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How to thrive when working from home

How to thrive when working from home

With Coronavirus in full swing, many businesses in Australia have been encouraged to have their employees work from home as part of the social distancing approach to slowing the rise of cases.

As a business which has operated as a “work from home” model since the start, we here at Birdcage Marketing want to share what we know about working collaboratively and efficiently whilst not having a centralised office for the team.

Have a designated workspace

If you’re lucky enough to have a home office or spare bedroom, ensure the space is setup for distraction-free work time. This means:

  • it has everything you need for your work (i.e. laptop, printer, pens, notebook, and any tools-of-the-trade)
  • well lit
  • the right temperature (a cooler space will increase alertness)
  • comfortable and supportive seating
  • music that helps keep you motivated and focused (a Spotify subscription will allow you to choose playlists to match your mood)
  • the ability to have phone/video conference calls uninterrupted
  • all chargers

If you’re restricted to using the dining table or lounge room, at least ensure you’ve got supportive seating and the area is otherwise clean and tidy. I’ve spent too many hours sitting hunched over my laptop on the couch, only to finish a workday almost paralysed from my ultra-soft couch (which is great for Netflix but terrible for a workday).

I also always make sure I have everything I need so I don’t need to keep walking back into the main part of the house (especially if other family members are home). For me this includes:

  • My laptop and charger which I connect to a bigger monitor
  • My phone and Airpods for hands-free phone calls
  • 2 x 1L water bottles
  • Notebook
  • Glasses
  • Diabetic supplies (I’m a Type 1 Diabetic, so having medication on hand is always a winner)
  • My wallet (there’s always something to pay)

Routine and structure is half the battle

Those who routinely work from home will tell you the importance of waking at the same time, making your bed, getting “dressed” (even if this means trackies and a T-shirt – but definitely get out of your PJ’s) and sitting down for work.

Many freelancers I know also have a dedicated routine which they follow to help get them set up for a productive day ahead.

If you’re like me and have children, mornings are inevitably chaotic. But what’s important is that we get up at around the same time each morning, eat our breakfast (for me it’s just an almond latte and a bit of milk for the baby), do a quick tidy of the kitchen, put some laundry on and then head out the door for daycare dropoff. I like to make sure the house is as tidy as possible before I leave with the kids so I come home to a clean space and there aren’t any distractions to keep me from heading into my home office. Otherwise, I’m tempted to spend an hour+ on tidying up (believe it or not, this is one of the most popular forms of procrastination when working from home).

When I do return home, I get everything I need and head into my home office. I then try to dive into projects straight away rather than check emails.

I also always aim to finish at the same time everyday. Sometimes if my husband is picking up the kids I’m able to work longer, but we have a designed “stop work” time which both he and I need so there is a definite end to my workday and we both know when family life can resume.

Use the right online tools

Email isn’t your only option when it comes to online collaboration. In fact, it’s one of our less-used platforms at Birdcage Marketing. For more information on the online tools we use to collaborate and be productive, check out this article.

Have your to-do list ready

I write my to-do list the day before. When I don’t, I feel so reactive (rather than proactive) and that I don’t actually achieve anything in the day. It also helps me prioritise jobs so I’m not left scrambling before I have to leave to pickup kids. It also means that when I have a light-on day I can either spend my time working on the business, or treat myself to a little bit of time away from the computer and not feel guilty about it because I know I’ve covered everything I need to do.

Remember, go outside

When you work from home it’s easy to forget a world exists outside your four walls. Even if you’ve got nowhere to go (and with self-isolation being a thing you probably shouldn’t be going anywhere) it’s still important to get outside into the sunlight.

Whether that’s a quick stroll around the block, or a barefoot walk into the garden, you’ll benefit in all ways by getting outside into some fresh air.

Whilst I’m 100% guilty of smashing lunch at my desk (if I eat lunch at all), I will at least get up in the middle of the day and water the plants or check on our backyard chickens. It makes me feel refreshed and ready to finish off the workday.

Fluffy colleagues are a thing

Sure, it can get lonely working from home. I’m personally an introvert though, so being alone recharges me and is something I need to do when I have a full day of calls booked in. But I love having my dog Murphy sit under my feet and perhaps a visit from one of the feline varieties who apparently live in the house.

With studies showing how pets alleviate stress, how they provide a positive diversion and how they relieve feelings of loneliness, remember to include your furry friend in your daily business affairs.

