Marketing Masterclass: Membership Magic

This marketing masterclass will be relevant to anyone whose club needs to attract members to remain vital.

I am delighted to advise I will lead an online Marketing Masterclass. The webinar will be held on 17 June 2018 for District 91 Toastmasters.

What is the focus?

The session will focus on engaging and attracting members to Toastmasters, the public speaking group. However, the principles I developed apply equally successfully to other clubs. In 2015-16, I used them to quintuple membership in Highland Business Women!

How to register:

Here is the link to register: https://events.genndi.com/register/169105139238466700/edaa7c862c

#GDPR stupidity and a masterclass you won’t want to miss

GDPR compliance isn’t rocket science. We can help you learn how to use email marketing post-GDPR.

Last night, just a few hours before the world-ending aka 25th May deadline for GDPR compliance ticked over, I got an email from a graphic designer. And when I say “I” got an email, what I mean is, “we” got an email.

The designer had put at least 500 names in the “To” field of the email address. This irritated me for two main reasons. One, I had never joined his email list or consented to received mail from him. I was not a client or customer of his. Secondly, and rather obviously, by putting several hundred email addresses in the “To” field, he had obviously inadvertently — but nevertheless irresponsibly — shared reams and reams of data.

I saw the email on my phone around 8.30pm. I wrote back, “Do you realise what you have done?”

This morning, a reply:

It was a user error but lesson learned! I don’t even hold data and was just trying to do the right thing!!! [bolding mine]

[“A user error”?? How about, “I’m sorry”?! But anyway.]

Here’s the rub: if he doesn’t “hold any data”, how was he able to email me ?? This crucial component of ’cause and effect’ seemed not to come into consideration.

Later last night, another [I presume “mass”] email, this time, thankfully, with no visible addresses in the “To” field. This one apologising for getting it wrong,

But he still doesn’t get it! Listen to this:

While we don’t keep any data here, we have your email address on file so that you may be contacted with regard to quotes, print deliveries, invoicing or payments and general advice.

It’s hard to imagine, that after all this #GDPR hysteria, this graphic designer simply hasn’t a clue.

And in mentioning contacting you about deliveries etc, he also seems not to grasp the key issue of “legitimate interest”.

A solution: Direct Marketing in the post-GDPR landscape

We’re holding a masterclass in GDPR-compliant direct marketing. If you’re a fan of ethical marketing and want to ensure not only that you stay on the right side of the regulations, but that you also ensure you make the most of the best way to generate business, you won’t want to miss our upcoming masterclass.

If you would be interested in learning how to use direct mail post-GDPR, drop me a line. We’re putting together a masterclass on using email the right way, the compliant way, and most of all, the profitable way. Email me to get on the list. 

PS: If you’d like to read some facts about GDPR, here’s a helpful feature from The Guardian. Good luck! And if you want help with email marketing post-GDPR, sign up for our masterclass.

What’s the word for “fluent in 5 languages”?

Cause that’s us.

We speak English, Canadian, American, Scottish and Irish. (Irish-English, that is.)

Having lived in the British Isles, and Canada, and the States, we’ve become fluent in a range of versions of “English”.

If you want to market to people in Ireland, you can’t speak to them exactly the same way you would speak to people in Cleveland. Ohio. Or, Cleveland, England. (You didn’t know there was more than one, did you? Read on.)

Knowing the subtle variations between these presumably “English-speaking” regions is just one of the ways that we are amazing.

If you’ve got something that pertains to multiple English-language audiences, and need some help with either publicity or marketing, get in touch.

We can craft you a culture-specific sales letter. Or several versions of your value proposition. Need a blog post translated from American to English-English? We’re your man.

We’re not cheap, but we are damn good!

Why “social media marketing” isn’t really marketing

Image of a facebook business page

A tool for some businesses, but is yours one of them?

Social media marketing: business activity. . . or waste of time?

Have you got a Facebook business page? Did you know that, on average, only 1 in 10 of your followers will see a post from your page?

“Social media marketing” may be a popular term, but the impact on the average business has been less than dramatic. Sure, it makes business owners feel good. But bottom line? Little to no positive impact on the business in the majority of cases.

Why? Quite simply, because “social media marketing” puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. Posting updates on social media shouldn’t be construed as “marketing”. In reality, it’s a form of unpaid, vanity advertising.

Don’t get me wrong — I believe there is a lot of potential in a platform like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to help connect you to potential customers. But calling your posts on Facebook or Twitter “marketing” is an overstatement.

I am more and more convinced that most businesses are wasting time and energy on social media. With the exception of a few entrepreneurs who are a “brand” in and of themselves, the majority of business activity on social media, particularly Facebook, is unfocused and ultimately ineffectual.

And until you can track it, and measure the revenue you generate as a direct consequence of it, don’t call it marketing.

