Good bye old blog, you’ve been great but it’s time to move on

New Mushroom Souffle Social Media Magic websiteIt’s our seventh birthday this month. SEVEN! Where has the time gone? So I decided my business deserved a fabulous present…a stunning new website.

It’s taken a lot of time, planning, discussions, tweaking, questions, new branding and finding the perfect Website Dream Team. It’s here, and I think it’s the best gift I could give me and my business.

Moving forwards with something new always means old things have to go.  In this case it is this blog, it will not longer be active. Thank you for following us, our new blog is where the action will be at, come on over and find us here on the new Mushroom Soufflé website.

 

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Want good response rates? It’s all in the timing!

Small changes to your social media strategy can have BIG resultsIt’s a bit like when you’re telling a funny story or a joke at a party. Rush through the story and get to the punchline too soon – or worse still, interrupt people already deep in conversation – and you’ll probably notice people looking at you oddly, or slowly backing away… But if you take stock of your audience first, gauge the kind of story they would appreciate, take your time and deliver it smoothly, they’ll hang on to your every word. What an awesome feeling that is!

It’s the same in business. No, really, it is! Because the timing of your customer marketing communications is crucial.

So here we are, in January. Did it feel as though you had barely taken down the Christmas decorations before a deluge of New Year, New You, New Start, Plan for 2016 emails started landing in your inbox? How did they make you feel? If you’re anything like me, probably a tad irritated!

Know your customers

Of course, it’s important to reach out to your customers and remind them how you can help them. You want to make sure your customers are happy, but you also know that they don’t want to be constantly inundated. The week, day, and even the time of day your send your marketing communications are important considerations.

Know when to give people time to breathe and get back into the work flow. Get to know your customer. What are their business requirements? Do you know what kind of lifestyle they lead? When are they more likely to be busiest, and therefore less likely to read your messages?

Once you have an idea of your customer’s working patterns, send your communications during the times when they are more likely to take two minutes out to read your blog or email. Consider the industries you want to attract. For instance, if your target market is accountants, trying to get their attention at month end or year end will be futile. They’re busy; pressing deadlines means they ignore everything else.

Hit that ‘Unsubscribe’ Button!

It’s important to put yourself in your prospective customers’ shoes. Think about how you feel when you see your inbox full of emails that you know you’ll never read!

Want to know what I do? Unsubscribe from any newsletter that clutters up my inbox on a Monday morning. A Monday morning, too! Are you kidding me? I’ve got priorities to focus on! I need to make sure the team are set for the week, confirm all my client meetings, establish that we are prepped and productive. Not even a life or death situation could persuade me to read a newsletter on a Monday morning. I bet I’m not the only one.

If you haven’t given it thought before, do so now. It’s not too late to tweak your 2016 marketing and social media strategy. Make adjustments and track your analytics to see how it affects your results. Don’t keep doing something just because you always have.

Small changes can make a big difference, to you and your customers. If you need help with your marketing communications, scheduling them and analysing the results, please contact us. We’re here to help!

Posted in Communication, Mushroom Soufflé - Social Media Magic, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Strategy, Social Media Strategy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media for Business is not all glamour and excitement!

Social media for business isn't all glamour and excitement“It’s a bit boring, I’d rather go and make a cup of tea.”

This was the email I received from a team member over a year ago telling me that she didn’t like the work she was doing for me. Fair enough, what it meant was she was doing the wrong work. Amusingly, I had explained exactly what was involved when she came for an interview.

I will only utilise my team members’ strengths so we can all be and feel happy and productive in our work. Forcing someone to do what they don’t like will not produce great results. So what did I do? Find someone who does want to do it, who enjoys it and will thrive on it.

Its a shame, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

There are many people who think Social Media for Business is all glamour and excitement, playing on Facebook and Twitter all day and finding fun things to post…if only!

Social Media for Business takes hard work, many hours and yes, some of it is super boring if it’s not your ‘thing’. To start with there is the research and planning, and later on it requires scheduling in advance, then daily and weekly interaction and maintenance – which I class as ‘admin tasks’. All of which is a time suck and will be a nightmare if it’s not your forté or there is a lack of knowledge.

This is why I feel for small business owners. Social Media is yet another thing that you need to be doing for your business, however finding the time and motivation to learn all about it is not appealing. If a member of my team didn’t like doing what she was hired to do, why would you, the business owner, enjoy it?

