A Glossy Magazine Publisher – from Decision to Launch in Just Four Months?

Kent_Women_in_business

Ever feel that you have an impossible dream because you simply don’t have the experience you believe you need? Here is a fabulous guest post from Hilary Steel of ‘Kent Women In Business’ magazine to disprove that notion … 

If you really want to achieve something, I am a firm believer that you will. There is no point starting out in a half-hearted manner, it takes passion and commitment to see an idea through to fruition. As Editor of the Kent Women in Business Magazine I am often asked about my own publishing background. When I tell people that my first position working for a magazine was as Editor of this one, their faces tend to drop. It doesn’t seem real that you can launch a magazine, get it in to retail outlets across the county and have a healthy list of people who subscribe annually without any formal training…

You don’t need any specific qualifications to start your own business, you need to start with an idea and work towards making it happen. Anyone who is an entrepreneur will tell you this. So there is nothing different about me branching out in to unknown territory and deciding that I would edit a 72 page glossy magazine that I would launch just four months after announcing its conception. The same business principles would apply.

I like to think that I embark on each project with the same childlike enthusiasm I had when playing make-believe as a child. It’s this fearless sense of freedom that pulls me through when things get a little rocky.

The ‘formula’ we used when setting up the magazine is very much based around the formula we use in everything we do both personally and in business. I love to start a project with the end in mind, then I easily know when I have achieved it, and that in turn means celebrations!

The fact that I don’t come from a publishing background allowed me Women In Business Magazinewithout any tarnished pre-conceptions of what it would or should be like. I rose to the challenge and it’s definitely one of my proudest achievements. So how did I make it happen? Firstly, there was no way I could have done this on my own, I didn’t possess all the knowledge and know how that goes in to printing a magazine. Sue Smith, my long suffering business partner has skills that complement mine and together we are a highly productive team yet without the input from a number of other key people, the venture would never have got off the ground. Surrounding yourself with the right sort of people is a business lesson I learned early on in my career and it is as valuable a piece of advice then as it is now.

Within 72 hours of announcing publically that the magazine would launch in just four months’ time we had engaged the designer, the printer, registered the publication with the British Library and been sent out our ISSN (magazine identification) unique number. In my head, it was now real and it was going to happen.

My brain didn’t stop churning over ideas, creating possibilities for content and crunching away at the practicalities of making this happen. I am fortunate enough to have a very inspiring and business practical mentor, Bev James, who was on hand to help me organise these eclectic thoughts in to some sort of structured plan. Her ability to guide me through an idea without letting myself become side-tracked proved paramount to the success of the magazine.

Social Media played and still plays a big part of our marketing strategy. Our open engagement with the business community, not only in Kent, but all over the UK has given us some amazingly print worthy content. As we strive to maintain the magazine as a content driven publication finding possible stories that come directly from the readership has dramatically increased both the subscription levels and the retail outlet sales. As a business product, it definitely fills a niche, one that provides people with the kind of content, motivation and innovation they are craving.

The growth of the magazine is thanks to the awareness I and my team have about what is going on around us. We each understand where our talents lie and strive to improve and enhance them as we grow. We believe that new skills can be developed and as each new edition hits the press we look at ways of making the next one, the best one YET!

It just goes to show, if you have a dream, you really should go for it!

Hilary SteelHilary Steel
Editor of Kent Women in Business Magazine
@HilaryJSteel
Facebook.com/kwibmag

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Are We “Too Busy” To Do Business Properly?

WhyPeopleBuy

Some time ago I wrote a piece on another site about the process of a face-to-face sales call from the perspective of the would-be buyer, detailing the aspects that they should ensure were adequately covered before they even so much as considered doing business with the other party.

Firstly, I mentioned that the salesperson should make an effort to prepare for the visit beforehand and learn something about the prospect’s business.

Let’s face it, that’s not difficult these days. Fifteen minutes on Google and you’d possibly have almost too much information.

Put simply, if you want somebody’s business it’s only reasonable in my opinion that you show some interest over and beyond how to get your car park ticket validated.

Only a couple of days ago I heard the tale of how a well-qualified and able interviewee was awarded the job purely on the basis that when asked why she wanted to work for the company she replied “because I’ve checked you out and I’ve seen that you’re cash-rich, so I know that as long as I apply myself I could have a long and prosperous future here”

Bingo!

By making it known that she’d done her homework she demonstrated that she was willing to go the extra mile. A mile that her fellow interviewees hadn’t.

But sadly it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I received some feedback on the aforementioned piece that went along the lines of “any business that is busy dealing with ‘real’ customers doesn’t have time to research before an initial sales meeting”.

My heart sank.

Seriously … it doesn’t have time’???

