The Unprofessional Touch

Perhaps, my website is still not very accessible to the individuals I seek…

Following on from my previous post, perhaps I should zoom in super specifically on my target audience, and create a homepage which matches them and their interests –

There is indeed a disparity between my blog and my website, so perhaps I should make my website fit the honest and upfront form of my blog.

I’m here to support the struggling start ups and small businesses, and those interested in becoming self employed, who, like me, get near to no practical support.

My website does not clearly communicate this objective, even though it declares, “Digital Marketing Support for Small Businesses” in big letters at the top –

Perhaps, my website is still not very accessible to the individuals I seek…

Perhaps it actually looks too professional.

As an Unprofessional, it should be more welcoming to other unprofessionals – that is, others who are struggling, perhaps even with advisors who don’t want them to admit to being or recently being on benefits.

Its really a gem –

Don’t tell anyone you attend the job centre.

Sincerely, the Job Centre

Why?

Are we unworthy of acknowledgement?

Should we pretend that this part of our life is unimportant, or irrelevant?

I venture that no one who has ever experienced unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, can possibly understand what it means to try and break free of the physical and psychological barriers which hold you in your box of “The Unemployed”.

Nor will they understand how backwards it is to tell an unemployed, benefits claimant that they should hide that they are an unemployed, benefits claimant.

Doesn’t this feed into the taboo of not admitting to being a “benefits scrounger”, as we are more commonly known?

Well, b*llocks to that.

My target audience is others like me –

Not snobs, not successful business owners who can afford more experienced copywriters, but others on tight budgets who just need that extra bit of help to get going.

I’m pleased that this disparity was brought further to my attention –

I will need to assess what my next move will be, but I have some ideas…

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“Professional” White Lies or “Unprofessional” Black Truths

I’ve had conflicting advice: To share my history/ my story, to not share my story…

Even the job centre (scheme) think I should hide that I’m currently a customer of the job centre and scheme.

I remember once asking one of my previous job centre advisors (back when I was in the regular job search pathway and when my health was still very dodgy), “How should I lie to an employer when they ask why I think I’m better than one of their more able-bodied applicants?”

“Well, you shouldn’t lie –”

“But how else can I compete with them -”

I also recall more recently receiving help for my diabolical CV –

“Instead of focusing on the negative, let’s focus on the positive”

That’s fine – except I have a 6 year void of negative. “How can an employer ignore that?”

*silence*

For my copywriting business, I’ve had conflicting advice: Namely, to share my history/ my story, or not to share my story…

I venture that it is better to be upfront about my work and health history than not to be, which is why I am honest about it in this blog.

Who can say what is more unprofessional – having to give a hurried work and health history on the spot when asked about my employment history by a business owner, or, Including information about my work and health history on my website, for any interested parties to see.

I know neither is particular endearing, but if my truth is so unprofessional, then that can’t be helped – unless I am to lie.

And if I’m not to lie, then I have to be truthful, own way or another.

This issue has been (fairly) brought to my attention by my job centre scheme advisors, and I await their answer to the truth conundrum I present.

As I explained to one of them today, my target audience is made of others who are close to the the bottom of the ladder like me – those who perhaps understand and connect with “my story”, and who can see my potential nonetheless since they themselves have also faced hard times and others prejudging them.

This has, of course, been the reason I have struggled to get started on LinkedIn, as I have described in previous blog posts. Despite how full of personal stories LI is, I know that my story (since there is not yet any tremendous, successful ending) is certainly too “unprofessional” to share.

This is why I have not ventured into any Sheffield Chamber of Commerce get-togethers at Cubo, the same place where lies my job centre scheme:

To be unemployed is (of course) to be “unprofessionalism” itself.

Maybe this is a vicious circle I can never leave –

Or maybe, I can just get on and absorb all the reasonable advice I get, always aware that my “situation” is a bit unique, and apparently, there is no clear way forward.

