How To Say No

April 20, 2016 in Money, Small Business by lizbygrave

by Marcia MacLeod

I turned down two pieces of work this year, much to the horror of some of my friends. “You can’t turn down work!” they screamed. “The client will never come back to you!” “Don’t you need the money?” others asked. But the best response was from a friend who asked “How can you do that? You’re in business!” when she, bless her, is near exhaustion because she is terrified of telling clients she will be late, or has to say no to new work,  because her mother is extremely ill in another part of the country and she has no siblings to  help take her to hospital appointments, try to organise social services, and do the shopping. Read the rest of this entry →

Channel Your Inner Self – Or Someone Else’s!

April 6, 2016 in Marketing, Muswell Hill Meetings, Search Engine Optimisation, seo, Small Business Networking, Small Business PR, Websites by lizbygrave

One of the hardest things  many small business owners face is promoting themselves and their business. They simply do not have sufficient self-confidence to go out there and tell the world (or even the local neighbourhood) how great they are, or why people should buy their product or service.

But Shay Allie, the speaker at Small Business Network’s February meeting, suggested a way in which everyone – small business owner or not – can get round this: pretend you’re someone else. It may seem strange, and you’d have to hear Shay explain it, but sometimes just coming at something from a different angle can give you enough of a different perspective to push even the most reticent into the limelight. Read the rest of this entry →

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 10, 2016 in Uncategorized by lizbygrave

Did you play the Valentine Day Card to attract more clicks?


How to ‘Harness a Trend’ and generate more visits to your site

I’m not a big fan of gimmicks, in fact I often advise my clients to steer clear of falling into the ‘gimmicks’ trap when it comes to social media marketing and writing blogs.

However there is no doubt that whatever business you are in your clients will be aware that very soon it’s Valentine’s Day.

Did you play the Valentine’s Day Card to find new clients?

Both men and women may be:

  • hoping to receive a valentine’s card/gift
  • considering sending a valentine’s card/gift
  • dreading the idea of Valentine’s day

Most of the UK and US society, whether in love, in a relationship or just out and about will be aware of what February 14th stands for.

You may be thinking “So what!” what has valentine’s day got to do with my social media marketing and content writing and how does it do anything to improve my click throughs.

Well even if you are not a dating site or a florist … read on and find out how any business can benefit from harnessing a popular social event to generate more interest in their own business.

Don’t miss the opportunity to use trending subjects to hook your customers interest.

Well here’s the reason you should pay attention to this and every other fixed calendar event that your potential clients will be aware of.

As these calendar events come around and the day gets closer your clients will begin to focus on the wants, needs and issues that may surround these dates.

Also because the media in general will have been ‘Priming’ your clients for weeks before the event, so this year I think Valentine’s Day cards and gifts began to appear on the shelves of my local Marks & Spencer and Waitrose stores in the second week of January, the words ‘Valentine’, ‘Love’, ‘Gifts’ will all be more heightened in your clients consciousness.

This all leads them to being more attuned to the ‘Titles’ and ‘Headings’ and ‘Calls to Action’ that contain these words.

“OK, so what?” I here you say again

Well the thing here is to take advantage of this heightened awareness and make it work for you.

Let me give you two different examples of how a business might do this.

Business A is a psychotherapist and Business B a Boutique Hotel.

You’ll agree that they are both very different businesses and there is no reason to think that they will share the same client demographics, yet they could both benefit from focusing on Valentine’s day to create great content that commands attention and is shareable on social media.

Business A the Psychotherapist.

Many people find this time of the year tough.

They are single or perhaps in a relationship that isn’t working for them. Valentine’s Day is a big deal for many in this situation and so thoughts of ‘love’, ‘relationships’, ‘perfect partners’, ’emotional issues’ may well be more heightened for these potential clients.

A psychotherapists who might be looking for a suitable issue to blog, podcast or write about could successfully use the focus of Valentine’s Day to write something that might be of interest to their prospective clients:

  • The Valentine Date Do’s and Don’ts –Top tips to cope with that date (list style piece)
  • The Valentine Blues – How to cope with that sinking feeling (article style piece)
  • Being someone’s ‘Valentine’ isn’t always a bed of roses – coping with an obsessive lover

The list could go on and on. You could even do a series to cover different issues that surround love, rejection, obsessive natures, unrequited love, the male perspective, the female perspective etc.

