beyond their comfort zone to try new methods, including online marketing, that have the potential to produce great results.

According to Mary Hogarth, Centre Manager at KC&LC, the introduction of a marketing course for local businesses is a direct response to specific demand within the region.

The 2013 Macedon Ranges Business Survey identified Marketing (50%) and Social Media (38%) as the two most important topics sought for professional development workshops in the region.

“KC&LC aims to provide education and training programs that are relevant to the changing needs of our community,” Mary Hogarth says.

“The DIY Marketing course is a great example of a new program that will deliver support for local businesses where it is needed most.”

“Investing in this course will provide a great opportunity to review and refine objectives for yourself, your business, your customers and your community.”

D.I.Y. Marketing will run for four weeks starting from Thursday 31 July. It comprises a two hour session each week in the evening from 7pm-9pm at the Kyneton Community and Learning Centre, 34 Mollison Street, Kyneton. The Special Introductory Price for this course is $495. Spaces are limited. Go to www.kynetonclc.org.auor call (03) 5422 3433 to book your place.

For more information contact Leah Taylor, Straight Shooter Marketing on 0403 576 925 or email leah.taylor@straightshooter.com.au or Mary Hogarth, Kyneton Community & Learning Centre on kclc-manager@bigpond.com or call (03) 5422 3433.

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Power Stories By Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo's book. Got to get a copy.

Valerie Khoo’s book. Got to get a copy.

This morning I was part of a webinar where writer, businesswoman and all round inspiration Valerie Khoo, challenged us to think about the way we use storytelling in our businesses.

I loved Valerie’s presentation because I am also a big fan of using stories as the basis of any marketing strategy. In fact, the work we do at Straight Shooter is based on our theory that ‘Marketing is telling – and selling – a compelling story to the right people, at the right time and for the right reasons.’

If you are interested in learning more about the types of stories you can develop for yourself and your business, check out Valerie’s book Power Stories: The 8 stories you MUST tell to build an epic business.

The webinar was run by the Australian Businesswomen’s Network. This organisation has terrific resources for businesses of all stages and sizes, with more webinars coming up soon.

Finally, Victoria’s Small Business Festival is underway with hundreds of events, exhibitions, competitions and ideas to choose from. Check out the program and book yourself in for some time to focus on you and your business.

Do you use storytelling in your business?

Handling Work Conversations With Family and Friends

lamb roastImagine this scenario:  Jenny and Bill had 15 people for dinner at their place recently to celebrate Christmas in July. Jenny was busy with preparations for weeks leading up to the event and Bill was determined to get the house and yard looking great – as well as cooking his famous roast lamb.

The guests began to arrive and Bill was pouring champagne. It had been a busy start to the year for him and Jenny had started a new job, so it was great to have time to stop and catch up with everyone.

‘How’s the business going Bill?’ each guest would ask in turn.

‘Pretty good – busy,’ Bill would respond.

‘What about you Jenny? How’s the new job?’ they asked.

‘Fine,’ said Jenny. ‘I hit the ground running.’

And on they would move to the next topic.

Both Bill and Jenny missed a great marketing opportunity here.

Bill could have elaborated, ‘Our numbers were down after Christmas and New Year, so we launched a new software product that is particularly helpful for services providers like doctors, accountants, lawyers. Our new clients are really loving it. I’ll flick you an email next week in case you have any contacts that might be interested.’

Jenny might have said, ‘Yes I started as office manager for a local group of health practitioners. It’s a great bunch of really experienced and energetic physios, sports medicine specialists, a podiatrist and a nutritionist. The business is growing fast so my job is challenging, but in a good way. We’re looking for new premises soon because we’re running out of space.’

In just ten seconds, Bill and Jenny might have told their guests a lot more about their work which may even had generated some business, advice or assistance. You see among their guests were:

Harry – a real estate agent with back issues
Bella – returning to work at a law firm and wearing heels again was agony
Simone – an architect who recently ran her first marathon and is looking to do more
Stuart – a struggling artist from a family of medical specialists
Peter – an accountant who is looking to lose 25 kilos, starting tomorrow
Kate – has 1,200 friends on Facebook and 1,480 Linkedin connections.

Many people are reluctant or even embarrassed to tell their family and friends about work. They think no one will really understand what their do so they don’t bother explaining. They might not want to be seen to be ‘talking themselves up’ or ‘getting a big head’.  They might be concerned about conflicts of interest or jealousy. Maybe things are not going so well and they don’t want to worry people? Or perhaps they don’t want to think or talk about work in their down time?

But you just never know where and when you might come across mutually beneficial opportunities or a way to help each other out – professionally as well as personally.

Tell them your story in a quick, informative manner – you don’t want to be a bore. Then ask them about themselves until you have a clear picture of what they do and who they do it for.  It would feel great to be in a position to send some business to a mate or put a family member in contact with someone great.

Think about your recent gatherings with family or friends. Did anyone ask you about work? If not, why? If they did, how did you respond? Do you think your mother, or brother, or best friend could describe what you do for a living? If not, have a conversation soon so you can help share each other’s stories.