What is clear, however, is my business is only hopeless when I stop believing in myself –

As “unprofessional”, or “unconventional” as I am, I’m still a very capable copywriter. And I can present a neutral website stuck together by feeble, “white lies”, or I can have the “unprofessional” truth available, and an “unprofessional” but honest website to match. “Black truths”, so to speak.

Who’s caught between a rock and a hard place?

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Marketplace Landscapes

WHO’S WINNING locally and nationally

I have a small series of notes reflecting my thoughts on improving my product and my service –

I will be reorganising my brand message and my information and services page to reflect the more immediately quantifiable value proposition (as I highlighted in my previous post) which I am aiming to present.

Right now, I am deciding the logistics of what the most efficient means of research and analysis will be – in order for me to determine competition within different online, small business industries)…

Thinking about it, the information I organise can actually be made into an online resource –

Proceeding in a careful and scrutinous fashion, I can present research which is regularly updated and which would be valuable for those small businesses eager to fibre only things which can include accessing relevant, free research and analysis.

Such regularly updated material could constitute reason enough to create a newsletter and a subscriber facility – but again I will have to discover what the most efficient means of conducting and presenting this research could be.

Ideally it would be great to be able to work with another marketer or professional business writer, but that is another thing I will need to build trust for before I can start building working relationships.

A journalism element can be introduced to such research as well, since I have no desire for it to read in a boring and technical way – work can be presented in engaging articles with lots of visual elements including infographics.

Perhaps case studies would be a good way to proceed – studies including those of individual small businesses and their placement amongst their competitors.

Lessons can be learnt from both the success, and weak points, of other online business – after-all, this will be the basis of how I will be building online marketing strategies for clients.

An important point to remember is that, of course and very, very often, a small business’ main competitor might be a very big business – so what strategy can be constructed to break through the noise of a corporate competitor?

This is an issue/ answer to be addressed by establishing a small brand’s unique selling point, and the unique motives and desires of their different target audiences.

So without expanding further on this lengthy introduction, below are notes and ideas of how I can create my better quantifiable value proposition (i.e. a better product!) –

How can I present a clear, high value, accessible, irresistible product which my TA (target audience) understands and responds to?

  • Remember to include demonstration of how easy the process is and how many benefits it will have to the customer

What is the most efficient way to create a landscape of competition in different industries so that I can pin point:

  • WHO’S WINNING locally and nationally
  • Who their closest competition is
  • And where my diverse target audience falls in this web of competitors

Firstly:

1. Assess sales landscape (including competitors, target audience and their values/ motivations/ financial statuses)

2. Establish USP (unique selling point) and unique value proposition (create the greatest value for money product)

3. Look for any weak spots in competitors marketing and value propositions, also discover TAs not catered for and create digital marketing plan example to exploit these gaps

4. Need a copy/ content strategy for effective marketing campaigns which will include lots of planning ahead and anticipating trends e.g. special days etc

5. Need to offer to create plenty of e.g. Canva graphics/ photos if they need help with visuals as am proficient graphic designer

6. Need potential clients to commit to strategy and a proper digital marketing campaign – May need to try various methods to get it right (ways to establish business in question as industry leaders etc, and with no extra charge)

7. Need to keep an eye on changing methods of competitors (plus industry news and trends) and adapt client’s multiplatform marketing accordingly

8. Keep discovering ways for client to engage with and undestand their target audiences (use customer personas, surveys etc if possible)

How do I judge who’s winning? Who’s got the most, best web space, marketing, reviews etc –

1. Identify biggest small business industries and networks online locally, and nationally (get it all documented properly and make it easily navigable)

2. Research all competition and identify who might be best prospects

3. Create and record personalised proposals

Really feel like individual copywriting products have got little to no value at all to TA, many of them need a whole load of help but none of it will work unless they’re properly committed

Draft message and/ or video script idea:

Hi X, I’m sorry for this unsolicited message, but I wanted to tell you –

I’m building my portfolio, so all my digital marketing services are free, with no strings attached.

I know that [your business name] has competition including [completion names], with [X USPs], but do you know their weaknesses include [competitor weaknesses]?