Murphy – Director of Delivery Person Alerts

If you’re opting or have no other option than to work from home due to new COVID-19 precautions, welcome to a whole new way of working.

At Birdcage Marketing we’re doing our bit to support clients moving to a work-from-home model by setting up online tools and systems. If you’re looking for assistance with taking your business more online (whether that’s through eCommerce or online services) get in touch via the website or email me via maddy@birdcagemarketing.com.au to see how we can assist with the transition.

The best online tools for working from home

The best online tools for working from home

As a virtual team, our clients benefit from us not having expensive overheads in the form of offices, insurances, and maintenance. What it does mean, however, is that we need to invest carefully in the online tools we use to ensure our collaborations with each other and our clients are smooth and productive.

Working from home the way we do is only made possible because of the online tools we use (thank you, world wide web). Sure there’s email, but if that’s your main form of communication and collaboration then you’re not fully experiencing everything the internet has to offer.

Take a look at the online tools we use here at Birdcage Marketing:

Slack

Online chat platform you set up for your team specifically. Use channels to segment conversations based on projects, clients, events, departments or whatever else you’d like to use.

We use Slack to communicate internally to avoid the crazy amount of emails we would otherwise be sending and receiving (and then having to file away). It keeps conversations organised and recorded for any future reference.

There are free plans available but we’re using a premium plan now that we’re a bigger team.

Trello

Trello is what we use for Project Management. Each client’s project has its own card and we input all info associated with the project into this card. This includes things like hours quoted, expenses incurred, invoicing requirements, status updates and we even track our time against these cards using Timecamp. They are arranged into columns based on their status and each team member also has their own “To Do” list within the board. It’s very visual and very handy when you’ve got a million and one things to do.

Again there are free plans, but we enjoy more benefits with our premium plan.

Zoom

Sometimes you really need a face-to-face and the best way is through video conferencing platform Zoom. Here you can do anything from one-on-one chats, to regular staff meetings, to client training sessions and even one-to-many conferences. It also allows for screensharing for more technical collaborations which require a visual.

Once again, the free option available should suffice unless you’re running longer meetings or conferences.

Dropbox

Once upon a time, to share your files you needed to setup expensive file servers and have an IT guru setup access for all those involved. Now, you just signup to Dropbox.

For a while I was just using Dropbox free account and allowing my team access to the files, but as the business grew we upgraded to a Business package which gives us even more flexibility around file sharing.

Essentially, absolutely every file we use is saved to Dropbox direct from our computer. That means there’s no chasing documents when someone is on leave or away; it’s all right there in the client folder.

Bonus: I have my own personal Dropbox folders where I save everything so if my laptop ever suddenly dies or I’m somewhere without it, I haven’t lost any of my files and can access them from anywhere.

Apple Reminders

I’m an Apple girl through-and-through, which is why I love using the Reminders app on my phone which syncs to iCloud and therefore, my laptop, iPad and Apple Watch. Whilst I refer to Trello for client projects, as a business owner I also have many other projects I’m working on for the business. And sometimes inspiration hits in the most random places and it’s amazing to have a list which I can update and check from anywhere.

Whatever I input in my phone comes across to the Reminders App on my laptop. I can even add to it from my Apple Watch using Siri. Having this available means I can free up my brain and not have to remember all-the-things.

Need help setting these up?

As a marketing agency for small business, our services go beyond just digital marketing. We know from experience that seamless business processes mean better business in general. And we’ll do anything we can to have our clients move forward towards their goals.

If you’re looking for assistance in setting up online tools and processes, email maddy@birdcagemarketing.com.au and let me know what you’re looking for assistance with.

How to: taking great photos for your socials + website

How to: taking great photos for your socials + website

Photography is so important for business. You know the old saying; “a picture tells a thousand words”. This has never been truer than in our social media age. Stats show that people engage more with images than text (and videos more than images… but that’s for another post).

Unfortunately, we come across too many small and even medium-sized businesses that are either not sharing any images on their website or social media profiles, or the ones they do are doing more harm than good. Remember, your online presence is all about building trust with potential customers. Everything you present about your business online is sending messages to customers about who you are.

With that in mind, what do you think blurry, pixelated photos are saying about your business? The answer is; nothing good.

When thinking about social media for small business, quality, high-resolution images are imperative to showcase your business’s professionalism, and encouraging potential customers to see you as a trustworthy business they would like to engage. Sharing photos could be as simple as posting photo updates and product displays on Facebook and Instagram or on a thriving website. But how do you manage to get these high-quality, client-winning images without paying a professional photographer to chase you around all day?

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to taking photos on your smartphone for business:

1. Good lighting

Low-light does not produce clear results and you will find yourself left with a blurry, unappealing photo and a lost subject.

Where possible, use as much natural light as you can. A good amount of light from the sun filtering through a window, or photos taken outside, are usually crisp and coloured well. When posting on social media for small business, a well-lit photo will be your best friend. If you don’t have the luxury of using natural light or need to take photos at night, make sure any lights or lamps you use have strong cool-white light bulbs and are positioned so that they don’t cast shadows that take the focus away from your subject.

Handy Tip

Cup your hand over your phone when taking a photo outside in full sun – it will cut down the amount of lens flare you get on your photo and make your subject clearer. Just be sure not to capture your hand in any part of the photo!

2. Avoid using the flash

Where possible, try to avoid using your smartphone camera flash. A flash often makes a subject overexposed and throws off any quality on the photo. It also makes it really difficult to correct the image in programs such as Photoshop. As part of our social media marketing services for small businesses, we often receive images from clients and complete a few whizz-bang tricks to optimise the image. However, if a flash has been used badly, it makes it near impossible for us!

3. Line up those parallels

A simple way to take an appealing photo is to ensure that any natural lines and edges that appear in your photo are parallel with your camera edge. For example, if you are taking a photo of the horizon, try to ensure that the horizon line is straight (parallel to the top and bottom edges of your camera). Similarly, if you are taking a photo of a bookcase, try to ensure that at least one or two straight edges of the bookcase are exactly vertical or exactly horizontal (making them parallel to your camera edges).

A helpful tool to use for this is the grid setting on your smartphone. The grid setting superimposes a set of lines on to your camera view that allows you to line up subjects in the same parallel as the top and bottom edges and side edges of your camera.

To switch the grid setting on …

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

4. Give the subject some breathing room

While it is important to focus your photo on your subject, we often find that it is more appealing to viewers to see a subject cleverly balanced with its surroundings. The Rule of Thirds applies in this instance, often encouraging photographers to keep the subject (your product, your staff, etc) within one third of the photo, and leave two thirds of the photo as “negative space” (the wall behind your product, the garden behind your staff). This helps your subject stand out more. It also can allow room to move for when different social platforms crop your image.

social media marketing for small businesses birdcage marketing mackay brisbane sydney

5. Different perspectives give different photos

Taking photos from different angles can give your subject a whole new look. Don’t be afraid to play around with obscure angles (like birds-eye view, flat-lays, wide-angle with ample negative space) and keep in mind your “line of sight”. For example, what is in the background of your shot? Is something making a reflection in your photo that has sneakily captured you in the shot? Always be aware of what else has crept into your photo while you’ve been focusing on your subject.

Our experience in social media management has shown that it’s sometimes an unexpected perspective of a photo which delivers the best results; so get creative.

Handy Tip

Use visual symmetry and give your photo a natural balance.

social media marketing companies for small business with Birdcage Marketing Mackay

6. When photographing people, take candids

It can be great to take posed photos for celebratory keepsakes or introducing staff members on your social platforms, but seeing people in-action can be much more interesting. It can also show off your product or service in a more relatable way for your customers. As a small business social media marketing company, we find that posts which look more natural get the most engagement. Your audiences love getting a backstage-pass to your business. They love seeing what makes your business tick, which is why candid photos work best.

Ideas for candid photography could be happy snaps of your staff as they naturally work on-the-job, or informative photos of someone using your product as your customers would at home. Sometimes taking multiple photos one after the other can help get the best candid photo of your subject.

7. Touch the screen to focus

Tap the screen of your smartphone where your subject is to focus on it. This prompts the smartphone to optimise the lighting of the photo for your subject and to ensure that your subject is the focus of the photo.

8. Avoid the zoom function on your smartphone

The zoom function distorts the resolution and produces a blurry and pixilated photo. Instead, take a wide-angle shot (if you can’t get as close as you want to) and use the crop function later on in your phone editing tools. That way, the quality of your photo is not lost but the focus is still on the subject you intended. 

9. Use your phone editing capabilities

Nearly all smartphones have photo editing tools available now without having to download any additional applications. Editing your photo can make it more visually appealing for your customers by brightening colours, contrasting your lights and darks, and allowing your subject to stand out even more so.

Here is a quick rundown of the basic editing functions you might be able to use to enhance your photo (keep in mind, too much editing will lessen the quality of your photo!):

Brightness

This one speaks for itself. Adjusting the brightness of your photo can enhance details that were lost in darkness and can make light areas pop. Use this tool sparingly as pushing the brightness right up the extreme can severely lessen the crispness of your photo.

Contrast

Using the contrast function will brighten your light areas and darken your shadowed areas to create a crisp photo that stands out.

Saturation

Boosting the saturation tool will enhance the colours of your photo, and reducing the saturation to its lowest point will completely remove the colour from the image and turn it into a black and white photo. The saturation tool is handy for when you don’t have optimal lighting on your subject and need to give the colour of it a little freshen up to match what it looks like to the human eye.

Crop

The crop tool gives you the ability to trim edges off your photo and cut it down to focus in on your subject.

Handy Tip

Try not to use the pre-determined filters set on your smartphone. They are over-used and you lose some of the quality of the photo.

Hopefully, these recommendations on how to take a quality photo on your smartphone will serve you and your business well. Showcasing your products and services on a regular basis to your audience with quality photos can only ever boost your brand and identity. If you’re looking for help with social media marketing for small business, feel free to get in touch!

In the meantime, happy snapping!

 

 

 

The real cost of going cheap on logo design

The real cost of going cheap on logo design

Logo design is the most crucial aspect of your brand. It’s a visual representation of who you are as a business, what you stand for, and what you promise to deliver to your customers; your logo sets the tone of what’s to come when customers engage your business. When it comes to branding, your logo is the foundation of your brand, so it needs to be right.

Unfortunately, there are too many examples of bad “DIY” logo design. Or new businesses using outsourcing to dodgy logo design folks, just to save a few bucks. Whilst there are plenty of aspects of business which don’t hurt to “DIY”, logo design isn’t one of them. Take a read why…

Your brand is your promise

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells potential customers what to expect from you, your services and products, and it sets you apart from your competitors. Using a $10 logo you purchased online hardly screams “quality”, so be careful the message you’re trying to convey.

Logo design comes first

You need to understand that business cards, stationery, signage, your website, packaging and promotional materials. All of which feature your logo—are vehicles to communicate your brand and can only be developed once you have finalised your logo and brand strategy.

With logo design, you get what you pay for

Whilst there are now a number of low-cost options for startups and SMEs to develop a “logo”. Paying $10 to an online designer will most likely result in exactly that – a logo that looks like you paid $10 for it.

These types of logos are often just duplicates of other logos (which defeats the purpose of your logo setting you apart from competitors).

Why use a marketing agency for logo design

  • A marketing agency will consider the strategic elements of your branding campaign; not just create a pretty picture.
  • A reputable agency will create a unique logo that no one else has. They ensure you don’t infringe on copyrighted or trademarked materials, or, at the very least, you don’t have a similar logo to your competitor.
  • Marketing agencies will often provide a style guide for your brand. A style guide includes your brand fonts and colours, as well as guidelines on how to use the logo to ensure it always looks its best.
  • A good agency will provide all the logo files you need for future marketing work. This saves money and time when you’re looking for professional print or if you need to use particular files for a new design or for web projects. If your logo is designed in a Microsoft program or Canva, for example, many professional printers won’t accept these logos and will charge you to recreate to the correct file type.
  • They will get it right the first time. There’s nothing worse than designing your own logo, or having something that isn’t quite right, printing thousands of business cards, letterhead, setting up your Facebook page, getting uniforms and signwriting, only to reflect a few months later and realise it’s not doing the job. Get it right early and have a professional take care of the logo.

At Birdcage Marketing, we absolutely love putting together brand strategies and designing logos. In fact, we’ve been trusted by some of Australia’s best startup, small and medium sized businesses to make sure their branding is up to scratch. If you’re looking for help with making a statement, contact us today to learn more about our affordable logo design packages for startups and SMEs.

