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 →

Online Communication for Small Businesses

March 6, 2013 in Online Marketing, Small Business Advice, Social Media by lizbygrave

Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, isn’t the only one who despairs at the damage texting is doing to our grasp of grammar and punctuation. C U Wed is pretty easy to understand, but what do you do when faced with something like PT t brg X bz?*

Writing to friends doesn’t have to be formal, but when text-speak spills over into business communication, you are looking at a completely different ballgame. Be honest: would you want to do business with someone who could not communicate clearly? Would you want to hire someone who couldn’t write a proper sentence?

But text-speak isn’t the only problem small business owners face. With the growth of email, web sites and social media, we are under increasing pressure to join the cyber race – and that means Tweets, Facebook messages, blogs, and so on. For those lacking natural writing skills, the prospect of turning out Internet copy can be daunting, whatever form it takes. Can I use text-speak in a Tweet? How personal should I be? Do I have to use proper English, proper grammar?  Can’t I be much less formal when I write for the Internet than when producing printed documents?

Yes, the Internet is less formal  – but writing Tweets and blogs carry their own rules. Tweets have to be short, of course, so you need to understand how to get the message across in just 140 characters. No padding there, then. What is it you want to tell people? Say you are promoting a special offer. No point in using the term special offer: it wastes 13 characters. Instead, just put the offer in the Tweet, e.g.: Reiki sessions three for price of two, XX Healing Today (or whatever your business is called) – just 54 characters – and/or your web site.

Facebook page? Keep that short, too, but as there are no length restrictions, you can get a little more descriptive, such as: Reiki transfers universal energy through the healer’s palms to create a state of equilibrium. Ideal for the stressed out modern world Try three taster sessions for the price of two at XX Healing Today.

Blogs can be any length, but the shorter the better. If it’s too long, unless you are another Danielle Steele or Lee Child, readers won’t make it to the end. Don’t ramble. Decide what you want to say before you start, and make sure there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. If you’re not sure how to do that, look at this one and try to determine which is the beginning – and why; how it moves into the middle (the main message); and how it finishes up.

Blogs are not actually that different from printed material. You’ve got room to play around, room to include more information, thoughts, ideas, advice. But make sure you actually do have information, thoughts, ideas, advice; don’t waffle.

Whatever you write, avoid superlatives: you are probably not the only whatever you do in north London, and possibly not the best, either; if you say you are, you had better be able to prove it. Be concrete. Everything you put out there should be easy to read and understand – and that means an ability to explain things clearly, a reasonable grasp of grammar and punctuation – and no text speak, ever.

*Party tomorrow, bring extra booze.

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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Small Business Network – Muswell Hill Meeting Report May 2012

June 5, 2012 in Muswell Hill Meetings, Online Marketing, Social Media, Twitter by lizbygrave

21 attendees: 15 SBN members, 6 visitors

Here is a small sampling of who was at the meeting:

Firstly, a warm welcome to new member Nicky Grace of Vintage Fabric And Gorgeous Things. Nicky holds open weekends every couple of months in her Muswell Hill home. I went the other week and her house is as gorgeous and deliciously retro as her fabrics. When you add to that all the beautiful things you can buy there,  I would definitely put the next date in your calendar – 14th and 15th July – and pop along – you’ll have a lovely time! It’s literally just off Muswell Hill Broadway on Tetherdown, so you can combine it with the shopping. Talking of shopping – Nicky’s online shop has just launched – perfect for gifts!

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Small Business Network Muswell Hill Meeting Report April 2012

April 23, 2012 in Business Networking, Meetings, Muswell Hill Meetings, Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, seo, Small Business Advice, Social Media by lizbygrave

With just over 20 people at this meeting there was more of a mellow vibe than usual, which offered the chance to soak up the lovely community feel of SBN. As I am one of the many small business owners who works at home on my own, this monthly chance to engage with a great bunch of people is always welcome, and I so often find that it enhances my mood and refreshes my motivation for my work.

A couple of people were displaying products at this month’s meeting: Sarah Montgomery of Forever Living products was giving away samples of aloe vera juice and Vicky Williams of Jewels of Distinction had a table showing her beautiful jewellery, which I personally love (and am busy saving up for!)