(Expand upon competitor’s weakness and how they can be infiltrated)

This leaves a gap for [your business name] to swoop in gain influence through an online marketing strategy which may include [strategy ideas to combat competitors].

If you visit my profile you’ll find a link to my website where you’ll discover my writing style –

If you’re up for challenging your competitors head on, drop me a message here or through my website, and let’s kick your competition where it hurts.

How can I change my business message/ voice to reflect this new type of product (all plans above)

Need to make this new proposal and literature into normal, non-jargon speak (and I need to prove how I will do each thing, maybe include some sample case studies)

It’s a big task and will take some time to rewrite and redesign parts of my website, as well as to create the new bits needed and of course, to research and record all the personal business messages which I want to send.

But, it is a better product, and a better value proposition, so now I’ll just get on with it shall I?

So, what are the first things I need to do to build the basis for my research?

  • Establish industries I’ll research and work out HIERARCHY of who the leaders are, who’s second (there’ll be loads), and who’s still fighting for more attention, and then who’s “at the bottom” and working hard to create a bigger impact (loads and loads)
  • Try and get as thorough image of each, successful brand as possible e.g. read trusted reviews, articles, marketing etc Try and discover weak points of everyone
  • Make research bit JAM PACKED full of reliable facts and data – start with easy preliminary searches to see who comes up top in Google results, discover all and most popular online marketplaces and apps
  • This research is a big and important step which will take a while, but it’s important – I can display this when it’s done and it’s a good resource for small businesses to discover the landscape better in case they haven’t already

Only after this step do I want to start identifying the best CANDIDATES for my services and create personalised videos

Online Business Industries:

  • Beauty and cosmetics
  • Fitness and health (including women’s health)
  • Sustainable living (including vegan)
  • Clothing/ fashion
  • Arts and crafts
  • Gifts and trinkets
  • Home and decor
  • Pets accessories
  • Kids stuff
  • Etc

So, how can I do the most, far reaching good quality research, but in the least time and as efficiently as possible?

  • Do it systematically, patiently, carefully, but don’t get hung up on one avenue as have so many to explore
  • Don’t worry about being super detailed, can add more details as I continue with updates
  • (Highlight and send out videos early and continue as I go for LoA)

Perhaps starting very simply, e.g. with spider diagrams/ hierarchies for each industry, would be one way of building a landscape quickly

And the notes continue…

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In Search of a More Immediately Quantifiable Value Proposition

One of my first ideas was “Copywriting Packages” and I believe this option continues to be the best value for money and effort spent for my potential clients

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, considering and consolidating recently and have some big adjustments to make on my website, which will include removing (or reassigning) Small Business Excellence and replacing it with an Insight section that will serve as a new small business marketing education resource –

Something similar had of course been my intention with SBE, and I hope to be able to return to this initiative one day, but right now it has been recommended (by one of the authors whose work I’m currently reading – Dave Holloway, Wonder Leads) that providing educational and informative resources for visitors to view and gain value from is indeed part of the way forward.

I also intend to focus my efforts on providing a more immediately quantifiable value proposition, “Increase your brand influence online”, as opposed to any synonym of “boost your business” –

Because it is easy to discover the rough amount of web space (including social media and 3rd party space) which one business possesses – it is harder to track their paid online advertising but those such as Google and Facebook ads are also easily discoverable…

  • I can research the sales landscape/ industry which a particular small business is seeking to make an impact and make gains within, assess which competitors have the strongest and most effective marketing campaigns, and build a marketing strategy to cut through such competition.

When I started my business, one of my first ideas was “Copywriting Packages” and I believe this option continues to be the best value for money and effort spent for my potential clients.

But making gains and keeping gains will require clients to make a commitment to producing great marketing material and content, and for new businesses and those on low budgets, such a commitment to up to date marketing and content material may appear like an unaffordable investment, at least to begin with –

But this is why all my services are currently free (no strings), I want prospects to be able to Try Before They Buy, and this trial will consist of a significant sized digital marketing/ copywriting package: The first step towards gaining and maintaining brand authority online.