8 essential marketing steps you should have already taken

8 essential marketing steps you should have already taken

As a business owner, it can be difficult to know exactly what you should be doing to properly market your business. Sure you’ve heard you need an effective website design, to be on social media and the importance of email marketing. But with so many avenues, what are the essentials you need to focus on?

At Birdcage Marketing, our small business marketing consultants have sat down and worked out the top steps you need to take as a small business owner.

Our essential marketing steps:

1. Cut-through branding

This doesn’t just mean a logo (although that’s the very least!). It means developing key messages which position you as a brand. There might be hundreds of plumbers or accountants all vying for the same target market, so you need to be able to articulate what sets you apart.

2. Invest in printed stationery

A business card, letterhead and with comps slips. These are essential printed collateral your business needs to have. Whilst most marketing is now digital, there’s just something about tangible, printed goods that leave a lasting impression.

3. Really good website design

These days there are so many options to suit every budget, there’s no excuse for your business not to have at least a 1-page website. Even if you only have a modest website, it still needs to be modern, easy to navigate and present a professional image. Remember, your website is your 24/7 salesperson and no one likes a badly put together dude that doesn’t make any sense.

4. Install Google Analytics

Now that you have a good website design, you need to be able to track how many people are visiting, what pages they’re looking at, and for how long. Google Analytics is a free service from Google and will tell you more than you ever thought you wanted to know about the traffic on your site.

5. Have a centralised email list

The good news is that if you’re a services business you most likely already collect email addresses as part of quoting and invoicing. That’s a great start. If you’re a bricks-and-mortar retail store you need to make sure you’re collecting email addresses at the checkout. You also need to go one step further and collect all this data in one centralised location. There are hundreds of CRM programs available from low-cost to premium and feature a range of options for you to track customers and their purchase behaviours.

6. Regularly check your online reviews

You might think that because you never signed up for a Google My Business or Facebook page that your business isn’t in the online space. You’re wrong. Customers can still review your business online even without you creating a profile. Ensure you’re regularly Googling your business to keep on top of any negative reviews. There are a few Best Practice rules you can use to handle bad reviews, but the key is to address them.

7. Get social

Almost every type of business would benefit from being on social media. Even if you’re not overly active on your account, Facebook Groups are a great avenue for online networking and connecting with other people in your industry. There’s a lot to be learnt from collaborating with similar businesses that might be servicing another market (i.e. you’re a builder in Mackay but you’re chatting with a builder in Newcastle with some marketing techniques they’ve had success with).

8. Facebook Advertising

It’s the paid advertising platform of the moment. It’s affordable, effective and targeted. We absolutely love it and think (given the right strategy implementation) you would too.

GUEST POST: Are your books ready for tax time?

GUEST POST: Are your books ready for tax time?

The good news is that modern accounting software has come a long way. With platforms such as Xero leading the way in “accounting programs for the people” business owners can do more and more of their own bookkeeping. For some small business owners, managing their own finances works well. However, for many more, the reality is that unless you have a solid understanding of accounting and bookkeeping principles, you’re often doing your business finances a disservice by trying to DIY (and we’ve learnt that first hand).

If you’re feeling more overwhelmed than prepared for the end of financial year, Lisa Turner from Accounted for You has some very helpful advice to get you through the next few weeks, and perhaps be more prepared for next year.


Are your books ready for tax time?

 

lisa-turner-accounted-for-you-small-business-bookkeeping-qld

Lisa Turner • Accounted for You

No one needs to be reminded; we all know it’s almost the end of the financial year and that all our bookwork should be up-to-date. Are you completely organised and have someone looking after your books for you? Or, like many small business owners, have you been putting off getting your finances in order?

Get your priorities straight

The most important aspect to have ready by EOFY is that your financial data is up-to-date. That’s the record of your money coming in and going out. The benefit of using accounting software like Xero and QuickBooks is that small business owners can have much of their financial data automated, so you can upload invoices straight into the software and there’s a nice, clean record of everything.

Do as much as you can before your accountant starts

The more you can do for your accountant, the more money and time you’ll save when they go to lodge your tax return. If your books are in a state, it’s going to take them longer to set everything straight. If you’re managing your books yourself, take a few hours (or 10) to sit down and get everything sorted. If you just don’t have that kind of time, or you think it’s time to get some help, this is where a bookkeeper can step in to make tax time (and the rest of the year) a breeze.

