Communication is Key for Kyneton Community & Learning Centre

The Kyneton Communication & Learning Centre, Mollison Street, Kyneton

The Kyneton Communication & Learning Centre, Mollison Street, Kyneton

I was a very proud Marketing Coach on Sunday when one of my clients, Kyneton Community & Learning Centre (KC&LC), celebrated their 25th anniversary with fun, food and music at a Community Open Day.

Kyneton is a thriving country town between Melbourne and Bendigo in regional Victoria. Kyneton Community & Learning Centre provides a range of services covering education, care and community services for participants of all ages from Kyneton and the wider district.

KC&LC has an amazing group of dedicated staff and volunteers who are doing an incredible job building the range of services on offer and delivering these services at the highest level of quality.

Everyone in the Kyneton community is welcome at the centre. Yet, research revealed that while 90% of residents in the Kyneton district were aware that KC&LC existed, only 10% of them had used the services provided.

I worked with the Committee of Management and staff earlier this year to put together a sustainable and manageable grassroots strategic communication plan to help them achieve their business goals in the short and long term. The challenge is to engage the community through effective communication to encourage greater and ongoing participation in the centre.

Creative kids won prizes for their art.

Creative kids won prizes for their art.

The upcoming 25 year anniversary was a perfect way to kick off the KC&LC communication campaign. Committee members and staff implemented each element of the communication plan which involved running a community art competition, organising lots of local promotion and publicity, gathering sponsorships from local businesses, all culminating in a Community Open Day where residents were welcomed, fed and entertained as they visited the centre – many for the first time.

This is the first phase in the ongoing implementation of the strategic communication plan for KC&LC. As a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation, we agreed on a model where I am a Marketing Coach – I drafted the plan in consultation with key stakeholders – but the implementation is the responsibility of nominated members of the KC&LC team. I am always available to answer questions and support them as the projects progress. And I was very happy to attend their party, eat a piece of birthday cake and celebrate all the work that has already been done. Well done team!

I look forward to more trips to KC&LC as future phases of the Strategic Communication Plan are put into place.

Do you know someone who would benefit from Marketing Coaching? This is a great way to get your marketing approach on track, without the need for expensive ongoing consulting fees or retainers. Contact Straight Shooter today for more information.

Article: The Brand Called You

In this post I am sharing an important article written by Tom Peters about brand. Whenever I am working with clients or running a seminar about branding, I give participants a copy of this article as food for thought.

Now I warn you, this is a long article and there is a lot to take in and think about. You will need some time – so stop, make yourself a cuppa, sit, read and highlight or make notes as you go through. If you get stuck, keep going or come back to it later. You might find something that resonates towards the end?

‘The Brand Called You’ by Tom Peters

What did you think? Are you suprised to learn that this article was written over 15 years ago?

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.

Being Comfortable With Downtime

tea and tissues

Tea and tissues have replaced writing lately for Straight Shooter.

The Straight Shooter blog has been a bit quiet lately as I have been required to bring my Work/Life Balance Action Plan into play.

I have spent the past two weeks nursing sick kids – and feeling pretty ordinary myself – due to an annoyingly persistent cold virus that has passed from one family member to the next.

I haven’t written anything in over a week, communication with business contacts has ground to a halt and my energy is still lacking.

In the past I might have let this predicament get me down. But now I know I just need a plan – and a small attitude adjustment – to get things back on track.

You see this year I have specifically made changes in my life so that I can be with my kids when they are sick. In the past a sick child was all it took to topple our delicately balanced and seriously overloaded weekly schedule. On finding a child that was just too sick to send to school, my husband and I would quickly discuss which of us had fewer meetings and/or more personal leave owing to determine who would begrudgingly stay home that day.

Now that I have started Straight Shooter and I am working from a home office, I am available and happy to step up and be nurse whenever the need arises. I feel very fortunate to be in this position. It is a relief to all of us.

So these days, stopping work to deal with a sick family feels like a manageable part of the bigger plan. This is a good thing – comforting in all senses of the word.

How do you deal with unexpected downtime in your work? Let me know what works for you by leaving a comment below. 

Now that I am back at the computer, stay tuned for more posts later this week.

The Magical and Wonderful Powers of a Blank Piece of Paper

freeimage-4816466-highA blank piece of paper can solve all the problems and mysteries of the world. Well, in my little world at least, it is a trick that has certainly worked wonders. In business and for personal matters, when things seem cluttered or decision making is difficult, a crisp, white, blank piece of paper seems to save me every time. A blank piece of paper can magically make the impossible seem possible. With that one clean piece of paper, you have a chance to take back control or a moment to start over.

