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If you’ve been in one of the 97,000 thousand cars a day hurtling along Sydney’s Parramatta Road in the past nine years, you’ve probably spotted the sign above.

It hangs outside Three of a Kind Furniture in Leichardt and it may surprise you that it wasn’t done by some clever clogs advertising agency, but by the owner of the business itself.

Karl is his name. He’s one of the butt ugly blokes. And, as I discovered, he’s got a thing or two to teach small businesses about advertising.

Find what inspires you

Karl is a bit of a fan of Aussie advertising legend, John Singleton.

Years ago, contemplating all those cars whizzing past his front door and wondering how to make them stop, he thought of something he’d heard Singo say.

That was that there are only three ways to sell anything: with humor, with sex, or by annoying the sh*t out of people.

A lot of advertisers would take issue with that as a gross oversimplification or just plain wrong, but Karl – it goes without saying – isn’t one of them.

Inspired by the legend, he chose humour, writing his signs in the self-deprecating style that lots of Aussies find funny.

Wisely, he also kept it simple.

Don’t make people work

“Anything, I’ve learnt about advertising, I learnt by myself, by watching people,” says Karl.

“People don’t want to work, they want everything on a silver platter. If you give them too much information, their eyes go blank, they just gloss over it.”

He also gave that first sign a ton of personality, something that Three of a Kind has always done with its furniture and that it’s done ever since in its advertising and marketing.

A poster in the workshop, for example, reads, “Boofheads with power tools.”

Copy on their website observes, “… the only other place in Australia you can watch stuff being made is in a sandwich shop.”

And their next sign, according to Karl, will say, “Just cause we’re nasty, doesn’t mean we’re cheap.”

What Karl and Three of a Kind have managed to do – possibly without realising it – is to create not just a bunch of clever individual marketing items, but a unified tone of voice for their brand.

Importantly, that voice isn’t a manufactured one either.

Be true

Viewing their advertising, you can almost hear Karl and the two other butt ugly blokes, Daniel and Geoff, bantering in the workshop.

It’s a true voice.  And consistently delivered.

On their website, they put the “butt ugly” line to work again, up there at the top on the front page. Their tone is peppered throughout the copy with observations like the sandwich shop reference.  And they don’t muck about with any unnecessary fluff.  It’s all about product and how to buy.

Customers recognise it and appreciate it, too.  Coming to the workshop after visiting the website, they say, feels very familiar.  That’s important.

Building value

Why?  Because as Karl looks from the rear rollerdoor of his workshop, he can see his neighbour across the way selling imported mass-produced furniture from Korea and China.

You could fill your house with that furniture, he observes, for the same cost as a single, bespoke piece from Three of a Kind.

Three of a Kind doesn’t only have to capture the attention of the passing traffic.  They need to justify a price premium.

Everything they do needs to continue to tell their unique story, to remind people what they are making is that rarest of things – something beautifully crafted, by hand, to order, for you, in Australia … by butt ugly blokes.

They’re doing a great job.

As you’ve hopefully discovered, they’re not only makers of handsome furniture, but self-taught marketers and advertisers whose talent is as unique as the voice they’ve created.

The lessons

Let’s recap the simple but important advertising lessons they have for other small businesses:

  • Understand who you’re talking to.
    (For Karl, it was people in cars)
  • Know what’s special about you.
    (Bespoke furniture handmade by Aussie craftsmen)
  • Say it in your own way.
    (Be true to yourself and your product. Three of a Kind chose self-deprecating humour, because that’s what they’re like)
  • Keep it simple.
    (People like things on silver platters)
  • Roll it out.
    (One thing is only one thing. But a unified tone of voice is a brand asset)
Tailored advice

As it is, I called Karl to ask him about his views on advertising.

I wondered though how things might have gone if the shoe had been on the other foot.  What might have happened if Karl had visited me online in my capacity as the creative and copywriting expert at RealTimeMinds.com?

Perhaps he would have asked me what he should do next.

“Stick with it,” I’d have said.

“If anything, give us more of the same. Maybe a few more of those tasty bits of copy on your website.  Not too many.  Nothing more.

“Unless, of course, you’ve got any more of those cracking headlines lying about. You could send those over to me.”

About the author

Got a question about your advertising or marketing? Want some tailored input on how to make it read better, get more attention, work harder?

Catch Stuart Ghent online, live at Real Time Minds. Ask him anything. Your first ten minutes are free.

The post Lessons in advertising from a butt ugly bloke appeared first on Real Time Minds.

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Time is fast becoming our most precious commodity but is our struggle to maximise productivity undermining one of our most important neurological processes – sleep?