Give serious consideration to the skills and talents you have within your team.  Choose the right person to have responsibility for it. Please don’t base it on their age, my 20 year old friend has been told it’s now her job because she must know all about social media…she hasn’t got a clue! Do you and your team need some training? Or could it be better to outsource it? Find the best solution so that the social media for your business is done with ease and be the best that it can be.

By the way, we found a new team member who loves what she does 😉

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The Christmas Social Media Challenge – can you do it?

The Christmas Social Media ChallengeWhy does Christmas always take us by surprise? It’s on the same day every year!

It means we are busy, our lives are like whirlwinds, therefore we should try to use Christmas as the perfect opportunity to relax and recharge.

This year, I have a challenge for you…don’t use social media.

WHHAAAATT?! I hear you cry. I’m serious, hide your phone or tablet. Turn off all notifications. Screen time does not help us relax, it stimulates us. Even more so when you are using it for business. SWITCH OFF. Spend time with people you love (or spend it on your own if you don’t like people and find it more restful – I know a few who do!). Focus on them, go outside and play (still applies if you don’t have children – borrow some), play board games, eat lots of lovely food, get cosy in front of the fire, read those books you haven’t had time for, plan something exciting for 2016 (not work related!).

Do you know how often I watch people more interested in what is on their phone than their family and friends around them? BE PRESENT! Who cares what everyone else is doing – the fun is where you are.

This is the social media consultant telling you she won’t be doing social media over the festive period. I am walking my talk exactly as I did last year. And the world didn’t fall apart!

WHY? Because when we come back in January we are going to be full of renewed energy and purpose, with lots of new ideas bubbling over because we’ve had time out. And who else reaps the benefits? Our clients of course!

Have a fabulous festive holiday, wherever you are, whatever you do, and whoever you are with.

Posted in Mushroom Soufflé - Social Media Magic, Social Media | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Small Business Saturday brings you support, promotion & inspiration!

Small Business Saturday - Thame, OxfordshireSmall Business Saturday is a pretty awesome national campaign which supports, promotes and inspires small businesses.

You can get involved whether you are a family business, local shop, online business, wholesaler, business service or small manufacturer.

Thame in Oxfordshire is having their own day of celebrating Small Business Saturday, take a look at the exciting things they have planned for you on Saturday 5th December 2015.

Small Business Saturday programme

9.30am
Opening by Adrian Lockwood, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (outside the Town Hall).

The Stables, behind James Figg, 21 Cornmarket Thame, OX9 2BL
10.00am
Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses Made Simple
Workshop with Mushroom Soufflé (oh look, it’s us!)

11.00am
Your Digital Brand – Helping You Get the Basics Right
Workshop with Blooberry Design

12.00pm
Small Business Reception with prosecco and nibbles
Hosted by George Anderson, coach, presenter
Main speaker John Howell MP

2.00pm
Converting Goals to Reality – Small Businesses Making Big Things Happen
Workshop with Semaphora

3.00pm
Boost Your Business – Revenue Strategies for Small Businesses
Workshop with Thames Valley Business Advisors

Plus all day –

Drop-in business surgeries with –

• John Howell MP for Henley and Thame

• Graham Hunt, Thame Town Clerk

• Phil Westerman, Darwin Swan Associates

• Paul Mes, Federation of Small Businesses

Retailer demonstrations at –
Steamer Trading, FROM, What’s Cooking, My Sweet Art Creations, Fitch & Fellows, Racquets Fitness Centre, Book House, Kew Bookbinding, and more.

Plus … sausage-sampling at Newitt the Butchers!

Pre-book for workshops, the surgeries and the small business reception NOW! Email marketing@thame4business.co.uk.

Want to find out even more? Check out the main Small Business Saturday website.

Posted in Business Support, Mushroom Soufflé - Social Media Magic, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Who and What does your Website Dream Team include?

The Website Dream TeamEveryone loves a new website! Pretty and shiny, you want to shout about it to the world!

Making the decision to have a new website built is exciting.  I commissioned my new one last week…super exciting but also a little daunting, because I want this one to be perfect!

I’ve been mulling over having a new website for well over a year, my existing one hasn’t reflected who we are as a company for a while now. However I’ve experienced and seen challenges around me that have made me double and triple check that we’re good to go.

Before you dive in, you must have your business growth and social media strategy in place. This will show the functionality required. Nothing more devastating than realising it’s less use than a chocolate teapot when it’s launched because certain aspects were overlooked in the original brief.

You know how I know this? Because I’ve experienced it myself, talked to business owners after theirs have gone live, and project managed many clients’ web projects. WHY? Because my clients didn’t know what to do and they weren’t given professional direction.

