The Lighthouse Virtual Assistant Can I Pick Your Marketing Brain Workshop

Can I pick your marketing brain workshop

Please join me for the Lighthouse Virtual Assistant Can I Pick Your Marketing Brain Workshop.  As busy business owners, we can’t be a master of all skills but marketing is an area that, if you get it right, will really help your business grow.  All businesses, no matter how small, should have a working marketing plan that sits alongside their business plan.

The aim of this workshop is for you to be able to have your own marketing plan that you can take away and implement immediately.  I am also going to give you some fabulous social media tips and advice looking specifically at Facebook and Twitter as these are the two platforms that I get asked the most about.

So if you are just starting your business or have been up and running for a while then this workshop will give you the tools to learn how to promote your business pro-actively and bring in new clients.

The workshop will cover the following:

  • What is marketing and why is it important to your business?
  • What is the difference between marketing and advertising?
  • What is PR and branding?
  • Identifying your ideal client
  • Your unique selling point
  • Competitors
  • Your marketing tools
  • Social media (general advice)
  • How to evaluate your marketing
  • Facebook and Twitter – how to set up an account, the difference between a business and personal page, tips for when and how to post (including scheduling), hashtags, statistics and how to use them, content ideas, how often to post.

When: Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Where: Berelia Limited, 2nd Floor, Market Square, Dover, Kent, CT16 1LZ

Time: 9.30am-1.30pm

Cost: £35 per person

Please read: Places are only secure when full payment has been made and places cannot be reserved without payment. Places are non-refundable.  To book your place please click the ‘buy now’ button below:

The workshop on the 23 May has sold out.  I will be running further workshops and if you’d like to be put on the waiting list please sign up and I will send you details.

Got a question? Email rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk

Read more about Rachel’s experience.

Changes to the Facebook newsfeed

What the changes to the Facebook news-feed mean for your small business

Over the last month, you will have seen online that changes are being made to the Facebook news-feed.  In a nutshell, the plan is to fill your personal newsfeed with more content from family and friends and less with public content.

This is great as a personal user but not so great for us as small businesses. However, there are things that you can do to make sure your page is still seen as much as possible in people’s newsfeeds.  Watch my video or read below for advice on how to overcome the changes:

  1. Make your content engaging
    Make sure that your content is engaging (you should be doing this anyway).  So rather than posting ‘salesy‘ posts think about what you can give your followers that will help them.  This way they will be more likely to like, comment and share your post.
  2. Set aside a budget for adverts
    You will need to put aside some funds for Facebook advertising in your marketing budget. This is not all bad news as the adverts are reasonable price wise and you can really drill down to target your ideal client with criteria such as age, gender, location, behaviours etc.
  3. Plan your content
    Schedule your content in advance, this way your content will naturally be more engaging and structured
  4. Use Facebook Live
    Live videos are great as people really seem to like interacting in ‘real time.’ Just make sure you have great wi-fi and remember it doesn’t need to be a Steven Speilberg production!
  5. Join other social media platforms
    Get out there on other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn so that your business can be found easily – if you need help with these platforms pop me an email as I offer one-to-one tutorials
  6. Set up a Facebook group
    Depending on the type of business you have a Facebook group may work well and is a great way to interact with tips and advice
  7. Check your statistics
    Keep an eye on your Facebook statistics so you can see which times and days your followers are online and gage any drop in interaction from the new changes
  8. Set up the ‘see ‘first’ notification
    On your personal newsfeed set up the pages you enjoy the most so that you see them first in your newsfeed.  For example I have Sky News so I can see their content first when I log in (watch my video to show you how to do this)
  9. Help out other small businesses
    And finally don’t forget to help other small bsuinesses by liking, sharing and commenting on their posts so that it helps them to get seen in the newsfeed.If you would like help with any aspect of your social media then pop me an email for a free, no obligation, consultation to see how I can help.

    You can also follow my Facebook page for free marketing and business tips.

Tips for a stress free Christmas when you run your own business

How to have a calm Christmas holiday

The Christmas holidays are almost here again and when you run your own business the thought of the holidays looming can fill you with dread wondering how you’re going to juggle everything. You have work to manage, presents and food to buy, possibly more than one over-excited small person and family and friends to squeeze in, which can all lead to a rather stressful time!

