Variety, The Spice Of Life

I have been creating content for businesses since 2013. Retailers, Accountants, industrial services, chauffeurs, plumbing merchants, business development, the science sector and the sport industry to name but a few. Each client and each task brings a its own challenges and adds variety to my day, but… As much as I love what I do, and as much as my Springers and I love spending the day together, I realised I needed more human company. So I have ‘mixed it up a bit’…

Take Every Opportunity

One day, I noticed an ad, they were filming with Dame Judy Dench in Cambridge and needed ‘Extras’ (more correctly, Supporting Artists). On impulse, I filled in the form, then got on with writing content. Fast forward a couple of months and I receive a text asking if I am available for filming in Norfolk, recalling the form I had filled in, I hesitated for a heartbeat, then chose ‘YES’. It wasn’t long before I was on a train, surrounded by new friends for a week filming ‘Bodyguard’. And the seed was sewn.

Nic and Richard Madden Bodyguard Supporting Artist
Yes OK I blushed, old enough to be his mother too!

The Best of Both Worlds

Working on the premise that we are only here once and life is to be lived, I found my perfect solution. The Supporting Artist industry is reaching saturation point. Too many agents, too many artists and not enough work, I would advise anyone in need of a reliable income against entering. For me, it was perfect.

Content Fired By Enthusiasm

I am happy, enjoying a varied and interesting life and I’m surrounded by creativity. I only take on clients I know I will love working with, and for whom I will produce content that will work hard for their business. Whether on set, made up and in costume or sitting in front of my PC, I am enjoying a life that includes two different worlds that dovetail rather nicely together. Great work comes from happy people, if you are unhappy in your work, brainstorm some ideas to fix it, it’s your brainstorm, there are no wrong answers, the sky’s the limit so dare to believe.

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Win Customers – Be Extraordinary

Welcome to Budapest

November 2018, a quick flit through passport control and I enter the arrivals hall of Budapest airport. Within minutes I spot my name on the board held aloft by a smiling driver. We wait a few minutes for three more passengers and head to the car. Half an hour later he unloads my luggage at the door of the hotel. Nothing extraordinary so far? Wait for it…

The Extraordinary Bit

The car and driver were sent by the dentist I was due to visit the next day. Fast forward to the next day and the car is outside the hotel, on cue, to take me to my appointment. After a warm welcome, and a free toothpaste shaped pen, I am called in on time for my 360° X-ray, shortly followed by a consultation with Dr Gergely Joós, PhD. After a comprehensive explanation of my options, treatment began. Afterwards, the car took us back. Five glorious days and four appointments later, My new crown and I were bidding farewell to the driver at the airport.

Sounds Expensive?

Here’s the best bit. I had been quoted £750 for a new crown in the UK, this sum would include the crown only. My Budapest crown cost £297, this included airport transfers, chauffeur service to and from each appointment, four appointments (all on time), the crown which was created in the nearby lab and couriered in, and the 360° X-ray. In fact if I included two flights, six nights in a hotel beer money for the week and spends at the Christmas market, I am still ‘quids in’. Budapest’s dentists are considered some of the best in Europe, it is surely a ‘no brainer’. We Brits are cottoning on, and UK dentists are losing customers.

Beat the Competition on Service

Here I am, talking about it on my Blog and telling my friends and family, just as a friend told me. This particular clinic, aptly named Save on Dental Care, is thriving among stiff competition, they have taken customer service to a whole new level. Most businesses face stiff competition, I am not suggesting they offer customers a free chauffeur service but for sustainability, businesses need to be creative and become extraordinary.

Budapest Illuminated Sign Red White and Green Customer Service Business Support Service
Brilliant Budapest

The Good News

I need to return for annual check-ups, I cannot wait. This business ticked all of the boxes: quality, value, efficiency and extraordinary service, how do the businesses you know compare?

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Easy SEO for 2019

How has 2018 been for you? How’s business? Competition is ever more fierce, cutting through an ever increasing amount of content is like wading through treacle. How will your target market find you? The good news is, if you get it right, you can be ‘up there with the big boys’. Google’s updates might seem complex, but ultimately what Google wants is to see a great user experience. 

Six Easy SEO Steps for 2019

  • Show E-A-T: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness
  • Keywords are still important. Research the most relevant keywords and use them appropriately
  • Optimise page headings 
  • Optimise meta descriptions
  • Optimise the content of every page
  • Build relevant, good quality links

Quality Content is Crucial

Quality content ticks Google’s E.A.T. boxes. Your page content should not only make you shine, but it must demonstrate your expertise; take time to create authentic content to engender trust. Mistakes or inaccuracies will do you no favours, it is, therefore, a worthwhile investment. I have written for a wide range of businesses from accountancy to Science, research and fact-checking is essential to create authentic and accurate content for every client. 

