18Jun

Translating Great English Copy into Chinese

Copywriting is an important part of your online and offline marketing strategies. As you expand your business into new markets you might need to translate your copy into different languages. With the Chinese market being so big and so close by I invited my friend Jasmine Yow to write a guest post about English – Chinese translation which might help Adelaide businesses. If you’d like to know more, get in touch with Jasmine! – Nick

With the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) opening new doors for Australian companies to do business with China, good Chinese copywriting is becoming essential for businesses wanting to reach Chinese consumers.

Effective translation and localisation are keys to boosting brand awareness in the Chinese market.

Here’s two bilingual copywriting traps your company should be aware of:

English - Chinese Translation

#1: Doing a literal translation

You’ve spent a lot of money developing an excellent marketing campaign. Now just hire someone to translate it, and it’ll work equally well in Chinese, right? Wrong.

Coca-Cola’s brand name, when first marketed in China, was sometimes translated as “Bite The Wax Tadpole“. Not good! On the flip side, a list of well-translated Chinese brand names that have completely resonated with the public can be found here, courtesy of Business Insider.

Thinking of using Google Translate to produce business-critical content? Here are examples from personal experience of how things can go very wrong.

#2 Doing all your thinking in English

If you’re a business owner keen to work in the Australia-China space, it is helpful to engage a Chinese branding and marketing consultant early on to develop ideas that will work well in both languages.

Thinking about appealing to the sensibilities of two different audiences at the start will enable you to develop workable material with much more room for flexibility down the track.

Keeping these two tips in mind can save you a lot of angst.

Jasmine is an English/Chinese copywriter-translator, with a gift for distilling concepts and communicating creatively. Having lived and worked in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, she is passionate about connecting people across cultures and telling fresh stories across different mediums. She dances with words when her feet fail to take off.

Jasmine’s Links: Linkedin | Twitter | Facebook | Weibo | Wechat: +61430043215

07Mar

Ep#31: Lean Methodologies for your Startup or Small Business

The basics of lean principles, how to apply them to your business and some mistakes to avoid – interview with Trevor Glen

In this episode I interview Trevor Glen, an Adelaide based software consultant from Sarugo about his experiences with lean principles and methodologies and how they can be applied to new businesses and new marketing initiatives.

We cover;

  • The ‘Lean Startup’ book and approach
  • Who can benefit from the approach
  • Some not-so-lean mistakes to avoid
  • The concept of ‘minimum viable product’?
  • How can the MVP concept be used to improve product development processes?

Mentions / Links;

Video from this interview;

 

Transcript

[spoiler title=”Click to reveal/hide the transcription”]

Nick: Welcome back to the Web marketing Adelaide Podcast. I’m your host Nick Morris and today, we are talking about Lean Start-up Methodologies. We have a special guest Trevor Glen, he’s an Adelaide based software consultant from Sorugo. Good day Trevor how you doing?

Trevor: Yeah, good day Nick, yourself.

Nick: Pretty good! It’s good to have you along for this video interview for my Podcast listeners to listen to the audio. I am now doing a lot of video interviews, so if you head to our website at www.webmarketingadelaide.com.au, you can actually see the video version of this interview, which would also be up on YouTube and I can see Trevor there ready to go so, I think we’ll just launch into this by – I’ll get you Trevor to just explain to us a little bit about yourself, what you have done to get you up to this point and what are you working on right now?

Trevor: Yeah sure, thanks, thanks for having me on today! My background has always been a software engineer at Motorola for a number of years and when they decided to shut down the software center, we had a team there that worked pretty well together, so we thought we’d start a software business. Along the way, we found a number of things that we could do well together as a team, some failings that we had as a team as well but most importantly what we’ve come across over the past few years, and specifically the outcome of the process of this lean start-up idea, and how a lot of the things that we did along the path that, perhaps at the time seemed like the right idea would have if I’d known about the lean start-up back then would have been a lot better.

Basically, we started a software company, from that, we decided to try and develop a product, and that product that we developed is an online backup solution that is distributed backup solution. So, rather than have a single server towards the back-up, they distributed around the network. So, utilizing spare how dispersed to a community of users. We made it, as a simply, made a lot of – we did a lot of great stuff, software that we made is fantastic software, then in terms of marketing tree strategy is where the lean start-up really, in my opinion, hasn’t nailed, the process that Eric Reese describes in his book as fantastic and I think a lot of it applies to what we could have done perhaps a little bit better as well.

Nick: Great! That was pretty good, just to expand on that, so the lean start-up sort of, lean start-up is a book by Eric Reese – I haven’t actually read it yet. It’s sitting over there on my dresser, that I need to read but it is a set of methodologies. Did he sort of invent them or did they exist before and he sort of popularized it? How did that fit in?

Trevor: From my understanding of the background and certainly, I’m not an expert on lean start up, it’s just my own reading of the book and my own understanding of the lean principles where I believed developed at Toyota in Japan and in relation to manufacturing. So, really what it is about it is cutting out a lot in the fat in the manufacturing process to ensure that there is minimum amount of waste and minimum amount of processing that occurs prior to them actually doing the manufacturing. So, in that regard, I think what Eric saw and what he’s applied and what others have applied even before him and didn’t perhaps give it that name, was a way of applying that to a start-up of a business and that can apply. I think it applies really, really well to software businesses and especially web start-ups. They can apply across the board as well.

Nick: Great! Let’s move on and start off the topic with, why don’t you explain a little bit about what the lean start-up approach is and what it is about?

Trevor: The way that I look at it, I guess my interpretation of the book and certainly, you say you haven’t read it and I’m sure most people haven’t to date but I definitely recommend you read it. It’s a great, it’s not a long book but it’s very well written and you can get the concepts pretty quickly. Lean start-up is really about developing what your minimum viable product is. What’s the thing that you can get out to the market as quickly as possible to start either making money ideally, but at the very least, learning what it is that your market needs before you can get to the point of selling it. So, a minimum viable product I was reminded – actually just this morning, I was watching the dropbox story, which is a great example of lean start-up, of an application of the lean start-up.

They’re actually talking in there, the founder was talking in the video about the fact that a lot of the lean start-up stuff that they did, some of it was delivered and some of it they actually just accidentally come across as well but in there, his minimum viable product was actually a video that he posted on Hacker News site, where he basically did a screen grab of him using the technology, using his product and invited comments from people and straight away he was interacting with the market and finding out from the market what it is that they would willing to buy.

So, what they bought [Inaudible 00:06:15] is getting a product out there as soon as you can and then from that, following the process of building something, measuring what you’re doing and learning from it. So, upfront you want to ask yourself some key questions. What is it that people gonna buy? What is it that people might buy that are in my space and start investigating that, and that’s not desk work, that’s actually putting something out there and getting people to, either put their email address online – another thing is having a landing page where people can actually go in and say yes, I am interested in this product when you launch it.

By doing that, you can actually see that there is an appetite for your product out there in the market. Having a landing page is where you are actually having different types of wording and finding out what it is that your market, the type of language they use as well. But at every step along the way, you want to be building something, measuring what it is that you’re building, measuring that and learning from it and in the book they talk about that, that in the early stages of a company, it’s not actually about the number of dollars that you have in but those sort of learning points that you have.

So, what is it that you have learnt along the way, obviously it all needs to turn into a business eventually where you are making money but along the way, it is actually you can be showing progress, not by how much you have sold but by how much you have learned and how closely do you rely to having something that is of interest to the market and what they are willing to pay for.

Nick: That makes good sense. Seems to be concepts that every business should follow but is it, specifically for technologies type businesses, start-up businesses? I mean, you mentioned that it can apply to other businesses too, can it apply to every business, in your opinion?

Trevor: Look, I think there are facets that can apply to every business. I think the build measure learn, sort of idea can definitely apply to probably every business in some way. The value of it to a technology start up of course is that you can get a web page up in 5 minutes. You can change the content of that web page in 30 seconds, so your time to market for and time to be able to react is a lot quicker than say, a manufacturing business, where if you were trying to get out and a build a widget and find out if people are interested in that widget, even just the idea of getting to a prototype stage where you might deliver a prototype to 20 different people and get their opinion on it.

That’s a lot costlier than getting the next Instagram created website for example. It’s a lot easier to do than software and technology. So, specifically software in the world, so our industry in that regard could be a better place to make the most of the ideas of lean start up but also – I think what they talk about in the book is that start-up doesn’t necessarily mean someone working out of their garage. The idea of this, it is really about a being a lean entrepreneur, an entrepreneur can exist within larger companies too you know.

The term entrepreneur is usually given to those sorts of people and those entrepreneurs can actually, given the right structure go out and do this process within a large company as well so if you think about start-up not necessarily in terms of a business but in terms of an idea and it’s about innovation and about applying those principles to taking that innovation to market in a way that actually gets the most customers quicker, quickest is really the end go.

Nick: That would make quite a bit of sense there as well. I guess the other thing with the web is that makes the measurement path easier.

Trevor: Exactly! That is exactly right, again going back to manufacturing example and giving someone a widget measuring that is hard. They play with it for an hour or 2 hours, they give it to their son and they play with it for 3 hours and measuring that is a lot harder with a physical device that as a whole industry around that process whereas you are exactly right on the web with tools like Google analytics and even tools like un-bounce is I’ve come across recently as a landing page tool, and there is a lot of them out just Google on the front but you can find that information.

Nick: Yep, definitely it is one of the advantages of the web. When I sort of first heard about this lean start-up approach, lean start-up methodologies, I was actually hearing about it from Podcast and things, whether talking about more from an established business who is launching a new product. I just want to get your thoughts on that, that its not just for starting a new business but it can also be used for an established business who’s launching a new product or perhaps some other new aspect.

Trevor: Definitely I think, to be honest the way that I see this and it’s sort of an innovation can be simply even a new process of how you do what you do. Following the lean start-up methodologies is a great way to do that, and it really is just about testing in a hypothesis in the market to see if it is actually gonna stick, if you want to put it another way and that can apply to any new business, to any new product, to any new process, to any new service. Any of those can take some of that lean start-up ideas and apply it to their business.

There’s probably going to be eco-system of support around that. In the book, they talk about , I think it’s Intuit is the name of the company. I might be wrong on that but basically, I think they’re pretty large software vendor in the U.S. I think it counts as a top software and they actually, they might be as big as 15,000 people. Whenever they bring a new product to market, follow this lean start-up idea or methodology because it’s a great way to bring a product to market.

So, around that, their management structure support and understand that there has got to be some give and take around dollars. It can’t be just all about next quarter’s results, excuse me because what you’re trying to do is get something out of the market and get some feedback around what it should be doing before delving too deep into product development.

Nick: Yeah, great! We will move on now. You actually recently gave a talk, I think it was at the lean start-up meet up in Adelaide and you wrote a blog post about some of the not so much mistakes you made but your business in which we want to perhaps talk about a few of them. The two I’ve sort of singled out, that I thought would be interesting were, one, listen to your market and two, expect failure. So, could you just talk to us a little a little about the listen to your market aspect.

Trevor: It comes back to the build measure learn thing. One of the things that I think the mistakes we made is that we thought we knew what our market wanted and went out and developed a fantastic piece of software that sold for that imagined market and as we got it out we realized that, there was a market for that, maybe they weren’t willing to pay as much as we needed to charge or they weren’t willing to use it in the way we thought they would use it, so, listen to your market. In my mind, it’s really about the fact that you actually need to be out there talking to the market every step along the way.

Don’t invest too much time in building this wonderful software or wonderful system that nobody’s ever gonna use. If you don’t know what the market wants and what the market’s willing to pay for, then it’s absolutely irrelevant how good your software is and really, that is the key part of that listen to your market, is to not only listen to them but actually explicitly go out there and solicit at their feedback as early as you possibly can. We did do some of this through you know betas and sure enough, but we weren’t asking the right questions.

The questions we are asking them about the market was, does this product work for you? Are there any bugs, when really what we should have been asking was would you be willing to pay money for this? And at that point what’s missing from it that would make you want to fork over your cash? That’s really, at the end of the day, for business, that’s what matters, is people paying for it not how many users that you have.

Nick: Yeah, absolutely and I don’t know if that thing relates to it is often described that people can say that they will buy a product but actually buying a product is a different sort of thing. So, if you can, I don’t know, are there any strategies that you are aware of where you can kind of bridge that gap between what people will say and what they will actually do?

Trevor: A great way to do it, obviously, it depends on your product, is to ask for a credit card number, so even if you don’t have a product to say or that your you know you’ve got a product that you don’t think it’s exactly 100% there, is to actually ask for a credit card, is to get people to pay for it now. What they are paying for and know that is something you can test, so are they paying for 2 years subscription or are they paying to get into the beta program? That’s one way around it. It is a tough one, it’s one that I don’t think there’s a catch or a solution for but it really, I think if you are solving their problems along the way, one would hope that the money comes with that.

So, if you are actually solving a market need, yeah you’d hope that eventually, that would relate into dollars, and so if you’ve got that right and you listened to your market and you know what is that they want, then you can find that out and then you can do some testing around that as well. So, even if you get the point to the product, the product will point where you are, yes, we are happy with this as a product in the market. You can then see a different product points and so okay, let’s try it at $300 a month and see what sort of results you get and using that information, we’ll be able to determine what the sweet spot for that particular market.

Nick: Yeah, that seems to work out for businesses when they’re not, before that when they are trying to speak to the market. What’s a good way to get out there and do that? I’ve heard mentioned before that you should do lots of cold calling to your target market and to get them on the phone and talk to them about their problem so you can really understand it. Is that a good strategy do you think or are there any others?