A busy time of year!

A busy time of year!

Let’s face it most of us started our own business so that we can manage that work/life balance better so this should also apply this time of year.  With a bit of careful planning, you can have the best of both worlds and keep your clients and your family and friends happy. Below I share some of my tips for a stress-free Christmas:

  1. Plan ahead by scheduling
    Schedule all you can before the holiday starts such as newsletters, social media and blogs. Hootsuite is great for social media and for newsletters you can use Mailchimp’s own scheduling system
  2. Delegate
    Outsource and/or delegate where you can to other members of staff or to a virtual assistant
  3. Communicate
    Let your clients know in advance when you’ll be out of the office and ask them to send you any work in advance so you can complete it in time

    Plan ahead for the school holiday

               Plan ahead for the holiday

  4. Be flexible with your hours
    If you can, occasionally work in the evenings to catch up, but don’t overdo it
  5. Prioritise
    Prioritise any important work so that it’s done early and leaves you less stressed
  6. Use your out of office
    Use your email and phone out-of-office to inform people when you’ll be available and stick to it! Point people to your website and in particular your FAQs to keep inquiries to a minimum.  Don’t forget to remove your out of office messages when you return after Christmas
  7. Don’t be proud
    If you have friends and family that have offered to help then don’t be too proud to accept it
  8. Keep an eye on your workload
    If you’re able to afford it try not to take on any new clients until Christmas is over

    Spend precious time with the family and have a rest

    Spend precious time with the family and                                 have a rest

  9. Spend time with your family
    Lastly and most importantly, this is a magical time of year so make time for yourself and enjoy the precious time with your family and friends.

    Have a wonderful Christmas. Get more of my business tips over on my Facebook page

My new role with the Ladies Who Latte networking group

I am very privileged to have been asked to become the Leader of the Ladies Who Latte networking group for Folkestone and Hythe, Kent.

We all know how important networking is to your business and if done correctly you will see a significant growth in your business (read my networking tips). It can be quite daunting when you first start out and that’s why I have always loved these meetings as they are so supportive and friendly and I come away from each one feeling completely motivated and like I can achieve anything in my business! 

Ladies Who Latte because there's no point being fabulous on your own!

Because there’s no point being fabulous on your own!

Ladies Who Latte is a national network with over 50 free meetings a month all over the country and the concept is simple, you turn up grab yourself a coffee and network. I have been attending my local group for just over three years and have learnt so much from the other inspirational business women as well as making some wonderful friends along the way.  As a leader, my role is to support women who would like to start their own business or grow an existing one offering friendship, advice, contacts and business leads.

In 2007 Sharon Connolly set up Ladies Who Latte after a career change and seeing a gap in the market for ladies networking at a ‘mum’ friendly time.  The meetings are therefore child-friendly and during the school holidays, Latte groups can still run with children welcome.

One year after setting up Sharon asked “Networking Queen” Mary Flavelle to hop on board and assist with the running and promoting of the organization which continues to thrive and grow. Sharon has since relocated to Singapore where she has also introduced LWL.

Sharon says: “We have amazing success stories of women making connections and being given opportunities that they could never have dreamed of finding on their own. We are women with imagination, drive, enthusiasm and hope and we are enjoying sharing out success because It’s no good being fabulous on your own.”

I’m very much looking forward to helping the women in my area grow their businesses.  If you’re interested in Ladies Who Latte you can find a group in your area or join Folkestone and Hythe

Facebook live tips

Facebook live tips for your business

What is Facebook Live?

Video is now becoming hugely popular across all social media platforms and is a great way to engage your audience both on personal and business pages.  As you will be aware Facebook has now introduced their live video option for all users and allows you, as the name suggests, to broadcast to Facebook live.

The beauty for businesses of being able to broadcast in real time is that it allows for instant interaction with your follows and shows the real person behind the brand. Facebook has also reported that live videos get 10 times more comments than regular videos.  All this continues to build on the know-like-trust relationship with your audience.