Time seems to be an ever limited commodity in the busy, multi-faceted lives of small business owners. As a society, we are more connected than ever via devices which are getting ever smaller and more sophisticated. Clients’ expectations have also changed. They want immediate responses and the 9-5 working day is all but a distant memory in the evolution of workplace practices.

For many small business owners, this means an increased connectivity  to their businesses – both day and night. This allows them to run busy lives by day and focus on important business matters after hours. This is a great short-term strategy for some. However, unsurprisingly habitual late-night working is not good news. It cuts out the ‘down time’ (such as relaxation with family and friends), which supports emotional and physical self-regulation. Often, it leads to fatigue which, as the neuroscience tells us, directly affects our capacity to focus, deal with stress, stay creative and work with complexity.

Though there may not be many quick-win answers for self-reliant, small business owners, the following tips can help modify some work practices to reach  better work-life integration.

My top 5 tips for managing your time and fatigue Prioritise

Work on important, non-urgent tasks which allow time to work at a pace that suits you and embeds reflection time. Ask yourself how urgent each task really is. Can it be delegated or subcontracted? I often practice the ‘in-tray’ exercise. For instance, ask yourself, “If this sat in my in-tray for a month and I did nothing about it, what would the impact and consequences be?” If the answer is “nothing or minimal” then it’s time to re-prioritise!

Take a 20-minute nap during the day

It’s easier for those who work from home because it helps spark creativity, refresh and focus you for the rest of the day. But beware that exceeding the 20-minute rule may mean that you fall into a deep sleep which will make it difficult to refocus for the rest of the day and sleep that night!

Switch off

Running your own business tempts you to be available to your customers 7 days a week. I challenge you to give yourself one day a week to completely switch off. If your business does not allow you a 24-hour break, then set specific time segments where clients cannot contact you. Giving yourself permission to relax can be very powerful.

Find an activity

If you find it hard to switch off from work and lie in bed,  find an activity which clearly delineates between your work day  and evening. This could be a workout, a meditation, a walk, a hobby or any activity which, as it become  habitual, will trigger you to relax.

Spend time on self-care activities

You can do some self-care activities  during break time. These may relate to professional development,  physical activity, as well as psychological, spiritual or relational  pursuits. During that time, if work issues consistently pop into your mind,  write them down on a list and then forget about them until you are
back at work. It’s amazing how regular time out can help gain new and fresh perspectives.

Want to discuss how to begin your journey towards working smart?
About the author

Rachel Setti is a Psychologist & Personal Effectiveness expert. She’s a Real Time Minds Personal Effectiveness Expert and you can connect with her online for instant help.

The post Not looking after yourself? Tips to manage fatigue appeared first on Real Time Minds.

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Often, the problem with growing revenue is not in conversion rate but in lead generation.  Sales & Business Development Expert Bill Carson gives you the low down on converting more leads into sales.

One of the biggest issues impacting many businesses is that their  lead conversion rates are quite poor. Business owners put substantial marketing money into front-end  lead generation and then waste a substantial amount of that investment by having very weak and unclear conversion processes and skills in their sales and service staff.

A flip and a win

One client I worked with manufactured and sold a particular product that’s more expensive than their competitors. They’re more expensive because they are able to install the product on-site whereas other companies require the buyer to travel to them. This can save the buyer a lot of money in lost travel time.

The owner has a very good marketing approach that produces many leads, but the salespeople were losing sales due to price objections. The problem was that their very low sales skills didn’t create a value-analysis discussion with the buyer. They had no ability to sell the value proposition and hence got involved in price discussions which they could never win.

So we taught them to sell the value, identify all of the problems that the buyer was currently experiencing and then created a business case/cost benefit analysis for the buyer. It was clearly evident that the total cost of purchase was significantly in favour of purchasing my clients’ product. Hence, sales went up substantially.

Three factors that impact on Sales Conversion Rates

1.  Quality of the leads

This obviously is a function of your marketing system and getting good quality leads requires targeted and accurate marketing to your key buying personas. If your marketing is too broad you will attract too many leads that are not your target buyer – and you will waste time dealing with them.  It also makes your conversion numbers look bad, because you should not be having conversations with them in the first place.

2.  Sales people with outdated selling skills

You or your sales people may have selling skills that are not able to connect with and sell to the modern buyer today. This means that you will not be able to engage with prospects in sales dialogues with the ability to deeply understand the buyers needs and issues and provide effective value-based solutions. When sales people can’t do this, they talk features and get into price discussions too early and don’t add any value for the buyer.

