October 2010 archive

Why I’m happy working on a Sunday!

Afternoon everyone, I’m writing this having enjoyed my extra hour this morning reading the Sunday papers and indulging in a few cups of tea!

Because I run my own business, I’m always juggling my work time and prioritising what to do next.

I am Chair of the Dundee & Angus businesswomen’s network group: Women Ahead and today am fitting in some work for the group which I never get a chance to do during the week.

Our latest event led to me being seated beside one of the leading women in UK business: Lady Susan Rice who is Managing Director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland.  She gave a Masterclass presentation to a joint lunch that we ran with the Chamber of Commerce and was an inspiring speaker. We heard about her career path and the qualities she believed had helped her to her success in business. I was inspired by her speech and a couple of the things which struck very true for me were:

  • in business, HOW we get there is as important as the end goal
  • we need to be ADAPTABLE, THINK FOR OURSELVES & ENGAGE with others
  • we need to SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES & be QUICK where possible

So here I am, at my desk on a Sunday, updating the Women Ahead members’ database, sending some thank you emails to attendees and updating the website with new events. Being Chair of the group has expanded my own network, let me help the group by adding my event management skills to the mix of committee members and I willingly give my own time to forming a great programme of events for the members. We also raise money each year for a chosen charity, and this year we are supporting Breast Cancer Care.  In August, we held a Strawberry Tea where we raised £1500 PLUS Gift Aid, and we are in the middle of planning our Awards Event where we will add to the charity kitty by holding a raffle & auction.

Anyway, enough from me – I only came onto my blog to accept a comment on a previous post! I think that what is important in this tale is that you never know how you will get your next shot of inspiration when you run a small business, especially if you are working on your own. Its vital to attend events and network, you never know who you will meet or what you will pick up that will drive your business forward.

I hope you have a great Halloween,

Alison x

Marketing a small business in 2011 – ten tips

I am going through the process of updating my own marketing plan (its ALWAYS much easier to be objective and create marketing strategies for other people!) and it has made me think about & question some of the things which I do routinely to promote my business.

So I’m going to put these down into a list – its by no means a top 10, must do action for every business, but I hope that reading this will give food for thought and encourage you do make conscious decisions to try something new to add to what you do already.

The important thing is to make sure you are consistent, use a few of these things together to give an integrated marketing approach and plan ahead to target the right audiences.

2011 is coming up on us very fast and November is traditionally a busy month in business – do you have an eye on what will happen to your revenue in the New Year? Now is the time to lay those foundations and get your marketing plan written now so that you can be ahead of your competition and hit the ground running after the festive period.

  1. IDENTIFY your target audiences
  2. UNDERSTAND what messages will work most effectively for them
  3. attend some NETWORKING events to promote your business to the right audiences
  4. create an OFFER which you can promote to your audiences
  5. use ONLINE marketing tools: website, blogs, facebook, twitter, articles
  6. use your EMAIL SIGNATURE to promote the main message you are communicating
  7. arrange some FACE-TO-FACE meetings to explore future orders
  8. think about what news your company has which would be interesting to send as PRESS RELEASES
  9. find out if there are any opportunities to give PRESENTATIONS to groups
  10. be CONSISTENT, communicate REGULARLY and be CLEAR about your story

If you are clear about what you are going to do, then it makes it much easier to follow through on your actions and create the momentum that you need to have a brilliant 2011.

We’ve only got 10 weeks of 2010 left, so make the most of it and PLAN AHEAD :)


Alison x

Why I launched a business called My Pinkie Promise

 Banner design

Morning, its a dreich day in Dundee this morning, but I am looking forward to a business lunch with someone I respect immensely in the local business community. My thoughts as a small business owner are turning to 2011 and what that will mean for my business. I know that I need to drive it forward and be in control – something which I have come to realise is a strong motivator for me now that I run my own company.

I’ve been telling my ‘how I came to be in business’ story a lot over the last 18 months or so and sometimes the conversation comes round to how I chose the name. So that has inspired me to blog about it.

I knew when I launched my business that I wanted a strong brand which would stand out from the crowd. I was also very aware that I should consider having the kind of name that ‘does what it says on the tin’ but lets face it, Alison Henderson Event Management & Marketing Consultants makes a horrific web address, and an even worse email one. I’d need to give out 12-inch rulers as business cards!

So we sat down as a family (me, my husband Jimmy & my son Fraser) and had a bit of a think. We came up with loads of names and one of them really caught my imagination. For all of you out there with children, I’m guessing you are more used to the whole intertwining pinkie finger thing which is a binding promise to your child to take them to the cinema/football/park or whatever kind of activity you promised to do, that you double-promise to follow through on. Well, my husband ALWAYS did this with our son (it was their thing) and I loved the whole concept of it. Of course we could always have called the company ‘Cross Your Heart’ (for all you oldies out there who remember Playtext bras!) but its not got quite the same ring to it.

I knew that for me it symbolised how I would follow through on promises to my clients and it had a very strong and quirky feel to it.

So I began the process of working on the branding with my designer. I gave him a design brief (because its so important to be clear to your designer on what you want) and we began to design the logo, colour palette and business cards. I’ve never been a pink girly type of person so in the beginning I wanted greens & blues (?) but to give him his due he persuaded me to also look at a pink/grey/silver option. We also looked at quite a few font types – you need to carefully choose your business fonts to fit in with the messages you are portraying in your brand communications.

So after a couple of revisions to my branding, we were done.

When the file went away to the printers it was agonising: what if I didn’t like what we had come up with?

It was like the birth of a baby – a bit of fun at the beginning (just as well it started with my husband!), an incubation period with the designer where the brand grew and changed shape, then the birth of a brand with the delivery of my first business cards. I was (and still am) so excited by the whole process.

When I collected my cards, the printer said that they would display the cards on the wall in the shop because they were one of the most striking cards they had ever produced!

My Pinkie Promise Business Cards

What is great about the business brand, is that it makes people interested in what you do, want to know more and it stands out from all of the other business cards in a pack. There is one big drawback: I’ve never won a business card draw….it must be subliminal. But I can live with that.

What’s also very important for me is that I have a strong brand which I can use to create a suite of sub-brands when I am ready to do so.

I also love to work with businesses: bringing their brands to life, helping them create strong strategic marketing foundations and marketing materials which have punch! I am very fortunate to work with a really amazing & talented bunch of people who are very good at understanding what design & print that I need for my clients. They run their own small businesses and understand the challenges that we all face, which makes them adaptable, quick to respond and deliver when they say they will.

Sometimes a client will wonder why I place so much importance on setting out their brand values, creating a mission statement and understanding what makes them tick. But a business which understands what it believes in, where it is going and how to describe itself, creates an immensely strong impression to the outside & inside world. We all need a vision!