Karen Tobeck, CFO, Monteck Carter

Karen Tobeck our chief financial officer

If you run a business and you do not employ a CFO chief financial officer may I recommend that you examine why not?

Karen Tobeck, CFO, Monteck Carter

Karen Tobeck, CFO

I have spent two years working with Karen Tobeck and value she brings far surpasses the fee I pay.

Anybody who runs a business has three skills they need, delivering the product or service, sales and finance. Few people can do two of these. Most people can do one. Nobody can do three. This means is you must identify what you enjoy doing for your business and the one area where you need another advisor.

For me, it is finance.

Karen provides a monthly check-in with me and bi-monthly business plan goal-setting and results alignment. The key to our successful partnership is that she asks the right questions and helps me to focus with calm objectivity and external focus.

Members of my mastermind group have also hired her from their businesses. It does not matter if you already have an accountant or a bookkeeper on board. I have both and neither service is provided by Monteck Carter, Karen’s firm.

If I have challenged you today please go and look at her profile and get in touch if you would like an introductory short chat.

grown ups NZ, logo for grownups

GrownUps NZ, Richard Poole interview

Richard Poole founded the website GrownUps.co.nz and has built it up into a significant media propertygrown ups NZ, logo for grownupsfocused on the over 50s market.   What we found impressive is the ease with which the site has incorporated native advertising with traditional media as revenue streams. 

He kindly agreed to be interviewed by the Creative Agency Secrets team.

  1. What is your latest work?

    I’m continuing to work with GrownUps, although the business is now owned by Cigna Insurance, having sold to them earlier in 2016. It’s been an interesting experience moving from being a small business to working with one of the world’s largest corporates, which I’m learning from. It’s been particular useful to have more governance and rigour around process and also risk. Also, being able to work with an innovative marketer and CEO from Cigna in NZ, has been very rewarding.

    Since selling the business and taking away some of those stresses that do come with business ownership at times, we’re very proud to have doubled the revenue and also site traffic YOY plus grown membership 30%. It’s genuinely a real honour that each month we get to interact with over 160,000 visitors to the site and each week, speak with around half of our 120,000 members, via their weekly email newsletter. What’s really satisfying is that we have not wavered from our original vision from 2006 when we went live with GrownUps, whereby we seek to make every day better for any visitor to the site, whether by reading an interesting article out of the 8,000 that we now have, meeting an interesting fellow GrownUps members, playing a game on the site or maybe even being inspired to book that overseas trip that they deserve and have read about on the site.

  2. What’s impressed you?

    Having never worked in a corporate, it’s been great to see that very large corporates can work well with small businesses that they take under their wing – I think you each learn really. We’ve been fortunate having pragmatic leadership, clear guidelines and an understanding that we’re best to keep the essence of the small business feeling for customers/visitors. It actually can work very well.

  3. What’s the next big thing?

    There is no doubt that my mind seldom stops for a break in terms of thinking about meeting people’s needs, which is sometimes a challenge to be honest. At present I’m committed to GrownUps so we’ll just see where that goes over the next while. I’d love to see our ‘baby’ achieve everything that we’d imagined and hope to play some part in that, if that’s wanted.

    However, I’m 44 and there are several things that I’m keen to achieve personally and for our family by the time I’m 50. Priorities in life definitely change and so I guess we’re always all weighing up how best to live our lives and what makes us happy.

 

Best books for Pitching and winning marketing work

I was doing some training with a client this week and they asked me about pitching for new business.
There are three books on my shelf which I have found useful in my 25 year career.
Shaun Varga – Brilliant Pitch – what to know, do and say to make the perfect pitch. Prentice Hall
Jon Steel – Perfect Pitch – the art of selling ideas and winning new business – Wiley
David Kean – How not to come second – the art of winning business pitches – Marshall Cavendish
Here’s a link to another article we wrote in 2012 on the topic – Best books on pitching for new business
David Kean was interviewed and I found this 50 minute audio interview useful.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHD4yx2pRx4

Want To Grow Your Business Online? Here’s How!

Many business owners dream of outperforming competitors through the creation of a strong online presence. If you’re ready to grow your brand online, note that the following strategies can help you do it:

1. Tap Into The Power Of Word-Of-Mouth Advertising

One of the best ways to grow your business online is through the use of key strategies such as word-of-mouth advertising. This form of advertising is empowering because it involves satisfied customers speaking positively about your brand. Because people are much more likely to invest in your brand when other people indicate that it is reputable, you want to ensure that your online marketing process involves encouraging your satisfied customers to speak positively about your product or service line. One great way to put the word-of-mouth advertising process in full effect is by asking satisfied clients to leave positive online reviews about your brand.

