Why I Subscribe To Thirty Different Magazines

Yes, I said thirty magazines! Every day or so, a new issue lands in my mail box and is immediately opened and read. I also use the digital versions that come with my Texture subscription (check Texture out. It's like Netflix for magazines) bookmarking advertising that interests me, or that I think a client might learn from. After working with Edible Nashville magazine, I've learned how much value this style of reading brings to my professional life.

My love of publications started when I was in middle school. My (very glamorous) Italian teacher used to have her class create collages from Italian fashion magazines to help us learn colors and nouns. I got the bug right then, and have spent the better part of my life buying, reading, and collecting magazines from around the world.

Why magazines? Well, here are a few great reasons to enjoy them guilt free:

  • You're a busy professional/parent/person. Magazines offer bite sized, relevant editorials about any topic you're interested in. A magazine doesn't require the commitment of a book, but may suggest the best books for you to be reading.
  • You can filter by industry. So for example, if you have a client in the home design business, you can stay on top of trends in that field by reading a few home, architecture or decorating magazines per quarter or month.
  • Magazines are inspiring. New ideas, thought leaders, design trends, and cultural shifts are documented in a stylish package that can be recycled when you're finished with it. 
  • Print advertising isn't dead. Not by a long shot. Magazines keep me informed about what major agencies and brands are creating, adding another dimension of value for me. 

So, there it is. Feel free to subscribe, read and enjoy as many magazines as you have time for. They add value, style and information for you, as well as insight into your clients' industries and fields. 

 

Competitive, No. Complimentary, Yes!

One of the best things about working for myself is that I can plan my time to suit my home life. I can choose to work from home between client meetings, and my schedule is mine to set. Of course, there's also a down side. I'm a natural collaborator and I thrive on the energy and ideas that come from being part of a team. This makes working from home lonely at times, plus there's no-one around to bounce ideas with, or to talk shop, or ask advice from.

The solution to my dilemma came in an extremely simpatico way. I stumbled across a new women's networking group called Mod Nashville. I decided to reach out to one of the founders of the group, Kirsty Hughan, and discovered we have a lot in common. You know that instant "click" that happens when you connect with a like-minded individual? 

We both work as independent marketing consultants, so you would think we'd have been cautious, because on the surface, we are each other's competition. No, no and no! What we discovered is that we are extremely complimentary, and bring a lot of different skills to our (sometimes) shared table. Kirsty has her clients and I have mine. Sometimes we are able to refer jobs to each other when we hear about opportunities. We meet to simply work together at a coffee shop, or at home, which solves the fatigue of working alone. 

There will always be competition, and this is essential to staying aware by learning what other people are doing better, or differently, to you. Finding the complimentary is also essential because your complimentary competitors will enhance what you do, share resources and help you recognize your flaws as well as moments of brilliance. I say YES to that.

 

Stop Giving It Away, Lessons From Taylor Swift

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As an independent consultant, one of the issues I face on a regular basis is how to charge my clients appropriately for the services I provide. When economic times are tough, marketing is usually the first budget cut a company will make. When times are booming, it’s still sometimes tough to demonstrate the value of what an experienced marketing strategist offers. It can look easy from the outside, but folks, if it were easy, everyone would do it.

By now you’ve read or heard about Taylor Swift’s letter to Apple, where she called for the corporation to pay all the artists on its streaming service the royalties they’re entitled to. “We don’t ask you for free iPhones,” she wrote. “Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

Within hours, Apple responded by announcing it would pay royalties on all music, even for the three-month free trials being offered to new subscribers. All hail the power of T Swift.

When I speak with other freelancers, whether they are digital marketing specialists, writers, or designers, there’s a common thread when it comes to creating proposals for new clients. Firstly, we want them to be excited and impressed with our ideas for their business. Secondly, we don’t want to give our ideas away in the pitch, only to learn we have been left out of implementing them. Here are three ways to avoid giving it away:

  1. Make your fee structure clear and easy to understand. A vague answer to your potential client’s question about how you charge will not serve either of you.

  2. Know what kind of billing works for you. Whether it’s an hourly rate, a monthly retainer or a by-project fee, consider exactly how your time and expenses need to be factored, and charge accordingly.