Trevor: I think it is. I think, certainly like occasionally like Adelaide is quite good in some look outs because getting access to some of the people is key decision makers in companies can be relatively simple because of the size of the network here in Adelaide. So, everybody knows everybody as you would know, so eventually, it doesn’t take you too long if you want to talk to the head of XYZ or the head of this branch. Obviously, that’s important the market you are trying to enter into, so, having those conversations is really, really important and especially if you want to try and find someone who can help you to develop the product to help you be your channel to the market.

Having early conversations with those sorts of people, and people who are actually talking to the market you are selling to day in and day out. So, they might be selling a product that’s similar to what you are proposing, maybe not a competitor but something that is complimentary. If you go out there and talk to them and find out because they will know you would hope, what their customers paying points are and be able to cover off a large set of customers with potentially one conversation. Look, other ways you can do it as well are surveys, again come back to the dropbox example with the video .

If your audience saw you know that you need to get earlier doctors on board, find the areas on the web where those people are having conversations. If you are selling, you’re selling something that relates to over clocking your motherboard well, there is an over-clockers website, a forum there, so go talk to those people there. So, being smart about it and using the internet to do, and social media is another great example of that and might get informed coming to social media in that regard as well just a bit different flavor of it, but going out there and using and finding out what your customers are talking, even if you are just watching the conversations that they are having there, you will find out a lot about what their talking points are by linking groups, now Google Plus communities, these sorts of environments now, utilize those to find out what it is that your market is saying so… It does depend on what your market is if you obviously if you sell consumer product, versus say an enterprise product will be different communication style. So, is and they would communicate in different ways and will have to ensure that you use the language of those different communities but generally find out what is your market talks and get involved in those conversations.

Nick: That makes sense, obviously. Another thing I’ve seen and I think you sort of briefly touched on it earlier on in the interview, was you can get these sort of email, captcha things that you put up on a website and then you just drive traffic to it perhaps by adwords or some other paid mechanism and it might be like a simple question related to some sort of product that you’re thinking of developing and then the idea is, what kind of conversion can you get to people putting in their email, address which is you know it’s not a payment but an email address is something that’s semi-valuable. So, people don’t just give it out. Yeah so at least you’ve got some sort of investment there. I guess that’s another thing that you can do. Have you had any experience, any ideas on using paid traffic?

Trevor: Another book that I would recommend that is along the same lines of the lean start-ups in terms of thinking about your business in a different ways is The Four Hour Work Week. I definitely recommend that as another book to read, it talks a lot about paid search and setting up a niche and I think really paid search is best search for a niche. Without product at one stage there, we had online back-up. As it turned, you’re looking at business, probably a couple years ago now, you are looking at $6 a click. So, if you are selling a product that is $60 a year and at $60 a click, you’re gonna need more than 1 in 10 people to sign up from clicking on your ads.

So, that might be an expensive way for you to get more traffic, however if you’ve got a niche product that people still search for but it’s not highly auctioned or what’s the term, bid on in the Google adwords infrastructure, then you’ve got a better chances of getting some conversions happening there and that’s but obviously, it has to make sense and that’s where you’ve got to make sure that you marry up your adwords content with the content on your website as well so, so definitely it can work. I haven’t personally been involved in [Inaudible 00:23:19] that have done it successfully but again, if you could read Four Hour Work Week, there’s some great examples in there of people who had just done that.

Nick: Yeah I just thought reach back and pull out the book of The Four Hour Work Week, which I do have, so yeah glad to say that I’ve actually started this one and like the lean start-up and sort of so good, it’s really quite well written and interesting. Let’s move on to the second point here, expect failure, can you elaborate on this little bit?

Trevor: In some ways, that’s the, our background as software engineers working for a large software organization quality was of the outmost and releasing anything that had a bug in it was a big no no, for a various reasons especially at that point in time. Once you got a mobile phone or a base station out in the wall, having to do patches on those to fix bugs isn’t that easy and could be quite costly if you can imagine a phone recall for an organization to bring back a mobile phone to be able to re-flash it and to fix a bug, is just not gonna happen. So, I get it, for an organization like that makes sense, but we probably took some of that, took too much of that methodology, applied it to our business where a back-up product has to work, absolutely no doubt about it but it has to work. But, it has to work for the things that people will need it to work for, so, getting it out there it doesn’t have to be perfect.

If people expect that things that gonna be wrong with software, sadly enough, it says if that is the case but what’s more important is that you put something out there knowing that something’s gonna fail because you wouldn’t have thought of every single moment that somebody’s gonna use your software. Again, if you’re doing a consumer sort of solution, I guarantee it will get it out there and someone will use it in some way that you never even thought of you know. They are still running Windows 95 or they’re trying to install it on their laptop, that’s only got 1 megabyte of space left, you know.

So, things like that that you’ve, you can’t even, you probably wouldn’t even think of before you released your software but what’s so important is knowing that’s gonna fail and being prepared for dealing with various failures. So, being responsive to people’s concern and one probably important thing from my personal perspective is owning up to them, not trying to hide the fact that this software has failures, and then once you’ve found those problems, releasing often and that is another important part of, I guess, the lean start-up is that you are always releasing new versions of your software, getting it out there, so that people can experience the new version and fixing bugs in that time.

Nick: Yeah, that makes sense. Well, I think that last point about owning up to them is something probably certain business owners, me included struggle with sometimes because you’re sort of so invested in it and you feel like it’s you know part of you so almost saying that it’s failing is almost a thing against you personally and it’s difficult to own up sometimes, having that at front of mine you should always be owning up and getting onto it quickly and making sure you give them good customer service.

Trevor: I think an important, there’s some cultural things that exist in Australia to around value. Australians generally whether be two puppy or whatever is it we’re not great on trying things and expecting something of it to fail. So, culturally, you have to deal with that as well and you have to battle your own internal feelings about this as well as others in the community or why are you doing this? It probably gonna fail anyway and that relates not only just to lean start-up and entrepreneurship, generally in Australia and it’s get them a soap box over here. In my opinion in Australia, this we are well placed, pretty better than many other places in the world to be entrepreneurs. The way that our system works where you can lose all of your money on a venture and still be able to feed the kids, have a house over here, have a roof over your head and still be able get health care, is better than 99% of the world. I think it’s a fact that we need to embrace that failure, embrace the fact that we are going to fail in certain things and recognize that when that happens you are actually in the best place in the world for failure to occur and not be end up living up in a car as we’ve seen happen for people who are not even entrepreneurs in the States and all around the world over the last few years with the financial issues.

People who thought they had a stable job, lose the job, can’t find any more work and end up out on the streets. So, in Australia [Inaudible 00:28:46] we’ve avoided most of that at a micro level. At a micro level, I think that people would just accept that they can and will fail at something and just have to go because it is so much more satisfying than just doing the 9 to 5.

Nick: Yeah absolutely, and a concept that I think relates well to this I’ve heard described, this fail forward, so trying to make sure when you do fail, you actually learning something from it, so you can re-apply that to your business or change something or fix something.

Trevor: Yeah definitely and I think it’s one of the things that, one of the reasons that I did the blog post and why I’m more than happy to spend the time with you today is because, there are some of those things, the mistakes that we made, I don’t want others to make those mistakes. So, I think, we’ve, a lot of what is happening in Adelaide in the last few years you know Silicon Beach, these co-working groups that they are setting up, there is a real vibe around entrepreneurship and start-ups now in Adelaide that didn’t exist in the past. So, I think it’s important that we all do work together to pool our learnings, so that we can all collectively grow this opportunity of Australia being, in Adelaide, be a great place to have a start-up.

Nick: Yeah, it really is interesting. I’ve been going to various events lately and through another project, I’ve just started what I’m gonna be interviewing various entrepreneurs in Adelaide. It’s really interesting thing that the community grow and concepts like, what we’re talking about today, like the lean start-up methodologies I think are really gonna be important for people who have that energy and have that desire to start something but want to make sure that you’re doing it in the right way.

So you’re not, it’s not much of a waste and so you listen to your market as you’ve said and coming up with solutions that are gonna actually solve some problems that make up, importantly pay for so you can fund your venture so that you can get some value out of it in the end. I sort of touched on briefly again the minimum viable product idea, you sort of explained, what it is to begin with and you sort of mentioned the dropbox video idea. Could you just expand on minimum viable product a little bit, maybe some examples of what a minimum viable product could be?

Trevor: It is, my experience today with minimum viable products has been its [Inaudible 00:31:24] for some people and in their industry they have their minimum viable product. It has to be quite complete before anyone would even consider using it. It’s probably in something like a – especially if you’re talking about technology where you’re traditionally working with technology where you’re working with lawyers and doctors because lawyer and doctors would be less willing to put up with bugs, less willing to put up with issues.

So, that doesn’t mean you don’t go out there and talk to them and find out what the issues are, and try to build that in but your minimum viable product that might be a lot more full featured, released, a well rounded than it might be for say something if you were targeting earlier doctors in the software industry who would know that things are gonna fail, know what the term alpha and beta means and what that would mean for this data, know that if you’re can using a service, they’re gonna have to back up their own data because it may fail at any point in time.

So, you do have to think about who your target market is what it is they might be looking to do but the way that I’ve done it recently is really just to develop a list of features or user stories that describe how the system should function and working with the market in terms of finding out what those features should be, is really just keep looking over those list of features and come back on what you think, now do we really need this for people to start using the product, for people to start buying the product and constantly checking your own assumptions about what it is that you think you’re gonna be building for people. And validating those assumptions with the market and getting it out there.

So, when it comes to a web based software, you know, obviously things like minimum viable product, someone is going to have to log in, someone is gonna have to do something with your app, whatever the key feature is of your app and be able to log out. If that’s what you need to do with your app, then that may be your minimum viable product but, in other cases, you actually may want to include in your minimum viable product, the acceptance of people’s money. If you think that you need to do that before you can launch, then that’s, again, [Inaudible 00:33:52], but again – so I think from my experience, I think, the two definitions of minimum viable product, one is sales based.

So, what’s the minimum viable product that we can release to people who are gonna start buying this solution and the other is, one in which and that was from the dropbox example, one in which people are actually just going to start providing you feed back on it. So, either of those could be determined a minimum viable product but it just really depends upon what it is that you are trying to achieve. I mean for the latter, if I could get something out there as soon as you can, that is going to extract some feedback from people and get some direct, so that you actually use your product and heading towards the goal of you buying it eventually, I think is a better approach than waiting too long until you have something that people are going to start using straight away and buy straight away.

Nick: I mean it’s probably not a perfect example but when I started, first started the Podcast, I had this idea and I had the idea for a while and then I was putting it off heaps and then, eventually I thought I would try and take a bit of a lean approach to this and I’ll just record a podcast and you know I just did it on my phone, which is probably not the best technology and then I thought I’d try to prove over time with the thinking that the main part of the product is really the content and not so much, even on a basic level of sound quality but there are sorts of bits and pieces that sort of surround that sort of extra bits which I can add later, where the minimum viable product is just the content and the sound getting out there.

Trevor: And that’s really good because see what I mean what you’ve shown there as well what you’re doing your podcast and the blog and all of that is not specifically a business, it’s about, you know, marketing sort of opportunity or marketing process that you are following to get people aware of you and to provide that content but you can still apply the lean start-up thinking to that and so, that’s where, to go back, I think to your very first question of where can it be applied? I think if you start thinking about what the methodology is teaching you or trying to achieve, you can apply in a lot of different facets of business and not just around the making of money.

Nick: Absolutely, that’s been a really great interview Trevor. Thanks a lot for coming on. I think this very useful for people who are looking to start a business but also people who are in business and they are looking to sort of improve their processes in relation to products or leaning themselves up. If anyone wants to find out more about you and sort of what you’re doing, where’s the best place to do that?

Trevor: You can obviously find me on places like Linked in, I’m on there and that’s it, sorugo.net is my company, so have a look there. I would love to help people understand more about their current idea for going into market and can help them make that happen.

Nick: Fantastic, I’ll have some links in the show notes for this episode with – to your blog post and then also to your website and your social profile where people can find you. Thanks again for coming on and have a good one.

Trevor: Thanks for having me Nick, take care mate!

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29Nov

Ep#19: Introduction to Link Earning and the New SEO

The Death of Link Building and the Rebirth of Link Earning – Rand Fishkin

In this week’s episode we continue along our Content Marketing theme and drill down on the SEO aspect, specifically how the search engine optimisation practice of ‘link building’ is transitioning into ‘link earning. My guest this week is Woj Kwasi from Kwasi Studios. Woj had the great suggestion of getting out of the office and recording this interview out at Morialta Falls in the Giant’s Cave which was a stunning location (see pics below).

Some of the points covered in this episode;

  • How do you know what kind of content people are likely to link to?
  • Once you’ve created a piece of content, how do you actually get the links?
  • What does the future of ‘link building’ and other authority signals look like?
  • What are some steps business owners can take right away to start earning links?

Links / mentions;

Bonus points: Listen out for the following;

  • Kookaburra
  • Koala
  • Hikers

Recording the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast at Morialta Falls

 

[spoiler title=”Click Here for Transcription” open=”0″ style=”1″]

Nick: Welcome back to Episode 19 of the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. As always you can find out more about all of the shows we have done in the past on our website www.webmarketingadelaide.com.au.

This week’s show is going to be in the same vein as all of our previous episodes. So we were talking about content marketing in the past and this episode also deals with content marketing, but more specifically as it relates to SEO, and the ideas around creating links. Now, if you’ve listened to our previous episodes related to SEO, you’d know that creating links or link building is important, as this is a signal or a key signal that Google uses to actually determine which are the best websites, which are the websites that should rank high in the search engines that look at the number and the quality of incoming links.