Follow Seth Godin

Seth Godin is described as America’s Greatest Marketer and his blog is one of the most popular in the world. I recommend you follow him and consider how his ideas can be applied in your own business. His writing is straight forward and inspiring – just how we like it.

Here is one of his recent posts: Fearlessness is not the same as the absence of fear

Click through to read more of Seth’s writing and to subscribe to his blog.

Let me know what you think.

Marketing Basics – Contact Databases

Dear insert first nameYour contact database is critical to your marketing approach. Who you know – and who you need to know – can make or break your business communication. So it is worthwhile dedicating some time to get organised about your contacts lists so that sharing your story is as efficient and effective as possible.

Step 1 – Who Do You Know?

Think about all the people you know – professionally and personally. Do you have all the information you need to contact them reliably and regularly?

Take a blank piece of paper and start writing down all the contact lists you already have:

  • Contacts in your phone
  • Email lists
  • Facebook friends
  • LinkedIn contacts
  • Blog followers
  • Event attendees
  • Customer lists
  • Others?

You may already have hundreds of contacts and I’m sure you can already think of ways of increasing this number.

Step 2 – Database Options

Now you need to find a way to bring all your contacts together and manage them.

There are endless databases options available to suit the size and requirements of your business. From fully integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, cloud based solutions or just a simple Excel spreadsheet, you should choose a database that allows you to easily add and extract useful contact information.

Spend time to get the information ‘fields’ (i.e. title, first name, surname, email addresses, etc) and categories (i.e. clients, contacts, specific lists for newsletters, billing details, etc) right up front so you have all you need when you come to using the data for communication. Will you mostly be using email communication? Do you need postal addresses? Is there any purpose for capturing personal information such as birth dates or ages?

It is important to make sure you are across rules relating to privacy in your country or state – particularly for email and online communication – so you are not caught out sending unsolicited information. In Australia you need to provide a way for people to ‘opt-out’ or ‘unsubscribe’ from your mailing list if they no longer want to receive information from you.

Step 3 – Extending and Updating Information

A database is only as good as the information it contains – and it can quickly become outdated. Schedule some time each month to update your database and put processes in place to add new contacts as soon as possible.

Work out some simple strategies to ensure your database builds each month. Make sure you never lose an opportunity to get new data in so you can extend the reach of your communication, giving you access to even more potential clients and customers.

How are you managing contact information in your business?

Marketing Basics – Finding Your Market

targetOne of the basics of marketing is to define who you are targeting – to be able to articulate the best market or audience for your product or service. Sometimes the market is obvious – but sometimes it takes a bit more work to identify who your best future customers or clients are. Also, sometimes the market is quite narrowly defined, for example an insurance product specifically designed for retirees, whereas in other cases the market definition is very broad, such as pitching a product to Mums.

For narrow markets you need to ensure you are not limiting the scope of your market. For broader markets, unless you have a huge marketing budget and existing avenues to reach the masses, it will be necessary to be quite specific about the definition and demographics of your market.

Let’s break this down using Mums as our example:

Which Mums?

  • Where do they live – international, Australia, which state, what types of suburbs?
  • How many children and at what ages?
  • What are the interests or hobbies of the Mums and/or their children?
  • Do the Mums work in the home and/or outside the home?
  • What income levels might be required to afford your product or service?
  • Will the price point affect the buying habits of some Mums? Is it a major investment, a small but regular investment or a one off cost?
  • What are the current fashions and/or trends in products for Mums?
  • Is your product or service familiar to Mums or will they need some education about its use?
  • Who are the competitors in your market space?
  • Where are your suppliers and are you selling online?
  • When might this offering be needed – or wanted – by Mums? Is it seasonal or relevant all year around?

This is just a sample of some of the questions you need to consider to specifically articulate your market. Large organisations can spend huge chunks of the marketing budget on research to get this step really right. For smaller businesses where this spend is not possible, much of this can be determined using online survey tools (like Survey Monkey), feedback from existing customers, simply asking people you know and plain old common sense.

Once you are reasonably clear who you are targeting, you should work out how to get to your market. What are the channels of promotion and communication to tell your story to your market? Take a big picture view and think laterally. There may be direct and indirect ways into your desired market.

  • Who are the voices your market is listening to in the media?
  • Are there identified influencers who are leading relevant discussions across social media?
  • Are there specific referrers, suppliers or stockists who provide could provide a channel directly to your market?
  • Are there other like-minded brands who you can form an alliance with for promotional purposes?
  • Who are your contacts, supporters and key customers? Can they help spread your message?
  • Are there other advocates or patrons working within the market who may provide positive feedback or speak highly of your product or service?

Finding the best way to reach your market can be tricky – particularly with limited resources. For best results, take the time up front to think widely about who you are targeting and how. The more specific you are in your planning, the more effective you can be in tailoring and delivering solid messages to your market and ultimately generating the sales you need.

If you need help defining and targeting your market, give me a call or email leah.taylor@straightshooter.com.au to discuss.

Have you been stumped by how to reach a particular market? How did you tackle this problem? Leave a comment below to tell me your story.