Business B the Boutique Hotel

Many people want to do something romantic at this time of the year. Well let’s just say that those people who might want to do more than send their love in a card might want to splash out and take the object of their affection away on a surprise mini break.

This year Valentine’s Day falls on the weekend and so I imagine that many people might consider a romantic weekend away would fit the bill.

A boutique hotel might want to focus on this to write an article or series of articles in the preceding weeks. The articles might be about how to organise that perfect romantic break, all the things that lovers can do in X (x being whichever city or location the hotel is). It might be about a famous lover who stayed in the area or perhaps a romantic novel based in the area.

  • Perfect Valentine’s Weekend breaks with a romantic  dinner and leisurely breakfast – Ideas to surprise your partner on their weekend away (info piece)
  • Top Spa Tips – Pamper your Valentine on the Spa Break weekend (list style piece)
  • Making the most of Valentine’s weekend in Bath (or where ever the Boutique Hotel is) – Ideas to make your valentine swoon.

Or perhaps you see your target market as those wanting to escape from everything Valentine.

  • The Total Anti Valentine Weekend – Ways to pamper yourself and forget about hearts, chocolates or flowers.

The point is that this one date in the diary can give you many topics of ‘relevant’, ‘shareable’ content to help you build your following and more ways to find your business.

And for those who say love has nothing to do with their business?

  • Insurance
  • Health & Fitness
  • Interior Designers

There is always an angle that you might find that can be used to hang a message on.

Insurance – “Sending chocolates and flowers is romantic, but insuring your life shows them how much you love them. It may not be the most romantic gesture but insuring that your loved ones are provided for shows just how much you care.”

Health & Fitness – “If Valentine’s Day is all about love then show your body how much you care … Make a date with me and well start a fitness love affair that will make your heart happy”

Interior Designers – “Valentine’s Day Boutique Chic – ten tips to quickly turn your home into the perfect love nest, without a single chocolate on the pillow!”

Writing an article and blog should always start with having something valuable (that’s valuable to your potential audience) to say.

If you are going to the effort of writing regular pieces for your website, blog, Facebook or Google plus page, then harness the power of what’s trending and boost your chances of increasing your traffic as a result.

So what will be trending?

Calendar Events:

New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Fathers Day, Summer Holidays, New School Year, Halloween, Bon Fire Night, Thanks Giving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Divali, Lent, Ramadan

But what about:

Big cultural and sporting events

Grand National, Wimbledon, The Proms, Cup Final, Crufts, The London Marathon, The Oxford and Cambridge boat race, The Chelsea Flower Show, The opening of Parliament,

Big TV Events

Great British Bake Off, Children in Need, The Apprentice, Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celebrity, The X Factor, Dr Who Christmas Special, The next big TV drama e.g. Broadchurch or Sherlock,

Natural Occurrences

Spring, Summer, Winter, Autumn, Snow, Sunshine, Harvest,

Not all of these will appeal to you.

Not all will appeal to your intended audience.

But I guarantee that all will be trending at some point just before or during their cycle and that many more searches will involve those important keywords and phrases.

I hope that I have encouraged you to play your own ‘Valentine’s Day Card’ and harness what’s popular and trending to craft a great article or blog around.

Boiler Plate

Brian Cotsen |
Web Consultant for Small Business
Make your web presence more effective
07484 266 124

The Power of Your Face

January 28, 2016 in Uncategorized by lizbygrave

safe_imageWhat do YOU look at first? – by Henrietta Garden

What’s the first thing you look at when you open a magazine?  If you’re anything like me you’ll go straight to the photo andIF it hooks you in might then go to read the article.  If there isn’t a pic you may very well skip the page and turn straight to the next one that does.

Now think what it’s like for all those prospective clients trawling that world-wide web looking for someone just like you to do a job you’d be perfect for.  With so much competition on-line it’s never been so important to grab attention and despite your best intentions with all that wonderful text you’re only going to hook those clients in if there’s a great pic there for them to see.  We’re still all human (despite our reliance on techie tools) and all want to work with someone we feel we can connect with.  Clients are swayed by a photo of someone warm, appealing and professional so if you still have that holiday pic with your partner’s arm still in frame or worse still have no photo at all, those lovely clients will soon be turning the page and clicking on the web-site of a competitor who has.  Don’t lose the gig because of something so simple!

