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 →

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.

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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 →

How To Get Friends And Influence Customers

February 24, 2015 in Business Networking, Marketing, Meetings, Muswell Hill Meetings, Small Business Advice, Small Business Networking by lizbygrave

How influential are you? That’s the question asked by ‘mentalist’ Tom MacKay in his talk at the Small Business Network February 2015 meeting in Muswell Hill, north London. Tom pointed out that influence can mean a number of things, all of which help to attract potential customers.

“You are always influencing and being influenced,” he told the 17 attendees – a smaller group than normal because it was half-term. “And often you don’t even know it.”

Tom split ‘influence’ into six sections, including things like reciprocation (if you do something for someone, that person has an unconscious desire to do something for you) and social proof (if you see other people doing something, it is more likely you will consider it acceptable: if people buy something, you feel you should buy it).

All the small business owners at the networking event were fascinated by Tom’s theory – and his experiments to prove them. But there is one thing he failed to address: what do you do with the people who instinctively rebel against anything that’s meant to be the ‘in’ thing, the ‘done’ thing, or the ‘must-have’?

The regular business talks are not the only feature of the monthly Small Business Network meetings. Networking gives attendees a great opportunity to meet other small business owners who might need their product or service – or if not, maybe knows someone else who does. And in addition to the more common accountants, business coaches and alternative health practitioners, February’s roll call included newcomer and now SBN member, Jackie Beim, who not only teaches the Alexander Technique, but also offers the Shaw Method swimming lessons, combining Alexander Technique with swimming instruction.

For those wanting to get fit, Johanna Green was again offering free taster sessions in Nordic walking or her fitness boot camps and Sarah Montgomery is as ever looking for people who would like to boost their income by selling Forever’s aloe vera products.

Two long-standing sole traders who are members of Small Business Network have added another service to their cvs: accountant Michael Gainey has become finance director of a new theatre production company planning to bring four plays to London this year, and writer Marcia MacLeod is available to speak on writing publicity and other business copy for print and online at seminars, workshops, conferences and other events.

If you want to find out more about networking for small businesses, come along to the next Small Business Network (www.smallbusinessnetwork.biz) meeting on Monday 16 March at 12.30, at Sable D’Or, Muswell Hill Broadway.

Fads and Fancies

February 24, 2015 in Marketing, Small Business Advice, Social Media by lizbygrave

by Marcia MacLeod

Have you got the latest smartphone? Do you read all the fashion press? Are you eating your goji berries? (Or is it now avocado smoothies, ugly fruit and yak’s milk cheese?) Is your web site the most stylish on the planet – complete with lots of photos, a list of Facebook ‘likes’, references to other social media and ‘sharing’ your business routine with anyone who cares to look?

In short, are you hip, cool, wicked or whatever the youngsters call it today? Read the rest of this entry →

Marketing, Mentalism and Movember

November 24, 2014 in Business Networking, Marketing, Muswell Hill Meetings, Small Business Networking by lizbygrave

‘Where are you on the marketing continuum?’ asked Karen Knott of Prime Time Business, whose talk on The Myth and Magic of Marketing informed and entertained networkers at this month’s Small Business Network meeting. Are you a ‘1’, hating the very idea of marketing,  a 10, feeling confident and enthusiastic or a 5, understanding the concept and making tentative efforts to market your small business, but not really feeling comfortable with it?

Karen took us through the process of how to change your thinking around marketing so that it becomes something you love doing, rather than something you avoid like the plague. It’s all about seeing marketing simply as a way of connecting with your ideal clients or customers – people who are looking for exactly the service you provide and will be so happy to have found it. If you don’ tell them about it, how can they find it in the first place?

Most small business owners at the SBN meeting, held on 17 November 2014 at Sable D’Or in Muswell Hill, fell somewhere in the middle – but hopefully, after Karen’s advice and very useful tips, they went away a lot more confident about how to market their products and services.

The regular business talk is only one really useful aspect of Small Business Network’s monthly meetings: meeting other small business owners, itself a form of marketing, can bring new customers and allow members to find the products and services they need, from accountancy to business coaching, alternative therapies to natural chocolates. Karen herself asked if anyone could suggest an entrepreneurial business woman that she can speak to for her monthly inspirational interview.

Four new participants joined the November meeting, including keynote speaker and entertainer Tom MacKay, who bills himself as a mentalist. No small business owner is likely to forget Tom’s amazing display of mental powers, in which he correctly guessed the number Karen was thinking about.