3.  Leads don’t get followed up. Here are some statistics:

• 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up [Source: Hubspot]
• 80% of sales require 5 follow-up phone calls after the meeting. [Source: Marketing Donut]
• 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy. [Source: Marketing Donut]
• Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. [Source: Gleanster Research]

4. Maintain a system of follow-up and lead nurture

These above statistics highlight just how important it is to keep a system of follow-up and lead nurture. The probability of lead conversion significantly improves when a seller understands the buyer’s purchasing process. Successful sales people understand the length of time the buyers take to make decisions and therefore maintain their sales processes accordingly to match the buyer’s buying process.

My top 5 tips for bringing in new customers and growing existing ones

1.  Mastering the in-side

Successful business development and selling starts with strong clarity of your purpose, mission, values, skills, knowledge, strategies and the removal of your fears and obstacles.

2.  Knowing your buyer types and levels

It is vital to know the distinction between the transactional buyer, the consultative buyer and levels of buyers; otherwise, you risk wasting time and resources, and not giving your customers/clients what they really need and want.

3.  Aligning your sales process to the customer’s buying process

This is a powerful way to ensure that your customers/clients feel that you understand their needs and that you provide them with relevant and meaningful solutions.

4.  Differentiating your value proposition

This will provide you with a very effective tool to help you build the questions to articulate your value proposition. When you ask very targeted questions of your prospects and clients, you create value in the selling/buying process that helps them understand the value you can bring.

5.  Retaining, protecting and growing your clients

Build successful strategies to keep your clients wanting more from you.

Start Converting!

If your lead conversions are low, costing you a lot of wasted marketing funds and frustrating the heck out of you, then let’s have a discussion to pinpoint the problem.

Need more help with converting leads?
About the author

Bill Carson can help you or your team enhance sales and business development skills and capabilities, to achieve your business outcomes on a sustained and expanding basis. He’s one of our Sales Experts and you can connect with him for answers to all your Sales questions.

The post Failure To Convert Leads appeared first on Real Time Minds.

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This article is written very much with the small business owner in mind, or for a marketing person who needs to explain to a business owner how they should plan their approach to their business’s Facebook page.

Why Facebook?

Facebook is the most widely used social media platform in Australia with 17 million active users and around 12 million daily users.

Whilst YouTube is also considered a social network by many and attracts large audiences, Facebook wins in terms of the number of people logged in to the platform, isn’t limited to only video, and people’s engagement with Facebook is more two-way – people contribute content as much as they consume it. YouTube is more heavily consumption.

None of the other social networks come close. The next in size, Instagram, has less than a third of the active users of Facebook.

The Facebook “News Feed”

I also want to focus on the Facebook “News Feed” because it’s important: the News Feed is where Facebook users experience your posts.

As I’ll explain in more detail, very rarely do people visit your Facebook page to see all your posts, and only a small percentage of Facebook posts are shown to someone’s News Feed.

Thinking that all your business’s Facebook posts are seen by everyone following your page is a common assumption that highlights two ‘curses’ of marketing that I’ve found particularly prevalent since specialising in digital marketing:

  1. The curse of assumed knowledge
  2. The curse of wishful thinking

I, as advisor on social media, can assume that a business owner knows something about the importance of the Facebook News Feed and how it works (hence this blog post because I should know by now, many don’t!).

The business owner may assume they know how the Facebook works, when really they don’t!

The curse of wishful thinking: the business owner thinks the Facebook post they just wrote about their business is really interesting and/or important, so everyone who likes their page will as well.

Just look at a random business‘s Facebook page and it’s highly likely that most posts are promotional and fundamentally fail to reflect the reason people spend time in social media.

How the News Feed Works

Now store these things in the back of your mind for now, as I briefly explain what the Facebook News Feed is and how it really works.

  1. The Facebook News Feed is the collection of posts that Facebook shows to a user based on who their friends are, the pages they like, and some of the adverts Facebook advertisers have targeted to them. It is therefore unique to each user.
  2. The News Feed is where people spend almost all their time in Facebook. People don’t visit your ‘page’ very often if at all, even if they ‘liked’ it. They open Facebook and spend time looking through their News Feed. They vertically scroll through the posts, moving down from the top and usually quite quickly as there is so much to see. If you don’t use Facebook often, watch someone else do this – there are plenty of opportunities to observe someone using Facebook at home, in a cafe, on planes, public transport etc.
  3. People look at their Facebook News Feed mainly on their mobile. You probably set up your posts on your desktop which is fine, but make sure you use ‘drafts’ to create your posts, and be sure to preview the mobile version before you publish.
  4. People who ‘like’ your page won’t always see your page’s post in their News Feed. For some larger business Facebook pages, their posts might only reach 2% of the people who like that page!

This is the biggest assumption someone new to Facebook makes: “a person liked my page, so surely Facebook will show them everything I post.” This hasn’t been the case for years, but I can understand why many assume this.

Given all the above, the question I hope you are now asking yourself is: “what can I do to get my posts into people’s News Feeds?”