Nobody is expecting for any trees to be dug up, for goodness sake … Just a bit of background work.

When I hear this type of response I’m immediately reminded of those annoying recorded messages that chirp “sorry we can’t take your call right now; we’re busy helping other customers”.

OK then! Maybe I need to go and find a company that isn’t too busy’ to take my call …

If you’re sensing that this attitude gets my goat, you’d be right.

If I were a prospect asking the question “what do you know about my business?” and the answer came back “nothing; we don’t have time to look into that because we’re too busy. That’s how awesomely successful we are” I’d seriously be considering asking them to drink their coffee and leave.

Have we really become that arrogant?

I’d like to think not, because I’m pretty sure that if we’ve got time to check our Facebook feed then we’ve got the time to prepare properly for important business meetings.

Being good at what we do really isn’t enough to clinch deals. Sadly it appears that some believe confidence and a long client list is all that’s needed, which might be enough until a competitor realises what clients really want … and that’s to be made to feel important, understood and valued.

Never once during my corporate sales days did any of my prospects turn round and ask “why on earth are you showing an interest in my business?”

None of us are so darn good that we don’t need to put the effort in. Nor are we too busy’, come to that.

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Working for Nothing – Why it’s Time to Say ‘No’

Working_for_nothing

My close friends will tell you that my biggest bugbear is being expected to work for free. Try as I might to rein my frustration in, occasionally I have been known to go ‘pop’ on being told someone wants to ‘pick my brains’ on how to establish a really great social media campaign. Over coffee. Or a glass of wine.

Now, for the record, it’s not that I don’t want to help. Really, I do.

It’s because I want to help that I’ve decided to at least double the number of blog posts I write this year, and to appoint regular expert contributors to this site in order to widen the appeal and spectrum of information.

But the rest of my working day is spent working with clients …. who pay me to do so.

Maybe this is a problem that businesses who trade in actual commodities don’t have; after all, I can’t actually remember being in a restaurant and thinking because I’d had a bit of banter with the waiter that I could have my meal on the house.

Certainly in the early days I did an awful lot of ‘speculative’ work that ended up having a financial cost to me once I’d factored in travelling and accommodation expenditure. But I told myself that it would be good experience and possibly valuable exposure to an untapped market.

There does come a time, however, when the requests to work for nothing keep coming in that you realise the brutal truth:

They don’t want you … They want someone that they don’t have to pay.

So many times I’ve heard “we have no budget for this”

And that in turn leads me on to another dilemma, namely do I really want to work on projects where getting the best person for the job clearly isn’t the priority? Because let’s face it, if quality was important they would have budgeted for it.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, my advice is to honestly answer this question:

Will doing this help progress a project or initiative of mine?

It may be that you’ll be introduced to new contacts or opportunities as a result, in which case it would make perfect sense to agree to it.

But if it’s purely a case that you’re doing someone a favour (and saving them money), then I’d think very seriously about declining.

To be blunt about it, try and imagine the other party offering their services or product for nothing. Would that be likely? If the answer is ‘no’, I suggest you make that your answer too.

There are always exceptions of course, such as charity events and the like, but continually working for nothing will only ever guarantee you two things: a full diary and a pile of unpaid bills.

Ultimately it’s worth considering the value someone will place on your contribution if you offer it free of charge. If you’re continually willing to place a price tag of zero on your time and skill, then what are you saying you’re worth?

As of this moment on, make this your mantra …

“You want me? Then pay my fee.”

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Why Would I Want to Listen to You (and Then Buy From You)?

Business Wear Tips

Non-verbal communication expert Sarah Setterfield looks at how our clothes can improve our chances of business success:

This is probably the question going through the mind of every person you are selling to and quite rightly so.  Can you stack the odds in your favour though?  Well I think you can…

I was reading an interesting piece of research recently which had been carried out a few years ago at New York University.  The purpose of the research was to examine the neuroscience of how people form impressions of others. This involved scanning people’s brains whilst they were looking at photographs of different people.

Afterwards, the subject was asked for their overall impressions of each person.

Scientists identified that two parts of the brain were involved which together help us form impressions of others. These brain regions organise information on the basis of its personal and subjective importance and summarise it into an ultimate score, a first impression.

Of course ‘what’s in it for me’ is a high priority for us all in such a work busy and time short world and so in forming those first impressions, we automatically order information about people on how important they are to our own needs and motivations. Our split-second reactions to other people are our internal measurements of their value to us.

In simple terms, meeting someone activates the same region of the brain responsible for assigning prices to objects.  After we’ve assigned a value to a person, we make the decision about how to adjust ourselves to that person: do we want to establish any kind of relationship or not? Are they likely to be of value to us or not?

