Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Caittom Publishing Shortlisted for Business of the Year

I am delighted to have been shortlisted for Business of the Year (Business to Business) in the Business Networking Awards for the second year running.

This will be the 5th year the awards have been run and the 2017 ceremony will be held on March 11 at The Tower Suite, Drayton Manor.

You can read about last year's award ceremony here. I'll be cheering on some of the wonderful businesses that I have worked for, and with, in the last 12 months. I'm also delighted that the celebrations on the night will help to raise funds for the Buddy Bag Foundation, a charity that makes a huge difference to children who have to move into emergency accommodation.

Caittom Publishing business award finalist

Thursday, 16 February 2017

How to plan your social media content

Planning your social media content
Planning is a key element of business success, and it’s certainly important when it comes to social media content.

When you’ve got a busy business to run, and if creating content and managing social media channels isn’t the thing that you enjoy most, it can be easy to push it down the to-do list and get on with other tasks.

But some advanced planning and organisation can make it less of a chore – and when you start to see some impact from your efforts you may even start to enjoy it.

You can make life easier for yourself by planning your social media content in advance, but remember to stay focused on providing value to your audience and using the relationships you develop to support your business objectives.

Creating a content calendar

To begin with I would recommend creating a calendar spreadsheet for the next six months. Start by putting in the landmark dates such as Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day etc. If you run a retail business or a restaurant then it’s obvious that those times of the year offer marketing opportunities to raise awareness of gift ideas and themed menus that you can offer and promote. But if you are a business-to-business company you can still use these milestones as the subjects of social media posts and blog ideas. For instance, if you are a business coach you could use Valentine’s Day as a hook to write about how you can help business owners to fall back in love with their businesses.

You need to add more events that are specific to your industry or sector to your content calendar. Google is a good place to start searching for national and international events that can be the inspiration for content. If you offer hair and beauty services you might want to note down glamorous red carpet events such as the Oscars and the BAFTAS, ready to talk about who was turning heads and why. If you provide health and fitness advice and products you may want to search for health awareness days, weeks and months and add those to your calendar.

Between these events you can think about topics that will be interesting to your ideal customers. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they will find interesting and useful.

Write down questions that you have been asked about your business by customers, or businesses that you network with, and use these as inspirations for social media content.

Don’t be a pushy salesperson

Don't just sell sell sell on social media
When you’re planning future content, remember that businesses and brands enjoying success through social media don’t ‘sell, sell, sell’. Social media is about building relationships, and that means listening to others and showing them support. You need to schedule some time to regularly read and engage with others on social media.

Your content needs to provide value, position you as an expert and show how you can solve problems and make life easier and better for your prospective customers. No-one likes pushy foot-in-the-door salespeople or aggressive cold callers on the phone – so don’t do that type of hard sell on social media either.

People want to work with businesses that are professional and get results but they’ll also be drawn to businesses that have heart, who show they appreciate their employees by celebrating their successes publicly and who demonstrate the importance they place on excellent customer service, honesty and transparency.

A picture paints a thousand words – a video even more

Importance of images and video in social media
All social media platforms are hungry for visual content.

You will have potential customers reading social media posts who may not even know that they need you yet. A strong image can grab their attention and make them aware of how you could make their life easier or better.

Testimonials from past customers can be turned into content for social media platforms. Use mini case studies as stories on Facebook and turn quotes into visuals for Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Video testimonials capture the essence of what you do and are a powerful tool to persuade people that they need the sort of help you offer.

Behind-the-scenes videos and images are also a great way of showing the human side of your business. It builds trust and confidence in potential customers to know you are experts at what you do with knowledge, skill and robust processes.

Infographics can convey statistics and data in a way that is memorable and grabs attention.

How often should I post on social media?

The answer, I believe, is that you have to find a level that you can sustain - but be aware that a couple of tweets a week won’t change the world.  Be realistic about the time you can spare and the resources you have. Is there someone you can co-opt to help you create content?

Once you have built an audience, and you are acquiring new followers and fans, try and be consistent about how frequently you post. Out of sight does mean out of mind on social media.

Once your calendar is up and running, try and stay a few weeks ahead in your content creation because it’s easy to fall behind when you’re posting something new every day.