But before I answer, let me introduce you to your new best ‘friend’, or maybe enemy, the Facebook algorithm.

The Facebook Algorithm

The Facebook algorithm is the formula Facebook programmers have created to select the posts users will be shown in their News Feed.

It’s a closely guarded secret, so we can only guess how it works, but many try. Facebook simply state that their role is to “connect people to the stories (posts) that matter to them most via the News Feed”.

How do they know what matters to someone, given that

  1. any user doesn’t know in advance the content of someone else’s posts;
  2. Facebook doesn’t ask them;
  3. the amount of content produced by a user’s friends and the pages they like (and even the ads targeted to them) far, far exceeds the amount of content a user will look through when browsing their News Feed.

Facebook looks at a wide range of signals to decide which posts to display in someone’s News Feed and they do give us clues.

These include many things but the ones you should focus on, because you can influence them are:

  1. Did the person engage with previous posts from the same source, person or page (history).
  2. Did people engage with the post when it was initially shown to some of the possible recipients (sampling).
  3. What type of content is it? Facebook has a habit of showing more posts using the most recently launched post product. When Facebook launched video, they gave it more prominence in the News Feed. Similarly for “Facebook Live”. It is also about what a particular user tends to favour.
  4. What’s in the content? Is it something a user has shown an interest in before via a number of different signals, or is it about something that is trending across Facebook, part of the ‘zeitgeist’.

Facebook publish announcements on how they are tweaking the algorithm, and for the serious student I recommend bookmarking this Facebook web page.

You’ll notice announcements like “Helping Make Sure You Don’t Miss Stories from Friends” (which some see as code for “We’ll Show Fewer Posts from Business Pages So We Can Receive More Ad Revenue”), and “New Updates to Reduce Clickbait Headlines” and “Reducing Links to Low-Quality Web Page Experiences”.

How does Facebook know that its algorithm is doing a good job? Facebook have user panels who manually order what they find relevant and this is compared to what the algorithm came up with. Adjustments are then made. Rinse. Repeat.

What does this all mean for you? If you remember one word, please remember: “engagement”.

Secret to Facebook Engagement

If your ‘fans’ engage (like, react, comment, share, watch a video, click on images, click on web links) with your posts, they are more likely to see your posts again.

If your post gets a great reaction when it is first shown to a sample, it will be served to more people than if it didn’t.

How often should you post? Whilst no one suggests you should be absent for a long time, my answer would be “as often as you can create engaging content”.

Don’t feel you have to post: your Facebook fans aren’t waiting for your post.

People aren’t sitting their wondering “why haven’t I heard from XYZ business for a few days”. There is plenty of debate and research on posting frequency. The larger your following (over 10,000 fans) the more often you can post.

How do you know what is ‘engaging’. Understanding why people are using Facebook and, to some extent, their mindset whilst using Facebook helps.

Facebook users are there mainly to connect to their friends and family, not to consume advertising. They are there to be, yes, social.

So if you want them to engage with your post, most experts advise you to entertain people, help people, inform people, be useful, solve problems – as long as all these things are related to your business, or to the community your business services.

And keep in mind Facebook’s recent announcements, already mentioned, about clamping down on clickbait and links to low-quality web pages.

There are also features that let you target your posts to a subset of your ‘fans’. This allows you to target via interests or via location, so you can maintain the higher engagement. Facebook deduces the interests of users by another myriad of signals.

To take advantage of this option, you have to made an adjustment to your page’s settings – follow this step-by-step guide to turning on “Audience Optimization for Posts”.

Facebook also refer to “thumb stoppers” – usually images or video that catch people’s eye and cause users to pause their scrolling. Are you able to create arresting images? This will be easier for some businesses than others.

In Conclusion

Understanding Facebook, its algorithm, and how that determines the content of a user’s News Feed are all important in determining your approach to this social media behemoth.

Some digital experts question whether businesses should spend a lot of time on their Facebook page at all.

I think that if you have a clear and disciplined approach to what you post, and understand the limitations of the medium, you can keep the ‘time spent on Facebook’ vs ‘promotional value of Facebook’ in balance. 

You should also try to look at other business pages in your category that engage their audience well and ask whether you can learn (not copy!) what they have done. Facebook Insights allows you to “watch” five other Facebook pages.

I haven’t touched on Facebook advertising and community management. Along with using Facebook Insights, these are both important subjects that require their own blog post.

I’ll save one of these up for next time!

About the author

Nick Bron is an Online Marketing expert with 19+ years experience in all the key areas of digital, content and social media marketing . He’s a Real Time Minds Online Marketing Expert and you can connect with him online for instant answers to all questions.

The post How small business can win on Facebook appeared first on Real Time Minds.

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