So if that is the science what is its value to us on a daily basis? Well if you are in a sales role then it is huge!  There are three steps we all need to move through in order to get to the point where someone wants to do business with us.  Firstly we need to establish rapport – people buy people who are like them – if you’ve ever met someone trying to sell to you and taken an instant dislike to them then lack of rapport was the reason and nothing would convince you to buy from them.  Lack of rapport is a full stop to a relationship before it has even begun.  Secondly we need to establish trust (would you buy from someone you don’t trust?).  If you have ever watched the TV drama Hustle you will see that the key criteria in effecting any sort of con is to get them to trust you.

Once we have rapport and trust we swiftly move into the dance of building a good relationship.  These three steps can be completed almost instantly.  Again, if you have met someone and liked them straight away you have experienced just how fast this process can be.  Other times you need to waltz around one another until you find common ground on which you can build.  Finally, once a relationship is formed you can move into the ultimate phase of ‘getting down to business’.

Based on this study, one of the best ways to take advantage of a first impression is to give people a reason to trust and value you. Everything people see and experience of you in seconds goes towards their thought triggers.  Your appearance, facial expressions, body language and choice of words are all part of the decision-making process.

The ultimate goal is to give someone the impression that it’s not only OK for the other person to get to know you, but that it would be well worth their time.

If a picture paints a thousand words then your appearance can sway people in their first impression of you.  Let’s look at how this could work for you.

For many people the clothes they choose to wear each day are based around the following factors:

  • The weather
  • Their mood
  • What fits

None of these reasons take into account the fact that your choice of clothes represents your ‘costume’ for the day and therefore dictates the non-verbal messages you are conveying.

Imagine for a moment you are watching a period drama for the first time, with the sound muted.  How quickly are you able to establish who is who, where they sit in the hierarchy and who holds the most influence?  Very quickly I would suspect because we have learned how to identify these ‘costumes’ and recognise who is who.  We can also tell who loves upstairs and who works below stairs.  We can easily work out who the most influential person is in any given scene by watching their facial expressions and movement style.  You don’t have to be a scientist to understand this, it’s an innate skill we all possess; our ability to make sense of the world and work out who is who, what their value is to us and whether we should listen to them or not.

If you have ever been driving along a motorway in the fast lane when you’ve suddenly caught sight of a white 4X4 with fluorescent stripes along the side and slowed down and moved into the middle lane, then you have experienced firsthand how appearance affects our thoughts and then our behaviours.

Structured ClothesFormal business wear

Historically the more structure there is to your appearance the more formal and authoritative you are perceived to be.  This means the suit, shirt and tie (suit and shirt for women) represents the top of the tree in terms of appearance.  This is of course the staple dress code for many organisations and particularly for their sales team.  The typical messages conveyed by this look are Authoritative, Official, Credible, Persuasive, More formal, Precise, Stable.

 

Semi-StructuredSemi Formal business wear

Here the key garment is a jacket.  A man may wear a suit and shirt but no tie, or non-matching trousers and jacket.  A woman may wear a suit and collarless top, dress and jacket, non matching trousers/skirt and jacket.  Typically this dress code is called ‘Relaxed Business’.  The messages conveyed here are Formal, Influential, Accessible, Dependable, Consistent, Capable.

 

UnstructuredCasual business wear

This look may or may not have a collar but definitely doesn’t have a jacket (the power to any look is a jacket which is why people instinctively take their jacket off when they want to be seen as more friendly and approachable.  We see politicians do it all the time).  This category has a full spectrum of non-verbal messages: Approachable, Influential, Flexible, Co-operative, Informal, Conscientious, Relaxed, Available, Unofficial, Agreeable, Responsive, Casual, Easy-going.

 

Are you starting to see some potential areas of conflict here?  Is wearing your best bib and tucker the best thing to do?  Will it enhance your chances of getting from nowhere to a good business relationship fast or could it make it more difficult for you?  And we haven’t even talked about the psychology of colour and the critical body language elements to consider when selling!

My advice, each morning, forget about the weather, your mood and what fits.  Instead consider the impact you want to have.  Whatever you intention, others will pigeon-hole you before you have the opportunity to speak and if your non-verbal voice speaks a different language to your actual words then you could be risking your opportunity to influence and ultimately sell.

It is impossible for me to tell you what to wear as there are so many variables; who are you meeting, what is the desired outcome for you, what is the desired outcome for them, what is the product you are selling, what are the benefits of it (you need to create congruence between what your product offers and what your impact offers), where are you meeting, is there any history which needs taking into account etc., etc.

What I can do is ask you to consider, having read this, to think about the answers to the questions above and then apply them to the following scenarios.  Are there changes you would make now you have this new information?