I very much need to change my Information and Services page especially in order to focus around this better quantifiable product, “Increase your brand influence online”, and personal proposals to business owners all need to be focused around this more specific value proposition too.

I have my first lot of business cards, my “keys to the county” South Yorkshire travel pass! And I have the other stationary I need to create and hand deliver personalised product offers –

It will be a slow process, but as we know, a year has already passed, and to give up on patience or not to trust the process right now would be foolish.

In the meantime, I have a pilot podcast episode to analyse and edit! I recorded it sat at Doncaster train station several days ago, and in between train station noises, wind plus turbulence, and me being unsure how close I should hold the microphone, there might be some salvageable pieces to make into a short podcast –

I certainly hope so anyway as this is another avenue I’m seeking to use to build trust (through dialogue, even if only one way…) Podcasting is another form of media creation digital creators/ small business owners are encouraged to embrace! Plus, I enjoy listening to a good podcast (usually something paranormal, but that’s besides the point) …

I’ve had the choice between concentrating on unemployment or self-employment and small business-ing for podcasting, and although focusing on building small businesses will theoretically earn me an audience closer aligned with my prospective target audience, I feel a great solidarity with the great many who are unhappily unemployed, and want to acknowledge and encourage those individuals too –

After-all, “ungainfully self-employed” and “unemployed” amount to the same thing. So, maybe I’ll just have to start two slightly different podcasts, but again, the issue of productivity, efficiency etc arise – How can I create valuable, up to date content, read relevant materials and conduct research, create pitches/ proposals, and complete a variety of other business tasks, AND stay on top of everything?

I need more voluntary experience and I need clients, so unless an activity does not positively improve my prospects of such, then I will need to reassess if it’s necessary.

There’s plenty more to say but even more to do, so –

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Proactivity & the Direct Sales Directive

I need to become drastically proactive, and I need to travel and build relationships.

I’m delighted to say that although WordPress are prodding me to renew my domain – and therefore reminding me that my website and my business have been established nearly a year now, and why are things so quiet? – I have a list as long as my size 10 foot of things to do next and things to improve.

I’ve ordered my business cards, I’ve bought fancy paper and even a clipboard and some gold star and bullet point stickers, all with the intention of getting my travel pass and advertising my business much in the same way I conducted my direct sales antics –

For direct sales, my colleagues and I drew up product proposals on blank sheets of paper individually for each customer (supposedly this helped to draw our prospects attention towards each benefit, and around each objection). The idea was to guide our prospects around how amazing and valuable our product was, and tailoring each proposal for each prospect seems a good idea to repeat –

I have business cards with blank backs for adding individual offers and proposals, and sensible stickers just to add some colour and personalisation. 

Its cheap and cheerful, but hopefully it will also be seen as at least authentic!

Instead of an unsolicited message in a social media inbox, my idea is to leave each prospect with an individual product proposal, packed with benefits and fully customised to their business needs and ambitions.

I will get to meet them face to face, and even if they have no real need of my services, I may benefit from a referral made to someone else in their network.

Who knows how it will go? Maybe I’ll face lots of closed doors, maybe business owners will respect my initiative and give me some of their time to share my pitch –

Of course, it is not wise to visit business owners during trading hours, and so I’ll have to find a way of working around this – perhaps asking for just a few minutes of their time to share my (initial) freebie offer…

And as a woman I will say, I never want to compromise my safety. I will only meet at sensible times, and in sensible places –

And perhaps this drastically decreases my chances of being able to pitch, but if this is the case, then I will have to revert to simply sharing business cards and a smile, and hope that I am invited to share more information, even during business hours.

I’ll be visiting job centres with premade proposals for how I can help customers on self-employment pathways (hopefully my modest marketing material can be given a place on the job search walls), and I’ll be exploring and dropping in many other places which might lend an ear to my cause e.g. libraries, community centres etc.