You can use tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule content, but if you are focusing on Facebook remember that it has its own scheduling system, which you might find simpler and clearer to use.  

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Kick-start your own blogging adventure

Blogging workshop March 31 2017 in Lichfield


Update: All the places available on this Blogging for Business course on March 31, sold out within 24 hours of going on sale. 

Thanks to everyone who has booked and I look forward to working with you.

I will be looking to schedule future dates later in the year.


Have you fallen out of love with blogging and need to get your mojo back?

Do you want to start writing regular blog posts to raise your profile, promote your business and build an audience of engaged and interested readers?

Would you like to feel more confident about your ability to write?

If so, and you are within striking distance of Lichfield, Staffordshire, I'm running a Blogging for Business workshop on Friday March 31, 2017, from 10am-1pm at Advantage House, Stowe Court, Stowe Street, Lichfield.

This will be a practical session for a maximum of 12 people. You will bring along your laptop and together we'll get stuck in to some serious planning and writing that will kick-start your blogging adventure.

Learn about blogging for business with Caittom Publishing
I won't be covering the technical side of setting up a blog on Wordpress, Blogger or another platform, but by the end of the three-hour session you will have:
  • Developed a strategy for your blog.
  • Identified your ideal audience and planned how to reach and engage them.
  • Explored ways of generating regular ideas for blog content.
  • Practised techniques for creating a start, a middle and an end to your blog post.
  • Learned ways of promoting your blog online and offline.
  • Discovered how to create compelling images for your blog at low cost (or no cost).
  • Looked at copyright law and how to avoid infringements on your blog and social media.
The cost is £29 per person which will include course materials to take away, tea, coffee and light refreshments.  If you have any questions, or would like to book a place on the course, please email elaine@caittompublishing.co.uk. Payment in full will be required by Monday March 27 to secure your place.

If you use a sat nav to find Advantage House, you will need to put in the post code WS13 6DT, but please note that there is no parking for delegates available on site. Local long stay car parks offer good value and a map of where to find them is available here on the Lichfield City Council website 

Here's what some people who have explored blogging for business with me in the past have said:

You made a complex subject simple, even for technophobes like me. I love the guidelines I now have to follow, like rails to run on. Thank you very much.Liz Abram, Liz Abram Coaching Services.

I had got stuck with my blog, lacking confidence in what to write and how to make it all look good. Elaine really helped me to understand how to make the most of my blog. She advised me on my blogging strategy and gave me the confidence to get going again. – Joelle Harris, The Eco Wardrobe Warrior.

I blog quite a bit with different hats on and even with all of my experience it was lovely to learn more about how to target my ideal audience and use the content I already have on different platforms. Thank you so much!!Holly Hinton.


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Why Networking Could Be A Waste Of Your Time



Networking has been on my mind this month.

I believe that networking is an important part of developing any business. It’s certainly been a major factor in the growth and development of Caittom Publishing since 2010. 

Let's not forget that we're all networking pretty much every time we talk to people, whether that's at an organised event or in the queue at the supermarket. 

Thinking about those organised events, I think the key benefits of business networking are:
  • The opportunity to raise awareness of what your business does and the type of people it can help
  • The opportunity to inspire other business professionals to be your ambassadors and help you find new customers.
  • The opportunity to discover trusted suppliers of services you need to use who will deliver value for money.
  • The opportunity to learn from other successful businesspeople and access their advice and support.
I describe all these benefits as ‘opportunities’ because there are some people who are wasting their time going to networking meetings because:
  • They don’t put across what their business does in a clear and memorable way, or explain who they can help with their products and services.
  • They don’t invest time in building relationships with the people they meet so that they build up trust in each other’s work and can refer customers to each other with confidence.
  • They think only about selling their own products and services and are blind to how other people in the room could help them.
  • They don’t listen and learn from the stories other businesspeople tell about their own experiences and they fail to ask questions.

Networking is not an overnight success. You might strike lucky and meet someone who gives you business at your first meeting, but it’s more likely that people will need to see you a few times before they either offer you work or refer other customers to you.

Of course the time, and money, you invest in networking has to get a ‘return’ for your business. I would recommend going to a few groups as a visitor to find one that you enjoy and that offers you connections with businesses that can help you – and who you can help. Look for one with a timeslot that doesn’t have a negative impact on your working day or your home life.  Ultimately you need to find a group (or more than one if time allows) that you can attend regularly so that you build relationships and showcase what your business offers.

