Create a Kick-Ass Brand
What a fantastic workshop yet again! So last week, it was time for the 4th workshop of this amazing course which helps female entrepreneurs scale their business to new heights. The day began as usual with a 'check-in' session for us all to see how everyone has been since the last session on self-care. I was excited to share that I had been much more active than I'd ever been before with my morning workouts 5 times a week, eating healthy and ultimately learning how to manage my time better which is my main focus at the moment. The programme organisers have actually asked me to share what I have learned in some of the self-development books I've been reading and will be doing one of the '30min Hack Session' that we have on the course to sum up the main points of the books with evidence of how they have directly helped me. Can't wait for that! I'll do a blog about it soon as even my clients have seen all of my notes on the wall and admit they ned a technique to help them GET THINGS DONE :)
Back to last week's workshop. After everybody checked in, we brought back some of the stuff we learned last session on brand values to get a better understanding of which of our values are clear, which ones need to shine more and also which values do shine but which we are not aware of. We did this by standing up and speaking for 1 minute about why we started our business in the most normal and honest way possible. We then checked to see if the rest of the group could guess what our values were. I spoke about how I started BLB due to the frustration of not finding anyone that could give me a great set of lashes without the damage and knowledgable aftercare advice so set out to be the best lash tech I could be ensuring that I'm constantly training and learning the best skills possible for my clients. I was pleased to see some of values were clear (quality, passionate, personal growth) and super happy to see some new ones emerge (recognition, empowerment).
It was time for Brand and Marketing expert Julia Homayounnejad to take over and help us understand more about how to create a kick-ass brand, specifically how digital has impacted the way consumers buy. Julia focused on how we can master the customer decision journey to choosing a brand as the level of transparency is now high and marketers can advertise on a multi-channel platform. Long gone are the days where a consumer would watch a TV advert making them aware of let's say a new McVitie's biscuit range, before popping out and speaking to the neighbour who says they love the new biscuits as they dunk it in their tea, then notices a billboard which shows you can get 2 for 1, before then going into the supermarket and buying that brand of biscuits at Tesco collecting points using their Tesco Clubcard. It's just not that linear anymore!
The difference now with the average consumer is that after one touch point, they will usually research everywhere else online before purchase and using various devices. In fact, it is now normal to watch TV whilst having a smartphone in your hand, the desktop nearby and the iPad on your lap all being used simultaneously.
"Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points" - Jonah Sachs
Luckily, the subject of consumer decision making processes is something I've been aware of when I started my business and from the start, I ensured I was on as many online platforms as possible. My MSc in Marketing's Branding Module taught me how important 'touchpoints' are. A great book I remember reading for this module is 'Build a Brand in 30 Days' by Simon Middleton and is the best book I've read on branding so far. The smallest stimulus can ignite a desire/ want for a product or service in a matter of seconds and now that we are overloaded with so much information and potential stimulus, it is extremely important for us to understand how and where to advertise. Julia reminded me that the new journey begins where the proposition is relevant and this is proving to be true with potential clients for lashes and brows. Really understanding WHEN my clients decide they want lashes and brows is crucial and I do understand better now that I've been in business for over a year. Holidays, weddings and birthdays are currently the top 3 reasons why my clients have booked a service. I ask the reason why they want the service booked on a form and ask them to specify the occasion if they ticked 'special occasion' as opposed to or in addition to 'daily wear'.
Although almost all clients (90% client retention) then continue coming back for regular additional services after this holiday, birthday or wedding, it is important for me to target potential clients during these specific moments in their lives to get them through the door! I am now definitely looking into being a little more specific with this question on the form as those who tick 'daily wear' might still have had a 'aha! I need lashes/brows' moment. But what Julia highlighted was how likely it will happen at a time the consumer actually needs what you're offering which I've managed to gain an understanding from in some consultations e.g. "So I cried at work one time after a stressful day and had mascara running all down my face and I thought that's it! I need lash extensions!' or 'I accidentally wiped one of my brows off on a date and wondered why he was staring at me funny the whole time and thought that's it! I NEED semi permanent brows". I think it will be extremely useful to add something like 'What is your main reason for booking this treatment today?'. Of course once your consumer realise they need you, they will Google whatever it is you're offering so Julia then showed as this amazing Google advert to show more about how these 'micro moments' play out in real life situations.