Does it seem sensible, or ambitious? Well, it’s both:

I need to become drastically proactive, and I need to travel and build relationships.

The finer details I can work out once I’m out and spreading the good news of accessible, professional digital marketing… 

I need to stay safe, use my initiative, be consistent, persistent, and resilient.

I need to prove I am an expert, and that prospects will not want to miss the amazing opportunity which I am offering them personally.

I hope to soon have some great tales to tell of my journeys around South Yorkshire!

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The Self-Employment Pathway

Do I sound like a scammer, offering free/ no strings support?

For my next trick, I will begin contacting local newspapers and ask if they would like to support start ups and small business owners in their area – 

A small ad here or there offering professional, digital marketing support 100% free to local businesses isn’t hugely unreasonable!

I had an interesting exchange with a Facebook user in the early hours of this morning after I had introduced myself and offered to support a fellow start up with free marketing support – he accused me of being fake, a charlatan and a scammer. He also said that copywriters don’t have “insurance” and that he works in marketing so he knows

Well, I knew immediately, of course, that this man was ignorant, and an internet troll (he had continued on to insult another user’s web design ability and to question their legitimacy), BUT it made me think just a little… 

Do I sound like a scammer, offering free/ no strings support? Perhaps I should instead stress that I am new and eager to build my portfolio THEREFORE I’m offering free support? I do say this sometimes, but not every time…

An advisor at the job centre scheme I attend said I should stress my need to build upon my portfolio. She also said (and after much build up from another advisor that she would surely be able to help), that she couldn’t be my advisor as yet because I’m not currently gaining clients.

This is after the self-employment advisor at the job centre said similar – they won’t help me until I’m earning. 

This was after regular advisors at both places had told me so many times that their in-house “self employment expert” would be able to advise me.

This is the help those on “self-employment” pathways receive where I live. Perhaps it is just me – perhaps every other person who has been allowed to follow a self-employment pathway has become gainfully self-employed quite easily by themselves, and without any prior business experience.

I won’t further discuss the gnawing sadness I felt at this second and final refusal of help. It does nothing for my eternally diminished sense of ego – yes, this is me with a diminished ego!

Perhaps you think I’m neglecting to share some part of the story? That they would agree to help if I wasn’t so…? 

I hope you can accept the answer is simply, “If I wasn’t so hopeless” –

But owning a business is SO NEW to me… And before I can receive advice from either the job centre or their associated schemes, I have to make it work alone.

But maybe that’s as it should be. They will have no part to claim in my success because they will never have aided me.

I will endeavour not to be made spiteful by such things, but again, it is a sense of humiliation. Also, however, it is a loss for other start ups who could benefit from my skills as a digital marketer – I speak, of course, in reference to my offer to support others on the self employment pathway with free digital marketing consultancy and assistance.

So, I’ll get on with the offers I want to make to those local papers and publications. And I will consider how not to sound like a scammer…

I am also considering how to begin a YouTube channel and use it to include presentations of the possibilities available with great copy – a channel I can refer potential clients to and also include as an extra resource on my website.

It’s pointless having a dedication to the “law of averages” when I don’t have the best version of my value proposition to share with those I am contacting – it’s also pointless spending forever considering this value proposition because I needed it done yesterday. So many yesterdays since.

But, again, this is my impatience. And I need to get on with the best, short scripts I can, along with the Canva presentations I’ll need to use for video.

Still a long road yet, but at least it’s an open road!

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Break Through the Babel of Your Competitors

The goal isn’t simply to gain a purchase from a customer, but to gain and KEEP their loyalty

My target audience is compromised of individuals with small businesses trading online. These businesses include independent fashion brands, sustainable brands, artists and crafts persons.

Key to understanding the motives of my customers will be studying their industries, competitors and other related products available to them, such as those also focused on building small business influence and success –

These alternative products (including but not limited to other copywriters) are my competition, and whichever one of us presents the best value proposition will win business from small business owners searching the market.

I will focus my initial efforts on researching and thoroughly understanding three of the main online industries, which I’ve already listed above: Small fashion brands, sustainable brands, and art and crafts work.