This week’s episode was recorded in Morialta Falls, in the Adelaide Foot Hills, in the Giant’s Cave, a suggestion by my guest for the week. I have to say, it certainly beats being in the office or being in a coffee shop. Brilliant view of the valley and a nice sound of wild life in the background, so you can hear those.

My guest this week is Woj Kwasi from Kwasi Studios and as I said, the topic relates around link earning. Now, Rand Fishkin from SEO Moz describes the death of link building and the re-birth of link earning. So, he’s talking about the transition from the old way of doing things. When you think of building links, you think of going out and getting links to the new way of doing things, where you create content that’s good and that earns links on its own. So, the real idea is creating that good content links.

Woj Kwasi, my guest, he’s had over 14 years in the RT industry and after bouncing back and forth between Adelaide and Sydney, decided to launch his business, Kwasi Studios in July 2011. Now, he tells me that the first year was pretty difficult, he was working 12 hour days, 8 days a week, although there was a silver lining because he was working from home and he didn’t have to wear pants but after getting married earlier this year, he set himself the goal of doubling his business over the following 12 months, but ended up doing it in 1 month. He’s since opened an office in Modbury, hired 3 employees dubbed the K-Team and he was featured recently in the advertisers’ business section.

So, before I launch into the interview, I just want to say congratulations to Woj on his recent success with growing his business, getting married and opening his office. So, it’s really good to hear with Adelaide business being successful. We’re going to sort of launch into the interview where Woj is going to be telling us how business owners should know what type of content is going to start earning them links, so how do they get into that. Let’s go to the interview now.

Woj: There’s a number of different ways to sort of ascertain that. You can run some experiments, look at the industry trends. Sometimes you can use your gut, instincts I guess, based on past experiences but I think it really depends on your audience and really depends on what you’re targeting. So, really if the content‘s right, it should sort of earn the links naturally, providing useful resources, just providing sort of, you have to get imaginative with the content as well.

People tend to get stuck in this loop where web pages need to be text and a photo, and maybe a video but you can actually be quite creative these days and provide something quite small, even something that is a process in your own business. You can make that into a tool. It makes your life easier, then why not share that to the rest of the world. They will link to it, they will use it, they’ll be happy for it, they’ll talk to their people about it, and sort of be shared. So, there’s lots of different ways of producing content. I’m pretty sure that’s not what you’re asking.

Nick: No, I was just, how do people sort of know what good content to create? I think you hit a note pretty well, something that business owners often miss out or they don’t really see because they’re so familiar with how their business works. They feel like it’s boring, it’s not particularly interesting, their processes, but they might not realize that from an outside perspective how that particular process for doing something like creating a tool that does something useful or maybe some video or some stuff from within the company that can be interesting content which can be relatively easy to create and also difficult for competitors to copy because it’s sort of your process.

Woj: Exactly and also, don’t talk about yourself, don’t self-promote. If you are going to talk about yourself, do it in a transparent way. Talk about things that are happening in your business rather than, don’t chest beat and I think you get a lot of success out of that.

Nick: So, the focus being providing value as opposed to advertising. really.

Woj: Yeah exactly because people are getting more savvy. People don’t have that custom preference anymore, like they used to. People aren’t loyal to brands. Things get commoditized over time, so it’s really important to stand out and be memorable at that first point of contact. So, I think you can produce stuff from within your company that can sort of reflect that.

Nick: Yep. Absolutely. You mentioned creativity and again, I’ll put some links in the show notes. You’ve got quite a few creative things on your website with your robot-sort-of logo and your characters and stuff you’ve done within your posts.

Woj: We’re trying to practice what we preach. We’re doing things for our clients, but we’re doing things for ourselves as well. We’re being transparent. It’s a little bit strange, but it’s actually quite worthwhile and it’s interesting because I have some clients that are quite dubious about being transparent, because there is a lot of fear about online world. You have some clients are quite paranoid about identity theft and that sort of thing but you don’t have to be transparent in that kind of way, I mean you can be transparent by just taking photos of your backyard pretty much, figuratively speaking.

Nick: Yeah, it’s sort of almost being real, being a person or letting people know that there are people in your business. It’s often talked about as the corporate face or the corporate wall that is sort of faceless company that people can’t really relate to and that is what you don’t want to be. You want to be sort of real and you want to be sort of friendly and being that, having that transparency is a way for people to sort of feel you out and form a relationship with you almost and feel much better and easier about becoming a customer of you.

So, once people sort of have this content idea, they’ve thought about some stuff in their business or they’ve come up with a great article, a great resource or a great tool, they’ve created it, they’ve got it on their website, how do they get it out there? How do they try to get links, how do they get people to see it?

Woj: So, I guess that’s an important part of the content strategy. So, if we talk about content strategy for a bit, it’s important to get that right, because you really need to plan. You can’t sort of expect a bit of content to work well on itself, it’s like firing fireworks, if people’s watching it at the time, then they will see it but if they’re not looking, they’ll miss it. So, it’s like Twitter, I think there’s like an hour gap for a tweet or something like that. I think there was a study or an article on SEO was from Tweet Deck, not Tweet Deck, Follow gram they did something recently.

You don’t really have much of a chance or if you haven’t planned, so there’s a lot of different distribution channels, you know, social media. Newsletters, newsletters are a really good one because they’re quite direct and it’s sent to an already established audience, but I think building an audience is probably the key. So, doing things like guest posting, but not guest posting in a gung-ho kind of way, putting yourself in front of an audience that’s already established.

Nick: So, guest posting, just a little bit of stop there, that’s where you write a blog post on someone else’s blog, and this could be like an industry blog or industry magazine, an online magazine or some of other related industry which we share similar sort of custom.

Woj: Yeah, exactly. It’s a bit hard because there’s not too many really good Australian ones out there or there are but they’re really hard to get onto but if you search hard enough, there’s ways to sort of get in there. You just have to be creative about things and you have to think outside the box. Nothing is easy.

Nick: If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, so…

Woj: Yeah exactly. There’s no kind of, this is how you get people to link to your stuff, because it depends on your audience but if you create that content strategy, plan things and then maybe even target some different personas, work out with frequent, maybe forums, maybe there’s some niche kind of sites, blogs, maybe influences as well. Get involved with some influences, let them do the work for you.

Nick: So, I think what you’re saying here, it seems like you’re saying, as opposed to creating the content and trying to promote it, more focus on building an audience first, maybe figuring out what kind of content they might like, then creating it and then sort of telling them about it.

Woj: Exactly.

Nick: And you mentioned influences there again, which is, sort of people within the market place who have a lot of influence.

Woj: Exactly, people that already have an established audience. If they’ve already got an established audience, then you already have a leverage of them. I think Tom Crutchlow did a talk, his final talk on SCM was sort of talking about that sort of thing. I can’t remember the guy, he mentioned but he used an example of this guy. He had a big audience following of people and they leverage, they got a guest post in front of all these people and it was very targeted and it was quite successful.

Nick: And so, for the average small business owner, should the audience be like local or should they be like friends within Adelaide or can they look wider to Australia, even if they’re sort of …

Woj: I guess it depends on the context of the article, but yeah, they can. It has to be relevant to the audience. If you’re a local pizza shop, you wouldn’t put an article up on menu log or something and target, talk about the best pizza in Bondi or something like that. You would want to make it local.

Nick: Yep, so you want to be targeting the local audience and probably something else to sort of, the thing about it is not necessarily the largeness of your business, the numbers, it’s really more of the quality. So, if you can have a small audience which is highly targeted, then that’s completely going to be better than the large audience that aren’t really sort of your customer.

Woj: So, it’s the whole kind of referral thing. If you’ve got clients, let them be your advocates and let them be your voice, because they’re already engaged so, let them kind of do some of the work for you in a way but it is hard to sort of initially establish that because it involves planning and finding the right kinds of target, but once you get it …

Nick: Alright. We’ve touched on this question a little bit, but it’s basically with the popularity of social media, it seems like people these days, don’t sort of link so much. They’re more tweeting and sharing on Facebook and sharing on Google Plus. Is this a problem for people wanting to build links?

Woj: Nah, it’s great. I think Google uses social metrics as part of the algorithm as well. I mean it’s a good way to, I mean people are a bit up in the air, some people say yes and some people say no, but I mean, it makes sense. If someone tweets something, then Google can crawl that tweet or even using Google Plus. It knows that it’s being shared and the way they’ve set up Google Plus, where everything is verified and, it’s reasonably hard to set up a fake Google Plus profile. So, I don’t think, I think social adds to link building, you should be out of, like once it comes to putting in front of our audience, then you could tweet the link and it could go quite viral but if you put up a guest post on, let’s go back to the pizza shop example, on pizzaloversgreat.com and there’s no one like reading that article, who’s going to tweet it? Who’s going to, and Google will see that signal and go, this isn’t great.

Nick: Exactly. So, really, people should be thinking about social signals certainly on the positive light as well as links.

Woj: They go hand in hand, because both are great deliverers of inbound traffic.

Nick: Absolutely. So, finishing off this episode, lets finish off with, what are some steps that my listeners can take, to sort of start getting into this link earning thing?

Woj: I guess it depends. If they’re business owners, then they need to start thinking about things differently. If you are already engaged in an SEO agency, stop quantifying your monthly spend by the amount of links acquired, start thinking about planning and aligning all your resources, whether it be your internal staff, external agencies or to a content strategy.

Everyone needs to be on the same page, you need to come up with a core idea and then basically work out a little bit of the work flow, who’s in charge, a core strategy statement that will enable people to be on the same page and also, start thinking about not just SEO but other channels, other free channels. We’re working on a guide at the moment called Inbound Marketing Town, which should be a little map. It will have little, we’ll try to explain I guess the different methods of inbound marketing as little town landmarks, so hopefully that should help.

Nick: Great, yeah. When is that expected to come out?

Woj: We’re working on the graphics at the moment, so, hopefully in the next week or so.

Nick: Great, this episode should be out after that, so I’ll try and put a link in the show notes for that and people can go check it out and just to go back summarizing some of the points we mentioned during the interview. So, audience is something that people should really be thinking about and thinking about early. Trying to pull that audience early and so identify some influences within the market place, and from there we flow into a strategy, mentioned strategy several times, so make sure you have a strategy in mind before you sort of go in there and start just creating content willy nilly.

Woj: Exactly and just make great stuff, be imaginative. Try to get creative, and if you can’t get creative, outsource.

Nick: Outsource, to a friend or person.

Woj: Yeah.

Nick: Great. Well I think that brings us to the end of this episode. We’re going to come back with Woj next episode and talk about some specific examples of link earning. So, certainly tune in for that episode to get your head around this topic a little bit further, but thanks very much for joining us this week and if anyone wants to find out more about you, that’s kwasistudios.com. How’s that spelled?

Woj: K w as i studios.com and you can follow me on Twitter at wojkwasi w o j k w a s i.

Nick: Fantastic.

Woj: Thanks Nick.

Nick: I hope you found that interview useful. You can tune in next week for the second part of my interview with Woj. We’re going to be talking a bit about some examples of link earning campaigns, some pieces of content with links to sort of give you a little bit more of an idea of how the system works and sorts of content that can earn links.

As always, if you want to find any more information about this show, get links and any of the stuff we’ve talked about, links to Woj’s website and his details, head to our website, that’s www.webmarketingadelaide.com.au and there’s show notes for each episode. So, you can go to our index on the menu bar on the top, there’s an index link or you can just go back through the episodes one by one. You can actually listen to the episodes right in the webpage there or you can hit the links off to iTunes or to download the Podcast onto your computer and listen to them later.

As I said, tune in next week for next week’s episode and until then , have a good one.

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22Nov

Ep#18: How to Get Started with Content Marketing

How to get started on your content marketing strategy

This week is part 2 of my interview with Steve Davis from Baker Marketing about content marketing for small businesses. In part 1 we had an introductory discussion about content marketing and in this episode we move onto some tips for getting started on your content marketing activities and strategy.

Covered in this episode;

  1. What are some ways to brainstorm and generate some unique content ideas?
  2. How often should we be creating content?
  3. How do we get people to come and consume our content?
  4. Do you recommend any tools or services to help get content out to a wider audience?
  5. How do we encourage our content consumers to become our customers?

Links / mentions;

[spoiler title=”Click Here for Transcription” open=”0″ style=”1″]

Nick: Welcome back to Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. This week, we’re talking about Content Marketing again. We have Part 2 of my chat with Steve Davis from Baker Marketing. In Part 1, we addressed the Introduction to Content Marketing. In this episode, we’re going to delve into how to get started with your content marketing strategy. Let’s hear the interview now.

I’m back here talking with Steve Davis from Baker Marketing about Content Marketing For Small Businesses. In Part 1, we covered a bit of the Introduction to Content Marketing, what it’s all about, and in Part 2 we’re going to be looking into how to do it and what businesses can sort of start getting into it.

Welcome back to the show Steve.

Steve: Thanks Nick.

Nick: Let’s start off with what are some typical pieces of content or content marketing that many sort of, small business owners might have seen around the place that they may be doing, just to sort of get an idea of what some things are out there.

Steve: Ifyou’ve known me for more than 10 seconds, you would know that I’m going to start with the blog. I believe blog articles, are almost like the DNA. They’re the foundation building blocks for content marketing for just about every business type and the reason being, is this sort of content is very, very versatile. First of all, once we’ve sat down and worked out, as we talked about in Part 1, Thinking Through a Marketing Strategy, what are the challenges faced in the business, how do we try and draw more people into or world, what sort of people are we after.