The challenge here is most website designers and developers are not social media experts, and neither of those are SEO experts. WHY? Because you can only be an expert in one skill, otherwise that’s not your specialty! So we have to collaborate to create…

THE WEBSITE DREAM TEAM:

The Team:
Find people you trust and are proven experts in their industry. Ask for recommendations, look at websites they have built, designed, SEO’d (I officially proclaim this is a word!), and created strategies for. Spend time ensuring they understand you, your business and your customers.

Business Growth Strategy:
What is your business growth plan for the next 2 – 5 years? Where do you want to be? Your website needs to reflect this or have the capacity for easy expansion when you are ready.

Social Media Strategy:
Your Social Media Strategy should reinforce your Business Growth strategy so they can work together. What is needed to make it happen?

  • Mobile responsive? It has to be! You will be driving traffic to your website from your social media activity (yes, you will!). The percentage of mobile users grows every day, especially on social media. If your website isn’t looking good, people are gong to bounce straight back off it.
  • Naturally your blog will be integrated, so Social Sharing buttons are critical for your Superfans to share your awesome content on every network they want to!
  • Will you have your Twitter stream on there? This is something I have chosen not to do because it slows down the loading of the website.
  • You want people to see your social media icons as soon as they hit the site so where will these go in the design? They should be easily visible at the top of every page. Not tucked away, tiny, and at the bottom on your contact us page. Make it easy for your website visitors to find, along with the rest of your contact details.
  • And finally – External Links. This drives me nuts! Clicking on a social media icon and the page navigates away from the website. That’s it, you’ve lost your visitor! All external links should open in a new browser tab. That way if they do get distracted on Twitter, when they close it down your website is still open to remind them what they were doing.

There are other essentials you need to have in place before starting your new website, but to me these are the top three.

I feel I have pulled together the best website team I could have found. Our first meeting was INSANE! The energy, the ideas, the collaboration of knowledge, totally amazing. Afterwards I sat there in a bit of a daze, my brain rapidly trying to process everything that had been thrown in and realising my website had just taken a totally new direction to the one I had imagined. Perfect!

Made with Joy have already cracked on with the build, Nikki, Designs Like These is producing magical designs and a rebrand for me, and Chris at Glooo is keeping me firmly on track to make sure my SEO is the best it can be.

Watch this space for new developments!

Posted in Mushroom Soufflé - Social Media Magic, Social Media, Social Media Strategy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Free Social Media for Business Workshops in Oxfordshire!

Free Social Media for Business WorkshopsFree Social Media for Business workshops…yes, you heard right! FREE!

Earlier this year I was introduced to Activate Learning by the lovely Joy Foster of Made With Joy. It turned out that they wanted to bid for a tender with Oxfordshire County Council and needed a social media trainer to complete the team. Tell me more I said!

The ‘Better Broadband for Oxfordshire’ project has been awarded Government money to fund workshops in market towns throughout the county.

The Women and Broadband Challenge Fund run by the Government Equalities Office, aims to promote digital skills and build confidence among women wishing to start-up and grow their own business, including those based at home.

Oxfordshire County Council were planning to run 40 workshops across the county, some focused on small businesses run by women and some aimed at women who are looking to update their skills for personal development or as a part of a plan to develop a new career or refresh skills before returning to work.

WOW, that sounds great, I’m in! How can you turn down an opportunity to work with and help so many women?

After a few months of paperwork and planning, at the beginning of September we were very happy to hear we had been allocated a number of workshops in the project.

My workshops and dates are now confirmed. I am delivering nine Social media for Business workshops and the details are below, just click the links for all the info you need. The workshops are complimentary so claim your places quickly ladies – they start very soon! All you have to do is book in and bring your laptop:

An Introduction to Social Media for Business
20/10/2015 – Bicester
22/10/2015 – Abingdon
03/11/2015 – Ardington, near Wantage
05/11/2015 – Witney

An Introduction to Facebook for Business
10/11/2015 – Abingdon

An Introduction to Instagram & Pinterest for Business
11/11/2015 – Ardington, near Wantage

An Introduction to Twitter for Business
24/11/2015 – Bicester

An Introduction to Google+ for Business
26/11/2015 – Witney

A Masterclass in LinkedIn for Business
19/01/2016 – Bicester

It’s encouraging to see this service made available to the wonderful women of Oxfordshire and an honour to be part of it. Looking forward to seeing you at the workshops!

Posted in Facebook, LinkedIn, Mushroom Soufflé - Social Media Magic, Social Media, Social Media Strategy, Social Media Workshop, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments