From the Blog

Why collaboration counts

Remember back in the day when school or course work involved a dreaded group assignment? Invariably this always meant covering for the straggler in your group, or cowering to the group leader, who wanted everything done their way.

Group work teaches students patience and coordination skills and gives schoolyard leaders and doers a chance to shine. Does it create the best outcomes in terms of actual work produced? We’d need a teacher to weigh in on that one.

But, enter the corporate world, and suddenly teamwork is vital for a company’s success. Enter systems and processes, work in progress meetings and KPIs, and your tasks are used to measure your own success, as well as that of the greater company good. Everyone pulls their weight, and the larger goals at hand are achieved. Theoretically at least.

Then consider entrepreneurial types like sole traders, start-ups and small business owners. Left on our own we can enjoy modest success, and achieve milestones for sure, but by collaborating with other business owners, we can achieve so much more. Why is this the case? And how is this kind of collaboration different to school group work or teamwork within a company?

As a Marketing & Communications Consultant, I’m looking at this through the lens of a sole trader, but also with marketing and comms in mind. After 4 years as a Sole Trader, before setting up and growing a company, collaboration was the key to producing solid, professional work and winning referrals.

  1. We’re independent self-starters.

There’s no need to worry about the straggler when everyone collaborating is fired up and wants to work hard to achieve.

 

  1. Our livelihoods are on the line

Collaborations need to make effective use of time when you’re using unbillable hours for new business initiatives. Not everything will work out, but you want to move quickly, test, and move up or move on.

 

  1. We’re not watching the clock

When you are your own boss, there’s no such thing as sighing when you’re stuck in a team meeting and your watch says it’s 3pm, but you wish it was 5pm and you’re ready to go home. Your time is yours to manage. If you want to knock off at 3pm, you can. You know the times of the day or the kinds of activities most likely to spur on creativity and collaborative spirit.

 

For me the thoughts seem to flow when I’m under the shower, or when I’m pushing my toddler in his stroller. It’s because there is movement, and movement creates energy and change.

If collaborating is on your agenda, but you aren’t sure where to get started, here are some things to consider:

Put your customers first

No business can be all things to all people, but we can listen to our clients and think about the kinds of services that may provide value, outside our own skill set. Let their needs be the guide. If we can think of someone who is able to solve the client’s problems, this may be a wonderful person to collaborate with. Provide an introduction and suggest teaming up on future projects.

Timing

While planning in the shower or calls while pushing a stroller may not appeal to you, it is worth embracing the times of the day when your brain is firing with ideas. For some it is while exercising at 4am, for others it’s when the house is still at midnight. Take a notebook, or record your ideas on your phone, and think about who you could partner with to provide greater value to your clients. Remember to take action afterwards, by contacting the person you wish to collaborate with to share your ideas and explain why it’s of value to them. Not sure who to contact? Consider conventional in-person networking events (when possible again) or connecting online.

Hashtags

Networking is a pretty obvious solution, but it isn’t always possible to get out to networking events, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis. Try picking a few hashtags instead and follow those on LinkedIn and Instagram. The more specific the better. Engage and follow others with the same interest or specialisation by liking or commenting. Collaboration isn’t about asking for free stuff, it’s about working together towards a common goal. If an idea jumps out at you, send a DM and just make sure there is value there for the person you’re contacting.

What kinds of collaboration tactics work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Want to read more blog updates like this one? Sign up for Amped Up Marketing & Communications updates here, follow us on social or contact me directly at natalie@ampedupcomms.com.

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Marketing Avatars – Are they worth it?

Yes - Ideal client profiles, target audience personas or marketing avatars – (regardless of what you call them), are well worth putting some time into developing.

Why?

Picture a large, crowded room full of strangers from all walks of life.

You’re in the centre of it.

And you’re on stage.

You have no mic, and in fact you’re spinning in circles yelling information about your product/brand/specials/personal life and rambling off some cool quotes and pointing at a cat video playing on a screen hanging on the wall while you’re at it.

Get the picture? It’s quite ridiculous, but it’s what most of us are doing on social media on a fairly regular basis. You think you’re talking to a large group, but you’re really talking to no-one, because no-one is actually listening. Meanwhile you keep yelling. Your voice gets hoarse. You wind up exhausted.

What’s the problem with this picture? It’s impossible to be everything to everyone.

A handful of folks might have listened to your pitch, and one person might approach you at some point for more information. But this spray and pray approach might will ultimately leave you feeling exhausted and unsatisfied.

You need to know who you’re talking to.

And your potential customers need to be in the right place and in the right frame of mind to receive your message.

Why avatars are the bees knees

Once you’ve decided who you feel your product or service is best suited to, and who you’d like to work with or gear your business to, things begin to fall in to place. You will be able to invite the right people into your space and provide them with useful information they want to hear. It might take time to get your avatar right, but it’s worth taking this approach and learning from your attempts.

Suddenly your person is everywhere

Have you noticed that when you buy a new car, are planning a wedding, or are researching a trip to a special destination overseas you suddenly start noticing your vehicle type, ads for wedding venues or references to your travel destination everywhere. I’m not talking about online ads because you’ve been googling everything and tracked by cookies. No, I’m referring to when you’re out and about in the real world.

It happens when you become attune to something. I had a baby earlier this year, and his Dad is convinced there has been a baby boom in our area. Well, perhaps there are more new parents around, but I also think this is because he is more aware of babies and other parents because he’s become immersed in the world of a new parent.

Having an avatar is a bit like this.

With a firm target audience person in mind, you start seeing the world through their eyes and see them and what they’d like everywhere. It’s like when you are shopping for someone’s Christmas or birthday present – and no, not the difficult person on your list. The one you love buying for and know exactly what they’d like. You know who you’re talking to and can focus on meeting their interests and needs with your business.

So, how do you figure out who your ‘person’ is?

You need to think about the basics first.

Use your intuition to begin with and then refine your target audience, before settling on one or two avatars.

Demographics – their age, gender, job type, income level, where they live etc.

Psychographics – how they think, what is important to them, the kinds of activities they like etc.

Then, it’s good to ask yourself:
- Where is your person spending their time?

What types of media would your avatar consume. Think about their age, location and job type
- What kinds of content would resonate with this person? Images, long articles, case studies?
- What kind of advertising would appeal to this person?

The best tip I’ve been given is to give your Avatar a name, and actually go online and find an image of someone you feel represents your person.

My mum is an ex-teacher and runs a home-based tutoring business for kids aged 5 to 12.

Her target audience is:

  • Parents of primary school age kids, with learning difficulties or wanting to extend themselves.
  • Age: between 40 and 55
  • Gender: mums (as they do the organising generally)
  • Job type: Part time work (able to transport child during standard business hours). Successful trades or real estate professionals, or retired professionals
  • High household income – relative to her area (outside of the Sydney metropolitan area)
  • Suburban people – outside city, but travel to city or overseas regularly.

Her Avatar:

  • Karly – 45 (image from Masterfile.com)
  • Part-Owner of a successful home renovation business.
  • Married
  • 2 children – aged 8 and 10
  • Lives in suburban area close to my mum.
  • High household income
  • Enjoys visiting Sydney to see concerts and visit museums with the children, Sydney Easter Show etc.
  • Holidays in QLD and overseas – Hawaii, Thailand, Fiji

Psychographic info:

  • Karly enjoys a high standard of living, but she’s worked hard for her success and expects the same of her children.
  • She takes small breaks for herself, but is largely family and business focused.
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As a small business owner, you will have many questions about the type of content you should create, how an ad should look or where to promote your wares. Having your avatar in mind will allow you to focus.