You may have spent days, weeks or even months writing out those testimonials and composing your ‘About Me’ page but if there’s no you on there it’ll all be wasted.  You are your business and your business is you….EMBRACE YOUR FACE!! by Henrietta Garden of

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How To Succeed In Small Business

December 18, 2015 in Business Networking, Muswell Hill Meetings, Small Business Networking by lizbygrave

How and why did you start your business?  For many, it was a lucky accident: they fell into it by being made redundant, being asked to help a friend, or invented something to solve their own problem.  For Priya Tourkow, her special interest in relationship counselling came about because most of the people coming to her psychotherapy sessions had problems in their relationships with partners or family members. Sarah Montgomery’s leap into promoting and selling Forever Living aloe vera products started from a desire to do something part-time from home that was more interesting, reliable and lucrative than her work as a  musician and aromatherapist.

Read the rest of this entry →

Brands Bring Business

December 7, 2015 in Business Networking, Marketing, Muswell Hill Meetings, Small Business Networking by lizbygrave

Think of some of the iconic images in our consumer lives: Hovis, with the man climbing up a cobbled hill; Mars, which will help you eat, work and play; Pepsi, which helps the world to sing; Heineken, which refreshes the parts other beers don’t reach; or going to work on an egg. These, and other images and slogans, create strong branding for the products they are promoting. And, while all of these brands were designed by and for large corporates with plenty of money to throw at promotion, small business owners should be equally focussed on their brand.

As Julie Harris put it in her talk at the Small Business Network’s November 2015 meeting, brands should add value to what they represent. Julie, whose Yellowfinch Marketing helps other small businesses with creating the right brand, was just the latest in a long line of  speakers at the monthly Small Business Network meetings, held at Sable D’Or, Muswell Hill Broadway. But talks aren’t the only reason to attend SBN: most attendees go to benefit from the networking opportunities, to promote their products and services to other small business owners.

Read the rest of this entry →

Plan Your Business

December 1, 2015 in Business Networking, Muswell Hill Meetings, Small Business, Small Business Advice by lizbygrave

Whenever anyone launches a business, however small that business is, they need to develop a business plan. In fact, advised Rasheed Ogunlaru, author of the book Soul Trader and speaker at the last Small Business Network meeting on 21 September 2015 in Muswell Hill in north London, all small business owners should update their business plans on a regular basis, and certainly when something changes. “Just come back from holiday? Review your business,” he suggests.

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What Makes Your Business Stand Out?

April 28, 2015 in Business Networking, Marketing, Presentation Skills, Small Business Networking by lizbygrave

How do you communicate the worth of your small business to potential new clients when you offer an intangible service, rather than a physical product? That was the key question emerging from the ‘Question Mastermind’ session at the latest meeting of the Small Business Network, held, as usual, at Sable D’Or in Muswell Hill.

And the answer? Visualisation. Small business owners must find a way to paint a picture of their service – of what they can do for their customers – through real or hypothetical examples, through videos on web sites, through detailed explanations. Read the rest of this entry →

The New SBN Bright Sparks Meetup – How Did It Go?

March 30, 2015 in Business Networking, Masterminding, Small Business Advice, Small Business Networking by lizbygrave

by Liz BygraveSmall Business Network Bright Sparks Meetup

Our very first SBN Bright Sparks Meetup took place on Tuesday 24 March 2015.

I’m delighted to report that it was a fantastic success! This was largely down to business coach Rebecca Fishman’s skill and expertise in facilitating it. Read the rest of this entry →

What Price Success?

March 5, 2015 in Finance, Money, Small Business, Small Business Advice by lizbygrave

by Marcia MacLeod

As I write this, the headline news in print, on TV and radio and online is the revelation that two leading and respected politicians – Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind – are yet again embroiled in cash for access scandals. It’s quite clear that even the wealthiest and best-known public figures can be corrupted by money.

And while exposing a couple of corrupt politicians may seem like a million miles away from a small business in north London, there is a price for everything and as small business owners, we all have to work out what the best price is for our product or service – and for our sanity. Read the rest of this entry →