P.S. If you’d like to engage in marketing you can measure, get in touch.

How a start-up can nail their pitch

If you’re a start-up, chances are you are going to have to get out there and tell people about your new venture. What you say, and how you say it, is a lot more important than you may realise.

When it comes to communicating what you do, you don’t want to make a rookie error, just because your business is new. And the last place you want to miss the mark is when it comes to your pitch.

Preparing a powerful presentation is one of the best ways to communicate your start-up’s mission and vision. Deliver it well and you’ll earn a reputation as “one to watch”. Nail it, and your chances of success will increase exponentially. Using the “Power of Three” will help you to do just that.

Let’s say you’ve been invited to present at a crowd-funding event. This is a golden opportunity to shine in front of an audience of key influencers. Get it right, and you are on the road to funding your start-up. Get it wrong, and, well… you may not get another opportunity.

woman doing a presentation

Being asked to do a presentation need not strike panic – a structure will get you started

“Start with the end in mind”

In the words of Dr Steven Covey, “Start with the end in mind.” Deciding what to include in your presentation is crucial. There may be a hundred things you want this audience to know, but you have to be realistic – you can only say so much. Besides, they don’t need to know every detail about you, your partners, or your business.

For your presentation to be successful, it really helps to “start with the end in mind”. What must your audience know before they leave? This will enable you to narrow down the “hundred random things” to a handful of key points.

In identifying which elements are key, you will want to consider answering questions such as: What is your product or service? Are you already trading, or still in development? What expertise do you bring to the table? Do you have any competitors? What makes your start-up unique? How much money are you looking to raise, and how do you propose to get it?

Work out which are the most important points

Once you have got this down on paper – and I do recommend you start on paper – it’s time to decide which points are the most important. You may have five or six things, but there may be some overlap. Work hard to narrow it down, perhaps by grouping related items. Then, decide which are the three most important elements. Be ruthless. These three points will form the body of your presentation.

This is where the “power of three” comes in. It’s the reason there are three wise men, three little pigs, and three Musketeers! Three seems to be the perfect number of items of new information to take in. With your three most important points clearly identified, it’s time to start to construct your presentation.

Use the ‘Power of Three’ to give your pitch a fail-proof structure

The ‘power of three’ gives you a fail-proof structure. Think of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. It’s made up of three key ingredients – the filling – wrapped between two slices of bread. Those three key ingredients are the three main points that you must convey to your audience for your presentation to be a success.

When assembling your presentation “sandwich” don’t forget the bread! In our sandwich analogy, the “bread” is the introduction and conclusion, and each slice performs an important function. Together, they package your presentation in a format that your audience is familiar with.

When you are introduced, open your presentation by stating your structure. Tell your audience you have three main points, which you will deal with in turn. Knowing what to expect, your audience will relax. Your introduction has let them know they are in safe hands.

Paint clear pictures with facts and examples

Now, tell them your first main point. Support it with facts, or examples. You may want to tell them about your product and what makes it unique. Or you may want to tell the story of how you came to be in this business.

Then, transition to your second main point. For a start-up, it may be your understanding of a gap in the market that your product or service is poised to exploit. Detail this to provide support for your point. Consider sharing an anecdote which is related to this point.

Once you have done this, transition to your third and final point. Remember, you have to support each point with logic and examples. If you are speaking at a crowd-funding event, your third point may be your opportunity to make a compelling case for investment.

With you final point communicated, it’s time for your ‘other slice of bread’ – your conclusion. The best way to wrap up your presentation – both literally, and figuratively – is to use a tried and tested format. Signal to your audience that you are wrapping up by saying, “In conclusion. . .” and then repeat your three key points, briefly.

Make sure you issue a ‘call to action’ to your audience

If you are hoping that your audience takes some action based on your presentation, don’t leave the final step to chance. Ensure that before you conclude, you issue a ‘call to action’: tell your audience what you want them to do. Whether it’s to sign up for your newsletter, or visit your facility for a VIP tour – make it clear what their next step should be. And make it easy for them to comply.

If you want their contact details, collect business cards at the door. If you want them to visit your site, hand out invitations. Either way, ending with a call to action will ensure that your audience not only leaves with a sense of what your start-up is about, but importantly, what they should do with the information they have acquired.

When a business pitch is crucial to the success of your business, you can rely on the “power of three” because it gives your presentation a structure that is robust and flexible.

You can adapt this formula for a presentation of any duration. Just select your three main points – whatever “fillings” you fancy – and wrap your contents in the two metaphorical “slices of bread” that are your introduction and conclusion. Whatever you want to say, the power of three will ensure you say it well.

If you need help crafting a make-or-break presentation, get professional help. It will be the best money you spend this year. Contact Bruce Public Relations for expert advice.