Feel free to browse through the SEO guidance throughout the site, contact me if you wish to discuss anything further. 

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Business Sustainability, Ryanair Style

I recently booked flights on Ryanair. Since 1st November the only way you can take a cabin bag in to the aircraft is by paying for priority boarding. Ryanair have also changed their seating policy. I waited as usual until 48 hours before the flight to book seats, ignoring copious emails explaining how I will be sitting alone, on a seat I didn’t choose if I didn’t pay for seats immediately. I checked, there were many seats available on the plane, I wasn’t falling for it… 

And Here’s The Catch

On schedule, I checked in and as usual, went to choose my seats. However, those cunning little guys at Ryanair have fixed it so if you don’t purchase seats they are ‘randomly allocated’, in an expensive part of the aeroplane, far from whoever you are travelling with, yet in a sea of available seats. ‘That’s OK’, I thought, ‘I will just change them’. And here’s where Ryanair have got you ‘by the short and curlies’, you can no longer choose your seats for free, you have to have separate seats or buy new ones. Added to that, if you just move one person, you are forced to purchase an expensive (but available) seat beside the other. Either way, Ryanair get more money. 

Hidden Costs

Is this a clever upsell on the part of Ryanair? The flights I paid for because they were cheap (I admit it), were not cheap at all, they were the price Ryanair said they would be + Priority boarding + cost of a seat. How did it leave me feeling? CHEATED, MISLED, DUPED. 

Is This Clever Marketing?

Why don’t Ryanair just sell the flight for a price that includes a cabin bag, and a seat and say up front there are no hidden costs? Because then they wouldn’t appear at the top of the search engines when people are looking for the cheapest fare. Will I continue to use Ryanair in the future? Possibly, but henceforth, I will add another £15 to the stated price and see how it compares. Of course Ryanair know that people will continue to buy flights in the belief they are cheaper, but I wonder how sustainable this way of operating is as a business model.

A More Sustainable Business Model

Surely in time people will cotton on that the seemingly cheap fares will dramatically rise in reality? Will people continue to choose airlines like this? Would it not be better practice to advertise prices with a marketing message that there will be no hidden costs? ‘The price you see is the price you pay’, that’s the kind of open and honest message that would attract me.

It occurs to me, I might choose to forgo my seat and opt to stand/walk around the plane instead, I have after all, paid for the flight. how do you think that might go? 

While on the topic of Ryanair, here is an interesting read about their other scheme to increase profitability, the scratchcards! 

Posts you may like to have a look at:

Sustainable Business With a Conscience 

Do Special Offers Really Work?

Enjoy! 

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Apostrophe Abuse

I get it!  I know that some people cannot (can’t) get their heads around apostrophes. I know some people completely restructure their sentences to avoid using (or abusing) them. ‘Nicola’s dog’ becomes ‘the dog owned by Nicola’. I understand that, and that is (that’s) OK, at least they are applying effort.

What’s Happened to the Rules?

Here is (here’s) what I do not (don’t) understand. Why are we now seeing more and more of this?
  • You too kind
  • We in London
  • I been shopping

Evolution Should Be Improvement

I know that language evolves and that is (that’s) not a bad thing, who could not like the word ‘hangry’? But how is it suddenly OK to completely drop essential components of sentences?  Is ‘We in London’ a case of the speaker not understanding how to use apostrophes? Or are they just too lazy to text the word ‘are’? Or worse, do they genuinely feel that ‘We in London’ is correct?

Safeguard Our Grammar

Social media is becoming increasingly dominant, how much of our valuable time is spent gazing at a screen? We are at risk of producing more individuals who cannot (can’t) write, converse or interact socially, and are unable to construct a grammatically correct sentence. Examples of poor grammar in business marketing seem to be on the increase, these businesses looks unprofessional and give the impression they don’t care enough to pay attention to detail. In a competitive marketplace, why put yourself at a disadvantage? Shouldn’t we be making every effort to safeguard literacy?

Apostrophes Made Simple

Apostrophes are used for ONLY two reasons:
  1. To show ownership – Nicola’s dog (the dog BELONGS to Nicola)
  2. To show omission  – It isn’t difficult (it is nOt difficult – The O has been omitted and replaced with an apostrophe)
They are NEVER used  to show plurality – More than one apostrophe is apostrophes, not apostrophe’s!