A quick checklist before EOFY

  • Check your receivable and payables.Do they reconcile to the balance sheet? Is there something you need to pay or write off as a bad debt. If you’re on cash reporting, make sure your bank reconciliations are up to date so your GST submissions are right.
  • If you carry inventory are stock levels right? Do you do regular stocktakes or need to do one?
  • Clearing accounts. Are all your GST, PAYG, super etc balances correct or do you need help to balance them?
  • Check in with your Accountant to see if there is anything they recommend you need to do before they start preparing your tax return.
  • Take a look at this handy checklist from the Government’s Business website.

If you do need help, make sure you get the right kind

If the above checklist made you feel a bit uneasy (ok, so maybe you’re freaking out), don’t just hire the first bookkeeper that pops up on Google. It’s important that both your bookkeeper and accountant are registered with the Tax Practitioners Board. It goes without saying that your accountant must be registered in order to lodge a tax return, however, it’s important your bookkeeper is also registered, as otherwise, they are very limited in what they can actually do for you. And isn’t the whole point of hiring them to make your life easier?

 


 

If you’re looking for a bookkeeper to help sort your small business finances, Lisa is your go-to-woman and is helping Birdcage Marketing be our most organised selves coming into tax time. If you want to share our “ready-for-EOFY-glow”, be sure to contact Lisa via her website. Based in the Gold Coast, Lisa is another clever business (like us) that services small businesses Australia-wide. 
Instagram for business: the rundown of features (including Instagram Collections)

Instagram for business: the rundown of features (including Instagram Collections)

Instagram has come a long way since June 2016. There are many benefits of Instagram for business but in under one year, we’ve seen major algorithm updates, the creation of business profiles, stories and now, collections. As social media marketing specialists, we work with a number of Australian businesses and the general consensus is that of confusion, now that Instagram is getting all tricked-out.

It’s no secret Instagram isn’t shy to “adopt” competitor features. Since being acquired by Facebook we’re seeing a very similar business profile system, complete with boosted post functions. It’s all but made Snapchat obsolete with the stories feature, and now it’s stomping on Pinterest’s territory with the collections feature.

So what are the actual benefits of all these new features to the business user? Let us review these features and explain the benefit to business, as social media marketing specialists:

Benefits of Instagram for business profiles

To switch from a regular account to a business account is ridiculously simple and at this stage, we’re only seeing positives for the business user.

As Instagram explains:

“Business profiles are a free feature for accounts wanting to be recognized as a business on Instagram. With a business profile, businesses can choose how they want their customers to get in touch with them: call, text or email with a tap of the contact button as well as get directions. Business profiles also unlock access to insights and the ability to promote.”

This contact button is particularly handy for businesses, as it gives potential customers a one-step option for contact. Simply tap the “contact” button on the business’ profile and you’ll start the phone call in the Call app.

Some businesses are sceptical to switch to a business account as they fear their posts will become less visible (see: Facebook algorithm). However, at this stage, we’re not seeing any decrease in visibility due to switching (however this could change in the future if Instagram wants us to start paying for boosted posts).

There’s also the added feature of “insights” which provides full analytics on business posts. With this feature, business users can get to know what posts are getting the most engagement, and other insights to better understanding their audience.

The verdict: now is a great time for businesses to switch to an Instagram business account. With added features and currently no effect on post visibility, it’s a perfect fit for any business.

Business Instagram profiles with Birdcage Marketing Mackay

Instagram stories

Instagram introduced stories back in August 2016 and by the end of 2016, had over 150 million users every day. Instagram stories are video or images which are posted separately to your feed and disappear after 24 hours. You can add markups, stamps, use the Boomerang tool and even record live video to enhance your stories.

In essence, Instagram stories are considered totally separate from your regular Instagram feed. Some Instagram users engage with both stories and the regular feed, some just the feed, and others only the stories.

The point is, it’s another vehicle to showcase your brand – it allows you to be more “raw” and “behind-the-scenes” because of the transience of the content. The Live function is especially beneficial as it will actually notify high-engagers of your profile that you are live, therefore prompting users to log on directly to see you and your brand.

The verdict: your business should try leveraging both the standard Instagram feed and stories to engage audiences. Different people consume content in different ways, so you need to get to learn how your target market wants to interact with your brand. If you notice a huge engagement on stories, that’s where you can then direct resources, however, if you’re only getting a couple of views, be sure to funnel time and energy into a highly engaging profile. 