This article was written by Laura Bruce for Bytestart

Laura Bruce elected to Toastmasters UK and Ireland leadership team

Members of the Toastmasters District 71 Leadership Team 2017-18 are formally inducted at a ceremony in Manchester at the D71 Spring Conference on 13 May. From left, Red Skelton, Patricia O’Reilly, John Cox and Laura Bruce

Founder of Bruce Public Relations, Laura Bruce has been elected to a leading role at Toastmasters International in the UK and Ireland. She was elected PR Manager of District 71 at the organisation’s spring conference in Manchester on Saturday, 13 May. She will spearhead efforts to raise awareness of Toastmasters, which is the world’s largest public speaking and leadership development organization.

Gerry Dunn, Director of Toastmasters in Scotland said, “I am delighted that one of our outstanding Scottish Toastmasters has been chosen to head up Toastmasters International’s PR operation in the UK and Ireland. Demand for Toastmasters’ communication and leadership programmes is growing rapidly, but in many ways it is still a well-kept secret. Laura is the ideal person to get the message out so that more people can enjoy the fantastic benefits that the Toastmasters programmes offer people.”

Laura founded Bruce Public Relations in 2006, and credits the voluntary organisation with strengthening her business. She said,  “With the help of Toastmasters I have become a better speaker and a stronger leader. Since joining, I have also become an ambassador for Toastmasters and encouraged hundreds of people around the world to seek out their local club, and recruited dozens to our club in Inverness. I am delighted our members elected me to this important role.”

Laura has been a member of Toastmasters Inverness since early 2014, and will complete her term as President of Inverness Toastmasters on 30 June. She was the inaugural winner of the Highland Business Women’s “Shining Star” award in 2016, and served as Vice President of Highland Business Women until May 2017.

Since 2014 she has produced and hosted a weekly radio programme, Dessert Highland Discs on North Highland Radio, and she writes a column on communications and networking for Scottish Provincial Press’s Executive magazine.

Toastmasters’ District 71 comprises all of Ireland and all of the UK except London on the south. Bruce is part of a team of four who together will lead District 71. They include District Director Robert Skelton from Cambridgeshire, Program Quality Director Patricia O’Reilly from Dublin, and John Cox, Club Growth Director, from Nottingham. Their one-year term commences 1st July, 2017.

Inverness Toastmasters meets the second and fourth Wednesday evening of each month, and visitors are always welcome. For details visit the club’s Facebook page, or the club website at www.toastmastersinverness.com.

About Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.

About Bruce Public Relations Ltd.

Established in 2006, Inverness-based Bruce Public Relations is a boutique PR and marketing firm that helps small- to medium-sized businesses in Scotland and beyond to raise their profile and grow their business.

The pay is awful, but. . .

Members of the board of Highland Business Women at the 2017 awards gala in March

Like many of you who’ve been working for more than a decade or two, I’ve been serving on boards of non-profits and charities for many years. From the Niagara Symphony Association and the Mackenzie Printery, to Highland Business Women and Toastmasters, it’s given me a chance to help an organisation that typically wouldn’t be able to afford to hire me by sharing my expertise on a pro bono basis.

Two years ago I was elected to the committee of Highland Business Women, as the organisation was nearing its twentieth anniversary. Although meetings — which mixed a social element with some professional development — seemed relatively well-attended, many who attended weren’t members, I learned.

Growing membership became my goal, along with raising awareness. I seized the opportunity to invite the women I knew who should be attending meetings, to come along as my guest. I also put my PR skills to work doing media relations, creating content for the website, and helping with the Facebook page. We got coverage in the local papers, people were interested in joining the group, and I even interviewed a few members on my radio show, Dessert Highland Discs!

In April 2016 I was elected Vice President, and already, the change was evident. Membership had grown, and the buzz at meetings was even greater. Working with a great team, we continued to take turns planning and running monthly meetings and occasionally, we hosted two meetings in a month. Attendance continued to grow, and — for the first time — some meetings sold-out, and we had to turn people away.

A year later, having achieved my objectives, I have stepped down from the board. Now with more than 70 members, my objective of growing the membership through a combination of personal outreach, and public relations has been a success. I also feel it’s important to make room for new people to get a role like this. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to develop new skills, particularly leadership skills.

I will continue to act as an ambassador for Highland Business Women, as I turn my attention outward. This weekend, I’m running for election as a director of the UK and Ireland branch of the worldwide organisation Toastmasters International. If I’m successful, it will be a demanding role, but one where I am sure I will be able to make an impact. Toastmasters has been a wonderful addition to my life, helping me to become a much better speaker, and leader, so it’s time to see how I can contribute.

In many ways, the work I did at Highland Business Women was a great microcosm of the work I hope to be doing at Toastmasters in the UK and Ireland.

I encourage anyone looking to stretch themselves to consider what organisation you feel connected to, that you can become more involved in. How can you put your professional expertise to work to benefit your community? The pay is terrible, but you may nevertheless be surprised how much you get out of it.