Chocolatier Paul Eagles from Kokoa Collection, also brought along some samples – delicious Madagascan fine chocolate buttons. I was lucky enough to get a whole bag which lasted till about five minutes after I got home…

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Report on the Muswell Hill February 2012 Meeting

February 27, 2012 in LinkedIn, Meetings, Muswell Hill Meetings, Social Media by lizbygrave

This was certainly a buzzing meeting – with 26 attendees, we ran out of chairs! Becky Beach of The Best of News and Events kindly sat on a spare table, which at least gave her a good view of the rest of the room…

We had a really wide-ranging mix of attendees, from a pet/homecare service to garden design, a singing group leader to marketing consultancy, coaching to financial advice, creative writing workshops to computer support. Also present were staunch long term members: personal trainer and Alternative Boot Camp organiser Johanna Green, financial advisor Joe Procopio, aloe vera distributer Sarah Montgomery, reflexologist Louise Exeter, web designer and social media expert Lucy Hall and photographer Amanda Eatwell.


A warm welcome to newly joined members Amber White, Becky Beach and Franziska Birke. Amber is a reflexologist and massage practitioner specialising in  Baby Massage and Maternity Reflexology; Becky is editor of six North London magazines including The Muswell Flyer, THe Highgate Handbook and The N21 Directory; Franziska is a coach specialising in small businesses.

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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.


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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Report on the 28 Sept 2011 Finsbury Park Meeting

September 29, 2011 in Finsbury Park Meetings, Marketing, Meetings, Online Marketing, Social Media, Websites by liz_bygrave

This was one of our smaller meetings (and accompanied by background cheers whenever Arsenal scored a goal in the main part of The Old Dairy). As with all our small meetings, this enabled some great indepth networking to take place – I noticed for instance that most people left with promises to be in touch with at least one other person at the meeting soon.

Keren Lerner of Top Left Design gave a very interesting and practical talk on various ways to boost your online presence, including:

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Report on the September Muswell Hill Meeting

September 20, 2011 in Meetings, Muswell Hill Meetings, Social Media, Twitter by liz_bygrave

Well…the 2pm Talk was all about serendipity, and it was a remarkably serendipitious meeting!

We had a great turnout – 21 people plus Dominique and myself, and Sangeeta Haindl’s talk: Serendipity: A New Way of Working received an extremely enthusiastic round of applause.

The Talk
Sangeeta talked about the importance of being open to possibilities, of paying it forward and of using your gut instinct…even if it’s not always right. Apparently Richard Branson says that following his gut instinct hasn’t always worked for him, but he still follows it because it’s like a muscle – the more you use it, the more accurate it is.

Sangeeta linked all this to social media and especially to Twitter, which is the perfect medium for serendipitious happenings – you never know where it might lead, and it’s such a level playing field, allowing you to connect with famous people you admire. As an example of this, Lucy Hall of Lucy’s Web Designs described how she, Garry and Michael of Loving Social Media recently connected with Jackie Collins on Twitter and asked her to be their celebrity of the month. And she agreed!

As an experiment, Sangeeta facilitated a post-talk open table where people could tell the whole group what they needed or were looking for in their businesses, to see if other people could provide the answer or some helpful pointers. This was tremendously fruitful – so fruitful in fact that we’re going to experiment with incorporating it into future meetings (including the Finsbury Park meeting on the 28th September).

A few of the people present: Louise Exeter, who specialises in ‘chi reflexology’; David Roth, the person to go to if you have a problem with your computer; Chrissie Parker, Feng Shui expert; Sara Mallett who offers seo services; Neill Blokland, a smartphone marketing expert; financial advisor Joe Procopio; hypnotherapists Niki Berry and Sarah Ellis; web designer Andy Kinloch and director of The Soul Therapy Centre, Ingrid Collins.

Next Muswell Hill Meeting: Monday 17 October @ 12.30pm (2pm Talk: The Selling versus Serving Conflict Exposed with Oma Edoja). Click here for more details