If you are looking for a networking opportunity in the Burton-on-Trent area, I am delighted to tell you that I am helping to launch a new monthly get-together in the town on the third Thursday of the month.

It’s a collaboration between Marston’s Brewery and the Burton Small Business group, of which I am a founder member.

There won’t be any membership fee to pay; it will be a relaxed, pay-as-you go group with no restrictions on which businesses can attend. The only requirement is that you are interested in meeting other businesses and forging productive relationships to stimulate growth and greater success for the local economy.

The launch event takes place on Thursday February 16, from 6pm to 8pm at DE14, the Marston’s Brewery visitor’s centre on Shobnall Road. Come straight from work and you can enjoy a pie from The Abbot’s Catering Company and a drink from Marston’s as part of your £10 admission fee. Tickets must be booked and paid for in advance online at http://bit.ly/MeetUpMarstonsFeb16


Find out more about Burton Small Business at http://burtonsmallbusiness.co.uk

Thursday, 24 November 2016

In with the Inspirational 100

I was delighted to be included in the recent Inspirational 100 magazine produced by the Burton Mail newspaper and sponsored by Burton and District Chamber of Commerce.

This was a new project for the Mail and looked at 100 people from the business communities in Burton, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire. The newspaper said it had handpicked individuals who it felt were making an inspiring contribution to the economic prosperity of the region.

Also included was Tilley Bancroft, owner of Red Door Studios and a fellow founding member of the Burton Small Business group.

Tilley and I were also both involved when the Small Business Saturday bus tour visited Burton-on-Trent. It was a blustery and cold day as the bus arrived in the market place, but there to meet it was Burton MP Andrew Griffiths and the national Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry.

Tilley filmed a short animated video with everyone who came along from the local business community to throw the spotlight on small businesses and the important role they have in the local and national economy. You can enjoy that film below, perhaps spot some faces you know, and maybe think about what YOU believe makes a successful small business. Feel free to leave your comment and thoughts below.



Saturday, 17 September 2016

Small Business, Big Difference conference

I'm delighted to be one of four small, independent businesses from the Burton area who are organising a #SmallBusinessBigDifference conference next month in support of the Small Business Saturday UK campaign.

Burton Small Business Group logo
We call ourselves the Burton Small Business group, and the rest of the team is Liz Strama of HR Protected, Tilley Bancroft of Red Door Studios and Cheryl Morris of Creative Word PR. Together we have organised a packed morning of speakers at the conference at Burton Albion's Pirelli Stadium on Wednesday October 12 from 8.45am to 2pm.

The event is being officially opened by East Staffordshire's Mayor, Councillor Beryl Toon and her consort and we will then have 10 speakers on subjects as diverse as cyber security for business, employment law, PR, social media and visual branding. There will be something for every owner of a small business - whatever stage they are at in their growth. The event will end with a networking buffet lunch.

The great news is that it's FREE to attend- but you must apply for a place by completing the form on our Burton Small Business website. You can download it here and then email it back to info@burtonsmallbusiness.co.uk. But HURRY!! The closing date for applications is Friday September 23 at 5pm.

Last year I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the #SmallBiz100 - 100 businesses chosen to represent the UK's five million small businesses and be profiled nationally, one a day, in the 100 days leading up to Small Business Saturday in December. The opportunities and publicity it gave me have really transformed my business, so I encourage every small business to apply. One of those I encouraged this year was JD Magic, run by Jack Dent and I'm delighted to say he will be featured in this year's #SmallBiz100 on October 31.

JD Magic a smallbiz100 company

Jack is also going to be mingling with delegates at our #SmallBusinessBigDifference conference and also speaking about his own inspirational business journey. 

We're also delighted to welcome Claire Mulry - a key member of the national Small Business Saturday UK team - who will be talking about the year-round, grassroots campaign and giving businesses ideas on how they can get involved and benefit.

More details and updates about speakers will be appearing on our brand new Facebook Page - Burton Small Business - and on our established Twitter channel @BurtonSmallBiz.