Business Instagram stories with Birdcage Marketing, Mackay

Source: FabFitFun

NEW, NEW, NEW: Instagram Collections

You may-or-may-not know that you can “save” other people’s posts to your profile since December 2016. Any saved posts remain private (only you can see them). Now, as of this month, you can create different Boards – sorry – “Collections” to save these posts into. Just think Pinterest but… actually just think Pinterest. Because that’s exactly what it is.

Whilst this feature is so new there is yet to be any data released, we know that since December 2016, just over 46% of users have actually “saved” a post. For now, Collections remain private, however, we’re speculating this won’t last long.

The verdict: don’t be afraid to jump on a new feature when it launches. Whilst Collections are still private, our prediction is that Instagram is trying to get users to categorise content and will eventually provide an option to make these boards public. If your business has already started using this feature, it will be ahead of the curve when new changes occur. So give it a go!

Business instagram collections what they are with Birdcage Marketing Mackay

Source: The Next Web

Side note: Instagram Direct

Whilst this isn’t a huge feature, we thought it was worth noting that users can actually send you direct messages through Instagram. A lot of businesses don’t know this and potential client interactions can go cold if you don’t respond quickly. Make sure you check your Instagram Direct inbox to ensure you’re not losing any potential leads.

Business Instagram direct messaging with Birdcage Marketing Mackay

Source: Simple Help


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Rise of the Mumpreneur: why, how & advice

Rise of the Mumpreneur: why, how & advice

Partner.
Mother.
Business Owner.
Unicorn.

For many Australian families, it’s challenging or downright impossible to live on a single income. Even when the primary income earner (lets – rightly or wrongly – call him “husband”) earns a decent wage.

With the rising cost of housing, groceries, utilities and general life, many families have no choice but for the mother to return to work after maternity leave.

This then means childcare is another bill to add to the pile.

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have family or friends to take care of your children for free, childcare is a necessary evil of working parents. And with most childcare costing in excess of $100 per day, it raises the question if it really is worth the mother returning to work.

On International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating all women! Stay-at-home, work-at-home, employed or otherwise. However today, I’ve written a more personal but still marketing-focussed article about the “rise of the Mumpreneur.” Why they start, what they’re doing and how they can grow.

Rise of the Mumpreneur

Mumpreneurs are working mums, with a twist. They’re fed up with working all day just to pay someone else to mind their child. They’re done with inflexible working hours, being frowned at for leaving the office to pick up the kids, and for missing the days spent with their darling children who grow up all too fast.

They’re swapping it for working early mornings, late nights and working during nap times.

These women are the Mumpreneurs.

A new breed of Australian mothers who are choosing to be work-at-home-mums (WAHM’s) in the form of starting their own business.

Who are Mumpreneurs?

A breed of women trying to forge their own way forward whilst juggling kids and a busy home life. These women aren’t necessarily doing anything “better” or “worse”, they’re just trying to find a solution which works for them.

The types of businesses owned by Mumpreneurs range from handmade goods through to financial services. However, some of the more common industries include:

  • Children’s clothing, toys and home decor
  • Photography
  • Home decor
  • Bath and beauty products
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Online retailers
  • Interior designers
  • Business coaches
  • Women’s clothing and accessories
  • Graphic and web design

Top tips for Mumpreneurs (from a mum and  marketer)

As a marketing consultant and working mother, I’ve listed a few tips to help Mumpreneurs build their businesses (and keep their sanity).

1. Build your email list and use it

I might sound like a broken record, but email lists are by and far the best tool for online businesses. Collect those email addresses and send out regular communication.

If you want to read more about why we love email marketing, check out this post.

2. Leverage the power of outsourcing online

In the beginning, it can be very difficult to justify the expense of outsourcing. And before you know you have a proper market for your business you probably should only take baby steps to make sure you don’t put yourself under more financial stress.

However, the beauty of the online economy is the availability of collaboration. Gone are the days where you would need to actually hire a full time staff member to delegate tasks to. You can now work with anyone in Australia (even the world) to lighten your workload. You’ll find is that the time you free-up trying to stumble through a task you know nothing about can be better used to grow your business.

