Sustainable Business with a Conscience

£9000 a Year Tuition Fees Does Not Guarantee Employment

Let’s get it out there straight away, it is my own, amazingly talented daughter who is President of Enactus Nottingham.  While doing her BA she has worked tirelessly to make an impact on the world around her. Is this nepotism? maybe, I’ll take that, but I am not writing this post for any reason other than to raise awareness of the work done by the team of ‘Millennials’ at Enactus. My daughter doesn’t need my help, she is a strong, capable woman in her own right.

It Is Not Just About The Money

Across the UK, Enactus students create and develop businesses that benefit communities around the world. As well as empowering people and doing social good, the businesses must be sustainable. The byproduct is, these students are gaining real-life experience of developing and running businesses and all that that entails. They are leaving university complete with skills for the workplace.

Make A Difference

Two years ago, after reading shocking statistics about food waste, the idea of Foodprint was born. It is of course sad that there is a need for social supermarkets, foodbanks and charitable donations to allow families to eat, but rather than reading about it and lamenting the injustice, Enactus are doing something about it that benefits all involved. The cycle is continuous, once each business is up and running, it is handed over to people in the community who need employment and a new business is created to take its place.

Bravo Enactus! From a proud mum and impressed supporter of businesses.

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GDPR – Find Out or Get Fined?

A busy day here at My Words Work For You, brushing up on Flow Cytometry for an upcoming project. All week I have wanted to produce a quick post about the impending General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Earlier this week I ‘attended’ a virtual event to learn about GDPR from a panel of experts. I am glad I did. If you are not yet aware of how it affects you, NOW IS THE TIME.

What Is GDPR?

My understanding is, it is an enhanced version of the Data Protection Act. GDPR will encompass the way data is stored and processed in the modern age. GDPR aims to provide greater protection for all of us against mis-use of or abuse of our personal data.

Where Do I Find Out About GDPR?

I am no expert, I am a novice in the area of GDPR but I have learned enough to know that it will affect me, my clients, and any business within the EU. The perfect place to ‘brush-up’ on GDPR is the ICO. In the mean-time, there is nothing to fear as long as you follow the rules, but follow the rules you must.

Who Does it Affect?

In brief: Every  business within the EU as well as those outside the EU that hold/process data about anybody within it. If you are holding data about any individuals you will need to take steps.

What Do I Need To Do?

Every business who stores data about any individuals needs to ensure they are compliant. It has been described as “Information Management Hygiene” in which companies need to understand exactly:

  • What information they are holding
  • Why it is being held
  • Where it is being stored, and how
  • How it is being used
  • How long you are storing it for
  • Who can access the data

From this point, you will be able to establish if the data is being held because there is a ‘legitimate interest’ or for other purposes, such as marketing. If you are storing data for marketing purposes you will also need to comply with PECR, soon to be known as ePrivacy Regulation. If the data contains personally identifiable information you must ensure you are compliant.

Do I Need Consent?

If you are storing the data for marketing purposes, the answer is definitely YES. You will need to contact every person you hold data for and explain who you are, why you need the data, how you will use it and whether you intend to share it and if so, with whom. In notifying them of this and of your Privacy Notice (see later), you will need to provide the opportunity for them to give their consent. If you are storing the data for other purposes e.g. for non-marketing, you may possibly have  a ‘Legitimate Interest’ and will only need to inform the individuals rather than obtain consent. It is important to check this.

What is a Privacy Notice?

Your website needs to contain an up-to-date privacy policy (yes, I am working on it), explaining how data is stored and used in accordance with the new regulations. If you are storing data with third parties it is your responsibility to check that they are compliant.

What Steps Do I Need To Take To Be GDPR Compliant?

It starts with a GDPR compliant Privacy Notice on your website. You need to be actively requesting consent before storing and using any personal data unless you have a legitimate interest. Carry out a thorough audit of the data you are holding, it is worth considering deleting out of date data at this point. Take time to ensure that you understand the legal basis for processing data. Make sure that for all customers it is possible for them to withdraw their consent at any point. Make existing and new customers aware of your new privacy policy.