After being asked to become a Small Business Saturday Champion this year, I'm working closely with Derby Small Business Saturday Champion Yvonne Gorman of Essential Print Services. Yvonne organised a 'Flash mob' photocall this week, and I went along with Jack Dent and Lesley Mason from The Mug Tug. Here's one of the great pictures taken that day by JAKT Photography.

Small Business Saturday photocall in Derby

Yvonne is helping to publicise our conference and we're happy to share the word about the Business celebration that Yvonne is organising at Derby City Council's offices on Small Business Saturday morning itself, December 3. This is FREE to attend and everyone is welcome. Details are here on the Derby City Council website.

We'll also be joining forces to publicise this year's national Small Business Saturday bus tour which visits Derby on the morning of Monday November 7 before travelling on to Burton in the afternoon.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Ten tips to make your digital content work hard for you

10 top tips to make your digital content work harder
Stories, news, features, opinion pieces, blogs and social media posts: there's so much new material going online every day, is it still possible to create content that reaches and influences your target audience?

We believe it is, and here are our top 10 tips to make sure that the content you create works as hard as possible for you and your business.

1. Know exactly WHO you want to reach and influence. Before putting a finger on your keyboard make sure you have thought deeply about your audience. Create some 'customer personas' for the people you want to connect with and have conversations with: think about their age range, gender, profession, lifestyle and location.

2. First impressions matter. Everyone makes mistakes, but do everything in your power to make sure your content is free of 'typos', spelling and grammar mistakes. If you can, employ a proofreader to look through your content, or ask a friend or relative who's hot on accuracy and attention to detail to give it the once-over before you post it. If you spot an error later, edit it if you can.

3. Images are important. People take more notice of digital content that includes an image. It can add impact and is part of the story you are telling. If every blog post you upload includes an image then you, and your fans, can post it to other sites such as the visual-bookmarking site Pinterest and drive more traffic to it. Remember to use alt tags on images when you're creating content for your website, blog or an email newsletter.

video marketing makes you memorable online
4. Videos make you memorable. The importance of online video keeps growing all the time. If you're not yet using video as part of your content creation strategy you need to think about it - seriously. You can take short video clips on your smartphone that are ideal for platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, but you may want to work with a video company to create longer, professional videos for YouTube and your website.

5. Stir up an emotion. It might sound odd suggesting that you want to make your audience cry or get angry, but if you're working for a charity then perhaps you do want to create content that moves people to take a desired action. Content that makes people smile and laugh will make you memorable and may even go viral. It's important to stay true to your brand identity and create and share content that's appropriate for your business - but always think about how your content will make people feel.

6. What problems can you solve for people? Once you know clearly who your audience is you need to think about how the products and services you provide can make their life easier or better. Compelling content that engages your audience has to be based on what people want to see and hear from you. Listening and watching what people are saying about your sector on the internet will give you valuable insights about the frustrations and difficulties your customers experience - and then you can tell them how you can help. Don't forget to include clear calls to action so that your audience knows what to do next.

7. It's not all about you. You'll quickly turn people off and lose followers and readers if you're not giving them content they value. This means toning down the 'me, me, me' and thinking about 'them, them, them'. Don't just broadcast sales messages and news about you and your business; be generous in sharing and talking about third party content that your audience will find interesting and useful.

8. What's trending and topical? A key way to raise your profile online is to become  a 'go-to' expert in your business sector - so keep an eye on the news and be quick to give your opinion and angle on relevant breaking news. 'Trending' topics on social media can be part of your story, but don't 'hi-jack' hashtags that are irrelevant. It's as unattractive and ineffective as Cinderella's stepsisters trying to cram their ugly feet into the glorious glass slipper.

9. Have measurable objectives: review, re-do and repeat. You need to get a return on the valuable time (and sometimes money) you spend planning, creating or commissioning digital content. So create goals that you can measure such as click-throughs to your website; newsletter sign-ups; online enquiry forms completed. Diary time to review them. See what's working and what's not and adapt your strategy and your content. It's a never-ending cycle of tweaking your plan, measuring and reviewing to get the business results you want.

10. Keep your brand image consistent. Make sure your business is instantly recognisable wherever you are creating and sharing content by using colours and logos consistently. If you have help from one or more people to create and share content, and to engage with followers, on your digital channels ensure that everyone is 'talking' with the same voice so that people learn what to expect from you.