You know the feeling, don’t you? You sit down at your desk and survey the scene. You phone is blinking with unanswered messages, you are drowning in email backlog, your calendar seems to be double-booked until Christmas and the piles of files resemble a fortress, protecting you from anyone who tries to enter your office to discuss anything that might require you to do any more work. When everything seems urgent, where on earth do you start?

When you are overloaded and busy beyond measure, this is exactly the time you need to stop, breathe and map things out. I know it seems hard to believe, but give it a try. Get some paper and a pen, find a quiet place away from distraction and then just think. Start writing or drawing or mind mapping. Write lists or schedules or ideas. Scrawl down a bunch of swear words if you think it will help. Lay it all out on paper. Transcribe what is going on in your head.

The next step is to start to make connections to find a way through your thoughts. Perhaps use a different coloured pen to literally draw circles and connecting lines across the page. Alternatively, write positive words or ideas to counter any negative thoughts or number each line in order of priorities. Turn the mess on the page into a plan to move forward. Acknowledge the issues then focus on the solutions. Flip the page over and write up some simple resolutions or action points that feel manageable and achievable.

I’m sure psychologists would have some specific medical terms or titles to describe this process, but I just call it Thinking Time. People who work with me would often see me steal my preferred A3 sized paper out of the photocopier draw (I can never find the stash in the stationery cupboard). I find my best Thinking Time happens after lunch. I try to find an empty meeting room or close my office door. Using a red pen I just sit and think and sort my thoughts. I find a 20 minute session is usually enough to get some clarity and confidence about what needs to happen next.

While Paper Power is brilliant in times of stress, it is even better if you use it regularly each week or month to keep things on track and maintain a positive outlook.

We used this technique with our overscheduled son this week. We could see he was cracking under the pressure of school and sport and high expectation – mostly of himself. He was tired and generally unpleasant – far from his normal state. We started with a blank page on the table and together added activity after activity until he could see his packed weekly schedule laid out in black and white. He could visualise the peak times and appreciate the gaps – precious space and time to relax and enjoy just being a kid. The perspective was valuable and provided immediate relief to us all.

The power of the magic blank page cannot be underestimated. Try it today.

What methods do you use to find order and see clearly in work and in life?

Put a bit of ‘You’ in the Marketing Mix

Here's me - following my own advice!

Here’s me – following my own advice!

For many of us it is natural to shy away from the spotlight. In life and in business we find ways to ensure that we are not the point of focus. We humbly play down our achievements or hide behind the products or services we offer. We flush and shake our head when complimented and use phrases like “It was a team effort” because feeling proud of ourselves and being open to positive feedback feels foreign or wrong or conceited.

Yet it is important to recognise that your individual efforts are making a difference. Day after day in your work you are contributing to your company, to your colleagues and to your customers.  Your contribution is unique, bolstered by your own experiences and knowledge and enhanced by your instincts and insights. Your strengths and your weaknesses all come into play. No one else contributes exactly like you.

With this in mind you need to consider how your contribution is directly linked to your marketing approach. How do you personify your brand? What difference would it make if a prospect could see your face or hear your messages or get a grasp of your ideas before you even broach the corporate spiel?

Think about this as an example, do you have a picture of yourself on your website? Before you get embarrassed and dismiss the idea, think about the benefits of allowing your clients to see your face online. How much information could they gather about you – the person they will actually be dealing with – just by seeing your face, your smile, what you are wearing, where you are standing or what you are doing in that image? How might this visual connection strengthen the experience when you meet face to face or as they contemplate purchasing your product?

These days, with so much information available to them, customers can afford to be curious about the creator of the goods or the services practitioner they are about to invest in. If a prospect cannot get a complete and compelling story about you, they may decide to keep looking until they find something or someone else that resonates. Don’t miss the opportunity to give them all the clues they need to get comfortable with you and your product as quickly and convincingly as possible.

This is why media such as online videos can be so powerful. We can see and hear someone on screen, getting a real read on what they would be like in person. We can gauge our reactions to their words and style of delivery to decide whether they are genuinely offering what we need and if we feel comfortable with their approach. This starts the process of establishing trust and building an ongoing business connection which – ultimately – is what we all work so hard to achieve.

In many cases, putting yourself forward and showing how you personify your brand can help to capture your customers’ attention and shorten the purchasing cycle so they decide to buy from you every time. Put yourself in the spotlight for a change and let your customers know who they are dealing with as early as possible. There’s no need to be shy. You and your contribution count more than you realise so show yourself off and be proud.

What can to do this week to put yourself in the spotlight?