What are the Benefits of GDPR?

The new legislation promotes transparency and raises awareness while enhancing the rights of the individual to access and withdraw their data. For businesses, it has been described as:

“A massive opportunity for companies to build brand trust and loyalty. If you do it well then make a point of telling your customers you can be trusted with their data.”

Cliff Gibson, Owner of DBR Data

GDPR Explained in Mind-Maps

Thank you to Cliff Gibson for his kind permission to use the mind maps he has produced.

GDPR Cliff Gibson DBR Data Mind Map

Navigating GDPR
Image credit: Cliff Gibson, DBR Data

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/navigating-gdpr-part-1-cliff-gibson/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/navigating-gdpr-part-2-cliff-gibson/ 

 

 

 

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SEO Website Checklist for Dummies

Today alone I have had three separate emails offering SEO services for my website. Apparently, whilst my website ‘is great’, it has, ‘a lot of scope for getting optimised’ and ‘making me lots of money’. Each email was littered with spelling and grammatical errors and betrayed the fact they knew nothing about me or my business; that’ll be a ‘no’ from me then, thank you.

DIY SEO?

If you are a small business, you are already flat out, running your business. You possibly don’t have the time, knowledge or resources to manage your online presence. As the internet becomes flooded with content and with organisations offering ‘to get you to the top of page one’, how do you know who to trust? A step in the wrong direction could wipe out hard earned profits and get you precisely nowhere. If you have the skills, you can take care of the basics yourself for little or no cost.

Website Optimisation Basic Checklist

Open your website

  1. Tab – Hover over the tab at the top of the page, what does it say? This is a great chance to shout out to Google. Have a look at mine for an idea of how hard it could work for you https://mywordsworkforyou.co.uk/ 
  2. Title – Go ingognito (Ctrl+Shift+N), search for your business on Google or other search engine. What comes up on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page)? The title should describe your offering in an accurate and unique way.
    SEO Search Results Content Marketing My Words Work For You

    Enter your business name in the search bar, what results do you see?

  3. Meta Description – The Meta description beneath the title should tell potential customers exactly what they will find if they click, while enticing them to do just that. Think like a customer, what would make you want to click?
  4. User Experience – Think like a customer, ask impartial contacts to trawl through your site, is it a good experience? Is everything easy to find? Is it aesthetically pleasing? If you have pop-ups, are they relevant/helpful? Is it easy to read? Does it add value? Does it show all you have to offer in a dynamic and enticing way? What is your main CTA (Call to Action)? Are there plenty of opportunities for your visitors to click/call/buy?
  5. Content – Content is King. Of course I would say that, but as it happens, so does Google. Is your content: relevant, unique, purposeful, useful? Is it written in a clear, natural way that suits the audience? Does it enhance the user experience? Does it bring your products/services to life? Does it develop a relationship with the reader? Does it evoke feelings of trust in you?
  6. Images – Hover over each image, what size is it? What description appears? Images need to be sized in a way that will not reduce your site’s loading speed. Each image should have an ALT tag that describes what is in the image as well as a title.
  7. Links – Gone are the days of spurious links to your website from random directories. Foster inbound links from relevant sources/pages. How? Produce well-written, well-researched articles for relevant businesses/publications, ask customers and/or suppliers to include meaningful links to your website.

Play To Your Strengths

Running a small business is a labour of love. Long hours, multi-tasking, decision-making, constant juggling to keep the balls in the air… My advice is, play to your strengths. If your skill set is not in one specific area, invest in someone with those skills who will add value to the business.

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Writing Compelling, Emotive Copy For Your Website

It’s that time of year again. Inboxes are flooded with marketing emails, everybody has a ‘limited time special offer‘, everyone wants you to ‘buy now‘. Like never before we are bombarded with cries for attention, every trick in the book is deployed by highly sophisticated teams of marketeers. Does any of it work for you?