So... how the hell do I know when people's birthdays are or when they're planning a holiday or when they are looking to tie the knot eh? Well I'm now looking into partnering up with other relevant companies. For example, in the hunt for brides-to-be, bridal shops will have brides coming in at a time when they have started planning their wedding. From my basic research, brides usually buy their dress an average of 9 months before wedding date. This is also usually around the time they start looking for a beautician and hair stylist to 'trial' different looks so it's at this precise moment that I need to jump in and say "HELLO! I can make you look beautiful for your big day :)" But of course stalking brides to be as they leave the shop wouldn't really be the best idea so the idea is to go in with some business cards and perhaps offering a special 'bridal' experience (not discounts as this is the one time in their life they are NOT looking to cut costs) and this way, the staff at the shop would sell them the service a little more as they want their clients to be looked after.
I'm still thinking about ways to target the birthday and holiday crew but I'll get there and this workshop has definitely confirmed my thoughts on this! :)
The moment this not-so-linear journey starts however is the moment they book or the first contact made whether through email, text, call etc. I always try to ensure that the first ever contact right through to the end of the service goes as smoothly as possible and especially the aftercare as so many beauticians after they have finished their service leave you 'hanging'. I sometimes send a quick text to see how lashes or brows are doing or how the holiday, birthday was etc or a courtesy call to say 'thank you for the lovely review'. This is because I genuinely care and want them to look their best for special occasions and although I don't have much time now to do it as much as I'd like, I try my best to look after my clients before, during and after a Bella Lash Brow experience!
Target Audience - Be specific!
Consumers nowadays scroll through social media and browse online a lot and although as marketers "we cannot create a need" rather we can highlight their 'wants', it is important we are constantly marketing on these platforms as much as possible. Hashtags are also important as many of my clients had admitted to searching a specific hashtag e.g. 'eyelash extensions' as they knew at that point they wanted their lashes done. Some however say they stumbled across a photo of my work on their Facebook or Instagram timeline and never even thought about getting lash extensions done but because the photo looked so good, they looked into it further. Both of these consumers will go onto further investigation of Bella Lash Brow usually the website first which acts as the anchor to the brand and then wherever else especially my online reviews (which in itself is marketing as Google ranks liked business higher).
The following shows the importance of understanding your product or service's propositions so you can better target your target consumers:
Julia then explained how each of these consumers's decision jouney looks and by understanding this, we can better target them in the relevant times they need the product service, via the right mediums and partner up with the right brands they are exposed to!
Bella Lash Brow
Service Propositions -
Bella Lash Brow offers the ultimate eyelash and eyebrow experience with Individual Eyelash Extensions in either MINK or SILK fibres in either CLASSIC or VOLUME styles as well as offering the hottest new semi permanent eyebrow trend, MICROBLADING!
Now of course this is just a snippet of what I know about my ideal client and 'Emma' is who I target everyday. The fact that I actually fit into my target audience I don't think is a coincidence as I am keen to give women what I felt was missing for me as a consumer and I believe I know what these women want. Needless to say, every single person that may be outside of their target is still treated with the same level of high respect but this workshop reinforced the importance of being clear about your target audience so you can better tailor your marketing. Brands that try and target EVERYONE fail or eventually go bust due to extremely high marketing budget for something that is simply not possible. Now that I will be branching off to Bella Lash Brow ACADEMY (more on this soon) I will have to decide on who my target audience is and market differently.
Head, Heart, Hands and Feet
It was then time for Sarah to go through a fun and interesting activity before we shared our skills and created a 'Skill Swap Shop'. The activity was to help us understand more about our qualities and what we can offer others as well as ourselves for our business. Sarah started by getting us to close our eyes and rate by a show of hands out of 10 how much we think we are good at helping others but also also how good we are at asking for help. I was surprised to learn that I showed 8 out of 10 for asking for help. When I come to think of it, I ask people for help all the time! I reach out to friends, family and even strangers which is how I get so much useful business advice from very knowledgable people. However when thinking about how much I help others, I don't do it enough! I showed a 5 for this as over the last year or so I never have time and definitely need to MAKE time as it's not fair to expect help and never give back.
