Choo-choo ... All Change?

I'm back out on the road again - smack in the middle of a two week trip.  In light of my experience last month I've been more static this time but today was travel day and on my way I was passing close to a heritage steam railway.  

Steam trains have been so inbred in me I can't not go and see them if I'm in the vicinity, so I popped in to Bluebell Railway just in time to see a train leaving the station.  I had a wonder round the loco shed and the museum they have put together in one of the station buildings and then I got collared by one of the curators, who was obviously curious about why I was there - I clearly didn't fit in with the other train spotters hanging around on the platform.

So why was I there and what's it got to do with business?

b2ap3_thumbnail_BlueBell-Steam-Railway.jpgAs I mentioned, steam trains are inbred in me.  My dad loved them and so we always had to visit steam trains on holiday, when the Flying Scotsman or the Mallard came to Sheffield we had to go down the bottom of the road to see it pass by and there were pictures in the house of steam trains.  So I go in part because it's traditional for our family and reminds me of holidays when I was younger, but also I think I go on behalf of my dad.  I guess if he was still alive and going to these places himself I might not be so bothered about going, but somehow I feel I'd be letting him down if I didn't go and get excited about a good old fashioned steam training puffing down the line!

When I was walking back to the van I got to thinking about the saying "if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got" and whether it's always bad to do what you've always done and good to always be doing new things?

I know that there are definitely times when we should make changes to enable us to strive and achieve new things (in life or business) but we have to be careful that we don't make change for changes sake.  I for one am I nightmare with "new shiny object syndrome" when it comes to software and I've had to stop myself constantly changing to the next new thing I come across - I was driving my team nuts!  

And that piece of marketing that works and brings in customers - don't stop doing it because you feel you should try something new.  Try something new by all means, but keep doing the thing that works!

So I think it's about getting a balance - keeping the "old" things that work or have a purpose (as long as they're not holding you back) but be brave enough to try new things along side them to see where they can take you.

Isn't that called having the best of both worlds!


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Are you a mind reader?

As I write this it's the hottest day of the year so far (Tuesday) and it's getting late in the day so my brain is getting a bit frazzled.  I therefore thought I'd cheat and find a funny video to share with you for this week's email and so I popped onto Google and typed in "hot office videos".  Suffice to say, I won't be sharing any of the videos that came up in the results!

But it got me thinking, do you know what your prospects are looking for when they're looking for your service?

What are they typing into a Google search and will your website come up in the results, either natural or paid?

What do they need to hear when you're doing your 40-60 second spiel at a networking event that will make them sit up and think, "I need to speak to that person"?

We all know our businesses inside out and it's easy to assume that everyone knows what we do, or to describe it in a way that involves too many technical or industry-specific terms that doesn't mean anything to anyone else.

I remember many years ago, when VAs where not common, thinking that describing myself as "a secretary who works from her own office instead of yours" would made it more understandable for people.  What I eventually discovered was that unless you'd had a secretary in a previous 'life', nobody really knew what a secretary did, so it didn't help at all!

So if you're struggling to get people to buy into what you can do for them, have a real think about how you're putting yourself across.  Try and put yourselves in the shoes of your prospects - what are they actually looking for and how would they describe it, not having inside knowledge of your industry?

A big part of this is the features vs. benefits issue that many people struggle with:

  • Features are what you actually do, ie. "process all your receipts and invoices and make sure your accounting information is up-to-date"


  • Benefits are what it means to the prospect, ie. "you will have valuable information on which to base decisions in your business; you will not get fined for late submissions; you will have more time to spend with your family & friends"

I'd love to hear what you think you do for your customers and I'll happily feedback what I think that means and see if it's what you actually do.


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You've got MORE mail :-(

The other evening I watched the old 90's film "You've Got Mail" for probably the 3rd or 4th time.

It takes us back to an era of dial-up broadband, when getting email was exciting.  Nowadays we have too much of it and we can drown under the size of our inboxes.  And with so many emails flying about, often just "for your information", its difficult to keep track, find time to read them and know what to do with them.

That's why today I thought I'd mention messaging software.  

Many of us will be familiar with Facebook Messenger or use What's App but probably you're only using them for personal conversations with friends.  But think how much easier it is to keep a track of the conversation when it's all in one place.  And if there's a group of you chatting it's easy to keep up, even if you've been offline for while.  And your personal inbox is probably getting used less and less - if you want to organise a night-out you just all hop onto your chosen social messaging platform and get it sorted quickly and easily.

So why aren't we doing the same in our businesses?

If you have teams that need to converse over projects or stay in touch about customers and day-to-day business issues, just think how much easier it would be if you were using a messaging platform where you could easily catch-up on the whole conversation, even when you've been in a meeting for half a day.

Just think how much lighter your email inbox would be without hundreds of update emails popping in every week!

Luckily, there are a few apps out there that provide this very service for businesses.

Flowdock is one that I use with some of my customers and it allows you to have a number of different group conversations going on (Flows) as well as 121 conversations, so you can manage the communication for a variety of projects or customers all in one place.

I also use Teamwork Chat with my team as it's part of the project management software that I use and it has the same functionality as Flowdock.

Slack is another popular messaging service but I haven't ever used this one so I can't comment, although as far as I'm aware it has the same functionality I've just described.  

Another bonus is that many of these pieces of software integrate (either directly or through IFTT or Zapier) with project management tools such as Trello, so you really can keep everything out of your inbox.

I love to hear if/how you're using messaging software in your business and which ones.  

P.S.  If your inbox is still filling up and taking over your day, you could always splash out a whole £37 on my 'Tame Your Email' course.

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