Define Your Goals

I have recently been working with a client to re-define his marketing goals. He had a meeting scheduled with a design team at the end of last week. This acted as the deadline to create a crystal clear vision of where the business was heading and how it was going to get there.

Be Clear on Your Offering, For You and Your Customers

The process was iterative, at times almost uncomfortable. A lot of searching questions from me resulted in a lot of soul searching for my client. By the end, we had a very clear idea of the mission and manifesto, I was able to articulate my client’s thoughts in to compelling statements. Walking out of the meeting he sent me these messages….

“Just finished with the design chap”

” He LOVES it!!!”

“Genuinely evoked emotion when he read it”

Which brings me to the point.

Compelling Content That Evokes Emotion

I asked you at the beginning if any of the marketing you are bombarded with actually works. The chances are, it doesn’t. When writing content for any client I aim to evoke emotion in the reader. Emotive copy will inspire people to pause, to think, to act. In a sea of emotionless but ‘clever’ marketing materials, the ‘stuff’ that stands out is the content that sparks emotion in the audience.

Compelling Content Writing

I could pull up thousands of examples. I will pluck one from one of my first clients.

Original Copy – “Our wooden name train is handcut from sustainable rubber wood. If you want a fantastic quality wooden train at a reasonable price, look no further.” 

Did that stir emotions, childhood memories, a desire to share the magic? Probably not.

My Words Work For You Copy – “Imagine that! A wooden name train made of your very own name… This is a top quality wooden train to love, play with and cherish. Picture their faces when they open this.”

Original Product Page Content Writing My Words Work For You

Original product page before content was re-written

Product Page Re-Written Content Writing My Words Work For You

New product page re-written and re-designed

 

Content Writing Matters

Content writing is far more than product descriptions that capture the attention of the search engines. Great quality content must capture the hearts and minds of your reader, and inspire them to act.

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Small Business Survival Tips – Repurpose Your Assets

Last night we decided to find a country pub and eat out. I had visions of a roaring fire, steak and ale pie and a small glass of red. We decided on a village nearby and set off.

No Food at The Inn

Pulling up into an empty car park didn’t bode well. As the door creaked open we were greeted by the bar-person with a cheery, but faintly desperate smile. It had been so quiet they had stopped doing food (probably sent the chef home). It was a sorry sight. We stayed for a drink in the empty bar but quickly headed off in search of pie.

The overheads are still there, staff need to be paid, food needs to be bought, the rent has to be met…but there were no paying customers. I know pubs have it tough, large breweries are not the most supportive of landlords. Austerity and lifestyle have enforced changes in habits, punters have neither the time nor money to prop up the bar for the evening.

So What’s the Solution?

We sat discussing that very topic. There sits a beautiful building with kitchen, tables, chairs, utilities, space and space outdoors. There are myriad needs in the community that could be served. Think outside the box, how could the space be adapted throughout the day in a way that serves a need and provides an income? Off the top of my head:

  • Bingo Hall
  • Community groups
  • Craft Sessions
  • Local small businesses selling their wares
  • Skills teaching
  • Workshops
  • Meeting rooms
  • Citizens advice
  • Playgroups
  • Music facility
  • Education

Room At The Inn

The rent being paid is for 24 hours, it seems a shame to have that usable, versatile space lying dormant when there must be so many ways it could be filled. Public houses could re-invent themselves, utilise their assets, provide a service and become a thriving business within the community. This doesn’t only apply to pubs, what assets do you have assets that could be utilised in other ways? I’ve talked about repurposing before here in terms of content. Any bright ideas?

Candle flame supporting small businesses and public houses Content Writer for Small business My Words Work For You

Breathe Life Into The Flickering Flame

Spread the word. 

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Supporting Local Businesses

When you open the front door and it is clearly someone selling something, what’s your initial reaction? Yes, mine too. I was calculating my ‘exit strategy’ as this chap said something that caught my attention and stopped me. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Customer Relationship Management

And so it transpired, Tim is a milkman, not just an ordinary milkman, Tim can deliver a plethora of groceries, direct from the farm. In fact, Tim captured my attention by telling me the milk he would be quietly placing on my doorstep at 5am will have left the cow approximately 10 hours beforehand. he assured me he is the quietest milkman in the country and that all he hoped, was that I would support his local farm and give the relationship a chance. He vowed to do everything he could to make it work for me. I am in.