Other new networkers included Lee Dein, who has just launched Magic Link Handwriting Programme, a video tutorial teaching people of all ages how to physically write legible letters, school reports and so on; Heather Holden, whose Coco Business provides a personal assistant service for any business owner needing help with secretarial tasks, marketing, or utilising technology and social media; and Meb Vidic, The Career Blog, who offers business and personal coaching and careers advice.

Ben Chapman, a financial adviser, and Bella Beraki, whose FeelSoFab.com is an online gift shop for women, were second-time visitors to the Small Business Network meeting. Ben has just become an SBN member.

But regular attendees revealed new projects, too. Johanna Green has added ballroom dancing for fitness to her keep fit repertoire; Marcia MacLeod announced she has more time to help small business owners write their web and print blogs, leaflets and brochures, now that she has closed her magazine, Your Allotment; and Nathalie Roth, who runs Nurse Your Tree alternative therapy service, is running a course right after Christmas to help people to relax after the stress of the holidays;

If you want to try out some of Nathalie’s alternative therapies – or Peggy Guglielmino‘s hypnotherapy service – visit the Highgate Holistic Clinic‘s open day on 6 December, where taster sessions will be on offer.

So that’s the marketing and mental tutoring covered; where does Movember fit in? Well, commercial solicitor Philip Deja, who specialises in helping small businesses, sported a moustache for the first time as part of the Movember fund-raising project. He promises it will be gone by the next meeting; if it isn’t, he might need legal help himself as his wife has threatened to divorce him!

Don’t forget the next Small Business Network meeting, to be held on Monday, 8 December, will not have a talk but will offer small business owners a chance to showcase and sell their products. The first meeting of the new year, on 19 January, will include a talk on Creating Healthy Boundaries on the Yo-Yo Journey of An Entrepreneur, by Mark Leruste

Starting Up A Small Business

February 10, 2014 in Business Networking, Marketing, Small Business, Small Business Networking by lizbygrave

by Marcia MacLeod

Do you remember the first time you thought about starting your own business? The excitement of doing something you love, with no boss looking over your shoulder; the fear of failure; the worry about finances; the sleepless nights wondering if you’re doing the right thing? They are all feelings most Small Business Network members have experienced. Maybe you haven’t got there yet. Maybe you’re only just beginning to consider your future options and have all those emotions to look forward to.

Whichever it is, the problem is that emotions can take over: it’s all too easy to let your heart rule your head. For starting a new, small business – any small business – is not for the faint-hearted. Read the rest of this entry →

Small Business Network Muswell Hill Meeting Report September 2012

October 10, 2012 in Business Networking, Facebook, Marketing, Meetings, Muswell Hill Meetings, Online Marketing, Small Business Networking, Social Media by lizbygrave

Business coaching and business management services emerged as a key theme to this month’s Small Business Network meeting held on 17 September at the usual venue of the lovely Sable D’Or in London’s Muswell Hill.

Lara Ogunbawo and Bidemi Alabi, both work for Business Excel UK, a business management consultancy which helps small businesses break into new markets, develop pricing strategies and profit forecasts, write business plans and obtain funding for your small business. Lara started two other small businesses this year with the help of Business Excel, so she is now promoting this company to other small business networking contacts.

Danielle Monro, attending just her second Small Business Network meeting, can also help small businesses obtain finance through her company Ashley Business Cash. Loans are based on credit and debit card takings.

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Offline Marketing – Still Relevant for Small Businesses?

June 12, 2012 in Marketing, Small Business by lizbygrave

by Marcia MacLeod

I’m advertising my magazine, Your Allotment, in three local newspapers this month. In a world dominated by email, web sites and social media, some people might consider anyone who uses off-line marketing channels for their small business to be crazy, or, if they want to be polite, behind the times – but there are actually several reasons for bucking the trend.

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Why should YOU be on google+?

February 8, 2012 in g+, Google+, Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, seo, Social Media, Websites by lizbygrave

There’s a short answer to this: the google search engines LOVE websites that display the g+ badge.

This means that Google will prioritise websites that have the g+ badge over websites that don’t, i.e. they will be ranked higher in search results (and don’t we all want that!). And even when more businesses have clocked on to this, similar websites that display the g+ badge will be rotated so that they all have a fair go at the top.

Why is Google doing this? Well, apart from their desire to take over the world, they do seem to genuinely want the little guys who can’t afford to pay megabucks for specialist search engine optimisation to get a decent stab at high rankings when their websites deserve it – i.e. when they have quality frequently updated content that is genuinely there to serve the customer. They see the g+ pages as a way to do this…as well as to take over the world.

HOW TO GET YOUR GOOGLE+ BADGE

To display the g+ badge you first need to have a g+ business page – very similar to a Facebook Fan Page.

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