When I began to build my own business, much of my initial research gleamed much the same in way of motivations, limitations and aspirations for my target audience as for myself:

  • To gain a wider online influence
  • To stand out from my competitors
  • To increase my market share
  • To become a leader in my industry

But each industry has its own additional factors and nuances, and to cater properly to my target audiences, I must commit to discovering them all.

Much more research is therefore vital for any MASSIVE, and effective action to take place – my value proposition has to be both prolific and strongly relevant.

Every brand requires an authentic BRAND VOICE in order to be heard amongst the babel of their competitors –

And if your brand STANDS FOR SOMETHING which RESONANTES with your target audience such as:

  • Good quality fashion produced by UK designers (for fashion lovers wanting to support local brands)
  • Eco-friendly products sourced fairly from suppliers and which respect the Earth and all its inhabitants (for the ethically conscious)
  • Locally produced artwork and crafts work (for supporters of artistic creators and lovers of unique, beautiful things)

Then proclaim your brand’s MISSION from the metaphorical rafters!

Business is EARNED through:

  • FANTASTIC SALES SPACES (such as online shops featuring excellent user experience)
  • SHARP, CUSTOMER-FOCUSED MARKETING (jam-packed full of value, benefits, and in a LANGUAGE your customers can respond to, across a variety of popular SOCIAL PLATFORMS)
  • VALUE PROPOSITIONS which beat those of your competitors (give them what they want, and do it better than anyone else!)

There is (DIY free or paid) customer demographic and psychographic data to discover and assess (in order to further understand your customers means and motivations) by means of research through forums or surveys, and there are particulars such as BRAND TONE and CONTENT VIBE to scrutinise and improve.

Those on ALL BUDGETS must be creative and INNOVATIVE in dealing with the frequent challenges which occur with ever evolving INDUSTRY TRENDS and CUSTOMER TASTES –

And of course, the GOAL isn’t simply to gain a purchase from a customer, but to GAIN and KEEP THEIR LOYALTY and build your brand through ORGANIC MEANS such as WORD OF MOUTH.

It’s a lot to consider for start ups, including my own. And only massive, positive ACTION will see these challenges CONQUERED –

 Action and patience.  

Pressure and time. That and a big goddam poster.

Red

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Ineffective Marketing Material Used Too Infrequently

FATE would have it that the least qualified person in the world’s BEST chance at reasonable employment is to sell words.

Yesterday was an interesting day for critical self-appraisal and for sampling Ben and Jerry’s Banoffee ice-cream (which was also interesting) –

The truth is, my qualification in copywriting means almost nothing. It means a great deal to me, as I learned a great deal studying copywriting, and I earned my certification. 

But in the real world of customers and sales, new copywriters may frequently be bought by means of who they know, not what they know. And with a long history of unemployment and introversion, as I have already shared – I have no network, and no professional network.

My attempts at networking and seeking both voluntary and paid work have been choppy, and this can be blamed on a few things:

  • I’ve never set up a business before and have had some great advice but mostly I’ve had to wing it 
  • My value proposition is obviously all over the place (lack of confidence, experience, connections, business knowledge – I can’t really pin point one reason for this humongous problem)

And most importantly:

  • I haven’t sought to rectify the “Its not what you know, its who you know” problem with MASSIVE action (as Grant Cardone would have insisted)

But like I said, I hadn’t realised the extent of this failure until just recently.

“In times of economic decline [or just super hard times] MASSIVE ACTION is needed”

I’ve spent A LOT of time just trying to sort out this website (I had designed a whole other website which was trash so had to start again from scratch) –

And still, there’s plenty to fix on this, my online home. And on my similarly, semi-constructed social media.

BUT those aren’t the real issues! The #1 issue is my NETWORK –

Its my lack of network which is ensuring my lack of prosperity:

I’ve failed to apply the law of averages appropriately with a strong value proposition – I’ve used ineffective marketing material and I’ve used it too infrequently.