Tylenol recovered. But will United Airlines?

Shock. Horror. Outrage. That has been the reaction of people around the world to the brutal images of airport police dragging a passenger off a United Airlines flight yesterday in the U.S.

I am wondering how a paying customer can be brutalised by a business he has contracted with? In what world is that okay? And in what world, can such brutality be justified by claiming, in essence, the passenger had a ‘bad attitude’? Apparently, standing up for yourself is not simply defiant: it’s against the rules.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that “the authorities” can do pretty much as they please when it comes to issues or situations which are even remotely associated with “security”.

Unfortunately, it appears we’ve inadvertently given carte blanche to corporations working in these industries to abrogate basic human rights, not to mention the rules of civil society.

Did it start with the US’s National Security Agency violating people’s physical bodies during airport body searches? In a few short years, we now feel it’s normal to subject ourselves to invasive and at times degrading levels of interaction at airports under the guise of complying with “security regulations”.

And in January, the UK passed the Snooper’s Charter, which enables the government  — apparently ‘legally’ — to spy on every citizen, without cause. All in the name of “security”.

I’m fed up. I can only hope that United Airlines’ reputation is so badly damaged by this that drastic measures must be taken to rehabilitate it. Tylenol recovered from the tampering scandal, largely because they were not at fault. United’s agents, in this case, airport police, have done irreparable damage. Indeed, a breaking story from The Guardian indicates United’s share price has plummeted, wiping $1bn from its value in hours.

But there may been good to come of this yet.

What I have observed today gives me hope. The shock and  horror of the passengers’ faces as their compatriot was bounced and banged off the plane gives me hope. Ordinary people have not lost their innate sense of what is right. Their horrified reaction says it all.

It’s time we reminded corporations and governments who they are meant to serve.

For more information or to support a challenge of the UK government’s illegal Snooper’s Charter, click here for details from Liberty.

 

 

Finding the “net” in “networking”: reflections on the first BNI Expo

Has it been a week already?

The inaugural BNI Expo took place one week ago, on 9 March, and the response to this new local networking event and exhibition was tremendous.

But first a bit of background. Thirty-four local businesses make up BNI Highland, which is the Inverness-area chapter of BNI. The organisation is a worldwide networking and business referral organisation, and members of BNI Highland meet weekly.

The BNI Expo at Eden Court was an opportunity to showcase our businesses to the wider community, and we each invited our contacts to come along, meet the other BNI members, and find out more about our businesses. I spoke to more than 100 people that day, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We also used the day to launch our new “Online Profile Builder” and are delighted at the response!

Each week at our Thursday morning breakfast meetings, BNI members each have a 60-second slot to share a bit of information about our business and request a specific referral from the other members. More often than not, someone around the table will be in a position to help make an introduction on our behalf.

I was a founder member of the BNI Highland chapter, and have been the Education Coordinator since we launch all those months ago. In my role, I introduce the weekly education slot, where a member shares a 4-minute presentation on a topic to help others in the room do business better. Sometimes, like today, the assigned member isn’t able to present their slot, so it has been a great boon to my impromptu speaking skills! Recent education topics have included how to make the most of your 60-second slot, what makes a good referral, and how to make the most of your 1-to-1 meetings with other members.

“One-to-ones” [121s] are the core of BNI; these one-hour meetings with another member enable each of us to learn more about our colleague’s business, and the types of referrals they are looking for. We learn to recognise opportunities where a referral would be suitable. And best of all, we get to know each other better.

Beyond the business passed, BNI has been the source of many new friendships for me and for my colleagues in the room.

Today, we got heartfelt thanks from one of our members, who credited the support he received from all of us, for helping him get through a difficult time personally and professionally.

Which was a helpful reminder: the ‘net’ impact of networking isn’t always just evident in the bottom line.

If you’d like more information about BNI, or how Bruce PR can help you to raise the profile of your business, ring me on 01462 216 226 or drop me a line. I’d be happy to chat.

The Online Profile Builder is here! Bruce PR’s innovative digital marketing solution for SMEs

We’re delighted today to unveil details of our new Online Profile Builder. We developed this in response to the digital marketing needs of local businesses — businesses that are too small to have their own PR or marketing person, but too big to ignore the demand for online content.

Our Online Profile Builder is the perfect solution for businesses who want their business promoted but don’t want to do everything themselves. Bruce PR’s Online Profile Builder will solve the problem of having professionally written, high-quality content for your social media channels, and proper news items for traditional news outlets including newspapers — a crucial mix in the Highlands.

To find out more, visit our stand (Stand Number 1!) at the BNI Highlands Expo today at Eden Court. We’ll be able to show you just how our Online Profile Builder can solve your social media and publicity challenges, with one simple package. Click here to book a 5-minute telephone chat to get all the details.