We then were asked to think of qualities we posses from our heads, hearts, hands and feet. Each body part represented a category in which the qualities are relevant to which was so actually so useful to ensure your business values align with the person you actually are! I remember really trying to separate me as a person to the company when I first started but I'm now realising that it's simply not possible. I drive my business and my business drives me! (crazy at times)! We're a good team :)
Our work was then passed around to each other to see what points people find interesting as these are the qualities people are drawn to so must be highlighted through brand story telling/ marketing. It was interesting to find out it was my heritage, my future goals of motivating young women and my love of partying that most were drawn to! Apart from my future goals, I need to definitely speak more of where I'm from and that I'm fluent in Italian and show off my party animal side! Haha! All within reason of course :)
So then we moved over to the other side of the room and sat in groups of 3 to begin skill/advise swapping! One person had a question, one person would answer and one person was the mediator. I sat in the group with Helen the mediator and Rose who asked her question first in the allocated 1 minute who spoke about her struggle with creating a great logo. I then had 1 minute to press further and be clear about what she needed. I then had 2 minutes to advise on what I thought in which I was excited to tell her about 99designs.com and showed her my logo and shared my great experience. We then swapped groups and I was given some great advise by Niela who helped me with my question about how much time to dedicate to client work vs. creating workshops for young teens. It was so helpful to understand that I first need to decide what an ideal week looks like for me and how many days I'd be happy to dedicate to each! Funnily enough, I never actually thought of it this way and focused on what time and finances would allow me to do. It was a great reminder that I am in fact in control and once I decide what it is I actually want, I will work towards that!
We then put two of our skills we could offer up on the wall and each of us picked two skills we would find useful. I picked up a 1hr session with organiser Helen and Rose's session on how to sleep better which I'm looking forward to! Natalie picked up my skill of helping with website design and looking forward to that also. We have gone on to create a Google Spreadsheet to enter all our skills and decide on dates/times etc to meet through our Whatsapp group we created which is truly so helpful!
The 4-Hour Workweek
The lovely Helen then gathered us around to listen to her 30-min Hack, a section of each workshop dedicated to summing up a great business book. This week is was all about 'The 4-Hour Workweek' by Tim Ferriss who also has other self-help books e.g. 'The 4-Hour Body' and 'The 4-Hour Chef'. His main point in this book is that we should work 10x harder in each hour to achieve the best possible results in all that we do. Tim wrote the book after working 14hour shifts at his sports nutrition company and was frustrated with the overwork and lack of free time.
1. "Scared? Get over it!"
Helen explained that the first point to understand for Tim was to 'define fear' and ask yourself "What's the worst that can happen?". So many people fear change and only a few actually implement their dreams into reality but we must first get over this fear and weigh the pros and cons. Tim feels it's likely we might even find a few cons but these cons shouldn't stop us at least trialling our idea. Helen showed us an example of somebody really pushing fear out of the way in the form of a book called "Cycling home from Siberia" by Rob Lilwall who travelled 30,000 miles over 3 and a half years with few belongings and his trusted bike. Wow! Now what was that thing that I was so scared about doing...?
2. "Make your money work for you"
Tim's next point is all about automating your income. One easy example given was to 'create a product', 'licence a product', 'resell a product'. A great example of this is in action can be seen on printfull.com who buy a t-shirt from Ali Express for £3, can customise it for you for £15 in which you then sell as merchandise for £30. 'Automate' is actually one of the headings on my wall of 'things to do' right now and part of the categories which my tasks are checked against (more on this next week as part of my very own 30min hack session). Anything we can automate, we really should and now that I'm looking into selling my own branded products online, the process explained above is definitely something I'll be putting to the test :)
This is also up on the wall and I try so hard to put tasks under this heading asking myself 'Does this really need to be done at all?". After all, "effectiveness is doing the tasks that get you closer to your goals!". Yes there are tasks that we do not want to do but still have to but I'm really trying to focus on the 'effective' tasks. This task here of writing a blog I've procrastinated on sometimes due to other tasks being more effective to get me to where I want to be but important all the same as it's allowing me to process everything I learned in this great course and ensuring I'm not just going to let my notes collect dust. Whilst also helping others get a better understanding of their business of course :)
It was a useful reminder that 80% of outputs come from 20% of inputs and to be able to focus on this important 20%, "you need to adopt a low information diet and Cultivate Selective Ignorance"! This is proving to be so true for me! Booking clients in is something I do not have time for and so have made it extremely easy for clients to do this themselves by having a booking widget on my website, a booking widget on my Facebook page and a branded Bella Lash Brow FREE app. I have also taken the time to write as many FAQ's as I can think of on my website in a clear, detailed fashion so clients can research what they are interested in, look at my work across al social media platforms (embedded in website) and select a service and time/date. This 20% of input a month- booking next appointment in before client leaves, updating website info, posting a photo/video of every client regularly on social media produces the majority of the outcome.
Although, in rare cases, clients may have a question very specific to them in which I am happy to answer, questions such as "What's the difference between a half or full set" or "When's your next availability?" must be ignored by sending them the link to the relevant website page. It would mean all my hard work was for no reason and is something I simply do not struggle with anymore as these clients free up space for the self-sufficient clients who end up fitting right into my target audience and are fantastic to serve at each and every appointment long term :)
4. "If you don't have the time for it, someone else does!"