I have just helped one of my clients, who are a UK registered charity, to broadcast live from their annual Ball and Fundraiser.  Some people were unable to attend the evening but were still able to get involved by watching live.  We also broadcast our silent auction so that those watching from home could take part at the same time online. Our followers enjoyed interacting, popping on and saying hello in the comments even asking what was on the menu that night and who the live band were! Not only did people feel involved but from a PR point of view for the charity this was a great awareness exercise as we also encouraged everyone watching to share the live link to all their friends on their personal feed.

As Facebook live is becoming more popular clients are asking me for tips and advice on how they can use it to help their business, so in this blog I give you some guidance on how to actually broadcast, how to get your audience involved and some ideas on what subject to go live with.

Tips and advice

  1. How to actually broadcast live
    To start a live broadcast simply click the ‘live broadcast’ button which you will see at the top of your business page. Those that follow your page will get a notification that you are ‘live’ but ensure you give your video an interesting headline so that people will want to watch you.

    Click the go live button

                   How to broadcast on Facebook live

    2.  Plan ahead
    Plan your live broadcast in advance so that you know what you’re going to talk about and make sure you promote the fact that you’re going live to all your followers on Facebook but also across your other platforms and to your email list. If you would like to test a video and practice first then you can set the privacy to ‘only me’

    3. You’ll need a good internet connection
    Make sure that your wi-fi or 4g connection is strong so that the video doesn’t cut out and make you look unprofessional

    4. Background noise
    Be aware of any background noise and try where possible to keep this to a minimum.  Of course sometimes the background noise will add to that ‘live’ feeling so judge for yourself when it’s appropriate.

    5. Get your viewers to subscribe
    During your broadcast get those watching to subscribe to live notifications by tapping the follow button so that each time you go live they will be notified and can tune in

    6. Interact
    Going live is a fantastic opportunity to interact with your fans in real time so make sure you do so.  If you’re talking during a broadcast don’t worry if you pause for a second to read the comments and respond this will be expected and is all part of engaging

    7. How long to broadcast
    The longer you broadcast the more likely people are to discover and share the video so try and aim for around ten minutes if you can.  The maximum time is currently 90 minutes

    8. Be consistent
    When you start to use the Facebook live feature continue to do so to keep fans engaged, it might be good to broadcast every week at a certain time for example but this will of course be dependent on your type of business

    9. Close the broadcast
    At the end of your video don’t forget to ‘close’ it by thanking your fans for watching, letting them know what you’d like them to do next (call to action) such as visit your website, email you etc. You can also remind them when you’ll next be live

    10. Content ideas
    If you’re wondering what on earth to talk about during a live video think of how you can help your fans, here are a few of my suggestions: teach people how to do something such as cook a certain meal; give advice on your area of expertise; interview someone; offer a Q and A session; give your opinion on some current news; review a product or book; perform a song or type of sport; go live from an event you’re hosting or attending.  If you use images or music in your video just be careful of the copyright laws.

If you’ve never ‘gone live’ on Facebook before you are now armed with lots of tips and advice so there’s no excuse not to give it a go – good luck!  You might also find my blog about using video in general for your business useful so check it out.  If you feel you could benefit form a one-to-one social media tutorial then pop me over an email, I offer a free consultation so we can discuss how I can help.

 

My chosen charity – Mitrofanoff Support

I have decided to support a registered charity that is very close to my heart, called Mitrofanoff Support. Mitrofanoff is the name of a medical procedure designed in 1976 by French Professor Paul Mitrofanoff. The surgery is performed if patients are unable to empty their bladders in the usual manner due to a birth defect (such as spina bifida) or due to cancer where the bladder has had to be removed.

The operation process forms a channel between the bladder and the wall of the abdomen to allow intermittent self-catheterisation 4-6 times a day (this is where a catheter is inserted into the tummy button where the channel has been formed, or via a stoma site on the side of the tummy, to empty the bladder).

The mitrofanoff procedure

                      The mitrofanoff procedure

For a patient the mitrofanoff enables them to maintain dignity and means that there is no need to have an indwelling catheter or wear a stoma bag.

Mitrofanoff Support was founded in early 2010 by Kyla Rogers and was the first support group for the procedure globally. Kyla herself had the operation in 1998 and wanted to provide peer-to-peer support to others.

On 2nd February 2012 the charity became Registered in England and Wales (number 1145382) and provides much needed emotional support, reassurance, information and networking to its members. Mitrofanoff Support’s Board Members, Trustees, Advocates and Volunteers donate their time and skills to oversee the aims and objectives of the Charity. The charity also works with healthcare professionals and hospital trusts to help improve the education from a patient perspective.

I support the charity with their marketing and social media strategy and am very proud to be part of their team. We are always looking for businesses to support us as their charity of the year so if you can help please email marketing@mitrofanoffsupport.org.uk or if you’d like to make a one off or long term donation to help sustain the work of the charity then they’d be immensely grateful.

Read more about Mitrofanoff Support

 

Become a networking Ninja

8 tips to make you a networking ninja!

In this blog, I look at ways to help you get the most out of attending networking events. Not everyone enjoys going to networking meetings but for the majority of businesses, it is a vital part of building their client base.  The key thing to remember is this is not an opportunity to just ‘chuck’ business cards at people, attend one event and expect the business to come rolling in! Networking is all about getting to know people, building trust and relationships so that people will want to work with you.  Also, keep in mind that not everyone in the room will need your service/product but that doesn’t mean they don’t know someone else that will so continue to build a relationship with them so they feel confident enough to refer you to their wider network.

1. Business cards
It sounds obvious but
take along your business cards, I’ve met quite a few people that have forgotten them. They don’t have to be expensive if you’re on a small budget.  If you have tangible products some networking groups are happy for you to also take these for people to see.

2. Elevator pitch
Have your elevator pitch ready and make sure you’ve practised it over and over. Keep it concise telling others what you can offer them, where you work, who your ideal clients are and your goals. Change it about a bit as well so if you’re coming across the same people at events they won’t get bored hearing the same thing every time. Ideally, this should be a one minute pitch, many drag their pitch out and people switch off. In the networking group I run everyone gets a minute to pitch, this way it is fair on all attendees.  We then break for informal networking so people can connect further with those they’d like to know more about. 

Relax, you won't be the only nervous one in the room

Relax, you won’t be the only nervous one in the room

3. Icebreaker
Have an icebreaker question ready for when you first meet someone. Perhaps ask ‘what’s your story?’ The important part is to listen to the answer. Think about what you are able to offer this person and if you can’t help them do you know someone who you can refer them to?

4. Diversity 
Try and keep a diverse network. It’s good to network with like-minded business people but also try and get along to events for your chosen professional body.

5. Don’t panic
If the thought of networking leaves you in a panic it’s a good idea to turn up at the event early. There will be fewer people there leaving you to start a one-to-one conversation which will help you relax a bit before everyone else arrives.

6. Be consistent
It’s important that you keep attending the same networking groups so that you build up trust with others. People are more likely to buy from someone they know. 

7. Stay in touch
If you connect with certain people and feel you could work with them then arrange to meet them separately for a coffee so you can learn more about them and their business. I’ve also met some great friends, as well as clients, this way.

 

Follow up any leads the next day

Follow up any leads the next day

8. Follow up
Once you have been to a networking event make sure you allocate some time in your diary the next day to follow up any leads and connect with new contacts online.

If you have any networking tips then please post them in the comments below.

For more business tips read more from my blog.

Jennifer has joined the LVA team

Meet our new team member Jennifer

Lighthouse Virtual Assistant is four years old this year and is growing rapidly with lots of lovely clients. The time has therefore come to expand the team and I’m very pleased to be able to introduce you to my new colleague Jennifer Roording.

As an example of how wonderful networking can be, I met Jennifer at a local Ladies Who Latte group and when I said I was looking for someone to help with the growing workload Jennifer got in touch.

Jennifer, originally from Pennsylvania, USA, moved here to the UK in 1999 and completed a degree in business administration. Over the next 15 years she held various sales, marketing and business development positions in Kent and London based companies within the technology, publishing, newspaper and education sectors.

Jennifer is now enjoying spending time with her young family and running a small business of her own, and is very much looking forward to joining a team again. I have no doubt that she will be a great asset to the LVA team and I’m very much looking forward to working with her. Welcome to the team Jennifer.

Find out more about Jennifer. 

Newsletter ideas for your small business

7 ideas for your business newsletter

Why use newsletters?

Newsletters are a great way to connect directly with your target audience. This type of e-marketing builds relationships and trust with both your current and potential clients and is a great way to keep you at the forefront of their minds should they need your service or product. Building an email list is crucial to building your small business so have a sign up link on your website and share this across your social media platforms.

There is some great software about to help you make your newsletters look professional, I personally use Mailchimp as I find it very easy to use.  It gives you templates to work with, statsistics once you’ve sent your campaign and is free up to a certain number of subscribers. It also makes sure your emails comply with the spam regulations and gives people the option to unsubscribe should they wish.

So now you undertsand why you should be sending newsletters (see my more detailed blog about this) and how certain software can help you make them look fabulous, what on earth do you write about?! This seems to be a real problem for people and they feel that people just won’t be interested in what they have to say.  If people weren’t interested they wouldn’t sign up, so don’t disappoint!  Here are just a few of my ideas to get you started writing and remember: don’t get carried away and send people a daily email as people will unsubscribe.  I only send my newsletters once a month but it will depend on the industry you work in as to how often you need to pop into people’s inboxes.

7 ideas for your newsletter topic:

  1. A how to
    Show your audience how to do something so that they gain value from your advice.  Could you tell them how to write a policy or share a video on how to make that perfect flower arrangement?
  2. Case study
    Give an example of a certain problem or task that you have solved for your client and how doing so has helped their business – have you helped them reduce their costs or brought them new customers?
  3. Employee profile
    Tell your clients about your staff members, this makes you look human and helps your customers get to know you and your team better.
  4. Business news
    A newsletter is a great way to share news about your business such as new staff, an award you have won or your new office location.
  5. Questions and Answers
    Have a Q & A newsletter. If you get asked the same questions often then chances are lots of people are wondering the same thing, address these in your E-Marketing.
  6. Giveaways
    These don’t need to break the bank but can be a great way to increase engagement and give those that have taken the time to sign up to your newsletter an exclusive little something back to say thank you.  Ideas could include a promotional discount, free product, or entry to a raffle.
  7. Testimonials
    You can’t beat a recommendation from someone else so when you get these make sure you share them via your newsletter.  If you can, use a video as there’s nothing better than actually seeing the ‘real’ person behind that testimonial.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, I’d love to hear your own suggestions so please do leave me comment below.

If you don’t have time to write your own newsletters then get in touch and I can do it for you!

Contact Rachel:
Phone: 01303 647101
Email: rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk

The Reverse the Tide team

Exciting new project – Reverse the Tide

A new venture

I’m really excited to tell you about a new project that I’m involved with, along with some other fabulous business owners, called Reverse the Tide.

Reverse the Tide is aimed at business owners from all over the world who want to develop their skills and collaborate with others in order to grow their own business.

We are currently building a website which will become a complete hub for advice, resources and support.  It will include some free resources as well as a members’ section and will be available on a smart phone, tablet and laptop making it accessible globally. 
 
To accompany the site there will be a Facebook group to enable the members to network and support each other.

Meet the team:
 
The founder of Reverse the Tide is Sally Marshall from Marshall’s Consulting. The rest of the team comprises:  
 
Mark Smallcorn – IVQ Designs
Dom Bradbury – The Love Social Co.
Pete Bresser (credit for above photo to Pete) – Bresser Photography and Digital Media
Mike Hacker – Hax Media
Gavin Munnings – Stonk Creative
Jon Pankhurst – Splat Web Works
Rachel Wall – Lighthouse Virtual Assistant

More details about the launch date and future plans will be published on here as things progress.  In the meantime you can get involved as I’m looking for bloggers to contribute to the website, a great way to help other businesses and promote your own at the same time. If you are interested then please email me: rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk and I will send you more details.