2. Build Relationships on Twitter

In addition to tapping into the power of word-of-mouth advertising, make sure that you begin to build relationships with your prospects through Twitter. These days, millions of individuals across the globe log onto Twitter to socialise and shop. By regularly interfacing with these individuals, you can likely gain new clients while simultaneously extending your organisation’s sphere of influence into the digital domain. Keep in mind that there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to interface with people via Twitter. The key to success is doing things that work. Thus if you find that you get a substantive response when you tweet links to your product pages, this is a solid mode of communication.

Another Twitter strategy you might choose is taking weekly or monthly polls. These polls function as a research method through which you can attain a clear understanding of things like which of your products the clients find most useful and whether or not they’re satisfied with your company’s level of customer service. You can ask all types of questions to attain this kind of information, and note that making the poll a weekly or monthly occurrence is desirable because it creates consistency around your brand and keeps prospects and clients coming back to Twitter to see what you’ll be talking about!

Note that Twitter is not the only social media channel through which you can cultivate strong relationships with members of your target market. You can also build relationships with your target market on other channels like Facebook. For example, you might run a contest via Facebook. In addition to keeping existing clients interested in your brand, this social media optimisation technique makes your organisation more visible to prospects, thereby increasing the likelihood of you broadening your base of loyal clients. Note that in addition to offering clients SMO services, companies such as Solid Cactus are pleased to provide people with virtual office services.

3. Begin Using The Right Software

One final strategy you can implement to optimise your online presence is using the right software. This isn’t necessarily a digital marketing strategy, but it is a technique that can clearly take your efficacy in the internet sphere from average to awesome. For example, the use of customer relationship management (CRM) software will help optimise communication between you and clients in the online realm because the staff will have up to date, detailed information regarding former interactions with the customer in question.

Start Growing Your Business Via The Internet!

Three strategies that can help your company cultivate a stronger online presence include word-of-mouth advertising, building relationships via Twitter, and using the right software. Start using these strategies now so your organisation can become an increasingly dynamic force in the digital sector!

Web Security from an SEO Perspective

At the end of November, we will be partnering with Acronym to bring you expert insights on how web security plays an integral part in your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

There will be a focus on incremental gains made by doing ‘the basics’ really, really well and using marketing experiments and careful measurement to create the winning formula for your marketing.

Learn more about website building services, web-enabled business systems and what you can do to ensure they are ready for google optimisation.

About our speakers

  • Dave Allum (General Manager of Acronym)
    With a background in engineering and marketing, Dave is able to deliver expert advice on how ICT can help facilitate business goals according to respective IT requirements and business needs.
  • Rebecca Caroe (CEO of Creative Agency Secrets)
    An experienced B2B expert, specialising in direct response marketing and new business development.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

7:30 am-9 am

Microsoft House

Level 5, 22 Viaduct Harbour Ave,

Auckland 1010

Use the code FIREWALL50 for 50% off!

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Ask Me Anything (AMA) with Rebecca Caroe

How is your marketing going?   If you could make one change to your marketing for 2018 – what would it be? (Be brutally honest, tell us what being in control would mean to you).

Now’s your chance to start that change.

Rebecca Caroe is doing a national tour visiting these cities
  • Christchurch 24th November, 2017
  • Tauranga on 27th November, 2017
  • Wellington on 28th November, 2017
  • Auckland on 1st December, 2017
  • Blenheim on 4th December, 2017
  • Queenstown on 7th December, 2017
Meet Rebecca in the morning – anytime from 7 am to midday and get your marketing questions answered, so you can make that change happen for 2018.

Why should I?

Getting expert and independent advice will help you find out if you are doing the right things, whether a change could help your business and give you peace of mind.
Rebecca wrote on LinkedIn recently about “rip-off” marketing agencies and what best practice for Adwords and SEO should be.
She will showcase the Creative Agency Secrets local marketing process and you’re invited to come and learn.  Just tell us you’re available and we will send you the details and where to meet.

 What you could learn

  • How to test your business website is working
  • 8 top tips for local marketing (that you can do yourself)
  • How to make the one change you most want in your marketing
  • Why personalised coaching to learn skills is better than a training course
Doing the right thing at the right time with the right tools is what you need.  So ask Rebecca when she´s in your town.
Are you ready to raise your game for 2018 and improve the return on investment from your marketing spend?
Just tell us you want to meet and we’ll do the rest.  No charge – just invest your time and Rebecca will do the same.
Looking forward to meeting everyone.
rose thorne, buy bras online, Sue Dunmore, Rose and Thorne lingerie, good value strapless bra

5 Silly Mistakes Product Description Writers Make without Realising

Let’s be honest for a second: most of the product descriptions out there sound like they were written by robots, for robots. They’re bland, have no personality, and a lot of the times don’t even include everything a consumer may want to know about the product. Because prospects feel like they have no connection with the brand and its products, they move on to the next company.