3. Measure your marketing efforts

Whilst there will always be a place for traditional marketing (print ads, billboards, TV, radio etc.), it’s quite out of reach for many Mumpreneur budgets.

The good news? Digital marketing is cheaper, more effective and measurable. What digital marketing channels should you be using?

  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc.) – particularly paid promotions
  • Google My Business (show up on local listings and get reviews)
  • Search Engine Optimisation (even just the bare minimum)
  • Blogging (including guest blogging on complementary sites)
  • Email marketing

The best thing about all of these is that you can track and measure their effectiveness. If something isn’t working – ditch it. If another platform is outperforming – invest in it more. Digital marketing isn’t “set-and-forget”; it requires constant evaluation and tweaking to ensure you’re maximising your budget and efforts.

4. Avoid working during “awake” time

I’ve attempted this many times and failed almost every one of those times. When the children are awake, it’s very difficult to focus on getting a task done and keeping the kids happy.  It either ends up in sloppy work or a frustrated baby and mother.

Bear in mind, some Mumpreneur businesses (eg. handmade-based) might allow for “collaboration” where your little one can “help” you create the products, but for anything which requires concentration, leave it to nap time.

Another tactic is to get up early. I know, you’re probably already sleep deprived, and during times of crisis, it probably is best to get some extra sleep. But, if you’re anything like us, my son wakes at around 5:00am before needing some resettling and instead of crawling back to bed, I like to get up and catch up on some to-do’s. Even if that’s only getting through some overnight emails, I feel much more centred and ahead of the game.

5. Don’t discount Childcare

If you can afford it, having even just one full day to work can make a huge difference. It will either allow you to focus on building your business, or it means you can work less on the days your child is at home.

6. Find a support community

Some (most) days are hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. You need to ensure you have a community of women who understand what you’re going through. Again, the internet is a magical thing. Facebook groups (like my personal favourite Mums With Hustle) are great to get things off your chest, ask for another perspective, seeking advice and sharing successes.

At Birdcage Marketing we work with so many amazing women dedicated to building their businesses. Whether they’re trail-blazing business owners or inspiring leaders, we love sharing each and every journey.

If you want to work with us too, contact us

Building (and keeping) a valuable email database

Building (and keeping) a valuable email database

As a digital marketing consultant, our focus for the month is email marketing. We’ve explored why micro, small and medium sized businesses need it, now we’re going to look at the fundamental steps involved in building and keeping a successful email database. 

Step 1: Gather contacts for your email database

The very first step of successful email marketing is to create a database of contacts to send your material. 

Whilst it’s always a failsafe to include a newsletter signup form on your site, the reality is you’re not going to get hoards of contacts entering their email address simply to “stay up to date” unless they really love your brand. 

The key is to entice contacts to share their email address. Here are some examples of “enticing” a new contact:

  • offer a free eBook (or similar material) for download

  • ask contacts for their email to download a price list or special offer

  • offer a multi-part email series on a topic of interest

  • provide a “pre-release” update for a new product or service

  • run a competition

  • require email submission through the purchase process (if you sell a product online)

These are just some ideas which may or may not work based on your industry and brand.  

Step 2: Ask for permission 

It’s not enough to just ask for a customer for their email address to add to your database. You should always check that it’s ok to send future communications. If a person is interested enough in what you’re offering to provide their email address in the first place, they’re likely to be happy to hear from you again. Ensure you include an “opt in” tick box in your online form.  

Step 3: Send a confirmation email and encourage “adding to address book

Once a subscriber submits their details, send them a confirmation email immediately and encourage them to add you to their address book. This achieves two things:

  • Instant interaction with a customer who has just engaged with your brand

  • Helps your future emails avoid the junk folder

If you have a decent signup form on your site, you should be able to set up automated confirmation emails. 

Step 4: Do what you say and say what you do

Like most things in successful business, you need to manage client expectations. This is something we focus on a lot in our business to ensure our clients are happy clients. And it’s the same with email marketing.  

If you’ve promised a weekly email containing “xyz” content, you better only send one email a week with that valuable content. Otherwise, you’ll be getting a lot of unsubscribes if you send an email every two days containing nothing but sales pitches. 

Remember, email marketing is about building relationships with customers by offering valuable content, not just another platform for you to flog your product.

if you want to hit fast-forward and get us to manage an effective email campaign that will convert customers without the fuss, contact us directly now.