Final Thought

Teacher and blackboard saying every time you use an apostrophe to make a plural a puppy dies Grammar Use My Words Work For You Content Writer
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Reduce Overheads, Increase Revenue

My post in April this year was based on a Linked in article I wrote a couple of years ago. I had walked into our post office and while gazing at empty shelves I was thinking, ‘what a waste’. Local small businesses, craft makers, hobbyists etc could promote their wares by renting space in this underused, and vulnerable resource. The post office stays open, local entrepeneurs gain, customers gain, what’s to not like? So I wrote about it, and talked about it with people, who are, as I write, putting it into practice.

Mackie Mayor’s, A Prime Example

Last week I visited a fine example of  a shared space maximising its potential. Working with a client in Manchester, we had evenings to fill. Someone recommended Mackie Mayor so one night, off we trotted. What a place! In the same way that ‘food quarters’ are springing up in cities across the world, Mackie Mayor is an illustration of ‘strength in unity’. This 1858 disused market place in Manchester’s Northern Quarter has had the life bellowed back into it by the people behind Altrincham Market. Mackie’s is an eclectic mix of food outlets within a previously disused but magnificent building. It is now a bustling, vibrant experience, and it’s fabulous. Grab a space at a trestle table, choose from one of the oh so cool eateries, stop off at the bar and your food arrives at your table. The place was ‘buzzing’, mid-week.
Mackie Mayor Manchester turns a disused building into a thriving marketplace for many businesses
Mackie Mayor Manchester, Merrily Making Money

Share The Overheads, Increase Your Profits

Step one – Find a disused building, preferably with character, and strength (literally, you don’t want to take on a money pit) Step two – Take a look at successful examples and decide what will work Step three – Find local, independent businesses who ‘fit into the big picture’, the overall offering needs to be a place people will want to come

Changing Face of Retail

In the way that shopping centres give customers choice and convenience, these shared spaces might be the way forward for retail. Each business shares the costs of having a retail outlet while enjoying the benfits of an increased footfall. The offering needs to be attractive enough to pull people away from online and into real life experience. What you could have over Amazon is, an amazing, unique customer experience.
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It’s All About User Experience

As a content writer, User Experience (or rather dyslexically named, UX) is at the forefront of my mind in everything I do. Today I bought a new laptop, and so begins the joyful experience of installing software, email packages, apps, suites, remembering passwords, waiting for seemingly endless buffering (hence, time to write a quick blog post), it’s a necessary evil. 

Cloud Storage – Where’s the Silver Lining?

I’ll say it up front, I am not ‘techy’, I just want stuff to work. I don’t spend hours (or even minutes) reading up, I depend on apps being intuitive enough to just use. I subscribe to Office 365, and Dropbox, and Google Drive, I have stuff stored on an Apple device, an external hard drive, OneDrive from Microsoft, Google Drive and Google Photos etc.  three different email accounts for different clients, stuff everywhere. 

Three blue clouds cloud storage compatibility Content Writer Cambridge

Can We Please Work Together?

All of these companies trying hard for exclusivity means it isn’t always easy, or possible, to access files  stored by rival companies. Overall, it makes for a frustratingly difficult and time consuming user experience. I frequently email files to my other e,ail accounts in order to access and/or store them where I need them. surely this isn’t particularly slick. Is it me?

A Question of Compatibility

Nowadays it just isn’t feasible to expect someone to be an exclusive user, faithful to one company, media comes in from everywhere. Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone, and a better user experience if everything was accessible and compatible? Rant over, I’ll get back to watching my buffering.

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Halloween, Black Friday Christmas… Ready?

And so it begins… Businesses and consumers find themselves unwittingly invited to the ‘marketing madness party’. How is it for you? ‘Trick or Treat’?

Let’s Get The Party Started

Since the arrival of GDPR in May this year our inboxes should no longer be a cacophony of noise from thousands of uninvited guests. If you are a business, by now your mailing list should only include people that are happy to hear from you, ‘by invitation only’. As a consumer, Halloween/Black Friday/Christmas invites to buy will flood in from businesses on every medium, have you ever felt so popular?!

Halloween Horror

In the UK Halloween has never been the ‘thing’ it is in the US, ho hum, Americans, fill your boots. Unless you are in the fancy dress or confectionery market, the chance to increase revenue is limited, many retailers have their sights set on christmas. Halloween is an opportunity for some social media fun.