Product description can have a major influence on the buying process. However, most small businesses ignore their importance and create something that is incomplete, ineffective, and just plain boring. Not to mention, they rarely address the questions and needs of their prospects.

Here are some of the most common mistakes product description writers make without even realizing and how to correct them.

Not Offering Enough Information

You’ve worked for months to design or source a product that you are certain will help and please your audience. Now, you’re so excited to share it with the world that you don’t take the necessary time to write a proper description. As a result, your sales aren’t as spectacular as you expected them to be.

Resist the temptation of hitting the publish button too soon. We understand your eagerness, but what’s the point in working so hard on something is your audience won’t know the benefits they can enjoy if they choose your product?

Put together a list of questions people might have about your product, even if they seem obvious to you. Remember, this is something new for your prospects, so take the time to describe your product in detail.

Not Being Specific

How many times did you read a product description that ended up confusing you even more? Skip the general explanations, and focus on the specifics, such as dimensions, quantities, and other information that might help your customer get a better picture of the product. After reading your description, your prospects should be able to understand what the product is, how it works, and how it can help them.

Not Offering Social Proof

Your product could be the best on the market, but your prospects aren’t just going to take your word for it. They need to know that others have made an investment and it has benefited them.

That’s where social proof comes in handy.

Testimonials play a vital role in how well your products sell. Whether you ask happy customers to review it or work with an influencer in your niche to promote it, social proof is a powerful tool that can help you get more people interested in your products.

Not Putting Your Personality into It

While it’s vital that your descriptions are professional and include all the information prospects need to understand what your product does, the way in which you present it matters just as much.

Think about it this way: how would you present the products to one of your friends? What would you tell them and what words would you use? Write an authentic description, and your chances of capturing your audience’s interest will increase greatly.

rose thorne, buy bras online, Sue Dunmore, Rose and Thorne lingerie, good value strapless bra

Rose and Thorne bras use strong descriptive language

Not Spending Enough Time Editing

Whether you’re a professional product description writer or a small business owner who’s trying to create an accurate presentation of his services, editing is a crucial part of the writing process.

Take the time to prepare, plan, write and edit your content. Don’t assume that if you’re an expert and you’ve written numerous product descriptions in the past, then you are safe from mistakes. Read your text out loud and try to picture your target audience’s reaction. Would they get bored? Is the copy clear enough or will it confuse them? Rephrase it until you are satisfied with the content and are certain your audience will understand and connect with your message.

Don’t forget to be engaging even if the product you’re selling is highly technical. Talk to your prospects as you would with your friends and use an active voice.

Crafting the perfect product description is no simple task. But, if you learn how to do it and stay away from these common mistakes, it will help you get more prospects curious about your product and eager to try it.

3 Ways to Change Your Business Thinking & Actions for 2018 Success

 

Use the code “2018success” to grab a seat with a 50% off end-of-year special!

This November, we’ve got another breakfast seminar happening! We will be covering 3 ways to change your business thinking and actions for 2018 success. 

Has your business reached a standstill even with new business strategies and tactics implemented?  

Perhaps it is time to renew your thinking with us! Getting your thinking right is the key to developing the right business strategy and tactics. Digital marketing is one of the most effective tools to utilise when unlocking business growth and boosting brand awareness. To help you better understand how incorporating digital marketing and the right business strategy can unlock secrets that underpin success, we have this insightful breakfast seminar lined up for you.

About our speakers

An experienced B2B expert, specializing in direct response marketing and new business development.

A well-recognised leadership coach, workshop facilitator, keynote speaker and author, focused on entrepreneurship.

Practical tips you’ll learn

  • How to break old patterns of thinking to make fresh and effective plans
  • Which crucial steps to take to boost your digital strategy
  • SEO techniques to attract traffic to your website
  • How to implement ‘the basics’ really, really well for brand awareness

If you’re serious about starting the new year with the tools needed for success, you wouldn’t want to miss 3 Ways to Change Your Business Thinking & Actions 2017.
A light complimentary breakfast is included!

23rd November, 2017

7:30am – 9am

The Common

1 Faraday Street, Lvl 2, Suite 7
Parnell
Auckland

The Common

Use the code “2018success”at the checkout to get a 50% discount!