This is also up on my wall as 'Delegate'. By far, this is the one thing that has made it MUCH easier and infact possible to have productive recent weeks. I am the typical entrepreuneur and think I can do everything and amazing at it too! However, I tried delegating a task to my mum the other day and am on such a roll with this, I want a whole team! The task was simple in that she had to cut paper straw and fit them on to the top of 200-300 spoolie brushes. It turned out she was way quicker than me, completed it in an hour (usually takes me 2), didn't mind doing it for £10ph and simultaneously did it alongside me as I lashed away. The feeling was incredible and now have delegated a few other tasks:
- Design customised email signature- Designer in China who designed my logo is working on this now
- Promo video and photo shoot- The model I'm using referred her photographer/videographer boyfriend and both have agreed to team up with me and date has been set in the next few weeks! Exciting!
- Flyering/ Promo- My foster sister and her best friend now have a weekend job and handing put flyers/business cards locally
- Checking hundreds paper invoices against entries in Xero accounting software for the last year - My amazing accountant has found a freelance bookkeeper who is currently working on this
- House front refurbishment- The outside doesn't look as good as the inside of the studio so I have had two guys from my mechanic's garage come and replace the old wooden frame around the window and paint the ledge. A guy from my local car wash will clean and wash down everything once complete :)
Anybody else want some work for some extra cash, I'm sure I can find more jobs! Please apply haha!
4. Go for £50k working 10 hours pw at £100ph (not £100k working 80 hours pw at £25ph!)
Relative income is also something I've been thinking about heavily. At the moment I know working 50+ hours a week is too much for my ideal work week and I am lucky enough to be able to cut it down if I want to and still earn the same income. It's about pusing my Microblading service (£300 per 2hr treatment) which is of course more than my highest priced lash set at £110 for 2hr treatment). Ideally I'd like 10 microblading clients a week, a few of my regular lash clients and work no more than 24hrs a week on practical work. Instead I'd use the rest of the time to focus on my upcoming training/ skill building projects! It WILL happen once I get a lash tech in to help me with the lash client work load :)
5. Retire. Now.
Ok so maybe we can't retire completely but mini-retirements is a great idea! Tim doesn't believe in working all your life and retiring when your knees don't work properly and you can't really appreciate seeing the world as you would in your 20's or 30's. I didn't take a holiday at all in the first 12months of my business and not even a day off but recently visited Iceland and have Budapest booked for my birthday in May. I've also promised myself I'll be taking a weekend off every month to go and have an adventure somewhere in the UK, phone/computer off and do some 'soul searching' in the middle of nature. After all, what's the point of working so damn hard if you can't enjoy the benefits of it NOW?!
She Says Panel
As usual, we had our 'She Says' panel which included 3 full time business women currently running their business successfully and eager to share tips and advice. We had Maz Cohen, Natasha Tiwari and Kristina Naruseviciute. It was so interesting to hear that they had gone trough similar situations as us and comforting to hear that we can slow down a little when we feel like we just want it all and want to get to the top fast. Businesses who plan to make money quickly will eventually collapse just as building a weak foundation for a house will not hold up it up for too long. Maz reminded us that this plan usually means not sticking to your values and beliefs and she believes that this is way more important. I agree!
The subject of investment then came up and Maz explained how she actually drew her ideal investor on paper. He was fat with a bald head and a cigar hanging from his mouth. She posted this picture on LinkedIn and attended as many networking events as she could. And would you believe? This manifestation worked as an investor liked the homour and offered to invest in her company who was indeed fat, bald and smoked cigars! Someone pass me a pen and paper! Not but honestly when I feel I want an investor on board, I will 100% try this.
Natasha spoke about why she started another business whilst already running Elevare, a successful business on it's own. She was frustrated with not being able to find good Indian designs online when looking for a nice, modern dress to be delivered straight to your door so decided to offer what she felt was missing in the industry. She also highlighted the importance of being aware how much time an online company needs as well as service company as people often thing it doesn't need much effort at all.
The main thing I took away from this panel discussion and workshop in general was the reassurance that the pace I'm going at now is just right and I am more are of how to manage my time which is the key to having a successful business whilst still being happy and sociable. I now realise that being a millionaire before 30 (27 now) might not happen BUT I would rather have a sustainable business which will live longer than my existence and I will have sleep amazingly at night for the rest of days knowing that I did it all with my all my values intact and stepping on nobody's toes along the way....
For those that are asking, the next course is in August and I strongly advise all female entrepreneurs to apply right now!