Once we’ve got that sorted out, then we can start thinking about the questions that are going to be floating around in those people’s minds on their journey towards your product or service and blog articles are a great way to lay the bait out there, if you like, and we’re talking online particularly here, Google, the search engines, seem to have a love affair with blog content. Typically, blog articles are short and to the point and they’re focused on a particular topic and they’re updated regularly, all the things that search engines like.

So when I go looking for something which might be how to choose a good sunscreen for my 4 year old, it’s beholden, I think, on anyone, in the cosmetics game or is making those sort of pharmaceutical products, like the sunscreen for instance, have anticipated some of those questions and has got a blog post with a title as specific as that or close to it, as they’re anticipating all the different questions that Moms and Dads might be plugging in, and indeed Childcare Managers etc. might be plugging in to do a little research before they make decisions on what sunscreen for example that they’re going to be buying. So, blog content is great there. It’s easy to produce once you’ve got some training in just what the basic elements are.

The search engines love it and also I think, that if a schedule is going to be stuck to of producing it regularly, it’s to me, the most potent bit of professional development anyone could ask for because someone in that business or a small team is going to be giving themselves permission, and also exercising discipline to sit down once a week, or once a fortnight, whatever it might be, to write something that actually brings the world of their prospect together to their world, in a way that helps Google, the great matchmaker in the sky, bring them together. I don’t know that you can actually buy that sort of professional development. It almost has to be done in-house, from meditating on the marketing plan and meditating deeply on the ideal person you’re trying to court through your marketing. That was a long answer.

Nick: No that’s good. That’s good stuff. I’m glad to hear that you’re an evangelist for blogs because I’m also in that camp as well. I love the blog medium and the good news for business owners of course is that it’s so easy to get into blogging with systems like WordPress out there which is for free. You probably may need some help to set it up the first time but after that it’s fairly easy, fairly intuitive to get in there and just start using it.

Steve: One other thing on top of that, and yes, my heart just skipped a beat when you mentioned WordPress. I have a strong love affair for that. In fact my default position if anyone is looking to build a website these days is if it’s in WordPress, unless you’ve got a really good reason otherwise, I think she’s seeing some figures of the top million websites on the planet and 68% of them are in WordPress. I would have, that is a staggering figure.

It broadens out to about 1 in 5 when you take the whole internet, but in the top million websites, that is a big chunk. Anyway, I digressed – there was something you mentioned there I was going to react to, about WordPress being, oh yes, the other thing about blog articles in they’re easy to share because most WordPress and other blogging software and content management system software does make it easy, if I like an article, to flick it on to someone I know, through my Facebook friends, through my Twitter friends.

And in fact, I heard an article, sorry I read an article, must be about 3 or 4 weeks ago now, with one of the top marketers with Coca-Cola who was saying that the absolute key to success in marketing online these days is to make everything you do shareable and to me, I read 2 things from that. Shareable is I’ve got to like it. It’s got to be interesting in the first place otherwise, it’s not going to be shareable and secondly in some way, in some sort of format that can be flicked on through my network.

You might recall in our first interview, we talked about advertising versus content marketing. The thing about shareable content, is if I share it, my friends are going to be more open to your piece of content that I’m sharing than if you’re paying money to advertise it at them, because it’s coming through a trusted source to them someone like them, well fairly much like them and so there’s a lot more trust when a friend passes something on than an advertiser because advertisers obviously are going to give you the Walt Disney version of their business, but if I like something, then my personal integrity is on the line with my friends if I bother them in passing it on.

Nick: Definitely, definitely, and just a note on WordPress. We mentioned Word Press a couple of times, and my listeners will remember we had an episode about WordPress a few weeks ago. So, if you want a bit more information about WordPress, you can go and check that out.

Now that sort of people know that blogs are a good place to start, how are, what are the type of ways that the business owners can brainstorm ideas for this content element in writing?

Steve: There are so many different ways to do this. If you’ve got a website that’s been going for a while, one of the most obvious things is to look at your analytics. I imagine Google analytics or whatever and have a look deep into the search terms that brought people to your website because apart from just your business name, which is likely to be there towards the top, you’re going to find questions and phrases people have been typing into and to me, that is the signal that this is the sort of content that people are looking for. So that’s one place to start.

There’s another search engine and I’m hoping the name will come back to me in a moment – even though I work in this field all the time, I’m not a great, I’m not given to all the latest hip names on everything, and they go in one area or the other but I’ll follow up for the show notes. There’s a search engine that allows you to say, throw in some URLs, some web addresses, let’s say 10 or so of your closest competitors, and it actually goes through them one by one and it looks for where and how often each page of piece of content of their website has been shared in social media or social networks. To me, that’s fascinating, because you’re going to get a good sense instantly in your sector of what sort of articles are resonating with people out there. You’ll say, wow this has gone crazy on Twitter or there’s a lot of activity, we can produce something like that. So, that gives you an idea on what the market’s after.

Another thing that I find – are you going to me ask me something there?

Nick: I was just going to say that I’ve heard of that search engine also and we’ll definitely have a link in the show notes once we figure out which one it is.

Steve: It will come to me midway through, another coffee and it will be right.

The other thing that I like using, another Google tool actually is, to sit down with the Google Key Word tool at googlekeywordtool.com and punch in some of the key words related to a business and generate a list of all the related terms that Google think are related to your field because, in there, if you sat down with that, and you went word or phrase by phrase and drafted titles for blog posts for example, using these terms, such as, what could be an example, making coffee. Let’s say the coffee realm, so if I looked in for making coffee, then I’m sure Google will bring up how to make coffee, how to make coffee at home, how to make coffee in the office etc.

To me, this is a great insight because you know there’s traffic related to these terms and you can mold them into your world by turning them into article titles because if we know what sort of things our audience is interested in looking for, what we’re after, are idea starters, to try and get ideas out of our head. And one of the ways is that list of articles, about a hundred or so words that Google will give you. If you sat down – I often do this with clients with a bottle of wine involved, takes about an hour and stop each of those words one by one, does this apply to our business or not? Yes or no. If it does, how can we turn it into a title?

We’d make a big list of potential article titles, with maybe a bullet point underneath of what we’d write about in that article and once we’ve done that brainstorming and we’ve got say 52 article titles on that list, that’s a years’ worth of potential articles waiting to be written. To me, I know this because I’ve seen it happen with the thousands of clients I’ve worked with, it breaks the back of the task, because when it comes to blog day with might be Tuesday or Wednesday or Saturday or whatever, even in the busiest, most stressful week, if you’ve got that starter title, you can still churn something out that’s useful and helpful but in the middle of a stressful week, if I just said, write a blog quick Nick, hurry up, our brains tend to freeze, because they like having their focus. So, there are the starting points of the kernel of content.

Nick: Great points. I’ll just mention a few tips that I’ve heard mentioned in the stuff that I use as well with content generation ideas. One, you mentioned Google analytics ad one tip I’ve heard sort of described is where you look at particularly questions that we’ve sort of talked about a little bit but also other terms where someone’s come to your website but then they’ve left really quickly.

If you look at that and see that this is actually relevant to you, if it’s not relevant then you can sort of ignore it, but if it is relevant, they’ve come in and then they’ve left, you know you’re at least ranking somewhere there, assuming such query but you know they weren’t really satisfied with what you had. So, that’s sort of a good, ID for a piece of content where it might be pretty to rank well and go because you already ranked somewhat well for that term and that may be a place to start when you just don’t know where to start.

And one other was a search engine or a tool called ubersuggest, where it actually takes, taps into Google’s auto suggest feature, so, when you’re in Google, when typing in your query, it often come up with a little drop-down with suggestions of what your query might be. This tool, it would suggest, taps into that and gives you a list of suggestions based on a starting query and I’ll have those links again in the show notes for some extra information.

Now, within there, you said, you mentioned 52 pieces of content and you’d have enough for a year. So does that mean that people should be aiming for like a weekly schedule for putting out content or …

Steve: Look, it’s hard to prescribe generally without sitting down with someone, but I think it’s a good rule of thumb, just the way, from my understanding the way the human brain works. You can get a bit of a habit and a ritual going if you’re sticking to something weekly. It also feeds the search engines nicely, so when those spiders come visiting your website, they see there’s a good regular trickle of new content and also, once week within a nice, an original piece of content, builds up a great library for you before too long that becomes quite handy in a way, I often refer to it as the doctor’s bag.

Because I’ve got little children 4 and 2, and every now and then you’ve got to call the locum at 2 in the morning and what always staggered me is, inside the doctors’ bag, there’s always something that fixes the problem. I don’t know how it works or how they do it, for all I know it’s a placebo, but your blog becomes a doctors bag before too long, and you’re shopping on the weekend or you bump into someone at the café, and they are like, Oh you’re that marketing guy, whatever, you get involved in conversation. Yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask you about XY Zero, you will suggest for example, oh yeah. It’s not conducive to a big conversation, but they’re interested in more.

You say, look, I’ve written an article, I reckon was a few months ago on that, can I send you the link? And at that point they can give you their business card, if they don’t have one, you can jot down their email address, jot down what you’re going to send them, and you’ve got this lovely, warm connection with them that’s just about to happen, where they’ll click the link, read the article and at that point in time, they’re reading that on your website because hopefully, that’s where you’re blogging. If they like what they see there, they know how to contact you. I think it’s a win win and so, I rarely go a week without prescribing from my doctor’s bag at least three times. In fact, it’s never been less than that. It’s amazing, once you’ve got a body of work, how often you’re doling out these prescriptions of things to read.

Nick: Right, so, if you are sort of really enthusiastic and want to get on top of it more than once a week then you think that’s – is there any limit as to how many, I mean obviously, is once a day too much or…?

Steve: You know, I think it’s all going to depend, sector by sector. There are going to be some sectors, particularly those if retailers and fashion or where there’s a lot of fast moving things and trends going on that I know, certain market segments are hungry for lots of content. They don’t want to miss anything and that would be fine, however, there are going to be some, where that would just be overkill.

Mind you, I don’t want to make the mistake that some people make that, Oh I’m going to blog and I’m going to be bamboozling everyone, well not necessarily. People can still choose, and one thing I’m careful to say to people is, you’re not writing a serial novel necessarily that someone’s going to be chiming in for week in week out or day in and day out. Often, each article you write is a discreet piece of content, a distinct piece that’s going to float out there in the big Google sea, to attract a certain user with a certain question. It’s case by case, I think on that front.

If you can do it and sustain it, that’s great generally but because of the small business where people are stretched for time, I think weekly is fine, it’s the right balance for most people and through the week of course, you’ve got less intensive things you can share, such as sharing interesting little photographs or snaps or videos, etc. that you can quickly generate and turn around on your smart phone that feed into your social streams, without the brain drain than perhaps, putting a whole blog piece together demands.

Nick: Great. Well there’s some good tips to start with the content creation side of things. I’d like to delve now into the content marketing, or the marketing side of the content marketing thing. So, how should people go about getting this content out, to their audience or their potential customers?

Steve: Firstly, if you’re using WordPress, WordPress is your platform, you’ve done about 70% of the work. Just the way that Google just tends to love how the architecture of the WordPress site is, they can understand and share things.

However it’s not quite enough for the whole job. I think listening to your market, to determine where they gather, to determine what sort of things they’re searching on, what social networks are attracting more of them, that’s important. The most mandatory thing I think, is sharing your content through a Google Plus page. Primarily because Google has made some public statements, people within Google that they are giving added advantage to content shared through Google Plus. So, I’d be sharing links to my content back through there.

That’s a no-brainer but then, thinking strategically about what might interest people around a Facebook page or group or through a Twitter account with some of the content that you’ve shared. So, it’s one thing to write an article, another thing is to invite the hook in different ways to get it out to people. But at the same time, I think that – by the way, a tool I use for it is Hootsuite, huge fan of Hootsuite, the fact that I can disseminate my content across a number of platforms all at once. It’s hard to talk in general terms but I love using Hootsuite as an eavesdropping tool, for listening in on conversations that are using terms that to me, signal someone who is somewhere along my pathway.

Back on the coffee thing, just briefly, both Patrick, from Patrick Baker and I have a little coffee brand called Baristador which we use as a, we do al lot of experimentation with it and one of its key points, the difference, it’s top level espresso coffee but you choose your caffeine strength. So, it’s a niche health market that is there. So, I’ve got a listening search set up inside Hootsuite for the term decaf and coffee together, listening to key markets around Australia, and it’s amazing, you pick up some people who just say decaf coffee and it’s a whole lot of expletives they hate it.

They’re not my market, but when people are saying, I’m really looking to try good decaf coffee, that is where you’ve got the chance to fling them a piece of content from your doctors bag if you like. You say oh, here’s an article that helps, or is it possible to have more espresso in the day without feeling too horrible and cramped in your stomach. Well I’ve written a blog post on the Baristador site around that topic, so they’ve asked publicly. I said look, here’s an article than may help you with that thing. So you can actually then start using this body of content that answers questions that people are asking in the real world.

Nick: Great, great, great topic. Let’s sort of look at again, past the marketing, into sort of the conversion world. How should we or how should business owners be encouraging these people who are consuming their content to actually become customers?

Steve: I think a lot of that’s going to come down to where that person is along in the purchase decision process. The beauty of content marketing, is, if you’ve considered the typical marketing sales funnel, we put a big wide end and it goes into a narrow end. The narrow end, the point at which the sale actually happens but way out in the broad pit, we don’t know that we need that product or service yet.