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How to do a super simple competitor strategy analysis

When it comes to a marketing report, you may dread the idea of seeing pie charts, bar graphs and numbers floating around. That’s not to mention the accompanying dry, boring analysis of these results, written in what looks to be a different language.

If you think this, you’re so very wrong.

Recently, I wrote up a competitor strategy analysis for a client, Living Goodness. The results took no longer than 30 minutes, there were no graphs, and the report reads just over a page long!

Read on to find out exactly how I accomplished this – it’s super simple, I promise.

How to do a competitor strategy screenshot 1

Seriously, this is 97% of my report – short and simple!

#1. Find your competitor

If you’re running a business and have no idea who your competitors are, you need to remedy this quickly.

Open up your internet browser in incognito mode and Google search a few keywords on what your business is about. Why incognito? Well, the search results will be personalised to your search history so you want to find a competitor that is worth analysing.

Living Goodness sells sauerkraut, so I typed into Google, “sauerkraut nz”. Google has been working on improving localised searching since around 2015. While obvious searches such as “Italian food” will bring up local restaurants, I needed to localise Living Goodness keywords so that Google knows I want to buy this product from a local store, as opposed to just needing a sauerkraut recipe.

Living Goodness ranks on the front page for “sauerkraut nz” (yay!) but so does a competitor. This will be the target of my strategy analysis.

 

living goodness google ranking

Third place on the front page of Google! Yay Living Goodness!

 

In a new document for notes, I made three subheadings:

  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

You’ll need to adapt these to suit the media platforms of your client.

#2. Website

From the competitor’s website, I can see all their social media buttons on the top right. This is the first difference I note. Living Goodness’ social buttons are in the footer of every page, but that requires scrolling down to see. Placing additional social links somewhere on the homepage where they will be visible to visitors is the first thing I make note of in a section called “suggestions”.

living goodness website

There’s not much above the fold on the Living Goodness website…

I embark on a journey across the competitor’s website, making note of what they have and what Living Goodness don’t have on their website.

Along the way, I kept asking, “why?” For example, the competitor lists recent recipes on a sidebar on their landing pages. Why is this? Well, as a mere consumer searching for sauerkraut products, I can see that it will prompt me to head to the recipes page, especially if there’s a delicious concoction that catches my eye.

A sidebar can easily be installed into websites as an automated widget – this means any new recipes uploaded will reflect in this sidebar without additional action, thus providing fresh content for each time I visit their website.

#3. Social media

Next, I compared the social media platforms of Living Goodness with their competitor. I pulled up their Facebook and Instagram pages, and scrolled through like a scorned ex-girlfriend.

How often did they post? What sort of content were they posting? Did they do something different on their social media pages that Living Goodness didn’t do?

Who had more followers? Why and how? These were all very important questions that I needed to ask.

I also compared the hashtag activity because everyone knows that behind every successful Insta-famous account is a strong hashtag game (also pretty photos, of course). As this competitor sold products that were pretty similar to ours, I derived a list of hashtags that our client doesn’t use but should do.

Living Goodness’ products are very visually appealing, so their Instagram needs to reflect that.

#4. Suggestions

Of course, I didn’t want Living Goodness to copy their competitor post for post. This strategy was merely to boost their digital presence, just based on my observations of their competitor.

One important thing I had to keep in mind at all times was objectivity. I had to see Living Goodness’ competitor from the eyes of a hungry 20-something-year-old who just wanted buy sauerkraut.

This allowed me to cruise through their website and social media platforms from a fresh perspective. What would I first notice if I wanted to buy some of their products? What would annoy me if I were trying to see their stockists? If I needed to read reviews of their products, was it easily accessible?

With this frame of mind, I also turned my attention to Living Goodness’ own platforms to see what needed to be changed.

From all this, I wrote out a brief but very useful competitor strategy, using clear subheadings and bullet points. Easy to write, easy to read!

Living Goodness facebook page

I all but stalked the social pages of Living Goodness. As you can see, this is a proven and justified technique.

#5. Client meeting

I scheduled a meeting with the lovely Fiona from Living Goodness and ran through this report with her. It was important that she took the same journey I did, so in a few cases, I got her to open up the social media platforms to see exactly what I was referencing.

Next time I conduct a competitor analysis, I could include screenshots to highlight my points. As it was, Living Goodness only have one major competitor, and as I had explained my strategy clearly, it wasn’t just another boring report to be tossed aside.

When it comes to working for a client, it can be too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. This report showed that we like to keep an eye on the industry to boost the presence of Living Goodness.

 

Now are you ready?  Here’s another article about How to Compare your Website with a Competitors