Friday  Blackness

Are we ‘over it’ already? Tales abound of retailers performing tricks to tempt people in who quickly discover the whole thing was an illusion. Weeks of hype. scant offers, hordes of people behaving badly and ‘Friday’ is at least a week long. If expectations are not met people will see through the smoke and mirrors. How are businesses to benefit from this odd event? Research suggests people are spending money that they would have been spent anyway but they are taking advantage of discounts on offer. Consumer 1: Retailers 0?  Sugestion: Create authentic offers, publicise them well, take every opportunity to raise your profile and develop loyalty to your brand.
Halloween and Black Friday Trick or Treat image with witches hat and party popper Content Writer Business Support

Christmas Crackers

People will continue to spend at Christmas, it’s what we do. As a business, keep the focus on how you can help your customers. How will your product/service enhance their Christmas/life? Write your product descriptions well, authenticity and accuracy have always been important to your customers, but it has never been more important to Google than it is now.

Get Ready

Prepare yourselves, for many businesses Christmas is the biggest trading period. Learn the lessons from previous years, develop strategies to cope, employ (and train) temporary staff if necessary and ensure you have enough stock to meet demand. Think about your offering. What can you say that will make consumers choose you? Portray yourself well, your website is your shop window, how does it look? Ask for an honest opinion from people you trust then take steps to look and sound your best.

Have a great Christmas!

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What To Do With A Bad Review

Firstly, once a bad review is there, it’s there to stay. There are a few forums with difficult and lengthy processes to dispute reviews but the process is arduous, better to not find yourself in that position but human nature being as it is, there will always be that person that feels compelled to write you a hum-dinger of a bad review. Why?

  • They received bad service
  • Your courier has let you down
  • They are having a bad day
  • Your product did not meet their expectations
  • It is easier to rant from behind a screen than speak to people
Sad face plate with silver knife and fork Bad reviews Business Support

Cute photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

What if the Review is Unfair?

Firstly, acknowledge their feelings, show empathy. Secondly, calmly and clearly show how it is unfair using evidence to back up what you say. Finally, use the chance to suggest something that will make the situation better and demonstrate to others how fabulous you are.

What if the Review is Justified?

APOLOGISE!

If you have promised to fulfil your part of the deal with a valuable customer by providing a product or service but somehow let them down, here is your chance to shine:

  1. Apologise – ‘I am so sorry…’
  2. Acknowledge their feelings – ‘I completely understand why you feel…’
  3. State how you will try to repair the damage (go the extra mile on this)
  4. State what steps you will take to ensure this doesn’t happen again
  5. Thank them for the feedback and the opportunity to improve

A Final Thought

What stimulated me to write this post? I had received wonderful service from a business and felt compelled to write them a good review to show them support. I was astonished to see that in amongst the rave reviews there were two or three one star ‘hum-dingers’. It happens, it could happen to any small business and may be due to factors outside your control. How you deal with it could be your moment in the spotlight, make it count. 

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Small Business – Big Opportunities

Pack in as many opportunities to increase revenue as you can

All I Want is a Few Alpacas

Anyone that knows me well knows about my penchant for alpacas. I dream of sitting writing at my desk, looking out at a small herd of alpacas roaming happily around my (as yet non-existent) land. It’s a pipe dream.

The Reality

Mothers Day (deliberate apostrophe omission) 2018 and my wonderful children presented me with…An alpaca experience! Here I am, with Jet.

A Small Business That Thinks Big

We drove down to Butlers Farm Alpacas I’ll be honest, we were busy so we needed to have the experience and leave. I’m not sure if the alpacas loved it as much as I did but we had a great time. Elizabeth, the owner, began with a few alpacas, and fell in love (with said alpacas), so ended up with 100. Alpacas don’t come free and are not cheap to run properly so the business has had to build around them. As well as running a (usually fully booked) programme of alpaca experiences, annual shearing results in the finest wool which in turn, results in some fine products. The business is making the most of every opportunity.

An Easy Upsell

I entered the obligatory ‘Disney style shop’ at the end of the experience in my usual mindset of ‘just look, I’m not falling for it’ but honestly, this shop was full of beautiful, quality products from the alpacas I had just spent time with. We were introduced to the range and left to stroke them at leisure, no pressure to buy but Elizabeth’s appreciation of the quality was infectious.

Come and meet my socks…

All natural alpaca wool so they can officially be worn for days without washing (I’ve stretched it to two and she is right, they would go on) and my feet are kept at a perfect temperature whatever the weather, it works for the alpaca so it works for me. They weren’t cheap but honestly, I wish I had bought a drawer full. Perhaps what I should do is get myself a few alpacas so I have a constant supply.
Stripey Alpaca Wool Socks
Running a small business? Sock it to ’em!
Well done to this thriving business, passion and expertise are fuelling steady growth, while the business offers authentic quality products, every opportunity is maximised.
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