A lot of the content you’ll find out there isn’t going to go necessarily go straight to the conversion but what it does do is to bring order out of the chaos for someone. Like for example, I’m dabbling in an android device at the moment. I’ve been an IOS man for a long time and so I’ve been looking at content marketing articles written by people whom I have a sense of trust about to give me some guidance on what are the better ones to choose. So, they’re not necessarily into direct sale just yet, I am narrowing my field.

Now it just so happens, if some of those are vendors, then, they’re on my shortlist so that when I have made my decision, they may not get the sale, but they are on the shortlist and one of the outcomes of most marketing pursuits, is to get you on to the shortlist of a consumer. We all make shortlists, sometimes we’re not aware of it because it’s an inconsequential decision. You’re walking down the street to buy ice cream, or coffee. It’s a short list, there’s 2 cafés, you just make a quick decision and off you go. More elaborate ones like getting another piece of electronic device in my house, past my wife, needs to have a lot more thought that goes into it so I can justify that and so, I am going to rely on that content and I will owe something to the people who have helped bring clarity on the way.

I think that movement towards a conversion can happen without being obnoxious about it. I think gently making reference to your Top 5 picks of android devices for example, which might then go to a different page, where there they all are, not only with your ratings but with the ability to order one now or buy one now. To me, that’s a soft sell, that’s a nice way to graduate the movement.

Another situation might be one where perhaps in the health field, where you can’t really prescribe publicly, but you can say look, these are the things to be concerned about in this field, let’s correct the sunscreen for children that we talked about in podcast 1. For making the final decision, maybe even think about your child’s skin type and allergies, please make an appointment to talk to one of our doctors or nurses who can help you with those final decisions. I think gently letting people know what the next step is, what we call the call to action, is a rightful thing to have in this content, but the way you do it should come after some good content.

It doesn’t hurt though, when they’re reading content to have direct calls to action in the side column where there might be special offers, waiting for people to pursue it because if there’s one thing we know about humans, they hate being sold to, but they love buying. If your content marketing is helping me on this journey, an enjoyable journey of making a choice, no there it is, beckoning for me to make the sale on the corner, then I’m in control and I can click that through and feel like I’ve owned the whole process. I don’t feel like I’ve been hood-winked into it.

Nick: Great, great tips and I suspect that this question will be a fairly varied answer but is there some sort of a guideline you can give us to how long business owners should expect to wait, or how long will it take before they start seeing results from content marketing strategy.

Steve: Your preamble is correct. The answer is it depends. It depends on the size, the expense, the complexity of the purchase decision. How many choices there are on the market? I’ve had situations where it’s turned around very quickly, within weeks people are generating sales, but others where it’s taken a lot longer when they’re talking about people buying a $5,000 or $6,000 charter for example, going back to my fishing company. That may not be the most expensive thing they’re ever going to buy but they’re also going to talk to friends and then get dates organized. So you have to be realistic, about what’s going on in the world of the customer to make that final purchase decision.

So, I wish I could just dole out one, I can’t. It does depend on a case by case basis but also, even within the one enterprise, product by product or service by service. There’s going to be some products or services in your portfolio that are much easier to move towards a transaction and buy. There are going to be others that take longer, so even with the one company, there’s going to be differences across the spectrum.

Nick: Yep, yep. So is there any tips or statistics or ways that you can give for people to sort of know they’re on the right track. If it could take a long time perhaps, start seeing the results of from this content marketing stuff they’re doing. How can they make sure they’re staying on track and that they’re doing the right things?

Steve: So, again, this is an it depends question, because what you’re asking for their benchmarks if you like, or milestones to know that you’re heading towards the right destination, and you’re making progress. Some people just look at sheer numbers of are you maintaining the number of blog posts, are you getting a certain number of likes or a certain degree of traffic, or is your bounce on your website starting to shrink and not be too high? At Baker Marketing, aside from that, we’ve got an age old little formula we use, that whenever someone’s – apart from finding some benchmarks that works on a case by case basis, at the back of our minds and at the back of our talk, it is always just one thing.

If someone is saying, we just don’t think what we’re doing is working, the formula is frequency x reach x quality. So, often, people say it’s not working, and you look back through let’s say the blog articles or the videos they’ve been making, and they bore you to death. They are irrelevant, or they’re stodgy or they’re hard sell and they just not, people are not going to rate them, so quality would die there. There may be a writing great quality, but what’s the reach? How many of your target market are actually getting to see them?

It may be well to have it there in your website, but where have you drip feathered into a forum or shared it to an answer, a question someone’s asking in LinkedIn answers or on Twitter etc. That’s one thing and frequency, how often have you been producing and or sharing this content? What we have found, in the 12, 14 years we’ve been practicing, is that 1 of those factors or 2 is often the smoking gun if you’re not generating sales at the other end, which is what that formula leads to and that’s a handy little rule of thumb to bear in mind. That will determine where there needs more effort to be placed.

Nick: Absolutely, that makes sense. I think we’ll wrap it up there. Thanks very much Steve for all your insights on content marketing. It’s been a really great chat on this episode, on the last episode as well. If business owners want to get the ball rolling on content marketing, what would be sort of your one tip for how they should get started?

Steve: Well, if they happen to be anywhere around South Australia, I would get them to take advantage of our little chat with Patrick himself. He makes himself available for an hour chat free of charge. That is not a sales spiel, it’s actually a solid little chat out of which often comes a good sense of strategic direction, even within that first hour, and to me, everything I talk about has to, needs to, must come from that setting of the compass, which is the marketing strategy, the base of any of the operations. If they do that, to me, that’s making most sense of it. If they’re not going to do that, then taking stock themselves of what are the big challenges faced in the company? Where do they, what have they set themselves to go and what sort of content is going to be most helpful for the type of market they’ve identified.

So, I wish there was something to say, just go ahead and start writing a blog, but if we don’t know which direction we’re heading, we’re going to have a lovely journey, and we’ll look at some scenery, but we may never get to the stage we actually care about.

Nick: And before I let you go, I just wanted to touch on some of the workshops and things. I know I’ve just been seeing the name, Baker Marketing, popping up everywhere. If someone’s ever going to get this same interview with you because you taught different occasions where you go and do workshops everywhere. Can you tell us a little bit about these events and how business owners can sort of get involved?

Steve: First thing, get involved. I would just give out office a call or have a look on our website, but nothing quite beats just making direct contact, bakermarketingservices.com because the people in the office there have the big master plan of wherever we’re heading and where I’m going. Strangely enough, I’m often the last person to ask. I just look at my calendar and off we go.

The sort of things we’re doing, we’ve been lucky enough to win a number of the attenders for the National Broad Band Network, to roll out some marketing for small business and small organization programs in South Australia and Northern Territory and so, they take people through the basics of thinking through IT requirements, Marketing requirements etc., Business systems in the oncoming culture of having access to the NBM to get them right. So, that’s one form of workshop.

Other are business enterprise centers and other organizations get us in, what have I done recently? Strategic blogging, I’ve done particular workshops for that also, executive board strategy presentations, just for board members to get ahead around the concepts. We do practical ones on using some of the social media tools. One of the most popular ones that comes up all the time as we shoot out into the regions, is starting with the basis on blogging and then moving through how to get that information now.

As a matter of fact, at the time that we’re recording this, I’m heading off to the Coonawarra, for women in business regional development running to intensive days of a social media master class, doing the keynote talk in the evening, having some one on one meetings with people. So, we basically run a lot of workshops on all the aspects of marketing and we just get approached non-stop to do that and that means I am on the road a lot of the time doing it.

What I love about it, is you get that instant feedback form people, you can see arms crossed when they’re defensive, when they first hear that I’m going to be challenging some of their thoughts and making them do a bit more extra work, to go a bit harder for their business and that’s the battle, to help them relax, help them see they’ve got no choice, but there are some smart ways to manage their time to make it sustainable.

I don’t know how well that answered your question but, many ways, shapes and forms, these workshops take and turning up so many, you no doubt at some point, there’s programs running through the hills between Onkapringa region and through Darwin at the moment along with one offs here and there.

Nick: Great, great and I’ll put some links in the show notes as well to where you can find out some more information about that.

Thanks very much Steve, for coming on the program. It’s been really fantastic having you. Where can people find out more about Baker Marketing, at the website? Is it the best place?

Steve: I think it’s the place. I’ll give you 2 things, 1 is the website which is bakermarketingservices.com and I encourage you to pop on there but also on Twitter, it is probably as good as anywhere, baker_marketing is our Twitter handle.

One thing I forgot to mention is the first Sunday of every month, in the evening, I’m on 5AA with a regular radio program talking about things happening on the web and also profiling websites that I find interesting around South Australia and beyond. So, I encourage people to listen out for that and I’m happy to connect on Twitter, at stevedavis, all one word.

Nick: Great, fantastic. Well thanks again for coming on the show and enjoy the rest of your trip up to Coonawarra.

Steve: Pleasure Nick. I’ll have a drink for you.

Nick: Cheers!

I hope you enjoyed that second episode with Steve Davis. If you didn’t hear the first episode, then you should go back to episode number 17 and check that out as well. If you want any more information about any of the stuff we discussed in this episode, head to the show notes on the website, that’s www.webmarketingadelaide.com.au. It’s got links to Steve’s website, Baker Marketing website, the social profiles that we discussed, various links to different tools and things we learned during the episode. So go there, check out those links. If you’ve got any feedback or if you’ve got any ideas for future shows, hit the feedback link in the menu at the top and send your feedback through. I’ll see you next week. Bye.

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18Oct

Ep#13: Challenges Facing Small Businesses Today

An interview with Adelaide’s own Action Coach; George Koritsa about some of the challenges facing small businesses today

In this week’s episode I have an interesting chat with an Adelaide business coach; George Koritsa. When I first met George a month or so ago at the SME Association‘s free Adelaide networking event I didn’t really know what a business coach was so in the interview he straightens me out on that and then we drill down on some of the challenges facing small business owners. Make sure you stick around for George’s time management ideas and his tips for what business owners should be working on.

Some of what’s covered in this episode;

  • What is a business coach?
  • Some of the challenges facing small businesses today
  • Why is differentiation important for small businesses?
  • How should business owners go about differentiating themselves?
  • George’s top tips for what business owners should be working on

Mentions;

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Nick: Welcome back to Episode 13 of the Web Marketing Adelaide podcast. This week, we’ve got a great interview with George Koritsa from Action Coach. George is a business coach, now don’t worry too much if you don’t know what a business coach is exactly because I addressed that early on in the interview. So let’s go to that interview right now.

Good day George, how are you doing?

George: Hey Nick, how are you doing?

Nick: Good, thanks. Welcome to the show.

George: Thank you very much for inviting me, looking forward to it.

Nick: Great. When I first met you, I heard the word Business Coach, but I didn’t really know what a Business coach was, can you just explain to our listeners what a Business coach is and how does it differ from, say a consultant?

George: Great question Nick. A business coach is someone that comes in and looks at your business as an outsider.

Nick: Okay.

George: They’re going to come in and look at it the same way as a consultant who has a specific outcome that he or she wants to achieve. So consultants are always very much to come in and write a report for you or to do a specific task. A coach actually looks at it is a much broader entity and it says okay, how can you actually improve this business?

Now if you use the analogy of a sports person, why do they have a coach? Because they can’t see themselves hit the ball, kick the ball or whatever sport it is that they’re actually doing. They need somebody there that can guide them and also, the biggest part of a coach’s role is to hold you accountable. We all know what we should be doing, we all know we should exercise more and eat less but how many people actually do that?

Nick: Great, great. That makes a bit more sense actually, yeah. Does the word coach come from the sporting sense? Is that how the name came about?

George: Pretty much. Yeah. It’s the same as with working with a sports coach or any sort of coach. A coach is someone there to guide and mentor you and push you a bit further.

Nick: Great. It seems to make, it seems so obvious now that you’ve explained it, because I mean, from a customer perspective, they’re sort of coming at your business from a completely outside view, so you really want to be able to know what the business looks like from that perspective.

George: That’s right. You want to see what your customers are seeing and I find that a lot of people get what I call, store blind, whether we’re working in an office or in a shop or whatever. We just don’t see what’s going on around us because we’re just so used to it. We walk into a retail environment and the first thing you notice is the bin over flowing. The staff don’t see it because it’s always over flowing. So we just don’t see it, or you’re in an office building and there’s a dead plant on the receptionists desk, but no one pays any attention to it because it’s always there but your customers sitting there looking at it and going, oh, are you going to look after me as a lawyer or an accountant when you can’t even look after your own business?

Nick: Yeah, that’s kind of scary to think about, isn’t it? Because it can be so easy for a business owner to just get locked into the day to day work and not think about these little things, or what seem like little things.

Anyway, let’s move along. So, how does one actually become a business coach?

George: Okay. Becoming a business coach, I can only really speak about my own experience. I started with action coach, originally as a client. So, I was actually coached in my own business, and then, once I’ve got to the stage where I didn’t need to be working in the business anymore, I thought, hey there’s something in this. So, I approached a session coach and found out a bit about how you can become a coach.

We have a very extensive training program based in Las Vegas, so, it’s a 10 day intensive program that we do there and then we have an ongoing conferences and training. We’ve got weekly web analysis, we’ve got, twice a year, we have a regional conference and a global conference. So, our training is continuously being upgraded. So, really, of course a core criteria for being a business coach is someone who has experience in business, someone who operates their own business to start with and then following the actual coach system, which is a proven system that should train you in how to become a coach.

Nick: Great, great. It would seem like quite a lot of work to be able to stay on top of various different aspects of running a business and especially since you’re sort of looking at the whole business, rather than like an individual aspect.