  3. Know your worth. Someone else will always charge a lower or higher rate than you. Commit to your rates and don’t under quote for fear of missing out. Stand by your work and make sure you and your client are both clear about expectations and delivery.

We may not have the powers of Taylor Swift, but we can take care to protect our ideas and deliver what we promise - quality work.

 

How Not To Annoy Your Customers. A Case Study In Successful Email Marketing.

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I opened my email this morning to discover yet another message from a shopping website I used on one occasion. This company has sent me seven emails this week. Seven emails! Way too much information, so I opted out from ANY communication from them because it was annoying. Like the virtual version of a sales associate trailing me around a store while I’m clearly browsing and would like to be left alone until I ask for assistance.

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your business, retain customers and market new services and products as you roll them out. But there’s a fine line between helpful information and special offers, and an inbox full of emails that ironically turn into junk mail. Not the objective, right?

One of my clients, Melissa Rhodes, owns and manages two of Nashville’s most successful day and medi spas, Glow Skincare and Ona Ultimate Skincare. In my opinion, she has the email marketing formula just right, so I asked her about the reasons behind her communication strategy. This is how, and why, she does it:

  1. Melissa emails her database of customers once a month with special offers and new services. “I think more than one email a month leads to less people actually reading them,” says Melissa. I agree. Too much information sent too frequently is overwhelming and counter-productive.

  2. Melissa and her teams use specific products and aim to provide the best skin care and wellbeing for each client. This highly personalized service means her focus is on customer retention as well as attracting new business, which is a great mix.

  3. Her emails are relevant, offer value to customers both current and new, and promote the latest services and technologies the day spas use, which is all the emails need to convey. As a result, Melissa can see that her clients are actually READING and CLICKING THROUGH to make appointments and stay loyal.

So there you have it. Once again, the saying Less Is More is proven to be true. If you need some help refining your email marketing strategy, send me an email or pick up the phone. I’d love to show you how to communicate with your clients without cluttering their inbox and missing the point.

 

Why Working A Service Industry Job Is The Best Training You’ll Get Paid To Receive

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When I launched In House Consulting, it was in response to my freelance clients’ need for marketing support that went beyond updating social media and writing blogs. I love to help make short, mid and long term plans with business owners and get creative with ways to develop or stabilize their growth, discover new collaborative opportunities, and investigate what other like-minded people are doing that we can learn from.

The most surprising element for me is watching self-starting, successful entrepreneurs declare that selling and sales aren’t their strong point.

I am asked to work on pitches and presentations more and more often, and it makes me wonder why it’s still such an intimidating part of the game.

Part of the reason I actually enjoy selling in all its forms (I’m part of the 1% of the world’s population who likes to cold call - it’s the challenge of making friends in 3 minutes without eye contact, I think!) is directly linked to the years I spent working in fashion retail.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in my late twenties and worked two part time jobs to support my studies. One was at a boutique PR company as a writer and assistant to the Managing Director and the other was at an iconic Australian fashion retailer, where I was expected to make individual and group sales quotas daily, weekly and monthly. I loved that job, not just because it paid well and kept me well-dressed on a student’s budget, but because retail taught me confidence, patience, how to (literally) think on my feet and most importantly, how to sell.

Anyone who has worked in the service industry will attest that there is no better training for sales, client relationships, and team building. If you’re really lucky, you will have worked under a largely incompetent store manager or three, and learned how NOT to treat your team and lose your employees respect and trust.

I’m saving the best for last. No one leaves a retail gig without at least one life-long friendship. Years after you’ve left retail behind, or if you’ve moved into the corporate end of the retail world, you will have stories and memories forged by working together in some tough, human, and crazy conditions. Fitting room duty will make for hilarious anecdotes. The skills you learned, especially the selling, will cross over wherever you land professionally.

 

Nashville Is Booming, Three Ways To Get In On The Growth

Nashville Is Booming, Three Ways To Get In On The Growth

Whether your business is growing on par with Nashville's economy, or you are one of the hundreds of owner managed small businesses opening in response to the population surge, there are fun ways to get in on the growth, make relevant connections, and stay on top of opportunities, in this, the Golden Age Of Nashville.