Supporting Small Business

Apart from being a staunch advocate of supporting small businesses, my rationale was that I would also be saving money. This fresh milk is delivered to my door as I need it, sparing me the ordeal of needing to nip in to the supermarket for milk but leaving an hour later with a trolley full of shopping.

Getting it Right

It gets better, this milkman has recognised the need to adopt, adapt and improve and has transformed his offering. Along with a well-written letter introducing me to Tim and his family, I was provided with a two side ‘menu’ of products to choose from. Tim Davis Dairies are able to provide me with meats, cheeses, bread (made at the farm), drinks etc. All at a reasonable price.

Tim Davies Dairies product list Small Business Support Content Writer My Words Work For You

Providing a service that wins customers

Customer Loyalty

I am already a convert. I have chosen to support this milkman who knocked on my door at 6pm on a Saturday evening. Tim has made the effort and ‘introduced’ me to himself and his family, I feel a bond and I trust that he will be true to his word and he’ll work hard to make it work. He hasn’t promised me the moon and stars, I am not expecting my own personal cow, I am expecting that Tim will work hard to make me want to stay. Well done Tim, so far, you are getting it right and in the words of Tony Hsieh, you are Delivering Happiness by looking after your customers, one by one. I am right behind you, but maybe not at 5am!

Evidence of how I have supported small businesses to thrive, here.

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SEO Image Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation Urgently Required

My client’s website had been set up in 2014. It had minimal online presence, no Page Authority and extremely poor functionality in terms of conversions. The site was costing my client money each month but was adding no value to the business. This website had massive potential to increase awareness, drive traffic to the business and to become an additional revenue stream.

The Brief

To overhaul the website by writing new, unique content throughout and identify opportunities for search engine optimisation. Discuss the findings with the business owner and optimise site content including text and images.

The Action

I wrote unique and compelling content for every page using an appropriate ‘voice’ for the business. As well as fostering inbound links from suppliers and reviews from customers, I created and added a Favicon and wrote a meta title and description. Next steps: Optimisation of existing images within the site:

  • Each image resized if necessary
  • Optimised alt text added
  • Title added to each image
  • Captions added where appropriate for user experience

Correct optimisation of images improves performance in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and enhances the user experience. I have discussed with the owner a list of new and unique images to be added to the site that will add value and enhance the content. This is taking place in the next phase of the process.

The Result

I have been recording site statistics to measure the impact. The stats show an upturn in site traffic and engagement, more people are visiting the site and contacting the business. The owner reports an increase in foot-fall from the ‘public’ sector buying products from the business. The owner is very happy with the new site and the results it is already achieving.

increase-upward-trend-arrow-growth-Content Marketing for small business My Words Work For You

An upward trend in visitors, conversions and revenue
Image credit: Jemome

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I’m Guilty Of It, Are You?

Are you guilty of walking into a shop, seeing something you really liked, maybe photographing it, then leaving to search for it online? I am embarrassed to say, this week I have done it, twice. I can’t imagine many of us haven’t done it, it seems foolhardy not to.

Example 1

We are having the garden landscaped. nothing too flash, just creating a more usable space that adds value to our lives. Phase II includes a summer house, office space for me to provide a pleasant working environment free of distractions. As usual, we chose to support our local businesses and off we went to browse around the summer houses. I thought I had found it, the perfect one. It was my husband who had a look online that evening for other options, only to find the exact same one, £300 cheaper. What would you do?

Example 2

I need a new laptop. Yesterday I had a 5pm meeting in Cambridge so used the opportunity to speak to the team at John Lewis. The young lad (who looked about 15 to me) knew his stuff, he gave helpful advice but here it comes…I found myself online within hours, checking prices. As it goes, I think I will stick with John Lewis, for the guarantee and the service, it seems apposite given the product I am buying.