George: Very much so. You’ve got to keep your learning up, you’re constantly reading, you’re constantly learning. You’re attending other seminars and workshops. You’re constantly improving yourself because that’s the only way you can add value to your client as a coach, is if you’re constantly growing and improving yourself. It’s the old adage, it’s different for a business coach or a business owner. Your business is either growing or it’s dying, it’s like a tree. A tree can’t stand still, it’s either growing or it’s dying.

Nick: Let’s get more into the meat of the episode with, you have some ideas of some of the major problems that are facing small business owners today. So what are some of those problems?

George: Sure, one of the biggest issues I believe, a lot of small businesses, specifically in South Australia, facing is lack of confidence. There’s a fear out there that the economy is going to go down. There’s a fear out there that people are not going to buy, and sure things are a little bit tough, but people are still buying, people are still shopping. I talked to retailers all afternoon and they’ll say oh you know, but people are going online and then I asked them the question, well why do you think that is, because the online product is not necessarily cheaper than what you’re selling it, plus they’ve got to wait for it to arrive and if it’s the wrong size or the wrong color, they’re going to have to send it back.

All this hassle when I could just buy it from there but one of the biggest issues I think, is they’re not training their staff on how to effectively sell the product, you know. We’ve all walked into a store, we’ve seen a product that we like, a price that we’re happy to pay, we walk up to the counter and the girl behind it, standing there, filing her nails going yeah, what do you want? And most of the time, I don’t really need to buy that from that person, so we put the product down and leave. Now, the retailer would go oh, he couldn’t afford the product, but no, we just didn’t like the service. So, it’s really important that we’re showing the people how to get the best out of your shopping experience with them.

And also, your service experience, how can we get better at what we’re doing? A lot of small businesses are constantly busy, they’re spending a lot of time chasing the wrong sort of things like… On every pool we’ll have a person that might always owe us money, who’s a bad payer, so we spend all our time chasing this person to get the money that he owes us and we’re ignoring the other 80% or 90% of our clients that pay us on time, that order from us regularly. We’re not spending any time working on them. We’d be better off putting that person out to a collection agency, let them worry about collecting the money and focus on contacting our good customers to find out who’s buying, what services they might need and keeping in touch with them. So it’s about modernizing our marketing.

A lot of businesses I think now are still stuck in some older style marketing. We’ve got to have an online presence now. We’ve got to be interactive with Facebook and other media like that, otherwise we’re kind of stuck in there. There are still people who are still advertising in the yellow pages. Unless your client base is very old, you’re really not in the right medium form. You’ve got to be looking at new media to market with.

Nick: Great, yeah. I think most of those things definitely make sense to me, from my experience talking to business owners and stuff. Speaking of a small thing you said there about business owners never seem to have much time. I’ve been thinking about this recently, do you think if as business owner feels like they really have no time to be spending on these, getting into the new mediums and sort of improving their business, should they sort of drop 1 or 2 clients to actually give themselves that time? Or how do they sort of get that time, when they just don’t have it?

George: Most of the time, it’s not about dropping clients. It’s actually where does the time go? A lot of business owners spend their time putting out fires, running around chasing up things that somebody else should be doing or they’re doing low end tasks. I remember working with a manufacturer a while back, and because things were tight, he got rid of his admin team, he got rid of the maintenance guy and he was trying to do all that stuff himself.

So, answering the phone, sending out the invoices even down to washing cups and mowing the medium strip. Now, when I came on board with him I said, okay how much would you be paying someone an hour to do that? Oh you know, you can probably get someone at $15 or $20 to do those job. He was not going to pay someone 20 bucks an hour to do that. He was able to go out one afternoon and sign out $80,000 to $90,000 worth of work because he was able to stop washing cups and sending invoices, and go out and speak to his clients.

So sometimes, it’s about changing what we are doing. Not necessarily stopping the productive stuff, it’s how much is this task generating for me this hour? I could have been paying somebody less to do it for me.

Nick: Yeah that’s a really good point and I think that the other thing to mention is that, with technology these days a lot of the sort of menial tasks can be sort of automated to some degree as well.

George: Yeah, absolutely. We should be automating, we should be outsourcing. Any sort of basic task that we don’t need to be physically doing as the business owner, we need to get it out of our hands and into somebody else’s. Is there somebody else in your team that would love to do that job? I’m sure we’ve all got jobs that we hate, but we do them and there’s somebody that thinks, God, I really wish I had that role.

Give it to them, look at who else in your company could take on a bit more responsibility and one of the most important things to actually manage your time. Actually work out how long you think this task is going to take. I’ve had a client recently do that, where he makes a list every day of the tasks he’s going to do, and how long he thinks each task is going to take and then he records his time against that and what he’s finding, he’s dropped from a 80-hour week to a 40 hour week because he’s now focused on, okay I’ve got 3 hours to complete this task, that’s it.

Nick: Yeah and the other thing, by having the list like that, like you mentioned, before you get kind of an idea of where your time is going, where if you don’t keep track of it, you can seem to waste the entire day without getting anything done, I find anyway.

George: Absolutely, I find that quite often, Nick, with lots of different business owners. We all get caught in that. We sometimes get busy with busyness rather than business. We just look busy , we’re doing stuff, we’re shuffling papers, we’re chasing our tails. We get hooked on for Facebook or Google and then all of a sudden, we’ve lost half an hour researching Tasmanian tigers, or something totally irrelevant to our day in business.

Nick: Yeah I can definitely relate to that. I’ll just put in a little thing that I’ve come across recently, it’s a tool, I do most of my work on the computer. So, there’s a few different tools you can get. One’s called Rescue Time, and there’s another called Time Doctor, where it actually sits in the background and tracks everything you do throughout the day, the programs you’re on. It’s a little bit scary to some degree but you can actually go in and look at reports at the end of the day where you can see where your time is actually being spent. So, I found that’s sort of a useful tool.

George: That’s a great tool. I do a similar thing with my clients with a Chess Clock. I don’t know if you’re familiar with a chess clock Nick, but it’s got, the idea behind it is when one chess player’s playing, he’s got so much time on his clock. I use it somewhat differently. I set both timers to 8 hours a day, and then you click side 1 when you’re being productive, you’re doing your job and side 2 when you’re doing unproductive stuff, other people’s work. Now, I’ve had a client actually throw that clock through the wall at the end of the week when he’s actually figured out how much of his day is taken up with unproductive, time firefighting, time wasters, meetings and that kind of thing. So, it’s really, a great eye opener and it sounds very similar to what you’re saying with the computer programs.

Nick: Wow, yeah. I think actually that sounds cool as well, even as well as the computer programs, I might actually have to follow up on that one.

Great stuff. Well, let’s move along. In preparation for this episode, we were talking about differentiation for businesses. So, that’s what the next few questions are going to be about. So, why is it important for a small business to differentiate themselves?

George: We need to actually stand out from our competitors, you know. What makes you different, why should I buy your product or service? A lot of people and a lot of ads will go, oh we give good service. Nick, can I ask you if you’ve ever seen anyone advertise bad service?

Nick: I don’t think so.

George: No, but have you ever received bad service?

Nick: Plenty of times.

George: Yeah. So, we can’t just say, we give good service and also, if we differentiate yourself purely on price, then we’re really open to abuse because anybody can come and drop their prices even more, and then you’re always chasing the bottom-end spender but if we say, okay, we’re the business that does this, we’re the business that guarantees that. I was recently side working with a nursery, and the guarantee that we’re putting into place, the unique sale proposition for that nursery is that we will replace that plant if it dies, no questions asked. So, why would you go and buy a plant somewhere else?

Nick: Exactly. Yeah, that’s a good idea, you’ve got.

George: Yeah. I worked with a car tinting business who had another opposition, more or less across the road from him and they were both trying to compete on price you know. One would go out for $200, the one across the road would drop it to $180, so you’d be at – none of them was making any money. When I worked with him, one of the things we differentiated with him was the quality of the brand and the product that they were selling and we put a lifetime guarantee on the glass. So, you already got your 1 year manufacturer’s one year warranty, but if you scratch a panel, you scratch a tint, we’ll replace that panel and we sold lots and lots and lots of tints on the back of that guarantee, but in the last 5 years, we’ve had zero people come back and take up that guarantee.

Nick: Right. I think that’s something you’d really like with guarantees often, is the idea of having it, we’ll sell people on them and then you may not necessarily even get them, people returning it, especially if the product’s good then there’s no need to make use of that, just give that extra confidence.

George: Absolutely, it’s no different to taking out travel insurance. You’ll take it out and you hope you’ll never have to use it. You hope your bags will arrive, they don’t get lost or anything like that, but it’s just that surety that yeah, if something goes wrong it’s there. So, it’s just making a point at difference. What makes you unique? What is really different about your product and I have a system which we actually follow. It’s actually quite a big document, but it’s what makes you different and unique and what makes you stand out from not only your competitors but in your industry?

Nick: Right, yeah. My next question is about how should businesses go about doing this differentiation process? So, I guess that’s sort of what you just said there, leads into that. Is it about finding the point of, what’s different about your business, basically?

George: Yeah. That’s right. What makes you special? What makes you different? What can you offer? Could it be the amount of time that you’ve been in business, the awards that you’ve won? Could it be that you have a specific range that isn’t available elsewhere? Is it that you’ve got someone who specializes in, you know, you might breed a specific plant, or you might have access to something that’s imported but nobody else has got. So, you’ve got to really stand out. Also you going to differentiate some of this tangible. Give me a guarantee, we give you the best service or we give you the … That’s it, intangible. Your opinion of service and my opinion of service are two different things. So, we’ve got to give them a real tangible difference.

I can really see that you say this is the best product for me, and build the confidence. Otherwise, we’re just competing on price.

Nick: Yeah, definitely. I can actually see what you’re saying with that. Is this process of coming out with a differentiator, is this something that you find that business owners can do themselves? Because obviously, there’s a lot of people out there who are not particularly doing it that well, or is it something that they really need some outside help with?

George: I believe they really do need some outside help with, because it’s very hard for us as business owners because we’re very passionate about our businesses and we see all the good things and all the bad things about our businesses, but we’re not always good at pointing that out to our customers and some of the things that we take for granted, are really important to our clients. Like a plumber or an electrician, being on time every time is really important to the customer. The electrician may well be on time every time, but if he’s not pushing that as his unique selling point process here, what does that mean? He’s not likely to get an advantage from it?

Nick: Right, yeah. I see what you’re saying. Sorry, did you have anything to add to the differentiation point?

George: I think it is really important that they do look at it and keep modernizing and changing and a point of difference because once you get a good point a difference, you also find that your competition will start doing it.

It brings to mind the story of Budweiser beer, who as a US beer, was going downhill quite rapidly. The sales were dropping, yeah. Things weren’t going great for them, so they got somebody in to look at what makes them different and one of the processes that they do is the double filtration. So, their beer is filtered twice so they took out the marketing again, educating customers that their beer is twice filtered, so it’s a smoother, cleaner beer.

Now, anyone who knows anything about beer making would know that all beers are double filtered. So, there’s really nothing unique, but they were the first ones to go out and say, hey we double filter our beer. Now, anybody else that comes on and say, oh we double filter, it’s the me too guy isn’t he?

Nick: Yeah, and also from the consumers perspective. I don’t know how consumers know about brewing beer, but I didn’t know that beers were double filtered, so from my perspective, it seems like an advantage to have that.

George: Yeah. And that’s the difference. Sometimes it’s just something that we’re already doing. It could be a compulsory guarantee that might be in your industry, that you have to do it because that’s the industry standard, but are we letting our customers know that we’re doing that? Because again, if we’re the first one to actually bring that out, then we’re the ones that people think, oh wow, you started it and everybody else is copying you. So, you can set out your unique selling proposition quite easily once you figure out what makes you different.

Nick: Great, and it pays to be sort of the first to get there, especially if you have perhaps something like the example with the beer, something that other people would do, if you can be the first to sort of trumpet that out and make it obvious, then you can take an advantage from that.

George: Yep, absolutely. And that’s that you want to do, is make your business stand out.

Nick: Perfect. Well, let’s move on and finish off the interview with, you’re going to give us five things that you think business owners should really be working on at the moment.

George: Thanks Nick. I think the top area that they really need to be working on, there’s a few things, but probably lead generation. It’s where their marketing is coming from and how are they getting returns on their investment. A lot of business owners spend a lot of money on marketing. I know when I first started out in business 15 odd years ago, you get the Newseek Journal and the Places Gazette and all these marketing ploys out there and you think, yeah, well market for me and you end up spending a whole lot of money.

I’m not getting any return for them. So, it’s important that you are measuring your marketing. A basic rule is $1 out, $2 back, or otherwise, don’t do it. You’re better of spending a little bit of money seeing if something works, and then investing more in it, rather than going out and spending lot of money on marketing without some measures in place.

And if you are committed to a marketing campaign, can you change it? Can you test out a new ad? You may have bought some newspaper space, well that’s fine. Can you change the ad? We did that with a bakery a few years ago where they had committed to a 16 week, weekly ad and they’ve been running this ad with no return whatsoever. So, we said to them, how can we change that for you? So, what’s a cheap product for you to make? I can make éclairs for about 30 cents. Great, so let’s give them away. So, we changed the ad, where anybody bringing that ad in, got a free chocolate éclair. How many people do you think turned up looking for a free chocolate éclair?

Nick: A few. I’m sure I would.