Last night, I started firing out audio messages on Instagram – something I completely forgot was possible. It’s quick but you only have one chance to say what you have to say, and if like me you are good at mumbling and getting words wrong when speaking, you can end up sending an audio message with at least one error in it. I think half my messages included me messing up my words a little even when I was reading them. 

So perhaps this isn’t the most effective way to communicate either, BUT, it is more personal than sending a written message,  and it is a lot quicker than recording and sharing many video messages –

But still I know that video messages, introductions and presentations are deemed the most effective, second only to face-to-face meetings.

On RuPaul’s Drag Race, contestants are tested on a variety of skills including choreography, stand up comedy, singing and acting. I’m yet to see any contestant conquer them all, although there are many excellent, highly skilled individuals who may just have one weakness –

My main strength is my copywriting. Everything else is a huge challenge, ESPECIALLY networking. The one thing I need to do well.

Imposter syndrome came yesterday and told me that because of this, I was, in fact, the LEAST qualified person on the planet to be a copywriter.

How inconvenient it is, therefore, for peace on Earth that Ruth Klempner DARE bring chaos by means of farfetched schemes and BLATANT overambitiousness?

It is the hand of fate. 

FATE would have it that the least qualified person in the world’s BEST chance at reasonable employment is to sell words.

I responded in various ways to this scary conclusion, but none of them have included throwing in the towel.

I know exactly what I’ve done wrong and why after almost a year, my business has still not started.

Its not that I can’t do it, its that no one knows me enough to trust or vouch for me. And how many times have I already admitted to that in this blog!

SO – MASSIVE ACTION IS NEEDED!

I need to pull on my best and brightest personalised messaging and marketing pants (with matching hat of course) and with a Value Proposition which makes irresistible sense and which works, I need to find my clients…

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

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Voluntary Copywriter Proposal to Job Centres in Sheffield

Be unreasonable.

Grant Cardone

The following is the voluntary copywriter proposal I put to Job Centres in Sheffield via a direct message to my work coach (who is my only contact at the job centre).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And honestly, it is a good deal for everyone – so hopefully whoever makes decisions will think so too.

Or is this more mad optimism? Possibly – but more claimants (customers) becoming financially independent is good for job centre employee targets. 

I’m offering a valuable service – for free – to others just like me! And I’d be delighted to be able to help other new, low-budget, small business owners –

I’ve been planning what manner of  voluntary proposals to also make in my intro videos. Its difficult because many organisations simply do not understand the value of a voluntary copywriter, and that is my fault.

Employees or other volunteers charged with creating words for web e.g. website content, social media and blog posts are able to continue with effectively or not these tasks. And a new person coming out of nowhere offering to do it for free may seem like a waste of effort to organise –

I spoke about value propositions in my last blog post, and that is what I need to consider now.

I really need to build trust and goodwill, and I started doing this in September last year for Striver.online. I need to make unique offers which accurately communicate my value to a business or other organisation –

I should think about who I mostly want to work with and for, and show my enthusiasm and understanding of their aims and objectives, and exactly what I can do to help them achieve them.

I’ve looked up e.g. “LGBT Sheffield” many times but Sheffield certainly isn’t known for its thriving gay scene… I contacted one (of the few) organisations representing and hosting many LGBTQ+ individuals and events and asked if they had any start ups or entrepreneurs in their organisation who could benefit from free digital marketing. My message, however, went unacknowledged. Perhaps I will send them a video message…

I already contacted a large homelessness charity who after some Zooms and discussion then agreed to take me on as a marketing volunteer – perhaps about 9 months ago and are yet to give me any work.

But this is also my fault – I haven’t been contacting enough businesses or organisations, I’ve been building my website and blog, and writing to businesses instead of meeting or video messaging them.

I want to help the working class and the underrepresented groups, and have not found much joy, but I need to try harder –

I want to write for the new business owners on the self-employment pathways at job centres (in South Yorkshire and beyond) to help them grow and prosper, and I have given my proposal. It is now in the hands of whoever decides things at the job centre.