So What’s The Future?

I have long been a supporter of small businesses, it is what I do. Have a look in my Blog section, ‘Small Business Support‘ to find posts providing support. I am also, like most small businesses, very concerned about the future. The Future of Our High Streets  and Adopt, Adapt Improve both spring to mind as having particular relevance. The truth is, we are all looking for the best price, why would any of us pay more than we need to for an identical product? I will always support small businesses, I am one, but I know that I need to offer great service at a fair price in order to sustain My Words Work For You.

What is the way forward? Any suggestions?

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Marketing – What Makes You Take Notice?

Manic Marketing

Are you finding this?  Every minute of the day you are bombarded with information, coming at you thick and fast from every angle. Snapchat, Whatsapp, Instagram, email, text, Messenger, radio/TV,’snail mail’, telephone…the list goes on. If I switch devices on before getting out of bed in the morning I could find myself lying there an hour later.

Too Much Information!

Now, more than ever I am frequently unsubscribing in order to clear space and time and minimise interruptions. Businesses face the biggest challenge yet to reach customers and get noticed, it is like wading through treacle. If you are a small business or a ‘Marketeer’ trying to reach customers, you are up against it. Here’s my theory

You are in a frenzied ‘triathlon style’ swim across a sea of treacle, why wear the same wetsuit as everyone else? STAND OUT, GET NOTICED

What Works For You?

So your day has begun, do you check emails? If so, do you open the promotions or do you delete/ignore? In terms of marketing, what grabs your attention most successfully? Is it the content or the platform that it is on that impacts how likely you are to notice it? I created a little survey asking that very thing…

Small business marketing Content writer for small businesses My Words Work For You

What works for you?

Think Like a Customer

When content writing for any business, small or large, first I think like a customer. If I was a potential customer, what would ‘do it’ for me? What would, a. Grab my attention and b. make me click buy now/call? Your aim is to get found and once found, be trusted enough to be chosen.

My Words Work For You has been helping SMBs achieve their aims since 2013. Contact me here for more information.

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5 Tips For Search Engine Optimisation – Part 2

Continuing from my previous article ‘Search Engine Success – Content is King’ I am adding more essential  search engine optimisation tips for success. With each new Google update, and with the ever-changing rules of the game, playing wisely is not only important, it is essential.

5 More Tips For Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is a dark art indeed. The rules are often swathed in secrecy and are ever-changing. Largely, Google is constantly striving to improve the user experience. No-one has time these days to waste on fruitless searches for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

In no particular order:

  1. Is your site mobile friendly? By now, most of us have made the change or started afresh. I rebuilt my own site. Check your site here if you are unsure.
  2. P U R E – (I love an acronym) Is your content Purposeful, Useful, Relevant and Engaging? Step back, try to look at it as a customer, ask straight-talking contacts for honest feedback.
  3. Build quality links – within your site and more importantly from relevant high authority sites. Give Google’s spiders every chance to discover your own particular web. Links within your site need to include links to your home page where relevant (see what I did there?).
  4. Play down the pop-ups! Think about the user experience. Are your pop-ups annoying? Do they get in the way? Are they irrelevant? If the answer is yes, lose them! Google doesn’t like it, neither will your customers. Pop-ups need to be useful and help the customer journey.
  5. Natural Content Writing – Keywords are no longer the power tool they used to be. Google’s RankBrain is an artificial Intelligence System that knows what we mean, we no longer have to ensure that we are writing the precise keywords that potential customers are likely to search for. It is far more important to write naturally so that you users have the best possible experience.

SEO Content Rules Content Writer for Small Business My Words Work For You

As a content writer, I feel strongly that quality content is THE most important thing to put in place. I have seen the massive difference it can make to a business, I have watched small businesses enjoy dramatically increased custom, revenue and profit as I transformed their content. If you are a small business owner, play to your strengths, ensure the content writer understands the rules of the game and can write in a way that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Get in touch if you would like to chat about your content.

 

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