George: Quite a few. People were queuing at the door for this thing. Now, most people, bought a sandwich, or they bought a can of Coke or they bought something else with the éclair and sure, you got a few that just took the éclair, but they’re all related anyway but you always got a few people like that, but most of the people bought something else. Most of the people got the opportunity to try out the bakery. So, sometimes, it’s not about the medium that we’re using, it’s make sure that the ad works.

Nick: Great and I think one of the advantages of web marketing is that it’s so easy to measure what’s going on with your – where your money is going and measure your conversion and match the two up, so you can actually get the data to be able to make this decision about what works and what doesn’t.

George: Absolutely. It’s a great medium to get out there and get your product out to a variety of different people and really check and balance it out with the return that you’re getting versus the investment so, absolutely.

The other thing as you mentioned there is the conversion rate. A lot of businesses just keep chasing more and more clients but they’re not actually selling to all of those that they’ve already got or those that have enquired. So, if you’ve got a 100% conversion rate, why would you be spending more money on marketing? You need to know why you’re not selling to the people that are already inquiring about your product or service?

The next thing is to get those that are already buying from you to spend more. What are your fries? What does McDonalds do really well? They upsell, they will have a different price points, they’re constantly changing and evolving as well as a company, but they’re very, very good at adding fries. Do you want fries with that? And what are your fries in your business? What can you add on? What are the little bit extras that you can get? So, different to why do you think they put chocolates by the checkouts in the supermarkets? So you can grab that last-minute add-on sale.

What are your chocolates? What are your fries? What are the things that you can add on to make it a little bit more?

Another thing to look as is the frequency of people shopping with you. Is your product or service a weekly or an annual product? Is it something that we can get people to come back again? It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same customer, but could it be their family or friends? How are we setting up a referral program? Does she help them grow the frequency of their shopping?

And the last thing I really want to comment on is profit margins. You’ve got to be doing things that are profitable. I’ve worked with a motor mechanic and he was busy, but there’s no money at the end of the week. Now, when I worked out his pricing and I worked it out properly to what his customer’s – every car he was servicing, was costing him $4.50, more than he was charging. So, you know, we didn’t need to service more cars, we just needed to charge more. We also changed that in there.

Now, we have a formula with an action coach, working on those 5 areas which will give you a guaranteed 61% increase to your bottom line.

Nick: Wow, that’s pretty good.

George: It’s about really following a system that’s proven. Action coaches itself is in 45 countries now around the world. We’re an Australian company, got over 1200 coaches, so, when you’re working with an action coach, you’re not just working with one person, you’re working with a group of coaches around the world that we can actually jump on, assist and say, hey who’s working with a plumber in Sydney, in Kuala Lumpur, or London or wherever else? And we can take some of those learning and ideas from there and bring them back into our Adelaide market.

Nick: Wow that seems like a great way to leverage the knowledge of the network, as opposed to just your knowledge.

George: Absolutely.

Nick: Well, thanks very much for coming on the show George. It’s been was really insightful and some great tips in there. If people want to find out more about you and your business, where can I do that?

George: Good. There’s a couple of ways, you can jump on my website, which is www.actioncoachgeorgekoritsa.com, now Koritsa is k o r i t s a. I also have a Facebook page, georgekoritsaactioncoach, again they can find me through that or on the phone, 04-03-575978 and my email is georgekoritsa@actioncoach.com. Now, I do offer everybody the opportunity to spend an hour of no obligation with me, to actually see how a coach could help them grow their business and enables me to find out a little bit more about them and give them some tips. So, it’s a great way to actually get some value, out of – now, it’s your time to catch up, have a coffee, and you’ll walk out with some great tips, as well as the opportunity to move your business forward.

Nick: Perfect. Great tips and I’ll have those contact details on the show notes for this episode for my listeners to go check out if they didn’t catch it in the episode.

Thanks very much for joining us today George. It’s been a great chat.

George: Thank you Nick, it’s been really enjoyable and I hope your listeners get some great value and tips in there and I’m always happy to chat to anybody.

Nick: No worries. I’m sure they will. See you later.

George: Thank you very much.

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13Sep

Ep#8: Five Tips for Starting a Business

Five great tips for starting a business with an interview with Karen Gunton from Build a Little Biz

This week I’ve got a fantastic interview with Karen Gunton from Build a Little Biz. Karen gives us her 5 top tips for starting a business, particularly useful for someone starting a home based business but there’s some really useful information in here for anyone starting a business.

Covered in this episode;

  1. Finding the right idea – something that combines your interests/skills/expertise with what people actually need/want
  2. Doing your research – into biz models, profitability, a point of difference in the marketplace etc.
  3. Building the framework of your biz – your products, your customers, your brand etc.
  4. Giving yourself a timeframe – ‘portfolio building’ stage
  5. Starting right now with a simple marketing strategy

Links;

This week’s featured photo is the last in the series from The Wandering Videographer. This is just a small piece of a great panorama, click on the photo for the full photo.

Panorama Sunset by The Wandering Videographer

[spoiler title=”Transcription” open=”0″ style=”1″]

You’re listening to the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. We give you the tips and strategies to help you utilize the web to get more traffic, leads and sales for your business. Now here’s your host, Nick Morris.

 

Nick: Welcome to Episode 8 of the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. This week, we’re speaking with Karen Gunton from Build a Little Biz about Tips for Getting a Business Started. Are you there Karen?

 

Karen: Yes, I’m here. It’s great to be here talking with you.

 

Nick: Great. Let’s just get started by you telling us a little bit about yourself, your business, and what you do.

 

Karen: Sure. I guess it’s a bit of a long story. You can probably tell from my accent that I’m Canadian and I’m living here in Australia in Adelaide. We moved here about just over six years ago. Before I moved here from Canada, I was a science teacher. Once we moved here, I didn’t really want to go back to teaching. I liked being a mom at home, but I found that I missed having my own thing. I missed talking with people and planning out things to teach the students and learning – I missed both teaching and learning. But I didn’t really want to go back to work. I sort of just fell into this idea of turning my hobby of photography into a business. It was not planned. I didn’t have a clue to what I was doing. People just started asking me how much do you charge. I quickly had to decide if I was going to start charging money for doing family photographs and children’s photographs, or if I was going to keep it a hobby. I decided to give it a go, and quickly realised that if I was going to make a real go of it and actually run a profitable business, I needed to learn a lot more about business than I knew already.

 

That was around the time that Build a Little Biz started, because I found that as I was learning about how to run a business, I was getting asked a lot of questions by other mums who were at home and wanting to start their own business. It was the same idea, they had a hobby that they were trying to turn into a business. So I started blogging about what I was learning as I went and I rebranded and re-launched my photography business. It was really successful. It went really well. I was attracting the right people and making a great profit, and working the hours that I wanted. I had the freedom to run my own business from home the way I wanted. It was fabulous, but I quickly found that Build a Little Biz was taking up almost as much as time as my photography business was, so recently I have made the decision to focus just on Build a Little Biz and working with other business builders and helping them. I’m teaching them and doing some creative design stuff for them. That’s where my focus is right now, but it’s been a long journey of six years of running my own business that got me in here. It’s kind of exciting.

 

Nick: Great. I can certainly say to the listeners to go and check out your website. There are lots of great articles on there. You’re blogging regularly, and you also have other contributors to the blog as well?

 

Karen: That’s correct. Yes, I quickly discovered that while I was great at teaching some concepts because I can really put things into a way that resonate with people and made it click for people, there’s still a lot that I do not have the expertise to answer questions on. What I’ve done is I’ve got about ten regular contributors who write for Build a Little Biz. They answer questions that come in from readers and fans, as well as, my own questions. Sometimes, I’ll email them and say, “Oh my Gosh! I have a question about PR and I really need you to help with this.” So I’m really lucky because I’ve got a great team of people from all around the world that are writing for Build a Little Biz, answering questions, and helping us all with all those different aspects. There’s so much that you can do and that you can learn about in order to grow and build a successful business. There’s a lot out there. I like the fact that I’m creating a place where everything’s kind of in one handy spot. People know that when they email me a question, somebody will answer it, or if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find somebody who will. I’ve kind of built myself a reputation as being extremely helpful. I’m a pretty good librarian to help people find the resources that they need.

 

Nick: Great. If people want to go check out your website, its buildalittlebiz.com right?

 

Karen: Yes, that’s right.

 

Nick: And it’s biz, B-I-Z.

 

Karen: It is. Yes.

 

Nick: Let’s launch into the topic for this week. We’re going to talk about tips on getting your business started. You’ve got five tips so I’ll let you get started.

 

Karen: Alright. Well, I think that number one tip I have is about finding the right idea. The thing that I find most of the people I talk to fall into one of two categories. One is that they have some hobby, interests, skills, expertise, or talent; something that they do and think they can turn it into a business. Or sometimes, they have friends or family who say, “Oh my Gosh! You should totally sell that. You can make money.” So they have this product idea or service idea and now they’re trying to figure out how to make their business a go.

 

The other category is people who like the idea of having their own business and perhaps they’re working in a full time job that they don’t really want to continue on for too long. Or perhaps there are mums – a lot of them are mums – at home who are in a maternity leave or that sort of thing and they’d like to find a way to have a business from home without getting back to work. But they need an idea. Either or, I think the thing that we tend to do is think, “Okay, what can I do? What can I sell?” We look at our interest, talent, expertise, and all those things. That’s really great but the other side of the coin is that you need to find something not only that you think is a great idea or that your mum thinks is a good idea or your best friend, but something that other people actually want.

 

A lot of people start with their product and then they think, “Okay. Well, now I’ve got to find people to buy it.” That makes it a bit harder. Whereas you have an idea that you already know people want, need, long for, and crave, that makes it a lot easier to sell because it’s easier to sell something to someone who already wants it. You know exactly who you need to go talk to about what you do. It makes it feel a lot easier. It makes it a little bit more fun. I always tell people, whether they’ve already got their product or service idea or whether they’re trying to think of one, to find that sweet spot that combines something that you can do and are willing to do with something that people actually want. It’s important to go outside of your circle of close friends who are telling you to go for it and actually see what that sweet spot is. I always get people to brainstorm and really just put down everything they can think of that combines their own expertise, talent and skills with what other people might need or want. Look for some audience for your product or service.

 

Nick: I think that’s great advice because that’s certainly selling to people often seem to miss – at least people I’ve talked to – is that their idea needs to actually have an audience before that can be viable. Often, I heard of struggles trying to find your “starving crowd.”

 

Karen: Yes. That’s a really good way of putting it. The thing I think is people think, “Okay. Well, I can make this thing. Everybody will buy it like, it’s great! My thing is great. My service is great. My product is great. Anybody could buy it: any mum, any dad, or any grandparent.” They have this broad idea of who would be interested in it. But that makes it hard as well, because they think that they have a specific audience, but it’s not really. It’s hard to attract the right person to come and buy your thing if you’re not attracting anybody at all because you’re very busy trying to please everybody. I think it’s a bit tricky for people to hone in on who the people are that will actually need and desire what they want. There are a lot of ways, I think, you can go about it. You can look at what are some gaps in the market place. You can look at what other people are doing and see if you can do it in a new and innovative way. You can look at people who are kind of being ignored; the other part of the pie as they say that, nobody is really targeting.  You can look at and see what problems people have around you that need solving and see what sorts of skills and expertise you can contribute to solving that problem. But I think if you have a really clear idea on how you can help one single other person in a specific way, then that’s a pretty good starting point.

 

Nick: Let’s move on to the next tip. So that’s “doing your research.” What’s this tip all about?

 

Karen: Yes, that kind of leads from the first one. Again, I’ve talked to so many people who get like, “Okay, I’ve got this product or service and I’ll start a Facebook page and I’ll start selling it.” But they haven’t really done their research. I would say you should put as much research into your idea, especially, at the beginning as you would into actually doing the job. If you’re a person who wants to start a business on the side when you’re not at your regular nine to 5 job and you plan on working two evenings a week and both days on a weekend, those are hours that you should put in right now into researching it. Doing your research into what business models exist out there already. How are other people selling this product or service, are they online, are they doing it in person, are they going to markets, are they setting up bricks and mortar stores? What kinds of business models are out there right now that you can learn from? Not only can you see how you can do it in a way that serves your own interest and also the needs of your people, but you can learn a lot from what other people who are doing.

Sometime people have got a pretty successful business model. It’s easy to take an idea that exists out there and to turn it into something unique just by making a few tweaks here and there. I say; definitely do research into what exist out there. Another reason for doing that is also, it will help you to see what your point of difference could be in the market place. If you’re doing research into what already exist in your little niche that you want to service, you’ve really got to know what’s out there. You got to know what other people are doing. You need to know who your competitors are, who any complimentary businesses are, what bloggers are talking about this, what online groups and local networks exist. The more research you do, the better you’ll be able to sell your product because you’ll really understand what your point of difference is plus you already have started making connections with people. Again, if you have a whole group of people out there already that you’ve talk to, then that sure it makes it a lot easier to find people to sell your product to.

 

Nick:  Great tips.

 

Karen: Also, there’s just one more thing I’ll just add about that which I think is an important thing. Maybe it’s obvious but also to look into how profitable your business idea is going to be, because some people again start doing what they’re doing and they come up with random pricing that they feel good about or that they think is affordable or that they’d be willing to pay; therefore, other people will be willing to pay. They don’t always look at it with an idea of an end-goal in mind like how much money do you actually need to make from doing your business. Do you want to do it be full time? What kind of a wage do you want? How many hours can you put in? How much is it going to cost to you? Figure out and crunch your numbers. Even if you don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like, get a piece of paper, a pen and a calculator and really think about what kinds of prices will you need to charge to make this profitable and then, what would you have to do to be able to charge those prices. What value will you need to offer? What kind of difference will you need to make? Pricing is like we can have an entire podcast just on pricing which I’m sure you’ll probably have plans to do, but it’s one of the things that I find people struggle with the most – what to charge. The first step really is to sit down, crunch those numbers, and try to figure it out.