  •  You have a sales meeting with a clinical customer in a hospital
  • A higher-level sales meeting with an NHS buyer in an office setting
  • A meeting with a sales manager from another pharmaceutical company to discuss a potential sales partnership

The objective and tone of the meeting would be different in each case.  Think about your appearance and consider what the messages are you want to convey and the outcome you would like to gain and the type of relationship you would need to establish.

The structure of your appearance has a language, the psychology of colour has a very loud voice and of course your body language.  Those silent indicators which sway people far more quickly that your voice ever could.

Is Your Image Fit for Business?  5 Top Tips to consider

  1. Clear your head of all clutter before you walk in to meet someone for the first time.  Your first impression to them is vital and you need to be in the right head-space to establish rapport and build trust.
  2. Your appearance speaks before you do.  What is the outcome you are looking for from your meeting?  The answer to that question decides the ‘costume’ you should adopt.
  3. Use colour to be distinctive, professional and trustworthy.  The brain likes colour and attaches more attention to it.  Wearing business camouflage (black, blue, grey, white) renders you almost invisible.
  4. Be clear to show your values through the way you look, sound and behave.  We are very good at spotting incongruence and where there is doubt trust disappears.
  5. Polish up your body language, it has four times more weight than your words.  Does your handshake inspire confidence?  Does your eye-contact inspire trust?  When you smile is it genuine?

Sarah Setterfield is the MD of Impact for Success and has worked with organisations for the past 12 years passing on her expertise in the subject of non-verbal communication.  She has designed a series of training programmes offering innovative and psychology based strategies to make an impact and develop a positive personal presence.  Sarah can be contacted through her website www.impact4success.com or by email at sarah@impact4success.com 

5 Ways to Ease the Pain of ‘Creative Block’

content creation

I’ve just finished a book* that very succinctly outlines how to master a number of social media platforms. It was funny, edgy, cheeky … A bit like me, but formatted for Kindle.

It clearly demonstrated how to succeed and fail on most sites citing numerous examples of how well-known brands (and some lesser known) had got it right or by contrast (cue dramatic music) horribly wrong. So very, very wrong.

The overriding message that subliminally came through with each chapter was a familiar one …

“Create gripping content …. create mind-blowing content …. create exceptional content …”

And as I finished the book, dear reader, I don’t mind admitting that I sighed.

Because I’m pretty sure that we all know by now that we should be aiming to produce fabulous content.

As I skip out of bed each morning with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart to greet the new day, the thing I most want to do is to create some great content.

Sadly I didn’t need to spend another £8.99 to be told that the secret to untold wealth and riches started with creating great content.

No. I did not.

I was avidly waiting for the chapter entitled “What to do when you’ve reached deep down into your soul and …. there is no great content, YOU FRAUD!”

Because some days I stare at a blank screen … and I stare at a blank screen … I might type a couple of bland sentences that are an embarrassment to the English Language … I stare at a blank screen some more … I nip onto Pinterest to look at some recipes and pictures of designer cocktail dresses … I stare at a blank screen some more … And then I log off because it’s time to pick my son up from school.

Days like that are exhausting, let me tell you.

Really, I’m being serious. They’re exhausting because I end the day, a day so full of promise that started with me singing to the birds like Lincolnshire’s answer to Julie Andrews, with no harvest, no produce, no pie in the social media oven … Nothing, nada, zilch to show for it.

So … what’s to be done?

  1. Accept that ‘writer’s (or ‘content creator’s’ in this case) block’ happens to everyone. It doesn’t mean you’ll never create anything of value again … Your Yin maybe misaligned with your Yang, you Ant isn’t talking to your Dec or simply … you’re just not in the mood. Fear not. Put the kettle on and enjoy a cup of your hot beverage of choice.
  2. Go and ‘big up’ other members of your online community. Offer advice if anyone is asking for it, compliment their latest fabulous blog post (don’t snarl … just do it, mardy pants) but whatever you do ….
  3. Don’t moan and whinge on social media. Remember my mantra: “never whine online”.
  4. Set yourself an unrelated goal, business or otherwise. Plan in detail the steps you’ll need to take to achieve that goal. In other words … step away from the problem, baby. Go and create something else somewhere else.
  5. Talk to a friend who makes you smile. Laughter is medicine. After half an hour of a few good belly laughs you may still not be able to sit and create anything, but boy … you will feel a lot better.

They are my suggestions … Do you have more you could add? Please comment below and share your useful little nuggets with us all.

And if you’re still searching for your fabulousness, just remember that even the sun can’t shine in the same place for twenty-four hours a day either.

*Good manners restrain me from naming and shaming … and to be fair it is a half-decent book ;)

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Photo credit: James Vaughan