I want to write for small and independent business owners to help their business fulfil their great potential! And I will –

Life and work is snakes and ladders  – but we’re all still in the game!

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Let’s Discuss Value Proposition

Customer loyalty is earned, not owed

I was recently corresponding with a small business owner about her frustration in losing business to a larger, and cheaper competitor.

To be frank, I will say that this small business owner appeared to be very entitled.

For the sake of discussion, let’s call her “Anna” (not her real name). 

Anna believed that because she spent time discussing her product with a customer that it was “unfair” when this same customer had then chosen to get the same item cheaper elsewhere.

Informing her of their expressed decision, the customer left and took their money with them.

Our correspondence took place via social media, under a post proclaiming:

“McDonald’s can mess up your order 1000 times and you still support them. A small business owner makes one mistake and you bash them for eternity.”

My immediate response was as follows:

“So what is McDonald’s doing right which many small businesses are not? Providing a quick, cheap satisfying service. This is not a feasible business model for most small businesses, so how else can small biz owners provide an irresistible service? If customers are not returning following a mistake then that is not the fault of corporate giants, but of small businesses themselves not offering irresistible value or service. 

This is a problem which can be rectified by increasing value and improving service. So how can small biz owners increase their value and improve their service?

Great question! And some excellent food for thought for all small business owners, including myself.”

Refusing to share any more information about her business (other than that she charges £5 more for one of her products than her competitors), Anna reasoned that her terrific reviews prove that she provides excellent customer service, and that there is nothing she can do to improve her value proposition to customers.

“In the last 2 weeks I’ve had to give customers my knowledge that they can’t get in the big stores only for then to say I can get it £5 cheaper and go buy from them which is very unfair of a person when you’ve spent half an hour giving them your time and knowledge” – Anna

When challenged to share a quick fix for her problem and the problem of many small business owners with big corporate competitors, I explained that Value Proposition can only be increased with:

  • Thorough and informed study of the small business, its products, its competition and the industry and therefore the customers it serves

I asked if losing business to bigger completion was a frequent problem for Anna – which would indicate a great need to increase value proposition for her – and she replied that actually her business is doing well, but that she was thinking more about small businesses which were not doing so well.

It is true that you can have a wonderful small business with excellent reviews and still lose custom to bigger business – in truth, it happens all the time.

“Supporting small businesses” is a practice which is apart from regular bargain hunting.

  • The very choice to support a small, local business owner and therefore to support local economy is part of the value proposition of a small, local business itself
  • Supporting local businesses gives many customers a sense of loyalty and pride

But purchases need to be worth the extra investment, and often “pride in supporting a small business” does not bridge the price gap between large and small companies and their price differential –

Without any further information about Anna’s business, except that it is generally “doing well”, it is likely that she presents a good quality sales environment, and that she provides helpful customer service. 

The customer who took their business elsewhere may simply have rejected the notion of “supporting local business” as a given obligation (this relates back to my sense of Anna’s entitlement to local customer loyalty) –

And despite Anna having kindly offered her time and expertise to describe the product and its uses (a free courtesy you could expect from any proud, small business owner), the customer was not bought.

Perhaps there was:

  • An addition service Anna could have offered with her product e.g. a valuable guarantee?
  • Another improvement she could have made to her sales environment (did it communicate value, welcome and expertise?)
  • A special offer for future purchases granted upon purchase of this initial product?

Without more information about Anna’s products, competition and industry, it is hard to say. But it should be clear to all small business owners, including myself:

  • We are each responsible for the value propositions we offer to customers
  • Customer loyalty is earned not owed
  • There is ALWAYS room for improvement with a small business and its products
  • Blaming big business and their cheap prices does not remove the responsibility a business owner has to present a competitive (not a cheaper) alternative to customers
  • There is usually no “quick fix” – dedicated small business owners must be prepared to assess their business models critically in order to improve them

Understanding Value Proposition is essential to every small business owner’s success.

I will continue to discuss this topic in further posts.

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