 

Nick: Yes, I definitely agree with those tips. Something that I’ve heard mentioned before is that if you start off by pricing yourself too low, it’s really difficult to increase your prices once the market already has an idea and expectation of what you’re charging. So getting in there early and doing the research of your ideal pricing might be a better way of going about it.

 

Karen: Well in that, I think I may mistake that people make sometimes is that they don’t realise that their price is part of their brand. So if they start out and they’re making handmade jewellery and they think, “I’ll charge twenty dollars or whatever for this thing. That’s what I’ll be willing to pay, so that’s what I’ll do.” Then they realise as time goes on that, first of all, they need to charge a lot more to make it worth their while. Second of all, that they need to attract people that are looking for more high-end, exquisite hand-made items and so they need to charge more in order to get into that more luxury niche. They realise this entire brand that they’ve created is all based on twenty dollar earrings and they can’t suddenly turn around and charge a hundred dollars for those earrings. So your price is part of your brand, it sends a strong message and I always say to people, if “affordable” is what you want to sell, that’s just about the hardest thing because affordable is relative. What one person values is totally different to another person. What’s affordable to you is different to me and that can change. I think you have to look at it and you really have to crunch the numbers and you have to think about the brand you want to build and the kind of people that you want to attract to buy what you’re selling and really look at your pricing that way. If you figure it out and then you decide for a little while to charge a little bit less as you’re growing, that’s one thing.  But to start low and undersell yourself, then realise in a year or two years, you need to fix it. That’s difficult.

 

Nick: Right. Well, let’s go on to the next tip and that is building the framework of your biz. What’s this tip all about?

 

Karen: Okay, so again, this leads to what I was saying already. Your framework is what I say your basis for everything else. If you are clear about this, it’s easier to build your business. The thing that I find is that a lot of people start with the products and they’re selling it, and they’re out there, but then when I ask them questions like, “Okay, who exactly are you targeting? Who is your perfect customer?” They don’t really don’t know. Like I said before they get anxious. “Oh, any mum. Any mum around the world!” That’s not very specific. It’s hard to attract every mum and so you end up not attracting any mums. What I often make people do is go backwards and get clear on their framework. By this I mean really getting clear on who exactly you want to attract – your perfect customers – those ones who actually love what you do, need what you do, and will buy anything you’d sell just because they love it so much. That’s one.

Another one is your products. A lot of people, they’re selling jewellery, or photographs, or service like copywriting, or whatever, but they don’t get the real benefits of what they’re selling like that they’re saving people time, or making people feel really good about themselves, or giving people a solution to a deep inner problem that they’re not really expressing. They think, “Oh I want some jewelry” but what they really want is a way to feel especial and feel good about themselves or fit in with all the other mums at school, or whatever it might be. You’re not just selling jewelry. You’re not just selling photographs. You’re not just selling your service. You’re selling something a lot broader and deeper than that. If you can get to the real benefits of what you sell, and if you can really get to the emotions behind what you sell, then that makes it a lot easier to talk to people about it. That’s the second part of your framework.

So you got your customers, your products – what you’re really selling, and you’ve got “you”. That’s the big one people forget. They don’t realise that you are the most unique part of your business. Nobody else can copy your idea exactly if they can’t copy you. If you pop up a store, you start selling photography services and it looks like everyone else’s store, online website and nothing about it stands out, then it’s pretty hard to compete. But if you can put ‘you’ into your business and what makes you special, and what gifts you have – your ‘secret sauce’ is what I sometimes call it. What’s your secret sauce? What is it about you that you can add to your business that really makes it stands out? That also makes doing business more fun because then its really a reflection of your own passion and your own joy and your spark. You know that thing that gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning to work on your business. That is the third part.

Then the fourth part of your framework is just what’s happening in the marketplace. Where do you fit in with your competitors? Who are some other complimentary businesses out there who are doing similar things or things that are attracting the same audience as you? Or perhaps they have complimentary services to your product, or vice versa. You can learn a lot about what they’re doing and you can figure out how you fit in there. You can also figure out how to make yourself different. You can look at what objections exist in the marketplace like if everyone else is saying, “Oh there is no way I would buy that. I’ve heard this and that about it.” Then, if you know that, then you can start addressing those objections in your own brand and attracting all those people who think, “Oh it’s not going to work for me.” You suddenly know how to talk to them because you see what they said about other people. You can learn a lot about what’s happening in your marketplace. Then once you have a really clear idea of those four things, then you can start to put together what your brand is going to be. What message do you want to send about your business? Who do you want to attract? What do you want? What does the voice of your business need to be; the look of your business? Are you going to be low-end, high-end, mid-range, or are you going to be luxury, fast, quality or personal? There are so many different things that you could be with your brand, and messages that you can send with your brand. That is going to be perfect for you if you understand everything else.

 

Nick: Great.

 

Karen: Does that make sense?

 

Nick: Yes, that makes perfect sense.

 

Karen: Yes.

 

Nick: I think, yes some really good tips. Let’s move on to our fourth tip which is “giving yourself a time-frame.”

 

Karen: A lot of people say, “I can’t start right now because I don’t have my website up or I’m not really sure yet about my pricing so I don’t want to get started. Or I haven’t really picked exactly who I want to target.” The best advice I can give is just to get started. You’re not going to learn everything you need to know about how to make your business a success until you actually start talking to people about it. You can do your research, sit online, and look and see what everyone else is doing. But until you start talking to people, I don’t think you really know what they need, what they’re looking for, and how you can help them. So the best thing that thing I would say to people is, “Just start now.” Even if you just want to get on Twitter and start talking about what it is you’re thinking about selling and see what kind of reaction you get. Just do something. What I usually recommend people do is have what I call a “portfolio building stage.” This is what photographers often do. They’ll look at where their business needs to be as far as pricing packages, kinds of prints, and stuff they’re going to offer. But they realised they’re not quite there yet, they have learning to do and they’ve got to build their portfolio, and they better find customers and work with them, and test out their systems.

What we often do in photography is have a portfolio building stage. We allow ourselves a set amount of time and we’ll have goals of what we want to put in to our portfolio. We’ll find people who want to work with us and offer them a really excellent deal for doing that. Then, we get excellent feedback, and we can grow testimonials, figure out our systems – what sucks and what we need to fix. We might find that we hate it and don’t want to do anymore. It’s great because it’s a way to sort of get started without under pricing yourself, and under-valuing yourself and sort of ruining the brand that you want to create right on the get go. I always suggest to people that they should try and find a way to incorporate that into your business plan. So get started right now and then allow yourselves three months, six months, or one month if you’re on a mission to get this going. Then say; this is my portfolio building stage. For this period of time, I’m going to offer these discounts, deals, bonuses, or I’m going to work with anybody who asks or whatever it is, and just take it as a learning stage realising that you can fix things as you go. Anything that you do for your business right now is not a tattoo; it’s doesn’t last forever. You can fix it, you can change it and you can make it work better once you learn better, but you’re only going to do that by starting now. So get started!

 

Nick: Great. I really like the tip of giving yourself a time frame. Something that I often find trouble with is not coming up with ideas but actioning them.

 

Karen: Yes.

 

Nick: Like, always planning in my head but then actually getting something out on the page and getting it started can be quite difficult.

That’s kind of the story of this podcast. I was thinking about it for ages and then all of a sudden, I thought, “Well maybe I should just get it started… and learn as I go”

 

Karen: Just get started, yes.

 

Nick: It’s much better to have something out there than it is to have to wait for like six months, a year, or never because you’re trying to get it perfect before you release it.

 

Karen: The thing is if you are at all like me, you want everything to be just perfect before you put it out there. I think a lot business owners are that way. We’re really hard on ourselves because we’re kind of on our own, we don’t have employees or bosses to lift us up and push us along. So, it’s easy to sort of get stuck in that stage of saying “It’s not as quite ready yet, it’s not quite perfect.” But yes, I think you have to just put it out there. You’ll probably look back in a couple of years, and think, “Oh my God. I learned so much since then. It’s kind of embarrassing what I did back then.” But that’s what leads you to where you’re going to be next. I was thinking the same thing a little while ago and Seth Godin had a great post about what you do for your business – It’s not a tattoo, it’s not permanent, it doesn’t last forever, you can fix it, you can change it, you can adjust it, you can do whatever you have to do. Ever since I read that I’ve thought “You know what? That’s right. It’s not a tattoo. I’m just going to put it out there and because I’m my own boss I can just give myself permission to change it when I need to.”

 

Nick: Great. Yes, I really like that tattoo analogy.

 

Karen: Yes, you’ll be thinking that now. You’ll be thinking, “Oh, I don’t know if I could do this.” And then you’ll hear my voice saying, “It’s not a tattoo Nick. Just do it.”

 

Nick: Perfect.

 

All right, so let’s move on to our last tip which is; ‘starting right now with simple marketing strategy’ which kind of melds into the last discussion…

 

Karen: Yes, exactly.

 

Nick: Tell us a bit more about that.

 

Karen: So, yes, just start right now and you might not know what you’re going to sell, or you might have a product already but you don’t know who you’re going to sell it to or whatever. Like you might have one small piece of your framework built. You might have one bit of your research done, and you might not know anything else yet. But just get started. The simplest combination of things that I suggest to people is;

Number 1: Have some sort of online presence like a blog or a website. You can start this yourself for free like there’s heaps of free options. You can set up a WordPress site on your own. You can look for one of the ready to build sites, or get a blog started, whatever it is. But just start something. Again, it’s not tattoo like in a year you might get someone to design it with something flash and amazing, but just start right now. So you want to have your own little piece of the online world. Even if you want to start a local business or a business that you tend to have it be in person and everything, it’s good to have something online; because that’s the way our society is right now.

Start to have your little piece of the online world with a website or blog. Blogs are great because you can just start talking to people like you can start writing about whatever it is that your passion or expertise is. You know what it is you love about what you do, and start attracting people just purely based on you telling the stories about what it is you do and want to offer this world. They are really flexible, you can do anything you want to do: photos, video and audio, whatever floats your boat, and whatever makes you jump out of bed in the morning because you’re excited to do. Get that online and get going.

Number 2: Then the other thing is just have some part of social media working for you. So whether you’re into Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn or whatever, start talking about what you do and sharing your passion, interest, your expertise, and helping people. Be generous with your skills and expertise, and just start talking to people. Direct the back to your little hub, website, or blog, start getting traffic, and making connections with people, just being out there interacting and just being genuine.

Number 3: Then the third piece, really simply, is just to have a way to capture traffic, interest and fans who tell you that they are interested. I suggest having an email list and starting it right away.  Even if you don’t even know what you’re going to sell yet. If you just know “I love doing this. I somehow want to turn into a business, but I don’t how I’m going to do it yet.” If you start an email list and start collecting emails of people who think what you do is amazing, you’re ideas are amazing, and your passions are amazing, then you have a way of getting in touch with them again. Once that time comes, you start maybe getting fans on Facebook, getting friends and followers on Twitter, or getting people coming over to check out your website. If you have a way of capturing their email address, and keeping in touch with them, that lets you start building a list of people who already love what you do.

When you’re ready to launch your product, service, or you come up with a new idea on something that you haven’t tried yet or whatever, you got all these people who are interested in it. In your portfolio building stage, you can say, “Okay, I want to try this new product. I don’t know how it’s going to work. Do I have any volunteers to be guinea pigs?” When you put it out there, send out that email to people who already like what you do, then, you got people right there who are ready to hear from you. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to email yet to those people, start capturing their email addresses right away because it gives you something to start building even if you don’t know anything else about what you’re doing.

I compare it to the idea of if you were to go to a networking event and hand out business cards, that’s awesome. You could go around and say, “Hello! This is my idea and I’ve got these business cards.” A lot of people start with the business cards. They go order like a thousand business cards with their website on them and their name. Then, you go hand them out but once you hand them out the ball’s in their court. You’re relying on those people to remember to call you, to be interested enough to go find the card and call you, talk to you some more, ask questions or whatever. So you’ve handed out your business cards, you got your website up, and you’re ready but you’re waiting for people to come to you; whereas, if you have an email list of people that have already told you they’re interested in what you’re doing, then you have a way to contact them in a non-icky way. You don’t want to spam them with whatever sale offers you have  but to send genuine emails about how you want to help them, or asking them what their problems are and see if there’s a way you could help them or whatever it is. That puts the ball in your court and gives you some control over keeping in contact with people and staying on people’s radar. Before you go and buy a thousand business cards, you can start for free really right now with a simple website or blog, some presence somewhere on social media where you think your best people are hanging out and a free email list from a place like Mail Chimp or something.

 

Nick: Cool.

 

Nick: Great traffic of tips to finish off those Five Tips on Starting a Business. Thanks very much for coming on the show, Karen. It’s been really great having you.

 

Karen: Thank you for having me. It’s great to chat.

 

Nick: If people want to find out more about you and your business, it’s buildalittlebiz.com, is that right?

 

Karen: That’s right. See you up.

 

Nick: Great. Well, hopefully we might be talk to you again in the future if we have another episode on, perhaps on pricing like you mentioned earlier in the show. Until then.

 

Karen: Yes, we can talk about that for sure.

 

Nick: Great Karen. Until then I hope we have good one.

 

Karen: Thanks Nick.


Nick: Cheers.

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